Minimizing my Kitchen - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 07-07-2011, 04:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My plan is to go room-by room in my house and get rid of things I don't need. I've been married to DH for a little over three years now and we have only moved once (that was merging our two apartments together into a townhouse). I have a new baby and I babysit in my home 2-3 days a week. I don't enjoy cooking all that much. It's okay, but I don't like to do it every day. I prefer to cook up a big batch of something every few days. My kitchen is small. There isn't much counter space and the cabinets are a bit awkward. I am a couponer (not too extreme haha) but I need more space for my grocery finds. Right now they overflow into the entryway closet. I'd like to have all the food easily accessible in the kitchen. There's no pantry. So that's a little background on my kitchen space and how I use it.

 

I noticed that just DH and I make loads of dirty dishes. It's really ridiculous that 2 people can have so many dirty cups, plates, etc. So For my first challenge, I decided to take out only a few dishes and see if we can get by using just those. I'm starting with 2 large plates, 4 half plates, 2 bowls, a large glass, juice glass and mug. We've been using this now for a couple days and magically there are no dishes sitting in the sink!! The "rule" is that we wash the dish after we use it and put it in the drying rack. 

 

Oops, baby's crying... more later!


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#2 of 40 Old 07-07-2011, 05:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok NAK lol

 

So next up I need to do the same thing with my baking utensils, storage boxes and serving dishes. My problem is that I do use some of these on occasion. We might have people over once a month or so. How do you all decide what you need in this case? Eventually my goal is to get rid of all the plastics and have covered glass containers that double as serving and storage dishes. 

 

My last problem in the kitchen is the appliances. I have a hand mixer, blender, two small food chopper/grinder things, toaster, toaster oven, electric griddle and coffee maker. The mixer is great, small and I use it a lot. The blender I also use a lot. The other two small food processors were gifts. I use them sometimes but I think I could get most of the same stuff done w the blender maybe? I'm a few months away from needing to make mashed up food for baby. Should I keep one of the smaller appliances to puree bananas? eat.gif The griddle was also a gift and I think it has to go. Also the coffee maker is a waste bc I use a French Press. It kills me to have a toaster AND toaster oven... but I don't know if I can get DH to part w the toaster. I like the toaster oven bc I can heat stuff up in the summer without heating up my whole house. Oh and there's the microwave. It has it's own stand. I wish I could get rid of it, but just use it too much. Any appliance advice?

 

Now let's talk about my incentive... aside from having less to clean and feel cluttered by, I decided to replace my random, slightly burned, mismatched kitchen towels and pot holders with cute, new ones


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#3 of 40 Old 07-08-2011, 09:53 PM
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The main thing is to find the right balance for you -- a balance that  makes the place really functional for you and even encourages you to use the space. :) I found that when I went minimal in the kitchen, I started to cook a lot more.

 

So, our kitchen is really minimal, and the only appliances we have are fridge, range, and a dish washer (came with the place; we don't use it) plus a crock pot. 

 

we have minimal storage too -- 4 drawers and four under-bench (counter) cabinets plus the one under the sink.

 

In the first drawer closest to the range, we have our tea drawer -- 3 kinds of tea and honey. Beneath this drawer is our "pantry storage" cabinet. Top shelf has sugar, agave nectar, salt (we buy in bulk), rice and quinoa (in jars). Bottom shelf has two phone books.

 

In the second drawer, we have our spices in the various containers, salt and pepper shakers, etc, plus some wax paper, parchment paper, and foil. I hardly use this stuff, but i needed it for specific things and that's where I store my left overs. Beneath this drawer, the top shelf houses our jars (which will be used for spices, when I get to it), and beneath that is where the crock-pot is stored. 

 

The third drawer is the first dish drawer. This drawer has the measuring cup (glass, large), two pie plates (we use these for anything from making quiche to baking cookies), our bowls (3), my husband's "keep cup" (take-away coffee cup, reuseable), and our mugs (now 4 in number). Beneath this drawer I keep our muffin tin and large salad/mixing bowl on the top shelf, and on the bottom, our plastic containers (numbered at 6 total). 

 

the final drawer has our dishes -- two large and three small plates -- plus 4 short glasses, plus our silverware (4 of each spoon, knife, fork). Beneath this, the cabinet is empty.

 

On top of the fridge, which is on the other side of the range from the drawers, I have a basket with the knives in it, plus the other related utensils (eg, spatula, spoon, whisk, masher, can opener, grater, etc), and then a small area of art supplies (paints, brushes, paper, crayons), and a second basket with our candles and matches for our fire fairy.

 

I keep our skillet and pot on the stove top, since we use them 2-5 times a day, as well as our teapot, because we use that a lot too! No reason to put it anywhere else and lug it out, but I would likely put those things where the phone books are, and move the phone books under our dishes if I felt the need to put them away-away. But on the stovetop is good enough for me. :) And, that's all we have -- two skillets, one pot, one teapot. :D

 

On the countertop, I have a plate with olive, sesame, and coconut oils and a space for vinegar (though we currently don't have any), and then my second skillet is currently holding our fruit right next to that, and we have several jars of nuts there as well -- nice and accessible in a little row. 

 

so, that's my whole kitchen. I have found that having less actually means we cook more, because we do very simple recipes and processes. I can clean up as I cook, and then clean the dishes right after eating and wipe up the counters and such, and it's quick and easy. 

 

I do miss my mandoline (slicer) and also my food mill, but I'm doing ok without for now. Back in the US, I have my dishes -- essentially bowls and plates (small) for 6 plus 3 serving plates, silverware for 6 -- plus a few other kitchen stuff like my food mill. It's two small boxes, and I look forward to eventually having them. I think I have enough space for everything still (as most of my cabinets are pretty bare!), and I'll continue to keep it minimal. :)

 

I hope you find a good balance that works for you!

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#4 of 40 Old 07-09-2011, 05:04 PM
 
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I've lived for months at a time with very minimal kitchen equipment, usually after an overseas move while we wait for the shipping container with our household goods to catch up to us. It's always a good experience to re-set my notions of what I really need in a kitchen. What I've found is that I can do a lot with a good set of knives, a few pots and pans, and a very few selected small appliances (immersion blender, toaster and kettle). Of course, a lot depends on what and how you cook.

 

So if you can, as an exercise, you may want to pack up or set aside most of your kitchen goods for a couple of weeks or a month. When you take an item out and use it, because you really, really want and need to use it, then you'll know it's something you won't want to live without.

 

This is especially helpful for small kitchen appliances. I thought I *needed* a microwave because we used it every day. Then it broke down, around the same time I started getting concerned about health concerns with microwaves. We tossed it out and I rarely missed it. I'll admit though, we were long past needing it to heat up food for a hungry baby, so I might have missed it more if my kids had been younger.

 

Same with the toaster oven, food processor, blender, and breadmaker, . Occasionally I miss them, but I can manage with our oven and cooktop, a good set of knives, and an immersion blender. I must have a toaster, because toast with butter keeps my body and soul together - it's my comfort food.

 

Now having said all that, I admit that in the past year, I have splashed out on a stand mixer, and I think we will get a food processor soon, because I am missing it for a bunch of recipes. So after several years of living minimally, I am slowly adding stuff back into the kitchen.

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#5 of 40 Old 07-09-2011, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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zoebird... your kitchen sounds awesome! I'm sure living in NZ has given you such a different perspective! I watched an episode of House Hunters in NZ and it looks so beautiful and amazing. I never thought of storing stuff in drawers, but that gives me a good idea. Right now my biggest drawer is taken up by spoons and forks and stuff. If I can pare those down I could free up that space for something else... maybe plates!

 

ollyoxenfree... I am happy to report I have sold my Magic Bullet and Cuisineart Chopper/Grinder (I did a Facebook "Yardsale" lol) So there is $14 and one cabinet shelf clean! biggrinbounce.gif I'm hoping to sell the electric griddle, coffee maker and maybe the toaster if I can convince DH. He cooks a lot for me and brings me snacks when I'm nursing or tired so I feel bad depriving him of his toast and bagel making appliances. I do want to be rid of the microwave one day... you're right maybe when the kid(s) are older and I can use both hands to prep my lunch.

 

 

I'm going to take some "before" pics tomorrow. 

 

Also, what do you all know about non stick pans? I read about Teflon being unhealthy. I'm thinking about phasing out all of my nonstick but I have never cooked in a non-nonstick pan... lol 


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#6 of 40 Old 07-09-2011, 09:13 PM
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it's fine. we use an iron skillet and a stainless steel pot and our crock pot (i have a massive beef stew going now). 

 

you just need a bit more fat, stock or water in the cooking on an iron surface, so that things don't stick, but that's no problem really. :)

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#7 of 40 Old 07-10-2011, 09:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZakareyasMama View Post

 

ollyoxenfree... I am happy to report I have sold my Magic Bullet and Cuisineart Chopper/Grinder (I did a Facebook "Yardsale" lol) So there is $14 and one cabinet shelf clean! biggrinbounce.gif .

 


Hooray!!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZakareyasMama View Post

 

Also, what do you all know about non stick pans? I read about Teflon being unhealthy. I'm thinking about phasing out all of my nonstick but I have never cooked in a non-nonstick pan... lol 


I found it takes a bit of adjusting and trial and error to get used to cast iron, but the only thing I still have trouble cooking are eggs. I admit that when I'm making scrambled or fried eggs, I miss using a non-stick pan. I know many people don't have any trouble though. It's just me.
 

 

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#8 of 40 Old 07-10-2011, 02:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZakareyasMama View Post
Also, what do you all know about non stick pans? I read about Teflon being unhealthy. I'm thinking about phasing out all of my nonstick but I have never cooked in a non-nonstick pan... lol 


Go the cast iron! Great alternative to non-stick coatings; much nicer to cook with than plain stainless steel. Well-seasoned cast iron is almost as non-stick as Teflon, and if you accidentally destroy the seasoning, it can be restored without too much trouble, unlike non-stick coatings. Non-stick coatings are delicate, sensitive to high heat and scratching and if damaged the whole pan is ruined. That is apart from any health concerns about Teflon.

 

I use my 12" skillet all the time, and having one with a (glass) lid means it's even more versatile (can steam/simmer more easily). Occasionally I find myself wishing for a smaller (lighter) skillet, such as when I need to fry off a single onion, but couldn't do family-sized meals in anything smaller than the 12".

 

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#9 of 40 Old 07-11-2011, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Before.....

 

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#10 of 40 Old 07-11-2011, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#11 of 40 Old 07-11-2011, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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After...

 

 

All the food is together in one set of cabinets so that I can quickly see what I have. It makes meal planning for the week SO much easier. 

 

The dishes are pared down to daily use essentials: 2 plates, 2 half plates, 2 bowls, a few knives/spoons/forks, one mug and 3 glasses. They are stored in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is the new drying rack. Since we have so few dishes, they don't pile up and need to go in the dishwasher! The rest of my dishes are put away above the refrigerator for when people come over.

 

Baking and serving dishes and storage containers all fit in one cabinet.

 

I threw away my non-stick pot and loaf pans and a bunch of plastic boxes.

 

I am selling my useable but nonessential appliances and serving bowls (on Facebook). 

 

I have counter space!!

 

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#12 of 40 Old 07-11-2011, 06:53 PM
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that is a *huge* difference. :) Congratulations! It looks *awesome*

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#13 of 40 Old 07-12-2011, 08:02 AM
 
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Nice pictures! You did a good job!

 

I don't have a whole lot on my counters but I'm wondering what you ladies who drink coffee do with the sugar bowl, etc. I use real cream so that stays in the fridge but next to the coffeepot on the counter I have a small folded cloth that I set the sugar bowl on as well as the coffee scoop and a spoon to stir with. I'm not satisfied with it and it looks kind of cluttered. I suppose I could put the sugar bowl in the cabinet above where the coffeepot sits and just keep the spoon and scoop stored in the flatware drawer. Hm, maybe I just answered my own question.

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#14 of 40 Old 07-12-2011, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My coffee supplies (grounds, french press, sugar) are on the top ledge of the stove. I would eventually like to clear space in that cabinet right next to the stove but right now it's got spices in it and I can't think of anywhere else to keep them. I cook Indian food a lot so there are a lot of spices in there winky.gif


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Those "After" photos are very impressive! You are inspiring me to clear out my kitchen too.  

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#16 of 40 Old 07-12-2011, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yay! I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out! It is so much easier to keep the dishes from piling up when there are so few. Last night we had almost everything dirty and in the past I would have left it, knowing there are a ton more in the cabinet. Eventually they would have piled up into a big mess and I would have spent so long loading and unloading them in the dishwasher. Instead, last night I spent about 10 minutes cleaning up and voila clean kitchen! Now for the next room...


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#17 of 40 Old 07-13-2011, 12:19 AM
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it's lovely how well it works.

 

in re:coffee

 

we are no help there. DH has coffee, but he likes it black. and, he prefers to have it at work, so the press and beans and grinder are all there, in the file cabinet, where we also keep the teas. the teas, which we have at home, are in the drawer. we need to buy more tea, as we are nearly out! i also keep the honey in that drawer, so, it all works out. :)

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#18 of 40 Old 07-13-2011, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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nak

 

Oh one other thing I thought about the coffee (since I just made mine) is you could have a tin or jar or whatever that at least stacks or you really like the design of it. I keep my coffee in a Cafe Du Monde tin and looking at it every morning reminds me of being in New Orleans so I don't mind looking at it so much.


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#19 of 40 Old 07-13-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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That's an idea if I come across a tin I like. In the meantime, I have put the sugar bowl in the cabinet above where the mugs are and the spoon and scoop in the drawer below. Everything's convenient. The coffee is in the pantry like usual. I think the counter looks better now.

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#20 of 40 Old 07-14-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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We did this several years ago....we had so many dishes that we could go for days without washing. We put all the extras in the closet....and it turns out, we didn't need them!

 

We really need so much less than we think!!!


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#21 of 40 Old 07-14-2011, 07:47 AM
 
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Why not just keep the sugar with the bigger container of sugar?? I use agave nectar, and I keep it in the cabinet with the coffee supplies.


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#22 of 40 Old 07-14-2011, 11:28 AM
 
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Because my containers of sugar, flour, baking supplies, etc., are in another cabinet on the other side of the kitchen. I figured its easier to keep the little sugar bowl in the cab with the coffee mugs directly above the coffee pot.thumb.gif

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#23 of 40 Old 07-18-2011, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Update! 

 

One of the things I was most concerned about was entertaining. We have people over fairly often and I didn't want to be scrambling for serving bowls and stuff. Well I had 16 friends over yesterday and everything went great. I served in 2 glass mixing bowls, one pie pan, one plate and 2 of the serving platters I had kept. We used paper plates (I had some left over from a huge party.) and my glasses (I pulled them from the above-the-refrig cabinet) along with some disposable glasses. When we have bigger parties I'll probably end up using aluminum trays but I did that a lot before anyway.

 

I used the money I made selling items so far to buy a large bamboo cutting board that can also be a small tray. I'm planning to get new pot holders and towels and a ice cube tray but I haven't found them yet!


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#24 of 40 Old 07-19-2011, 03:48 AM
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remember, too, that you can rent what you need from many party stores. I think the place where i used to rent from was something like $5 per place setting, and serving dishes (with utensils) were something likse $2. better for the environment than disposables, usually nice quality, and you just take them back when you are done (washed, of course).

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#25 of 40 Old 07-20-2011, 10:12 AM
 
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Renting from a party store is a great idea! We don't entertain much. With friends we usually go out to eat. But when we do have someone over its children, stepchildren and grandchildren. So it can be anywhere from 7 to 12 or 13 people/kids. Obviously its very relaxed. I have some serving dishes for casual parties but I like the glass mixing bowl idea, too. The more people we have the more I'm apt to use paper plates and cups to make it easier on myself. I know its not environmentally friendly but the few times we have everyone over at the same time works for me because I'd rather spend the time with everyone rather than cleaning even if I have help. I can be a bit picky about my kitchen and I'd prefer cleaning it myself the way I want it cleaned. Sheepish.gif

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#26 of 40 Old 07-21-2011, 04:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmm that's a good idea, but $5 a head is pretty steep for us. We love to have people over but right now just buying the food is a big enough expense! 


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#27 of 40 Old 07-21-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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Just go real hippy and ask friends to bring their own dish and spoon. Works awesome.


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#28 of 40 Old 07-22-2011, 01:17 AM
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that's what we normally do. we just ask people to bring their own dishes. It's very funny, but it's cool. 

 

we actually did a thanksgiving last year where we asked everyone to bring a place setting for themselves, in lieu of bringing any food or anything. it's worked really well.

 

i'm just against using paper plates and stuff. i'll avoid it at all costs.

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#29 of 40 Old 08-08-2011, 06:45 AM
 
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Nice work! Huge improvement!

 

One cabinet has my tea on the top shelf, then jars of oils/different vinegars/molasses/etc, and bottom shelf is spices.

Another cabinets has glassware (1 square corningware dish, 9x13/8x8/loaf baking dishes, plus 2 pyrex containers).

Next cabinet is filled with various sized mason jars and a clementine box that holds all the lids. I use them for everything - canning, freezing, storing, drinking glasses...

Last cabinet is for plates, bowls and mugs. Enough for each person, plus one extra.

 

One drawer has rolls of parchment paper, wax paper, foil and its also where I store bags that I wash and reuse.

Another drawer holds a few kitchen gadgets, organized by a utensil seperater - turkey baster, garlic squisher, tongs, can strainer, measuring cups and spoons, small egg beater, etc. I could get more minimalistic here, but I actually use everything in there and it is easily maintained, so I have no reason to get rid of anything.

The other drawers hold cloth (rags, washcloths, dish towels).

 

There is another cabinet, and that has my two cast iron skillets (small, large) and 3 stainless steel pots.

The last cabinet has my veggie/dip serving plate (that I put out every day for the kids to graze from), a large serving bowl (used for popcorn, watermelon, etc.), and two colanders (one large for things like pasta/potatoes, one small for rinsing berries or beans, and stuff).

 

I have a cast iron griddle, cookie sheets and muffin tins in the drawer under the oven.

 

I keep a utensil holder on the counter next to the stove (wooden spoons, pasta server, spatula, etc.) and a smaller metal one next to the sink with silverware in it. Oh, and my olive oil container is out on the counter as well.

 

My small appliances are kept on shelves along the wall in the basement way - I have a vitamix, hand mixer, toaster and ice cream maker that I use and will keep. (Looking to get rid of my clay rice cooker/crock pot and bread maker.) There is also a large thermos and travel coffee mugs kept there.

 

I would like some nesting mixing bowls, either glass or stainless...

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Wow! Awesome before and after! I wanted to mention about cast iron to be careful about which brand you use. I bought the Emeril (sp?) ones, an dit turns out that the pre-seasoned cast iron made in China is covered with a painted coating that chips off in your food. Lodge seems to be a good brand, though.
After using cast iron for a while, I finally read on here that the trick with eggs is to get the skillet really hot before the eggs hit the skillet. That prevents most of the sticking. That one trick has made a huge difference. Also, i ignore the no soap rule. My great-grandmother ignored this rule and she never had a problem either. I just cook something with a lot of oil or heat up some canola oil slowly on the stove top, and this keeps my skillets working great.

Mom to: Honey (6/04) and Bunny (9/09)
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