Household Tips and Hints Kitchen

A list of helpful household tips and hints for the kitchen.

HOUSEHOLD HINTS--ROOM BY ROOM

Kitchen

* If sticky dried fruit--like raisins or dates--clumps together, put it in a warm oven for several minutes. The heat will separate the fruit. Or steam the fruit briefly over boiling water.

* Test the flavor of a new spice by blending a small amount of the spice with two tablespoons of butter or cream cheese. Let the flavor develop for an hour or so, then spread the mixture on a cracker and taste the results.

* To prevent a berry pie from bubbling over: Cut several straws into 2-in. pieces and insert one piece into each slit in the pie's upper crust. The juice will bubble up, not over.

* If you have a lot of similar-sized containers, matching the containers with their correct lids will not be a problem if you "code" them. Use indelible marking pens to put a line of matching color on each top and bottom. Or stick with one color and code with designs (stars, diamonds, or squares), numbers, or letters.

* A method to determine the freshness of an egg: Put the egg on its side in a pan of cold water. A very fresh egg will remain on its side at the bottom of the water. A very old egg will float to the top. Don't use it. If the egg is only a few days old, it will stay underwater but tilt slightly upward. If it is about 1 1/2 weeks old, it will also stay underwater but will tilt to an upright position.

* Garlic skins will come off more easily if the cloves are first held under hot water.

* A mechanic's oilcan (small size) is great for cooking with small portions of oil: no spills. You can buy one at most auto supply stores.

* Bake a two-flavored fruit pie by building a dough wall through the center of your pie crust. Fill each side with a different filling. Just be sure the baking times of the different fillings are the same.

* Rub a piece of lime over a cutting board to kill garlic and onion odors.

* For no-tear onion cutting, put a small square of bread on the tip of your knife. It will absorb the onion fumes.

* To keep eggshells from cracking when eggs are boiling, add a few drops of vinegar to the water.

* To clean a copper-bottomed pan, make a paste of salt, flour, and vinegar. Smear it on, let set for an hour, then wash off.

* Believe it or not, there is a proper way to "cook" water for use in a beverage. Put water into an already warm kettle, then boil it quickly. Remove it immediately for use in tea, coffee, or other drink. If you let boiling water simmer and steam too long, much of the good water will evaporate, leaving behind water with a high percentage of lime, iron, and other "dregs."

* To crack nuts for baking, put them inside a plastic bag and place the bag on a cutting board or other durable surface. Hold the end of the bag closed and crack the nuts with a hammer. Put contents into a bowl and separate the nuts from the shells.

* A good solution to clean crystal glasses and rid them of spots or streaks: one part vinegar to three parts water. Then let them air dry on a clean cloth. The mixture is good for all crystal, but if an item (like a chandelier) is very dirty, it will need several "baths" to get clean.

* To keep pasta from sticking together--or to the pot--while cooking, pour a small amount of cooking oil into the boiling water.

* Hate to reach down into the garbage disposal to retrieve an object? Instead, put floral clay (which you can buy at any florist shop) on the end of a ruler or wooden spoon, then press the clay down on the object and pull it up.

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