If you’re like most of us, your family’s kitchen—and pantry, and also the closet next to the kitchen, as well as a couple of drawers—is full of a growing collection of pots, pans, and tools. There’s a waffle iron, cake pans, and an array of gadgets for peeling, chopping, carving, or shaping. Maybe you’ve actually got so many tools and so little space that you never cook anything. And cooking at home is good for body, mind, and soul.”
Enter, kitchen hacks: useful little tricks to help you cook like a pro, using the utensils you’ve already got. These are fun little bits of wisdom your grandma might give, but they come with a modern twist.
Here are a few good ones:
Slice corn off the cob using a kitchen knife and Bundt pan.
Just position the corn cob horizontally on the part of the pan that usually forms the hole in the middle of the Bundt cake. Next, carve away, using a big kitchen knife, and watch the kernels land in the pan, ready to become a side dish or part of another culinary creation.
Cut out the cutting.
Feeling uninspired by all the slicing and chopping involved with kitchen artistry? No willing sous chefs in your household? No problem. There are a couple of creative ways around the tedious time suck.
- Slice cherry tomatoes by putting them in the middle of a dinner-plate sandwich. Run a large, serrated kitchen knife through it and—voilá—a whole bunch of sliced cherry tomatoes, ready for your salad, hors d’oeuvres, or some other yummy thing. (Try to use two different plate sizes, with the larger plate on the bottom.)
- Chop boiled and peeled eggs by lining them up and pressing a baking rack through them. That’ll significantly decrease the time it takes to make egg, potato, or ham salad, or create a nice topper for your greens.
Peel ginger with a spoon.
Use the long edge of a standard spoon to peel ginger. No new kitchen tools are necessary, and the spoon actually works better anyway, yielding fresh ginger— it’s much tastier than the dried kind.
Even the bumps on the ginger root are easy to peel with a spoon and you’ll wind up with a perfect piece of peeled ginger and only the skin as waste.
Use your noodle differently.
- Bake your favorite pasta dish in a Bundt pan. This is a riff off of homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, created because baking dishes yield those fantastic crispy bits in the corners. There’ll be no fighting over the corners with this hack because, using the Bundt pan, you’ll get a crispy, savory forkful in every bite.
- Cook pasta in a frying pan. Start by putting dry noodles in the pan with one or two quarts of cold water on top—just enough to cover the noodles by about half an inch. Turn your burner to medium high and stir every once in a while. Your pasta will be finished in just 10 minutes (and the leftover starch water will make flavorful sauce).
Pre-heat your roasting pan with the oven.
- Roasted vegetables are one of the culinary world’s greatest healthy inventions and this simple tip makes them even roastier: preheat your pan in the oven. That way, when the vegetables hit the hot surface, they get a jump start on browning.
- Speaking of pre-heating, you can keep warm dishes warm by serving them on pre-heated plates. Just put your oven on “warm,” put the plates in for a few minutes and—boom—you’re a pro, keeping hot dishes hot.