To kill bacteria in kitchen sponges and similar cleaning items, put them into the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, then wash in the usual way.
To open stubborn caps and lids on kitchen items, take a church key bottle opener and place the end under the cap and slowly pry upward until you hear the air release and then open. Piercing the cap with a skewer or other suitable metal object to release the air also works.
Put two or three lumps of sugar in with the cheese in your fridge or cupboard to stop it going mouldy.
To help keep packed lunches at a safe temperature, freeze a part of the lunch, such as a small tub of yoghurt or a juicebox. Pop it into an insulated lunchbag and it will keep the rest of the lunch chilled until lunchtime.
Four top tips when cooking with onions or garlic.
If you stick you tongue out while chopping onions it will stop you crying! Alternatively, chop the onion close to a running tap. Chemicals in the onions are attracted to the nearest source of liquid.
Rub your hands with vinegar before and after slicing onions - this will eliminate the smell. If you forget to do this and get the scent of onions on your hands, just run the cold water tap and rub your hands on the chrome fixture. Works like magic!
When peeling garlic, bash the clove with the side of a knife or cleaver and the skin will lift away easily.
To avoid garlic-smelling fingers for what seems days on end here's a great tip. Before peeling and chopping, coat your finger tips with a little olive oil. When you're done, just wash normally with soap and there'll be no smell.
If you want your pork chops to taste even better, sprinkle with soy sauce as you grill them on the cooker or barbeque.
To bake a moist ham, pour a can of Coke into the baking pan, cover with aluminium foil and bake. Remove the foil 30 minutes before the end of cooking time. The dripping, combined with the Coke, provides a delicious brown base for gravy.
To remove fat from soups or gravies, take the outside leaves from a lettuce that you would normally throw away and wipe them over the soup or gravy. The fat adheres to the leaf beautifully.
When preparing tuna salad, chicken salad or potato salad, pre-chill all the ingredients beforehand. This keeps this potentially hazardous food from getting to temperatures where harmful microorganisms will grow. Most people believe that the mayonnaise is the culprit, but actually because commercially prepared mayonnaise contains lemon and various stabilisers, it actually insulates the meat and potatoes. Place in the fridge to maintain a temperature of 41 degrees.
Instant potatoes are excellent for thickening gravy, soups etc. Instant mash doesn't make lumps like flour.
To prevent foam from forming and boiling over when boiling pasta in water, put a couple of drops of vegetable oil in the water.
To make water boil faster, use a tablespoon of vinegar, especially for potatoes, it will also make them whiter.
To make potatoes fluffier - when you are mashing them add a pinch of baking soda, they will turn out really fluffy and taste better too.
Another way to separate egg yolks from whites is to crack the egg and pour it into you hand, letting the white slip through your fingers.
The best way to remove excess water from frozen spinach after it has thawed is to put it in a potato ricer and give it a good squeeze - it works a treat.
Never salt meat before cooking, it will draw out all the juices and toughen it.
When cooking a leg of lamb, stab holes into it and stuff them with pieces of garlic. The pieces dissolve during cooking and add flavour and tenderness to the meat. Sprinkling dried or fresh rosemary on top adds a nice flavour too.
A quick and effective way to "Smoke" food at home:
Take the tea out of about 10 tea bags (or use loose tea) and mix together with 8 oz. of demerara sugar and 8 oz. of long grain rice.
Line a Wok with tinfoil, put the mixture on top and cover with another piece of foil. Lay your trout, salmon, chicken breast or duck - or whatever you are cooking - on top of the foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with lid. Leave to cook on a gradual heat for about 15 or 20 minutes.
This will give the food a delicious "smoked" taste.