Making life better, one new skill at a time.
Cleaning the Stovetop 🧽🎬
This lesson is 662 words, a 2 min and 38 second read time. It is the second lesson of The Weekly Kitchen Cleaning Routine.
Like a painter approaching a blank canvas or a writer sitting down to a neat desk - a home chef at a shiny cooktop is likely to feel more inspired & at ease.
With that said, a stovetop isn’t always so easy to clean. Splatters, spills, smears - there are many ways that grease and residue build up and cake on. This lesson is about how to keep the stovetop clean. Let’s dive in.
⚙️ Required Gear
Towel or sponge for cleaning (e.g., terry bar mop)
Towel for wiping and drying
All-purpose cleaning spray (or dish soap)
Baking soda (optional)
Gas stove with burners
Ensure the stove is off and cool.
Remove all grates (what pots and pans sit on) and burner caps (disks on tops of burner heads). If needed, wash everything in the dishwasher or by hand.
Dry-wipe debris and crumbs off the stovetop.
For a light clean, spray 2-3 times with cleaning spray, allow it to sit for one minute, and wipe the surface down with a cloth. Wet one side of a fresh cloth to rinse, using the other side to wipe dry.
For a deeper clean, use a warm soapy non-abrasive sponge. Wash down the stovetop using minimal water to avoid getting burner heads wet and damaging components. To remove burnt or stuck on food, add a paste of baking soda and water for 2-3 minutes. Wring and reuse sponge to rinse or use a fresh towel (half for rinsing, half for wiping dry).
Reassemble the stove.
Electric stove with coils
Ensure the stove is turned off and cool.
Wipe down coils with a damp cloth. If coil burners are heavily soiled, turn coils on high for a few minutes to burn off residue. Once cooled, use a dry toothbrush or abrasive sponge to scrape off any remaining residue.
If drip pans are heavily soiled, pull coils out of the stove and remove drip pans. Wash them in warm soapy water or soak in a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts baking soda.
Rinse and wipe down with water and allow to dry.
Lift the top to check for burnt food underneath, removing as necessary.
When all parts are dry, reassemble.
Glass or ceramic cooktop
Dry-wipe surface to collect any food pieces or crumbs.
Spray with warm water or all-purpose cleaner. Wipe with a microfiber cloth or clean towel.
To deep clean, sprinkle baking soda on top and cover with warm damp soapy cloths. Let sit for 15-30 minutes. Remove towels, using cloths to wipe down the cooktop.
Use a lint-free cloth (e.g., microfiber) to dry and polish.
📓 Notes, Tips & Tricks
Ideally, wipe down the stovetop after every use. Messes are easiest to lift off when fresh. More quick cleans = less deep cleans.
If you don’t have time to do a proper clean, at least wipe off new spots, drips, or spills.
If you have many crumbs on or inside the stove, you can use a vacuum cleaner to sweep them up.
Avoid abrasive cleaning solutions and pads that can scratch the stovetop.
To scrape off hardened foods, use a plastic knife or spatula. Avoid metal, which can scratch.
Stovetop cleaner is highly optional and rarely required. Soap, all-purpose cleaner, and baking soda are almost always sufficient.
Cotton cloth works well for this job as it’s strong, absorbent, & inexpensive. Terry cloth is particularly effective as it has extra texture for scrubbing. Dedicated bar mops (like these) or old towels cut up into rags work quite well.
🎓 Further Study:
The Daily Kitchen Cleaning Routine [Life School]
How to Launder Your Kitchen Towels 🎬 [Life School]
How to Clean a Stove Top [YouTube]
The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to a Clean Stove [Food52]
Cleaning Routine - Electric Stovetop 🎬 [YouTube]
How to Clean Your Glass Stovetop! 🎬 [YouTube]
✏️ What should we research next? To wei
The Weekly Kitchen Cleaning Routine - Introduction ✨
This lesson is 777 words, a 3 min and 5 second read time. It is the first lesson of The Weekly Kitchen Cleaning Routine.
Like a weekly face mask or steam at the gym, a deep kitchen clean can feel oh so satisfying. By tackling more challenging cleaning activities once a week, they become an integrated part of your self/home-care routine. This regularity will help reduce buildup and ensure that your workspace performs at its best. Working in a sparkling kitchen is more pleasant, comfortable, and relaxing.
The weekly routine builds on what we covered in The Daily Kitchen Cleaning Routine. It focuses on the deeper levels of cleaning, covering techniques & hacks to deal with tougher messes (e.g., sticky floors, oily fingerprints, and smelly sinks.)
In this course, we have structured the heftier cleaning duties into a few discrete tasks. They are: wiping appliances & cleaning the stovetop, tidying the fridge & emptying the trash, vacuuming & mopping the floors, cleaning & disinfecting the sink, laundering kitchen towels, and caring for tools. Let's dive in.
Vacuum (highly recommended, or broom/dustpan)
Mop (spray or traditional) & floor cleaner (optional)
Cleaning cloths (e.g., microfiber, terry bar mop towels)
Abrasive powder (e.g., baking soda)
🛒 Product Recommendations:
*Note - additional gear can be found in the Daily Kitchen Cleaning Routine
Vacuum (cordless highly recommended, e.g., $$, $$$)
Mop: Spray/pad for wooden floors: ($), Spin mop for stone/tile: ($)
Bar mops/rags: can repurpose old towels & tees or buy inexpensive matching ($)
All-purpose cleaner: natural recommended ($$)
Abrasive powder: Baking soda or Bar Keepers friend ($)
🔢 The Weekly Kitchen Cleaning Routine
(More detail in following lessons)
Wipe down stovetop & appliances.
Clean out & tidy the fridge. Empty trash & recycling.
Vacuum the floors & if necessary, mop.
Rinse & disinfect the sink.
Launder cleaning towels.
Care for tools (as needed).
📝 Notes, Tips & Tricks:
Done all at once, these tasks will take ~20-30 minutes. Alternatively, you can break them up throughout the week into micro-cleans at ~ 10-15 min each.
If done weekly, this routine prevents the buildup of dust and grime. It does not, however, guarantee a spotless kitchen at all times.
For a "next-level" clean kitchen, we recommend the following activities every ~3 days, or as needed: (1) clean stovetop, (2) disinfect sink (3) vacuum.
A cordless vacuum stored near the kitchen can do wonders for those who love to cook in their bare feet.
Kitchen cleaning can be a great background activity for other things (e.g., podcasts, thinking time, music, talking on the phone). It is also great for getting the body moving and blood flowing (especially emptying the dishwasher & mopping the floors 🕺).
A kitchen timer or clock can help you get a sense of how long things take. Try setting it for 10 minutes and racing to "beat the clock" with a given activity. You might surprise yourself with how little time most activities take.
Individual cleaning tasks make for great desk/screen-time breaks.
Kitchen cleaning products are ideally stored together in the kitchen (e.g., in a bin or bucket under the sink or inside a cupboard nearby)
📓Kitchen Cleaners Reference Guide
Cleaning fluids range in pH from 0 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline). 7 (dish soap) is neutral. Alkaline cuts through dirt, grease, proteins, oils, and other organic items. Acids are better for calcium, rust, and other minerals.
Chlorine Bleach: pH level 11-13 (highly alkaline); corrosive and requires ventilation, not safe on many surfaces and can bleach fabrics; great at whitening and removing stains
Ammonia: pH 12; also corrosive and req
This announcement is 99 words, a 23 second reading time.
👋 Hi everybody -
Today we have a few quick announcements.
Welcome new subscribers! We are excited to have you on board.
Next Course Survey: What should we research next? Meal Prep? House Cleaning? Car Maintenance? Cocktails? Fill out this four-question (1 min) survey to weigh in.
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Have a great week!
~ Michelle, Chief Researcher
Survey Question #1
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The Fantasy of Camping 🏕
This lesson is 250 words, a 59 second read time. It is the introduction to The Fantasy of Camping (coming soon). Save your spot on the log.
S’mores, crackling fires, hats, fuzzy socks. Strumming a guitar, drinking beers while grilling some dinner, gazing at the stars. The simple pleasures of camping are hard to ignore. There is nothing quite like it.
Camping is about tapping into a part of ourselves that we often ignore. That part of us that’s primal. Survivalist. The adventurer. The part that believes in ourselves to survive without our modern creature comforts.
When we push ourselves to get out of our comfortable lives, we develop a deeper confidence in ourselves. We feel stronger. Competent. Reunited with our inner selves.
Add this to a nice old fashioned simplicity and a much needed break from wifi and you have yourself the perfect, inexpensive, rejuvenating vacation.
And yes - camping is hard. There are bugs, sporadic bathrooms, and chills. It requires gear and prep and time. It runs risks - of ending up more stressed than just not going anywhere at all.
But - talk to any longtime camper. The kind that have the knowledge and the skills. The type that know what they are doing, where they are going and how to get there. Ask them if they would ever give it up…
And that is why we are creating this course. You shouldn’t have to do hundreds of hours of research, or learn the hard way. We’re here to get to the point, the TLDR - of how to camp in comfort. Welcome to camping for indoor people.
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How to Make Rice 🍚
This lesson is 926 words, a 3 min and 42 second read time. It is part of How to Boil Water, as well as the MaxF Meal Prep Collection.
Versatile, easy to store, economical, and delicious, rice is a staple of home chefs worldwide. Feeding more people in the world than any other crop, it's no surprise that rice is highly convenient. Whether used as a main ingredient, side, or base, rice adds a scrumptious fluffy texture to almost any dish.
Requiring only water, a pot, and a dash of patience, rice is an ideal ingredient for maximum efficiency meal prep. Go ahead, put the lid on, and let the steam get to work. You'll be fluffing the rice before you know it.
Kosher Salt (optional)
Wash the Rice (~30 seconds)
Pour rice into the cooking vessel (e.g., pot, rice cooker insert)
Fill with water & swish with your fingers.
Tip out the cloudy water (be careful not to pour out the rice).
Repeat until the water runs almost clear.
Drain (fine-mesh sieve recommended).
Cook the rice (~20-30 min)
Add water (~1 part rice to 1 1/3 parts water for white, 1:2 for brown)
Add salt (1/2 to 1 tsp per cup) - optional.
Bring to a boil on high. Then reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered.
Check the rice after ~17 minutes (30 for brown). If there is excess water, drain it.
Turn off heat and let rest covered for 10 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork or spoon. Serve or store.
📝 Notes, Tips & Tricks
Rice is highly economical. Purchased in bulk, it can be as low as $0.05 per oz ($0.10 for a standard serving of 1/3 cup dry).
While pre-made/microwaveable rice is convenient, it is expensive (~$2/serving or ~20x the price of dry). Pre-made bags also take up space in your freezer & generate unnecessary packaging waste.
Noteworthy: Over half of the world relies on rice for more than 20% of their daily caloric intake.
A cup of cooked white rice is approximately 242 calories, 0.4g of fat, 53 grams of carbs, 0.6g fiber, and 4.4 grams of protein. Brown rice is slightly higher in fiber (~1g/serving more) and thus digests slower, keeping you full longer.
White rice varies in style & use (e.g., arborio for Italian risotto, bomba for Spanish paella, basmati for Indian or Pakistani dishes, jasmine for Thai & Vietnamese curries & stir-fries, short-grain for sushi or rice pudding)
Brown rice is whole grain, while white rice is processed and refined. A machine is used to "pearl" the rice of its bran, germ, and endosperm. Advantages of processing include longer shelf life (fewer oils & nutrients to spoil) and faster cook times.
Rinsing the rice helps avoid sticking & clumping. Some cooks skip this step.
Water ratios vary by type of rice. For long & medium-grain (e.g., basmati & jasmine), use 1 cup rice to 1 1/3 cups water. With short-grain use 1:1. For brown, use 1:2.
For firmer, drier rice, reduce the water by a few tablespoons. For softer & fluffier, increase by a few tbsp.
Make sure the water is under the halfway mark in your pot to avoid overflow.
Resist the urge to check the rice. Removing the lid allows the steam to escape. This leads to plunging temperatures, a lengthened cook time, and overcooked or mushy grains.
Listen for the sounds of doneness (from bubbles to "steamy").
If the grain is too al denté: return to a covered pot to "carry-over" for a few min. To soften further, add some water, cover, and place on a low flame for 5-10 min.
If the grain is overcooked (e.g., mushy): spread it out in a single layer on a plate or sheet tray to accelerate cooling and evaporation.
For additional flavor, cook rice with a pat of butter or splash of olive oil. You can also cook it in stock/broth or with part of a bouillon cube.
Some dishes that use rice: fried rice, stir fry, grain bowls, in
How to Steam Vegetables 🥦📓
This lesson is 766 words, a 3 min and 3 sec reading time. It is part of How to Boil Water, as well as the MaxF Meal Prep Collection.
Steaming is a skillset worth mastering because it is one of the easiest, healthiest, and fastest ways to cook vegetables. All you need is a pot, a steamer, and some vegetables to put in it. Within minutes you’ll have lightly cooked veggies - easy to whip up into a side dish or save for later use. Steamed vegetables are extremely dietetic because they require no fat or oil to cook. Better still, they provide a perfect blank canvas for dressings & toppings.
Pot (with lid)
Place steamer basket in the pot & bring one inch of water to boil
While heating, chop vegetables
Add vegetables, place lid & set a timer (see timing reference guide)
Check vegetables for doneness (see notes for more detail)
Carefully remove the steamer basket or use tongs to transfer vegetables to another dish
Dress & serve, or store.
📝 Notes, Tips & Tricks
Steaming is a moist heat cooking method that surrounds food from above and below with steam, which helps keep veggies moist and intact. It also helps preserve a vegetable’s color, flavor, texture, & nutritional value (e.g., vitamin B & C) due to the gentle nature of the steaming process.
Steamed vegetables are more nutritional than raw. The steaming process breaks down tough outer layers and cellular structures, making it easier for the body to absorb nutrients. Boiling, on the other hand, causes many nutrients to leach into the water.
There are many types of steamers - bamboo, metal, silicone, even using a plate or small metal colander/sieve. Steel folding baskets are ideal as they expand to fit any pot and are easy to procure (e.g., local hardware or grocery store).
To steam using a plate, make three balls of aluminum foil & place them under an inverted plate inside the pot.
In general, try to keep the vegetables from touching the water as they can get soggy. However, if you’re in a big rush, you can put some water in a pot and steam the veggies on top. Less porous veggies will do fine (e.g., broccoli, greens).
Keep vegetable size & shape uniform. This ensures they cook evenly (e.g., no mushy/crunchy pieces). Smaller pieces will cook more quickly, so cut oversized or dense items like winter squash into manageable chunks.
Frequent checking slows down cook time as the steam evaporates and must build up again. Use a timer to avoid this problem. For the most exact timing, set the timer a bit early (~2-5 min, depending on suggested length) to ensure you don’t overcook.
To check for doneness, poke with a sharp knife. Alternatively, remove a piece, let it cool, and taste. Vegetables should be bright and firm. If the vegetable is “squeaky,” it’s undercooked. Mushy is overcooked. Aim for a slightly al denté (firm) texture, as the vegetable will continue cooking after removed from the steam.
If you’re cooking two or more vegetables simultaneously, cut the longer-cooking vegetables into smaller pieces than the quick-cooking ones.
Safety: Steam burns can be severe. To avoid, wear protective mitts and never lean over a pot as you remove the lid.
To avoid soggy, water-logged vegetables, remove the lid and transfer vegetables to a plate or sheet tray to evaporate for a couple of moments before the next step in your recipe.
A quick trick for adding melted butter: remove the vegetables from the pot while still hot & pour out the water. Add the butter to the still-warm pot, let it melt, swirl it around, and add back the veggies. Then top with cheese, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, etc.
You can steam other foods too (e.g., delicate ones like dumplings & fish)
📓 Steam Time Reference Guide