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Could Be Helpful|My Version Of The Friday Roundup

This post is inspired by Colleen Wainwright, aka The Communicatrix, who takes a minute or two each Friday to send a shout out to five cool things/people/peoplewiththings that she finds when she’s poking around the internets.  I’d really like this blog to be helpful (hence the “could be helpful” category), so I started thinking that publishing a “Friday Five” of my own would be a good idea – instead of five cool things, I’m going for five things that I think are helpful.  Ideally, they’ll be in the kitchen, but probably not limited to the kitchen and not limited to cooking (mostly because I’m not sure I can come up with five helpful things for cooking every week).

So if you read regularly – or check regularly – check back on Fridays and if I’m true to my word, there will be at least one post for you to read…

Friday Five (the first!)

Using Baking Soda To Clean Your Stainless

First tip and it’s not to do with cooking!  Well, this one really is helpful.  We have a stainless steel tea kettle and boy does it get nasty.  Grease all over it, which bakes on from the heat of the stove and the oven.  I was worried about scrubbing it, because stainless scratches, but discovered (somewhere on the interwebs) that baking soda and a toothbrush or even a washcloth or dishcloth will  make that stainless gleam!  It’s a great thing to do when you want an instantly gratifying project – and it makes the husband happy too.  Just rub the stainless with a good amount of baking soda (that old box in the back of the fridge will work fine) and water until the gunk comes off.  Rinse with water.  Beautiful!

Soak Rice For At Least 30 Minutes Before Cooking And Use Double The Water To Rice

The husband loves jasmine rice and hates pots that have burnt rice stuck to them (I agree wholeheartedly).  He discovered that if you use two cups of water to every cup of rice (most rice will say to use one and a half cups of water to one cup of rice) and let the rice soak in the water for a half hour or more before cooking, you can bring to the boil, stir well, turn down to the lowest simmer and cover for 20 minutes and have perfect rice – without it sticking to the pan. It works every time.  We love it.

How To Cut Up A Chicken

This isn’t mine, but this is how I learned how to cut up a chicken.  Chicken is healthy, inexpensive and really yummy when it’s cooked properly (will be posting on that soon).  Buying boneless skinless chicken is expensive and totally unnecessary – save yourself some money by learning how to cut up and take the bones out yourself.  Not only will you save money, it’s pretty satisfying. (ok, truth be told, this is not the video I learned on, but it’s actually better – and note, the guy takes 4 and a half minutes to cut the chicken up and he’s teaching you how to do it.  Once you get it down, it’ll take you 3 minutes or less.).

Browning Stuff In Non-Non-Stick Frying Pans

This is something I wish someone would have told me ages ago.  When you brown something in a pan without a non-stick coating (which you really should for the most brownness), don’t worry too much if it seems to be sticking.  Cook whatever it is on high and eventually, it will release itself.  If you don’t believe me (and I understand why you wouldn’t, it made me nervous the first time), try it on a little piece of something as a test.  Whatever it is (beef, pork, chicken) will seem to be totally stuck, but eventually, it’ll let go.  And be gorgeously brown.  And leave stuff for deglazing in the pan.  Ahhhhhh….yes!

How To Check Your Oven Temperature Without A Thermometer

This is cheating a bit, because I already posted this, but this blog rates number one on Google for “how to check your oven temperature without a thermometer,” so I figured I’d cement that spot.  This is the original Cook’s Illustrated video that I posted a while back that explains how to do it.  Here’s the link.  Warning!  Cook’s Illustrated tends to make their videos available only for a short time, so if they pull it again, essentially what you do is…Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a half hour. Put a half cup of 70 degree tap water in your 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in the oven and close the door. After 15 minutes, take the measuring cup out of the oven and take the water’s temperature with your thermometer. Swirl the water around to make sure the temperature is even. The thermometer should read 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ok, that’s it for the first Friday Five.  Hope it’s  helpful!



  1. What an excellent idea for a roundup! I’m glad my crazy links inspired something so useful. That oven-temp thing is genius. If I had nothing but time, I’d sit around and read Cook’s Illustrated all day. What a great mag.
    Colleen Wainwright´s last blog post ..Poetry Thursday- All the things I wear because the ugly is too awful to bear

  2. David says:

    The other easy option for oven calibration is sugar: it caramelizes at precisely 367F, so if you put a small dish of sugar in your oven at 350F and leave it, it should never caramelize (even after an hour or two!), but if you bump the temperature up to 375F, it should caramelize almost instantly.
    David´s last blog post ..D- Easy meals- part 4

  3. Kathlyn says:

    Genius idea! I love it. It’s actually less labor intensive than the Cook’s Illustrated method – thanks!!

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