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Video: Martha’s top kitchen tips

  1. Transcript of: Martha’s top kitchen tips

    MATT LAUER, co-host: This morning on MARTHA ON TODAY , we're talking about some top kitchen tips. Martha Stewart is here to share her secrets for creating a kitchen that's not only beautiful but functional as well. All these tips right out of the pages of Martha Stewart Living . Martha , good morning. Nice to see you.

    Ms. MARTHA STEWART: And 50 tips. I mean...

    LAUER: Fifty? You could have done 500 tips.

    Ms. STEWART: I probably could have, but we really edit it down to what I think people should at least start with, 50.

    LAUER: These are basic.

    Ms. STEWART: Yeah.

    LAUER: And some of them are so great. You love dish towels. Not the big monster ones, you like little ones , and you can't have enough of them.

    Ms. STEWART: Right. Well, you can use the little bar cloths. This is for wiping counters. See, they're not too big.

    LAUER: Right.

    Ms. STEWART: And they're easily washed and laundered. And that -- damp, I keep these damp whenever I'm working so that I wipe the counter with this, not with a paper towel . No waste.

    LAUER: And you -- and you fill an entire drawer of these things.

    Ms. STEWART: Oh, yeah. More than one because it's such a useful way. And then I know when I start cooking a meal I have all the towels I need.

    LAUER: And they're all easily washable.

    Ms. STEWART: Now this is a good hint; when you want your cutting board -- now this can be acrylic or it can be wood -- when you want it -- and when you're going to really be doing some heavy chopping, put a damp dishcloth underneath.

    LAUER: So it won't slide.

    Ms. STEWART: Try to move that. See? Oh, you can move the table.

    LAUER: The whole table went. Yeah. OK.

    Ms. STEWART: Uh-oh .

    LAUER: And that -- that's good. And then obviously just pick it up and change it and throw it in the wash.

    Ms. STEWART: This is great. Or you -- or you can use one of these nonstick surfaces, too, that you can buy by the yard.

    LAUER: Can you clean that?

    Ms. STEWART: Oh, sure. Just wash it in soapy water.

    LAUER: OK. Knives.

    Ms. STEWART: Now -- oh.

    LAUER: A lot of people put them in one of those blocks on the countertop. You like a drawer.

    Ms. STEWART: Well, I don't -- yeah, I like a drawer because I don't want the knives out, I just don't want them -- I pull open a drawer and I can just grab the knife I want. and these wooden blocks actually work very, very well, and they do keep your knives from getting dull.

    LAUER: Yeah, but don't just throw your knifes in a drawer haphazardly...

    Ms. STEWART: No, no.

    LAUER: ...because you reach in there, you can cut yourself real easily.

    Ms. STEWART: Indeed. Now...

    LAUER: And when you cut yourself, you should have a first aid kit.

    Ms. STEWART: Exactly.

    LAUER: You've got a whole drawer dedicated to that.

    Ms. STEWART: And this is so easy because everything is totally reachable. I have one for my pets because I have a lot of pets and I have one for humans. So this has everything I would need if I -- if I want an aspirin or if I want a nail clipper or a Q-tip .

    LAUER: What's the little pink pill for?

    Ms. STEWART: Mm-hmm. Oh, that's Benadryl .

    LAUER: Oh, OK.

    Ms. STEWART: Or something like that. Allergy.

    LAUER: Didn't know what you were doing there. OK.

    Ms. STEWART: But...

    LAUER: Just kidding.

    Ms. STEWART: What do you think? What do you think?

    LAUER: OK.

    Ms. STEWART: And then, you know, little throat lozenge. Anything is all accessible. And I love having these drawers.

    LAUER: But again, easy to get to, well organized in your little containers.

    Ms. STEWART: Yeah. Yeah. And then...

    LAUER: How many cats do you have?

    Ms. STEWART: I have five, so each cat has his or her own dish. And on these nonstick trays...

    LAUER: Where'd you find these?

    Ms. STEWART: I'm not allowed to say.

    LAUER: Oh, no? Oh.

    Ms. STEWART: Martha Stewart Pets.

    LAUER: Oh, did you really?

    Ms. STEWART: Yeah.

    LAUER: I'm sorry. You made these? OK. These are cool. So when they eat...

    Ms. STEWART: They're fantastic.

    LAUER: ...and the mess doesn't get all over the kitchen.

    Ms. STEWART: Right. Your dog needs one of these because you can put his big water bowl on one and his big food dish on the other. And these are great. But my cats really are picky, they want their own bowl.

    LAUER: Really?

    Ms. STEWART: Yes.

    LAUER: And do they know which bowl is theirs?

    Ms. STEWART: Of course. What cat -- yes.

    LAUER: Do they really? They read?

    Ms. STEWART: Oh, yes.

    LAUER: OK.

    Ms. STEWART: Now for washing dishes, another nice hint -- if you have a ceramic sink or a hard sink, use a towel if you're going to be doing fine china or fine linen.

    LAUER: So you actually lay that...

    Ms. STEWART: Line -- yes.

    LAUER: ...in the bottom of the sink so that if you drop something...

    Ms. STEWART: Yeah. So then if you clink so you won't break. I mean, I don't want to break my glasses.

    LAUER: OK.

    Ms. STEWART: But you can also put a tub in the sink, a soft plastic tub so that, again, the glass can soak there and it won't -- it won't break.

    LAUER: OK.

    Ms. STEWART: And keeping your -- decanting your dish liquid or your hand lotion into decorative containers is also a very good thing.

    LAUER: Just improves the overall look of the kitchen.

    Ms. STEWART: Yeah. And you just, you know, you don't have big labels everywhere, it's just sort of nice.

    LAUER: Whose soap is that? I'm kidding you. Don't say it.

    Ms. STEWART: Martha Stewart .

    LAUER: Don't say it. Don't say it. All right. So time of year for fresh vegetables and produce. A lot of people throw that in the refrigerator. You don't like the cluttered look on a countertop, so you organize it.

    Ms. STEWART: Oh. But -- no, it's -- I mean, tomatoes shouldn't go in the refrigerator.

    LAUER: Right, ever.

    Ms. STEWART: And it's so nice, especially now with the farm tomatoes, to put them out on a platter. I keep my fruit out, too, because peaches taste so much better, or apples...

    LAUER: Room temperature.

    Ms. STEWART: ...not -- yeah, room temperature. Eggs, too -- well, we're having a big problem with eggs, so everybody better be very careful where their eggs come from. But organically grown eggs from the farm you can keep out for a few days on the counter.

    LAUER: Really? Yeah, that's not a problem?

    Ms. STEWART: Oh, no, no, no. No.

    LAUER: OK.

    Ms. STEWART: It's OK. If they're fresh.

    LAUER: OK.

    Ms. STEWART: And so this looks nice, too, on your counter. And...

    LAUER: It does. It gives it a festive feeling of the spring and summer, too, which is nice.

    Ms. STEWART: Right. Well, all year I do this.

    LAUER: All right.

    Ms. STEWART: All year I keep it out.

    LAUER: This cart is kind of an ingenious idea.

    Ms. STEWART: Oh, this is my favorite.

    LAUER: This is something you can't live without.

    Ms. STEWART: Oh, no. And I have two of these in my kitchen. And people love them because you can keep all your salts and peppers in dishes like this on a tray.

    LAUER: Do you cover those when you're not using them?

    Ms. STEWART: No, no, no.

    LAUER: No?

    Ms. STEWART: No. No, they...

    LAUER: You don't worry about du -- oh, I hate to...

    Ms. STEWART: Dust. Oh, heaven forbid.

    LAUER: ...say dust in Martha 's house. But you don't -- you don't worry about dust getting in those things?

    Ms. STEWART: No. And then I keep all my tools, my hand tools, accessible in crocks like this. And my rubber scrapers, my spatulas, my whisks, wooden spoons. All like this so I just grab what I need. And it's not just for me, I mean, many, many, many people do this. But it's just -- the 50 tips really show you how to organize your kitchen just to make it more useful.

    LAUER: Very functional.

    Ms. STEWART: Yeah.

    LAUER: Also pretty...

    Ms. STEWART: Yeah.

    LAUER: ...and then right out of the pages of Martha Stewart Living .

Explainer: Martha Stewart's top kitchen tips

  • 1. It’s all in the details

    Martha considered every corner of her kitchen in Bedford, right down to the shelving supports. “I like ‘bird’s beak’ supports, an old carpentry style with notches that let shelves slide in and out,” Martha says. No holes, no hardware — the look is streamlined.

  • 2. Open up and use every inch

    Shelving in place of upper cabinets makes the room look lighter and airier. “I use everything in my kitchen regularly, and shelves make it all accessible,” Martha says. “These nearly reach the ceiling, putting underused space to work.” A combination of shelving and cabinets makes sense if you don’t want everything on display.

  • 3. Create stations

    Everything Martha needs for a perfect cup of coffee or tea is all in one place: The espresso machine is on the counter; assorted cups, French presses, and teapots are on the shelves above; and everyday flatware and teas are in the drawers below. Fresh coffee beans are stored in electric grinders next to the espresso machine.

  • 4. Islands

    An island provides a central spot to work and eat. Martha doubles the functionality and flexibility with a pair of marble-topped islands, one on wheels and one stationary. She can use one for prep work and the other to seat guests for an informal meal. “I also push the rolling island up to the stationary one for buffets,” Martha says. To be most useful, an island must be at least four feet long and two and a half feet wide; clearance of at least three feet all around is essential.

  • 5. Hang up the pots

    Using a rack will save so much space in your cabinets— and make your pots and pans easier to find. Martha hangs hers above the stationary island near the range

  • 6. Customize storage

    Decide what you want to keep in the islands, and plan the space accordingly. “Upright steel slats provide perfect spots for heavy baking sheets,” Martha says. She also has drawers for aprons and utensils; deep shelves for platters, books, and pet supplies; and small cubbies for towels and other items.

  • 7. Add baskets and bins

    Corral items on open shelves using nice-looking containers. These baskets add warmth and texture to the room; the gray trays are simple and stylish. Add adhesive pads on the bottom so they slide smoothly.

  • 8. Protect surfaces

    A large, white commercial cutting board sits on the marble countertop, so there’s always a place to chop, prepare food, or place a hot pot. A nonskid pad beneath it keeps it from sliding.

  • 9. Keep a towel handy

    Mounted hooks put towels on the sides of the islands just where you always want them and give purpose to an unused space.

  • 10. Plug it in

    Electrical outlets near the top of the island allow you to use small appliances easily, without the cord getting in the way.

  • 11. Display, but don’t clutter

    By all means keep out the items you use often or enjoy looking at; Martha keeps fruits, vegetables, and eggs, as well as a collection of mortars and pestles, on the counter. Just make sure there’s plenty of room to work so you don’t have to rearrange things when you’re ready to cook.

  • 12. A place for everything

    Martha designed her kitchen with lots — and lots! — of drawers. You might not have as many, but you can still use her tips: Group like things together, use containers and dividers to customize spaces, add labels, and do a good clean-out once a year to make sure all the items are where they belong.

  • 13. Japanese knives

    Martha has collected these tools on trips to Tokyo and Kyoto (many from centuries-old knife maker Aritsugu). “These are my favorites,” she says.

  • 14. Everyday flatware

    Martha likes organizers with rectangular compartments (rather than spoon- and fork-shaped compartments) for the French ivory flatware she uses daily.

  • 15. Cake- and cookie decorating supplies

    Pastry bags, biscuit cutters, icing tips, and frosting combs: Everything is easily accessible in clear boxes.

  • 16. Office supplies

    They’re not for cooking, but don’t you always need a pen, scissors, a ruler, or a stamp when you’re in the kitchen? Among Martha’s essentials are a label maker and tags and twine for gifts.

  • 17. Hardware basics

    Devote a drawer to the things you need most, such as lightbulbs, batteries, extension cords, and EZ Glide pads (available at hardware stores) for chair legs.

  • 18. Cocktail napkins

    Stack sets of napkins with the smallest on top, so you can see them all.

  • 19. Wooden tools

    Rolling pins share space with mallets, salad servers, and springerle molds for cookies.

  • 20. Zesters, graters, and peelers

    An assortment of graters lets you get just the right texture from citrus peel, cheese, and more. These tools are sharp — give them their own space so you don’t nick yourself.

  • 21. Tea supplies

    Be ready to make the perfect pot with strainers, tea balls, honey dippers, and special tea leaves all in one spot.

  • 22. Napkin rings and chopstick rests

    Grouped in plastic bins, Martha’s Bakelite, porcelain, silver, and ivory accessories are easy to find when it’s time to set the table.

  • 23. Silver flatware

    “Shallow drawers lined with tarnish-controlling flannel provide the right environment for silver,” Martha says. The pieces rest in a single layer on the fabric — no dividers or stacking necessary.

  • 24. Skewers and picks

    Having a variety is handy for hors d’oeuvres. Bundle each kind with a rubber band or a snippet of string.

  • 25. Knives

    “In-drawer wooden knife trays save counter space,” Martha says.

  • 26. First aid kit

    The kitchen is command central in most homes, so keep basic supplies there. Martha arranges items in little containers.

  • 27. Dish towels

    “You can’t have enough soft, absorbent white cloths,” Martha says. “They should be neatly folded and stacked for easy access.”

  • 28. Small hand tools

    Without wire baskets as dividers, this drawer would be a jumble. Instead, the tools are ready to grab when you need them.

  • 29. Be savvy with your staples

    You don’t need a walk-in pantry to keep things neat. Martha doesn’t have one. Instead, she devotes a tall cabinet to nonperishables, grouped according to use and cuisine. Shelves are labeled and lined with custom-cut stainless steel sheeting, which protects the cabinetry and wipes clean. Canisters on top hold ingredients purchased in bulk.

  • 30. Enjoy the view

    When you’re designing or renovating a kitchen, make it a priority to put a window over the sink. It vastly improves your outlook on washing dishes. “Looking at the farm is a pleasure,” Martha says.

  • 31. Add a basin

    “Use a plastic bin for soaking or soaping to save water,” Martha says. The plastic is also more forgiving than a hard sink should you drop a dish. When you’re washing a lot of very fragile items by hand, such as crystal stemware, lining the sink with a terry towel also does the trick. Keep dish soap in a clear plastic pump bottle by the sink.

  • 32. Get into the groove

    Consider adding slightly angled grooves to the draining-board counter next to the sink: Water from just-washed dishes runs back into the sink.

  • 33. Focus on the faucet

    High gooseneck faucets make it easy to fill large pots and vases and to maneuver things in and out of the sink.

  • 34. Be hands-on

    Use a small tray to keep hand soap and lotions ready.

  • 35.Sneak in more shelves

    “In a kitchen, unused wall space is wasted space,” Martha says. Thin shelves — these are antique milk glass — add storage without feeling heavy or imposing, even in a tight spot. These hold teapots and spices (metal tins keep light out so spices last longer).

  • 36. Get an edge

    In a high-traffic area, adding a side “wall” to a counter can be helpful. At Martha’s pastry station, by the kitchen door, there’s a marble bracket with a graceful silhouette, echoing the wooden ones in the room. It keeps flour from flying onto the floor and prevents things from being knocked off the counter when people walk through the door.

  • 37. Dish it up

    Martha collects vintage enamel holders, originally used for soap and sponges in bathrooms. She mounts them by sinks to hold sponges, brushes, and scrubbers.

  • 38. Bring on the bins

    Large metal bins for garbage and recyclables sit at each end of the island (food scraps go into smaller pails for composting). Though the trend is to have pull-out bins behind cabinet doors, these are easier and cleaner to use: Step on the pedal to open.

  • 39. Take a step up

    Keep a stepladder in the kitchen — if you’ve maximized your space, you’ll need one for reaching the highest shelves.

  • 40. Let the sunshine in

    In addition to tall windows, Martha has a glass-paned kitchen door. Translucent, lightweight shades can be lowered for some privacy, while still letting daylight through.

  • 41. Illuminate your work surface

    Countertops are often hidden in shadows. Undercabinet or undershelf lighting brightens those areas.

  • 42. Dim the lights

    Dimmers on fixtures let you control the amount of light and increase energy efficiency.

  • 43. Keep spoons and such stove-side

    Whether you use one crock or several, it’s wise to have essential tools in arm’s reach when you’re at the stove. Martha keeps ladles, whisks, pastry brushes, wooden spoons, and flexible spatulas in separate containers.

  • 44. Get rolling

    A cart provides storage where you need it. Martha usually parks this stainless steel one, with tools for cooking, by her range. A small freestanding island on wheels can serve the same purpose and is especially useful in a tight kitchen; it provides a work surface and a casual sideboard. “By adding a custom-cut marble top, a rolling cart can also be used as a bar when entertaining,” Martha says.

  • 45. Reach for flavor

    Also on the rolling cart: Martha’s mise en place — ramekins of various salts and often-used spices. A pinch is easier to gauge with fingers or a spoon than it is with a shaker.

  • 46. Think safety

    Martha keeps two fire extinguishers in the kitchen. Look for ones designed for the kitchen or multipurpose ones for the home. Read the instructions so you’re prepared, and test the devices according to the directions. Keep them by exits, and remember that safe evacuation is always the priority.

  • 47.Dress the dogs in a snap

    Martha’s dogs spend a lot of time in the kitchen with her. When they head out for walks, it’s usually through the kitchen door. As such, Martha keeps their sweaters and coats in a basket on a shelf under the island.

  • 48. Grab a leash

    A shallow drawer keeps coiled leashes from getting tangled.

  • 49. Create a storage system for pet food

    “I have three dogs, five cats, and 22 canaries,” Martha says. “So it’s important to be organized.” She devotes pantry space to dry food, which she transfers from the bulky bags into stackable airtight plastic containers. Labels are crucial for keeping them straight. Bowls and cans are stacked nearby in see-through bins.

  • 50. Make mealtime neat

    Martha’s cats have their own buffet in the servery. Several dishes are lined up in a long tray, which catches any spills so food doesn’t end up on the floor.


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