Get ready for some great kitchen hacks, from your favorite Chef’s wife.
1) Keep cut avocado green
There is probably some really complex sounding chemistry explanation for it, but I know citric acid is found in lots of pre-made or pre-cut avocado products. As such, this led me to wonder one day if using a lemon would help preserve the unused portion of an already cut into avocado. Turns out, I was right. Take a slice, wedge or half of a lemon and place it in the bag or container with the unused portion and seal it. Like magic, it will stay just-cut fresh for up to a full week. I am still amazed every time. Please note that if the avocado starts off a darker green once cut, it is more likely to darken a bit faster than a really bright green one.
2) Sharpen Your Knives.
Seems simple enough, but it is a reminder I need once or twice a year. Rule of thumb is if I can’t get through a tomato on the first slice without moving back and forth or pushing hard, the blade is dull. From a sharpening stick of your own to dropping off at the knife sharpener booth at the farmers market while you peruse the goodies, sharp knives will save you a lot of time in the end, when it counts the most: hurrying to feed hungry mouths. Dull knives also hurt more when you get knocked, and you are more likely to slip off what you are cutting if they aren’t tomato-slice ready sharp.
3) Cook bacon with your shirt off
Just kidding! We have all been taught this is NEVER okay. Worry not, moms. Line up your bacon slices on a baking or cookie sheet, and bake instead of fry so it cooks to the perfect crispness (or slightly soggy, like my kids prefer). I use a mini baking sheet from the dollar store by the dozen when I see them if just making a few pieces and pop it right into the oven or toaster oven. Not only is the bacon cooked evenly, there is no messy grease splatter all over the entire kitchen! Plus your clothes (or bare skin!) will appreciate the lack of grease popping as well. Line your baking sheet with parchment for an even easier cleanup!
4) Peel kiwi with a spoon
Cut the ends off, then rinse your knife and wipe your cutting board area. Take a teaspoon (or a tablespoon for those giant ones) and slide it all the way through the kiwi just under the skin on the fleshy inside. Rotate the kiwi or twist the spoon around the whole inside edge, and voila! Rinse for any pesky kiwi peel fuzz, and slice. Or just take a huge bite like I do.
5) Keep your salad crisp for up to four days
Ever make a huge dinner salad and think longingly how delicious this would be at your desk the next day? Don’t hesitate. Take a handful of the salad, pre-dressing status, and place in a container. Soak a paper towel in cold tap water, then wring it out. You want it still wet, but not dripping. Lay it over the top of you salad, and cover with an air-tight lid. This will keep your salad (works for fresh cut veggies, too) just-cut fresh for up to four days. Just be careful it doesn’t sit in an area of the fridge where it can freeze, the damp towel will ruin all your hard work and hopes. I also do this for grocery store salads, if I take it home and don’t plan on eating it right away.
6) Reheat stale loaves of bread
This one gets me every time. I buy the long, fresh loaf of french bread from the local bakery, and by the time I go to eat some the next day, it is hard as a rock. We are talking piñata-smashing-ready hard. But not for long! Moisten it, by wetting your hands and then rubbing them all over it. Top to bottom, end to end. If particularly weapon-ready, repeat this step. Beware any edge you may have cut from, and just lightly rub that area, most likely you will still want to slice off just that tiny already exposed portion after heating anyway. Warm gently in the oven or toaster oven, no higher the 250 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Check it every few minutes, add more time if needed. Bread should come out warm, soft, almost as good as just baked fresh.
7) Cook with cast iron
In developing nations, anemia is a serious health issue. One way researchers have discovered they can help alleviate the severity and frequency of iron deficiencies is to encourage that food is cooked in cast iron. Yep, a natural source of iron is cooking in it! Cast iron is one of my favorite cooking vessels, as it is multi-functional, and even frying bacon or sausage in it allows for increased health benefits. Any moisture rich foods like sauces or fruit/veggie mashes will absorb the most iron from the skillet or pot. Of course, cast iron requires a different style of cleaning and care than loading into the dishwasher or leaving soaking in the sink overnight, but the benefits are pretty spectacular. To clean, simply rub coarse salt inside the pan, rinse with water, dry on the stove, and very lightly oil. If you store it stacked, put a paper towel between it and the other pan, to prevent oil residue or dirt from transferring.