Kitchen Hacks

Whether you're a cooking novice or master home chef, it's always fun to discover new tips to use in the kitchen! For our first discussion, we shared our favorite kitchen "hacks". We've got a virtual pantry stocked full with tips, gadgets, and recipes that's just waiting to be explored by home cooks like you.

May 29, 2019

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Audio Transcript


What’s Cooking? – Kitchen Hacks

Presented by Elyse Heinrich and Pam Winters

May 29, 2019

Elyse Heinrich: Hello everyone and welcome. We'd like to welcome you all to our new group "What's Cooking?". I'll give a short introduction to our new group, myself and Pam, as we are co-facilitators. And to start us off I have an article with 21 cooking tips to try. I sure hope that you could add some more to this list today for all of us to learn about.

A few months ago, Hadley staff reached out to you, the learners, to do a poll asking what you are interested about or what you'd like to join. One idea that was voted on is this topic: "Cooking Ideas with Tips, Tricks, and Different Things to Try". So Pam and I are here to facilitate this group.

So today just to get the ball rolling I've gathered an article. It's called "21 Cooking Tips That Will Change Your Life" for different things to try in the kitchen. So, I'll read through and describe some of these for the group and then just plan to open up the microphone for a group discussion.

Like Pam was saying, please add in your experiences or if you've used any of these what your feedback is, good or bad. And what you might have learned and found out might help someone else in their cooking. And we're here to share some ideas. And also we might have some other ones that we haven't mentioned that you've tried and we might like to try as well. We may have people with all different abilities on the call, so please do share your ideas it'll help us all learn together. And like Pam said we'll be jotting down resources and this page will be posted for show notes so you can look at it later as well. So, this is my good old tried and true website called B-u-z-z-f-e-e-d like the animal, buzz like a bee. Buzzfeed has 21 cooking tips that will change your life and save you lots of time, so that's time that can be spent eating but remember that safety is number one regarding all of these in the kitchen.

So the first one talks about corn on the cob. And after it's boiled or cooked, cooled off so you're able to hold it, you can use two different bowls to cut the corn off the cob without getting kernels everywhere. How do you do that? You're gonna wrap a small bowl in a paper towel, like a cereal bowl size, and you wrap it in a paper towel to keep it from slipping. Then you take that upside down inside of a larger bowl. And the picture has a big mixing bowl. Or a bundt pan works really well too, if you have one. So the small bowl is on upside down on top of the large bowl. Then you can hold the ear of corn vertically and take your knife, slicing downwards, to cut off the corn and it's caught into the large bowl, without a big old mess.

Another tip about corn on the cob, you can microwave an ear of corn and it will fall right out of the husk, instead of boiling it. Or sometimes people do it on the grill. Here's a gentleman wearing a oven mitt, two oven mitt gloves, holding the husk of the corn and letting it fall right out after it's microwaved. And they suggest for about four minutes in the microwave.

For another idea for a head of lettuce- to instantly core the lettuce, you're gonna hold onto it and slam down on a cutting board. So they're kind of holding it like a football, your two hands are on either side, and pushing down pretty firmly on the cutting board to split it open to core lettuce. Cracking the stem, without having to cut it off.

This one talks about pasta. You can pre-soak pasta and it will cook in about 30 seconds. It may sound weird, but it works. You soak the pasta in water in a sealed bag for a couple of hours, or you can even leave it overnight. When you're ready to cook it, it will be super fast. In boiling water, just add it straight to the... it will be super fast in boiling water or if you have a hot sauce ready in a pan, you can also put the noodles in there and let them finish cooking.

This one talks about an avocado. To pit, carefully use a sharp knife to poke the pit and then take it out. The safest way is to put the avocado down on the cutting board first and have some sort of protective glove or you can even use an oven mitt and then use the knife to poke the pit and pull it out. Also those sticky Dycem mats may work to hold the item, the half of the avocado steady on the counter. And you can slice the avocado right in the skin to make neat cubes. So once the pit is out, you have the half of avocado in the palm of your hand. I found a butter knife would work very well to just do some simple scoring and you can make cubes or slices, whichever you'd like for your recipe. And you can scoop out the rest of it with a spoon. A good old tried and true tip they have is to put a dishtowel or a damp paper towel under your cutting board to keep it from slipping and wobbling.

For the fruit lovers out here, this is for peeling a kiwi from the inside out. You can use a spoon to peel a kiwi from the inside out. Cut off the ends of the kiwi and then slide the spoon underneath the skin, all the way around. And the chunk of the fruit will pop right out.

Pam Winters: Elyse, it's Pam. I just was noticing we have a bunch of people with their hands raised. Do we wanna just take a little break and see if anybody has anything to say about those first few?

Elyse Heinrich: That's a great idea. Yes. A good idea. You wanna call on them?

Pam Winters: Sure.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay.

Pam Winters: So let's see. I think the first one we have, we're gonna go by the last three digits of your phone number. And the first one on my list is 7-2-6.

Elyse Heinrich: Great, let's try 7-2-6 I'll try to unmute you. The phone number ending in 7-2-6, go ahead.

Carol: Yes, this is Carol.

Elyse Heinrich: Hi Carol.

Pam Winters: Yes there you are!

Carol: I wanted to find out the, when you're talking about the corn, you know in the microwave. Do you leave the end of the stalk on that? I've tried a number of times, I've never got it to come out.

Elyse Heinrich: You know, it's been a few years since I've done it myself, I think I've cut off the stalk and then the little tassels at the top I also cut off. So you may have to peel a little bit of the husk back after it's done cooking, but it did come out relatively smooth. Depending on your microwave and cook time, it might need a little bit more. As it cooks it shrinks down just a little bit, able to slide out.

Carol: Okay, my brother says his wife does it just fine, but I've never been able to get it.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh boy, something to try then, huh?

Carol: Maybe I need to cut off the stalk end of it up further than I've been trying. Maybe that's my problem.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay okay. Something to try definitely.

Carol: Okay thank you.

Elyse Heinrich: Thank you! Great, we have another hand ending in 2-8-4. I'll go ahead unmute you.

2-8-4: This is Tell. I believe I raised my hand kinda before we started the meeting so I'm sorry but I have used the lettuce trick and it works very well.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh good to hear! Good.

2-8-4: Thank you, I really hope this'll go this discussion group, I'm really pleased to be here today, thank you.

Elyse Heinrich: Here's a number, another hand up, number 3-0-1.

3-0-1: Hi, this is Debra.

Elyse Heinrich: Hi Debra.

3-0-1: Thank you for this class, I love cooking so I'm very happy. My question is, can I use a Vitamix blender in lieu of either a food processor or stand mixer? When I'm making, if I'm baking or doing something like a cheesecake?

Elyse Heinrich: Oh interesting.

3-0-1: It shouldn't make a difference, should it or?

Elyse Heinrich: A Vitamix blender instead of a food processor...

3-0-1: Or a stand mixer.

Elyse Heinrich: Or a stand mixer.

3-0-1: Yeah, like if I'm baking a cheesecake or something.

Elyse Heinrich: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pam Winters: I'm gonna write that down as something to look up or find out.

Elyse Heinrich: Yeah, that's what I was gonna say, let's open it up to the group. I know the stand mixer puts a lot of air into the batter, especially for cheesecake or different cakes.

3-0-1: I know.

Elyse Heinrich: Sometimes yeah, you need that air to help it with the rising process. Personally, I can't speak to the Vitamix blender but maybe somebody else can.

3-0-1: Okay. And just quickly I used the "all recipes" feature on my Alexa Amazon Echo device, and the recipe is great because you can pause the recipe and it'll tell you step by step. So you can ask the recipe and it'll tell you and then you can pause each step. So that's a great feature, you might wanna look into that.

Elyse Heinrich: That definitely sounds handy. You can pause it when you need it and then keep going on?

3-0-1: Yeah, yeah and it'll go back and repeat if you miss a step.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay.

3-0-1: Thank you for this class! Keep it goin!

Elyse Heinrich: We sure will, thanks for joining!

3-0-1: Thank you, bye.

Elyse Heinrich: Great, we have another hand raised, number 5-6-5.

5-6-5: Hello, so I have kind of a blind cooking question. Does anybody know how to be sure your pan is on the burner if you don't have raised burners?

Elyse Heinrich: Good question. So you're talking about a glass stove top that you're working on?

5-6-5: Right. Yes.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay. Great let's open that up to the group too! I think we'll have some good ideas for you. And this person's calling in on an iPhone and it says iPhone, so I'll unmute you.

iPhone: Hi I think that's me. Actually I was gonna respond about the Vitamix.

Elyse Heinrich: Great.

iPhone: I have a Vitamix and it depends on which attachment you have, which pitcher part of it. There's one that's dry and one that's wet. And the one that came with mine was a wet one and you can only... it will not work as a food processor. Because you have to have at least two cups of liquid in it. But so that's why I'm trying to save up to get the dry attachment and I think that might work more as the food processor.

Elyse Heinrich: Have you tried it with baking things? And using that instead of a food processor or mixer?

iPhone: I think I've done like one batter and it came out nice and smooth, but I do a lot of gluten-free baking cause I can't eat gluten so it's kind of a whole other ball game as far as if it's gonna come out the way it should. For gluten-free it came out good, so but for regular baking, I'm at a loss for that.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, so it works better for dry versus wet. Unless you've got those separate attachments.

iPhone: Yeah you gotta find out which pitcher you have.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, thank you so much.

iPhone: Yeah.

Elyse Heinrich: Have a hand raised, numbers ending in 3-0-4. I'll unmute you, number 3-0-4.

3-0-4: Hi, can you hear me okay?

Elyse Heinrich: Yes, there you are!

3-0-4: Okay, hi. So I have an answer to the question about the glass stove top?

Elyse Heinrich: Oh thank you.

3-0-4: Without the raised burners? Okay. My parents used to have one in their house and the only way that I've found that works is if- and you have to be very careful- but you turn it on really really low. And you have to place your hand kind of on the surface itself or right above it, and then you just judge by feeling where the heat comes and then you set your pan, you know where you feel the heat.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay. So start with a low heat.

3-0-4: That's what I used to have to do. Yeah, the lowest that you can. And then if you don't have to touch the surface, if your... if the feeling is sensitive enough, just keep your hand above it and then you can feel a circle of heat coming up off of it. And try it that way.

Elyse Heinrich: Good idea. Yeah, so don't wanna touch it, put your hand right...

3-0-4: Exactly. Yeah.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay.

Dennis: Hello?

Elyse Heinrich: Hello!

Dennis: Hi, can you hear me?

Elyse Heinrich: Yep, we can hear you. What's your name?

Dennis: Oh okay. Yeah, this is Dennis and I have an answer for that glass stove top also.

Elyse Heinrich: All right, what's....

Dennis: Okay, okay so what I use is electrical tape. I put... I'm totally blind myself so I use electrical tape. I put one piece at 12 o'clock, one at 6, and one at 3, and one at 9. So that's my points. And I put the pan between that. Electrical tape don't burn. So I'm on the stove top all the time, on the right time also. So that works excellent.

Elyse Heinrich: Well thank you very much for that. I did not know electrical tape did not burn.

Dennis: Yes and also I have a question of my own. May I continue?

Elyse Heinrich: Please do, yes.

Dennis: Okay, I wanna know what type of gadget is good for filling muffin cups? I tried everything without making a mess there. And somebody out there, what do you use, what works best without having batter all over the place? Or do you know of a gadget or something? Thank you.

Pam Winters: Elyse, this is Pam. Can I share what I found yesterday?

Elyse Heinrich: Yeah.

Pam Winters: I think you want... Are you the gentleman who sent an email to us asking that question?

Dennis: Yes I did!

Pam Winters: Okay, so after we got that, I went ahead and did a little bit of research yesterday and it will be included in our show notes, after the discussion group. But what I found was, it was recommended to use like scoops. So sorta like the older fashioned ice cream scoop that has the spring hinge on it?

Dennis: Oh, yes yes yes yes yes. Okay.

Pam Winters: To fill that first and then put that in? And I did find there's a company called Pampered Chef and there was one article that I found that again will be available to you in the show notes but it was talking about, they sell three different sizes of scoops actually. And the large scoop they said is perfect for a standard cupcake or muffin size and then the small one is perfect for if you're making the mini cupcakes or muffins. So you just scoop with that and then use the little spring hinge and put it in your muffin cup and then you don't have to worry about that spillage.

Dennis: Yeah, by any chance do you know the number of the scoop? Is it like 12, 10 something? I know they have numbers.

Pam Winters: I'm not positive of that. I did share the link to the website for the Pampered Chef, I know how much they cost from there. I know there are other kinds of scoops out there too, I think Bed Bath & Beyond is a place that has a bunch of them. I don't know the size. But I can actually, I'll make a note to find that out and include the information in the show notes for you.

Dennis: Well, thank you so much. Thank you so much.

Pam Winters: No problem.

Dennis: Thank you.

Pam Winters: Thank you.

Elyse Heinrich: Great, we have another hand. Let's see, number is 5-1-1. I'll go ahead and unmute you.

5-1-1: Hi. The thing with the glass-top stove is usually they are arranged with a large burner and a small burner and then a larger burner and a small burner. And you have to figure out where the large burners are first. Because if you put a very small pan on a large burner, the heat's going to come out around the pan a lot further. But where you wanna put a frying pan or something larger because the small burner will heat the center of the pan, but it won't really... like if you're trying to scramble eggs, the edges of the pan won't be hot enough. So that's the first thing to find out is where those are.

Then you can go ahead and use the technique that the first girl mentioned with using your palm as a sensor. You don't really have to start it on low, you could turn it on to the temperature you want, but you have to be quicker. And that is to put your pan down and center it, bringing your hand around the outside of the pan, so that you make sure that the pan is directly on the burner. Because if there's too much heat on one side of the pan, if you're holding it above the surface, then you know you've gotta scoot it over a little bit. If that makes any sense.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh sure, making sure what size you're on and then also centering once you're close, close by one.

5-1-1: Cause you're not really touching the pan or the stove, you're just using your hand around the outside of the pan. And the pan won't be hot yet, no matter if you've turned it on to boil water or whatever. Just running your hand lightly around the outside of the pan to make sure you've got it where you want it on the stove. That's the easiest way.

Elyse Heinrich: Well, thanks so much for sharing. I see a lot more hands. What are we thinkin', Pam? Just keep goin?

Pam Winters: Sorry, I was muted. So yeah, I think we should just keep lettin' people talk and share. This is great. I like the new ideas.

Elyse Heinrich: All right, goin' down the list. I have the phone number ends in 6-3-4. I will unmute you.

6-3-4: Hi, this is Marilyn. I have used that ice cream scoop technique not only with muffins and cupcakes, but other things too. It's helpful to get your portions equal and all that. And the spring thing on the side really makes the difference, because that puts it all out. You still have to check to make sure it's even inside the cup a little bit.

The stove, I have a slicktop, I've had it for 15 years and when I first got it, I had some questions about using it. But once you are oriented to your stove and you know where the large and small burners are, then you can go ahead and put your pan on the proximate place where you know it should go. And when you turn on your burner, if you feel any heat coming from one side or the other of the pan, then you can move it slightly. And adjust for that. So that you know you're right over the flame, right over the heat. That's a pretty good way. Also after you have the stove for a few years, at least with mine, the places where the burners are becomes a little smoother than the rest of the stove top. And so that way you almost, if you're finger sensitive, then you eventually kind of just know, you can feel where the burners are. That's all I've got.

Elyse Heinrich: Wonderful idea. I like that. You're orientated to your stove. So you know where the small and large burners are and work from there.

Great. Thank you, Marilyn. And let's see another hand raised, numbers 9-8-9. I'll go ahead unmute you.

9-8-9: Hi, good afternoon, ma'am. Real quick about the glass-top stove also. Because all of our fingers, our fingertips are very important to us, I also have a glass-top stove, but I won't put my fingers on it. But I will put either a very wet end of a towel or a paper towel. To hear where it sizzles and then I can know about how big it is.

And as for the gentleman with the ice cream scooper? I would also wipe a little bit of oil inside the ice cream scooper and they fall out very quickly.

Elyse Heinrich: Now do you do the oil each time you scoop or just for a few of them?

9-8-9: Just so long as it's not sticking inside, then I'm good. Once it starts sticking, maybe just wipe... you don't wanna put a lot of oil to mess up your recipe.

Elyse Heinrich: Right, right.

9-8-9: Just enough so it slides out. And but my main question was on the corn on the cob. When you microwave it, does it not start to cook it and make it rubbery?

Elyse Heinrich: No it doesn't turn into rubbery consistency. It's chewy. Not as much as... I don't think it has the same taste as if you boiled it in a pot of water. But definitely edible. Microwave wise.

9-8-9: Oh for sure. And then a buddy told me this, I don't try it very often, but he says if you take your microwave popcorn bag and run it under the spigot and don't soak it, but just get it wet? And then put it in the microwave, it won't burn.

Elyse Heinrich: That's a new one for me! I've not had that one. Just run it under water so it's damp? And then pop it? Or start it popping?

9-8-9: Yeah, then put it in the microwave yeah and run it.

Elyse Heinrich: Huh, I wonder if other people have tried that. That's a great idea.

9-8-9: I got that one from the Heinz Center in Chicago.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh right, thanks for sharing.

9-8-9: All right, ya'll have a great day.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, you too. Let's see. Here's another hand up, the number is ending in 5-6-5.

5-6-5: Okay so last time I went to scramble hamburger meat, I literally [inaudible] and I was wondering if anybody had any other tips on how to do that without necessarily having another person tell you. It was like scrambled meat, so like when it's brown.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, so you're asking about like ground beef, how to know when it's done?

5-6-5: Yes.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, okay. Great, let's open that up for the group too. And just going down our list, the number 6-8-0. I'll unmute you.

Gloria.: Hi, this is Gloria.

Elyse Heinrich: Hello.

Gloria.: So everybody else kind of answered... Hi, this is my first time... everybody else answered about the stove and putting stuff in muffin cups, but for the hamburger. That is the easiest meat you can cook. By texture? And a lot of times by the sound. When it's done, it kinda slows down a bit sizzling, but most of the time, when I go around it and stuff with my spatula, I feel and you'll know the difference. And break it up with the spatula. And you'll know.

Elyse Heinrich: So feeling with the texture of the meat as it changes, listening for that sound source. Great idea.

Gloria.: Yeah, yeah.

Elyse Heinrich: Great, thanks for joining and sharing your ideas, Gloria.

Gloria.: Thank you, welcome, welcome.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, we have another hand up. Is number 4-7-3.

Debbie: Hi, this is Debbie. And I had a couple of comments, one about the putting your muffins in the muffin cups? A trick that I use is, I just use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and I've usually for that recipe used that to measure like 1/4 cup of oil? So there's already oil inside there? And then I just use that cup to put the muffin dough into the muffin cups. And it just slides right out. That's one trick that I've tried.

Another tip that I've learned recently is boiling eggs. And I read this in a magazine and it was shocking to me that it works. After you've boiled the eggs, and this was from a pressure cooker type situation, but after the eggs are done, it said to put those eggs into a bowl half full of water and put a lid on it. And then just shake it back and forth and up and down and just spin the bowl around and when you took the lid off, the eggs would practically fall out of the shells and they might already be out of the shells. And it shockingly works. I thought that was so neat. I was in food service for a long time and I wish I would have known that then.

You know the other answer that I might have for the gentleman with the ice cream scoop question, was I think the right size would be the number 20 scoop? That's like a 2-ounce scoop and I think it's a number 20. Would be a pretty good size for just a regular size muffin pan. And that's all I have.

Elyse Heinrich: Well thanks so much for sharing. That egg peeling with the water is one of the 21. I love it.

Debbie: Another one that I saw, I'm sorry, another one that I saw was if you wanted to make scrambled eggs fluffy, to add just a little bit of water and it doesn't take a lot, just a little. And it really does make a difference as well. So, anyway, I don't wanna monopolize, so that's all for now.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, thank you. Thank you.

Debbie: Thank you.

Elyse Heinrich: We have another hand, the number ends in 9-2-9.

Phyllis: Hello, this is Phyllis. I am the queen of gadgets. I have gadgets for everything. I would like to share my favorite ones. I have a rice cooker of course, for making rice, which is... I do not need to have vision to do it, it's so much easier and it's perfect rice every time. I have an egg cooker, which is an inexpensive thing, and the eggs boil perfectly every time. And then my favorite is the Betty Crocker Pizza Oven. It makes the perfect pizza in about 7-10 minutes, as opposed to 20-25 minutes on the recipe. I can also bake bread in it, make my breakfast in it, I can scramble eggs and cook the meat all in the same thing, just close the lid and open it. It's very safe but it cooks very, very quickly. And even frozen foods I have put in there and because I do not like cooking in the plastic.

And another idea which I use for making frozen food is to take it out of the plastic. I have a glass Pyrex glass pie dish and the lid from the Crockpot. So I put the meal inside of there and I put it in the microwave and again, it reduces the cooking time and saves from cooking with the plastic. Cause not all plastics are created equally. And it makes the perfect meal, using less time than others, than the recommended time.

And lastly, I love creamy sauces. But I was never someone who could cook when I could see, so cooking without vision is all new to me. So what I use instead of trying to make a creamy sauce with cream, I use Philadelphia cream cheese. Whereas if I'm buying the meat, ground the meat, when it's almost done, I put the Philadelphia cream cheese in, stir it up, and then add the tomato sauce or whatever and I have perfect cream sauce every time. So those are my shares. And thank you very much, I'm enjoying this program.

Elyse Heinrich: Thank you Phyllis for sharing. Great ideas and the frozen foods and the glass Pyrex dish with the Crockpot lid and you can just pop all that into the microwave, or did you use the pizza oven for that?

Phyllis.: It depends on what it is. For instance the Stouffers Buttered Pollock with the Macaroni and Cheese, I'll cook the meat in the pizza oven, but I'll put the macaroni and cheese in a glass bowl and put another of those lids, I have two sizes of the lids, so the smaller lid, I'll put it over the bowl and cook that in the microwave. And while the meat is cooking, just before it's ready to turn over, then I will start the macaroni and cheese. So like I said, I'm not one to cook, but it's so simple. And then I have the talking thermometer which of course is best to see if it's done or not, as opposed to sticking my fingers on it or something. Usually 160.

Elyse Heinrich: Yes, yes those talking thermometers are great inventions.

Phyllis.: Yeah. Well thank you ever so much.

Elyse Heinrich: You're welcome and thank you for joining. Great I see some more hands here, so we'll keep going down the list. Jerry Hogan, I will unmute you. Jerry, can you hear us?

Jerry Hogan: Can you hear me?

Elyse Heinrich: Yes, there you are.

Jerry Hogan: Can you hear me?

Elyse Heinrich: Yep, we can hear you.

Jerry Hogan: Okay good. So you guys got me so confused because I apologize to say this, but I've been a bachelor most of my life now, I'm in a horrible life because I'm married.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh boy. I'm not going there, Jerry.

Jerry Hogan: I love my wife, but I am a good cook. And I taught my wife, my wife's from Europe, and I taught her American food. And I can cook... I can understand people here with their hand sensitivity cause they use Braille. And they have to be careful what they do. I totally understand that. But I don't use Braille. So when I cook like salmon, steak, whatever I cook on the barbecue, I use smelling everything in my hand, you know or if I have greasy fingers, I'll wash my hands. And I trust that [inaudible] cause cook with fake salmon. I can tell if it's right, you know I flip it over and I have not yet. Last quite a few years, almost did, but 98-99% of the time, it's cooked just right, not dry. And I'm just sayin'. So I consider myself not a great cook, just a below average to average cook and I'm not afraid to cook.

Elyse Heinrich: Well thank you Jerry for sharing. So you're more of a tactile guy and can tell if your salmon is done. Just by the feel of it.

Jerry Hogan: And the steak.

Elyse Heinrich: And the steaks yeah.

Jerry Hogan: And the chicken. Oh, I have one thing I will say about the chicken. Or corn on the cob, when you guys said that earlier? Corn on the cob never turns rubbery. I have never seen that, cause I use the microwave all the time with the corn on the cob and then use the barbecue, my wife and I. But when it comes to the shoot, the other one I was thinking about, senior moment got me on this one. So but oh chicken. Chicken. I like leg quarter, but if you use wings or whatever you use, I warm the chicken little by little and then a lot of the juice comes out of it. And then after a while, I put it on the barbecue. I got rid of a lot of the fat, so I have a lot less flaming.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh, very neat idea.

Jerry Hogan: Chicken. When you do it that way, you know like put it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or so, and then flip over and do it again, you get juice slippin' out and just keep doin' it and when you think it's right, you're not cookin' the chicken. And then put it on the barbecue.

Elyse Heinrich: Yeah, you're taking some of that moisture out so it's not gonna flare up on the grill.

Jerry Hogan: To get rid of a lot of the fat so it doesn't have a big bonfire. That's it.

Elyse Heinrich: Thanks so much for sharing. I see some more hands and this number ends in 5-0-9.

5-0-9: Hi, can you hear me?

Elyse Heinrich: Yes, we can hear you.

5-0-9: Okay good, cause I muted my own phone too cause earlier when you said a dog was barking I think it was my blind dog. [crosstalk] Yes, that's a lot of fun. The corn on the cob, I always cut that way up from the bottom end so that the husk you can feel it kinda loose and then it cooks fine. But my question is cutting up, chopping up things when it wants you to cut things mince size? That was getting more and more tricky the less vision I have. So I found the garlic mincer or the garlic press that minces garlic. But I discovered it does not mince things like ginger. So I'm at a loss as to what other kind of mincers I can use that won't cut my fingers.

Elyse Heinrich: Yes, good idea. I know I'll open it up to the group. But I also have some ideas for you.

5-0-9: Perfect.

Elyse Heinrich: So mincing ginger, yeah how to get things smaller without hitting our fingers in there.

5-0-9: Right, cause the garlic and several other things go through the garlic press real good and minces real good, but I found out that ginger did not do that. And so it really took me a long time to clean that garlic press.

Elyse Heinrich: I know what you mean. Yeah. Okay let's open it up to the group if they have some ideas. Let's... next number is 7-2-6.

7-2-6: Hi I just wanted to make a comment about the... somebody said making the eggs fluffy. One of the chefs at one of my local restaurants said that they put just a small pinch of baking soda into the eggs. And that helps them to be fluffy.

Elyse Heinrich: Baking soda right into the eggs before you cook it? Or when they're in the pan?

7-2-6: Right, before you cook them. Like when you're scrambling it up. You just put just a small pinch.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay.

7-2-6: Along with just that little bit of water.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh okay, so baking soda and a little bit water make em fluffy?

7-2-6: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Elyse Heinrich: Great tip, I'll have to try it sometime.

7-2-6: And I'm questioning the lady with the ginger? I have one of those little... like a food chopper, it's electric and the blade goes around and it smashes everything up against the sides? And I use that for a lot of chopping and stuff. But would something like that do you think maybe, you know it has the blade in the bottom? Do you think that might also chop fine enough to be considered mincing?

Elyse Heinrich: I really think it depends on the consistency of what you're putting in there. Like walnuts or peanuts tend to do better in one of those bladed machines. For my idea for ginger is to use a cheese grater, granted you have to have enough ginger that it's not down to a nub. But you can use the fine side of the cheese grater to slice it or run it along there. To get small enough pieces of ginger.

Pam Winters: Elyse, this is Pam and to add to that, I was doing some research on that as well and read about somebody using plastic wrap over the cheese grater and then as long as you have a decent quality plastic wrap, when you grate it, the ginger just stays on the outside and the plastic doesn't actually rip. So that is something that I haven't tried yet because I just read about it yesterday but I'm definitely going to try that one.

Elyse Heinrich: Yeah, that's a new one for me. That might be a good one to try. Great, so I see another hand raised, this one again it just says iPhone, so I'll unmute you. See if computer land wants to help out here. Let's try 5-6... oh there you are. Okay.

iPhone 2: Sorry about that. No I was just gonna call in about the ground beef, cause I used to have a hard time with that too. And it usually came down to having bigger chunks that weren't getting cooked evenly. So through Pampered Chef I got a tool, it's just called like a ground meat chopper. So as you're cooking it, it's kinda shaped like a pinwheel, and it just gets all the chunks broken up evenly and so it cooks a lot more even.

Elyse Heinrich: Oh neat, so you have a ground beef chopper. And you said that was from Pampered Chef? It helps break the meat apart.

iPhone 2: Yeah, so then it'll cook even. And you know it's cooking thoroughly.

Elyse Heinrich: Sounds good, thank you.

iPhone 2: Yep. Thank you.

Elyse Heinrich: All right, this number ends in 9-8-9.

Unknown: Is that me?

9-8-9: Hey ma'am, I spoke earlier real fast, but about the ginger? You said the cheese grater. And a microplane also works very well. If you want it smaller or more fine. And then my other thing is, we've all talked about the microwave fairly often here, does anybody have any information about a voice activated or tactile microwave? I've heard they exist but I can't find them.

Elyse Heinrich: Okay, looking for a voice activated with tactile buttons?

9-8-9: I've heard they exist but I haven't found one on the web yet.

Elyse Heinrich: Yeah, they do exist. Yep. Let's see if our callers have some ideas for you. This number ends in 5-6-5. I'll unmute you.

5-6-5: Okay, so I actually have a suggestion for the ginger mincing and the microwave. I actually don't know what the tool was called specifically but Pampered Chef makes a thing, it's cylindrical and you basically put whatever you need to chop under it and then push down and blades come down and chop it up really fine. And I think that would work very well for ginger. And as far as the microwave, Blind Mice Mega Mall I know has a talking one and I'm assuming the buttons are tactile? So that's an option. But I just put clear bump dots on 2, 5, and 8 of a normal microwave and have never had an issue with that.

Elyse Heinrich: Thank you for that. Blind Mice website may have a microwave and I agree, bump dots or sticky dots to help with different buttons or where "start" is. You can put that on a regular microwave too.

Let's go to number 4-3-3. The number ends in 4-3-3. I'll unmute you.

4-3-3: Hi, it only took me like 20 minutes to finally figure out how to raise my hand. I finally got it. In regards to the muffins, I use foil liners with a little cooking spray. That works really great with an ice cream scooper. Usually everything gets into the muffin cup, I'm really surprised I do that. [crosstalk] In regards to the cooking the ground beef or ground turkey, I've figured out as you're sliding the meat, if the meat is still raw, it's not gonna move. And as the meat gets cooked, it's gonna move freer and easier. That's my tips. I was thinking of the microwave, that Blind... either that or MaxAids or Independent Living Aids might have something else too. But... can't believe it took me 20 minutes. I'm so excited. [crosstalk] No problem, this has been a great hour, so too bad we can't do it for two hours, but.

Elyse Heinrich: I'll put in a good word, we'll see. But we'll be back next month, so come back.

4-3-3: I'll be here. Thanks ladies.

Pam Winters: We have a message here from Steven. [crosstalk] About the talking microwave.

Elyse Heinrich: Sure, you wanna read it for us Pam?

Pam Winters: Yeah. Steven says, "I have a Cook Magic Talking Microwave with tactile buttons." It's a couple of years old, so he's not sure if it's still available, but we will look into that and include the information in our show notes.

Elyse Heinrich: Great. Cook Magic is I'm guessing is the brand of a talking microwave with tactile buttons. [crosstalk]

Elyse Heinrich: And really so thankful for everyone to join in and offer your ideas and helping each other today on the call. I really hope that you've learned from us as much as we've all learned from each other today about new things to try in the kitchen. And I'm sorry we didn't have a chance to get to everyone today, our time did fly. But we'd love to hear from you, if you'd like to call via phone or our email address is, we'll give out here. My email, this is Elyse and my first name with the first letter of my last name, so it's And the phone number you can reach me at is 847-784-2829.

Pam Winters: And mine, Pam, is just Although Winters, also works. And I am embarrassed to say that I don't know what my phone number is off the top of my head, so I'm gonna look that up for you guys.

Lillian: I'm sorry to interrupt, real quick I wanted to mention about the microwave, this is Lillian. I wanted to mention really quick about the microwave was the fact that, I don't know where you can find another talking microwave, but I do know that you can put Braille labels, you can Braille label or put foam dots on your microwave for what you want the numbers to be. And things like that, so... [crosstalk]

Elyse Heinrich: Great idea, thank you Lillian. [crosstalk]

Pam Winters: Okay, I do have my phone number, Pam. It's 847-784-2885. [crosstalk]

Elyse Heinrich: Great. So again we thank you so much for calling and joining our discussion today. We love the participation and interaction.

Pam Winters: Thanks you all for coming and we'll see you next time for "What's Cooking."