At Home with John Newman

- Refined Style -

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Keep a Bottle of Stain Lifter in the Kitchen Cabinet

Stains are inevitable.  Especially in the kitchen.  I know when I am in the kitchen preparing dishes for the blog or for guests, it is rather certain that I am going to leave with a stain here or there.  Many of us think only of keeping a bottle of stain remover on the laundry room.

But I find that keeping a bottle in a kitchen cabinet is an equally good idea.  Because, why not have the bottle where the stains happen?  A couple sprays and the stain is already being lifted rather than waiting for laundry day and treating then.  Just a thought.  And a good tip on Thursday!

I Couldn't Resist

These blooms are so beautiful, I had to share another with you today.

This one just about the open.  Nature is so splendid.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


I moved these nandina from one of the gardens and planted them around the lamppost in the front yard several years ago.  They appear quite happy here.

Despite the common name, it is not a bamboo but an erect evergreen shrub up to 2 m (7 ft) tall by 1.5 m (5 ft) wide, with numerous, usually unbranched stems growing from ground level. The glossy leaves are sometimes deciduous in colder areas, 50–100 cm (20–39 in) long, bi- to tri-pinnately compound, with the individual leaflets 4–11 cm (2–4 in) long and 1.5–3 cm broad. The young leaves in spring are brightly coloured pink to red before turning green; old leaves turn red or purple again before falling. The flowers are white, borne in early summer in conical clusters held well above the foliage. The fruit is a bright red berry 5–10 mm diameter, ripening in late autumn and often persisting through the winter.
I think we could do a little pruning this week to give this a better look.  I let them grow these past couple of years so I would have plenty of foliage to work with.  Now I need to form them into an attractive and compact shape around the lamppost.


Beautiful Blooms

What a great thing to wake up to this morning.  The Rose of Sharon hedge between my house and the neighbors is beginning to bloom.

I thought this was positively stunning.  And as you can see, there are several more buds which will open in the coming days.

Another bloom that is fully opened.  I was think the rain showers we had on Monday evening probably helped to start this process.  We were fortunate at Crest Avenue to only receive rain, but no damage.  The storms that came through were rather violent and there were reports of a tornado in nearby Silver Spring, MD.

Enjoy our post today of beautiful Rose of Sharon blooms.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lettuce Knife

If you were wondering from my post earlier this morning what a lettuce knife is, here is a picture.

These are large bladed, usually serrated knives that are used to cut/slice/shred lettuce without causing the lettuce to turn brown.  While it may only save the lettuce from browning for a day or two, you still have that extra time to use it before it goes bad.  As for tearing the lettuce with your hands (which, of course is another option), that does not work for me because it does not give me the look I want.  Presentation is everything, especially when preparing dishes for guests.

Shredding Lettuce for Salads

I had a head of lettuce in the refrigerator that needed to be used.  A few of the leaves had been removed for sandwiches, but we needed to come up with an idea for how to use the rest of it.  So I decided to shred it for lunch salads.

There was still plenty of good, fresh lettuce here.  I did not want to waste it, so I decided to shred it for salads.

If you have a lettuce knife, of course that will work perfectly for this job.  But if you do not, a sharp ceramic blade knife will work just as well.  Using a plastic lettuce knife or a ceramic knife as I did, helps to keep the lettuce from turning brown as it would if sliced or chopped with a traditional stainless steel blade.

First things first - remove the stump.  I should have put this in a pot of soil and regrown a new head of lettuce, but I did not think to do that at the time.  Next time for sure.

Here, our head of lettuce with the stump removed and ready to be chopped.

I turned the head of lettuce over so the stump side was down and cut across in about three quarter inch slices.

Then, using just my clean hands, I separate the shreds into a mound of shredded lettuce.

Into a quart size Ziploc bag with the lettuce.  Be sure to extract as much of the air as possible before sealing the bag.

Finally, into the refrigerator crisper drawer to wait until time to prepare salads.

I like to prepare these simple chicken salads ahead of time and keep them refrigerated.  I simply filled the salad container with a healthy handful of lettuce.  Then I added one oven-baked chicken breast, thinly sliced.  A sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese and you have a delicious and nutritious - and filling - lunch. You could add any number of things to your salad, but I find these simple chicken salads to be the most scrumptious of all served with an Italian viniagrette.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Let's Clean the Kitchen Scales

I'm certain that many of you have a set of kitchen scales very much like the ones pictured here.

I have two sets of these for when I am planning and preparing for a large party.  They are wonderful. You can easily switch from US Standard measure to Metric with the press of a button.  And they have a nice large surface.

When I am not preparing for a party, I use these scales to measure out the dry food for Baxter's evening meal.  He gets a Blue Buffalo breakfast cup in the morning.  But in the evening he gets a 5.5 ounce can of Blue Buffalo for small breeds and some Blue Buffalo dry, also for small breeds, mixed in.

Hold the scale from underneath, flat in your hand and wipe it down with Amorall Wipe.
The only issue with these kitchen scales is that the stainless steel surface gets dirty and "fingerprinty" pretty easily.  I tried several different things to clean the surface with but nothing really worked to my satisfaction.

That is, until I tried these Amorall Cleaning Wipes which are actually designed to be used in the car. I thought it couldn't hurt to try them since I had tried everything else with not a great deal of success.

I find that one Armorall wipe will completely clean the surface, followed by wiping the surface with a dry paper towel to remove any residue left from the Armorall wipe.

Just a handy tip for your Monday.
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