Some of these hacks make me more efficient and speed up processes. Some of them help us reduce waste. Others take already great ingredients and make them that much better. But all of them make my life easier.
My reasons for bakin’ my bacon instead of frying it are three fold…
First, the bacon comes out of the oven perfectly done every time, no matter how you like it. If you like it flimsy, take it out sooner. If you like your bacon crispy, let it bake a little longer.
Secondly, baking bacon doesn’t yield any splattered grease on my stove or counter tops or the lasting aroma that frying bacon leaves behind. Not that bacon smells bad. It doesn’t. It smells great, which is why I don’t want to have to smell it for a week, especially if it’s not what’s on the menu.
And thirdly, baked bacon comes outta the oven nice and flat and ready for my BLT instead of curled up.
Maybe you’re a fan of the haste that comes with frying bacon, the fragrance it leaves behind, or the way it curls up in the frying pan. But if you’re not, and think this method sounds as good as bacon tastes, getting started is simple. All you need is a shallow-sided baking sheet, an oven set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, bacon, and about 10-20 minutes depending on how crispy you like your bacon.
Pictured is bacon baked on our metal baking sheet. Normally, we use our stone baking sheet when we bake bacon, which helps keep the stone seasoned with all the grease. But if you only have metal and aren’t a huge fan of cleaning up all. the. grease. you can totes line your sheet with foil to make clean up easy peasy.
It’s true – the key to crisp celery that keeps for a month is aluminum foil. Celery tightly wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in the refrigerator will not only keep for at least a month, it will also remain crisp as the day you bought it.
Easy Wedged Potatoes
One day while I was awkwardly trying to cut potatoes into even wedges, I had an a-ha moment if you will. I immediately stopped what I was doing, went to the drawer, pulled out my apple corer-slicer, and proceeded to use it on the potatoes. And, friend – it was life changing!
I didn’t ever think about the way I chop onions as being a “hack”. It’s the way I’ve always done it and kind of thought it was the way most people did it. But not all that long ago, a friend witnessed me chopping an onion prepping for supper.
“Wow, that’s a way better way to chop an onion than the way I do it!” she exclaimed in a grateful my-life-has-just-been-changed sort of tone.
I chop an onion by first cutting the top off (stem end not the root end). I then cut the onion in half and remove the dry skin. I lay one half, cut side down, on the cutting board and make cuts with my knife toward the root. I take care to leave the root intact and not cut completely through tip to root. I work my way across the onion making additional cuts until I reach the other side. The width between each cut depends on how fine I need the chop.
After I’ve made my length-wise cuts, I turn the onion half and make similarly spaced cuts perpendicular to the first ones I made. And voila – you have a chopped onion. This method works because you’re using the onions natural layers to your benefit making less cuts and taking less time.
About a decade ago, I volunteered to make burgers for our local cattlemen’s affiliate annual summer barbecue, which at the time I volunteered seemed like a really good idea. It seemed like less of a good idea when it came time to patty 100+ burgers. But I put my thinking cap on and found a way to make all the patties on short time.
I spread a large piece of freezer paper (waxed and parchment work well too) out on my counter, placed a few pounds of ground beef on the paper, topped with a second sheet of paper, and started rolling out the ground beef. Once I had the beef rolled evenly to a decent thickness (half inch), I used a large glass to cut out the burgers.
I still use this method today when I need lots of burgers, but don’t have lots of time. However, nowadays, I use a large biscuit cutter instead of a glass. Both work beautifully.
Perfectly Ripened Avocado
Perfectly ripened avocado – that’s my dream whenever I buy avocado. Heck, it’s everyone’s dream. But, it seldom happened for me. I once bought twelve avocado only to find that six were varying shades of brown inside… 😭
I’m happy to say that doesn’t happen anymore. Why? Because I buy my avocado way before they’re ripe. When I get them home I put them in a brown paper sack and in 24-48 hours they come out perfectly ripened with no brown spots to speak of.
If I’m working on short time and need to ripen them more rapidly, I toss in some fruit. Apples seem to work best for me.
Recipes that ask me to “cut in” cold butter have always been my nemesis. Maybe it’s my pastry cutter or maybe it’s just me, but I find cutting in cold butter to be a bit of a challenge. That is until my Destiny (she’s my friend, her name is Destiny, and I think it’s fun to call her “my Destiny”) pointed me to grating my butter first.
I’m telling you, it’s SOOOOO much easier than trying to cut the stuff in. I run it over my grater, toss it in the mix, give it a toss, and away we go. It works beautifully.
If you’ve got hacks (kitchen or just life in general) that make your life easier, please leave them in the comments. I’m always looking to for new ways to make things easier.