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10 Killer Cooking / Kitchen Hacks

10 Killer Cooking / Kitchen Hacks

    I love to cook. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a tasty home-cooked meal that I have prepared and made myself. It’s satisfying knowing that my effort has paid off and I have produced something that I can be proud to share.

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    However, if you’re a novice, it can take time to learn some of the tricks and hacks that can improve your cooking skills or speed up your kitchen prowess.

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    Then there is the cleaning up afterwards — a sink full of dishes that gets in the way whilst you are cooking that no one wants to deal with.

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    Here are a few tips I’ve learned to improve your kitchen capabilities:

    1. Plan what you need to do. Whatever takes the longest, do first. Warming up an oven, boiling up some water. Put those on first. It takes about 10 mins for an oven to heat up to the right temperature, and about 5 minutes for the water to boil where its constantly bubbling. Get that going first before you need to prep the food.
    2. Defrost meats in advance. If you plan what you are going to eat you can preserve the quality of meat. Leaving it on a counter top to defrost will increase bacteria levels, nuking it in the microwave will leave you with a cooked outside and frozen middle. Put it in the fridge for 2 days in advance. If you’re in a hurry, defrost in water.
    3. To open an impossible-to-open jar lid,  hold the jar upside down and put it over the cooker flame for a couple of seconds. Alternatively if you are going to use the whole jar, stab the lid with a sharp knife to break the vacuum.
    4. Don’t have a steamer? Put your vegetables into a colander and put it into a pan with boiling water that fits. Make sure the colander doesn’t reach the water and then cover it with a lid. The lid may not fit perfectly, but it does the job.
    5. Get more juice out of lemons and oranges by warming them up. You can do this in your hand or in some warm water.
    6. Wash while you cook. This removes wasted waiting time and keeps you on top of the cleaning. When you put some meat in the pan and need to turn it over in a couple of minutes, fill the sink with water and start washing up. After you’ve washed a couple of items, it’s time to turn the mean. You can use this as a method to time your cooking.
    7. Shell boiled eggs with ease. You can do so by breaking a small hole at both ends and blowing into one end.
    8. Recipes are guidelines, they do not need to be followed to the letter. Love ginger?  Put some in.
    9. Avoiding wheat but need to make a crispy coating without using bread? Oats do a great job. Put them into a food mixer and you have a coating that can be applied to almost anything.
    10. Short on time and need to make a roast? Chop it up into smaller pieces. Your cooking time will be vastly reduced.

    These are just some of the hacks I use when cooking. Do you have any to share?

    (Photo credit: Chef Woman via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

    Hoi Wan

    Hoi is a mobilist who blogs about technology trends and productivity.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

    Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

    Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

    What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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    If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

    Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

    These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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    Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

    On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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