Top 5 (Life Changing--No Really!) Kitchen Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Scribbles & Dabbles: Top 5 (Life Changing) Kitchen Tips, Tricks, & Tools

There are a few things that I tell all my friends about when it comes to cooking. Some are small, some are big, some are tricks I use and some are just really cool gadgets that don't take up too much kitchen real estate.  I decided it was time to tell all my online friends, too.

I'm not making any money off this post.  I just get really excited about this stuff.  I'm kind of a nerd that way.

1. Pastry Cutter, Zester, Mandolin, Garlic Press
They say it's the little things that make the most difference, right? Well these little things make cooking anything from Mexican to Thai to meat and potatoes a breeze.  And for $20 or less (the pastry cutter is only $6), they are definitely worth the investment!
Pastry Cutter
Any time a recipe calls for cutting the fat into the flour (like pies and biscuits), this little number will make a quick job of it. Make sure you get the kind with the flat metal blades like this one.
You don't want this kind; they don't work nearly as well.
I find recipes all the time that call for citrus zest: orange zest (like wassail) or lemon zest (like lemon ricotta pancakes) or lime zest (like carne asada marinade). I used to use the small side of a cheese grater or a plane grater like this one.

But then you destroy your fingers trying to get all the peel off the grater.  When I discovered this kind of zester, my life was instantly better!
It's so easy to use and is incredibly effective and efficient.  Never. Going. Back.
Mandolin Slicer
I mostly use this baby for slicing potatoes and carrots for grilling or a quick sausage-and-potato skillet meal. You can use it for grating, making fries, or slicing anything from limes to potatoes.  There are definitely some more expensive versions of these out there ($50-$100), but this one (the picture will take you to the item on Amazon) will do any of the things I said above and it's less than $20.

Garlic Press
I use so much garlic! It seems like every other recipe I make calls for it.  Diced garlic.  If you've ever tried dicing garlic, you know as well as I do what a pain in the rear it is.  You have to cut the ends off, peel the dry outer layers off, then use a knife to cut it into the tiniest pieces possible.  Which would be slightly time-consuming, but not all that bad, except garlic is sticky!  Standing over the garbage waving my hand up and down trying to get a flake of garlic skin off my sticky fingers was one of my least favorite kitchen pastimes.

With a garlic press, you can avoid the stickiness altogether! You just take a clove, shove it in there and press.  It even comes with a little gadget to push the leftover peel out of the holes!
2. Pastry Mat
If you have ever tried to make pie or pasta from scratch and have gotten fed up with the dough sticking to the counter, this simple addition to your kitchen will blow your mind.
 The mat is made from a canvas material that has a wooden "dowel" through the top and bottom.  Two metal pieces loop around the dowels and hold the mat flat. It even has little hooks on the bottom that keep it from sliding when you roll over it with your rolling pin.  There is also a tube of fabric that fits over your rolling pin so it doesn't stick to the pastry either. You just sprinkle a little flour on and roll out your dough.  Simply amazing.

I've used this for pies, pasta, sugar cookies, and biscuits, and it's worked great every time.  When your done, you can just shake it out, or throw it in the washing machine.
3. Avocado Pits
This is a tip that made my jaw drop the first time I heard it.  Are you ready?

Avocado pits keep guacamole from turning brown.
image via pureblissnutrition.files.wordpress.com

No really.  If you make some  guacamole, just keep the pits from the avocados and throw them into the airtight container and it will keep for days.  That's right, days.

I don't know about you, but I could live on guacamole.  Love it.  But it's so nasty after it turns brown, I just can't eat it.  I rarely made it because I couldn't eat a whole batch in one sitting (nor would that be very healthy).  But if I can keep it in the fridge for a couple days, I can have it on sandwiches, nachos, or just pretzels for lunch for half the week.  Wahoo!
You can check out my favorite guacamole recipe here.
4. Pomegranate Seeds
If you like pomegranates, just watch this video.  It's not the pull-the-seeds-out-in-cold-water method. That method isn't any better than pulling them over the table.  It may be worse, actually, because my hands get cold.  The method in this video takes about 30 seconds.  Total.  Prepare to be blown away.

5. Gallon Bag
Sometimes you just have to fill a gallon bag with awkward-sized things.  Like when you're freezing strawberries--or asparagus.  The other day, I was snapping asparagus to freeze and putting them in gallon bags to freeze and I was getting annoyed with having to re-open the bag every time.

Then the lightbulb came on and I did this:

Just roll the top of the gallon bag and then it stays open. Amazing, right?
I'm probably not the first person to think of this, but I've never have anyone tell me about it, so I thought I would share.

That's it.  My Top 5 kitchen tips, tricks, and tools.  I hope they help you like they've helped me!

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