Kitchen gurus, please help me solve three issues!

beautybutdebtfreeFebruary 22, 2014

Thank you for your help!

Issue 1: Is there a gizmo or what do you do when range top cooking and you lift a lid to stir a pot, but the lid is dripping sauce. I have been setting aside a full size dinner plate to put the lid on, but sometimes it also has the stir spoon or spatter shield, and the lid won't fit over it when so (sometimes I'm stirring a pot of pasta and a pot of sauce and have two stir spoons on the plate). I'm looking for a nifty solution such as a lid stand that will hold the lid sorta upside down to retain the sauce (on the underside of the lid, that is) while I stir or adjust the pot. If I put the lid upside down on the counter often it tilts due to the knob and spills the sauce or it's too hot to lift back up since the knob is now under the hot lid.

Issue 2: I would love suggestions for a very mobile two step high step for in my small walk-in pantry, so I can easily access very tall shelves. I need something lightweight or foldable that I can move out of the way easily, smaller footprint the better. Pantry available floor space (that which is not impeded by shelves overhead) is about 28 by 44 inches.

Issue 3: After about a week of use, my kitchen sponges start to smell like mildew. I use them to wipe crusty spots on the counter; they are the sort of sponge with cellulose and a layer of plastic scrubby mesh. I do not trust other family members to use a bleaching "pit" as they will slop it and bleach all sorts of other things. Is there a container in which you can put the sponge and nuke it in a MW every night, or what do you do?

There are so many GREAT ideas in this forum, I thought I'd mine your brains for what you do in these three instances, thank you!

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Issue 1: if there isn't, you need to invent it! But, could you use one of those vertical spoon rests on a plate?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 1:24PM
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About 35 years ago, I had something like this...

I have several scrubby sponges and replace with a clean one frequently. Putting them in the dishwasher doesn't work imo, so I just wash them with a load of whites that I bleach. That also seems to help keep them from getting mildewed quite as fast.

Here is a link that might be useful: lid and spoon holder

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 1:34PM
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I just put the sponge in the microwave for 1 minute a few times a week. No container, just put it on the turntable. As long as the sponge is wet when you put it in (dry ones will burn up) it will keep your sponge fresh a lot longer

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:00PM
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I hate that dripping pot top, too. Plus, I read years ago that any vitamins cooking out of the food are in that condensation. I've learned to immediately tip the pot top over the pan to drain the condensation back in. But I like that holder above a lot.

Step stool? No. I'm interested in the responses.

Sponges? Hmm. I don't have this trouble. But I am anal about not letting dish cloths or sponges sit in water. My sponges I stand up on their side on the edge of the sink and they dry there. Once in a while I do run them through the dishwasher, but then I dry them the same way.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:04PM
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Definitely not a kitchen guru! But I am linking a fabulous step stool. It fold and unfolds so easily. It is flat when folded. It holds a lot of weight. And it is very wide and stable. It's a range Kleen.

I gave up on sponges a few years ago. I use a dish cloth (well, actually I use a lot of old baby wash clothes and a few dish clothes). They get used for a day or two maximum and then get washed in the clothes washer on a sanitary cycle with the towels and such. Easy, green and a clean one is readily available all the time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Step stool

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:18PM
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My favorite two step is by Rubbermaid, foldable, lightweight and washable

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 4:31PM
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Here's another lid holder that might work better, but no place for the spoon.

Here is a link that might be useful: pot clip

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 4:51PM
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As soon as I am done with a sponge I immediately put in in the laundry where it is washed in hot water with bleach. I rarely use sponges in the kitchen anymore. I use a stainless steel scrubbie for really touch stuff but that is rare. The dw does all the work for most items.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:06PM
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If you put your lid with the ``knob`` off the edge of the plate and the ``top`` of the lid on the plate, everything should stay inside the lip of the lid-that`s how I do it.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:14PM
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I've done the sponge in the micro in a regular bowl with a little water. I have also put them in the top rack of my DW.

I have the three step version of the step stool in the link below. I thought it was a great buy when I got it, but I can't believe the prices now! The 2 step is only $9.99. People were posting about ones at WS and such that were nearly or even more than $100.

I have one of the 3 step in the kitchen and one in our master closet. If I think of any place I need another, I'm going to grab another!

Here is a link that might be useful: Tricam skinny folding step stool

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:15PM
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I can help with two issues.

Step stool: check out Williams-Sonoma's ultraslim step stool. It's pricey but well worth it for ease of use, super-light weight, and slim design. We had to cut ours down to fit it into the cabinet, but it still works well for me (DH popped of the rubber feet, cut the aluminum legs easily, and popped the feet back on). They werer on sale recently, so if you can wait for a sale or discount (sign up for their emails), you can save some $.

Sponge: I think the blue scrub sponges we use are anti-microbial/no-odor, but I do make sure the sponge is squeezed out well after use, and then leave it sponge side up (scrubby side down) on the SS sink grid. The sponge dries out somewhat (sometimes fully) between uses, and definitely does overnight. No odor on our sponges (and I gag from sour sponge smells!!).

Here is a link that might be useful: williams-sonoma ultraslim step stool

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 8:06PM
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I run the done each time I run my dishwasher.... And I always run the sanitary cycle. Never have odors as a result.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 8:18PM
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Great ideas for lids and spoons.
I just use a microfiber towel and toss in the WM after the meal is done.

I love my little scrubbies from WS. I tried to surf them without success. They are microfiber sponges with stripes on them. Again - I just toss into the WM after each use. I have 6 of them. (They come in packs of 3). They are now 2 years old and going strong.

Stools - I got tired of the little stools and went with the Werner step stool - it is stable on wood floors and I hang it in a hook in the pantry. They make a 2 step and 3 step model.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 9:13PM
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My step stool is from Ikea.

I painted it to match my cabinets. And it comes with it's own hook to attach to the wall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ikea folding stool

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 9:20PM
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Sponges: the trick is make sure they are rinsed thoroughly in hot water after each use, and set to dry where air can reach both sides. Like a sponge holder, or as CEFreeman does, upright on one end.
and a couple of times a week, put in the microwave, wet, for 1 minute.
I've never put one in the dishwasher but that works too -- it is the removal of food bits, exposure to heat then dry that keeps them fresh.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 9:52PM
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The biggest thing that makes a sponge or dish cloth smell is soap left in them. I always rinse in hot water to cleanse, then cold water to be certain all soap is removed (hot water will keep sudsing). Then squeeze as dry as possible.
Just be sure all sides are exposed to air to dry.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 10:30PM
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I'm no help with the lids; I just turn mine upside down. The knobs on mine don't get hot so I just reach carefully under the hot lid, or use a potholder if needed. I've got induction so I no longer care if they drip onto the stove (so easy to wipe up).

Stepstool: Go down to the big box store and try out a few to see which one suits you best. Mine is very sturdy and easy to use. The tall back lets me pick it up, carry it around, open it, and close it all with one hand without bending over. It folds up to an inch or two thick. The only trouble is that it's just a hair too tall to fit underneath the counter, so I can't tuck it under the counter overhang at the end of the run as I'd like to do.

Sponges: I don't use them. I use dishcloths and wash them with the laundry.

Here is a link that might be useful: Easy Reach stepstool at HD

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:03AM
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Just a note to all putting your sponges in the micro. A few weeks ago my mother put her scrubby sponge, wet, in the micro as she'd done a thousand times before, only this time this one caught fire. She needed to replace the micro as it no longer worked after the internal fire.
Evidently the nylon scrubby part was a different fiber/weight/whatever than it had been in the past and that is what caught fire.
I'm not convinced microwaving them kills bacteria anyway.

My son works as an engineer for a company that manufactures the equipment in a lot of fast food commercial kitchens. He told me that they recently had an expert in kitchen management come in to one of their own cafeteria kitchens to talk about food safety and sanitary issues. The first thing the guy did was use a pair of tongs to pick up every sponge in sight, and threw them away. He wouldn't even touch them.
Dish cloths that go in the washing machine or are disposable are the best things to use.

Love the ideas here for pot tops.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:24AM
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I have a folding step stool that I love - I got it at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I can't find it on their web site this morning. It has two steps, which is enough for me to reach the top shelves of my upper cabinets, and it folds flat enough to tuck in on its side, under the sink - just a couple of inches wide.

I wish I could find a link!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:45AM
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I had a hook on my pantry door to hang the step stool and aprons at our old house.
Make sure to go to a good hardware store with a wide selection, and get a stable one that is lightweight and has 3 steps instead of 2, and a handle area above the top step for your stabilization. If you should fall in the kitchen, imagine how terrible that would be. Get the one that will keep you safe and be easy to use.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:58AM
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I would like to find one of those pot lid holders/spoon rests, probably would use it; but then storage would be another issue. I don't think I'd want it out on the stove 24/7. I always keep a small vintage spoon rest out.

No more sponges. I went to dishcloths when I remodeled the kitchen. Mom uses them but I always thought they had the ick factor, but then I read about sponges being just as if more ick. Anyway, dishcloths come in such pretty colors! ha. I like using them too, rinse out well, hang to dry, replace every two - three days or sooner if need be and toss in the WM. The better ones for more $$ don't get slimy either.

Also began buying SOS pads for scouring pans. I never knew my old Farberware could look so good again. I buy them at Dollar General and a box lasts me about a month. I have a soap dish on the sink I put them in between use. The only draw back is the pads can become rusty and shed teeny metal fibers if not replaced as soon as they lose the soap.

Oh, edited to say I have no need for a stool but I'd be nervous about using one unless it had railings or at least a bar to hang onto. A grabber might work for some things but if you need to retrieve dishes or heavier items it wouldn't.

This post was edited by schoolhouse on Sun, Feb 23, 14 at 12:15

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:13PM
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I like IKEA's stepladder - see link below.

I don't use sponges because they get too gross in my kitchen. For handwashing dishes I use a natural bristle vegetable brush:
It never stinks. I run it through the dishwasher occasionally.
I also use small washcloths as rags in the kitchen - for wiping/washing. These are single-use - they go in the laundry hamper after using once.

My mother always had stinky dishcloths that she used for days. I just hated that. I've never understood the logic of using something smelly or unwashable in order to clean things.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stepladder, 3 steps, beech

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 2:35PM
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I just use those o-cello type sponges. I usually have two going at a time, one in the DW and the other in use, swap them after doing a load of dishes (about once every 3-5 days).

Nothing much is grosser than a stinky sponge. Ugh. I would consider switching to cloths that go in the washing machine, but I think the DW temps are better.

I'm amazed that soap makes things smell bad. Who knew?

I'm an obsessive counter wiper, so I need something always at the ready that I don't have to stash out of sight.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 3:43PM
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Thank you all so much for your input and ideas and links. I spent a couple days REALLY thinking about the replies and then thinking about exactly what my problems are and needs are for solutions. I came up with some new realizations:

I jolted awake Sunday in the wee hours, realizing that I had JUST given away to habitat for humanity the solution to my pot lid problem - grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!! I HAD the perfect solution and gave it away! It was an upright roasting rack for chicken with a beer can but it was a certain shape that I COULD NOT find again, anywhere, now that I had given my vintage one away! In my case, I wanted something that did NOT impinge on the pot real estate (I was also worried that when sauteeing with a nearly empty pot and a heavy glass lid on the pot edge it might tip over with one of those edge clip things), was portable (sometimes I need a lid stand by the range, other times near the oven when using a dutch oven), either didn't get dirty while in use or very easy to clean, easy to store, and versatile enough to handle my little sauce pan lids up to my enameled cast iron lids and different knob types, too. What I ended up buying was the picture below, a stainless, commercial grade ham rack! I will put it upside down and put the pot lid upside down on the four "arms," and I can reach the knob under the hot lid easily without burning my hand.

On the step stool this was agony to decide, but after REALLY considering how I want to use it, where I want to store it, and the fact that years ago even though I had a 6 ft high quality ladder I bought an ultra light one from Costco and it's absolutely been the GO TO ladder in the house ever since, so I know the value of "overpaying" for an ultralight - I went with the williams sonoma link, which is on back-order until March 14th.

On the sponge, what I came to realize is that I'm having some significant hand strength issues due to unknown joint flare ups, and this has kept me from being able to scrub hard enough with a regular dish cloth to get crusty stuff off, therefore I need the sponge. It has also kept me from being able to wring out a sponge dry enough for it to be "dry" overnight. So I'm going to try a method where I put my dish cloth and sponge, dampened, in a glass and lidded glass small corningware each night and nuke it sterile. The lid and contained moisture should keep them from drying out and becoming a fire risk. I wanted a small carbon footprint solution, so running the dishwasher or washing machine every day is not likely to happen (we are a household of 3), yet I want a solution to the stinky sponge!!

Thank you all once again! I love to read this board for ideas and of course eye candy!

This post was edited by beautybutdebtfree on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 8:01

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:59AM
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Do you have something like this for your sponge?

It will help with the sponge draining, but not completely solve the water retention issue.

Did you look at the tricam stool? The WS was one I considered and probably would have bought one but I had seen the Tri-Cam in a store and thought it would work just as well for a fraction of the price. I like the fact that it has a top bar that acts as a handle for carrying and provides stability when standing on it. The WS one is completely open at the top when in use -- any misstep or balance issues and you're likely to step right off of it. I needed a 3 step and wasn't completely comfortable with that. I admit to pausing over ordering something for my new kitchen from a feed store I'd never heard of, but they had the best price online when I could no longer find it locally. I had to call about something and they couldn't have been nicer, they shipped quickly and I've been very happy with my stools. If you will feel better ordering from WS, okay too.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:00AM
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I have a brushed stainless sink, so suckers won't stick. I repurposed a bathroom soap dish that functions the same way, see picture. I put the sponge across it like shown so there is plenty of air underneath and minimal surface contact. But the larger issue is my hands currently won't squeeze the sponge very dry. (I sound like a crippled old lady!)

I'm going to address the stool in the next post (how do you post more than one picture per post, please??)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:09AM
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I AGONIZED over the stool choice, even went out and tried every one I could over the weekend. What I found was that since I have long feet, I have to stand forward on the step to get my body center of gravity over the stool best, and those bars up top get the the way. (This is alleviated by buying a TALLER one where the bar is up higher, but I was working with a limitation of 34 inches or less height when folded in order to store it in my location. All the shorter bar versions had the bar touching my shins and this threw me off balance when standing there, I was distracted by feeling that bar.) So I wanted a bar-less model. I looked very closely at the "polder two step mini stool" fold ups but heard a few too many reviews where the support "wire" disconnected from the step and people were falling from them.

Finally, due to my set-up, I want to hang my step stool just outside my pantry to the left on the beadboard cabinet end shown in the picture (the kitchen is undergoing some changes so is in a state of construction in this picture). That is the pantry straight on in the picture. Because the space is very narrow and visible I thought the very sleek look was worth considering as well . It took me two whole days and a hubby wanting the WS model to come to the justification of the price difference, plus the fact that we are middle age and will likely NOT regret buying an ultra light stool as we get further along. The tricam was a very close second choice and I've ordered stuff from Blair before and like them, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: polder stool

This post was edited by beautybutdebtfree on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 11:31

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:19AM
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I just found this at Ikea. In the smaller size, it would make an awesome upside down lid holder for most size lids.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ikea plate rack

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 5:06PM
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That Ikea plate rack sparked an idea! I think one of the Corningware wire racks that I already have would work perfectly. I've even got multiple sizes that would work for different lids.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 5:23PM
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