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Try These Cool Kitchen Hacks

Nancy Leson
The skewer knife stand at Edmonds' Ono Poke

Nancy Leson thought it was just about the coolest thing she ever saw – a knife stand made of closely packed wooden skewers atOno Poke in Edmonds. A better use than watching them char and crumble over hot coals no matter how long you soak them.  I suggested a superior skewer.

Which sent us off on a few of our favorite kitchen hacks.  You'll find  some here and some in the audio  –including a trick for a crisper shrimp, using  the cardboard in a roll of paper towels to store Ziplocs, the best way to re-heat pizza, and an egg separation hack that has to be seen (in the video below) to be believed.

How Ms. Leson Rolls.  Nancy likes to use a piece of that rubberized mesh her husband Mac calls "Irish Linen" under cutting her boards to prevent slipping.  A smaller piece makes a great jar opener.  She also re-purposes the cardboard roll in paper towels as a stash for used Ziploc bags.

Credit Nancy leson / KNKX
Nancy's "Irish Linen" and Ziploc rolls.

"Soak in water for at least 30 minutes before using."  Yeah, right. I've soaked those wooden skewers for hours and they still charred on the grill.  Then I wised up and bought a set of flat stainless skewers.  They can't burn and the flat surface keeps the kabobs or sate from spinning when you turn them.  If  you grill anything on a skewer, do yourself a favor this summer and make it metal.

Avoid the Pounding Headache.  Ever read a recipe that tells you to pound meat with a cast iron skillet?  Seriously?  You'd need forearms like Popeye.  I use a rubber mallet I picked up cheap at the auto parts.  Slip the meat into an old Ziploc and have at it.

Where the Brave Fear to Go.  The inside of the KNKX microwave oven looked like a squirrel had exploded and dried to a multi-colored crust. While the rest of  the staff recoiled in terror, I did not fear to cleanse it.  For lo, I was armed with the righteous power of vinegar.  Boil a small bowl of it in your microwave for five minutes and everything will wipe right off with a paper towel.  Just watch out for the fumes when you open the door.  

Fun With Egg Separation.  Nance and I usually just let the white drip through our slightly widened fingers while we retain the yolk in our palms. It's fast and easy but this way is more fun.  And if you need underage help in the kitchen, kids will love it.

"What a grand thing it is to be clever and to have common sense." – Terrence

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.