Monday, October 20, 2014

Are you measuring your ingredients right??


DRY MEASURING CUPS

These measuring cups can be used to scoop dry or non-liquid  ingredients, 
such as : flour, sugar, butter etc. 
They are meant to be filled and the flattened top allows them to be leveled off 
for accuracy in measures.


Usually comes in a set of :
1/4 cup
1/2 cup
3/4 quarters cup
1 cup

However, you could also use a measuring scale, 
if you require sharp and precise measures.




MEASURING SPOONS

Used for both wet / liquid or dry ingredients, 
such as coarse or fine sugar, liquid essence, baking powder etc. 



It also allows dry ingredients to be leveled off for accurate measures while baking.


Usually comes in basic measures :
1/4 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon

WET / LIQUID MEASURING CUPS

These measuring cups are translucent and come in the shape of a pitcher or a mug 
which also makes pouring out liquids easier. 
They have their measurements marked on the walls of the cup, 
with sufficient space left near the rim to avoid spilling or overflow.  
This cup facilitates accurate measuring of liquid  ingredients, 
such as : water, milk, oils etc.


Usually comes in plastic or Pyrex glass cups :
Pyrex glass measuring cups facilitates use in microwave 
for heating of ingredients where necessary. 
For instance, you can melt butter or chocolate, 
and at the same time never go wrong with the measures.

NOTE : Invest in a good set of measuring cups and spoons. Baking is a play of precise measures and accurate proportions for successful and consistent results.. Guesstimating or eyeballing works well with many methods of cooking, but definitely not with baking!
Other than for baking, precise measurements are sometimes inevitable for certain recipes that involve cooking rice, making ice-creams, desserts etc. 




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guide to washing Vegetables & Fruits



Did you know?? Every year, millions of people fall ill from food contamination, including sickness caused through fruits and vegetables. Dangerous pesticides, chemicals and substances in soil and water, poor hygiene of employees who handle them, animals and various other conditions lead to these deadly contamination. In order to help prevent food-borne illness from striking you and your family, washing these produces thoroughly before eating them raw or cooked is inevitable


I am truly grateful to the Almighty, for blessing me with a mother, who raised me with healthy eating. I hardly remember falling sick when it was she who cooked for me and fed me.. After marriage when I moved out, and had to manage both home and work hand in hand, I started adopting shortcuts to cooking, or ate out more often. :( That eventually paved way to new sicknesses and even loosing control over weight gain. Well, that made me realize the importance of her dedication to eating and feeding healthy and taking care of even the most seemingly simple things with absolute care. This method of washing fruits and veggies being one of those many things, she does scrupulously without a compromise.. :)  

Follow these five easy steps to having safe fruits and vegetables for you and your family right at home. 



If you are using your kitchen sink to wash the vegetables and fruits, make sure you wash it thoroughly, disinfect it or sterilize it with boiling water before proceeding. However, if you aren't really sure of how clean your sink may be, or you often wash meat in the same sink, make sure you use a clean bowl instead. 

Just holding fruits and vegetables under a running tap, will do no good. You do not have to spend money over expensive chemical rinses and other treatments for washing them. Though such products are often advertised as the best way to keep fresh fruits and vegetables safe, all you really require is clean water, vinegar and some salt for an effective and thorough cleaning. Cleaning them with vinegar helps kill bacteria and ensures they are safe for consumption. Turmeric powder is also a good alternative. 


Rub fruits and vegetables briskly with your hands under running water, if they are heavily soiled, before soaking them. For example, potato is one such vegetable that may require a quick rinse.  



Vegetables with a hard crust or firm skin may sometimes require a bit of scrubbing. Use a brush to scrub and make sure it is cleaned and air dried after every use.

Never wash fruits and vegetables with detergents or bleach solutions!! Some fruits and vegetables easily absorb these chemicals, and could turn out to be very dangerous when consumed. 


Vegetables and fruits that require refrigeration can be stored in clean vegetable bins or in covered containers. Do not keep cut, peeled or cooked fruits or vegetables at room temperature for more than an hour.  Refrigerate them in dry and covered containers, preferably glass.


Having said all this, it is always best to have your own little organic vegetable garden in your backyard, terrace or even a balcony. If that's not viable, though a little expensive, try to buy organic produce. Not only will it save you the cost of hospital bills, but will also save you and your family from deadly diseases. Live healthy by eating healthy.. :)


Hope this segment was a helpful read. Your valuable feedback and suggestions would mean a lot. Kindly comment below or send in a message on Facebook


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Grating Garlic and Ginger


Other than for cheese, garlic and ginger you could also grate :


1. Tomatoes - for tomato pulp.
2. Apples - to make baby purée.
3. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts etc - for quick powdering.
4. Dried ginger or turmeric or nutmeg - for fresh powder.
5. Jaggery - for payasams or ada
6. Cinnamon - for flavoring.
7. Firm Chocolate - for garnish.
8. Refrigerated Butter - for quick spread.
9. Coconut - to extract milk, or for making chutney, just in case you do not have a blender.









Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Clean Bathroom Effortlessly in less than 10 minutes



What is a bathroom? Well, " It is a room for personal hygiene." Of course!! But, personalize that question a little more and you would have some interesting answers.. :) For almost everyone, it is more of a private space and they would have a personal reason why.. :)

I know so many who say, "I do my best thinking in the bathroom!" For some it is the place to relax, for some it is the place of retreat from the stresses of life or a place of rejuvenation after a day of hard work and toil or the place where they choose to peacefully reflect.. For yet others, it is a home spa. There are some for whom it is a safe hide-out, where they'd run to, to be with themselves.. to either sob, let out that inner frustration and anger, or excitement and thrill which they hesitate to express elsewhere.. :) For some, standing under the shower helps them wash down their tears, wash down their stresses and yet others imagine themselves  standing under the rain and dance in bliss.. :) For some - the so called bathroom-singers, :) who are usually shy, nervous or trembling in front of others,  the bathroom is their perfect acoustic studio; the shower their mic and they gleefully sing to their heart's desire.. Must say, there are some who turn out to be an utter nuisance to their housemates or neighbours too.. :) Some practice public speaking, some enjoy reading, for some it's a hideout for smoking. Some even shove down the seat of the toilet, sit on it and set off to sleep.. :) etc.. etc.. etc.. :)

Well, point is.. Besides all these, if the primary purpose of the bathroom is for personal hygiene, where one goes in to come out fresh and hygienic, then shouldn't it be the most sterile and cleanest room in the house, or for that matter anywhere??? Did you know, the bathroom harbours some of the filthiest illness-causing bacteria, lurking everywhere from the sink faucet to toilets to even the cleaning materials used to clean.  All it takes, is changing a few habits, doing some regular cleaning and practicing some basic hygiene. Training little children with such habits is equally significant. Hygiene starts at home, but our responsibilities do not end there!! It is the duty of every individual to ensure that hygiene is given the deserved significance, be it at work places, schools, colleges, restaurants, hospitals, public places etc. It is every person's right! Above all, it's high time we stop complaining or making excuses, take responsibility and make an initiative to incorporate the changes we desire. 


While the whole world goes viral over the ice-bucket challenge, I'd suggest a "CLEAN A BATHROOM CHALLENGE!" :) Trust me, it's not all that easy, but, if you are a woman  or you travel a lot, you may be able to relate to such a need! :) Well, some remote places require a toilet in the first place!! :D So, maybe it's also good to initiate a "Build a toilet challenge" too.. :) Well, my husband, and I are into the groundwork of building a toilet in one such rural area. That reminds me of a very inspiring challenge initiated by our Padma Shri Dr.Mammootty, renowned photographer Imthias Kadeer and Abdul Manaf, CEO of Easysoft Technologies who founded the "My Tree Challenge", which is indeed appreciable! The cause encourages everyone around the globe to participate by planting a sapling and challenge others (rather encourage others) to do so too.. :) LESSON : If you will, even a small initiative you take could make a big difference! :) Let's all make this world a better place.. Starting from our own homes! :)

"Bathroom cleaning!! Ughhh!! The most dreadful household cleaning chore! From soap scum and mildew to dirt and hair!! Eww!! cleaning is no easy task!!" Is that by any chance your voice?? Are you someone who spends a lot on keeping cleaners to clean your place? In that case, come join me and see how easy it is to have a Spotlessly Clean Bathroom, effortlessly, in less than 10 minutes, every single day!! :) Your outlook about bathroom cleaning will change forever! Follow me.. :)


You will need :

1.      Bathroom cleaner : Environment friendly cleaning products are available in any supermarkets today. White vinegar is a good alternative. Laundry detergents are also a good cleaner, for cleaning the bathtub, bath walls or the bowl of the toilet.

2.      Glass cleaner is Optional. Plain water and a clean towel is more than enough for a not too dirty mirror or glass. You could also use Paper towels.

3.      Towels : Keep couple of clean towels handy for cleaning. Choose two different colours, so that you know which is for the mirrors or glass and which for other cleaning.

4.      Brush or sponge : Either of the two. If you use a brush, make sure you use a soft bristled but firm brush. Hard abrasion will damage your fixtures! So, be cautious.

5.      Toilet Brush : Preferably the simple hangable and not too hard bristled one!

6.      Mop : If your bathroom floor has spaced tiles, mop wouldn't be suitable. In that case either use a towel if it doesn't get too dirty or scrub with a brush and rinse down with water.

7.      Gloves : Optional. If you have sensitive skin or you are using a sponge for the cleaning.

  

Before you follow this Cleaning regimen :

1.     De-clutter : Make sure you throw away any unnecessary things. YES! Minimal basics is the key to having a clean, hygienic and clutter free bathroom. All you need are a few basic essentials, toiletries and regularly used grooming products.  Remember “Less is More!!”

2.      Deep cleansing : Do one last deep cleansing thoroughly with disinfectant bathroom cleaner, laundry detergent and bleach if required. Scrub each and every nook and corner of the bathroom well with a brush and rinse off with water for a sparklingly clean toilet and say goodbye to laborious cleaning for good! :)

3.      Touch ups : After the bathroom dries completely, examine if any touch ups are required, like cement or silicon fillings or fixing cracks which may give way to germ-growth.

4.      Clean Cleaning materials : If your cleaning materials are in poor shape and are dirty in the first place, PLEASE throw them away and get new ones! Make sure you rinse the towels in plain water after every use, wring it and hang to air-dry. Wash them thoroughly with detergent, twice a week. Fresh, clean towels are inevitable. If it smells awful, it's either time to give it a deep-washing in hot soapy water or discard them for new. If you are lazy to wash them every day, keep a set of 5-7 towels, throw them into a bin after every use and wash them together so that you have another set of clean towels for the next week.

5.      Clean the Drains : Particularly three places. The drains in the sink / washbasin, the bathtub, and the common drain. Once you see the water draining out a bit slow, or it starts getting a bit stinky, it's an indication that the drains are clogging up. Give those drains a good preventative cleaning to keep them clear of oil or grease, and hair clogs. Make sure you pour in some Drain opener or you could go by the environment friendly method - Pour in 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar into each. The mixture will foam up. Allow that to sit for 8-10 minutes and then pour boiling water down the drain. If you are using powdered or liquid drain openers, be very cautious and follow instructions given on the bottle.

6.      Frequency of Cleaning :  Your frequency of cleaning depends on the use. If you have small children, make sure you clean daily. They touch almost every place of the bathroom in the struggle to reach out. If you have quite a few members using the bathroom, make it a point that you give a quick wipe with a towel once or twice a day and share the task with other members. A clean bathroom should be everyone's need!


Step 1 :

Spray glass cleaner onto the mirror, and wipe off with a clean towel. If your mirrors do not get too dirty, you just need to sprinkle some water and wipe clean. But, to get those toothpaste spittle off and odor caused by it, spray some glass cleaner. CLEAN TOWEL is a must for mirrors, glass and windows. Paper towels are also a good option.


Step 2 :

Spray the wash basin, faucet, counter tops and surrounding walls with a disinfectant bathroom cleaner. Vinegar is also a good cleanser. But, personally, I do not like the smell of vinegar. :)


Scrub the inside of the basin with a sponge or a brush including the drain top.
  


Rinse thoroughly with clean water.


Wash and wring the sponge thoroughly and leave to air-dry. If you are using a brush, wash the bristles thoroughly, shake off excess water and leave to air-dry. If you are proceeding over to cleaning the bath area, you can rinse off after that use.


Step 3 :

Wipe off the sprayed bathroom cleaner and any excess water with a clean towel. Do not miss out on any area. If you give your towel couple of folds, you could turn each side over for a fresh side to wipe a new area.


Step 4 :

Glass cleaner is the best cleaner for sparkling and shining faucets that look new forever. :)


Step 5 :

Wipe down the counter-tops and cabinets. Do not forget the interiors of the cabinets too. You do not have to do this every day though.
  

Step 6 :

An area often forgotten is the surrounding walls. Since they aren't areas that get dirty very often, you can get away with cleaning this area once or twice a week. 
  

Trust me, your wash area will look stunning in no more than 2-3 minutes, that you will love doing this and will have a sparkling and specklessly clean wash area 24/7. :)


Step 7 :

Next is the Toilets. A sanitary ware that can get the nastiest if not cleaned properly. Trust me, it's no big deal if you take a minute or two every day, or at least every alternate day. All you need to do is, spray some disinfectant cleaner all over and into the bowl. Scrub the inside of the bowl and under the brim with a toilet brush. You can save money from buying harsh toilet cleaners if you do this regularly. The disinfectant cleaner will not only clean the bowl but will also clean the brush. Make sure you rinse the brush thoroughly, shake off excess water and leave to air-dry. You can buy toilet brushes that come on a hanging box, which is the best. The brush will not touch any surface and will dry out completely. Do not conceal it away in a casing. You are trapping along moisture, facilitating the growth of germs and bad odor by doing so. Once you are done, flush down.


Wipe the surface thoroughly. The surface, the seat, the cover and the flush tank. Do not  ignore or forget the area under the bowl and base as it can get very dirty. Remember, kids touch those areas with their bare hands to climb on and often walk out without washing their hands and could end up eating with those same hands.

Again.. another 2 minutes or less, is all it takes for a clean and sparkling toilet. :)


Step 8 :

Different bathrooms have different bath fixtures. Some are plain and absolutely simple, some have glass partitioning or doors, some have tubs, so on and so forth. If you have a plain bath area, very well! It's the easiest to clean!  :) All you need is a shower curtain and you are good to go. Bath areas with glass doors are definitely elegant, but, if not cleaned appropriately, it could turn out to be a total disaster with mold and mildew in the corners and the glass always dirty with soap scum and water marks. But, It's not a problem if you maintain it well. The same goes for bathtubs.

The best time to clean a bath area is while having shower! Therefore while you prepare yourself for a shower, make sure you have spayed across some bathroom cleaner or vinegar in all the dirty nooks and corners. You could spray some glass cleaner on the glass as well. As far as I have tried, the best cleaning agent for a bath area is laundry detergent. Spray some water across and with a bathroom brush and little detergent give a real quick brushing. If you do this every alternate day in the shower, the grime and scum will clean off quickly and you wouldn't have to do that dreadful and laborious scrubbing. You can brush the taps, handles, tiles, soap dish and absolutely any surface. Once done, rinse the brush, shake off the water and leave to air-dry in a clean and dry place. Then run the shower over to wash down all the lather and continue with your shower. After the shower, you could give one quick rinse down the whole area. keep a clean dry towel handy and wipe down the glasses, taps and then the surfaces and you'll have a sparkling and shining bath area! :)

If you use a shower curtain, make sure you wash it once in 2 weeks or so. Make sure you rinse the inside of the shower curtain after every shower, and leave it  pulled, having no folds so that it can air out and stay mold free forever. If you have a glass door, leave it open. Remember to leave your exhaust on or window open for proper ventilation for atleast 30 minutes, until the bath dries completely.


Step 9 :

Finally mop your floor. If you have an open bathroom, and if your floor has spaced tiles, moping wouldn't clean off well. In that case, scrub with a brush and rinse down with water. If you bathroom floor doesn't have a separate drain, do not wash! Only mop!

The ceiling is not a place that gets dirty often. Therefore, you will only have to wipe it with a towel once in 6 months or even a year or maybe never! Depends on your climate and ventilation.


Step 10 :

Last but not least, the finishing touches. Keep accessories simple and modest. 



Bathroom is not a place for unnecessary decorating and cluttering! Some towels, a hand wash, a plant, maybe a picture (moisture proof) a set of hand and face towels is the maximum you will need. If you have bathroom readers in the house, at the most, a shelf or rack for hoarding the magazines or newspapers.


Do not forget the 'Keeping the bathroom smelling fresh' part. :) A good deodorizer or scented candles etc. can do the trick. But, make sure you keep them out of reach of children!


There we are.. :) This is my secret to a Clean Bathroom, Effortlessly and Happily.. :) My guests wow when they enter my bathroom, some even ask me if we use it! I have even got compliments like "can we have a bed so that we can sleep in here.." My dad frowns at me thinking I am scrubbing and polishing it all day long! :) But, trust me, all it takes is no more than 6 - 10 minutes of maintenance at bath time! :)
Hope this post helps you, or was something you were searching for to share with a near and dear. Please do feel free to share this post and help someone who is struggling with proper bathroom cleaning or maintenance. :) Looking forward to your valuable feedback for more of such posts on this blog. :)