Place Invaders: NYC Creepy Crawler Protection

I hate bugs. All bugs…yes, even butterflies and lady bugs. When it comes to bugs, I do not discriminate.

lady bug kitchen solutions nyc kitchens

This bug is no lady

Part of the hate I have stems from my innate fear of all things crawly. It’s genetic. No escaping it.

For example…I was having dinner once at an outdoor restaurant in Florida and a giant bug flew onto the table. I probably leapt about 30 feet into the air and screamed. (Divide that 30 feet by my propensity to exaggerate…but, I jumped nonetheless). The lovely waitress rushed over and realizing it was just a bug, looked at me, exasperated and said…’It’s just a palmetto bug’.

Yeah, uhm, I’m from New York…that, my dear waitress, is a cockroach. AND, I checked with the bug experts at Orkin who told me: ‘There is no difference between a cockroach and a palmetto bug. The cockroach is also known as the waterbug, Croton bug and palmetto bug.’

kitchen protection from bugs nyc

You say Palmetto, I say…

I also lived in a pretty big one bedroom in a rent stabilized building for a while in the 90’s. Finding a good sized, one bedroom in a rent stabilized, full service building, on the upper west side is pretty much the coup of coups. But, the low low rent came with its own price…a mouse or two here or there. Not good for the crawly-ophobe.  And, I may have spent a night or two locked in my bedroom with towels shoved under the door to keep my ‘guest’ from coming in while I slept. (Note…have the super, friend etc, plug all gaps around your plumbing with steel wool. The mice can’t chew through it and will find another home to visit.)

mouse in the house nyc kitchens solutions

Not this cute in real life

Recently, a friend who had relocated from Los Angeles told me she spied a mouse running across her living room floor last week. Her attitude: ‘Thank God it wasn’t a cockroach.’ After only five months in our fair city, she’s already a true New Yorker through and through.

I know what you’re thinking, reader(s)…where is she going with this? And, is she really going to talk food after talking bugs and rodents?

No. No, I’m not.

I am going to take you through a list of perhaps insane precautions I take in my own tiny NYC kitchen to avoid the occasional creepy crawler. Because even in the swankiest of buildings, a bug or two will fall.

Tiny Kitchen Tips:

  1. progresso spaghetti ny ktichens

    Bag in a Box

    All bread products – bread, cereal, crackers – go in the microwave. The microwave is airtight…so, not only will it protect your breads safe the crawlers, it will also help to keep them fresh longer

  2. Once a package of anything is opened…its contents are put into a ZipLoc bag before being put back into the box. This means cereal, pasta, sugar, brown sugar, Bisquick, panko bread crumbs, rice…anything you are keeping in your pantry (read, kitchen cabinet assigned to food)
  3. coffee container canister flour bed bath and beyond


    Flour is allowed on the counter…BUT only because I keep it in a glass, airtight canister sealed at all times.

  4. Coffee is also allowed on the counter…But, only because it too is in an airtight container sealed at all times.
  5. Chef’s salt and pepper are allowed on the counter…in these cute little Cuisinart prep bowls and covered with Saran Wrap at all times

    salt and pepper prep bowls cuisinart

    S & P – in Cuisinart Prep bowls and covered

  6. The only foods allowed out, uncovered on counters are:

Unripened avocados (no getting around this)

Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes


Onions/Shallots etc

Tomatos – these do not go in the fridge

Listen, I live in a very nice, maybe even, swanky, building. But, you can’t know what happens outside of the building in which you live, or even in the hallway for that matter. You just can’t prevent the stray bug from crawling out of a delivery and then making its way to your apartment. Maybe it’s a roach on the bottom of a grocery bag, maybe it’s a wheat bug living in your cereal box. You can, however, ask your super to put a sweep at the bottom of your door to minimize the chances of that happening. I need to do that now that I think of it.

nyc tiny kitchen pantry bug prevention

NYC Pantry Protection

Every place has its invaders. When I lived in CT, there were these nasty, prehistoric, thousand-leggered things in the house….way worse than a stray cockroach, I think.

And, don’t even get me started on when I was lucky enough to visit my peeps in Cincy during the 17-year Cicada infestation…really apocalyptically disgusting.

Is my tiny NYC kitchen protection strategy a bit OTT? Maybe…Aaaaaand, I’ve never seen a bug or a crawly critter here. Never.  So, having my very crowded and ZipLoc bagged and boxed pantry look like this…Is well,…well worth it.

If you have other tiny kitchen place invader protection tips, please tweet to me @anniesdishlist.


A Vegetable Peel Receptacle Miracle!

Russet Potatoes Pre-Peel

Chances are, if you’ve had any potato dish in my apartment that requires the potatoes to be peeled, you’ve eaten something that may or may not have fallen into the kitchen garbage can.

Some of these might not have been in the trash

Relax. Here’s what was happening…

I used to have a disposal…And, while I was told explicitly that the disposal was for scraps of food only…I often peeled vegetables right into the sink and then whirred the peels away in the disposal. Horrors right?

BTW, I also sent egg shells down there. And, while I might deny this…there may have been one incident when I broke a glass into the disposal and sent the shards into the spinning blades and away forever. Listen, I googled this before choosing between putting my bare hand into the blades vs keeping my fingers safe and just turning the disposal switch and I did find someone online to support turning the switch.

So, when I moved and no longer had a disposal, I had to readjust my approach to vegetable peeling. I tried peeling into the sink onto a paper towel – but that seemed a little messy and peels inevitably ended up on the drain. The use of the paper towel as receptacle wasn’t working to protect peels from causing a clog.

Small SimpleHuman Trash Can

I resorted to peeling vegetables directly into the trash. A few challenges arose. I have one of those super smart trash cans – you know the ones that lure you in at Bed Bath & Beyond because they’re

a. so prominently displayed


b. so pretty.

And, since my kitchen is NYC tiny, I have a small SimpleHuman semi-oval one. It’s only about 17 inches tall and I’m like a ton taller than that. So I have to bend pretty far down to create the right projectile for the veggie peels. Plus, my smart trash can isn’t smart enough to remain open while I’m peeling. I have to keep one foot on the lid opening pedal while peeling. It’s sort of a balancing act. SimpleHuman might want to create a ‘remain open’ option for exactly this type of thing. I’ll take a fee on that idea, thanks.

I’m also a little klutzy, to be honest. I can manage holding on to a carrot or a celery stalk when peeling directly into the trash. But, potatoes are slippery. Yes, to answer your next question, I’ve tried to peel toward myself as opposed to away – and that doesn’t work for me.

Were these in the trash?

And, sometimes, while thrusting the peeler against the potato, my hand has slipped and the half peeled potato has flown into the trash.

Before you get all crazy, I’m sure that I washed the potato before cooking it and serving it to you. Even in a perfect peel, you need to wash the peeled potato before serving. I know that.

But the other day while making the pot roast, I found a solution. So simple, the fact that I hadn’t thought of it before makes me the simple human in this scenario!

I took one of the many brown bags I have from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and propped it atop the SimpleHuman lid. Then, I slit the left and right sides about 8 inches down, creating a flap in front. I folded that flap down and created a perfect vegetable peel receptacle at a much better height.

Perfectly Positioned Veggie Peel Receptacle

I know you’re thinking, it’s a vegetable peel receptacle miracle! And, for me, it really is.

The paper bag solution, unfortunately doesn’t make me any less of a klutz. But, you all can now rest a little easier knowing that the potatoes I’m serving have only at worst been flung into a brown bag of vegetable peels.