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Chef Karen Davison Shares the Best Kitchen Organization Methods

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A cluttered, almost overflowing kitchen is a recipe for aggravation. You open one cabinet and are met with row after row of Tupperware. You pull out a pot, everything else in the general vicinity comes crashing down, leaving you with some tidying up to do and ringing ears.

To regain control of your kitchen, it is crucial that you mull over how you can improve its overall organization from top to bottom, drawer by drawer, because it will do you a world of good and allow you to concentrate on the actual cooking.

Karen Davison, a professional chef from Plano, Texas, who has worked in various kitchens, restaurants, and roles throughout the United States, has cooked up some chef-inspired tips and advice to help you better organize your kitchen.

Start with the Cabinets and Drawers

First, walk over to each cabinet and empty its contents, Karen Davison suggests, taking note of what can be disposed of or donated. While you might be sentimental about that container that has been a superb servant over the years, there are likely a few identical items that can fill in the void. Approach your drawers with a similar no-nonsense demeanor and begin arranging all of the items on the floor, grouping them into categories like baking essentials, cooking utensils, glassware, etc. Then, with everything lying in front of you, consider a storing strategy and choose a resting place for each individual item. For example, utensils might be situated specifically near the food preparation area or the glassware can be arranged on a shelf closer to the refrigerator.

Crank Up the Creativity

Now, as you have progressed to the next step of re-stocking and re-filling those spaces that you emptied, it’s time to inject some creativity into the proceedings, Karen Davison states. Utilize containers to hold items that generally become separated and scattered, such as packets of sauce mixes, tea bags, oatmeal, and hot cocoa envelopes. Food that is packaged in mini boxes can be stored in clear plastic shoeboxes to the same effect. Another way to maximize space is by combining lids and containers together, assuming you can actually locate the matching pieces. If not, you can always keep the lids neatly stacked in one separate container. Your pots and pans should also have their proper lids resting on top of them. Finally, take advantage of the vertical space at your disposal, as hooks can be installed beneath cabinets and used to hold mugs above the countertop. Extra space within the cabinets themselves can provide you the option of putting hooks on the inside of cabinet doors as well. A rack is a terrific way to free up more space because you can hang your pots and pans on it or even use it for your collection of spices.

Refrigerator Ransacking

Before that one day of the week in which you put out your trash for pick up, have a look at your refrigerator’s contents and toss out whatever isn’t necessary, Karen Davison says. Expiration dates, on that languishing carton of milk in particular, will be an obvious priority, but you can also donate the food that is not expected to be sought out by anyone in the near future. A few minutes dedicated to this action will eliminate all of the extra items that eat up precious volume in your refrigerator and preserve the space for your freshly-purchased groceries. Go through the freezer section, too.

Re-Stocking the Refrigerator

To ensure your kitchen remains organized, research what foods last longer in the fridge or freezer and which foods can be left outside its cooling effects. By doing this, you will waste less food, store your ingredients expertly, and simplify your grocery shopping routine because you essentially have a means of tracking inventory, says Karen Davison. When you do put items into the fridge, be aware that there are suitable spots for different types of food. Your upper shelf should be somewhat reserved for dairy products because that is where the temperature is most consistent. Avoid storing eggs in the fridge door, seeing as how that is the warmest part of the refrigerator. Store your vegetables in the crisper drawer and a safe distance away from fruits that produce ethylene, like apples. At the bottom of the fridge, where it’s coldest, your meat can sit comfortably and prevent any potential leaks from contaminating other foods. One last chef-inspired tip on organizing your refrigerator: position the most recently cooked food behind earlier leftovers, as it will ensure everything is eaten in a timely manner.

Stick to Your Zones

Much like the cabinets and drawers that are now storing certain items, your other kitchen zones need to be finalized, Karen Davison points out. Your countertop must have an appropriate area for the prep work involved in cooking, another one for the coffee maker and kettle, and of course, a spot reserved for the microwave. To make all of your zones highly effective, do your best to keep the ingredients, items, and foods that correlate to these areas in a close proximity to each other. Some ideas for your zones can be: everyday items (plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, and glassware), cooking items (pots, pans, dishes, cutting boards, wooden spoons, measuring cups, spatulas, mixing bowls, and other baking essentials), pantry (dry goods, spices, and larger kitchen tools), accessories and storage (Tupperware, food wrap, Ziploc bags, tin foil, and food storage), coffee and bar (coffee cups, pods, coffee accessories, a Keurig, coffee pot, wine glasses, shot glasses, and other glassware) and beneath the sink (cleaning supplies, additional hand soap, garbage bags).

Don’t Deviate, Says Karen Davison

You have developed a fine system to organize your kitchen, but it is vital that you are constantly sticking to it and maintaining an organized area. After you have become comfortable and are prepared to add to it, you can up the creativity yet again. Perhaps you are suddenly seeking some rotating trays to hold your oils, vinegars, spices, vitamins, medications, or other cooking ingredients. Maybe a drawer divider caught your eye during a recent shopping spree. Or you can’t resist purchasing that lazy-Susan that has been on your mind. Remember, it’s your kitchen; own it.

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Tips & Advice

French Grannies let us in on their best Cleaning Secrets

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French cooking and fashion inspires millions across the world. The French have a way of bringing style to everyday activities. I wondered if maybe we learn something from the French about things like sweeping floors and scrubbing sinks.

So I turned to French grandmothers for cleaning trips have worked to give them clean and fresh homes. And I was not disappointed. Here are 10 of the best cleaning tips. As shared by French grandmothers.

Delegate

French grandmothers often have a femme de ménage. They delegate at least some of their cleaning work to a domestic help. Most people cannot afford maids. But you can identify your most unpleasant or tedious tasks and delegate them. Hire someone at least once a year to do some spring cleaning. Work is a lot easier when you get the whole family to chip in with the cleaning. 

Use Black Soap to make a Floor Cleaner

Black soap is a natural cleaning product which is also biodegradable. Made using olive oil, black soap works for everything, and it is no surprise that French grandmothers love it on floors. Black soap is too strong and needs to be diluted first before you can use it for cleaning. You can also use black soap for refreshing leather, cleaning paint brushes, doing laundry, and spraying garden plants to get rid of aphids.

Use Lemon Juice to make an Old White Shirt Brighter

Make your lemon juice solution using juice from three lemons mixed into a liter of cold water. Submerge an old white shirt that may be dull or graying inside the mixture to brighten it. Soak it for a few hours before rinsing the shirt and washing it the usual way. It will come out brighter. 

Clean Windows with Cut Onions

A French food blogger leaned into her Normandy mamie network for this one. When your windows are really dirty and you want them squeaky clean, scrub the outside of your windows with half an onion before you apply your window cleaner or a weak ammonia solution. The onion helps to take out the tough grime when your windows are really dirty. Use this trick after a long winter to give you the best windows.

Use Salt and Aluminum Foil to Polish Metal

To give your silverware and copper dishes a strong clean and shine, mix boiling water, salt and aluminum foil. Stir the mixture inside the water for around ten minutes with the silverware insider. Remove the silverware and rinse it then dry with a cloth. This treatment will turn dull and grey silverware clean and shiny. The results are magical.

Remove Wine Stains with Salt

If your tablecloth is ‘ruined’ with wine stains after a dinner party, do not worry. Simply rub the stain with coarse salt soon after it has been stained. The coarse salt lifts out the color of the wine and keeps it from setting. Wash immediately for best results. 

Use Spinach Water to improve Fading Dark Colored Clothes

If your black jeans are starting to look less black and greyer, the solution could be right in your kitchen. Soak the garment in spinach water to enhance its color before you wash it. The spinach water should not have any seasoning, oil, or butter inside it. If you have no spinach water, try black tea or coffee. 

Use an Old Sweater to Shine Floors

An old woolen sweater and some beeswax is all you need to give your wooden furniture and floors some conditioning and make them smooth and glossy. Woolen sweaters are perfect for the job. The gentle material is also absorbent enough to remove stains from wood. 

Use Vinegar for Kitchen Odors

I had to try this tip on my own mildew infested sink to see if it really worked. I was amazed to find that the smell disappeared after a few days. Keep a small bowl of vinegar at any kitchen spot that is plagued by bad odors. It works. 

Use Coffee Grounds to make Smelly Hands Fresh and Clean

Once you are finished with your chores, you want your hands to look and smell fabulous. You do not want to leave the kitchen smelling of garlic or fish. Grab some used coffee ground and some soap and clean your hands with them. The soap will make your hands clean and the coffee grounds will absorb any nasty smells.

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Ingredients

How to eat more Lobster

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Lobster is huge this spring. We are into everything about lobster. We are looking at recipes, cracking equipment, napkins, and plates. So to indulge our near fanatical love for lobster, we decided to delve deep into everything lobster. 

Here is everything you need to do for a lobster-full season:

The Equipment

There is nothing worse than cracking a lobster with a rock and scattering the shell all over the kitchen. It is disrespectful. You want to have a pick to pry tasty meat from the lobster legs. Curved seafood scissors will help you to remove the meat in one piece because of its curved blades. 

Here is where you can find the best equipment for your lobster dinner. 

The Tableware

Lobsters are not exactly simple dining fare. Lobster meat is a treat. When you are having a lobster dinner, you are allowed to go all out and invest in a lobster platter, special dinner plates, and even these lovely appetizer plates. This is a set of simple yet refined tableware that is just right for lobster.

The Lobster Dinner Preparation and Dining

Once you have your lobster pot, your well-chosen lobster, some melted butter, and lemon, it is time to get to cooking and eating. 

It takes some courage to do this. You have to choose a nice and meaty one. You could give the lobster a few minutes in the freezer before putting it to a boil. But don’t get to 10 minutes because after that the meat will be frozen. Or you could use a sharp knife to stupefy it before cooking. Boiling a lobster is not that hard once you get used to it. 

Learn the proper way to boil it, halve it, carve it, crack it, serve it, and eat it. With some tips and practice, you will be able to properly fold its claws down and remove the whole tail at once. 

The Cooking Instructions

If you are nervous about preparing your first lobster, you don’t have to be. We have a range of fool-proof recipes to choose from. Everything is covered – the rolls, salad, chowder, sliders, paella, and risotto. You can go for the recipe that seems best and which features the ingredients you prefer.Lobster does not have to be boiled. Grilled lobster is oh so yummy. You can start planning your ideal lobster dinner with your favorite wine. 

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Tips & Advice

Rodney Scott the Fire Pit Expert on why Backyard BBQs are about more than just Food

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If you happen to pass by Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston in the mornings, you will be treated to the exciting aroma of a whole hog slow cooking in their in-house smokehouse. The hog starts cooking at sunrise.

Scott’s mark of quality is their penchant for giving each pig at least 12 cooking hours in the smokehouse. They pull off the pork as it cooks ensuring a perpetual supply of freshly cooked barbecue pork to dinner time. 

Their signature barbecue has been so successful that Scott now has a second restaurant and a third on the way. In addition to the Charleston one, he has outlets in Birmingham and an Atlanta outlet coming up. 

Scott has already appeared on the Parts Unknown show by Anthony Bourdain as well as Chef’s table. He has also won the 2018 James Beard Award for being the Best Chef Southeast. 

Now Rodney Scott is taking up a new challenge. He is creating a cookbook to share what he knows about barbecuing: Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Recipes & Perspectives from the Legendary Pitmaster. 

Scott has been cooking whole hogs since he was only 11 years old. His family had a smokehouse at their Hemmingway, South Carolina hometown. So, he is perfectly comfortable cooking pigs. 

Creating a cookbook has been a whole new experience for the barbecue expert. “It’s a whole new learning curve,” said Scott. He must translate his restaurant recipes to suit family-sized meals. His average reader probably will not be looking to make an 18-gallon batch of Rodney’s pepper-flecked vinegar-based Rod sauce. The barbecue whisperer will have to put together simple directions and recipes that are easier for people to replicate at home. 

The cookbook contains many of Scott’s most famous recipes – all adapted for home cooking. He has adapted his recipe for roasting the whole hog by modifying it to fit backyards and substituting his smokehouse for some chicken wire, a steel drum, and cinder blocks. Perhaps the only thing you won’t recreate from the recipe is the warm atmosphere at Rodney Scott’s barbecue. 

“Hospitality is the first flavor that goes into your meal or your event, so of course you want to make it good,” Scott opines. “I believe you have to give people an experience as well as a tasteful dish.” 

A classmate of Scott from Hemmingway in South Carolina once told him that it was his personality that made his food great. Scott brings warmth and a confident attitude that has made his restaurants popular in a region that has plenty of barbecue restaurants. 

Rodney Scott shares some excellent tips for anyone who wants to throw a successful home barbecue party:

Invite a whole Bunch of People

When you roast a whole hog, you can be sure that the aroma will reach your neighbors’ noses. The best thing about a whole hog is that it is big enough to feed a mob. Deliver an invite to all your neighbors. It is better to have people at your barbecue than in their houses, hot and bothered by the sounds and smells emanating from your home. That way you are part of their day and not a disruption. 

Create an Ambiance

One of the things that make Rodney Scott’s barbecue so special is the unique ambiance that makes guests feel like they are in a whole different place. Scott does that with a disco ball. “I saw a disco ball for the first time at a nightclub in 1985 and I was just mesmerized,” says Scott. “Now I put one in all my restaurants. It’s a little thing, but it creates a moment, it indicates that you are stepping into a different place for a little bit.” 

You may decide to introduce color with a floral arrangement, an impressive appetizer, or a unique centerpiece. Choose something that creates a different energy. 

Be the Life of the Party

Rodney Scott has learned many lessons about being a good host while running a barbecue restaurant. One of the most important lessons he has learned is that people came to see the host just as much as they came to eat the food. 

For this reason, he no longer spends hours scooping hot coals to keep his slow-roasting pork going. You are more likely to find him out front. He greets guests and welcomes diners. 

When you are hosting a barbecue, you want to avoid toiling behind the scenes leaving your guests neglected. Set everything out in advance. Once people start showing up, you should be available to greet them and direct them to the bathroom.

Talk about your Food

People love to talk about food. Don’t be shy about going into detail about what you made, why you chose the dishes you chose, how you prepared the food, and how the cooking went. 

This would be a good opportunity to whip out your cookbook or tell your story. If you tried a recipe for the first time, share your experience and as for their opinion. 

This will not only spark conversations but also help expose people to different techniques of cooking. 

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