Life Hacks: 10 Simple Kitchen Solutions that Every Suburban Mom Should Know About, or Dad, or Urban DINK, or Rural Single Parent Cowpoke, or . . .
When I worked in life insurance direct marketing eons ago, I focused a lot of energy on making sure stay-at-home moms realized their worth. I was passionate about it then, and I’m even more passionate about it now. (By the way, if you don’t have simple term life coverage, mom, you should, especially if you’re the mother of young children. It’s easy to buy, it’s affordable, and it’s important. Okay, I’ll stop.)
Without us, our families would need to hire: a shopper, a cook, a decorator, a pet sitter, a housekeeper, a babysitter, a counselor, a tutor, a nurse, a private secretary, a chauffeur, and the list goes on and on.
Have you ever thought about that?
No, we don’t all bring home a paycheck. But, yes, we all provide very valuable services for our families, dern it!
Photo courtesy of: The Daily Mail
For me, my work starts in earnest at 5:30 a.m. when lunches are made, dishwashers are unloaded and kids are eventually sent off to school with the necessary books, backpacks, instruments and after school instructions about where to be and when. Then the insanity peaks once more at 2:30 when my youngest comes home from school, and dinner has to be made, and homework reviewed, and sax lessons attended, and dogs taken out, and dishes cleaned . . . well you get my drift.
Anything I can do during those “bewitching hours” to make my life easier is a gift from me to . . . me.
You’ve heard of life hacks, right? They’re those simple, DIY solutions that you learn about and immediately do a face palm, wondering why you hadn’t thought of such an obvious answer before.
Here are some handy kitchen hacks that all harried moms or dads or even DINKS should know about.
Clean a gooped up blender with ease. My boys love nothing more than peanut butter, banana, and yogurt smoothies for breakfast. But, frankly, they used to be the bane of my existence. The problem was, the peanut butter would cling to the razor sharp blades like white on rice, and those saber-like blender blades would impale me like Inigo Montoya at every turn when I tried to de-goop them. Here’s a great solution: squirt a touch of liquid dish soap into the empty blender, fill it up a third of the way with hot water, and then turn it on for a few seconds while holding the lid in place. Any stuck on gunk should come right off. Rinse it out with hot water, and you’re good to go.
Sterilize your kitchen sponge by zapping it in the microwave for two minutes. Doing so will kill 99% of all of the germs that call it home. This method comes with a warning, though: MAKE SURE YOUR SPONGE IS WET otherwise it might get so hot, it could ignite, or at the very least make your house smell like you’re serving roasted rubber for supper. If you don’t want to risk setting your house on fire any time soon, you can even stuff your sponge in the utensil compartment of your dishwasher before a cleaning cycle.
Keep apples from browning the sweet way. Use pineapple juice instead of lemon juice to stop apple and pear slices from turning brown. Pineapple has ascorbic acid like lemons, but none of that nasty sour taste. I usually have a can stashed away in the pantry, so it’s an easy solution. Use the remaining pineapple in a fruit salad or transfer it to a lidded plastic bowl and pop it in the fridge. You could also buy a bottle of pineapple juice and keep it in the fridge, if you have room that is. You’ll be amazed what a sweet difference switching to pineapple juice makes!
Put plastic wrap or foil in its place. Have you ever gone to pull a roll of plastic wrap only to have the whole blasted roll come rocketing out of the box and you’re left cursing the flipping flapping manufacturer who doesn’t know how to make a reliable product?
No? It’s just me?!
Anyway, there’s a built-in way around this issue that I only just found out about recently. There are two perforated spots on either long side of the box. Push those tabs into the center of the roll of plastic, or foil, and your trajectory issues are no more.
How many years did we unnecessarily put up with disobedient cling wrap?!
Exasperating eggshells – If you’ve ever cracked eggs, and a piece of the shell has fallen into the eggs in the bowl, you know just how hard it can be to try to fish it out. Well, here’s the easy answer; just use a piece of eggshell to scoop it up. For some reason, what’s nearly impossible to scoop out with your fingers or a spoon, clings to the shell and comes right out.
Sweeten it with . . . lime? – Yep. To enhance the flavor of honeydew, squeeze a wedge of lime on it. It’ll taste sweeter than ever! Don’t ask me how, just be a believer.
Peeling 101 –
Ginger – After you’ve cut the arm-like knobs off a fresh piece of ginger (YE-OUCH!), use the tip of a spoon to peel it. The skin will come right off.
Kiwi – To easily peel a kiwi, cut off the top and bottom, then work a spoon just under the skin all the way around, and it will pop out peeled. Slice it or dice it, and you’re in business.
Squash – If you love homemade squash soup, but feel as if you’re going to harpoon yourself cutting off the tough skin, then don’t. Either buy squash already peeled and cubed, or cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast it until it’s tender enough to scoop out of the shell.
Mango – I never peel mangos anymore. I simply cut off the two fleshy sections on either side of the pit, cut cross hatches in them, invert the skins, and slice off the mango into ready-made cubes. If you want slices, only cut the flesh one way. If you want to do the same with the little not-so-fleshy remaining sides, be my guest.
As an aside, look what resulted from all of that fruit peeling: tropical fruit salad – YUM!
Got a jar that won’t open? Never fear. To get more traction, place a thick rubber band around the edge of the lid, and you should be able to unscrew it without a hitch.
Hey, why is that in the fridge? If your fridge is anything like mine and is stuffed to the gills with, you know, stuff, then you might benefit from this tip. There are many foods that we might think need refrigeration, but don’t. Some actually suffer from the cold temps. Here are things you might be cramming into your fridge but belong on the counter or in a cabinet:
Basil (stick it in a glass with water, like flowers)
Oh, and honey
Remove corn from the cob without also removing your finger. And for our final nifty kitchen hack, here’s a sweet way to remove corn from the cob. If you’ve ever done this before, you know that it can be a daring balancing act involving a sharp knife, a cob and your digits. Skip the drama, and do it the easy and safe way. Stick it in the middle tube-thingy of either a bundt or angel food pan. The tube-thingy holds the cob still, and the corn falls into the pan instead of on your counter and floor. Sweet!
Are you using any of these time-saving hacks?
What’s that? . . . You already use ALL of them?
Well then, for crying out loud, why haven’t you told ME about them before?