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Pie-Induced Spring Cleaning Rage

March 17, 2010

Sweet, Dream Pie

The best part of hosting a Pi Day pie party is that you get to keep all of the leftovers.  But this year, I deprived myself (and my roommates) of that privilege…..

After a cursory post-party apartment cleaning Sunday evening, I took all of the remaining slivers of sweet pie (there was no excess savory pie) and condensed them into one pie pan:

1/4 blueberry pie (winner of best crust)
1/16 chocolate fudge pie
1/16 egg custard pie
1/8 fruit custard pie (winner of best sweet pie)
1/16 key lime pie (winner of best looking pie)
1/16 lemon meringue pie
1/8 pecan pie
1/16 pineapple cream cheese pie
1/8 pumpkin pie
1/16 watermelon pie (winner of most interesting pie)

*Check out photos from the celebration under “Yummy Pix”.

It would have made the perfect sweet pie, had some mysterious party guest not selfishly spooned off the yummy meringue off of the lemon meringue remnants, and had there also been some apple, banana cream, blackberry, and strawberry rhubarb representation.  Anyways, I got up the next morning super psyched to dig into it after not having to dream about it.


Barefoot Butterfingers

I postponed my usual AM routine.  Instead of putting on my contact lenses and high heels, I headed straight towards the fridge.  With a fork in my right hand, and the buttery bottomed, motley pie resting on my left, I used my front teeth to grip the edge of the plastic lid (to remove it).  I jerked my head upwards, but somehow flipped the entire pie out of my palm and on to the kitchen floor :(.

I made a lot of foolish decisions that morning, such as not resting the pie on the kitchen counter, or not putting the fork down to free my right hand.  But deciding not to put on my heels was by far the most idiotic.  Without them, I am a clumsy, hot mess.  Plus, the additional distance between the pie and floor would have granted me more time for graceful pie catching.


HHC’s five second rule

Fortunately, I have an abnormally open mind to grossness where food is involved.  And I’m not referring to the Andrew Zimmerman type of gross.  I’m referring to my ability to enjoy delicious pie first thing in the morning type of gross.  And particularly, my ability to eat delicious food right off the floor type of gross.  My personal rule is slightly more permissive than the five second one, and can be divided into three parts:

I.    The food must be really good.
II.   There must be no visible dirt or hair on the fallen food.
III.  There must be 0% chance that a dog has pooped on the spot where the food landed.

Part I of the rule has almost never stopped me, because I usually drop food because I am so excited to eat it.  And I’m only excited to eat really good food.  Which reminds me…

I once ate fried chicken off of the floor at Walter Foods in Williamsburg.  The restaurant was very dimly lit, so I felt pretty guilty for not being fair to my rule… But let me tell you, it was SO worth it.  If you haven’t had Walter’s fried chicken, go get it now (the address is at the bottom of this post).  While you’re at it, don’t forget to try their Pimm’s cup and bread pudding.  And don’t forget to bring a friend to order the Butcher’s steak for you to mooch off.

Fallen-pie-induced spring cleaning rage

Ok, back to the story.

There were dust fuzzies all over the fallen pie.  Damn fluorescent lighting.

But really, damn me for not maintaining a clean kitchen.  There are a ton of things lying around that I have been meaning to clean, but too lazy to make time for.  I’m starting to sound really filthy.

I’m actually pretty clean.  But the things that are particularly difficult, expensive, or dangerous to clean have remained untouched.  Fortunately, the loss of such a precious pie gave me a new found rage to clean.  Since you probably didn’t drop an amazing pie and are in need of some motivation, check out the spring cleaning song from Rocko’s Modern Life for some rage induction:


To Clean List

Here are the top three items on my spring cleaning list in order of priority:

1. Laptop

I bring my laptop to the kitchen every time I bake/cook with a recipe, because I have no ink in my printer.  I also bring my laptop with me to every café and coffee shop in Manhattan/BK with free wireless.  So there is a huge buildup of flour, cookie/cereal/cheese-it/pie crumbs, cocoa powder, and a nasty streak of butter on the left side of my screen.  This is number one on my list, because without a functioning laptop, I lose the ability to compulsively check Gmail and Facebook.

2. Cheese grater

I haven’t been able to use my cheese greater in 5 months because there are bits of extra-sharp cheddar, gruyere, nutmeg, and lemon zest stuck in the tiny little holes.  I specifically remember the last time I used it.  I was making Ina Garten’s Grown up Mac and Cheese to eat over a grown up TV series (The Wire season 1) on DVD.  And even at that time, I remember having to work around old crusty lemon zest from when I made Ina’s lemon cake

Cleaning a cheese grater is truly a pain in the ass since you pretty much grate whatever you use to clean it.  This is second on my list, because I have been buying pre-shredded cheese, which is absolutely unacceptable.  For one, it is more expensive.  When you grate an 8 oz block of cheese, you get almost 4 cups of shredded cheese.  When you buy an 8 oz bag of pre-shredded cheese, you get about 2 cups of shredded cheese!  But the worst part is that pre-shredded cheese contains preservatives and powdered cellulose, an additive which serves to prevent the cheese from sticking together.

3. Mason Jar

My sister brought back a dry “six bean soup” mix after a visit with my parents’ in Louisiana.  It came in a cute mason jar that I would like to use for sugar storage.  But it still smells like onion and garlic powder.  Also, the sticker label on the outside is really annoying to remove.  There’s usually at least one generous corner to help start the removal process, but all four (actually, 8 if you count the directions on the back sticker) are relentless!  One of my pet peeves is partially removed paper adhesive labels on stuff.  Either leave it completely on, or take it completely off!


After a little bit of thought and googling…

1a. Laptop screen: Vinegar + Water

LCD and plasma screen manufacturers do not recommend using any products that contain ammonia or alcohol for cleaning, which pretty much eliminated all of my cleaning sprays.  So after browsing a hodgepodge of online sources, I put together the below solution:

•    Make a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar.  The acetic acid in vinegar is relatively weak, but a great cleaner that can cut grease (butter!), dissolve mineral buildup, and inhibit mold and bacterial growth.
•    Use a 100% cotton cloth (an old sock or t-shirt).  Paper towels and facial tissue both contain wood fibers that can scrape your screen.
•    Dip the cloth lightly into the solution.  Wipe the cloth against the screen in a light, circular motion.

And boy did it work!

Before ***********************************After

1b. Laptop keyboard: Cyber Clean + Flip/Shake

The keyboard presented a much greater challenge.  In college, I just took my laptop to the CAs (computing assistants) for a good old fashioned compressed air cleaning.  But since then, I have been flipping my keyboard upside down and giving it a good shake.

I didn’t trust myself with the compressed air because I felt like I would just blow all of the crumbs deeper into the keys.  And although I was feeling a good spring cleaning rage, I wasn’t feeling ambitious enough to disassemble my keyboard.  But my solution came to me, subliminally….

I regularly fall asleep on my couch watching Good Eats and Unwrapped re-runs on the Food Network.  And if any of you watch as much Food Network as I do, you know that between 5-9am EST, there are only infomercials.  But I’m usually sleeping through them.

During my last visit to the Walgreens on 23rd and Park Avenue, I was inexplicably drawn to the lime green “Cyber Clean” display near the check out.  The package read, “The high-tech cleaning compound for all electronic devices!  Press it on and the dirt is gone!”  I tossed it into my basket without checking the price because I was scared it would stop me.  But to my pleasant surprise, the Cyber Clean was only $1.99!!!  The same price as my 16.9 oz Diet Coke.  I ran home joyfully to Google Cyber Clean.  Turns out I have totally watched/listened to the infomercial in my sleep:

Cyber Clean does work, but not quite as effortlessly as it does on the infomercial.  I did manage to thoroughly clean my keyboard, but only after also doing a little bit of flipping/shaking.  If you have mostly dust beneath your keys (and no offensively large crumbs), I recommend using compressed air.  But if you constantly bake/cook/eat in front of your computer like me, I’d recommend the Cyber Clean + flipping/shaking combo.  Things do adhere well to the squishy patented compound, so you certainly don’t have to worry about pushing anything further under the keys. And don’t forget to turn off your computer before cleaning the keys!

Before                                                                                  After

2. Cheese Grater: Toothbrush

When I was in the 6th grade, I got a pair of bad ass Nike Basketball sneaks from Weiner’s.  My favorite part about the shoes was the intricate design on the bottom that I could nonchalantly show off every time I crossed my legs.  But the worst part about the shoes was getting dog crap out of those same intricate crevices.  The first time it happened, I used toothpicks.  The second time it happened, I used a toothbrush (there were a ton of dogs in the neighborhood).  And that seriously changed my cleaning life.  Don’t ever throw away an old toothbrush!  Just make absolutely certain that you don’t mix that toothbrush up with the one you use to clean the bottom of your shoes.

Before                                                                                   After

I picked up a great tip during my google search… spray your cheese grater with non-stick cooking spray before grating!  It’ll make clean up much easier, with or without a toothbrush!

3a.  Mason Jar Sticker Label: Oil + Rubbing Alcohol

I was reminded by the buttery bottomed pie accident that things do not adhere well to oil!

So… I sprayed the front label with Canola Oil and let it soak for 10 minutes.  It definitely helped loosen up the bond, but required a little bit of razor blade assistance.  So I googled “remove adhesive stickers”, and came across an entire eHow video devoted to the process.

eHow recommended using rubbing alcohol for removing labels off of glass.  So this time, I first completely soaked the back label in rubbing alcohol for 10 minutes.  I then sprayed over it with Canola Oil, and waited another 10 minutes.  And it came off rather easily!



3b.  Mason Jar Onion and Garlic Odor: Rubbing Alcohol + Water + Dish Washing Detergent

Since I already had an open bottle of rubbing alcohol, I figured I could try to use it to get rid of the onion and garlic powder odors.  I made a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part alcohol, and then added a squirt of dish washing detergent.  I closed the jar and let it sit for an hour.  It totally worked.

Wow, and we thought that baking/cooking was exhausting….

Hm… and we don’t even have something to eat!  Shall we go to Walter?

Walter Foods
253 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY (map)

Until next time,


HH Contessa

9 Comments leave one →
  1. jeenah permalink
    March 17, 2010 7:49 am

    wow, lynn~ this post was really informative!! definitely going to have to try the vinegar + water laptop screen cleanse….and EW! i also HATE HATE partially removed adhesive labels

    • March 17, 2010 5:35 pm

      Hey Jeenah!

      Glad I could be of assistance to you. The vinegar + water solution works like a charm. The only draw back is that your computer will smell vinegary… but that goes away after about an hour 🙂 Hope all is well in London!


      HH Contessa

  2. howie permalink
    March 18, 2010 8:34 am

    but does your laptop smell like vinegar now?

    • March 18, 2010 9:25 am

      Hey Howie!

      Yeah, but only for the first hour. I took my laptop with me to my standby coffee shop right after I cleaned it… but forgot I had cleaned it. So I was like ew… this place smells like pickles today! Heh.

      HH Contessa

  3. JereBeth permalink
    March 22, 2010 12:58 pm

    Weiner’s! How I used to love running around that store and hiding in the clothes.

    • March 24, 2010 12:00 pm


      I am so glad someone read this post who appreciates Weiner’s. It was like TOTALLY the best way to get bad ass sneaks without having to go to the Mainland Mall Foot Locker, which was also ghetto, but relatively more expensive. Because all you had to do was tell people you got ’em at Food Locker.

      Miss you!


      HH Contessa

  4. March 26, 2010 2:23 am

    and this whole time i thought goo-gone was the best thing to take off adhesive labels. Wow, Rocko’s modern life…that was my childhood…watching that show at 11PM after the parents went to sleep. You’re from houston I see (or at least you lived there at some point). My old roommate was from Houston. I want some good vietnamese food.

    • March 26, 2010 11:40 am


      haha, i actually didn’t know “goo-gone” even existed. wow… all that googling… but totally forgot to search “adhesive label remover”…. then again, i suppose it is a pretty cool thing to work with what you have!

      i’m actually from a small town closer to galveston, tx right along the coast of the dirty gulf. although it does raise some pretty damn good shrimp…

      but yes, houston is nearby. i could totally use a steaming hot bowl of pho right now…


      HH Contessa

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