Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tips n Tricks Tuesday

1. Last week I almost severed my own arm trying to stab apart a solid block of brown sugar with a butter knife. Cursing my own laziness for failing to properly seal up the box, I rummaged around in the cabinet and found another box of brown sugar which also resembled a brick. Grr. But luckily I found this little item at Sur La Table for $2.99. The directions are simple--soak for 15 minutes, dry off, then place in an airtight container with the sugar. In a couple of days my brown sugar was back to its soft crumbly glory and baking was safe again. I've since read that you could also use a sliced apple, but if you're buying local and seasonal, then who has apples now, anyway?

2. When you live alone as I do, you think about things like, upon which piece of furniture could I perform the Heimlich Maneuver should the need arise? If I die at home will my body be found before my cats start to devour me? Also: how am I going to open pickle jars when I'm 80 if I can barely do it now? With these. My sister gave me a package of these grippy things, swearing by them and by God she was right. No more whacking on the counter, running under hot water, willing a body builder to walk through the front door--simply not necessary. These grips make you the Incredible Hulk.

3. In these belt-tightening times, how can I possibly justify buying this $10 rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods? It helps if you're in the middle of a heat wave as we were last week and the idea of any movement at all, let alone turning on the oven, is just abhorrent. But just really use the heck out of it, no waste at all. That means chicken the first night--with sides or just pulled off by the fistful depending how hungry you are. Then tear up bits of leftover meat for chicken salad. Give the weird parts to the cats, who will be appreciative. Then chuck the carcass and skin into a pot, cover with water and boil. In less than an hour you'll have glorious chicken broth. Pour it through a fine sieve, then freeze in 1-2 cup Tupperwares. This morning I defrosted a brothsicle in a pan, then cooked some brown rice in it. It adds wonderful flavor and depth. I'm eating a bowl of brothy rice with white beans and a sprinkling of feta and it's delish. You could also use it to cook greens, the flavor and fat adds nummy richness or as a soup base. Or you could pour some in your cats wet food for extra liquid and feline happiness. If you're feeling poorly, you could just sip it like tea, though you may want to skim the fat off first.

4. I love my pop open laundry basket. It's perfect for low-storage living because when it's not being used, it flattens completely to slide into a skinny slice of closet space. Unless of course the cats are playing with it, which I try not to do since their favorite game is for one of them to get in it, then they attack each other through the mesh. This is also their favorite shower curtain game, which is why I'll be buying cheap Ikea shower curtains until they're old and feeble. By the way, my laundry basket was $1 at Walgreen's--the website says 2 for $5 but go to your local store and check it out.

5. Battling kitten poop odors? Me, too. Unfortunately I haven't yet found a product or device that can contain the eye watering stench emanating from my cats asses. Tips welcome.

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