Substitute hacks you never knew

You can substitute paper towel for parchment paper. — Filepic

Whenever you’re at the household section of a department store, you’ll be sure to find a host of clever gadgets. There are specific tools for everything, from peeling garlic to coring pineapples and pitting cherries.

But if you’re creative enough, you can adapt and make use of the kitchen items that you already have to do the tasks instead of some of the gadgets in the stores. It’s fun to be able to experiment and change things up a bit. So try these. — Compiled by PATSY KAM

1. Pancake mould

If you like making pancakes, try making them into different shapes instead of the usual round ones. Use your larger metal cookie cutters and give your pancake a fancy edge and shape. Spray the inside of the cookie cutter with non-stick cooking spray, put it on the pan and add a bit of butter at the bottom so that the batter won’t stick to the pan. Drop some pancake batter in and let it cook. Later, gently remove the cutter with tongs or chopsticks, then flip the pancake over to cook the other side. If you have small kids, bet they’ll love this!

2. Keep butter wrappers

You probably won’t bother to recycle the paper that has been used to wrap butter as it is greasy and messy. But don’t throw it out just yet. Keep them in a bag in the fridge because they come in handy for greasing your pans and baking trays. There’s usually quite a bit of butter left on the paper, enough to grease at least one cake pan or biscuit tray.

3. Bake with paper towel

If you’ve run out of parchment paper, here’s a simple quick alternative. You can grease your baking pan and then line it with a sheet of paper towel. While not everyone would have parchment paper in the kitchen, most people would have paper towels.

4. Make buttermilk

If you bake, you’ll know that this doesn’t come cheap in the baking ingredient shops. Make your own – mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with 1 cup of milk. Stir it and warm it in the microwave for about 15 seconds. This is a lighter version of buttermilk and works well for scones and certain cakes that don’t need a rich, thick version.

5. Non-slip cutting board

Does your cutting board try to run away from you every time you cut fruits and other stuff? Try putting a piece of damp cloth underneath. Simple solution, no need to spend on a special non-slip mat.

6. Cookie cutter napkin rings

If you have smaller cookie cutters, you can use them for other things besides making cookies. They can double as fancy napkin rings as they come in different shapes and are cute substitutes which won’t break the bank.

7. Open a jar

There are all sorts of bottle openers in the market and some of them can cost quite a lot. Want to know one of the cheapest and easiest ways to open a bottle? Tie a couple of rubber bands around the lid, give the lid a tap or two on a hard surface like the floor or kitchen counter top. Then give it a good twist – most of the time it works.

8. Poached egg

If you like poached egg, you’ll know there’s a science to making the perfect ratio of runny soft yolk and ever so slightly cooked egg white. Too long and it becomes too cooked; too early and it’s still too raw. Here’s a super fast way to make poached egg without any gadgets. You’ll need to experiment a little, depending on your microwave oven, the temperature of the egg (for example, if it’s straight out of the fridge and too cold) and egg size. Just crack an egg into a cup or a rice bowl, slightly poke the yolk so that it doesn’t explode, and put this into the microwave oven. Cover it and set the timer for about 20 seconds. If it’s still raw, give it a quick stir so that the cooked edges detach from the cup walls, and cook for another 10 to 15 seconds.

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