Saturday, January 22, 2011

Helpful Things: Cookie Cutter Storage & Ketchup on Copper

Martha calls them "Good Things", and I call them "Helpful Things", mostly because I don't wish to have a word with her patent lawyers.

Cookie Cutter Storage:

I have a small, crappy old apartment. I like it, f in spite of its shortcomings and certainly not because of them. The bathtub is chipped (which is also a good thing, because it means less and less 'dusty rose' everytime it happens) and the drain is clogged. I have two broken windows (they were like that when I moved in) and the sliding door works only on occasion. The kitchen sink's seals are gone and water pours into the counter below. I have broken, stained and cracked faux-bedrock lineoleum tiles in my very small kitchen, and definitely a lack of useful storage. Where do the cookie cutters go?

I went to, which I quite enjoy, but I couldn't find a useful tip. I did, however, discover that some people have some sort of cookie cutter kleptomania which compells them to fill several large Tupperware containers full of them. Frightening! Some people build display cases... perhaps not my recommendation.

Surely Martha wouldn't let me down! But no - no hints on where to store cookie cutters when you're short on storage space!

Screw it, I'm coming up with my own idea! Here it is - buy a pack of clear thumbtacks and hang the cutters in the back of one of your least-stuffed cupboards (mine was the drinking glasses and mugs cupboard). They look kind of cool, you can see your inventory at a glance, and they can even help to detract from the many cosmetic (and perhaps even structural) blemishes haunting the cabinets of 1960's apartment buildings everywhere.

Cleaning Copper with Ketchup (Catsup for you Americans!):

Now this really is exciting news for me, with my absurd collection of copper jelly moulds! (Incidentally, if you enjoy reading my blog and have a spare copper or copper-toned jelly mould you'd like to part with, please leave a comment below and I'll send you my mailing address...!).

My lovely youngest brother gave me a few copper antiques for Christmas this year, as well as an awesome mould for my birthday. The large copper kettle wouldn't make it into "My Favourite Things" from the Sound of Music - it was anything but 'bright'. The old coffee percolater was a little closer to still having that 'copper' colour to it, but was also in need of help. And the awesome jelly mould? It wasn't quite meshing with the others....

Before & After photos . . . didn't realise getting the lighting right would be so hard!

Being environmentally conscious (and also broke - this also factors in), I didn't really want to buy a tin of Brass-o or Tarn-X or whatever that awful, pungent chemical formulation is. I figured there must be some clever redox reaction I could employ that would negate the use of such harsh chemicals. So I did a Google search - ketchup came up. So did half a lemon dipped in salt. Ketchup?! Okay, so it's slightly acidic (vinegar and all that) but it's also full of red food dye and obscene amounts of sugar (not a diet food, FYI) - is this a conspiracy from the Heinz people, or does smearing your copper pots with a film of hot dog condiment actually work?

All you need is copper and ketchup, but salt and vinegar adds more power!

It works! Instructions here, but you basically just let it sit for about 20 minutes and wipe it off under running warm water and dry thoroughly. It's cheap, a little messy (but so would the toxic polishes be), safe (non-toxic!), and probably much less harmful to the ecosystem, all things taken together. It is also a convenient way to use up another quarter of the giant squeeze bottle (or two) that are lurking in the back of your fridge from your camping trips last summer. I'm sure they don't go off quickly, but one does like to use up old condiments.

For the tougher jobs (like the brown kettle), it has been suggested to add a little vinegar and some salt (for scouring). I did this on the 2nd round. The jelly mould wasn't nearly as tarnished, and straight ketchup worked fine.

Lid wiped clean; ketchup, salt and vinegar scrub still on kettle

One thing to mention - use a rag. I used a perfectly good washing-up cloth, and it's now this bizarre red and green mottled colour on top of the existing blue plaid. Whoops.

I was pretty sure the lid didn't match the kettle - now I know for sure! Handle wasn't cleaned with ketchup...

Apologies to the Tarn-X company for repeating this information to potential new converts to the copper-ketchup-craze. I'll make up for it when I buy your Power Plumber (equivalent to the 'One Second Plumber' compressed gas canister available in Canada) - that bathtub drain won't unclog itself, and it doesn't appear that our landlord will be bothered in this decade.

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