Top Tips Make Life Easier in the Kitchen

The kitchen is often called the heart of the home but to the creative cook, it’s more like a studio where artistry takes place. Whether it’s keeping foodstuffs fresh or picking out the right gadgets for delicious cooking, a kitchen is a place where art and love combine in fabulous meals.

Here are some of the most popular kitchen tips from cooks everywhere. Some of them may be familiar, but good things always bear repeating. From “kitchen witches” to keep pots from boiling over to storing potatoes, apples and onions, every cook needs a little help now and then.

* When the budget is tight and the milk is past its expiration date, add a pinch of salt to the milk and it will keep longer. Salt will slow the rate of bacteria growth that sours milk.

* Store brown sugar in the freezer and it won’t harden. If it already has, however, give it a brief zap in a measuring cup in the microwave. Just a few seconds should warm up the molasses in the sugar and cause it to soften. Be careful not to burn the sugar, though.

* Wild rice will keep 3 to 4 months if frozen. Stored in the refrigerator, wild rice will last only about a week.

* When a whole can of tomato paste is too much for the recipe, try this trick: Spoon the leftover paste onto a piece of waxed paper (not plastic wrap!). Top this with another sheet of waxed paper and freeze it. Once frozen, peel off the waxed paper and store in a plastic bag in the freezer. Smaller amounts of tomato paste are now available without waste. Another option is to store small amount of tomato paste in an ice tray and pop them out when needed.

* Always turn meat with tongs during grilling. Using a fork pierces the meat and allows the juices to escape, resulting in tough, dry meat.

* Spray plastic storage containers with vegetable cooking spray to keep them from being stained by spaghetti sauce, chili or any tomato-based sauce.

* A quick spritz of vegetable cooking spray on a measuring spoon also makes it easy to get honey off. If you don’t have cooking spray, a drop or two of cooking oil or a quick rub with a dab of margarine will work as well.

* Remove burned food from a skillet by covering the bottom of the pan with water and adding a drop or two of dish soap. Bring this mixture to a boil on the stove, and burned-on food should be easy to remove.

* Always clean the grill thoroughly before firing up the barbecue. Not only is a dirty grill unappetizing, it could harbor bacteria and will definitely affect food’s flavor. Use both a scraper and a grill brush to remove any burned-on food, and rinse thoroughly. To avoid having to do such heavy cleaning again, spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray before starting the barbecue. Food will be much less likely to stick this way.