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3 Food Hacks Your Mom Didn’t Teach You

3 Food Hacks Your Mom Didn’t Teach You


    In continuing with the great posts on food, I thought I’d include a few kitchen hacks I’ve come across. I’ll be the first to admit: I’m no chef. I love to cook; to whip up something new or different–but the way it tastes is, unfortunately, not always what I intend. That said, I have found a few ways to make some of the most common foods my wife and I eat actually taste good. While you won’t be able to use these techniques for everything, you can start right now, in your own kitchen! Here are a few hacks to implement before dinner tonight:

    The Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Hack

    Ah, the comfort food of modern American youth. While my family dips the grilled cheese in tomato soup, my wife likes hers plain–just the good ‘ol wheat bread with a slice of American cheese in-between. Growing up, my mom–who ran a home daycare, and didn’t have time to cook often–used to whip these up for the kids, and they were always good. Use this method to cook your own home-made grilled cheese in minutes, better than you’ve ever tasted.

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    Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (a perfect starter cookbook) mentions a few things that have helped my grilled-cheese cooking:

    1. You won’t need a special panini press, or Foreman-style grill. Just use a flat-bottomed large pan or skillet, heated on medium-high. Throw in some butter to melt.
      • Prepare the sandwiches by placing a slice of cheese between two slices of bread. Place the sandwiches, two at a time, on the heated pan.
      • And here’s the awesome hack: Place a smaller pot, or heavy object, on top of the cooking sandwich(es). Yes, I mean to say: place another, smaller, object directly on the sandwiches, acting as a sort of “press” to flatten the sandwiches.
      • Cook until desired doneness.

      You’ll find that not only are the sandwiches amazing, they’re also dead-simple to clean up after: just wash the pan and any utensils used!

      The Chicken Hack

      Okay, here’s one that’s less specific: Whenever you plan cook chicken (breasts, thighs, quarters, whatever), you can make your chicken restaurant-quality by doing one simple thing:

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      Brining.

      Brining is the process of submerging your protein in a water bath of saltwater for about thirty minutes. It helps the meat retain moisture, so when it’s cooked it won’t release it’s inner juices into the pan. Actually, brining can help you retain up to 80% more liquid in the meat–making for a much juicer cut–than not brining.

      To brine your chicken (or turkey, for that matter), you just need to defrost the chicken and place it in a bowl of saltwater, completely covered. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least twenty or thirty minutes, and no longer than an hour. I usually shoot for 45 minutes, but do what works best. When you’re done, drain the chicken and dry it thoroughly, then season/prepare it as normal.

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      Trust me, it’s different in a really good way.

      The Steak Hack

      I’ve talked and blogged immensely about how to cook the perfect steak recipe–just check out my site for that–but there’s one thing that really sets my steaks apart from the average weekend BBQer:

      Salting the steak.

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      Again, salting a steak is such a simple process, it’s a wonder not many other people I know of do it. The goal is to dry out your steak (I know, it sounds counterintuitive0 as much as possible before seasoning, marinating, and cooking. You’re literally taking a defrosted, patted-dry steak cut (any cut will work, but the best ones are aged, thick ribeye and top sirloin) on a plate and pouring salt on it. I like sea salt, as its crystals are larger than table salt. Let it sit for awhile–sometimes 30 minutes will do the trick. You’ll start to see bubbles of moisture mixing with the salt–that’s the salt literally pulling the moisture from the inside of the meat.

      Rinse it off in cold water, pat it dry, and do it again if you want. When it seems dry enough, you can continue your recipe as desired, and be amazed at the results!

      In Closing

      These are just three of the ways I’ve discovered to “hack” my weeknight meals in a way that makes them special. My wife and family love them, and not in a “we have to” sort of way. Give them a shot the next time you decide to cook one of these, and let me know in the comments section how it turns out!

      (Photo credit: Food Ingredients on the Oak via Shutterstock)

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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

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      Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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