Consider these ideas your invisible assistants in the kitchen. No matter what stage of cooking (prepping, cooking, serving), they will be invaluable each time you don an apron.
Show off an heirloom recipe, handwritten notes and all, by turning it into a fabric pocket for an apron.
Self-adhesive felt protectors -- like those used to prevent chair legs from scratching the floor -- have another handy application. Stick them under kitchen appliances, such as the toaster, coffeemaker, and electric can opener, which will then glide across the countertop for easy access.
For brownies and bar cookies that don't crumble or stick when you remove them from the pan, try this: Butter the baking dish, then place a sheet of parchment, also buttered, inside, allowing about 2 inches to extend beyond two opposite sides. Bake according to the recipe's instructions, and let cool. Pull up on the parchment to lift the dessert from the pan before cutting.
To get every last drop from an overly firm lemon or lime, zap it in the microwave for 10 seconds. The heat will soften the fruit, releasing its liquid. Slice it in two. Using one hand, squeeze half (cut side against your palm) over a bowl. The seeds will collect in your hand as the juice flows into the dish.
Foods that sputter and spatter as they fry, such as bacon and soft-shell crabs, can be a hazard to the cook and anyone else within close range. If you don't have a spatter guard, a large sieve can stand in for protection -- just place it facedown over the food cooking in the pan. For safety, turn both handles toward the back of the stove, resting the sieve's handle on top of the pan's.
Try this trick for opening stubborn jar lids: Place one rubber band around the lid, and another around the jar. With one hand, grip the jar where the rubber band encircles it; use the other hand to twist off the lid. The rubber bands provide friction, so your hands won't slip off the jar or lid.
The next time you have a recipe that calls for fresh ginger, reach for a spoon. It removes the thin skin easily, even from the knotty areas. Hold the spoon, concave side facing you, and draw it toward you. Maneuver the spoon and ginger as necessary to get into all the crevices.
Don't weep over chopped onions. If you cut them near an open flame, the gaseous sulfur compounds they release into the air will burn off before they can irritate your eyes. A gas burner works best, but if your stove is electric, try lighting a votive candle near your chopping board instead.
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