Post #626 A Baker’s Dozen of Hacks

February 6, 2019 at 7:24 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Just to remind everyone what a “hack” is, it’s a commonly known short cut that on the surface shouldn’t work, but does.  I have no idea where the phrase comes from, but there it is.  A quick search on the ‘net can provide dozens of Life Hacks, Food Hacks, Computer Hacks, etc.  But since this is a blog about food and cooking, I’m going to share some of my favorite Kitchen Hacks.  Ready?

Hack #1 – Toast for a Million.  Ever had the need to make large quantities of toast at once?  Maybe you’re making breakfast for a large number, or having a brunch or something?  Try this one:  Place an oven rack on it’s lowest level.  Place another one or two level higher.  Preheat your oven to 450.  Place a large baking sheet on the lower rack and arrange bread to go between the bars on the upper rack so they stand upright on the baking sheet.  Watch carefully and when the upper parts of the bread have reached the desired level of brown, using tongs to flip the bread slices and continue browning.  Lots of toast at once.

Hack #2 – Chilled Salad Outside.  If you want to keep a pasta salad or garden salad or else a slaw cool during a picnic or barbecue that’s outside try this.  Put some ice cubes in a zip lock bag with a couple of tablespoons of salt to keep the ice cooler for a longer time.  Place the bags in a bowl and cover with lettuce leaves.  Arrange the lettuce leave to look attractive and spoon the salad onto the lettuce.  It will stayed chilled for quite a long time this way.

Hack #3 – DIY Wine Chiller.  This one is easy peasy and so obvious it blows my mind that I didn’t know it sooner.  Take an empty two liter plastic bottle and cut the top off.  Fill it 1/3 with ice cubes, add a quarter cup of salt to keep the ice cooler for longer, and add enough water to cover ice by about an inch.  Remember ice floats so check the bottom of the bottle.  Place the wine bottle inside the plastic bottle watching for spillage.  The wine will chill in just a few minutes.  Enjoy!

Hack #4 – Edible Skewers.  If you’re serving nibbles for dinner or a get-together, don’t forget to place several small bowls around to place the used toothpicks in.  OR you could skewer everything from chilled shrimp to cheese cubes with small pretzel sticks that can be eaten along with the nibbles.  It’s good!

Hack #5 – Quick Compound Butter.  Compound butter is typically made by bringing butter to room temperature, adding flavorings to it (herbs, spices, zests, etc.), and mixing thoroughly.  The butter is then shaped, wrapped, and chilled again.  If you don’t have time for this, here’s a quicker way.  Mix your flavors on a plate.  Unwrap a stick of chilled butter and slice in half lengthways.  Roll the halved sticks in the flavorings and press to make certain they adhere.  Slice the butter and use per normal.

Hack #6 – Quicker Baked or Roasted Potatoes.  This is something my dad taught me when I was a teenager.  Our family was very fond of grilling and one of the staples was roasted potatoes.  We’d either wrap them in foil and roast in the coals, or leave them unwrapped and roast on the grill rack.  Sometimes, the potatoes were so large, the skins would be burnt while the middle was nearly raw.  When we had these huge potatoes, dad would shove a clean metal nail, a large one, into the middle running down the length of the potato.  The nail would heat up and cook from the center while the outer parts were cooking and they’d turn out perfectly.

Hack #7 – Fixing the Seasonings.  Sometimes we can get overzealous when seasoning our foods.  Fixing that isn’t as simple as adding sugar when you’ve added too much salt.  However, if your food is too salty, add an acid.  Citrus, either juice or zest, will help temper the saltiness.  Vinegar can also do this.  Canned tomatoes will also help.  Just don’t add a sweetener.

Hack #8 – Deviled Eggs To Go.  If you don’t have one of those wonderful little plastic carriers for deviled eggs, here are a couple of ideas to try.  First, you can use the egg carton they came in.  Or, you can use whatever lidded container you have at hand, but put the eggs in cupcake liners and fold up to protect the eggs.  If there’s space left over in the container, crumple up some more liners or other tissue paper to keep the eggs steady.

Hack #9 – Anti Spotting in the Dishwasher.  How many people use the anti-spotting stuff in the dishwasher?  We are spotty on this (see what I did there?  Ha!), we use it sometimes, when we think to get it.  However, another all-natural agent you can use is plain old white vinegar.  I’ve always got this in the pantry, so I just fill the container every few loads and the dishes sparkle.

Hack #10 –  Single Cup o’ Coffee.  We don’t drink coffee in our house.  Neither of like it.  However, many people who come over do.  At one point, we had a Keurig to make single cups, but that stayed in Tucson with my sister.  We thought about getting a coffee maker but no one wants to drink a full pot of coffee.  And many people don’t like a French press because it makes coffee a little stronger.  So here’s a plan.  Place a coffee filter in a medium sized funnel.  Spoon two tablespoons ground coffee into it, and place over a tall cup.  Slowly pour 6-8 oz very hot water into the grounds and allow the water to filter completely into the cup.  One good cup of coffee, I guess.

Hack #11 – Cleaning Cast Iron.  Cast iron is the cooking surface of choice, but cleaning that monster can be rough.  First, never ever put anything sugary into a cast iron pot.  If that sugar burns onto the pot, that mole hill will become a mountain.  That being said, normal cooking can be easily cleaned.  While the pan is still very warm, pour a tablespoon of kosher salt into it.  Using a pair of tongs, grab a folded paper towel and start wiping the cast iron.  The salt will absorb all the leftover grease and drippings and scrub any stuck bits off.  Then let the pan cool completely, pour off the salt, rinse, dry, and forget about it.

Hack #12 – Extra Counter Space.  How is that even possible?  It’s easy.  Open a drawer, place a cutting board that fits over that drawer, close the drawer to secure the board in place, and Eureka!  Extra counter space.  Just be aware that the drawer doesn’t have quite the same leverage as the counter does.

Hack #13 – Quick and Easy Kale.  Finally, always remember that a quick toss of olive oil in the pan helps that kale slide into the garbage much quicker and cleaner!

As always,

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2 Comments

  1. Look at you, teaching me stuff! Some of these, I’d heard but the rest were new, and quite cool hacks, to me!

    • LOL! I do what I can!


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