Handy Tips in Baking and Cleaning

Here are some random around-the-house tips that I’ve picked up along the way. You may already know about them, in which case, I guess I’m super late to the party. And if you don’t already know about them, then yay! I’m actually sharing (sort of) useful information!

When you want to reuse a jar, but that damn glue residue makes it super fugly:

You know when you’re trying to do the whole “reduce, reuse, recycle” thing by reusing a jar, but can’t get that label glue off to save your life? You soak the jar in hot water, the label peels away, and there’s still this gross, stickiness left behind. You try to scrub it off with a sponge, but that just spreads it around and makes it worse. No? Just me?

Well, anyway, without needing to go out and buy Goo Gone or something like that, you can clean off that residue with 2 items that you probably have in your kitchen: baking soda and oil.

Mix equal parts (give or take) of each to form a paste, and rub it all over the area you want to clean. Let it sit for ~30 minutes, and then scrub it off with the abrasive side of a sponge. Then give it a good washing to clean off the oil. You may need to do this twice for particularly stubborn glue, but I’m telling you – it works!

Thank you, internet.

The next time you bake something:

Save your butter wrappers. Why? You can use them to grease tins and pans later on with the little bit of butter that’s always left behind on the wrapper. Just fold up the wrappers, stick them in a ziplock baggie if you want, and store them in the fridge or freezer until the next time you have a cake pan or muffin tin that needs to be greased. Why waste what you can use later on? Super handy, and you don’t have to deal with cans of Pam and stuff like that (which I still sometimes use, but I always feel like I’m inhaling oil fumes and coating surrounding surfaces with a thin layer of grease).

The next time you bake something in muffin tins but don’t want to use liners:

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For example, you’re making little tarts and you don’t have those cute little individual tartlet tins. Cut up strips of parchment paper, maybe about an inch wide, and long enough to have both ends sticking up out of the tin. (Unlike the photo – if you try to be cheap/lazy in cutting the strips and they end up too short and you think that having just one end sticking out will do, you’ll find that it just slips out and doesn’t help you at all in lifting out the shells.) Then put in your pastry crust and bake as usual. When they’re done, gently pull them up and out by the two ends of the parchment strip.

Streak-free, grease-free shine:

Rubbing alcohol for cleaning. I love this stuff – it’s relatively cheap compared to other household cleaners, the smell (although strong at first) dissipates quickly, and it cleans mirrors and taps to a sparkling shine. It cuts through oils, disinfects, and evaporates quickly.

I fill a spray bottle with about a 1:1 of rubbing alcohol and water. (I used to do, like, a 9:1 ratio when I could get a huge bottle at Walgreens for a few dollars, but the stuff is a wee bit more expensive and not quite as readily available here in SA, so I dilute it a bit more to stretch it out – and it still works just fine.) I know a lot of people use vinegar for cleaning, but I just can’t stand the smell, and I find that it doesn’t fade away as quickly as I’d like. For the bathroom mirror, I often use newspaper instead of a cloth to wipe it down. It cuts down on the fuzzy lint and streaks, but I think it also depends on the type of newspaper. I’ve read that sometimes the inks can leave a residue.

I have a spray bottle in both my kitchen and bathroom and use them both constantly. The toilet needs freshening up? I spritz the entire area. Stove top is greasy? Spritz. Dreaded window blinds? Spritz.

Oh, but don’t go spritzing it all over the place in a small confined space. Apparently it’s not very good for you if you inhale the fumes. So, you know, just crack open a window or something.

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