Learning to cook is hard enough without spills, smells, smoke and bugs getting in your way. Here are our 10 biggest kitchen annoyances, and the clever methods you can use to solve them.
10. Avoid Spills Inside And Outside Your Fridge
We're all a little groggy in the morning, and if you tend to have trouble pouring your morning orange juice — especially when that jug is particularly full — you can make it easier on yourself by putting a chopstick (or other stick-like object) across the mouth. The water will stick to the rod and flow into your glass rather than dribbling all down the jug and making a mess. Check out the video to the left to see Mr Bill Nye himself show it in action. And if your spills are more likely to happen in the fridge with plastic packets, you can use magnets to keep those at bay, too.
9. Eradicate Fruit Flies Once And For All
Got a little insect infestation? Fruit flies are something we all have to deal with once in our lives, and they can be difficult to get rid of once they've settled in. Luckily, you can make an effective trap using just a bit of apple cider vinegar. Pour some in a glass, add a drop or two of detergent to break the surface tension and watch the little buggers start sinking to the bottom when they come over for their afternoon snack.
8. Stabilise Messy Pizzas
Some nights you just don't want to cook and those nights become pizza delivery nights. Eating the pizza is often easier said than done, though, particularly when the toppings fall right off. This is usually because the pizza was cut right after it was cooked, before anything has had a chance to set and cool. To avoid this problem in the future, order your pizza uncut and cut it yourself. You'll be a lot happier with the results. Image: Robert Duncan.
7. Soothe (And Prevent) The Burn From Chillies
Ever cook with chillies, then rub your eye only to spend the rest of the night in agony? It's a pretty awful feeling, but you can soothe that burn the same way you'd soothe it after eating those chillies: with a little milk. Flush out your eyes with some milk and you should find relief pretty quickly. If you don't have milk nearby, sugar can help, too. To avoid the problem in the future, rub some olive oil on your hands after working with chillies to get the oils off your hands — sometimes regular water doesn't do the trick. Image: Marlon Bunday.
6. Prevent Soft Drinks From Fizzing Over
Some of us can be a little overzealous when pouring a cold glass of Coke and it fizzes up so much that it overflows. The problem is particularly bad if you have ice in your glass, because that ice has lots of nucleation points on it for bubbles to form. The solution? Get your ice wet before you put it in the glass. It'll keep the soft drink from fizzing so much and stop you from making a mess. If you've accidentally shaken up your soft drink can, you can fix that by tapping on the can or just waiting a minute before you crack it open.
5. Make Refrigerated Butter Spreadable
Getting a new stick of butter out of the fridge is the worst. You end up with a rock hard stick that you can't spread on your toast and microwaving it makes a mess all over your plate. Here's a clever fix: use a cheese grater to "grate" the butter onto your toast, which will melt faster and spread like a dream.
4. Clean Your Microwave Without The Hassle
No matter how careful you are, microwaves get dirty over time, and you're going to have to get in there and clean it. But instead of rubbing off all that dry, caked-in food, make your microwave scrub-ready with a little water. By placing a bowl of water in the microwave and running it, you'll loosen up all that gunk and make it much easier to wipe away. You can also add some lemon or vinegar to the water if you like, or even microwave a wet sponge — not only will you disinfect the sponge, but you're ready to wipe down the inside right then and there!
3. Keep Onion-Cutting Tears At Bay
If cutting an onion brings on the waterworks, you can try a few things to hold those tears back. Try putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breathing through your mouth, or cut the cone out of the onion first, since that's the source of eye irritants. You can also soak them in water, but this will give your onions a milder flavour, so only use if you want to bring down the taste, too. Image: Jennifer Dickert.
2. De-Stink Fish And Other Smelly Foods
The smell of sizzling fish is wonderful when you're cooking, the smell of raw meat isn't always the most pleasant. If you want to kill the odour of that fishy fillet, try soaking your smellier foods in milk before you cook them, or adding some peanut butter to the pan. While you're killing smells, too, you might want to check out this video on de-stinking your garlic hands with a metal spoon.
1. Stop The Smoke Detector From Going Off Every Time You Cook
Smoke alarms are an important tool in any household, but sometimes they're just plain annoying. If your smoke alarm has a tendency to go off when you cook, you can use a shower cap or plastic bag to temporarily "disable" it. Some alarms even have a built-in function that disables it for 15 minutes. Image: Michael Hicks.