Home Tips


Cleaning your Home

I know many of you have your spring cleaning or fall cleaning with ongoing maintenance as needed.  At our house there is always cleaning going on.  Some days the windows are being cleaned, some days different rooms, etc.  By keeping things clean all the time our house staff never make a big deal out of cleaning.  Things always have a fresh smell.  Our people use Meyers cleaning products for many of these functions.  They make a nice selection of pleasantly scented products that are safe to use.

Marble– This material’s porous nature makes it prone to etching and staining .   This is especially true with polished, as opposed to matte finished product.  Protecting it against staining and etching takes effort.  Not a lot, but treating it correctly will make it look good for a long time.  Sealing repels staining agents but doesn’t make it stainproof.  Marble sealants are sufficient when water beads.  When it no longer beads, its time to reseal.  Vinegar, citrus and tomato will etch marble, so do not let them sit on the stone.  Treat your marble like you would treat a fine wood finish.  Use coasters and cutting boards.  Wipe up spills immediately.  Cleaning:  Avoid using acidic or abrasive cleaners.  Use a damp sponge, or, on floors a damp mop to clean.  I like to use Miracle Sealants tile and stone cleaner.  Spot Treatment:  To remove stubborn stains use a poultice paste.  Spread it onto the stain, then cover with plastic wrap sealed with painters tape.  Once dry (12-24 hrs.) scrape the paste off and wipe with a damp cloth.  For really deep stains you may have to repeat this process.

Windows–  Do not wash windows in direct sunlight.  Streaking will result of fast drying.  Dust windows first with a soft brush.  Mix equal parts of white vinegar and hot water in a bucket.  Wet a sponge in the mixture and use it to wipe away dirt.  Dampen a squeegee’s rubber blade.  Draw it downward on the glass in a straight stroke, wiping the squeegee each stroke.   Repeat the process overlapping your strokes.  Screens–  Work in the yard or another area with drainage.  First, lay the screens flat on the ground, prop against a wall or hold smaller ones at a slight angle.  Wet a scrub brush in a mixture of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid.  Run it over the screen and frame, both sides.  Rinse with a hose or under the faucet.  Let them dry completely before reinstalling.

Slatted Blinds–  Metal or vinyl venetian blinds… Wipe each slat individually with a clean cloth dampened in a mixture of warm water and just a few drops of dishwashing liquid, squeezed out until not sloppy wet.  Wooden Blinds and shutters….  Wipe each slat with a damp cloth with no soap.  Dry with a clean cloth.

Counters and Backsplashes–  Your approach should depend on the material.  Above I already covered Marble (floors and counters).  Engineered Stone such as SileStone….  Just spray with an all purpose cleaner and wipe with a microfiber cloth.  Granite…Wipe with a cloth dampened in a mixture of warm water and a pH-neutral stone cleaner.  Soapstone or Laminate….  Wipe with a soft cloth dampened in a mixture of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water.  Spot treat stained areas with a thick paste of baking soda and water.  Stainless Steel…Use a mild abrasive like Bon Ami and warm water.  Dry fully and buff with a clean dry cloth.  Tile…  Wipe tiles with a mixture of warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid.  Clean grout with a thick mixture of warm water and baking soda.  Unfinished butcher Block…Wipe with a mixture of warm water, mild dishwashing liquid, a little vinegar, some lemon juice.  Then wipe with a little mineral oil.

Laundry-  Always check the care labels.  Cotton fabrics usually are washable or can be dry cleaned.  It wrinkles easily and may shrink.  Cotton usually irons well.  Cottons can include canvas, corduroy, denim, gabardine, jersey, lace, muslin, percale, poplin, seersucker, ticking and voile.  Cotton/polyester fabrics can be in many proportions, more wrinkle-resistant and breathes better than polyester.  Its more likely to stain that 100% cotton.  Use cool water on cotton.  Cotton/poly should be washed on the Permanent Press Cycle.  Wash similar colors together.  Chlorine bleach is only safe for white cottons.  Cottons should be dried on low heat.  Use the Permanent Press Cycle on the dryer for cotton/polys.  Washing your washing machine-  Use mild detergent and water for the enamel finish.  If stainless steel follow the hints above for that finish.  Your Dryer– When lint collects in the dryer filter it causes the machine to operate inefficiently, and accumulated lint is a fire hazard.  Clean the lint filter every time you use the machine.  Replace the filter as recommended by the manufacturer.

Hi, I’m Marge Fraser, program coordinator for The South Florida Garden Show.  Please feel free to direct any cleaning or household challenges to me at mfraser@universalmediaent.com      Allow about 24 hours for your personal response.  I only communicate via email.

 

Grilling 

 

Whenever you cook outdoors these tips can help keep you safe and make your experience better.
  • Always have your equipment in a well ventilated location
  • Keep kids and pets away from the work area
  • No lighter fluid applied to HOT coals
  • Do not use gas or kerosene
  • Close the lid only when you are ready to cook

Getting ready to grill.  Tools you will need:  Tongs and/or spatula, grilling grid for smaller food like chopped veggies, a disposable aluminum tray for heating side dishes like baked beans, a wire grill brush for cleaning the grill, long-handled tongs for handling briquettes.

Prepping the grill.  Arrange briquets in a pyramid at the bottom of the grill.  Pour lighter fluid over the top of the briquettes until they are glossy.  Light them.  When they appear ready for cooking spread them in a single layer or bank them.  Set the grid in place and load the food.  Briquets are ready when they are about 70% covered in ash.  Thinner pieces of meat respond better to high temperature direct heat grilling.  Thicker pieces of meat cook really good without with both high and low temperatures.  To achieve this you can stack extra briquets to one side of the grate.  When you start cooking cook directly over the briquets  until the outside of the meat has reached the desired doneness.  Them move the meat to the other side of the grate, the low temp side, to finish cooking.  To cook food evenly, charcoal should extend about an inch beyond the area covered by the food.

For grilling chicken:  Baste with oil of marinade.  Lay on the grill skin side up.  Break the joints to keep halves and quarters flat on the grill.  Try to grill similar size pieces.  Grill halves and quarters at approximately 350 degrees, breasts at 375 degrees.  Chicken is done when joints move easily and juices run clear.  If you place the darker meat at the hottest part of the grill.  When you apply a dry rub to chicken, its often hard to keep the rub affixed and even harder to keep the chicken’s original, golden color.  Try painting chicken pieces with yellow mustard prior to applying any rub.  Not only will the rub stay in place, your chicken will look better – without any mustard flavor !  I like to use a golden bbq sauce on chicken.  Usually this is a South Caroline sauce, but that’s up to you.

For grilling seafood:  Choose meaty fish like tuna, swordfish or Hog Snapper.  Cut filets 1 – 1 1/2″ thick.  Clean grill so fish won’t stick.  Oil the grill with olive oil.  Handle fish with a spatula to keep it from breaking apart.  If marinating, limit time in marinade to one or two hours at most.

For grilling pork:  Use chops that are 1 – 1 1/2 Inches thick.  Cook thoroughly but just until juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink along the bone.  Pork pairs well with skewered fresh veggies that have been brushed with marinade before and during cooking.

For grilling veggies:  The trick to evenly cooked veggies kabobs is to parboil starchy or solid veggies before placing on skewers.  You can wrap some veggies in foil and cook them on the grill, but remember that foods wrapped in foil should be turned often to prevent burning and ensure even cooking.

Smoking:  Pay strict attention to internal grill temperature.  Maintain the temp at 225 – 250 degrees.  Continue to monitor heat.

Searing:  Place meat over the hottest part of the grill.  Cook thin pieces for a minute to a minute and a half on each side, flipping once, then remove from grill.  Check for doneness before serving.  You may want to add some more time on the grill.

Skewers:  Kabobs are always welcome at the table.  Incorporate strips of meat, chicken or shrimp and make sure the skewer goes all the way through the food twice to keep everything in place.  That way the food doesn’t rotate and it will cook evenly.  If using wood skewers, soak them in water for about an hour prior to use to keep them from burning.  I like the modern stainless steel skewers.  Use a mitt to handle any skewers you use.  Remember, mopping your kabobs constantly with marinade will improve taste and make you keep an eye on them so they come out just right.  You always want to be proud of what you put on the table.  Nobody wants to hear apologies and excuses!

 

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