Tips & Tricks

They say that you don’t realise how dirty something is until you start cleaning it and there’s a lot of truth in that idea. If you clean something every day, such as the basin in a hotel bathroom, the dirt won’t get a chance to build up and cleaning it is always easy. However, if you move into a brand-new home and only begin to clean your basin once you notice the dirt building up, it is almost already too late.

Except that it’s not. It’s never too late to start cleaning. It’s just that now, you need a different set of skills and hacks to get the job done. So, for those of us who have a stubborn stain or a build-up of dirt, or need to know about sterilising a kitchen for coeliac sufferers or people with dust mite allergies, we have compiled an easy how-to.

 1. Deep Cleaning your Bed and Mattress

How on earth do you deep clean a mattress?

It’s a good question. It doesn’t fit in the washing machine and we don’t recommend taking it outside to spray it down with the hose either. While it is next to impossible to wash a mattress, you can make sure it’s clean, hygienic and pleasant smelling. First of all, you’ll need to vacuum it using the brush nozzle. To do this properly, run the nozzle slowly over the mattress, allowing the vacuum to do its job. Next, you can create a natural but effective sanitiser using water and essential oils, such as tea tree oil. Simply mix the two together in a spray bottle and apply to the surface of the mattress. 

If your mattress is white, use lemon juice to remove stains by rubbing in the juice. Never use bleach on your mattress because you can’t rinse it away and it may come into contact with your skin. Once the water and oil mixture is completely dry, vacuum the mattress again. And that’s all there is to it.

2. Quickly Remove Rust from Garden Tools

Good gardening tools don’t come cheap, but if you or someone in your household fails to clean and store the tools properly after use, they can soon become rusty. 

Dealing with rust can be a major headache for many gardeners, but there is a way to put the shine back on your spade. First of all, contrary to logic, you’ll need to get the tools wet. Get a bucket of warm soapy water and scrub all the stuck-on dirt and debris from the tool, then dry it thoroughly with an old towel. Next, make a vinegar and water solution (1:1), submerge the metal part of the tool into it and leave it there for 24 hours. After you take it out, give it a rinse and, using a Brillo pad, rub off the rust. Stubborn rust may need to be treated twice. If the vinegar doesn’t work, some people swear by cola or tea, but we would recommend upping the vinegar-to-water ratio.

3. How to Avoid Gluten Contamination in your Kitchen

 

For anyone who is not gluten intolerant, this won’t be a problem, but for anyone who is, finding that a crumb of gluten has made its way into your meal can mean an agonising night. So, sharing apartments or visiting holiday homes often calls for a deep cleaning session. But how exactly do you rid a kitchen of gluten? Gluten is a persistent little substance. It can hide on kitchen surfaces, chopping boards and most famously between the prongs of a fork. It might not be visible to the naked eye, so there’s only one way to obliterate it – bleach. 

To rid your kitchen area of gluten, all counters need to be washed down with a bleach solution and all plates and utensils intended for use by a coeliac sufferer should also be soaked in a bleach solution and then washed. Most importantly here, the post-washing should be done by hand in a sink that has already been washed down with bleach and the person washing should wear gloves. Dishwashers do not remove or kill gluten, so putting gluten-free plates into one might re-contaminate them. 

4. How to Clean Non-Stick Pans Safely

 

Don’t you just love new non-stick pans – the way the eggs slide around and off onto your plate so easily? But you’re not the first person to wonder why the effect wears off after a month or so. And you’re not the first person to try cleaning the pan with nothing but running water either. But no matter what, the non-stick starts sticking. Ironically, to clean your non-stick pan correctly, you need to begin by cooking with it properly. All non-stick pans, Teflon ones included, need to be lubricated. That means rubbing a teaspoon of oil or butter into the pan while it’s still cold, before you place it on the heat. The second most important element to keeping your pan clean is not to overheat it – extreme heat causes the non-stick surface to crack and peel. 

If you want to use high heat for cooking, look into buying a cast iron pan. But most importantly, never run the hot pan under water. Set it aside to cool completely, then clean the excess fat away with a paper towel. Real non-stick aficionados claim to only wash their pans twice a year. And remember – five years is about the maximum lifespan of a non-stick pan. 

5. How to Clean your Toaster  

Perhaps the bane of many a proud cleaner’s home is the toaster. Historically, toast was made under the easy-to-clean grill, but when electric toasters came along, we gained quick breakfasts, yet lost the simplicity of cleaning up after. The problem isn’t the outside or the crumb tray, which can be easily removed and washed, but rather the crumbs that manage to free themselves from the toast and stick to the heating elements and backing. Simply put, there is almost no way to clean this area, short of dismantling the toaster. However, there is a trick here too. When the toaster is completely cool, unplug it from the wall and use a dry baby-bottle cleaning brush to agitate the crumbs away from the side, then shake the toaster upside down over a sink. For best results, do this once a week. 

Do you have any other cleaning hacks we should be recommending in future blog posts? We’d love to hear from you over on our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Cleaning Hacks For Your Most Stubborn Problems


Movember – the month of November, dedicated to moustaches – is a worldwide phenomenon, with countless men dedicating their upper lip to charitable mens’ causes.

But we’ve got a slightly different follow up to Movember. And it has just as good a name…

Decembeard.

Decembeard is about dedicating your beard – existing or otherwise – to the fight against bowel cancer. The official website has lots of suggestions of ways to raise money by growing or grooming a beard, but as many of us know, a healthy beard comes from a healthy body.

Certain vitamins and foods will encourage the growth and quality of facial hair, so you really can eat your way to a better beard!

About Your Beard

Hair – whether it grows from your legs, the top of your head or chin – is essentially protein wrapped in fat, or keratin. That means that the best ingredients for a healthy beard involve proteins, as well as a number of select vitamins, such as:

Vitamin A – responsible for maintain and repairing skin tissue. The healthier your facial skin, the better quality your facial hair will be. Vitamin A is found in dairy products, especially milk, cheese and egg yolks.

Vitamins C & E – these two vitamins produce sebum, an oil which lubricates and moisturises your hair. Vitamin c is common in citrus fruits and green vegetables, while vitamin e is often found in peanut butter, oil and green vegetables again.

Vitamins B6 and B12 – these help to synthesis protein, allowing your body to create new skin and hair cells. You’ll usually find these vitamins in fish, eggs, poultry and nuts.

Omega 3 – this essential fatty acid improves hair growth and protects cell membranes, stopping them from getting dry. As well as fatty fish, get plenty of walnuts and flax seed oil.

 Huevos Rancheros

This solid dish, which can be eaten for any meal of the day, has many ingredients for a full and luxurious beard such as eggs, beans and cheese.20150415-huevos-rancheros-easy-recipe-18

 Ingredients

  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • Can black beans
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 corn totrtillas
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ¼ cup coriander

To make the salsa, grate the tomatoes and onions into a bowl. Add the chopped jalapeno, one clove of chopped garlic, hot sauce, cumin and then salt and pepper.
Fry the salsa over a low heat with some olive oil until it thickens, and then put aside in a bowl.
Cook your black beans with a clove of mashed garlic, ½ cup of warm water and a little bit of salt, warming through and mashing a little with a fork.
In another pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the eggs sunny side up.
Put a warm tortilla on each plate, and top with some of the cooked beans. Place a fried egg on top, then some salsa and cheese – serve with coriander, and any salsa that’s leftover.
Vitamins: A in the cheese and eggs, B6 & 12 in eggs, C in the coriander, and of course protein.

Citrus Baked Salmon

food-865102_1920

Salmon is an excellent source of Omega 3 oils, Vitamins B6 & B12, while citrus is great for getting more Vitamin C.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Pinch salt
  • Olive oil
  • Salmon fillets (as many as necessary)
  • Salt & Pepper

Make the glaze first of all by bringing the ingredients down to the pinch of salt in a saucepan together, taking them up to the boil. Stir to melt the preserves and make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Reduce the heat, let simmer until the sauce is syrupy, and then adjust seasonings to taste.
For the salmon, heat your grill to a medium-high heat and brush both sides of the salmon with oil, salt and pepper.
Grill about four minutes each side, brushing over with glaze for the last two minutes of each side.
Transfer to plates and brush on the remaining glaze to serve.

Vitamins: Omega and Vitamin E in the fish, as well as vitamin C in the citrus.

5 bonus tips for optimal beard growth:

  • Exfoliate once a week to help stimulate beard growth.
  • Get plenty of sleep to repair damaged skin cells.
  • Don’t trim or shape your beard hair until at least six weeks.
  • Improve blood circulation to the face by gently massaging.
  • Avoid eating raw egg whites, which can reduce hair growth!

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Food For Your Beard


Earth-Day-Poster-Ideas-4This year, the 22nd of April marks the 45th Anniversary of the worldwide celebration Earth Day. The objective of this day is to inspire awareness for the natural environment, to activate the worldwide environmental movement and to educate everyone around the world to take these matters into their own hands. Over 1 billion people participate in Earth Day – so what are you doing this year?

There are many ways that we can work toward protecting the environment – by lowering our dependence on cars, using renewable energy, eating locally sourced food and even just saving water around the house. In some countries participants will plant trees, sign petitions, organise conservation programmes and pick up rubbish from the street.

But even if you don’t want to get that involved, you can do your small bit at home by eating in an environmentally friendly way – that’s also good for you, of course.

In Australia, 20-30% of our greenhouse gases are directly from food production and transport, waste disposal and storage. That’s a really significant amount, and with renewed pressures on the planet in terms of over-population we need to ensure that the food being produced is done so responsibly. 3.3 million tonnes of food ends up in landfills each year, wasting the energy used for production and transport, but it also releases methane when decomposing, a chemical compound even more damaging than carbon monoxide.

You can reduce food waste by only buying what you need, planning a menu for the week beforehand, eating your leftovers and composting any leftover fruit, vegetables and grains.

But you can also do a lot of good by understanding where your food comes from, and making an effort to eat more locally-produced food. When food travels it loses nutritional value as well as causing damage to the environment, so the closer your food is sourced the better it is. Processed foods, which are unhealthy anyway, use a huge amount of water and energy to produce. And food imported by air releases 177 times the amount of greenhouse gases than shipping!

5276555612_5498509455_oBuying food from farmers markets, growing your own or participating in community gardens are all excellent ways of reducing the carbon footprint of your meals as well as ensuring they are nutritional. It’s also helpful in a number of other ways, including supporting small business and charities.

Taking the step to eating organic food can also be very helpful – although it isn’t nutritionally any better it is a better option for the environment, and many would agree that organic fruit and vegetables taste better. Organic food uses bio-fertilisers instead of chemical pesticides, which is better for the planet and for the farmers who deal with it on a daily basis.

One of the best things about Australian cuisine is that it’s so diverse, with many different cultural influences – the problem with this, is that a lot of non-native food has to be shipped or flown into the country.

Do some research into what native foods you like – macadamia nuts for example are delicious and versatile, and are indigenous to Australia, while bunya nuts can be eaten as they are or cooked into bread, pancakes, biscuits and houmous. There are also indigenous yams, gooseberries, apples and plums, and many other delicious fruits, vegetables and nuts. If you choose to eat meat, opt for kangaroo or ostrich, which is not only cheaper but has travelled much less.

Here’s just one delicious meal that can be made with locally-sourced meat – see how many of the ingredients you can get from within the country. Kangaroo meat is excellent, not just because it doesn’t need to be imported but because it’s high in protein and low in fat.

512px-Kangaroo_Meat

Ingredients

  • 500g kangaroo mince
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • Died chilli flakes
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • Seasoning

 

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a thick pan and then fry the garlic and onion until they’re soft

Add the mince and fry for a few minutes

Add in the chilli and spices, stirring while frying for another few minutes

Stir in the remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes

Season to taste and serve with rice or couscous

 

And remember – a dirty oven wastes much more energy than a clean one, so don’t leave it too long to have your oven cleaned!

Earth Day 2015


In our hectic modern day lives, the microwave has become more than just a convenience, but a necessary part of many households.

But as we hear more and more scare stories focussed around this simple mini-oven, it’s hard not to look at the microwave sideways and wonder just how safe it really is to have in our homes and offices.

Cast aside your aspersions and ignore the fear tactics as we at Ovenu are in the privileged position of being able to dispel the myths that surround one of the most prevalent kitchen appliances of the last forty years.

The First Myth – “Metals become dangerously hot in microwaves”

This is what happens when a CD is put in a microwave – do NOT try this at home!

This is what happens if you put a CD in the microwave – do NOT try at home!

False!
It’s true that you shouldn’t put any small metal objects like foil, cutlery or plates with metallic edging into the microwave – some of us may have learned that the hard way when trying to reheat a takeaway from the night before – as they can conduct microwaves causing electrical sparks. However thick pieces of metal won’t be heated to levels anywhere near dangerous in the microwave, as they usually reflect the microwaves, although it still isn’t good for the condition of the microwave oven.

The Second Myth – “Microwaves cook food unevenly”

True!

Expecting your food to be cooked straight through to the middle from frozen without following the packet’s instructions is just unrealistic. Microwaves heat up food by stirring up the water molecules on the outside, which then transfers the heat to the insides of the food. To avoid biting into a piping hot lasagne to find a frozen centre, follow the instructions carefully, especially when it comes to stirring or turning. Be especially careful with meat products as not cooking them through fully can mean the ingestion of dangerous bacteria.

The Third Myth – “You should never heat oil in a microwave oven”

True!
If you’re forgetful, try a sign like this one.

If you think you might forget, make yourself a label like this one.

This is usually a matter of convenience as opposed to safety. Microwaves work by heating up the water in food and drinks, and as oil has no water it doesn’t heat especially well in a microwave. If left too long, substances with particularly high levels of oil or fat may get too hot, although heating oil in the microwave is more inconvenient than dangerous. Use a frying pan or oven in a well-ventilated room instead.

The Fourth Myth – “Microwaves use more energy than ovens”

False!

Well, kind of. This is a complicated one, as microwaves do in fact consume larger amounts of energy than ovens, although the considerably shorter cooking times can cancel out this factor as the microwave doesn’t waste time and energy heating the surrounding area and containers. The difference in energy bills is minimal, so don’t worry about using the microwave instead of the oven from that perspective.

The Fifth Myth – “Plastic in the microwave is bad for you”

True!

Although there are many microwave safe plastics, and most microwaveable meals which come in plastic containers can be heated in them – for one time only – it is best to stay away from plastic in the microwave if you can help it. Especially in throw-away plastic like food containers, toxic amounts of the compound Bisephenol A (BPA) can be found, which have links with frightening issues such as neurological and motor-function damage.

The Sixth Myth – “They can give you cancer!”

False!

This 1959 microwave probably was very dangerous!

This 1959 microwave may well have been dangerous!

Luckily, this has about the same level of truth as saying that looking into a microwave can make you go blind. The radiation of a microwave is non-ionising much like a radio wave, so unlike ionising waves such as X-Rays there is no evidence that normal use of a microwave can cause cancer. There are some dangerous effects to direct exposure to the microwaves, although it’s extremely uncommon now to find a microwave which is able to run while the door is open. Occasionally leaks can develop due to malfunctions in the machine, but there is no solid proof as of yet that these can cause cancer to form.

Have you been told any crazy theories about microwaves that you’d like an honest answer to? Or maybe you can provide some expert advise to others who are worried about their health? Discuss them with us on our Ovenu Facebook page!

Information Sources:

Microwave Myths Explained