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Author Topic: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience  (Read 494 times)

Curelom

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Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« on: July 12, 2020, 03:19:21 am »
it seems to me we used to have a thread (like Heloise) for tips on making better use of the kitchen, whether itís for better, safer food storage, creative uses of appliances or space, or getting rid of annoying work when weíd rather spend the time making or enjoying the food or socializing.

So here are a few helpful hints.

When carrying a pot or pan of anything hot, no matter how light, never hold it by the handle alone. Support it with your other (protected) hand. If the handle breaks or your grip slips, you might save yourself or someone else a nasty burn.

You might have small freezable tote bags with gel built in that you use for work lunches or picnics (I have a couple of Pack-It bags).  https://packit.com/
Keep one or more in the freezer anytime it isnít in use. Take it grocery shopping, specifically for ice cream. Most frozen foods are OK for awhile if you bag all the items together to retain the cold. Ice cream is more perishable, & after a certain thawing point you canít preserve it any more.
 
If your kitchen counter & sink have drawers or cabinets below, close them before using the counter to prepare or serve food or washing anything in the sink. If you spill or drop something, youíd prefer that it fall on the floor rather than into a drawer or cabinet full of clean utensils, towels, or unopened packages. And you know you never drop anything thatís easy to clean up, like a whole lemon Ė itís always a cup of flour or a raw egg.

Speaking of eggs, if youíre making a dish that uses eggs & youíre like me, you often break the egg right into whatever youíre making. If the eggs are fresh, thatís fine. If there is any chance an egg might be spoiled (they are good for a couple weeks past the label date, but you always take a chance), break it into a separate bowl before dumping it in with other ingredients. (Yes, I just relearned this the hard way when my plan for a nice ham scramble went awry  ::) ).
 
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LMAshton

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2020, 09:54:20 am »
More on eggs...

The float test for eggs is not completely accurate. In theory, if the egg is fresh, it sinks. If it's rotten, it floats. If it's old but still good, it's slightly raised off the floor of the bowl.

In reality, I've had eggs that sank and, when opened, stank and were green to black. Seriously past any concept of usability. But still, sank. So ignore that. Go with the whole open the eggs one at a time into a bowl to see if it's fresh enough to use.

Side note: That's what you *always* have to do in some countries like Sri Lanka or Malaysia, where you never know if the eggs are going to be good or bad. I once bought three cartons of eggs in Malaysia from a grocery store, still within the best buy date, and 60% of them were green/black.
 
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Jason

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2020, 06:27:21 pm »
When slicing vegetables, I recently changed the way I hold the vegetables so that I am less likely to cut my finger. I hold the vegetables in place with my fingernails slightly curled in a c shape, so that the angle of the knife, should it slip, would graze my fingernails rather than slicing the tips of my fingers.
 
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Roper

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2020, 12:05:24 am »
Yep. If you make the "C" a bit more pronounced, you can use the knuckle of the middle finger on your guide hand against the flat part of the blade to keep the edge perfectly straight and make very precise cuts. It helps to keep a uniform thickness so that the pieces cook evenly.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupťry, "The Little Prince."
 
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Iggy

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2020, 01:12:43 am »
When cooking eggs for hard cooked/boiled eggs. Start them out in cold water, turn the burner on high. Once it starts to boil turn off and remove from heat. Set the timer for 8 minutes. They are perfectly cooked, no green around the edges. While the water is still HOT, gently crack them all over. Put back in the hot water, transfer to ice water then back into the hot water. When the water is warm, now you peel them. Easy, peasy.
 
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Curelom

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2020, 04:55:44 am »
After pouring a bottled product that is viscous, like BBQ sauce, ketchup, or maple syrup, clean the threads on the bottle neck before putting the cap back on. A bit of paper towel or a clean sponge with warm water is fine (donít use soap or cleansers, which could contaminate the product). You want to get any residue left from pouring so it doesnít accumulate & make the cap harder to remove as time goes on. In the past, I had bottles that I hadnít used in a couple of weeks be stuck so well from built-up residue that I needed the jar lid wrench to loosen the lid.  ::)

https://www.amazon.com/bottle-opener-arthritic-seniors-arthritis/dp/B083R7Y3VL/ref=sr_1_19?dchild=1&keywords=jar+lid+opener&qid=1594627913&s=kitchen&sr=1-19

Also for viscous or semi-viscous liquids in bottles, you can never get that last bit of ketchup, salad dressing, V8 juice, or other delicacy out of the bottle. If a bottle is narrow, you canít get anything inside to reach the last little bit. Do this: pour a thinner liquid (water, milk, vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) into the bottle & shake well to thin out the remnant so it will pour. Use something compatible with the product: vinegar, apple juice, or Worcestershire for BBQ sauce, vinegar for salad dressings (or milk for creamy dressings), fruit juice for maple syrup, or whatever sounds good. Use as much as needed to make the product thin enough to pour. Who knows, you might discover a new flavor that you like! (Also do this with bottles of dish soap, shower gel, or shampoo, using water. ďNet weightĒ means every drop or grain that was put into the container, & you paid for it, so don't throw it out).

Do the same with canned items & swish the water, juice, etc. around to capture the contents that cling to the sides. Chili & chunky or cream soups are good examples, where you'd lose a lot if you didn't do this.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2020, 04:24:21 pm by Curelom »
 
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nitasmile

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2020, 11:01:09 am »
Anyone have a recommendation for making steel cut oatmeal without using a crock pot? Is there a mini personal size item that would make this? I don't have a crock pot and not really wanting to buy one right now.
 
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dyany

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2020, 11:41:52 am »
Iggy: I prefer the Instant Pot way to hard boil eggs, it's even easier. 1 cup water, put in strainer/steamer/whatnot, put in as many eggs as fit (I've done about 2 dozen before), close lid, 2 minutes high pressure. Let it natural release, then take the eggs and run them under cold water until cool to the touch. Easiest peeling eggs ever.

Nita, there are a lot of recipes online for overnight oatmeal, though I know you can also buy mini crockpots, but I'll give you a hint: Scottish oatmeal (basically, ground instead of rolled or cut) is actually way healthier for you than rolled or cut (lower glycemic index, for instance) and is easier to make AND it's tastier (in my opinion). If you can't find it locally, you can find it here: https://www.bobsredmill.com/scottish-oatmeal.html or that same brand on Amazon. Seriously amazing stuff.
 
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nitasmile

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2020, 09:52:29 pm »
Thanks Dyanny, I appreciate this info. Never heard of that type of oatmeal... :)
 
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GoodyScrivener

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2020, 10:37:35 pm »
I also use the Instant Pot for my hard boiled eggs, using the 5-5-5 method. 5 minutes under pressure, 5 minute natural release, then quick release the remaining pressure, and 5 minute ice bath. I've also made as many as 2 dozen eggs at a time this way.
 
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Curelom

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2020, 12:28:26 am »
I love steel-cut oats. They're delicious & also a feel-good comfort food. Everyone needs feel-good comfort about now. I haven't had Scottish oats but will look for them to try when I run out of my present supply. 

Nita, I don't use anything special, just a regular saucepan. I bring the water to a boil, about 3:1 proportions for thicker, more "hearty" oatmeal, or more water for smoother & creamier. Either way is tasty, so experiment & see what texture you like. Add the oats & lower to a slow simmer. It takes a half hour or more to cook, which can vary depending on the amount. I occasionally stir to keep it from sticking, make sure there is enough water, & check the doneness & texture. If I want it thicker or thinner, I'll adjust water or cooking time as needed & keep an eye on it.

I don't want to talk a lot about food here since this is not a recipe or menu thread, but I vary what I put in it, depending on what's on hand. Butter, maple syrup or honey, cinnamon, raisins, cut dates or other dried fruits, nuts (walnuts or pecans especially good). Maybe a dollop of orange marmalade or other fruit preserve instead of the syrup or honey.

Yummm. I think I'll have oatmeal tomorrow.  :P
 
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dyany

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2020, 10:56:11 am »
Most people haven't heard of them. :) I only learned of them because my doctor told me I could eat them when I was trying to limit my carb intake (the lower glycemic index really helps improve insulin response).
My favorite way to eat them is with a pat of butter (recommended by doc), a little cream, and a touch of real maple syrup.

I can't eat them anymore because my body sucks at processing carbs so I'm permanently on a very restrictive low carb diet until I die, but hopefully others can enjoy them.
 
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Curelom

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2020, 04:40:28 pm »
This may be more for medicine bottles, but I'll drop it here rather than start a new thread that will just cause more clutter.

Some child-resistant bottles are designed so you need to press down & turn the lid simultaneously. If someone's wrists are a bit less coordinated, or have some weakness, that can be tough. Solution: put the bottle on the counter & hold it with your non-dominant hand. Put your dominant hand on the lid & lean on the back of the hand with your chin. The counter keeps the bottle steady & your weight will keep even pressure on the lid while you turn it.
 
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Curelom

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Re: Kitchen tips & tricks for safety, taste, or convenience
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2020, 01:35:56 am »
Back to innocuous helpful hints & off the political themes, which Iím sure are exhausting for everyone.

This might seem like an oddity, but itís true. If youíre out of paper, plastic, or other clean food wrap, use newspaper. Itís the legendary English fish & chips wrap made famous by Andy Capp, & itís generally fine if you live in a modern country that uses automated printing plants to produce its newspapers. Newsprint paper is shipped by sea in giant rolls. In a job I had briefly long ago, one of my duties involved going to the port where these rolls were received to be trucked to newspaper printing plants. Most newsprint paper used in the western U.S. comes from Canada; I donít know about other regions or other countries. Off course, much less physical printing is done now, but the rolls are the same. They look like this in transit & a roll can weight half a ton or up to a ton.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Break_bulk_cargo#/media/File:Loading_paper_rolls_in_the_port_of_Hamina_(Finland)_March_2016.jpg

Obviously, people don't handle the paper at the mills. Everything is automated. Newspaper printing, collating, & folding is entirely computerized, & no hands touch any of it during the process except for loading & delivering. If you open a newspaper to an inner page, it wonít be clinically sterile, but itíll be as clean as any opened box of plastic or foil in your kitchen that the whole family has been handling.

Also, in a pinch, if you have a first-aid emergency requiring a compress to stop bleeding & you havenít found time to take a ďstop the bleedĒ class & get hemostatic compresses & Israeli bandages, use newspapers if thereís nothing else. Crumple the sheets well for more absorbency & to soften them to mold better to body contours, form into a pad or a ball, apply pressure & do everything else as you normally would in a bleeding emergency.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 01:37:36 am by Curelom »
 
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