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Volume III
September 16, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Repurposing in the Kitchen - A Clever Way to Solve Problems

By Alice Osborne

Repurposing is the way we can squeeze extra and often clever uses out of everyday stuff. And much of this everyday stuff is found in our kitchens.

Take cornstarch for instance: It lifts grease from fabrics and carpet. Just give the spill a good covering of cornstarch, wait 15 to 30 minutes, then vacuum. This common cooking ingredient can also balance the oiliness of moisturizing makeup by brushing on a thin layer as a finishing touch.

And then there's that trusty friend, cooking spray. It can set a manicure fast when you lightly mist newly painted nails - instant smudge protection. Who knew! Cooking spray also makes cleaning candleholders a snap.

For votives, for instance, spritz the inside of the holder before inserting the candle. After the candle burns down, any dripped wax will easily lift out.

A gardener friend shared a tip she uses religiously - she sprays both sides of her shovels with this stuff before any digging, and she never has any dirt build-up.

Finally, I like to coat both sides of my cheese grater with cooking spray - the cheese just slides off and cleaning the grater afterwards is a breeze.

Now here's a repurposing tip that you'll put me in your will for, if you don't already do this. I use my bundt pan to cut corn from the cob. I place the ear on the raised center of the pan, and as I slide the knife down, the corn simply falls into the pan. Talk about less mess!

This is the best! A gourmet-cook friend of mine does this when she serves tacos: She lines each taco shell with a lettuce leaf - it contains the meat and toppings and prevents the bottom of the shell from going soggy. I also like the idea that I'm getting even more roughage as well. Is this not smart?

A mesh strainer makes a terrific hard boiled egg crumbler. I wouldn't use a tiny meshed strainer for this - the looser the mesh the better. I place the strainer over a large bowl, push several eggs through at once, and voila, in no time I have all the wonderfully crumbled egg I could want for salads, and sandwiches.

Finally, the lowly banana peel. Yes, it too has another purpose. Did you know we can plant these at the base of rosebushes and we'll get healthier roses? Me either. All we need to do is cut the peel in a few pieces and dig down an inch around the base of our bushes. Drop the peels, cover, water, and let nature take its course. The potassium in the peel feeds the plant and helps fend off diseases.

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