Make a Pair of Hardwood Cocktail Muddlers from a Rolling Pin on the Cheap

I was having this conversation with a writer about my new book on cocktail technique last week, and she got on the subject of bar tools. “A lot of this stuff is really expensive,” she said, “Do you have any advice for home cocktail enthusiasts who don’t want to spend a ton of money?”

And I was thinking, you know, like – she’s right. Bar tools are super expensive, and there are some places where you can skimp, and some places where you can’t. Like, you just won’t find a substitute for a good 18/8 stainless steel cocktail shaker. A cheap one from the liquor store just isn’t going to do the job.

But there are other areas where you can have great bar tools for not a ton of money. Like, my first piece of advice when I’m posed this question is to use a plastic chopstick from a Chinese restaurant instead of an expensive bar spoon. They’re actually easier to use, and they cost very little (free, if you just steal one). Sure, they’re not very stylish, but they’ll do the job every bit as well as a $30 bar spoon.

Source: Build a Better ($5.63) Muddler

I can definitely see the attraction to having a nicely-crafted handmade object, especially one made out of wood. I wouldn’t mind owning a nice, fancy, handmade wooden cutting board or the like (I have family who owns a couple that they bought at art fairs that are beautiful).

But, like, as far as a “life hack”, it’s kind of silly given how cheap decent mass-produced cocktail muddlers are and, for that matter, how few cocktail muddlers the average person buys over the course of a lifetime.

Crumble Up Rice Cakes for a Crunchy, Easy Bread Crumb Substitute

…when purchased breadcrumbs aren’t an option, head to the pantry and grab a few rice cakes to make your own gluten-free breading mix. You might not have considered using these crisp and airy snack cakes this way before, but they work quite well. And any kind of rice cakes will get the job done. Use whatever you have available, but maybe it’s best to stay away from the sweeter varieties.

Source: The Best Gluten-Free Breading Mix Is Already In Your Pantry

For those who are allergic to wheat, this is a good way to get bread crumbs for various recipes that are gluten free. Gluten free bread crumbs are kind of pricey…

Turn Cookies Into an Awesome Pie Crust in Under a Minute

Sure, smash the cookies if you want.  I’ll just use my food processor (while sticking to my recipe), thanks! 😉

You should only buy salted butter, except for baking. Unsalted butter is extremely perishable, and not flavorful at all. If you rely on salting everything you use butter on or in, you are very likely to oversalt. Unsalted butter is used in baking because salt can affect the way doughs and batters behave, so you need precise control, and you follow recipes in baking for this reason, which also means you aren’t in danger of oversalting. There are also differences in moisture retention between salted and unsalted butters. Salted butter is the standard, if you ever read any recipe or description of a dish that includes butter, they mean salted butter unless it specifies unsalted.

Turn Overcooked Rice Into Tasty, Crispy Crackers

To me, “overcooked” usually means singed to a black, unrecognizable putrescence.  Followed by desperate soaking of the pot, before working with the roughest scrub bud I can find.  Rinse, repeat… 😉

But I admit – that does look really easy to do.  Add a dash of your favourite seasoning…  You can also make fish cakes out of the leftover rice, or make this simple soup.  Quickly rinse rice with a French Press (AKA Bodum) if you need to.  But be aware that there is arsenic in rice.

Rolling Pin: Aluminium, Anodized

…why has the metal rolling pin never caught on? It seems like a much better option to wood — you get a nice tapered shape with the right weight, a surface that should prevent the dough from sticking to it, and the ability to chill your pin before rolling, so you don’t get the dough warm.

Source: An Aluminum Rolling Pin Makes So Much Sense

Anyone that’s used a wine bottle or other glass bottle in a pinch, will know that this won’t work: smooth surfaces can’t take a dusting of flour well. Even with space age metals and non-stick surfaces, the dough is still going to stick.  The texture of a sandblasted anodized surface isn’t rough enough to hold the flour.

….and my mom wouldn’t like it – no handle to grab on to when she wanted to hit people with it.