Defrosting on the fly

The last hip trick was all about freezing stuff, so this week’s post will be about unfreezing. Ah, defrosting. Leisurely defrosting is the kind of thing people who plan ahead do. To be one of those kinds of kitchen people, I strive. 

The plan-ahead people will usually safely defrost by just putting something in the fridge and cooking it the next day when it’s fully defrosted. Well, for the non-plan-ahead types, running something under a tiny stream of cold water (for a maximum of 2 hours) is also an acceptable way to defrost, and quickly at that. However, I don’t feel so great about letting all that water trickle down the drain.

I used a gallon jar (another great way to use them around the house) to capture batches of water as we defrosted some fish filets last night. Yes, you have to periodically monitor the progress of the jar, but your houseplants (or trees or garden) will be so happy you did.

Taming the spice stash

I was delighted when a friend brought me a bunch of little glass vitamin jars last year. With a little citrus oil (to remove gunky labels) and a bottle brush to give them a good interior cleaning (and rid them of their previous inhabitants’ odor), I was finally able to create homes for the lingering spice bags in our drawer.

When considering containers for reuse keep in mind that they should be glass, and, if possible, opaque to keep light from taking a toll on freshness. Add a few shakes of baking soda, fill with hot water and soak overnight to rid odor from persistently stinky jars. 

Use a metallic sharpie for labeling the glass jar; erase with rubbing alcohol if your containers’ contents change.

Put a pull on it

You may recall a hip trick from a few months back telling you to be on the look-out for roadside find pulls. Here’s an idea for using a drawer pull as a creative hook alternative. 

You’ll want to be sure to find a beam and drill directly into it in order for the pull to remain sturdy and useful. Use a drill bit slightly smaller than the base of your pull and drill about 1” deep. Screw the pull into the drilled hole. If a beam doesn’t line up with where you want to place hooks, then use a cute piece of wood as a base to drill then screw in your pull(s). (You can use long drywall screws or a hollow wall anchor to affix the wood piece to the wall.)

Voila, instant cute and creative pegs!

A delicious way to use citrus peels

This hip trick comes to us courtesy of my Hudson Valley pals, Julia and Kaela. Kaela put me up during my travels in the area and we ate our way through the weekend, as to be expected!

Prior to my arrival, she stuffed spent citrus peels and rinds inside a chicken and roasted it over potatoes and vegetables, which also had a few large citrus halves (any smaller and you’ll bite into them accidentally after roasting) tossed in for good measure. What a delicious way to use trash!

Waste not, packaging turned scrubber

This hip trick comes to us from Susan, host of KOOP radio show, Food Love Austin. Susan hosted our Austin food swap a few months back and I noticed this ingenious trick for making use of wine sleeves that might otherwise end up in the trash.

Use these plastic grates as scrubbers for doughs and batters that wreak havoc on your regular sponge/dish scrubby and simply rinse it out when you’re finished!

Roadside find alert: drawer pull upcycle

While the cabinet or dresser left out for trash might not be worth your effort to haul it home, check the pulls. Drawer pulls are a simple, inexpensive (if not free!) way to spruce existing furniture. Consider using them in other areas of the house as a creative hook alternative.

p.s. It helps to travel with tools; a small screwdriver with interchangeable heads now lives in our glove box (after I removed these using a jutted out groove of our house key and some strategic pressure).

Don't pitch that

Keep half of that cool card someone sent you! The side without writing on the back can be easily repurposed into a postcard. If there’s writing on the back of both sides, trim the card into smaller squares or rectangles, slather some glue on it and paste it to a blank card (aka a sheet of heavier weight cardstock folded in half) and you have a new card.

Grab a a plain envelope to fit it at the stationary store (or get creative and make your own) and you’re in snail mail business.

Windy City outdoor entertaining tip

This hip trick comes to us courtesy of Jennifer in Chicagoland, the host of my recent houseparty there who dazzled me with her clever home ideas. Here’s one of them, which is also featured on her blog.  

Fall is here, snatch up these last few weeks for outdoor entertaining. Create ambiance by using old lamp and light bulb domes as outdoor candle holders. Wind protection, fire hazard protection and possibly some pretty kaleidoscope action, depending on your dome. Be sure to re-purpose domes that have both a top and bottom opening (or be sure the flame is allowed to vent out of the single opening).