Bring Your Produce Back To Life!

Brad has all kinds of fun kitchen tricks.

Maybe one of my favorites is when there is a bunch of basil – or a bag of spinach, or some carrots or herbs or whatever – that looks limp and sad.  Maybe it wasn’t in the crisper in the refrigerator.  Maybe we went to lunch after the market and left them in the car a little too long.  Maybe I took something out of a bag that it would have been better off left in…

Whatever happened, the produce looks withered and faded.

(hopefully this is not how you feel after that glorious memorial day weekend.  if it is, then use this same trick on yourself.  plus maybe a pastry or two.  i guarantee the holiday weekend hangover will be over in no time.  and – cheer up!  it’s “officially” summer!)

Just looking at those sad, limp, green leaves, you think you should probably just throw them away.

limp kale key of kels

Like this kale, for example.  I have no excuse, I just didn’t get to it fast enough and it sat in the bottom of the crisper out of a bag just a little too long.

But wait!!

I tried Brad’s magic trick.

limp kale key of kels I stuck the kale in a jar with a good amount of water.  I set it in a sunny spot, but not one that got direct sunlight.

And I – once again – forgot about it.
limp kale key of kelslimp kale key of kelslimp kale key of kels

Seems this week I’m just really not good at kale.

limp kale key of kels

But a few hours later, I happened to walk by the arrangement, and I noticed that the leaves were no longer touching the tabletop I’d set them on.

kind of limp kale key of kels kind of limp kale key of kelsThe leaves felt a little stronger to the touch.  A little more rigid and tough. kind of limp kale key of kels kind of limp kale key of kelsSo I left them a little while longer.  Just to see what would happen.kind of limp kale key of kels

24 hours later, the kale was pretty much 100% back to it’s natural kale-like state.

back to life kale with the key of kels back to life kale with the key of kels back to life kale with the key of kels

I was really amazed at how it had transformed from being limp, soft, and inedible right back to being tough, thick, crunchy kale.back to life kale with the key of kels back to life kale with the key of kels back to life kale with the key of kels

I will admit, it looked so pretty in the jar that I kept it on my desk for a day next to the gorgeous protea flowers I picked up at the farmer’s market.

Kale arrangement with protea

Now I’ve had both kale and artichokes as floral arrangements.  This is either multitasking or a giant waste of food.

Kale arrangement with proteaAnd I just keep thinking of what I can do with all this kale…

So, I’m off to make lunch.


The Worst Day For Garbage Disposals

So back in October when I was in Maryland visiting my family and I attempted to write a blog a day for ten days, I was taking notes on anything that could possibly become a blog idea. If you sneezed and I thought it was interesting, I probably wrote that down. My mom at one point said she had to watch herself because anything she did could become “Key of Kels” material. It was true. I was often heard saying, “I might blog about that.”

One of these said notes was probably a piggy back conversation to our dish washing OCD conversation (see Bylsma Dishwasher Rules). We got to talking about garbage disposals. My dad had the quote that kicked it off.

“You know what the worst day for garbage disposals is? Thanksgiving.”


Other disposal words of wisdom?

  • Never put celery down there. It seems harmless, but it acts like string and just ties the blades in a big knot.
  • Always run water when it’s on. Cold water is best.
  • Sometimes I just fill up the sink after I use it a lot and let it drain through.

Yep. I think we had been drinking.

Now Brad did not grow up in a house with a garbage disposal. He is only starting to know the wonders of the machine. He told me that once, in Orlando, he was talking to one of his housemates about what was ok to put down there. His housemate started listing foods that were ok. Leftovers, egg shells (I don’t know if I agree with this one), cereal, even a whole pizza.

“Why would you want to put a whole pizza down the drain?” Brad said. Obviously, he would much rather EAT a whole pizza than pulverize it and flush it down the drain.

“I don’t know, but if you ever wanted to, you could definitely do it.”


I, however, have always had a garbage disposal. The only time I scrape my plate before rinsing it is if there are bones on it. Pretty much everything else is fair game.

Brad and I are still recovering from a really bad garbage disposal experience recently. In our old apartment, nothing worked all that well. Especially the garbage disposal. One night I was cleaning out the refrigerator and getting rid of food that had been sitting just a bit too long. I had some leftover homemade chicken noodle soup. Nothing in there can’t be ground up pretty easily, especially after sitting for a week or so.

But all of a sudden the water stopped draining. The disposal just whirred and hummed. The sink filled up with murky leftovers water. Then the other sink started to fill. Oh and THEN the dishwasher started to fill. And overflow.


We will just call this the Great Flood of Kansas Avenue, 2011. Not only was this disgusting, but it actually took two days for someone to come out and even attempt a repair. Imagine living with a chef for two days with dirty water coming out of your kitchen sinks and dishes you can’t easily wash.

To make matters worse, the guy the landlord sent over to snake the drain snaked right on through into the neighbors apartment and busted a hole through their pipes. This is when our property manager informed us that we shouldn’t even be putting lettuce down the drain. What were we thinking?  This was also when I informed Brad that I would be looking for new apartments ASAP.


So after all of that, you would have think we had learned. Our new apartment is amazing, but its still old. It was built in the 1940s. The piping wasn’t then what it is now. You just have to treat it with a little respect.

Which is why we should have known, last night, on our version of the “worst day for garbage disposals”, that it was not a good idea to put the potato peels down there. We should have known that the red reset button just wasn’t going to do the trick. And I should have known when I Googled clogged garbage disposal (trying to fix it before Brad came back in the kitchen and freaked out. He DID tell us not to put the peels down there…) it would come back and tell me that potato peels are the WORST thing to put into a disposal.

Well of course.

So we ate our incredible day after Thanksgiving feast with the Toasts (coffee rubbed rib roast, cranberries, sweet potato skewers, stuffing, braised greens…) and then made a few trips down to Walgreens for Drano and when that didn’t work, to Rite Aid for a plunger.

Brad said the girl in front of him in line was also buying a plunger.

Turns out Dad was right. Thanksgiving really is the worst day for garbage disposals. And I bet Rite Aid sold a lot of plungers yesterday.

Soaking Addicts Anonymous

I had my very first request for a blog post from a fan :). Thanks, Dan, for making me feel famous.

He was right though, I left you all hanging. I told you about Brad and all of his kitchen rules and then all I gave you was a story about keeping your hands clean. People have heard about wet hand, dry hand. You need the chef’s wife inside kitchen rules. The ones nobody even knows exist.

So here is kitchen rule #2.

Never Leave a Dish in the Sink with Water In It

I call this soaking. Brad calls this gross.

I think I developed this habit to justify not doing my dishes right away. You fill a used pot with water and all that food and sauce still stuck in there get to slowly dissolve so dishes are so easy to clean whenever you get to them! Genius!

Especially when it comes to bowls of oatmeal. You don’t soak that bowl with a teeny bit of oatmeal left on it? It sticks like cement. You need a Brillo Pad to get that stuff off.

Shoulda soaked that bowl.

I seriously never noticed (or thought it was a big deal) that I did this until about a year ago when I was once again making fun of Brad for how he put dishes in the dishwasher. Bowls and glasses everywhere. In every direction. We could barely fit a days worth of dishes in there and there was no way they were ever going to get clean. It was my dad in me coming out when I asked him, once again, to put the big white bowls on the bottom shelf. All facing the same way. Pretty, pretty please.

“Alright fine. I will do that if you promise not to leave pots in the sink with water in them.”


This, my friends, is one of the secrets to marriage, right? Compromise. I get the bowls, he gets the water in the pots. And I don’t even really leave water in pots. That’s crazy. Who does that?

One point for Kels.


Except the next couple of weeks I stopped myself from filling up pots, pans, bowls and dishes like 767868755 times. Turns out, I had a serious soaking problem.

Brad realized how hard this was for me and even cut me a little slack. Apparently it is ok to leave dishes in the sink (for a short period of time), as long as there is no water in them. But it turned out he doubly won this compromise because every time I’d fill up the stupid pot with water, I would realize what I was doing and then just wash it to get it out of my sight.

Stupid Pot Soaking Addiction.

I have to tell you all, I have not completely broken the habit. I actually chose to tell you about this rule next because the night I had a request for another kitchen rule, I was making burgers for Brad who had worked another 14 hour day. As I was frying up some bacon, I caught this little guy in the sink…


So Brad is doing much better with my kitchen rule than I am with his. But he’s a professional. I would expect nothing less from him. Brad invented the kitchen rules. I’m still a rookie in this game.