These hacks were passed down on my Italian-American side of the family (it’s no surprise that many of them have to do with food- mangia!) These low-tech tidbits ended up in our family cookbook and I thought it only fair to share the wisdom with the wider world.
Before they became meme’s or pins, life hacks were advice passed down from generation to generation.
I came across a section in our family cookbook called “Did you know tidbits,” a section jammed with tips, tricks and life hacks many of which I never knew. Goes to show how important the written word is for passing down information.
These hacks were too good not to share, so here’s a list of my favourites. From the ‘Barres Family Cookbook’ (lovingly put together by my Mother’s side of the family including my Grandmother and my beloved Great Aunties, Aunts, and Cousins).
Grandma’s Low Tech Life Hacks
Bits & Pieces
Reducing Static: Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip when wearing a dress or to the seam of your slacks if you’re wearing stockings to prevent static cling. (Does anyone wear slips anymore? How adorably retro).
Extra Hair Conditioner: (There’s always extra) Use it to shave your legs.
Broken Glass: Clean it up with a wet cotton ball (cotton wool)
Reopen a Sealed Envelope: If you forget to put something inside, place inside your freezer for an hour or two and reopen easily
Foggy Windscreen: Keep a chalkboard eraser in your car to wipe away fog, works better than a cloth.
Garlic Taste: If you want a light garlic taste in a recipe add it early in the cooking, if you want a stronger garlic flavour, add it later
Get Rid of the Grease: Add a teaspoon of water when frying beef mince, it will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking
Eggs still fresh? Place eggs in a bowl of water, if they float throw them out. Good eggs will stay submerged. For easy deviled eggs, add filling to a zip loc bag, cut off one corner and pipe into the hard boiled egg halves.
Revive Veggies: Soak in ice water with a dash of vinegar to crisp them up. If they are past their peak, use them to make stock (roast them first for a deeper flavour). If you overcook them, serve as a puree with olive oil or a little butter.
Use Overripe fruit: 1. Cut off the parts that are still edible and freeze them to use in smoothies. 2. Cook down with a little water and sugar or juice to make a fruit syrup. 3. Cook down, add a little sugar for a quick fruit puree/ sauce to use on yoghurt, dessert, pancakes or ice cream.
Bananas: 1. Peel bananas from the bottom to avoid picking off the stringy bits. That’s how primates eat them! 2. When you get bananas home from the store, seperate them at the stems. Individual bananas last longer than if you keep them in a bunch.
Double Frosting: When you buy frosting from a can in the supermarket, whip it with your mixer and it will double in size. You can frost more cupcakes or cake and you’ll reduce the amount of sugar in each serving.
Measuring Cups: Before you measure sticky substances like peanut butter, syrup or honey, rinse the measuring cup with hot water (don’t dry) and watch how easily the sticky ingredient slides out.
Weeds: After you plant, add a layer of wet newspapers about 4cm thick around the plants, this will prevent weeds getting through and add a layer of compost to your soil as it breaks down.
Get rid of fruit flies: Fill a small glass halfway with apple cider vinegar, 2 drops of washing liquid and mix well. Fruit flies will be drawn to the cup and drown in the liquid.
Get Rid of Ants: Put small piles of polenta where you see them, they will take it home and since they cannot digest it which kills them. It will take a week or so but it works without having to worry about poison around pets or children.