14 September 2015

10 Stupid Food Hacks and a Blatantly Obvious One!

I am all for good ideas that will save time, make cooking easier or meals better (which is why I wrote a book of sensible and seriously useful cooking tips, (free sample here!) but some of these so called hacks I have been seeing on the internet recently are ridiculous!

Here are 11 cooking hacks that I am totally hacked off with!


1.   Halve little grape or cherry tomatoes by placing them between two plastic lids. 


Press down the top lid and gently slice through the tomatoes. A yogurt lid is suggested for this.

How many tomatoes can you do at a time with a yogurt lid (or, more accurately, two)? Ten-ish? How long does it take? I think it would be quicker, easier and safer to cut 10 or so little tomatoes in half with a knife than try to hold them in place between two lids and slide a knife between. Is it really beyond people to do this 10 times?

how-to-cut-tomatoes


2.  Use a Panini Maker to Make Omelettes


Well really!  A panini maker will just result in some cooked egg which is nothing like the light moist dish deserving of the name “omelette”.

how-to-make-an-omelette

 This is how to make an omelette, it is nowhere near as difficult as you might think, in fact it’s quite easy.

~   Break 2 or 3 fresh eggs into a bowl (you’d have to do this with a panini maker too).
~   Season and lightly beat together just to break the whites into the yolks, there is no need to whisk till fully amalgamated (same for a panini maker but I think it would need to be fully whisked).
~   Melt a knob of butter in a non frying stick pan (or grease your panini maker).
~   When the butter has melted and starts to foam swirl it about the pan and pour in the eggs.
~   Allow to sit over the heat for a few seconds and when you see the edges start to solidify gently lift them with a spatula, tilt the pan and encourage the runny egg on top to flow to the side of the pan and under the cooked egg.
~   Keep doing this till the top of the omelette is merely moist.
~   Add any fillings and fold one half of the omelette over the other.
~   Slide onto a warm plate.

3.   Squeeze lemons with tongs – why?


how-to-squeeze lemons

Hands are a great tool for squeezing lemons (useful hack – wiggle your clean fingers in the cavity of the fruit to squeeze out every drop) and you can use your other hand to catch the pips. 


Purpose made lemon juicers work perfectly, of course, they get all the juice  and they catch the pips.



Tongs - I’ve just tried doing this and found it tricky, uncontrollable, squirty and they don’t catch the pips.





4.   I recently read two suggestions for “coping” with butternut squash ...

i)   Use a mallet to tap your knife into the squash


This sounds dangerous to me.

ii)  To avoid “hours of terror” before preparing a squash and “many excruciating minutes” cutting it ...


"prick it with a fork and put in the microwave for a few minutes first.  That might help and is certainly preferable to bashing a knife with a mallet!"

Alternatively just a large sharp knife for cutting and a smaller sharp knife or potato peeler for peeling will do the job nicely.

~   Lay the squash on its side and cut off the very end with the stalk – cut 1.
~   Now cut it just at the end of the long straight bit before it swells out – cut 2.
~   Stand this piece on one end and using the small sharp knife cut off strips of peel in a downward direction or use a potato peeler.
~   Cut off the end of the rounded half of squash – cut 3.
~   Stand it on a cut end and cut off the peel as above or use a potato peeler.
~   Cut it in half – cut 4.
~   Using a sharp edges teaspoon remove the seeds and membrane in the middle.

how-to-prepare-butternut-squash

See here for delicious ideas for using your squash (including a way that needs less frightening cutting and no peeling).   

And here is a “hack” of my very own ...

With large round solid things like butternut squash instead of moving the knife back and forth to cut it I wedge the blade where I want to make the cut then hold it still and move the squash back and forth. I find this much safer and easier.  

5.   Shred chicken breasts using the K-beater and your mixer


Isn’t this a bit strange and a lot of faff for nothing? How about 2 forks or even a sharp knife (again)? WTF?

6.   Use an egg slicer to slice garlic, mushrooms or strawberries


And there was me thinking it was daft using an egg slicer to slice eggs!  Daft, daft, daft. Yet again a sharp knife, only a smaller one this time, is the answer and so much easier!

7.   Chop Herbs with a Pizza Cutter Instead of a Knife


The same site went on to say “even better cut everything with a pizza cutter” which is seriously misguided.  Chop herbs with a long sharp knife and a rocking motion, sprinkle the board with a little salt before you start to stop the herbs sliding around too much.

8.  Quickly Sear Meat in the Broiler Rather Than on the Stove 


NO, don’t do that  because doing it in the pan (which should NOT be non-stick) leaves a delicious meaty residue ...

how to brown meat for the maillard reaction

... which can then be quickly made into a sauce.

~   Once your meat is browned set it aside in a warm place (here’s yet another “hack” – meat is so, so, so much juicer and more tender if you let it rest for a say 10 minutes before serving).
~   Add a little liquid (water, wine or stock) to the pan. 
~   Bring it to a boil scraping up the cooked-on meat juices and letting them dissolve in the liquid. 
~   If it is a bit runny simmer till reduced a little then add a knob of butter or a splash of cream et voila a delicious sauce.

9.  For Richer Scrambled Eggs, Use Sour Cream Instead of Milk


I have never, ever whisked milk or cream into eggs for scrambling, there is no need or even any point, for richer scrambled eggs this is the thing to do ...

~    Melt a knob of butter (not margarine or anything else) in a small non-stick pan (easier for washing up hack). 
~   When partly melted break 2 or 3 eggs into the butter and immediately stir all together, season and continue stirring over low-ish heat. 
~   As it cooks fold the solidifying egg into the uncooked and continue till you have a pan of soft perfectly scrambled eggs and then immediately do this neat trick (or “hack”) from Julia Child ...
~  Whisk in a knob of cold butter. This will stop the eggs cooking any further, retain them at optimal creaminess and make them more delicious than ever. You could use cream or sour cream at this stage instead of butter or even milk if you don’t want them to be too delicious!

10.   Cook vegetables (and other things) in the dishwasher together with a load of dishes. 


I was surprised to read this. It is suggested that the vegetables are seasoned and then sealed in a jar with a tight screw on lid so that the soapy water can’t get in, it should be placed upright in the dishwasher.  

I don’t have a dishwasher but research has shown that they take between 30 minutes and two hours per cycle, 80 minutes being optimum.  Also that you should probably not open the dishwasher mid-cycle. How well cooked do you like your veggies?

Jack Monroe, and others, make the very valid point that some people don’t have adequate cooking equipment and I sympathise but if you don’t cook why would you have a dishwasher?

To cook vegetables cut them into slices or florets or whatever shape is appropriate, put them in a small pan, just cover with boiling water, add a little salt, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, put on the lid and simmer for about 3 minutes for green vegetables, cauliflower and carrots and 25 minutes or so for potatoes - NOT 80!

This cooking hack is a little different ...


11.   Grate your own cheese!!! 


This one, of course, isn’t daft it is absolutely the thing to do.  I saw this in a list of “17 F*cking Brilliant Food Hacks That Will Save You A Lot Of Money” but I think it is more F*cking Blatantly Obvious than brilliant!

This changes EVERYTHING

Articles on these “hacks” often say “This changes EVERYTHING” or something similar and I agree – you could hurt your eyes with out-of-control lemon juice, stab yourself whilst bashing a knife with a mallet or cut your finger off sliding a knife between two plastic lids separated by rolly- about tomatoes.


In Other News ...

I have been “helping” my real man with concreting our yard; holding things such as the cement mixer and the wheelbarrow steady. 

It is nowhere near as interesting as one would think so I was not surprised to see on the mixer, among stickers about wearing goggles and not returning the mixer in a dirty condition, that they recommend you read a book whilst working.

cement-mixer-instructions







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2 comments:

Sue said...

Don't worry too much, I doubt the sort of people that click on the links to read the 'hacks' actually do much cooking anyway!! Your sensible replies are so much more 'normal'. A good sharp kitchen knife or two is the most important thing in any kitchen.

And as for reading books being recommended on all building machinery .... THAT'S why my builders take the time to stand around staring into space for 10 minutes every now and then ... they've forgotten to bring their books ;-)

Patricia (La Chatte Gitane) said...

Oh my ! Sorry about the acronyms "LOL ! LMAO ! ROFL !"
You gave me a good belly laugh with this post. I must admit to clicking the linkies to food hacks. Just for fun, I promise.
Now. I am going to try the pizza cutter for herbs next time because it's no use for cutting pizza. Here is a hack. Use the scissors to cut your pizza. I've been doing that for nearly 40 years. Still works a treat. ;-)