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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 January 21, 2020

                                          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                          Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                                          your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                                            Why You Need a Vision

                                            Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                                            How to Create Your Life Vision

                                            Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                                            What Do You Want?

                                            The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                                            It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                                            Some tips to guide you:

                                            • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                                            • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                                            • Give yourself permission to dream.
                                            • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                                            • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                                            Some questions to start your exploration:

                                            • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                                            • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                                            • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                                            • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                                            • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                                            • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                                            • What qualities would you like to develop?
                                            • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                                            • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                                            • What would you most like to accomplish?
                                            • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                                            It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                                            What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                                            Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                                            A few prompts to get you started:

                                            • What will you have accomplished already?
                                            • How will you feel about yourself?
                                            • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                                            • What does your ideal day look like?
                                            • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                                            • What would you be doing?
                                            • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                                            • How are you dressed?
                                            • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                                            • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                                            • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                                            It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                                            Plan Backwards

                                            It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                                            • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                                            • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                                            • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                                            • What important actions would you have had to take?
                                            • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                                            • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                                            • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                                            • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                                            • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                                            Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                                            It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                                            Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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