Win Ratatouille prizes!


Animation geeks always look forward to a new Pixar movie, and we at Lifehacker are certainly among those who've been hanging out for the release of their latest movie, Ratatouille.

I'm happy to announce that to celebrate the opening day of Ratatouille on 6 September, we're running our first Lifehacker AU giveaway.

In the spirit of this movie about a rat who dreams of being a chef, we'll be giving out prizes to the readers who submit the best cooking or food related tips. Because we're kind and we realise that not everyone's a whiz in the kitchen, you can also submit a mouse-related tip (that's as in point-and-click mouse, no tips for vermin removal thank you very much!)

The best tip will win you a hardcover, limited edition "Art of Ratatouille" book, while 4 runners-up will receive a prize pack consisting of Ratatouille apron, kitchen timer and stationery kit.

To enter, leave your best tips here in the comments section. If you have multiple tips, leave multiple comments - go mad!

See here for the official terms and conditions.

And thanks to our friends at Disney for donating the prizes! :)



    simple; buy in bulk to save money and resources.
    for example, we buy massive jugs of olive oil and use them to refill a fancy-looking regular sized bottle that is easier to use on a daily basis.

    we also label all our jars with strange names to confuse the guests... the coffee jar says "grandpa" and the confectioners sugar says "dreams (crushed)."

    it makes cooking fun.

    I previously thought the George Foreman grill was the handiest cooking gadget but now its my $30 electric steamer. Steam chicken, veggies, rice, whatever you want. Tastes great (especially carrots) and its better for you than frying.

    In a word: Soup!!

    Apart from the fact that nothing can beat it on a cold winters day it can be a real money saver too.

    This discovery came about when my fiancée had to go overseas for a month as part of her studies. It just so happened to coincide with some of the coldest weeks of winter.

    Not being the greatest chef myself I popped down to the supermarket for a 'soup pack' (carrot, celery, onion, etc. all pre-wrapped), smoked ham hock or bacon bones and a bag of split peas. I boiled it on the stove for a couple of hours (mostly unattended) and the result lasted me for about 3 weeks.

    Unfortunately by the time I'd used it all up I was thoroughly sick of soup and more than ready for my fiancée to come back, but 3 weeks worth of dinners for less than $20 isn't too bad?

    The biscuits are called "Kourabiedes" but may be better known as Greek short-bread biscuits with icing sugar on top.

    Google the recipe and you'll find stacks of ways to prepare them, however my tip is to replace the ingredient of "brandy" with "Baileys".

    I can assure you... a Bailey's Kourabiede is heaven.

    Pancakes. Can. Be. Frozen.

    This was a revelation to me. All you have to do is make a double batch next time you're in the mood. Eat one half of the cooked pancakes while the other half cools. Then stack the cold ones into "serves" (two or three pancakes) separated by squares of baking paper. Put each serve into a freezer bag, suck out the air, seal and sling them into the freezer.

    To reheat, just put them - unwrapped - onto a plate and microwave for 15-20 seconds. Near-instant dull Tuesday pick-me-up.

    The texture is retained remarkably well for the fluffy kind of pancake. Haven't tried it with crepes, but I don't see why it wouldn't work as well. Just keep an eye on them in the microwave, you don't want to turn them into rubber coasters.

    If you cook your meals larger and freeze the excess, you can cook once a week, and always have something easy to make for you or the family after a long day when you don't feel like cooking. By making it a family event and getting everyone to help, you spend good quality time together, and free up time in the week to catch up with each other instead of working at home.

    Learn how to debone a chicken. WIth a small, sharp knife that fits into your palm well, once you get the hang of it, it should only take 10-15 minutes to debone all the bird, but much less if you're just aiming to get the good meat (breasts and thighs) off. It doesn't matter if you hack up the meat a bit, as for dishes like curries, it's perfect. Boil the bones in salted water with some herbs for a few hours and you have good, cheap (relatively) stock.

    Now combine hints! Freeze the stock in ice-cube trays, and you'll always be at the ready.

    I have a recipe for a DIY mouse pad for optical mice.

    I have always used a blank piece of paper taped to my desk instead of a mouse pad. The tracking accuracy of optical mice always seemed much better on paper than on a desk or a fabric mouse pad. And it was cheap too!

    I recently acquired a laminator. Laminating the sheet renders my paper impervious to wear, and provides a frictionless surface without affecting the tracking. You can also choose to laminate a useful document for a mouse pad (I use the CSS cheat sheet).

    Currently I am using an empty laminator sheet (run through a laminator so it is stiff and clear) stuck to my desk with tape at the top and bottom so that I can slide paper underneath easily. This setup allows me to keep any useful notes, reminders or todo lists literally at hand.

    Eggs are the easiest meal to create. HERE IS MY FAVOURITE. Scrambling is best personally. Place three eggs into a bowl, whisk, cook flat as a pancake, place streamed rice in between, place cut tomatoes on top & then... yeah. :) Delicious!

    To make schnitzel taste better, add herbs and spices such as paprika, parsley, ground oregano and basil to the egg you use to drench the meat.

    To give rice an added boost of flavour, add stock powder to it before cooking and mix. It's absolutely delicious

    I learnt this from my mum.
    Cover the cooking workspace with one or two sheets of newspaper before you start cooking/chopping/etc.
    It's a great place to put vegetable peels, egg shells, the spatula dripping oil, etc. If anything falls off the chopping board, it falls straight onto the newspaper.
    In the end, just roll up the newspaper into a ball and toss in the bin.
    No cleanup!

    Want to impress everyone with a great desert next time you have a BBQ or guests for dinner but are afraid you don't have the skills, then this is the dish for you: Caramelized Grilled Bananas.

    Take 1 banana per person and halve it lengthways leaving the skin on. Place all the bananas skin side down on a tray and sprinkle Brown sugar liberally over the top. Be as messy as you like it makes you look like Jamie Oliver and is half the fun. Drizzle light streaks of honey over all the bananas. Whack under the grill or on the BBQ hotplate for 5 mins or until the brown sugar is bubbling and caramelized but not burnt. Take out and leave the skins on, serve on plate or shallow bowl with Ice Cream or Mascarpone. You can also add some strawberries or small berries to make it look awesome.

    Stand back and bask in the praise.

    Handy rat-saving tip.
    When trying to save a rat from your cat, do not pick said rat up.
    They bite. They don't let go for a long time.
    Please use a long broom or object of considerable length to shoo them away. Thus saving the rat's life and your finger.
    I saved a rat last month and my finger got infected. I went to hospital ...twice and had two operations.
    But the rat was saved, and I still have my finger.
    I also still like rats:) Just won't be picking them up anytime soon.

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