Archive for the ‘Household Equipment’ Category

Smelly Fridge??

March 10th, 2014

imageIf you have ever lost your power for a long period of time or had your refrigerator or freezer fail and food has spoiled, you know how hard it is to remove the odor.  Here are some steps to help you get your refrigerator or freezer odor free.

  1. Dispose of any food that has spoiled.
  2. Wash all of the shelves and drawers in hot water and detergent.  Then rinse using a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
  3. Wash the interior of the refrigerator and freezer with hot water and baking soda.  Make sure that you also clean the door and gasket.  Rinse with the sanitizing solution.
  4. Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow for air to circulate.  Remember if you have small children make sure that they don’t get trapped inside.

If the odor still remains try one or more of the following:

  1. Use equal parts of vinegar and water and wipe the inside of the unit.
  2. Leave the door open and allow the refrigerator or freezer to air out for several days.  Again take precautions if you have small children.
  3. Try stuffing both the refrigerator and freezer with crumpled up newspapers sprinkled with water.  Close the door and leave the papers in for several days with the appliance is running.  Next, remove the newspapers and clean with vinegar and water.
  4. Sprinkle coffee grounds or baking soda on cookie sheets or in shallow containers and put in several shelves of the refrigerator or freezer.
  5. Place a cotton ball soaked with vanilla in both the refrigerator and freezer.  Check in 24 hours for improvement.
  6. Look for a commercial cleaner.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

With persistence, most odors can be removed.  If you are unable to clean it and need to dispose of the refrigerator contact your local waste collector to find out what rules apply to disposing it.

s signature - Copy

Cleaning, Household Equipment

Oh the smell of burned popcorn…

March 3rd, 2014

imagePhew!  Have you ever burned popcorn in your microwave and wondered how to get rid of the smell?  Try mixing ½ cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of water in a bowl.  Cook in the microwave for 5 minutes.  The fresh lemon smell will go up and out of the vents, cleaning them, since that is where the odor is residing.  If the smell isn’t completely gone try adding more lemon juice and boiling it again!

s signature - Copy

Cleaning, Household Equipment

Cloudy glassware?

February 20th, 2014

etchingIf you have cloudy glasses after they come out of the dishwasher it could either be from hard water filming or etching.  To identify the cause try soaking the glassware in undiluted white vinegar for about 5 minutes.  If the film is gone, the cloudiness is from hard water.  If it is not removed,  the glasses are etched.

Etching is a permanent pitting or eroding of the actual glass surface.  It usually appears as shades of blue, purple, brown or pink when the glass is held at an angle toward the light.  As the etching becomes more advanced it starts to appear cloudy or can even look frosted.  Unfortunately there is no way to restore glasses that are etched.

Here are some tips to help avoid etching on your glasses.

  1.  If all of the food is removed from the dishes prior to loading them in the dishwasher it increases the alkaline concentration of the dishwasher detergent and it increases the possibility of etching.
  2. Adjust the amount of detergent according to the level of water hardness.  If you have soft water less detergent is needed.
  3. Having the water temperature too high can also be a problem.  Water entering the dishwasher should be between 120° F – 140° F.

If the vinegar removed the cloudiness here are some steps to keep it from returning.

  1. Use the correct amount of detergent for the level of hardness in your water.  If you have extremely hard water it is very hard to get acceptable dishwashing results.
  2. If the water temperature is too cool it can also cause a film.  Try running the hot water in your sink before starting the dishwasher.  That will clear the cold water from the line.  This is especially important when using a shorter wash cycle.
  3. The use of a rinse aid improves the sheeting action of the water, allowing it to slide off the dishes more easily and not leave water spots.

Use these tips to keep your glasses looking new!

s signature - Copy

Cleaning, Consumer Management, Household Equipment

Slow Cookers – Times, Temperatures and Techniques

February 6th, 2014

Crock Pot

Slow Cooker

Winter – long, cold, busy days demand easy,nutritious meals ready and waiting for us when we get home from work. This is the perfect time of the year to use our slow cooker. I have mine out almost on a weekly basis, not only enjoying the convenience of this great piece of equipment but also the delicious results of a long slow cooking method.  I have already made Beef Short Ribs in a Stout Sauce; Curried Pumpkin Chicken Soup and Steel Cut Oat Porridge with Dried Cherries, to mention just a few recipes used within the last month.

There are many different types of slow cookers on the market today, making it a good idea to read the instruction manual when you first get yours. The setting temperatures and times may vary according to manufacturer. To qualify as a safe slow cooker the appliance must be able to cook slow enough for unattended cooking yet fast enough to keep food above the danger zone.

In general, Low setting on a slow cooker = 190 degrees F and High setting = 300 degrees F.

When using a slow cooker, follow these guidelines.

1. Start with fresh or thawed meat–not frozen.

2. Use chunks rather than large cuts or roasts. Use pieces of poultry–not a whole chicken.

3. Cook meat on high for 1 hour and then turn cooker to low–rather than cooking on low for the entire length of time.

4. Only use recipes that include a liquid. Cooker should be ½ to ¾ full for best results.

5. Check internal temperature to make sure food reaches 160°F.

6. Do not delay starting time.

7. Do not reheat foods in slow cooker.

8. Keep the lid on.

We sometimes would like to turn one of our oven recipes into a recipe that will work in the slow cooker. A general conversion chart would be:

Oven Times                           Slow Cooker Times and Settings

15-30 minutes                      1 ½ – 2 ½ hours on High or 4 – 8 hours on Low

35-45 minutes                      3 – 4 hours on High or 6 – 10 hours on Low

50 minutes – 3 hours          4 – 6 hours on High or 8 – 18 hours on Low

We sometimes have callers concerned about the safety of their slow cookers. To determine if a slow cooker will heat food to a safe temperature, fill the cooker with 2 quarts of water. Heat on Low for 8 hours or the desired cooking time. Check the water temperature with an accurate thermometer (quickly because the temperature drops 10 to 15 degrees when the lid is removed).  - The temperature of the water should be 185° to 200°F. Temperatures above this would indicate that a product cooked for 8 hours without stirring would be overdone. Temperatures below this may indicate the cooker does not heat food high enough or fast enough to avoid potential food safety problems.

REF: Patricia Redlinger 1993; Pm-1523 free

Below is a conversion chart to illustrate comparative cook times for High and Low:

High Low
3 hours 7 hours
4 8
5 9
6 10
7 11
8 12

Typical slow cooker food loads and their respective cooking times:

Meat Cut Meat Weight Low cook time High cook time
Large pork roast 6-7 lbs 9 ½ hours 7 1/3 hours
Pork Loin 3-4 lbs 6 hours 5 hours
Poultry 6 lbs 7 1/2 hours 6 ¼ hours
Beef Roast 3-4 lbs 8 hours 5 ¾ hours
Stew meat 3 lbs 6 hours 4 ¾ hours
Fish 2 lbs 3 ½ hours 1 1/2 hours

All cook times are approximate. Appropriate cook time varies according to specific meat characteristics for fat content and connective tissue as well as other ingredients added to dish including liquid, size of meat cubes, type of vegetable, size of vegetable dice, how slow cooker is filled, etc.


Household Equipment, Winter

Keeping Pipes from Freezing

November 7th, 2013

Protecting Pipes from Freezing

The temperatures have recently gotten much colder outside, making us think about water pipes freezing in our homes. There are certain precautions to take to prevent this and it is also good to know how to thaw frozen pipes safely just in case this happens to you.

Pipes that run along an outside wall of a house may be at additional risk, as are water lines in outbuildings that do not have a heat source.

Adding extra insulation to prevent the pipes from freezing is always a good idea, but is not always feasible. Sometimes all it takes is opening the cabinet doors below the sinks, allowing heat to get near the pipes. A shielded light bulb placed near water pipes can also be effective, but make sure it does not come in contact with combustibles.

If, by chance, your pipes do freeze it is important to thaw them in the correct way. The first step is to turn the faucet on, which in turn will relieve the pressure in the line. Next, apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. This can be done by using a space heater, heat lamp, heat tape, hairdryer or towels soaked in hot water wrapped around the pipe. Always be cautious when using electrical appliances in wet locations and remember to thaw the pipe slowly! Take extra precaution if your pipes are made out of plastic instead of copper. Plastic pipes will become brittle and rigid at low temperatures and also have a lower melting point than copper pipes.

Lunch Box

Home Environment, Household Equipment ,

Crock Pot Tips

October 21st, 2013

Fall is here and as the days get dark earlier there is nothing better than to come home to a house filled with the aroma of dinner cooked in a slow cooker.  Slow cookers are wonderful appliances as long as you handle food safely.

Here are 10 tips to using your slow cooker.

  1.  Thaw all ingredients before putting them in the slow cooker.crock pot
  2. Start your food on high for the first hour then it can be turned down to low if necessary.
  3. Fill cooker no less than ½ full or no more than 2/3 full.
  4. Don’t lift the lid during cooking.  It reduces the temperature from 10-15 degrees and increases the cooking time by 30 minutes each time you lift the lid.
  5. Use the meat thermometer.  Poultry is done at 165°, Beef, Pork and Lamb at 160°
  6. Place the vegetables near the bottom because they cook the slowest.
  7. Don’t heat leftovers in the slow cooker.  Reheat leftovers on the stovetop then keep at serving temperature in a slow cooker that has been preheated.
  8. Keep perishable foods refrigerated until filling the slow cooker.
  9. Soak, rinse and cook beans before adding to the slow cooker.
  10. Don’t leave food to cool down in the slow cooker.  Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate immediately.

s signature - Copy

Food Safety, Household Equipment, recipes

Removing Discoloration from Aluminum Utensils

October 17th, 2013
aluminum pans

Left: Discolored
Right: Clean

Are your aluminum pans discolored?Discoloration that appears on aluminum utensils can be removed by boiling a solution of two to three tablespoons of cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar to each quart of water in the utensil for 5 to 10 minutes. Next, lightly scour with a soap-filled scouring pad. Cooking acid foods such as tomatoes or rhubarb will remove the stains naturally without affecting the cooked food product. To remove stains from the aluminum exterior, use a non-abrasive cleanser.


s signature - Copy

Cleaning, Household Equipment

Test Your Oven for Hot Spots

October 17th, 2013
Oven testing

Hot spots near oven edges

To test your oven for hotspots preheat to 350 degrees and place pieces of white bread directly onto the oven rack as seen in the picture. After 15 minutes the bread was toasted enough to see where the hot spots were located. The top side of the bread looked pretty evenly toasted but as you can see from the picture, the bottom side revealed definite differences in the oven heating pattern. Now that I know this, I will certainly consider rotating my baked products halfway through the baking time.








Household Equipment

Cheap Ice Pack

June 17th, 2013


Ice PackGet ready for the bumps and bruises of summer. Freeze corn syrup inside a double freezer bag for an inexpensive, effective, and reusable ice pack.







Household Equipment

Tips for buying the new style lightbulbs.

May 30th, 2013

We are now basing the purchase of light bulbs on lumens that the lights provide not in the watts that they use. Lumens are a measure of brightness. The more lumens the brighter the light, the less lumens  the dimmer the light.

According to the US Department of Energy the brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights in your home may vary widely, so here’s a rule of thumb:

  • To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

What Should I Look For On The Package? The Lighting Facts Label

Label on new lightbulbs

Label on new light bulbs

To help consumers better understand the switch from watts to lumens, the Federal Trade Commission requires a new product label for light bulbs. It helps people buy the light bulbs that are right for them.


The EPA website contains a free app to help you figure out which light bulb can replace your current incandescent bulbs.   It is easy to use and you can create and save a shopping list of bulbs that you use in your home.  I hope you find it as helpful as I did!

light bulb app

Free app.


s signature - Copy

Household Equipment , , ,