Simple little tricks to make life easier in the kitchen and at home
Cooking takes a lot of time and effort, especially for busy, working mothers. Not to mention, mothers need to feed their small troublemakers while making sure that they get all the nutrients they need.
But while cooking may be time consuming, it does not mean there aren’t some tricks or hacks you can use to make life easier for you! Here are some food-related tips and hacks that would hopefully make mealtime preparations easier for you, as well as some that could also possibly help you around the kitchen and your home in other ways!
1. Differentiating good eggs from bad eggs
Sometimes we buy too many eggs to use them all up before their best before (we always love to get those 30 pc egg packs from supermarkets), or other times we forget the best before dates for our eggs because we’ve already tossed away the carton. Of course, we wouldn’t want to open an egg only to find it rotten or throw away perfectly good eggs. So is there a way to find out how good an egg is without opening it up?
Just drop the eggs in question into a glass of water. The idea is simple: good eggs will sink, while bad eggs will float. As eggs age, air will enter the egg, and its air cell (which forms in every egg after they are laid) will get larger and larger, and contribute to the egg’s buoyancy. As such, old eggs will float very easily, while fresh, newer eggs would sink to the bottom of the glass.
2. Stale bread: Wrap in baking paper, put in a tin, and warm it up lightly in an oven
This here is a trick that has persisted for over 100 years! Found in an old cookbook from the era after WWI, the book shared some tips to freshen up some bread that has gone stale. By wrapping it in a baking paper, placing it inside a biscuit tin and popping it into the oven at a low heat, the bread would come out fresh and warm, almost as though it just came out from an oven (though, I guess, it did). This hack would be helpful if you ever need to refresh some old bread to make breakfast or snacks.
3. Cooking pasta the fun way: Thread a hotdog
This isn’t much of a hack, but more of a fun and easy way to prepare pasta for dinner. Not only that, you can invite your kids to do it with you, allowing for fun times for everyone in the family!
Just take some hotdogs and cut them into relatively large pieces, then take dry pasta (preferably long and thin ones like spaghetti) and poke them through those pieces of hotdogs. Do this a few times for each piece of hotdog, until they have become funky, spikey little creations.
Then, boil some water and pop these structures into the water to cook. You don’t need any other ingredients as the sodium from the hotdog would be enough to provide the pasta with some flavour.
After that’s done (the pasta should be soft now, but still threaded through the hotdogs), pour your favourite pasta sauce over them and they are now ready to serve.
4. Pitting olives: Use two plastic lids
Removing the pit of an olive can be tricky business, especially when you find yourself needing quite a number of them for your recipe. You’ll either end up with a mess, or risk hurting yourself, or both.
Thankfully, there are some ways to get around this. A popular method that emerged involves taking two plastic container lids, putting the olives between them, and smashing them with a meat mallet or with the base of the knife handle.
After a few good knocks, the pits will be ejected out of the olives. All the mess and rampant juices will also be contained inside these two lids, allowing for an extremely fast and easy clean up!
5. Poached egg: Add vinegar to the boiling water
Poached eggs may seem tricky to cook, as the egg white is known to get stringy in water, causing a mess. The trick here is to add vinegar to the water before stirring it into a whirlpool, and then pouring the egg in the centre of that whirlpool.
The vinegar would help the egg white coagulate around the yolk, giving us a nice, perfect poached egg.
6. Cooking pasta: Cook them in cold water and bring to a boil
Pasta happens to be one of children’s favourite foods. With the advent of dry pasta and premade sauces, making them has become much easier as well. But cooking the pasta itself may often take a lot longer than we might anticipate, with all the boiling and soaking and waiting.
The back of the box tells us to boil the water first, but food show presenter Alton Brown discovered that that’s not a necessity. On his website, he showed that it was possible to cook pasta using cold water, having found this method after trying out various ways of cooking pasta. This method is best for pasta with short shapes, like macaroni and farfalle, where using less water to cook them might actually be better.
7. Washing paints off: Use olive oil before using soap
If you find your little ones covered in dried paint after a fun time painting, there’s an easy way to clean them that won’t hurt their skin. Rub their paint-covered skin with some olive oil (which has antibacterial properties as well), then wash it off with some soap. The paint should come off without any problems.
Likewise, olive oil can also be used as a natural makeup remover should you ever find yourself needing one. It is also known to help remove acne (due to its anti-inflammatory properties), so you can try it out if you are looking for an organic option!
8. Avoid strong food smells: Cook a pot of white vinegar water
Sometimes cooking may fill the rest of our house with smoke, or cover our furniture with the strong smell of food. Those with doors can easily avoid it by closing the door to their kitchen, but what about those who live with an open-concept kitchen?
A simple solution would be to cook a pot of white vinegar water on the stove, and let it simmer while you are cooking. The white vinegar water would help absorb the strong smell of the food in the air, and also deodorise the rest of the house. White vinegar is an acetic acid, which can help to neutralise alkaline odours.
9. Diaper rash: Olive oil can be a great natural ointment
Baby skin can be extremely delicate and sensitive, which is why it is important to know what goes into each of the skincare products that babies need. When a baby gets a rash from their diapers, olive oil can be used as an organic, natural ointment to help reduce it.
Olive oil not only has antibacterial properties, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce itching and skin irritation. Olive oil can penetrate deep into the baby’s skin to help sooth and moisturise the diaper area, creating a protective barrier that can keep urine and feces from doing further damage.
10. Fruit flies trap: Use apple cider vinegar and catch them all
Fruit flies are extremely common around popular fruits like bananas and mangoes, especially in a tropical, humid country like ours. While they don’t sting or bite, fruit flies can carry bacteria from the many pit stops they make on their journey, like trash bins and rotten foods, which may land on our cutleries and food when the fruit flies make a stop on them. They may even lay their eggs on the fruits they land on. Every year, approximately 48 million people around the world get stick due to such foodborne illnesses.
To make a trap for these little flies, pour some apple cider vinegar into a glass, along with half a teaspoon of dish soap, then cover it up with a cling wrap. Hold the cling wrap in place around the glass with a rubber band, then use a toothpick to poke small holes into the cling wrap. Just like this, the apple cider will attract the flies to enter, but they would be unable to leave, causing them to drown in the cider.
Looking for aids for these hacks?
Of the hacks we have discovered, olive oil and vinegar seemed to be some of the few all-rounders that are able to do so much more beyond their cooking uses. Olive oil, for example, is able to kill bacteria and curb inflammation, while vinegar also carries strong antimicrobial properties that makes it both a great disinfectant and deodorant.
With BORGES, we have a lineup of different types of vinegar and olive oil, as well as pasta and olives, which would be sure to provide your family with the finest Mediterranean experience.
You may find our lineup of products right here.
Don’t go yet! Here’s one last hack for our own guilty pleasure
Life at work and at home may be difficult and trying, so don’t forget to give yourself some time to unwind too! Put some olives in an ice cube tray and freeze them with wine. Whenever you fancy a drink, just pop one or two of those cubes into your glass, and you can have yourself a glass of cold, fruit wine. Yummy!