Did You Know You Could Use Tongs to Juice a Lemon?
If you like to finish dishes with a squirt of citrus juice, you're going to love this trick (plus, four more ways to repurpose common kitchen items).
Photo: Jennifer Patrick
Squeeze Lemon Juice Using Your Trusty Pork Chop Flippers
Chefs love to add a little squirt of acid, whether it's vinegar or lemon juice, to a dish just before serving it; it brightens the flavor of everything from smothered pork chops to sautéed shrimp. And since you're probably using metal tongs to turn whatever you're cooking, there's no need to pull out a citrus reamer or juicer. Just hold a lemon half in your nondominant hand and the tongs in the other; with the tongs closed, insert them into the lemon and twist over the dish, so the juice pours right into the pan. (If the seeds bother you, do this over a sieve; or flick the seeds out with the tongs before you juice.)
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Make Healthy Vegetables But Don't Crowd Your Cabinets
Metal or bamboo baskets are lovely for steaming broccoli and carrots, but the minimalist in us balks against such one-trick ponies. If you're tight on space, just use a metal strainer or colander. Add about a half-inch of water to a pot and either set the strainer over it or place the colander inside, making sure the water doesn't come up into the strainer. When the water simmers, place the veggies inside. Cover the pot so the steam stays inside; within a few minutes, those florets or carrot coins will be just tender when pierced with a knife.
Mince Garlic Without a Knife
A sturdy, stainless-steel grater is more than just the key to the gooiest grilled cheese ever. It's also a handy tool for mincing garlic and for zesting citrus. For garlic, lightly smash the clove with the back of the grater to get the skin off easily, and then grate (minding your fingers). For citrus, just pass the lemon, lime or orange over the blade once, then turn and grate another area, so that you don't grate the bitter-tasting, white pith.
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Cook Oatmeal and Don't Worry About Watching the Stove
Even if you don't make rice daily, you could probably be using your rice cooker on a more frequent basis. This appliance also does a bang-up job with oatmeal, explains chef Ben Ford. Use the same ratio as you would on the stove, and throw in a handful of raisins or dried cranberries since they'll plump up nicely in the hot water. Most cookers have only two settings—"on" and "keep warm"—so when the oats are finished, they'll stay hot until you're ready to eat. Ford also uses his rice cooker to prepare all manner of grains, from lentils to quinoa, without bothering with the stove.
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Freeze the Perfect Cocktail-Size Ice Cubes
Large ice cubes melt more slowly than small ones, but you don't have to have a special tray to make them. Just freeze water in a muffin tin, says Ford. You can also add herbs, citrus zest or fruit to the water before it freezes, which will add flavor (and look great, too).