If today’s topic seems a bit premature because Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, let me remind you of the first time you hosted Thanksgiving dinner. I know that I was a wreck, and for two reasons: time and cooking tools.
I didn’t allow enough time to plan ahead, let alone properly prepare the meal once the day arrived. And I sure didn’t have the right equipment.
Thankfully, there’s still enough time to plan, time to prepare, and time to make sure we’re properly equipped to make this Thanksgiving a day of calm, joy, and gratitude. But only if we start now!
I’ve done Thanksgiving Dinner enough times now to know that there are a few pieces of equipment that are absolutely necessary to make sure the process goes smoothly and the dinner is a huge success. The challenge, though, is making sure we’re not loading up on unitaskers—tools we use only one day a year. We want to make sure that items we buy for the kitchen can be used all year long.
Here are our picks for Best Inexpensive Thanksgiving cooking tools that will make your day easier, tools I’m certain you’ll be reaching for throughout the year.
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/29747489_s-1.jpg565848Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-11-14 00:56:452019-11-23 08:49:53Just in Time for Thanksgiving—Best Inexpensive Kitchen Tools
Until several years ago, I didn’t know something existed called a heated mattress pad. It makes sense since I’d lived in Southern California for most of my life, where it is mostly warm all year round.
Relocating to Colorado where the seasons are more pronounced, I had a lot to learn about heating a house without going broke. That first winter our heating bills shot to the moon because we were heating the entire house to a comfortable temperature day and night. Trust me—high heating bills can be shocking.
Lower the temp
We saw a semi-dramatic reduction in the heating bill when we decided to lower the thermostat to 60 F. at night and use this Bionaire micathermic space heater in our bedroom, but that wasn’t altogether successful. My husband and I have different internal thermostats. He would be cold while I’d be turning the space heater down a notch or two.
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/091817image-1.jpg597564Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-11-04 01:56:302019-11-11 11:20:13An Amazing Way to Slash High Heating Bills
I just asked Siri*, “How do most people relax?” She rattled off a list of activities including, “nosh on chocolate,” “rub your feet over a golf ball,” “count backward,” “meditate” and “drip cold water on your wrists.”
Siri completely missed my favorite way to relax. I iron (not to be confused with I pump iron, which I do not).
No really. There’s something soothing and instantly gratifying about a good steam iron with a heft of heat and steam gliding back and forth over wrinkled fabric.
That’s why I was excited to get another request, this time from Marianne, “I need a new iron. I’ve searched the Internet trying to find the best steam iron for the best price and all I get is terribly confused! Any suggestions?”
They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them to bake just about anything, but mostly cookies. And they can get super grungy with layers of baked- and burnt-on grease resulting in ugly stains and residue build-up.
Does anything here look familiar to you? If so, I have good news. Your cookie sheets can be cleaned and restored, even back to the way they looked when new.
What follows is a relatively quick and easy way to get rid of baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminized steel, aluminum, and non-stick—and then to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/32339941_s-e1568813564863.jpg547473Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-09-18 07:05:102019-10-14 09:52:37How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New!
Q1: How can I remove food odors from my reusable silicone food storage bags?
Dear Mary: I stored some left-over smoked salmon in one of my new reusable silicone storage bags. After I’d used up the salmon, I washed the bag as usual in my dishwasher. It still smelled of salmon. I got out my trusty Nok-Out. I soaked the bag in that for a few hours. Still smelled of salmon. Help! Sue
Dear Sue: There’s something that might not have gone right. Tell me exactly how you did it. Did you spray the inside? Pour some Nok-Out in the bag? Did you dunk it in a bowl of Nok-Out? And what did you do at the end of “a few hours?”
There’s a specific way to do this, and I’m just trying to figure out where things might have gone wrong to help you get it right. xo m
Dear Mary: I first sprayed the bag inside and out. When that didn’t do it, I immersed the bag in Nok-Out, weighted it down and left it for about 2 hours. Didn’t do it.Thanks for checking for me. I’m at my wit’s end. Have pretty much gone from disposable zipper bags to these. Sue
Dear Sue: I’m pretty sure I know the problem. Once every bit of the surface has been doused well with Nok-Out, it must be allowed to “oxidize.” This happens when Nok-Out meets air and is allowed to dry fully—no rinsing.
So let’s do it again. Completely spray or submerge the bag in Nok-Out, but do not rinse it. Do not rinse it! Lift it out and prop it open on something; upside down, maybe like the sink faucet. It must be allowed to fully air dry. Don’t be surprised when it gives off a “stinky swimming pool” odor. That’s the oxidation in process. Nok-Out will eliminate the stink by neutralizing it, not covering it up. I understand why this is so important. Reusable isn’t if it creates a stinky problem! xo m
Dear Mary: I did as you directed: I submerged the bag in Nok-Out, then let it air dry (keeping it open). No more salmon smell! Thanks for your help. I can now feel comfortable in using my silicone bags for potentially smelly contents knowing there’s a way to get rid of the odor. Sue
Q2: I need a shrimp gadget
Dear Mary: What is the best kitchen gadget to remove the shrimp vein? Winora
Dear Winora: I use either a wood skewer or sharp knife, whichever is most handy, to remove that vein that runs right along the back.
To do this: Insert the tip of the skewer crossways and under the vein about ½-inch down from the head of the shrimp and pull the skewer tip up towards you. This will lift up the vein and you can pull off the vein with the skewer or with your hand. If the vein is broken, then insert again a bit lower towards the tail.
There is a specific inexpensive tool you might want to consider if you prepare a lot of shrimp. This Shrimp Deveiner Knifeworks well to devein and peel shrimp in one step, simultaneously. It makes cleaning and peeling quick and easy.
Q3: JCPenney bedsheets
Dear Mary: Would you repeat your recommendation for Best Inexpensive Sheets. I believe they are 100% cotton from JCPenney. Thank you! Sharon
These bedsheets launder beautifully in hot water and come out of the dryer nearly wrinkle-free. I usually touch them up with the iron, but honestly, I may stop doing that. The fitted sheet in this set has deep pockets without being baggy. These are the kind of sheets I remember from my childhood. Available in a variety of colors and sizes.
One set in Cal King is list priced at $140. But wait. The JCPenney site regularly offers discount coupons (I’ve been watching this like a hawk and there’s always a coupon), plus these specific sheets are frequently on sale. With my first online order, I didn’t have to search or inquire. At checkout, I simply clicked on “Coupons” which was right next to the checkout button. Immediately, the price dropped to $56.
I have checked many times since to see how that discount holds up and have yet to find a time that I would have had to pay full price. I can’t represent the exact discount you’ll get, but know that these sheets are frequently on sale and discount coupons and codes are readily available.
Q4: Looking for home air purifier
Dear Mary: I am truly grateful for all your suggestions and research you do! They all have helped my family run much smoother. I’m looking for a good home air purifier. Do you have any thoughts you can share? Cheryl P.S. We LOVE our new Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vac.
Dear Cheryl: All things considered—up-front cost, maintenance, and cost to operate—I don’t think you can beat the Coway Mighty Home Air Purifier (AP1512HH), my pick for Best Inexpensive Air Purifier. Rated for spaces up to 360 sq. ft., this unit is compact, attractive, and super quiet. And did I mention efficient? Very efficient with its True HEPA filter, deodorization filter, and Vital Ion. Also has a pollution sensor that communicates indoor air quality in real-time. Available in black or white at Walmart and Amazon.
Q5: Extreme interior humidity
Dear Mary: I am puzzled by an ongoing, distressing problem since I moved into a fourth-floor condo. I find that mildew is growing everywhere! On my wood dining table, on cast iron pans, inside cabinets. I am distressed about where I’ll find it next. I use a 50/50 vinegar solution to wipe it off. I keep ceiling fans going and the thermostat at 77 degrees. Windows and doors always closed. I hang Damp Rid in closets. That is getting expensive. Annette
Dear Annette: I must admit to being anything but an expert on living in humid areas, but can help you figure out how to tackle this problem. I live in Colorado where we enjoy very dry conditions—the other extreme to your high humidity. You have my empathy, for sure. I cannot imagine what you are going through.
If I were you I would first consult with the management of your condo association. If this is considered normal—meaning that all of your neighbors are experiencing the same thing—find out how they are dealing with it. Or you may discover that your problem is unique, and related to something that needs to be remedied and quick!
If you discover this is just the way it is in Florida in a fourth-floor condo, I recommend that you research and consider getting a dehumidifier for your home. This is an appliance that actually removes moisture from the air and sends it down the drain. There are many options so you want to find one that meets your specific needs.
Some of the most common indicators that you may need a dehumidifier are wet stains on walls and ceilings, stuffy feeling in a room, rotting wood, condensation on windows, musty smells and allergies. If the air in your home is too moist, it will encourage the growth of bacteria and mold, which are common allergens and not good for your health.
You can read a previous postabout room dehumidifiers here, which includes my Best Inexpensive picks. I believe one of them will be just right for your home, should you discover this will be the best remedy.
Hope that helps!
Got a question you’d like me to answer in a future post? You can ask me anything here. Thanks!
A compact clothes steamer is handy for removing wrinkles and stale odors from fabric, but is that all? Just another single-purpose tool that sits on a shelf gathering dust? Don’t be so sure! I’ve been amazed to discover all the ways to use an ordinary clothes steamer to steam clean, sanitize, renew, and refresh all around the house.
Before we get started, let’s go over a few steam clean basics.
Always use distilled water in a steamer. The minerals in tap water can cause it to clog up and can also leave behind traces of minerals.
Never use steam on silk or other delicate fabrics. Always test first in an inconspicuous place for color-bleeding or spotting.
Do not use steam on freshly painted surfaces, vintage surfaces, waxed or polished wood or musical instruments.
Loosen carpet stains
A blast of steam can loosen a tough carpet stain that’s been difficult to remove. Hold the steamer a few inches away from the spot for at least 30 seconds, then blot it with a clean white cloth. Repeat until nothing more is transferred to the cloth. If you still see evidence of the spot, it should respond more effectively to a good stain remover like Spot Shot. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the label, which may require rinsing once the stain is gone.
Remove labels and stickers
A blast or two from your trusty clothes steamer can soften and melt the adhesive that keeps a stubborn label or sticker stuck so you can easily remove it. Be cautious if you’re dealing with an unpainted surface.
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/100558614_s.jpg649737Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-08-17 06:25:162019-10-14 09:53:089 Surprising Things You Can Clean with a Clothes Steamer
Whether you’re a newlywed, recent grad moving into your first apartment or perhaps one of the 25% of millennials that Forbes recently reported as living at home with mom and dad—surely the idea of furnishing a kitchen has crossed your mind. I’d love to help you get started. Here’s the deal: There are a few basic essential kitchen tools you absolutely need—ten to be exact—without which you are not likely to use that kitchen for more than a place to pile takeout containers. We’re not talking about mountain of stuff—just ten basic essentials to get started.
1. Fire extinguisher
My personal experience makes this an absolute requirement and first on the list. It was one of those lazy Saturdays. I decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I set the greased skillet over high heat and ran out to the garage to say something to my husband. A neighbor wandered over and we started talking. It was the smoke alarm that caught my attention and sent me flying.
In those few moments that pan flamed out and caught the upper cabinet. My kitchen was on fire! This First Alert fire extinguisher sitting on the counter saved the day. I am still surprised that I’d learned and reacted, almost intuitively, how to use the thing. Your kitchen must have a fire extinguisher that is fully charged.
You need good knives. And I’m talking about knives that can be sharpened and you will keep sharp. That means they need to be handy and super easy to use. If you can find an exceptional set that comes with a block and shears, plus at least a chef, carving, and paring knives and perhaps even a bread knife like this 15-piece set—at that amazing price—that’s exactly what you need.
You also need a knife sharpener that you will actually use in your drawer of kitchen tools. This Block Sharpener is the one in my kitchen. It’s small, and fits easily in my utensil drawer. It’s so easy—foolproof—to use (watch tthe video. And boy does it work!
The venerable cast iron skillet is making a big comeback among home cooks. Our grandmothers would be so proud! And why not? The best quality cast iron skillet is super cheap compared to its pricey stainless and non-stick competitors, cast iron lasts forever and face it—it’s cool to cook in cast iron.
I must have been all of 8-years old the day I decided to surprise my mother by cleaning her old black cast iron skillet. It embarrassed me that over the years it had become so gross. Naively, I assumed that she’d burned too many Sunday roasts in it and that’s why it was never shiny with a copper bottom—like the rest of our pots and pans.
I started with household cleanser and steel wool. I scrubbed on a single spot for what seemed like hours. I couldn’t break through that burned on “crust” to save my soul. Finally, I just gave up.
What I wouldn’t realize until years later was that I was working on a fine piece of cast iron—a skillet I’m sure I managed to un-do years of coveted “seasoning” that makes a cast iron skillet virtually nonstick.
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/80823048_s-1.jpg565847Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-06-23 07:55:472019-10-14 09:02:10Best Inexpensive Cast Iron Skillet and How to Love It
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