Thursday, September 11, 2008

MacGyver in the kitchen

Most of you probably don't know that one of my favorite cheesy 80s/90s show of all time is ... MacGyver. When it was actually on the air, I watched all the new episodes, then I watched it on USA syndication every night at 7. I probably saw every episode about 3 times. Now I'm rewatching it through Netflix. Very nostalgic, really. And bad acting. But I can overlook that.

Because seriously, how can a show not be cool where a guy uses a chocolate bar to stop up an acid leak, running an clock on a potato, or using a binocular eyepiece to catch laser beams?

I think one of the appeals of the show is that he uses everyday objects to kick ass so decidedly. It's like a puzzle. They start playing that MacGyver theme, and you know he's going to throw together the ammonia, peanut butter, and vitamins into some new combo which gets him and the female heroine out of some totally hammed up cliche sticky situation.

So how can you be MacGyver in your own home? Your own kitchen even? No, we're not building bombs out of potatoes and dish soap. But I can tell you some tips on how to fix kitchen glitches, or ways to use kitchen products to get out of sticky situations.

1. Flour - Say your cat jumps on your lap and starts kneading your stomach with some seriously long claws. So you grab the nail clipper and set to it. And then the blood-curdling shriek lets you know that you really shouldn't have been distracted by the tv (MacGyver, of course), and you notice you've cut her nails a little too close. Then you start to freak out, because you've heard that cats can lose a lot of blood through their claws if you cut them too short. And what if she goes into her catbox and rousts around in there with her cut claw and it gets infected? So you grab your phone and dial the vet, which (because it's the weekend) reroutes you to the animal hospital. And what do they tell you to do to clot up her poor poor little kitty claw? Put flour on it. Seriously. And it works! (Not that I've personally been through this situation, no no not me...)

2. Potato - I seem to remember from Mr. Wizard that a potato actually can run a clock. But since I doubt you could get a potato clock to play Debussy's Arabesque as an alarm, I think I'll stick to my cell phone. Digression. Anyway. Point is, if you accidentally over-salt your dish, drop a peeled potato in while the dish is still cooking. The potato will absorb the excess salt.

3. Potato - So one day I'm sitting around and happen to glance at my hands. And the tips of my fingers are all black. Wtf? How did the tips of my fingers get black? So I grabbed my scrubbing rock thing (I have no idea what it's called, that probably indicates how much I actually use it...) and scrub the black off my fingers (I later realized that it was basil juice from tearing up basil leaves). Having sensitive skin, scrubbing is not the best option for me. Other options? Potatoes. Slice and rub raw potato on the stain and rinse with water.

4. Apple - If you're like me and only bake once a year (Christmas cookies, yum), then you may have a block of granite brown sugar sitting in your cabinet. And if you're like me, you looked in the cabinet and said "oooh, I have brown sugar, I don't have to buy any more!" And then leave that particular cookie recipe until you're covered in flour with hair going every which way, and thus in no condition to go out to the store (unless you want to get people running away looking at you funny). And so you scrape and scrape and scrape at the danged block of brown sugar, and grab out your grater on it (idea! would the slicer function of a food processor work on this?), and basically kill your shoulder getting a 1/4C of sugar off it. And really all you need to do is place a slice of apple in the container to soften it up. I also have a cute little pottery (terra cotta) bear that I got for Christmas (after the cookies, thank you very much) that can be soaked in water and then put in the container, same purpose as the apple, but more expensive.

5. Wine - Don't throw out your leftover wine! (you have leftover wine? Seriously?) It can be frozen into ice cubes and used in casseroles and sauces. Or if you're having a party and run out of alcohol, you could always just start sucking wine cubes. Now I'm curious how that would taste.

6. Marshmallow - My dad has a very cute cockapoo named Nik. Nik loves chocolate, and desserts, and well really any kind of food. They were eating ice cream cones the other day (the people, not the dog), when Nik started to whine feel really left out of all the sugary fun. So he takes an ice cream cone. Bites it from the bottom. Proceeds to get chocolate ice cream all over his white fur. And hasn't this happened to all of us (well, not the dog stealing your ice cream cone, but the bottom of the cone dripping all over your face and shirt)? Your remedy - stuff a miniature marshmallow at the bottom of the sugar cone to prevent any drips. Which won't help if you take a big bite out of the bottom, but it will stave off any unwanted drippage.

7. Lime - Bad headache? Throbbing like a techno club in your skull? Possible old wive's tale Potential miracle remedy - cut a lime in half and rub it on your forehead. Rumor has it the throbbing will go away.

Any other tips? MacGyverisms?


Leah J. Utas said...

Great tips. Never occured to me to freeze wine.
Apple for finger stains, hmm, good to know.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Never occurred to me either...I'll definitely have to try freezing some, just to see how it works! Potato is what will help the stains (I don't want you to come back saying "the apple didn't work!") Granted I haven't actually tried the potato either...

Charlotte said...

Great tips! I've used the potato/salt one before and it does work. Another one I've tried is if you burn a pot of rice then put a piece of bread in and put the lid back on for several minutes. The bread is supposed to absorb the "burned smell". Of course, you gotta not scrape the crap off the bottom when you are serving it bu tyou get the idea:)

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Oooh, that's a good tip, thanks Charlotte! I don't make rice much at home, but I've definitely had the whole burned smelling/tasting rice before. And burnt kale is even worse...

Romny said...

Good tips, thanks! I'm always scared to trim Cleo's claws, not because I will cut too short, but she will scratch me with the other claws that haven't been cut.

The scrubby thing, I think is called a Pumice stone. A lot of people use it on their feet.

And here's a question. Doesn't chocolate kill doggies?

The Lethological Gourmet said...

You're totally right, it is a pumice stone! I was having a major brain fart on that earlier.

As far as the chocolate, it might depend on the dog. Nik got into the Lindt truffles last Christmas, and on another occasion he chugged a plate of brownies. He was ok, but he did get kind of sick and threw up in the middle of the night. I've heard they are really allergic to gum though, and that gum can kill them.

Jenn N Butter said...

A slice of bread will keep the brown sugar soft. I had to explain that one to my man when he wanted to throw out almost a pound of hard rock that used to be brown sugar(god only knows why he had a pound of it when he never used it). We threw in a couple of pieces of bread and in a few days it was soft and usable again. He no longer questions my kitchen prowess and I am still trying to use up all of that brown sugar (and I love to bake)!


The Lethological Gourmet said...

wow, really? bread? and the bread doesn't go moldy? that's a really good tip!