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I love to cook and create culinary adventures. I went on an adventure to Jamaica tonight with the Jerk chicken, cinnamon rice and beans and the grilled corn cobs. It was fantastic. There was an explosion of colour on my plate and the scent and spices of somewhere exotic took over my house, even wafting its way into the bathroom. That became a more pleasant visit than usual.
But despite this palatable adventure and its rich flavours and vibrant colours, there is a side to cooking that I often like to forget.
I hate cleaning. Don’t get me wrong, I want a beautifully clean house that looks like it just spilled out of an interior design magazine, but I hate the work involved in getting my place clean. Thankfully I only live in a one bedroom apartment and not a large and looming turn of the century monster with bear clawed armchairs in fading red satin and gilt edged buffets that collect just as much dust the minute you’ve cleaned them (that’s the dream for the future anyway).
Ugh. Do I have to? I mean, I just spent an hour on my culinary creation, and then spent half an hour devouring each sweet and savoury mouthful. Can’t we just leave it here and still remain friends?
Yeah, well, while I dream of having the maid follow me around and do all the dishes and bench cleaning for me, and while I may live with a cleaning Nazi, it appears that in this lifetime I will need to clean my own dishes.
Okay, so now I’ve had my gripe. But I wanted to share with you a handy little tip that will keep you creating culinary treasures and making exotic adventures to foreign lands all while never leaving your home. And it starts right in the kitchen.
Best appliance ever in my mind. I use the oven for everything, often using it every day. My mum hastens to remind me that I’m using extra energy by using the oven, and yeah, that may be true, but I can’t live without my oven. Anyway, as I live in a cold climate, where for 9 months of the year I feel the cold right down into my bones, the oven is also my second heater. See, I really am thinking about the environment in all this…
So, my tip for cleaning the oven: use steel wool.
I cannot tell you how effective this method is. Before I began my adventures to Jamaica this evening, I had a little up close and personal time with the oven. I spent a good 15 minutes trying to clean the oven door with the so called effective oven wipes. Personally, I find these things useless but I thought I’d give it one more go. So, I scrubbed and heaved and puffed and whatever else you do to get the bloody oven door clean. And the bugger just sat there taunting me as the oven wipe just kept missing every tiny drip and dollop of baked on grease.
After 15 minutes I gave up. I reached for the steel wool and a bowl of warm water. Within 10 seconds I had the entire oven door cleaned. A few more seconds to scrub those extra stubborn spots and it was done! What had taken me 15 minutes to get nowhere had taken me 20 seconds to get everywhere.
Seriously people, you gotta use steel wool!
I didn’t use any other chemicals or sprays or creams. I just used the steel wool.
In no time it was done.
Personally, I think this little gem is priceless.
However, there are a few other things you might like to keep in mind when cleaning your oven:
· Forget ever getting the oven to look like it did when you first bought it (that is unless you never ever cook in it!).
· Cleaning the oven when it’s still warm (but not hot enough to burn obviously) is supposed to make the cleaning easier. For me, the jury is still out on this one, but it might work for you.
· Be prepared that you will need to bend and wriggle and stretch yourself in funny ways to get into all the tiny crevices and to even be able to reach the back of the oven. In this instance, I recommend exercise pants to make life that much easier!
· If the oven light won’t go on by itself, get yourself a flash light, because its black and dark inside them there oven and you will never be able to see whether it’s all done (and you can’t pretend ignorance on this one as everybody will see all the spots once you do put the oven on and the light comes on next time).
· I would recommend cleaning the oven lightly once a month (as in cleaning the door of recent splatters) and a more thorough clean every two months (as in cleaning the whole thing, shelves included). That means you don’t get the build up I did today. And trust me, the saved time is much more useful applied to other pursuits.
And just in case you don’t believe me, here is a picture. The upper rung has been cleaned using the steel wool and the lower rung is the before. Okay, I’ll admit it; I haven’t cleaned the oven in about 6 months so there was a lot of ‘before’, and thus the reason for me to add the last dot point, and to learn from my mistake.