This picture is a pretty accurate description of kitchens I had back in the 1980s. Brings back such memories. That being said, I am always on the lookout for tips, tricks, helpful hints – you know, hacks. These few have always served me well.
I like to make meals with meat that either needs to be marinated, or stir fried. Bottled marinades can be expensive, and I haven’t had much experience making them on my own. Not yet I haven’t, but I will try. In the meantime, you can use a regular bottle of salad dressing. It doesn’t matter what kind, either oil-based or the creamy version. I have marinated chicken overnight in honey mustard dressing, and then either bake it or fry it in a pan. Stir frying chicken tenders (or pieces of thighs, which are very flavorful) in Italian dressing makes a delicious meal. I usually have this with rice and broccoli.
If you like iced coffee, try this. If you have a pot of coffee in the morning, or whatever – and some is leftover, don’t put it down the drain. Put it in an ice cube tray. This way, the next time you want iced coffee, use these coffee cubes and your drink won’t get watered down.
You can buy flavored creamers for your coffee. Jeff loves these. If you want to do it on the cheap, as they say – or for some reason you run out of creamer and only have milk or cream, as the coffee begins to brew – add some spices to the brew basket. You can also add these to an individual cup after it’s done. I have used cinnamon, pumpkin spice seasoning, even hot chocolate mix to make a chocolate coffee drink. Adding it to the brew basket, of course you will need to use more. You’ll get a whole pot of specialty coffee this way. If it’s easier and you do individual cups, just make sure you stir really good. Tastes delicious!
The easiest and fastest way to make rice, which ends up coming out Chinese-food style is in your microwave. For example, use one cup of rice to two cups of water. You can even substitute part of the water with broth. This one cup method goes into the microwave for twelve minutes. When the time is up, the rice comes out absolutely perfect. For 3/4 of a cup, double the amounts but it goes in for nine minutes. Adjust up – last night I did 1 1/2 cups, put it in for sixteen minutes and it came out great. I have been making more rice lately because our little kitten Nik has some “stomach” issues and the rice is helping him. We think.
This next thing is more of a recommendation than an actual tip. When you spill something, especially on your stove – clean it up, or at least wipe it as soon as possible. I have waited too long on certain occasions, and when I finally do go and try to clean it, it takes too much of an effort. I try to do this all the time. If I can. If I remember.
It sounds crazy, I know – but rinse your plastic bags. You know, the ones with the zip tops. I rinse all of them and store them inside out, on top of something tall. Like the container with all the ladles, spatulas, wooden spoons. I don’t keep the thin, little sandwich type bags because they just don’t dry easily. Plus, they are much more reasonably priced. I just cannot see throwing away a decent plastic bag that only had rolls in it, with just crumbs leftover.
Keep as many plastic bags as you can store from the grocery store. Currently we have more than we need. These come in handy for many things. For those of us with pets, you know what we use them for. I always have a bag handy for people who come over and want to take things home. And sometimes I use them as an extra layer over something I’m storing in the freezer.
I haven’t done this in years, but you can reuse your coffee grounds. If you make a pot of coffee to yield eight cups, rinse your pot. In the basket add half the amount you would normally use. Press brew and your new full pot should taste just as good (or almost as good) as the first one.
All of these are boring, I know – but useful just the same.