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20 Basic Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know

20 Basic Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know

Wise old women will tell you that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but any experienced man will also tell you that one of the best ways to impress a lady is to cook for her. We all need some kitchen skills, from young students living alone to moms and dads feeding their family. If scientists are to be believed, our food choices are even linked to our character. While some may be naturally gifted, or have had the pleasure of growing up with some talented cooks who were happy to give them a few pointers along the way, there are a lot of people out there who shy away from the kitchen because they find cooking complicated, and even a little bit confusing.

Fortunately, there are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone greatly improve their cooking game, and perhaps get a few people interested in further developing their skills. Here is a run-down of some of the most useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level.

1. Put ice cream in a bag before putting it in the freezer

Bagging ice cream

    Ice cream can get rock hard in the freezer and it takes ages to thaw out just enough that you can eat it. A simple trick to keep it just the right consistency is to put the container in a plastic zip lock bag before throwing it in the freezer.

    2. Freeze a banana to use as base for a healthy ice cream

    Frozen banana ice cream

      When frozen and then mashed up, bananas create a perfect creamy ice cream base that you can be mixed with other fruit and various toppings to create a super-healthy home-made ice cream.

      3. Mix pancake batter in a plastic bag to save time and make less of a mess

      Pancace batter in plastic bag

        A zip lock bag or a pastry bag can be used to mix up pancake batter. Make sure to make a small cut in a corner of the plastic bag if you don’t have a pastry bag. You have to clean up less afterwards, and you can make some very creative shapes.

        4. Cut softer foods using a dental floss

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        Cutting with dental floss

          Things can get messy if you are cutting a particularly large cake and only have a small knife, but even things like cheese and Swiss rolls can be difficult to cut precisely. You can use dental floss to make quick and precise cuts and avoid the trouble.

          5. Cook up enough food for several days on Sunday and store it in the fridge

          Prepping food in advance

            You can spend a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday and cook up enough frozen veggies, chicken, fish, steak, rice, baked potatoes or whatever else you like to eat, and store the food in plastic containers. Mix it up, and you will have quick meals ready to go for the next few days or the entire week.

            6. Use protein powder, almond milk, oat flour and frozen fruit for healthy snacks

            Protein pancakes

              People often view pancakes as a dirty pleasure, but you can make healthy and diet-friendly pancakes using protein powder, almond milk, oat flower, different fruit and other healthy ingredients.

              7. Freeze a fresh herb mixture in olive oil to add to your meals

              Freezing herbs in oil

                If you are the kind of person who likes to add fresh herbs to meals, you can stock up on herbs, chopped them up, put them in ice cube tray, cover them in olive oil and freeze them. Next time you are cooking something, just drop a cube in and have yourself a treat.

                8. Dry out herbs in the microwave

                Drying herbs

                  For a more permanent storage solution, you can buy a bunch of herbs at the flea market – make your own unique blend of herbs – and then dry them out in the microwave. Put them in for 20 second intervals, and keep turning them over until they are completely dry, at which point you can crush them up.

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                  9. Throw a slice of apple in with baked treats to keep them soft and moist

                  apple slices

                    Baked treats tend to get fairly dry and don’t taste so good after a while. A good way to combat this is to keep them in a plastic container with an apple slice, which will help them preserve moisture and stay yummy for much longer.

                    10. Let you eggs sit in the fridge for a few days if you want them to peel easily

                    Eggs with funny faces

                      Boiled eggs are sometimes notoriously difficult to peel, but that’s just fresh eggs. Week old eggs are perfectly fine to eat, but they are incredibly easy to peal, so make sure you buy eggs well in advance and let them sit in the fridge for a while before boiling them.

                      11. You can use a spoon to help you peel fresh eggs more quickly

                      Peeling an egg

                        In case you just have to eat some boiled eggs right now and you only have fresh ones, you can add a little salt in the water with them and then use a spoon to crack one ends slightly and start peeling the shell from the inside. It’s incredibly quick and simple.

                        12. Soak eggs in white vinegar for several minutes when making poached eggs

                        Soaking eggs in white vinegar

                          To make perfect poached eggs you need to keep the eggs in a consistent shape when boiling them in water. A simple, trick to ensure that the egg whites keep a consistent shape is to soak the eggs in white vinegar for several minutes before breaking them open.

                          13. Weave bacon strips into a square shape and bake them in the oven

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                          Bacon weave

                            Bacon is actually cooked much more evenly in the oven than in the frying pan, and to go a step further you can weave them into a square shape first. It’s a great shape for sandwiches, and you won’t have chunks falling out.

                            14. Grill your fish on top of lemon slices

                            Grill fish adn lemons

                              Fish will tend to stick and even break up when placed on the grill, but if you put it on top of lemon slices and grill it like that it will be much easier to prepare, and it will get that nice zesty flavor.

                              15. Slap some wet paper towels on bottles of soda or beer to cool them much faster

                              Cooling beer with paper towel

                                You have guests arriving any minute now, and your beverages are all lukewarm? Well, have no fear, just take a few wet paper towels and wrap them around the bottles before throwing them in the freezer. It will cool your drinks down incredibly fast.

                                16. Make the perfect hash browns using a waffle iron

                                Hashed browns

                                  Making hash browns can be a bit of a hassle, but a very simple trick is to just throw them on a waffle iron and slam it shut. That golden brown color you are going for will be nice and even, and you won’t have to do much work at all.

                                  17. Microwave oysters for 10-20 seconds to make them much easier to open

                                  Opening oysters

                                    Oysters can require quite a bit of brute force to open, and you don’t want to be pressing hard on something with a knife and risk having it slip and hurt you. The simple solution is to microwave them for 10-20 seconds, which loosens them up and allows you to open them using much less force.

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                                    18. Run some water over stale bread and throw it in the oven to make it fresh and crunchy

                                    Loaves of bread

                                      If all you’ve got is a baguette or a loaf of bread that is getting a bit stale, but you don’t have time to run to the store and get some more, just run it through some water and put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes. You can also wrap it in a damp towel and then pop it in the oven. It will be fresh and crunchy like you just baked it.

                                      19. Drip chocolate over a balloon to create edible dessert cups

                                      Chocolate bowls

                                        Melt some chocolate into a bowl and then dip an inflated balloon in it so that the chocolate sticks all around it in a semicircular shape. Once it has cooled down just pop the balloon and take it out. Voila! You now have chocolate bowls to serve your dessert in.

                                        20. Use two plates to slice cherry tomatoes in one smooth motion

                                        Plates and cherry tomatoes

                                          If you are making a salad and need to chop a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes in half, just trap them between two plates and slice through them with a knife. You can slice a dozen or more of them in one clean movement.

                                          Make sure to arm yourself with these great cooking hacks, as well as a little bit of patience, and you will soon become the master of your kitchen, cooking up decent meals and flaunting your new-found skill in front of others.

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                                          Ivan Dimitrijevic

                                          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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                                          Last Updated on December 2, 2019

                                          10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

                                          10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

                                          Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

                                          In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

                                          These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

                                          1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

                                          Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

                                          But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

                                          Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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                                          2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

                                          You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

                                          The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

                                          3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

                                          If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

                                          Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

                                          If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

                                          4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

                                          Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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                                          To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

                                          In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

                                          5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

                                          We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

                                          If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

                                          Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

                                          “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

                                          6. Give for the Joy of Giving

                                          When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

                                          One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

                                          So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

                                          7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

                                          Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

                                          Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

                                          8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

                                          When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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                                          So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

                                          9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

                                          Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

                                          It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

                                          It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

                                          10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

                                          There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

                                          But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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                                          Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

                                          More About Living a Fulfilling Life

                                          Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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