November 6, 2013 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food(-related items): Favorite kitchen-cleaning stuffs

These are a few of my favorite things. (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

I was joking with my friend Robyn not long ago about how I find cleaning my house a huge annoyance — both times a year. OK, it’s possible I clean slightly more often than that, but I have not found my way toward a good pattern with squeezing that into my busy life like I have with cooking. Our huge kitchen counters — a massive selling point on the house for me, as I need that kind of space for my batch-cooking — are usually crazy crowded.

So this past week, when two unusual needs to clean coincided, I figured it was time to talk kitchen stuff (and maybe get some great ideas from my assumedly more habitually cleaning readers). Plus, I get to tell you about Mavi, my youngest sister (and sibling overall, out of seven) – which is swell, because as my brothers and sisters and I, along with Mom, continue to fly Thanksgiving-planning emails around, I can’t keep my family off my mind. Yay November!

Mavi, who like most Tisdale siblings has a bit of a hilarious streak (in one round of texts, she doubted our brother Bill’s assertion it was International Sibling Day, but said she wasn’t going to argue about it — only because it was International Sibling Day). She also has mad organizational skills (oh, the to-do lists) and loves family.

But enough about that. The point here is she’s a terrible influence on me in the best possible way. One day when she was visiting, I was agonizing somewhat ridiculously over whether to buy Pledge Multi Surface Cleaner, more expensive than its alternatives. She just shook her head and threatened to buy it for me. Worse, she pointed out that I was considering the same one Mom keeps buying that smells — sorry, Mom — awful. Well, I couldn’t have that — I mean, Mavi’s some 19 years younger than I am, born my first year in college, and I need her to think I’m cool and un-Mom-like.

So I bought the Pledge and have never looked back. Unlike so many “Lemon-Fresh” lies, it actually DOES have a clean citrus-scent — and other than cinnamony baked apples, I think there’s no better kitchen smell than a light grapefruit one.

I can’t blame Mavs for my other favorite kitchen helper; I can’t remember how I discovered Magic Erasers, but I’m a believer. I couldn’t get over it when I went to help my husband clean the upper-flat of our old house before the new tenant moved in last week (yes, like so many Detroit homeowners, we couldn’t get rid of my husband’s SO upside-down bachelor home when we bought our family home, and have to rent it) and forgot Magic Erasers. It meant ditching the toddler to happily run around the empty apartment with his dad while I made a store run; there’s no cleaning without Magic Erasers, which I find help remove grime faster with less scrubbing. I’ve given these puppies as thank you gifts before, they’re that good.

And they definitely came in handy again a couple days later when I realized even I, with my low cleaning standards, couldn’t have my mother-in-law arrive to such a neglected home for her visit this week.

But my mother-in-law only comes a few times a year, so rather than relying on that to light a fire under my housecleaning, I’d really love some tips on products and habits you have that help get it done.

And if not, hey, last time she was here, Mavi took pity on me and made some scrubbing happen. Maybe I should play that elderly sister card to my advantage.

What, if anything, makes kitchen-cleaning less of a chore for you? We’d love to hear about ’em in the comments below the recipe. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Over the next few days, Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale will respond to comments or questions. You also can follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!