Loaves and Dishes

Wendi Spraker

Just what is a “hack” anyway? It sounds awful, like a phlegmy cough or something that happens in a horror movie. The idea of a “kitchen hack” sends my mind to places I’m not sure I want to go.

A few months ago a pasta company asked me to give a few “kitchen hacks” in my post where I used their item in a recipe. Honestly, I had to research exactly what they were asking for. I didn’t know for sure what a “hack” was.

What this company was asking for was actually what I would call, “good ol’ southern kitchen engineering” or possibly “kitchen know-how”. We don’t always have the exact tool we need in the kitchen, right? Yeah. Besides why waste good money when you have something at home that works equally well, right?

What follows is a list of 10 of my favorite kitchen “hacks”. There are 21 more on my website at www.loavesanddishes.net where you are able to print out the whole list for easy reference and watch a short video showing many of these hacks. I’m sure you have some shortcuts in the kitchen too! I would love to chat about it. You can shoot me an email at wendi@loavesanddishes.net or you could just stand in the middle of Danbury and hollar my name – I’m sure I would hear you. If I receive enough of these “hacks” from readers, I’ll print another list of reader contributions!

– Save the rubber bands from broccoli or other grocery store items. Use them to wrap around half used bags of items you want to keep fresh. Ex. Half a bag of pecans – roll the top down tight and wrap a rubber band around the entire contents. Keeps the bag closed tightly and keeps the pecans fresh.

– When finished with a box of wine (yeah, I know, I’m classy). Poke a hole in the empty bag to drain the remaining contents from the bag. I mean, come on, you paid for it!

When a wine box is completely empty, remove the interior bag and the box flaps from the top of the box and you can use the box as a plastic grocery bag keeper – dispensing the bags from where the wine spout used to be.

– To remove egg shell from an egg you have just broken open, use half the egg shell as a scoop to get the piece that is lodged inside the egg – the broken piece of egg shell clings to the scooper shell can be easily scooped out this way.

– When using parchment paper, wad the parchment paper up into a ball and then smooth out onto your baking sheet to keep the ends from rolling up.

– When baking a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder to dust the inside of your cake pan rather than flour for enhanced chocolate taste (you can use espresso powder instead to add a deep rich flavor to your cake – no worries, it won’t taste like coffee).

– Care for your wooden spoons and other wooden kitchen utensils by occasionally treating them to a mineral oil bath. Pour food-grade mineral oil into a 9×13 pan to 1/8th inch depth, lay the clean utensils in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then flip and let soak on the other side for 15 minutes. Remove and wipe away the excess oil. Let dry for 24 hours. Don’t forget to keep your cutting boards in good shape with food-grade mineral oil as well.

– When making hard boiled eggs – put them back in the egg crate and mark the end that is facing up with a B using an ink pen.

– For a household with only 1 or two people – save loaf bread by freezing 4 slices together in a quart freezer bag. Then just remove what you need for the next day or two from the freezer.

– When smashing multiple garlic cloves, use a meat pounder rather than the flat edge of a knife to safely and quickly smash many garlic cloves as once.


Wendi Spraker

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