The lockdown has naturally resulted in all of us spending much more time at home, and many of us enjoy spending most of that time in the kitchen!
Amateur cooks, bakers and restaurateurs have been honing their craft and discovering new culinary passions in their home kitchens, which explains the lack of specific ingredients all the stores seem to be experiencing at the moment. Bread flour, anyone?
But while you’re spending a lot of time in your kitchen why not make the most of the tools and the environment you have to work with? It’ll make your cooking life so much more enjoyable!
Here are 5 kitchen hacks to make your life easier:
Make use of cupboard doors
Storage is the one thing most of us struggle with at home. Nowhere seems to have a dedicated place, but everywhere needs one! This is especially true in the kitchen.
Everything from pots and pans to herbs and spices always seems to end up somewhere silly, and it almost always ends up looking like a cluttered mess.
But did you know the cupboards you’ve been relying on to keep everything tidy can offer more storage than you’re used to?
Take advantage of your cupboard doors by reconditioning them to house whatever your heart desires!
You can fit a small spice rack right on the inside to keep your paprika and dried parsley safe.
Or you could even install a series of simple hooks to tuck some of the peskier plates or pans you have lying around.
The possibilities are practically endless and only limited by your imagination!
Sink chopping boards
Chopping is one of the most tedious tasks in any chef’s timeline. But what’s even more tedious is the never-ending clean up that comes one everything is sliced and diced.
Undoubtedly, you’ll never be able to keep all your unwanted peelings in one place; They always end up scattered around your counter making even more mess. Or worse, on the floor. Time to break out the dreaded mop!
But did you know there are chopping boards specifically designed to fit over your sink to help you deal with this incessant problem?
Sink chopping boards are large enough to fit over your entire sink bowl, allowing you to chop to your heart’s content and brush your off-cuts into the sink for easy gathering and clean-up!
If chopping has become the bane of your lockdown life, it might be time to invest in one!
Deglaze for the best sauces & gravy
This is a classic trick of the cooking trade, yet so few people actually take advantage of it!
If you’re looking to spice up your next meal without too much fuss, making your own fresh sauces and gravy is just the ticket you’re looking for.
The next time you’re roasting a piece of meat, be it beef, chicken, lamb or otherwise, lay it atop a bed of roughly chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, red onions, or whatever you want!
Then, once your meat is cooked through to your liking, remove it from the tray and you should find the fat has dripped down into the veggies to produce a brown or black, sticky burn-like substance on the bottom.
Don’t throw it all away, it’s worth its weight in gold!
Instead, place the tray with the veggies on your hob on medium heat, add a couple of tablespoons of flour and begin to scrape the stickiness off the bottom of the tray. Then, once you’ve moved a good amount of it, add a glass of water, stock or a cheap wine to fully deglaze the tray.
Add any other flavourings you want, let this simmer down for a few minutes, and you’ve got the makings of the best gravy or sauce you’ve ever made. Simple!
Use your oven as a proving drawer
We’ve all been watching far too much Bake Off, which means we’ve all been going crazy with our baking now that there’s not much else to do!
But proofing freshly-made bread at home can be a bit difficult if you don’t have a dedicated proofing-drawer like the ones we see Paul Hollywood getting worked up over all the time.
So instead of just leaving your bread dough out on the side to prove, try popping it in your oven.
But don’t turn it on! We’re still in the proving phase, not the baking phase. Instead, add a bowl of hot water covered with a cloth or kitchen towel to the bottom of your oven and close the door.
The residual heat from the bowl should offer enough warmth to allow your bread to prove properly, just like on Bake Off. Try it and see for yourself! You’ll be Star Baker in no time.
Baking soda your bin
Now we know you must have some spare baking soda lying around with all the baking you’ve been doing, right?
Well, it turns out that baking soda has many more uses apart from just helping your cakes to rise.
Whether it’s before or after it starts filling up, add a sprinkle of baking soda to your bin to help absorb any unwanted stinkiness that might be leaking its way out. It’ll help your kitchen stay smelling clean and fresh and help you focus on the more important things, like the lemon drizzle you put in the oven half an hour ago!
You can also use baking soda as a cleaning agent to help remove any dried-on or smelly messes on the inside of your bin, so be sure to add a small amount the next time you plan on scrubbing the stinky thing.
But these are just a handful of suggestions, you might have some other secret kitchen hacks up your sleeve!