Home & Garden

August 22, 2014

Top Drawer

The best of everything for your home and garden.

Best for roast chicken

Bet you didn’t know that your Bundt pan is good for more than just making cakes. Real Simple suggests layering potatoes, carrots and onions in the bottom of the pan. Then, season a whole chicken and place it upright with the poultry’s cavity over the center hole. Set the pan on a cookie sheet to collect drippings and roast as usual. Your bird should turn out juicy and crispy all the way around.

Best for watering houseplants

We really like this tip for house plants found on the Listotic website. “Every time I water them in the sink, I lose a lot of the soil down the drain, not to mention the mess it makes under the pot.” To prevent this, place a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot. It will allow the water to flow out the drain hole but not the potting soil. You can find the tip at http://nando.com/jm.

Best improvised travel cup for kids

Make your child’s beverage container into an instant travel cup as found on Pinterest. Stretch Press ‘n’ Seal wrap over any cup’s edges and poke a straw through the middle for drinking on the go!

Best fabric softener

Make your own fabric softener cloths with this trick from the Mattern Family blog. Soak a hand towel in liquid fabric softener. Squeeze out excess liquid and hang towel to dry. After the towel is completely dry, you can throw it in the dryer with clothes to soften and freshen the fabric. You should be able to reuse the towel dozens of times. You can see the tip at http://nando.com/jn.

Best way to clean pans

To remove baked-on grime from pots and pans, combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to form a paste. Rub the mixture onto the dirty pan and let it sit. Scrub with a sponge and warm water and the baked-on stains should be much easier to remove. See this tip and many more involving hydrogen peroxide at http://nando.com/jo.

Reader’s best tip for baking

Ann Rogerson Weaver of Kenly shared one of her favorite kitchen tips. Crack eggs into a measuring cup and pour them into bowl prior to measuring oil for a recipe. She says that it makes the oil slide out easily without leaving any waste.

Best for oven baking

Sun Choi of Cary says you can oven-bake foods without adding extra oil with this trick:

“When baking things like french fries, chicken nuggets, chicken wings, or really anything that I don’t want to stick to the sheet pan, I avoid spraying with oil by taking a sheet of aluminum foil and lightly crinkling it up and stretching it back over the sheet pan. Then place the items on top of it. The crinkling makes small ridges in the foil that decrease the surface area that the food actually touches, thus preventing it from sticking to the sheet. I think it actually makes the food crispier, too, as the air is able to circulate under the food as well. This method saves on adding the extra fat and calories from spraying oil and it’s also an easy clean-up.”

Choi then uses the same foil to sharpen her scissors by folding the used wrap over four times to form eight layers. Cut through the foil several times, she says, and your shears will cut like new.

Seeking your best, quick recipes

If you have a simple recipe of five ingredients or fewer that garners rave reviews from friends and family, our readers would love to hear it. Please include precise measurements. Send your recipes to topdrawer@newsobserver.com and you’ll be entered in a quarterly drawing for a gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best recipe” in the subject line.

Best of the tube


Room to grow: Renee and Brent live in a quiet, suburban neighborhood, but life in their crowded home is anything but peaceful. With three active boys, they need room to spread out. But a move will necessitate completion of a long list of renovations. Jonathan tackles a major kitchen makeover that unmasks a costly fix in the process. Meanwhile, Drew searches for the family’s forever home with a compounding challenge: Brent wants to stay on budget, but Renee’s wish list isn’t cooperating. “Buying and Selling” airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Send news and photos to The News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.

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