19 super-easy tips to simplify your life

Practical tricks to make your day less complicated
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1. For a creamier taste — and a calcium boost — substitute cold milk for cold water when making a gelatin dish.

2. When melting chocolate in a double boiler, put the chocolate on waxed paper inside the pan. It’s much easier to scrape off the paper, and you won’t have as many pots to wash.

3. Before making devilled eggs, store eggs, wider end up, in the carton. This ensures the yolks will stay centred in the whites.

4. Roll raisins in flour before stirring them into a baking mixture to keep them from sinking to the bottom.

5. Friends and family enjoy receiving holiday postcards. Make address labels before you leave and stick them on when you’re ready to send from afar.

6. To get the last drops of ketchup or other sauces out of a bottle, remove the lid and heat for 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave.

7. Many overseas accommodations don’t provide washcloths as we do in Canada. So pack a few disposable cleaning cloths, which are small, light and soft enough for many uses. They dry overnight and can be moistened and carried in a resealable plastic bag for emergency use.

8. To clean a scorched pan, fill halfway with water, add 1/4 cup (60 mL) baking soda and boil until the burnt food floats to the top. Wash as usual.

9. Create a list on your computer of where you’re staying on vacation. Print it and put a copy in your suitcase, wallet, purse, passport, beach bag, etc. Then, if you lose that item, it has a much better chance of being returned.

10. Want a little lemon on your entree? Stash halved lemons in the freezer and squeeze a bit of juice or grate some zest whenever you need it. Pop them back into the freezer and enjoy the rest later.

11. To make fruit pies lighter in calories, top with a crumb crust. Here’s a basic recipe: Using a fork, mash together 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup (125 mL) firm butter or margarine, cubed, until crumbly. You can freeze batches of this to have ready when you want it.

12. If you’re travelling carry-on only or have limited suitcase space and aren’t too fussy, take along your old undies and socks, wear them and then toss them before you head home.

13. If you’ve never tried making freezer jam, give it a whirl. It’s simple and tastes so fresh. Pectin manufacturers offer wonderful recipes online, and some even have a telephone hotline if you have questions. You’ll find no- and low-sugar recipes too, and you can use special pectin if you have diabetes or are on a restricted diet.

14. When making pastry, freeze chunks or sticks of butter and grate them into the bowl with the dry ingredients. The small bits of butter will thaw quickly and mix easily.

15. When you go on holiday, pack your clothes in compressible bags — they’ll leave you extra space for any shopping you do on the road.

16. To prevent your meringue from “sweating,” make sure the pie filling underneath is cold when you spoon it overtop.

17. You can skip the jelly-bag straining step by making grape jelly from store-bought grape juice instead of whole grapes. It’s pretty tasty!

18. When making fruit pies, sprinkle sugar under the fruit instead of on top. The juice will boil up over the fruit but not out over the crust.

19. Microwaving a turnip makes peeling easier: Using a fork, pierce in several spots to let steam escape and keep it from exploding. Wrap it in a paper towel to absorb the wax as it softens. Place the wrapped turnip on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 10 to 15 minutes. (Use the longer time for larger, denser varieties.) Remove carefully — it will be hot. The tough, waxy coating will have softened so you can cut it away easily.

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