*This post was sponsored by ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda, an ingredient and tool I use daily. The story and images are my own.

There are many secrets of the kitchen that are often not taught. Techniques and tricks that become inherently a part of those who work and live in the kitchen. We glide across our limited kitchen space employing numerous short cuts and skills that have been collected along the way like memories.

Lately I’ve been trying to become more aware of those subconscious tricks that I use in order to run my very small home kitchen more efficiently. In doing so I hope to do a better job of passing along such tricks.

Much of what I know about effective kitchen management I learned while working in a restaurant where pushing out over 250 desserts a night was not out of the ordinary. In order to perform such a task everything must be impeccably organized and everyone must follow the same plan. Every movement is calculated and every action is scrupulously examined to ensure that it is performed in the most efficient way possible.

But it’s the moments in which I recall a trick I picked up from my grandmothers or my mom that remind me of the real power of the kitchen. In those moments I feel a great sense of honor and duty in continuing the tradition and passing along skills in the kitchen to my children. I can’t help but think of how the future wives of my boys will thank me for showing my son’s how to finesse flakes out of a simple pie dough. And how my daughter’s husband will benefit from her lack of fear in the kitchen just as my husband has.

In the kitchen of my childhood I could only reach the front burner but I didn’t let that stop me from “helping” with dinner. At the cusp of learning how to multi-task and just beginning to hone my skills in having the kitchen run like a well oiled machine, I neglected to stir the pot and directed my attention elsewhere. By the time I returned to the pan a deep layer had crusted to the bottom and the evidence of burnt on food was in the air. My mother noticed what was happening at the same time but rather than scolding my negligence she reached for the golden box with the muscular arm while at the same time teaching me one of those invaluable kitchen secrets.

She proceeded to boil the pot with a heavy dose of baking soda and by the end of the evening the pot contained no evidence of what was to be the first of many (many) kitchen mistakes.

Years later, while working in a high end restaurant, a similarly burnt food-crusted pan appeared on our station. Rather than whisk the pan away and let the dishwashers deal with the mess, I passed along the baking soda trick to my pastry chef and felt swollen with pride while doing so.

The ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda box represents many of those tricks I learned at a young age. Imagine my delight when I was able to return the favor to my mom and share with her one of my favorite uses for this iconic ingredient. She was unfamiliar with the idea of adding a touch of baking soda instead of sugar, to tomato sauce for the purpose of reducing the acidity. I thought for a moment what that pan-burning little girl would think knowing that decades later she would have something to share with the woman who taught her how to move in the kitchen. She would be proud, I’m quite certain. Just don’t tell that little girl how many more pans she’ll burn in her kitchen career.

What are some of your favorite uses for baking soda in your kitchen? Share your tricks on for a chance to win.

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28 Responses to “secrets from the kitchen”

  1. Dan

    I truly have no problem with sponsored posts, but I wish you would put the disclosure statement at the beginning of the post so we can be aware of it while we are reading.

  2. Laura Dembowski

    Love this post! I think little kitchen tricks are so important. I go through baking soda like crazy to clean burnt on food when I roast vegetables or foods like egg and cheese that stick on plates and bowls. It’s a necessity in both cleaning and baking!

  3. Margherita

    I’m also impressed by how quickly you responded to Dan’s comments. That’s really honest of you.
    One more reason to keep reading your awesome blog!!!!

  4. Rachel

    Yes indeed a great post!
    I use it on my stoneware too!! Since stoneware cannot be washed with soap
    And in our laundry!
    And of course my new homemade favorite-honeycomb candy!!

  5. MG Atwood

    Yes, good old arm and hammer has been a part of our kitchen for years. Cleaning the inside of the fridge, open box to absorb odors, and my mom used it to brush her teeth.(not my fav thing) Nice post Ashley, and so proud that these companies trust you to write about their products.

  6. Jasper {crunchylittlebites}

    baking soda plus water in microwave = crud-buster. I’d use the tip more often but I’ve no use for my microwave…if my roommate wouldn’t kill me if I were to throw it in the garbage, I’d do so 🙂

  7. J Merriman

    Lots of uses for good old baking soda. My mom-in-law used it to get black scuff marks off the floor. I used it this morning to get up a stain on kitchen counter, but my favorite is to put a small amount on my fingertip and scrub it on the fronts of my teeth to get the tea/coffee stains off. Lots cheaper and quicker than teeth whitening 🙂

  8. Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef

    I use baking soda for everything. I keep some in a shake jar so I can sprinkle some on the bottom of pans. A bit of a scrub and they’re sparkling. No mess on the ceramic cooktop.

    I also mix it with laundry powder to clean the tiles outside the back door. Someone’s dog (mine) chewed a bone and left a greasy spot. The soap/baking soda combo took care of it in a jiffy.

  9. Nicole

    I always enjoy reading your blog, but just have a quick question: You state that you’re looking forward to teaching your son’s wives how to make perfectly flaky pie crust and to how your daughter’s husband will benefit from your cooking lessons. May I ask why the emphasis on teaching women to cook in order to please their men? Again, I do love your blog. You’re an inspired photographer, writer, and I’m sure an excellent chef. Just curious about the gender difference in your kitchen.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Nicole – Thanks for commenting. Actually what I meant (and perhaps I should re-word it) is that their wives will thank me because I taught my boys how to make perfect pie crust. I always invite them into the kitchen and they love helping me. I hope that in some form a love of food and cooking will take hold and I do hope that whoever they marry will appreciate these lessons and that my kids will bless others will their knowledge of cooking. I hope that clarifies. I just re-read it and see how it can be taken as how you read it.

  10. Mikaela Cowles

    WOW! I can’t wait to use both of these. my favorite “baking soda” trick is adding a small bit to a load of sweaty workout clothes. It cuts down on that awful smell build up they get over time.

  11. Ellen

    I add about a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when soaking dried beans prior to cooking. This is to help cut down on the gastric distress beans can cause to some digestive systems. My grandmother, who was the quintessential mountain farm wife in the Appalachian Mountains, taught me to do thus.

  12. Emilia Brasier

    Great tips. I love that you are teaching your kids to cook, we do that in our family too. It is such a great way to spend time with kids and there is so much to learn from cooking. That is the way my Mom taught me about fractions 🙂

  13. Emily

    I love this post! My mom taught me from a very young age that the best way to deal with a (small) grease fire is by throwing baking soda over it. I loved — and still do — to cook, and every once in a while, they would flare up under the broiler or on our gas range. We always kept a container of baking soda by the stove and I always knew what to do. When I was about 16, I ended up passing this on to my older (by 8 years!) sister…and I look forward to passing it on to my future children.

  14. Nicole

    Thanks for your response Ashley. I have so many fond memories of cooking with my mom and grandmother and can’t wait to pass those lessons on to my own kids one day. 🙂

  15. KathyG in WA

    I use a lot of white vinegar and baking soda. One tip I did not see that I like is to pour some white vinegar in the toilet bowl. Sprinkle baking soda in the water and around the edges of the water. The foaming action helps clean away scum.

  16. Thyme (Sarah)

    I love this! I am reading some of the comments above and getting so many practical ideas and uses for baking soda. As a teen, I brushed my teeth and they became very white and now my daughter does the same. Can’t get my son to do it though…darn. :/


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