Lifehacker Labs: DIY Monitor Stands, Eyeglasses Scratch Removal, and More [Lifehacker Labs]

Last week you saw how we shaved longer for cheaper, roasted a mighty moist turkey, and peeled rebate labels with ease in the first edition of Lifehacker Labs. We're back this week with monitor stands, wine storage, and more.

Lifehacker Labs is a chance for us to show you how we've used tips and tricks from Lifehacker, revisited old ones, and even improved upon them in the process. This week we're back with four more ways we've culled tips from the Lifehacker archive and put them to work in our own homes and offices.

Turn a Shelf and Doors Stoppers into a DIY Monitor Stand


Earlier this year we shared a great way to turn cheap hardware store parts into a DIY monitor stand by raising up a shelf with door stoppers. Later that year we got a chance to peek into Adam Pash's workspace and saw that he'd tried out the DIY monitor shelf too—blending it nicely by using a matching piece of wood for his IKEA Jerker desk. When I purchased some new monitors on Black Friday this year I needed something to give them a little boost to a more comfortable level. A quick trip to the hardware store for a four-foot shelf, five door stoppers (I opted to put one in the middle towards the back to keep the shelf from sagging over time under the weight of three monitors and peripherals), and a coat of paint later and I was in business. You can skip the painting step and just buy a pre-made white, black, or wood-grain shelf but I wanted to match the paint and gloss to the paint I used on my DIY desk.

Lighted Christmas Balls


Last month we stumbled across a novel holiday decoration, lighted Christmas balls. Essentially the entire thing is just a ball of chicken wire wrapped in two strands of Christmas lights. Suspended from a tree they make a colorful and festive decoration. I was in the process of getting ready to hang my own Christmas lights and the story behind the Christmas balls and the good work and charity they had brought to a neighborhood in Greensboro, NC compelled me to make a few of my own—check out the original article to see a video telling the story behind the balls. They're simple to make—especially if you're not trying to make a perfect sphere!—and they look really awesome once they are up in the tree. The recent snow storms in the midwest have dusted mine with ice and snow and they look even better than they do in the header image above. So far they've been well received by my neighbors and I'll likely make some more next year and give them away.

Armor Etch Removes Scratched Coating from Glasses


Many times when your glasses appear scratched, the lens itself isn't scratched but the coatings on the lens is. If you have plastic lenses in your glasses—and most people do—you can fix the scratched coating with Armor Etch. Armor Etch is a glass-etching acid cream available in craft stores. I applied it to an expensive pair of glasses that had polycarbonate lenses where the anti-reflective coating was scuffed enough to make wearing them unpleasant. After a few minutes of being smeared with the acid etching cream I rinsed them with hot water, then hot soapy water to be extra sure the cream had been rinsed off, and they were as good as new. They no longer have anti-reflective coating but they are otherwise perfectly serviceable and as crystal clear as the day I got them. Make extra, extra, certain your glasses have polycarbonate lenses and not glass before you try this or else you'll have a pair of useless glasses with heavily frosted lenses on your hands.

Turn an Extra Closet into a Mini Wine Cellar

During Food Week we shared an ambitious closet-to-wine-cellar conversion with you. The guy that built it spent about $500 which, to him, was a bargain compared to the $$$$ pricetag of having a professional crew do the conversion. I like wine but not enough to spend $500 storing it so I searched out a way to adapt the idea of his wine-cellar-closet to fit my home and budget. Down in my basement the original owners built a large bank of cabinets and affixed them directly to the foundation instead of to the studs and drywall. After reading this comment on the orignal post I had an "ah-hah!" moment.

A few years ago we were finishing our basement. Because of pipes, wires, etc, we had a corner about 6 foot wide and about 2 deep that couldn't be used. I dry walled the area into a closet like area, put on some cheap glass front french doors. I stained some fir wine racks and fastened to the back wall.

The cool part was that the walls were insulated, but the rear wall, against the concrete wall was left uninsulated. This kept the wine closet about 20 degrees below room temperature year round. No electricity, no fans, just natural temperature control.

I took several lengths of pipe and put them in the cabinet, placed the bottles of wine in them, and then put a few cheap cooking thermeters around the large cabinet to see what the temperature would look like over several weeks of storage. The temperature, thanks to sharing an outside wall that was 6 feet below ground level, stayed at a consistent 54-56 degrees Fahrenheit—a much more stable and ideal temperature than my modest wine collection deserves.


That's it for this week's Lifehacker Lab, but don't let us have all the fun. We have a Lifehacker Tips Tester pool on Flickr for you to show off your your favorite Lifehacker tips, tricks, and hacks in action. If you've used a tip from Lifehacker, we'd love to see photos of your results in the tester pool!




Get Way More Precise With Your Oven Cooking [Video Demonstration]

Did you know that baked goods do better on the "lower middle" oven rack, while meats should be roasted on the "upper middle"? Or that pies turn out best on bottom racks? Neither did we, until watching Christopher Kimball's video.

The Cook's Illustrated editor explains the three kinds of heat in your oven (paging Jack Donaghy), and how those kinds of heat dynamically affect what you're cooking or baking. Getting cookies with one edge slightly burnt and the other soft? Rotate them 180 degrees halfway through cooking. Broiler food coming out charred or undercooked? Bust out the measuring stick and measure out exactly four inches. Unsure when to use the convection fans on your fancy-dancy model? Watch the clip, as Christopher explains it all:

Found your own magic spots and best settings for your oven? Tell us about them in the comments.




Make Semi-Lazy Peanut Butter Cookies with Refrigerated Dough [Recipes]

Pre-made dough—it's not how your grandmother made cookies. But if you're not of the mood or mind to bake quality peanut butter cookies from scratch, an expert says combining dough tubes and quality peanut butter actually works wonders.

It's easy to dub Lee Zalben a peanut butter expert—he's the founder of the Peanut Butter & Co. sandwich shop, owner of the ilovepeanutbutter.com domain, and all-around nut nut.

Zalben posits in prose, and a full step-by-step recipe, at the Serious Eats blog that combining equal amounts of really good peanut butter and refrigerated sugar cookie dough (note the sugar!) can turn out the kind of peanut butter cookies that your friends would consider a gift—and, hey, isn't it about that time of year? Beyond the lattice-textured cookie standard, Zalben offers a few variations with the one-to-one recipe for dessert bars, chocolate-chip-dotted squares, and other treats.

Got another half-homemade recipe you turn to when not quite feeling up to wholly-new baking? Do share in the comments.




Make Your Own Travel Teabags [DIY]

If you prefer loose tea and an infuser over the bagged varieties, you don't have to settle for lesser quality when you travel. Make your own reusable travel teabags to take single servings of your favorite loose-leaf brew wherever you go.

It only takes two things to make your own teabags: a few 4" x 3" pieces of loosely woven muslin and a some 12" lengths of cotton string. Hit up the post put together by the creative smarties at Craft Leftovers for exact directions on how to sew the muslin into a tiny bag, then fill it with tea and stash it in your bag or purse.

The next time you're out and about, all you need is a mug of hot water and you can kick back with your favorite beverage. If tea's not your, uh, bag, then consider making your own single-serve coffee pods instead.




RateTea Helps You Rate, Review, and Find a New Favorite Tea [Drink]

There are thousands of teas on the market today, but few ways to tell the good from the not-so-good without tasting them. RateTea is an gathering spot where tea lovers can gather to review, rate, and learn about the teas they love.

RateTea provides loads of information about the history, styles, and details of teas from around the world. RateTea's founder says the site's focus is on helping people become better educated about the world of tea. Readers are encouraged to submit their own reviews and rate teas according to their aroma, flavor, value, and overall goodness.

RateTea is an independently-run site that's not affiliated with any beverage company, so you know you're getting the straight dope on the drinks. In fact, they don't even accept samples for review. This tea site is similar to Steepster's web site for tea aficionados, but with a heavier focus on ratings and reviews.

There's no registration necessary to poke around the site unless you want to provide reviews of your own, so check it out to get some ideas on teas to give as gifts or start sipping on your own. What kinds of teas do you like best, or are you an all-coffee, all-the-time kind of person? Let us know in the comments.




Lifehacker Labs: Everlasting Razors, Delicious Turkey, and More [Lifehacker Labs]

Not only do we scour the internet to bring you the best in tips, tricks, and hacks we can find, but we also put them to use in our own homes and offices.

Lifehacker Labs is a chance for us to show you how we've used tips and tricks from Lifehacker, revisited old ones, and even improved upon them in the process. We promise we wore safety glasses the whole time and everyone signed a waiver.

Learn the Economical Art of Wet Shaving and Keep Your Razors Sharp with Mineral Oil


Earlier this year we shared a video-guide to wet shaving. After years of frustration over expensive and cheap-feeling disposable razor cartridges, I jumped feet first into experimenting with shaving like my grandfather did, with a safety razor, a shaving mug, and a badger hair brush. I went from shaving a few times a week because I disliked shaving so much (and trust me I should have been shaving once, maybe even twice, a day) to shaving every day because it was fun.

The initial cost was around $120 for a total startup—razor, 100-pack of razor refills, shaving brush, brush stand, shaving cream, and mug. The previous list is hot linked so you can see the exact items I bought, the mug isn't hot linked because I simply bought a stout and wide mouthed cobalt-blue mug out of the drink-ware aisle at the local big-box store for a few bucks.

Spending $120 to get started with wet-shaving might seem like a lot of money but considering that the retail price of premium disposable cartridges is around $2.50 each and they last for a fraction of the time the simple 7 cent safety razor refills do, the cost won't take long to recoup. The consumable side of things—razor refills and shaving cream—last for ages; I'm barely a quarter of the way through the $16 tub of shaving cream I bought back in July, and thanks to our next trick I've used less than $1 worth of razor blades this entire season. I likely won't be spending a penny on supplies for at least another 6 or more months and when I do it'll be for another long lasting tub of shaving cream. More important than saving money in the long run however was the simple enjoyment of it. I'm going to shave easily another 18-20,000 times in my life, you can't put a price on actually enjoying something you're going to do that much.

In September we shared a tip with you on how to keep your razors sharp for as long as possible by submerging the blade in mineral oil. Since we posted that tip I've tried it out on both a Mach3 cartridge razor and a single-edge safety razor. Despite not enjoying shaving with a cartridge razor—see above!—I shaved with both razors in an attempt to wear them down. Both razors remained significantly sharper for longer. The oil completely did in the moisture strip on the cartridge, which wasn't a big deal since even after a hot water rinse before shaving the blade was still fairly slick from the oil bath. Of the two razors, the safety razor stayed sharper longer. In fact I've been shaving with the same 7 cent safety razor blade for weeks now and it still slices through my 10-gauge-wire beard with absolutely no catching or drag. Considering a small bottle of mineral oil costs less than a single replacement cartridge, it's definitely a hack worth using.

Remove Labels Without Tearing the Box - Rebate Edition

Back in January we shared a simple tip for removing labels from boxes for reuse. You lightly trace the outline of the label with a razor and peel the label up. It removes the first layer of the outer cardboard and the box is still intact. After Black Friday I had a bunch of boxes I needed to remove the labels for to mail in rebates, but I didn't feel like sawing through them and mailing a big hunk of tattered cardboard. The label removal trick works like a charm for removing labels cleanly—and thinly—for rebate mailings.

I started off using a metal ruler for a clean edge, but by the last box I was just free handing it. Free hand was much faster and just as effective. The razor seen in the photo is the Olfa Touch and definitely one of the best $2 investments I've made. I've had it for several years and it's a great little razor to keep on your desk for jobs like this.

Make a Moss Terrarium for Low-Maintenance Greenery - Thanksgiving Edition


Last spring we shared a guide to making a moss terrarium in a wine bottle. While a great idea, gettting moss though the neck of a bottle can be pretty tough. Later in the year when I decided to make some moss terrariums to add some low-maintenance greenery to my office, I opted to use a container I could squeeze my hand into.

I had a fair amount of moss pieces left, many of them small "trimmings" from the larger pieces I had used in making my two big terrariums. This year we hosted Thanksgiving at casa Fitzpatrick, and it seemed like a perfect way to use up the extra moss and introduce some novelty to the table. I went to World Market and bought a bunch of their 99-cent glass spice jars in the cooking glassware aisle and a small bag of river stones for $8. I used the spice jars to make tiny little moss terrariums for each place setting and used simple hand cut card stock and some gift card string to attach the names around the neck of the bottle. Each bottle had moss and one or two very small river stones. The placeholders were a huge hit with the guests and could be great for any upcoming holiday party.

A Well Brined Bird is a Happy Bird


In early November we shared the fantastic Alton Brown recipe for brining a turkey. We followed up closer to Thanksgiving by sharing more brining recipes, and plenty or readers chimed in with their favorites, too. Most of the editors at Lifehacker HQ brined our turkeys this year, and the results were delicious. Lowell tried the upside-down trick—you cook the turkey upside down so the juices pool in the breast meat—and I cooked it in a more traditional way after a solid soak with the Alton Brown recipe. This was the first time I'd had a brined turkey (not a tradition in my family), and it was definitely the most delicious turkey I've ever had.


That's it for this week's Lifehacker Lab, but don't let us have all the fun. We have a Lifehacker Tips Tester pool on Flickr for you to show off your your favorite Lifehacker tips, tricks, and hacks in action. If you've used a tip from Lifehacker, we'd love to see photos of your results in the tester pool!




GroceryWiz Is a Full-Featured, Grocery-List-Making Webapp [Groceries]

It's easy to forget things grocery shopping once your bumping elbows with the masses. GroceryWiz is an easy to use, fully customizable webapp that keeps your weekly grocery needs in check.

(Click the image above for a closer look.)

GroceryWiz is a quick and easy tool for adding grocery items to a virtual and printable list to make your trips to the grocery store easier and more productive. It keeps track of your weekly purchases and saves your lists from week to week to help identify frequent purchases you may have left off before you hit the print button. You can add notes for each ingredient, in case you need a reminder as to why you need it—or what dish it's destined for. The whole thing prints out in an easy to read list that's divided by category to ensure you don't miss leave something behind, before leaving a certain section of the store.

Sign up is free, and the site also offers freebie offers and coupons, though those features require a bit more of your time than a few off the cuff edits to stay on top of your daily or weekly shopping list. If this seems a little over the top for your needs, you can always try using a basic template to streamline your own handwritten lists, or try shopping every two weeks to save money and make things a little more routine.




Make Your Own Single-Serve Coffee Pods [DIY]

Coffee makers that use pod-style coffee-and-filter packs are great for making a single-serving brew quickly. Unfortunately the coffee isn't always great, and buying single-serve pods can be spendy. Save a few bucks and use your own coffee by making your own instead.

Photo by e's.

INeedCoffee's John Wolf has a great tutorial on how to make your own coffee pods using things you probably have laying around your kitchen already. You'll need a strong measuring cup the same size as your your coffee maker's pod holder—a 1/3 cup size should do—and a jar or glass that fits snugly inside the cup. Next, grab some ordinary coffee filters and your favorite ground coffee, then check out the posts step-by-step guide for molding, filling, and sealing the pods.

Wolf says his method works with just about any kind of coffee, but finely ground works best. Since you can buy small amounts of coffee in the bulk foods section of many grocery stores, this a great way to serve guests several unique blends during the holidays without buying dozens of flavors you may never use again.




How to Eat a Pomegranate Frustration Free [Food Hacks]

Pomegranates are a delicious but extremely frustrating fruit to eat. Using the technique outlined here you'll put more pomegranate in your mouth and less all over the kitchen.

For those of you who have never eaten a pomegranate, the frustration comes from the structure of the fruit and what a pain it is to get to the good stuff. An orange, for example, is easily peeled and the delicious part is right at hand. A pomegranate fruit has several internal chambers filled with seeds that are stuck to a membrane and each other. The seeds are what you want to eat but it's a huge pain to get them out without crushing them, making a mess, and getting the pile of seeds you've scooped out completely covered in white flakes from the membrane.

The secret? Quarter the pomegranate and then place it into a large bowl of water. Pomegranate seeds sink and everything else—skin, membranes, etc.—float. Brush the seeds free from the skin and membrane and they'll sink right to the bottom. Check out the full guide and excellent accompanying photographs at the link below.

Have a tip for eating a tricky food? Let's hear about it in the comments.




Maximize Your Thanksgiving Leftovers with Leftover Recipes [Recipes]

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and you've got a pile of leftovers. It's time to take a look at how you can maximize the meals you can make from your leftovers, preferably with the least amount of effort.

Photo by Roland.

Last year we shared a few leftover recipes and now we're back to share a few more. The absolute easiest method of course is to simply throw servings of your leftovers on the plate and heat them back up. If you love a good Thanksgiving meal you can't go wrong with a basic reheat. That said, we've gathered up a few basic recipes here for you to mix up your left overs.

Open-Face Turkey Sandwiches: The open-face turkey sandwich is a staple in the leftover playbook. Take a thick slice of bread—some people put a light layer of mayonnaise with a sprinkling of salt and pepper here—mound it up with turkey, pour some gravy over it, and heat the whole thing up in a microwave or toaster oven. You can always go easy on the gravy to minimize the mess and slap another piece on top if you've got a deep seated distrust of an open-face sandwich.

Turkey Dumplings: Dumplings are filling and the recipe is about as simple as it gets. You'll need cooked turkey, all purpose flour, and package of biscuit dough. Cook the turkey in water until a broth forms, drop in some hunks of biscuit dough, and you're done. You can check out the recipe here.

Pilgrim Pie: Rene Lynch, experimenting with her leftovers, saw that she had almost all the ingredients for a shepherd pie. All the ingredients save for the crust, that is. With a little kitchen ingenuity and some saut├ęd onions and flour she made a simple dish out of leftover cooked vegetables, diced turkey, and mashed potatoes. You can read more about it here.

Turkey Soup: Turkey soup has a moderate number of ingredients but if you already prepared a Thanksgiving meal the chances of you having all of them on hand is pretty high. Prep for the soup is a bunch of chopping and dicing and then tossing it all in a pot. With enough leftover turkey and a big enough pot you can make quite a batch. You can check out the recipe here.

Turkey, Chestnut, and Barley Soup: If you're in the mood for a heartier soup than a simple turkey broth and turkey mix can provide this turkey and barley soup is plenty hearty. You can make it using a can of broth or use the carcass leftover from yesterday's festivities. You can check out the recipe here.

Grilled Turkey and Apple Sandwiches: The recipe is actually for chicken sandwiches but turkey is a great stand in. You can grill it in a skillet but it cooks great in a grill press. Flavorful and easy to make, it's a nice way to make leftovers seem less like leftovers. See the recipe here.

Our suggestions should get you started on mixing up your leftovers, but it's certainly not a conclusive list of ways to turn your turkey day leftovers into something fresh and tasty. Let's hear about your favorite leftover recipes in the comments below.




Gorge Like a Pro to Maximize Your Holiday Feast [Food]

There's only few times a year where filling your belly until you're ready to bust is a good idea—or at least socially acceptable. Make the most of your Thanksgiving binge with food weblog Eating The Road's guide to gorging.

Photo by RealEstateZebra

Obviously eating your way through the Thanksgiving line could yield rather anti-social results later on, but just in case you want to pig out like a pro, Eating The Road's got plenty of tips to help expand your stomach and get your body ready for what's about to take place. Their guide is actually about getting the most from an all-you-can-eat buffet, but clearly your Thanksgiving feast isn't all that different:

Meals leading up to the buffet have been debated for ages. My recommendations are a large dinner the night before consisting mostly of light breads and vegetables to expand the stomach. It is also advantageous to drink plenty of liquids, preferably water. This also varies greatly on what time of day your buffet meal is going to be. For a breakfast buffet your larger meal should be the lunch prior with a small dinner. The morning of I would suggest a very small meal containing some sugar in order to get your metabolism up and running. Eat nothing more throughout the day. Liquids are advised, preferably water, as almost a mandatory health concern due to the high sodium content you are about to consume.

Hit up Eating The Road's full guide for more tips on eating your way through buffet lines (and Thanksgiving dinners) of all shapes and sizes. Do you consider yourself a pro at getting the most bang for your Thanksgiving dinner buck (without feeling sick afterward)? Sound off with your best tips for making the most of your meal in the comments.




How to Safely Fry a Turkey, Avoid a Trip to the Emergency Room [Food]

Deep frying your Thanksgiving bird is all the rage, and for good reason: The results are delicious. Although that extra crispy skin is oh so tasty, frying without a little know-how is a recipe for trouble.

Instructables user Lextone looks like he's heeded the words of Alton Brown when it comes to frying up the perfect turkey for his Thanksgiving feast. He has detailed each step of the process to keep things super safe keeping everyone free from harm or injury.

To get started you'll need the following: a fryer and its accessories, a metal or fiberglass ladder, a two-foot piece of dimensional lumber (1x2 or 2x4), a pulley, and a length of 3/8" rope. The extra gear is intended to let you start your turkey fry without injuring yourself using a simple pulley system, and that's the focus of the guide, but it's littered with other safety tips, as well.

If you haven't tried frying a turkey, it's worth the time—just make sure to keep things on a level, unflammable surface and heed Lextone's advice and step-by-step instructions—which can be found in detail over at Instructables.

Have you tried your hand frying a turkey? Share your experience in the comments.




Recipes for Brining a Better Thanksgiving Turkey [Thanksgiving]

We've previously posted the "why" of brining your Thanksgiving turkey, with delicious scientific evidence. Looking for the "how"? Serious Eats offers up food science savant Alton Brown's brining recipe. Slashfood has also posted a choose your own spices brine mix, and L.A. Times food writer Russ Parsons previously shared a dry turkey brining technique that he claims gives the final result a less "sponge-y" texture than traditional salt solutions. Feel free to drop your own brine mixture in the comments, of course.




Use Oats to Make Great Faux-Meat Veggie Burgers [Health]

Turkey's traditional, but it's smart to have a meat-free alternative on the backburner at Thanksgiving. Veggie burgers are quick and easy, but also typically dry or mushy. Try adding oats to keep things moist and meaty.

Although I live in Kansas City, Missouri—home to the best meat options around—I'm not a huge meat eater, truth be told. Still, vegetarian fare always leaves me feeling unsatisfied. I've tested more than my share of veggie burger recipes, all promising to create something that has the heft and tenderness of a proper hamburger. Never having found one that truly succeeded, I turned to this recipe from weblog Food Wishes.

The key to the recipe is oats—their main purpose to absorb excess moisture from the mix, without stealing any from the mushrooms that are added in. If you're looking for a pre- or even post-Thanksgiving snack that doesn't involve turkey, give these a try. The oats make things hearty without a sign of beef, pork, or lamb in sight.

Do you have a post Thanksgiving snack that takes it easy on the turkey? Share your recipe in the comments.




Use a Spoon to Prevent Milk from Boiling Over [Food Hacks]

You're boiling milk, you turn your back for a moment, and—boom!—like Godzilla rising out of the bay, the milk is boiling over the pot and all over the stove. Prevent that mess with this simple hack.

First, courtesy of food blog thekitchn, a little background on why milk boils over, unlike a pot of plain water:

As milk heats, the water in its structure starts evaporating from the surface. This concentrates the remaining fat and proteins into a thicker layer at the top of the pot. This layer eventually becomes so thick that water vapor rising through the milk can't break through very easily and gets trapped.

While this complex interaction of protein and fat is what makes milk awesome for things like the creamy froth that goes into cappuccinos, it's also the reason that it boils over. The quick and dirty fix for the problem is to put a long-handled spoon into the pot as it is heating. The spoon breaks the surface tension and the skim of milk fat and protein forming and allows the steam to escape without violently erupting. It's a trick your grandmother might have known, but not something she necessarily felt the need to pass on in the age of microwaves.

Not as popular as they were in generaitons past, you can also use a milk watcher. A milk watcher is essentially just a glass, metal, or ceramic disc that helps to distribute the heat and steam in such a way to prevent film from forming on the surface. You can pick a glass one up for a few bucks at specialty food stores or online.

Have your own cooking tip or trick to share? Pleased to finally know why exactly your grandma used to throw a little metal UFO into the hot chocolate pot? Let's hear about it in the comments.




Use a Waffle Maker to Roll Your Own Pizza Pockets [Clever Uses]

If you want to squeeze even more miles out your seemingly one-trick waffle iron, you can use it to roll your own homemade Hot Pocket knockoffs.

More than a few people have taken a long hard look at their waffle maker and said, "Certainly, you must be good for more than waffles." We've already shown you how you can use a waffle maker to crank out some quick cookies and make some great bacon, but now we're back to share how one munchie-driven Instructables user turned his into a homemade pizza-pocket maker.

You'll need a tube of crescent roll dough and whatever filling you want to use. The original author opted to put cheese and pepperoni inside and dip it into the sauce to minimize the mess, but you can put whatever you want into it. You simply unroll the dough, put the ingredient you want inside your pocket, and then fold over the remaining dough. You don't even need to grease the waffle iron, since the crescent roll dough is made to be used with an ungreased pan.

Check out the full tutorial at Instructables for additional photos and tips. Have a culinary hack of your own to share? Let's hear about it in the comments below.




Use a Paring Knife to Sharpen Your Vegetable Peeler [Kitchen]

It's important to keep your knives sharp for a safe and efficient kitchen, but it's easy to neglect the other bladed tools, like your vegetable peeler. Food weblog Chow shows how to keep a sharpener's edge with a paring knife.

By running the tip of a paring knife along each blade of your peeler, the metal-on-metal action will restore some of your blade's edge. Most don't even notice their peelers starting to dull, but once you give this tip a try you'll dig how much less resistance you'll have as you take on potato after potato, carrot after carrot, this holiday season.

The same trick can be applied to any metal grater or blade in your kitchen. If you have the patience, try sharpening up your box grater or cheese slicer. Hit up discount stores, as you can usually find paring knives right around the dollar mark, and you won't mind if they get roughed up a bit.

Do you have another tip for keeping non-knife edges sharp in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments.




KidsEatFor Helps Keep Your Dinner Bill Low [Food]

Par down the bill for your next meal out by picking a restaurant where kids get special treatment with the help of web site KidsEatFor.

We've shared a resource with you before for finding places that offer free meals to kids, but KidsEatFor is definitely a more sophisticated tool for finding free places to feed your band of french-fry grubbers. Plug in your zip code and it spits back a calendar with listings for every day of the week. Restaurants are flagged as locations where kids eat free or cheap and you can click on the bottom of each column for additional listings for each day when available.

If you search for your locale and the results are sparse, search for the nearest big city. Most likely kids-eat-free policies are throughout an entire restaurant chain and a quick phone call will confirm if the local spot participates. Have a money-saving or other kid-related hack? Let's hear it in the comments.




Get a Jump on Thanksgiving with Make-Ahead Dishes [Thanksgiving]

Thanksgiving meals only require 5 a.m. wake-ups if you refuse to make any dishes ahead of the big day. Minimalist food writer Mark Bittman and others suggest lots of stuff you can make many days ahead of time.

Bittman's done these kind of simple meal round-ups before—including the 20-minute appetizers that might also help out with hosting duties—but these suggstions doesn't rely on the dishes being "quick"—just simple to execute, and able to hold for a few days before your guests arrive. The other benefit involves almost all of them being served at room temperature, and cooked at the same temperature (375 Fahrenheit) in an oven.

In a related post, Slashfood quizzes Thanksgiving hosts with a week-ahead checklist of things to prepare for, like checking in on guests and their dish plans and buying your food now, since it'll keep. Finally, my friend at the Buffalo News suggests which classic sides can be made ahead of time and offers a few gourmet-level side dish challenges, also intended for pre-holiday cooking.