Monday, August 28, 2006

Two of my favorite kitchen helpers

It’s always nice to find new products to help make kitchen tasks easier. These are two of my favorites.

1. REYNOLDS® SLOW COOKER LINERS. These are plastic liners for your slow cooker. My biggest concern about these -- that they would draw liquid out of the slow cooker and leave a mess on the countertop -- has turned out to be a non-issue. (Sometimes my new slow cooker will do that all by itself, but that’s another story.) I wouldn’t bother to use the liners for soup or anything really liquid. But in any case where the food is apt to stick or the cleanup is apt to be messy, I find these liners very helpful. I always use them for my Crockpot Ribs, for example. And yesterday I made a recipe for Smoky Bean Stew -- containing mini sausages and many different types of beans/veggies -- which I assumed would turn out more stew-like than it actually did, so I didn’t use a liner. Oh, how I wish I had! This meal stuck on more than anything I had ever made in this cooker so far. When I bought it, I liked the look of the stainless steel cooker with black insert -- and I still like the look of it, but I’ve found that black stoneware hard to clean. Which leads me to my other favorite helper...

2. SCOTCH-BRITE® CAMPWARE COMPANIONS. These are terrific! They are small Scotch-Brite®-backed soap-filled sponges that come three to a package and are sold with the camping supplies. I first found these in the camping aisle at Walmart several years ago and took them on a camping trip. We do tent camping, so the dishes are washed in a bucket with water that’s been heated on a camp stove. I was thrilled with how these sponges cleaned up my skillet and dutch oven, even when foods really stuck on. When we returned home, I put the extra sponge to use in my kitchen. Even after the soap is used up, these sponges continue to work very well for pots and pans or any tough dishwashing job. I just keep the one I’m currently using tucked into a cute little custard cup on the windowsill above my sink. The others, with the open end of the package paper-clipped shut to keep them from drying out, live under the sink. Yesterday, as I was trying to clean the slow cooker stoneware (after having soaked it for a good six hours!), I muttered to myself that what I needed was a new Campware Companion. I thought I had run out of them, but no! There under the sink was a whole new package. Campware Companions to the rescue again! That stoneware was shining in no time.

I highly recommend these two helpers for anyone’s kitchen!

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