Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ideas for the Kitchen (kitchen hints, tips & tricks)

If you're anything like me, you can never read too many tips, tricks & hints for the kitchen - here are some that will hopefully save you lots of headaches and time:

Next time you need to line your shelves, don’t use shelf paper - purchase vinyl placemats at the dollar store and cut them to fit your shelves.  They’re easier to wipe down and much sturdier.

Keep your cheese fresh with salt. Soak a cloth napkin in a bowl of salt water (1 tsp salt per cup of water). Wring out the excess liquid so the cloth is barely damp and wrap the cheese in it. Store inside a sealed container in the refrigerator – the salt helps to stop the growth of microorganisms and keeps the cheese fresh longer.

Did you hopelessly burn the bottom of your nonstick pan? If you want to save the nonstick coating,  you can’t use a hard core scrubber to remove the residue without damaging it (and making it unsafe) – try adding the peel of two oranges to the bottom of the pan, add enough water to cover the peels and simmer over low heat for about half an hour. Turn off the heat and let it soak all day. Then simply rinse the skillet and wipe dry!

Do you have a rusty cast iron pan? Cut a small potato in half and squeeze a blob of non-gel toothpaste onto the freshly cut part of one half. Dampen the rusty area of the pan and use the potato/toothpaste to scrub away the rust! To prevent the rust from forming again, coat the pan lightly with oil and bake it at 350 for one hour – turn off the oven, leave the pan inside, don’t remove until the pan is fully cool.

Sprinkle cornstarch inside your rubber gloves to help them slide on and off easily

Remove cooking grease from a wall by putting a little cornstarch on a cloth and rub the spot until it’s gone.

Run sponges through the dishwasher every night to keep them bacteria free and smelling fresh.

De-wax candlesticks by placing them in a vegetable steamer (upside down) over boiling water. Let steam for 15-20 minutes, remove and wipe away the wax with a paper towel.

Place them in the freezer for about an hour and you'll be able to chip away the melted wax easily.

Place them in the dishwasher and run through a cycle.

Clean narrow necked vases with denture cleaning tablets!

Clean the inside of your dishwasher by running it through a cycle, empty with a packet of lemonade or orange kool-aid.

Did you child bring home a new toy in a plastic clamshell package (you know the kind, the ones that are virtually impossible to open by any human). “Open” them with your manual can opener!

If your can opener is not opening as smoothly as you’d like, run some wax paper through it to help lubricate it.

Make Ice Cubes last longer by first boil the water for five minutes, cool and then pour into ice cube trays & freeze. There will be no trapped air and your cubes will be more dense and crystal clear (this should make them last about 40 minutes longer in your drinks!)

Store your (real) silver in zip top bags along with a piece of chalk, this will slow the tarnishing.

Freeze candles for several hours before using – this will help them burn more slowly and drip less.

To help cut the grease when washing dishes, try adding a few tablespoons of vinegar along with the dish soap and leave your dishes sparkling!

To prevent your eggs from cracking while boiling, add a pinch of salt to the water before cooking.

When boiling corn on the cob, ad a spoon of sugar to the boiling water to bring out the corn’s sweetness.

Don’t throw away any leftover wine - freeze it in ice cube trays and add them to sauces when you only need a small amount of wine.

Are your fingers stained from berries or beets, or who knows what food? Rub them with a slice of raw potato, then rinse.

Unclog your drain - Drop in three Alka Seltzer tablets followed by one cup of white vinegar. Let set for five minutes and the flush the drain with boiling water followed by the hottest water your faucet will run.

Remove rust from chrome by cleaning it with crumpled aluminum foil and Coke®.
Clean paint off from carpet with Windex® - just & wipe it clean (while it's wet, of course!)
Line the bottom of your veggie crisper with crumpled newspaper - the newspaper will absorb excess moisture, keeping your veggies crisper!
Place bay leafs in your cupboards to keep crawly insects away.
Want to chill your white wine quickly? Place it in a bucket with crushed ice, salt and a little water. The salt and water will make the ice colder, thus chilling your wine more quickly.
Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.
Spray your plastic food storage containers with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato based sauces and there won’t be any stains.
After purchasing a box of steel wool pads, take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into two halves. It is more economical to use halves as they rust so easily and will last a really long time! It’s also a great way to sharpen your scissors!
To clean a thermos easily, fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (Or longer, if necessary).
When corks are too large to go into a bottle, throw them into hot water a few moments, and they will soften.
To gently and effectively clean your cast iron skillets after most uses, wipe out excess food with a dry paper towel, then sprinkle salt inside the pan. Wipe clean with a clean, dry paper towel. The salt acts as an abrasive to scratch off any stuck-on particles of food without using soap and water, which can remove your seasoning. For stubborn stuck-on food, use a putty knife to scrape it off. You may, however, need to re-season the pan after doing this.
To easily clean a George Foreman Grill - after removing the cooked food from the grill, place a well dampened paper towel on each of the 2 cooking surfaces. Unplug & close the appliance, allow it to sit for 5-30 minutes, then use the paper towels to easily wipe out the grease and food.
Grind up a cup or so of rice in a coffee grinder to clean the grinder and sharpen its blades
Soak cloudy drinking glasses for an hour or longer in slightly warm white vinegar. Then, use a nylon-net or plastic dish scrubber to remove film. If the cloudiness is still there, the damage may be etching (tiny scratches that occur in the dishwasher) and is permanent. To avoid this altogether, hand-wash your best glasses.
Rinse bacon under cold water before frying. This reduces the amount the bacon shrinks by almost 50%. To quickly and easily make real "bacon bits", hold slices of raw bacon over a frying pan, cut off little pieces into the pan with kitchen shears, then brown, stirring often; drain off grease.
Shine up the outside of your chrome tea kettle with a piece of waxed paper (be sure the kettle is cool before  you start!)

Store eggs with the large end up to keep the yolk centered.

Add a pinch of sugar when making waffles and pancakes to help them brown more quickly when cooking. Use a turkey baster to squeeze your pancake batter onto the hot griddle and you'll get perfectly shaped pancakes every time.
Allow meat to stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking: It will cook more quickly, brown more evenly, and stick less when pan-fried. (Do not do this with highly perishable meats like ground beef and organ meats.)
Clean your blender by filling ½ way with hot water and add ½ teaspoon of dish washing detergent - put on the lid (be sure to hold it on tight with a towel) and turn it on for a few seconds… then rinse!
Place a lettuce leaf in a pot of greasy soup or pan of greasy gravy - it'll absorb the grease - then, remove the leaf from the pot and discard. Place a raw potato in a pot of salty soup - it'll absorb some of the salt - then, remove the potato from the pot and discard.
Scale a fish easily by rubbing vinegar over its skin. To neatly bake a whole fish, wrap in aluminum foil. When done cooking, open the foil and gently slide a spatula under the fish.
When your cookbook won't lie flat when opened on the counter, place a glass baking dish on the pages (you can read through the glass) or secure each side with a rubber band.
Sew a large plastic or wooden button on the corner of your dish washing cloths - it makes a great scraper for hard to remove crusts while washing dishes and won’t harm most items!
To clean really nasty burned on food (such as the drip pans of your stove or the broiler pan in the oven), Simply make a paste from powdered dishwasher detergent and boiling water (ALWAYS WEAR RUBBER GLOVES AND DO THIS OUTSIDE BECAUSE OF FUMES) - place the items overnight in a trash bag that is tied at the top.  The next day they should be able to be rinsed off and will clean up easily!
To clean the baked on gunk that’s blocking your view on the oven door - coat the inside of the window well with a thick paste make from baking soda and water.  leave on 15 minutes or until completely dry - then scour off with clean water.
Save the loose skin on onions and garlic to toss into the fire just before grilling meats or vegetables. And dry fennel tops on the fire when grilling fish.
A sack of lumpy sugar won't be if you place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours
Having a hard time getting those fingerprints off from your stainless steel appliances?  Wipe the surface down with baby oil, then rinse with club soda.
Instead of blanching cabbage leaves to wilt them for stuffing, simply leave the whole head in the freezer overnight.

If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer.
When buying fresh peppers, choose those that are a little wrinkled but still unblemished. Wrinkling indicates mellowness.
For perfect hard-cooked eggs, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil. Then turn off the heat and let the eggs sit on the burner for 10-15 minutes
Clogged drain in your kitchen sink and no plunger?  use a Frisbee!  Simply fill the sink with hot water, place the Frisbee over the drain hole and pump a few times!
To keep cookies soft, place a slice of bread in the storage container.
A small amount of baking soda added to gravy will eliminate excess grease.
To remove pesky bottle tops and jar lids, don a pair of rubber gloves. Or twist a fat rubber band around the lid, then twist open. Works like a charm.
Are the chrome burner rings on your stove kind of, well… gunky?  Shine them up with a paste made from vinegar and cream of tartar
Next time you fry foods, try placing a small cup of bleach nearby. The bleach absorbs much of the "fried" odor (that would otherwise linger for days!) Be sure to keep it away from the kids!
Add a pinch of baking soda to your frosting and the frosting will stay moist and prevent cracking.
To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with potatoes
To remove old wax from a glass candle holder, put it in the freezer for a few hours. Then take the candle holder out and turn it upside down. The wax will fall out.
Before you squeeze juice from a lemon, grate off the rind into a freezer bag and freeze. Then when a recipe calls for lemon zest or rind, just pull it from the freezer. Sprinkle a little sugar over citrus zest or fresh ginger before chopping. The sugar not only dissolves and absorbs the juices but also helps spread the flavor.
Most casseroles can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Be sure and add 15 or 20 minutes to the cooking time to compensate.

There you have it - enough household tips, tricks & hints to keep you going until our next installment.  If you have a tip that we didn't list here, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

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