The Almost Vegetarian cleans up: How to clean everything from your Cuisinart food processor and KitchenAid stand mixer to your shiny stove and fridge

Even us almost vegetarian’s have to clean the kitchen. However, for us, cleaning is a little different than it is for meat-eaters. On one hand, we probably don’t have to clean the roaster (in fact, I bought a baster a year ago to replace our worn-out baster, and I have yet to even use it). But, on the other hand, we really have to pay attention to the cutting board. Not in fear of meat juices, thank heavens, but because it gets so much use chopping vegetables.

So guess what I have for you? The five best tips for a spic and span almost vegetarian kitchen. So put on the music, grab the natural cleansers and sponges, and away we go ...
  • Refrigerator: Fruits and fruit juices make some of the nastiest, stickiest stains and spills around. The trick? Simply dribble warm water from a damp sponge onto the stain or spill, let sit for a minute, then wipe up. Repeat for the stubborn stains. And, in future, try to wipe them up right away, when it is easier to do. Oh, and don’t forget to clean those refrigerator coils once in a while. Your fridge will work more efficiently when you do.
  • Oven: Now that you are not roasting meats, your oven probably isn’t the disaster zone it used to be. But bubbling fruit pies (Erm, you do remember to bake them on a baking sheet, right? Yeah. I forget, too.), cornmeal-dusted pizza dough, and other yum yum treats do, eventually, leave their mark. The trick for cleaning is easy: Simply use the self-cleaning option. The trick for knowing when to do so is also easy: When your oven starts to smoke, it is time. What to do if you don’t have a self-cleaning oven? Get one. Really. I know. I’ve had both. And self-cleaning beats the other version hands down.
  • Stove: Every so often, you need to pop off those knobs and wash them with a soapy sponge then dry and reattach, you need to wipe the gas burner grates the same way (if you have electric, wipe with a damp, soapy sponge), and you need to wipe the cooktop with a gentle cleansing pad (I use one specifically for non-stick pans; you don’t want to use anything that will leave scratches). While you’re at it, you might was well wipe your spice jars. In a meat-free kitchen, grease isn’t much of a problem, but dust gets us all.
  • Sink: Surprise! The one item you would think was self-cleaning, is not. Which means that, periodically, you have to clean it. A soapy sponge and warm water should do the trick nicely. Just wipe it around the sink interior and edge. And while you are at it, give the faucet a wipe, attack those hard-to-get-at stains around the faucet base with an old toothbrush, and pour some boiling water down the drain to help keep it clear.
  • Counters and cutting boards: A sponge dipped in warm, soapy water, then used to wipe down the counters and cutting boards should do the trick. Of course, if your cutting board is plastic, you should be able to pop it into your dishwasher. However, if it is wood, dry it immediately and treat it with a wipe of food grade mineral oil (ensure it is food grade; you can get this at your hardware store in the housewares department or at upscale kitchen stores such as Sur la Table). I use my boards so often (far more often than when meat was on the menu), that I try to remember to give them (and my wooden spoons) a wee mineral oil wipe once a week, just before bedtime. This way, they have all night long to absorb the oil before I need them again. Oh, and do give your Cuisinart food processor, KitchenAid stand mixer, toaster, blender, coffee maker, and other appliances a wipe with your clean, damp sponge.
Finally, sweep the floor, turn out the lights, and go out for dinner. You've done enough cleaning for the day.