help! dishwasher-novice needs advice

When we bought our house about a two years ago, it was nearly perfect. Porch, backyard, short walk to the train. Coming from a small apartment meant we had stars in our eyes at thought of a things like an attic, garage and a basement. Storage galore. We were smitten. So smitten we casually overlooked that the kitchen didn’t have a dishwasher. I had lived 40 years without one, surely I could go a little longer, I thought. However, once we moved in my inner baker and closeted hostess-with-the-mostest personality came out. I cook at least three times a week and we have guests over several times a month. Suddenly, the no dishwasher thing was getting to be a real drag.

We called in a kitchen contractor type and were dismayed to learn that slipping in a dishwasher was not going to be an easy task. Our cabinets were all custom-sized, and the nice stone counter top could break if they tried to lift it up. There was some extra space in the corner of the kitchen, were we had placed a small bistro table. It was nice to have a table in the kitchen, but honestly we never used it. Our solution became clear: Extend the counter with butcher block (so we didn’t have to worry about matching the stone counter) and put the dishwasher there. There’d even be room for a stool, if we wanted to tuck one under.

A few weeks later, and voila! I can’t believe how much I am in love with our new appliance. We picked a Bosch — not the most expensive model, but a nice one that hums quietly when it’s on. It also has a pretty red light that beams on the floor so we know when it’s in use. Unlike dishwashers of my youth, this one does not have a drying cycle. I suppose it is to save energy, but if you open it up too soon things will definitely be too wet.

Now I am trying to learn the tricks of good dish loading. How dirty can things be when I put them? How closely can I pack things together? I definitely have noticed a few butter knifes that still look dirty after a cycle, and if we put the plates too close together, the backs will stay gunky.

Got any good dishwasher advice to share with me? I’d love tips on loading. What does your dishwasher clean that surprises you? What do you never put in there? As always, your shared wisdom is deeply appreciated! — Angela M.

From our partners

site we’re psyched about: the new sprouthome.com

sproutcurve

Chicago-based Sprout Home has been one of our favorite garden sites and stores for ages. They make gardening seem accessible and possible in even small urban spaces. They recently relaunched their site and we have to say the new and improved sprouthome.com has us counting the days until winter’s thaw hits. Now blogging from their outposts in both Brooklyn and Chicago, they offer fun, informative posts on everything from Venus Fly Traps to tips on how to choose the perfect house plant . If you’re looking for inspiration, click around their garden area for some of the gorgeous projects they have designed. And, if you’re thinking of planting something, check out their collection of mod containers, which will make even the brownest thumb seem mildly chic.

From our partners

bread boxes: useful or space wasters?

targetbox

eurobox

ebaybox

Wondering through Tarjay the other day, I was distracted by some very cute bread boxes prominently on display. Do I need one of these, I thought? Our bread storage habits are kinda haphazard. We just toss them in a wire bin tucked under a counter (along with our potatoes, dog treats, and such). My grandma always used one but never told me: Does bread really last longer if stored in a bread basket? Should it be stored in the fridge? Why do some bread bins cost so much?

Some cute bread boxes that have me debating giving up valuable counter space:

Target’s Pin Jan White Bread Box, $18.

Colorful bread bins from Wesco, about $100

Retro Metal Bread Box on Ebay, starting at $19.

— Angela M.

Previous posts to read:
I Dig The Bread Bin, But Will It Save My Loaf?

From our partners

panini-schamini: do you have a kitchen gadget that always lets you down?

The other day, I got a wild hair and decided to make myself a grilled PB&J for lunch. Sure, I could have just opted for a regular old frying pan, but I thought I’d go for gold. So, I unearthed my Le Creuset panini pan from the nether regions of my kitchen cabinet (no doubt banished there for good reason), got it smoking hot, popped my sandwich inside, and ended up with this:

babpanini

Not exactly the delicious, satisfying lunch I had in mind. If anything, it conjured more of a gag reflex than hunger pains. As I scraped the sorry remnants out of the pan, a series of flashbacks of prior mishaps appeared before my eyes. In reality, this panini pan has plagued me since the day it arrived. I didn’t return it after the first stick-tastic catastrophe, thinking it was just a fluke, or I was doing something wrong. A year later, I’ve determined there’s just no amount of grease sufficient to prevent this pan from destroying everything it touches. And, as you might expect, clean-up is – well, not a breeze. But I spent so much money on it…you know how it goes.

We all have them. Those appliances, gadgets or tools in the kitchen that we absolutely despise. Something we probably shelled out a good chunk of change to buy, with hopes of it transforming our culinary lives. Only to discover, once we put it to use, that it’s an utter horror to have around. Yet for some reason, you just can’t bear to throw it out.

As for me, I’m finally ready to admit defeat. I’m sending this pan off to my local Goodwill, complete with the residual PB&J crud I couldn’t free from its clutches, where some poor sap will undoubtedly discover it and think they’ve hit the thrift store jackpot. That is, until they get it home.

Please…tell me I’m not alone. Do you have any gadget wreckage cluttering up your kitchen? –Becki S.

From our partners

want it now: the little printer

littleprinter

I’m not sure why I want it. I have no idea how much it will cost (unannounced). I don’t even know when it will be available (the site only says sometime next year, in beta). Still, I can’t help thinking how much fun it would be to print Onion headlines from my iPhone. Or 1,000 other equally silly but meaningful things. You, too, can get hooked on the little printer. Watch the video, then add your name to the mailing list for launch details — Sarah L.

From our partners