Since Persephone rose from her winter hiatus, this blog has focused on some pretty heady material: what if women disappeared, being adrift in your life, loneliness, shame, and most recently, gratitude. This week, I’ve decided to step away from the serious tenor of my recent posts and take a whimsical, yet informative, approach. And no, it’s not a life hack post — although, one will be coming in the next month or so.
This week, I’m going to highlight a few hidden or forgotten uses for everyday items. During my research, I found several gems that made me think…"huh, I never knew that...that’s pretty cool!" One of them, I just used while typing this blog. My hope is that you find this interesting and perhaps discover some new tricks to impress your friends.
18 Everyday Objects That You Never Realized Had a Purpose
1) Anticipation, I Don’t Think So
If you’re a Heinz ketchup lover, I’m sure this has happened to you too — as well as Carly Simon (well, I guess the song wasn’t written for Heinz, but you get where I’m going). Trying to get the right amount of ketchup out of the glass bottle can be a real pain. All you want is a little bit of ketchup for your fries, but no matter what you do, you either get a tiny amount out, or your plate is suddenly overflowing with ketchup.
But the clever Heinz folks created a way to get it right. If you're having trouble getting ketchup out of their glass bottles, all you need to do is hit the raised 57 on the bottle's neck and you’ll end up with the appropriate amount on your plate.
As a side note, there are not 57 varieties of ingredients or products that Heinz sells. According to Heinz Corp., the creator, John Heinz, saw an advert for “21 styles of shoes” and thought it was a clever gimmick. So using his favorite number 5, and his wife’s favorite, 7, “57 Varieties” slogan was born.
2) Why Is There a Hole in Most Pot Handles?
Most pots and many pans are designed with a small hole at the end of the handle. While they make for an easy way to hang your pots and pans when they're not in use, they were also designed with another purpose in mind: as a way to hold your spoon or spatula in place over the pot itself, and save yourself from making a mess of your stovetop.
3) And Why the Holes on the Sides of Aluminum Foil Cartons?
If you've ever studied a box of aluminum foil, you may have noticed that there are little indentations that, once pushed in, create small holes on either end of the box. Look a little closer and the reason for these holes is printed right on the box: "Press to lock roll."Meaning, you'll never have to deal with an unwieldy roll of tinfoil again.
4) Once Again, An Explanation About Another Hole
You know those spaghetti sporks (looks like a spoon and fork) that are used to stir and serve long pasta like spaghetti? Did you ever wonder what that middle hole is for?
Yes, it helps drain the water when scooping the pasta out but it has another hidden use. The hole can be used to measure out one serving of spaghetti. The number of pasta strands that fit in the hole counts as a single serving.
5) But I Thought That Was for Storage?
Many of us use that drawer space under the oven to store cookie sheets, pots, pans, and other kitchen cookware. But in many cases, that’s not how the manufacturer intended you to use it. That compartment is intended to be a warming drawer, a place to keep finished food warm while other dishes are cooking.
6) Chinese Takeout Boxes Serve a Dual Purpose
Not only do these takeout boxes hold your food and keep the contents warm, the box can also be unfolded and used as a plate. Even better, if you don't finish your food in one sitting, it folds right back up and tucks into itself, ready to store back in the fridge for future indulging.
7) Continuing on the Dual Purpose Theme
Like the aforementioned Chinese takeout boxes, those little waxed ketchup and condiment cups you get at fast food restaurants serve another purpose. They hold your condiments pretty well but when you’re ready to dunk your fries, nuggets, or side of your burger, the cup is much too small. But if you pull the sides apart, the cup turns into a little serving plate, and you can dip away easily.
8) Like Drinking Soda from a Straw but Hate the Bobbing Up and Down?
The little tab on the top of soda cans that you use to pop the can open was also designed to hold your straw. Simply twist the tab around and put your straw in the hole and sip away.
9) Soda Cup Surprise
The inside of the lid on your soda cup is actually designed to act as a coaster to use when you put your soda down. The bottom of the cup should fit perfectly into the grooved ring on the lid.
10) Keep Your Beer from Getting Warm Too Quickly
I hate it when I'm drinking a beer and the bottom quarter of the beer is warm. Well, if you’re drink from a long neck bottle, here’s a solution. Those long beer bottle neck bottles are there for you to grab onto instead of holding your beer by the body. Its long neck was created to eliminate body heat from transferring to the liquid inside.
11) Why Do Wine and Champagne Bottles Have Indents on the Bottom?
Although very useful, the ident is not there so that the sommelier or waiter can get a better grip while pouring a glass, which is probably what you've thought.
The indent is there to compensate for the pressure that builds during the corking process. The sides and bottoms of bottles are weak spots, and the indentation helps evenly distribute the pressure inside the bottle. That's why it's so much deeper on champagne bottles, which are under much more pressure due to the carbonation.
12) Flossing Without Turning your Fingertips Blue
When flossing, many of us tightly wrap the floss around two fingers — cutting off circulation — to get the job done. Not an optimal feeling to start or end your day. Here’s how you should do it. Just tie the two ends togetherand you'll have a much easier time and won't hurt your fingers!
13) Having Difficulty Getting the Cap Off of Your Prescription?
Most modern (but not all) prescription bottle caps generally have one or two raised sections above a ribbed base. While the raised sections of the cap can make it harder to remove, they’re also where the magic lies. When you’ve removed the cap, simply flip it upside down and screw it back in, so that the raised sections are pointed toward the bottom of the bottle. The inverted cap also provides the perfect place for you to store your next pill.
14) What Are Those Raised Lines on a Keyboard?
Most trained typists will already know why these are there. In 10-finger typing, the "F" and "J" keysare the home keys, where your index fingers rest. There are raised lines at the bottom of each key that help you find your way back to the home position without looking down at your keyboard. This is the one trick I mentioned earlier and has changed my typing game completely!
15) Secrets of the Measuring Tape
At the end of measuring tape — usually within the metal, flat tab at the end — there’s a hole. This is purposeful as it’s meant to hold screws or nails. Using it this way will allow you to keep the tape in place without having to stretch your arms to (and beyond) your limit.
Also, did you ever notice that the bottom of the end hook has a serrated edge? There’s a good reason for that. If you’re measuring something and don’t have a marking tool handy, you can use this serrated edge to make a mark by running it back and forth on whatever you’re measuring.
16) Using a Public Toilet Correctly
When you’re in a public bathroom, it’s always a good idea to use a toilet seat cover, but I bet you’ve been using it incorrectly by putting it on backwards. The correct way is to place the flap in front and let the flap dangle in the water. That way, when you flush, the water will drag the whole cover down the drain and you won’t have to touch it.
17) What Side of the Car is the Gas Tank On?
This one was news to me, probably because I don’t own a car and either drive a borrowed or rented car. I’m always frustrated when I go to get gas and can’t see what side the latch is on. But,on the typical gas gauge, you’ll see a little picture of a gas tank. Most importantly, there should be an arrow pointing to the left or right. That’s an indicator as to which side of the car the gas tank is on…cool!
18) What Side of the Road Is That Darned Exit?
I recently was driving on the thruway in New Jersey — a nightmare experience given the vast number of interconnecting roads in a very cramped area. It was hard to figure out what side of the road the exit would be and whether I’d have to cross four very crowded lanes to get to my destination. Nerve-wracking, to say the least.
Well, in my research, I found something I really could have used. Interstate exit signs usually mark the exits at one and two miles in advance. The exit number is at the top of the sign on a separate board. If that exit number board is flush with the left of the larger sign, it's a left exit. If the exit number board is flush with the right side of the sign, it's a right exit.
Cooking for Joan
I posted this recipe two years ago, but at a recent gathering, I was chatting with some guests about Cooking for Joan and this recipe in particular. Everyone wanted to get the recipe and I told them that I would reprint it. So, here it is.
Hollandaise is one of the 5 French Mother Sauces and is considered to be one of the most challenging to make. It’s not that it’s difficult, but it’s sooo easy to ruin in seconds. I gave up on making hollandaise years ago, but last year, in a life hack frenzy, I found this recipe on the Serious Eats site and thought I’d give it a go.
Voilà! It was the best hollandaise I’d ever made — truly amazing and simple! Give it a try, and follow the directions exactly — you’ll be flabbergasted by the result!
Hollandaise Sauce (Foolproof in 2 Minutes)
Prep Time: 1 min | Cook Time: 2 min | Makes: 10 | Difficulty: Medium
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
- Kosher salt
- 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
- Pinch cayenne pepper or hot sauce (if desired)
Combine egg yolk, water, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a cup that barely fits the head of an immersion blender.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over high heat, swirling constantly, until foaming subsides. It should register around 220 degrees. (Buy a kitchen thermometer if you don’t have one)
Transfer butter to a 1 cup liquid measuring cup.
Place head of immersion blender into the bottom of the cup and turn it on.
Run the blender constantly, slowly pouring hot butter into the cup. It will emulsify with the egg yolk and lemon juice.
Pour until all butter is added and the sauce is thick and creamy.
Season to taste with salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce (if desired).
Serve immediately, or transfer to a small lidded pot and keep in a warm place for up to 2 hour before serving. Hollandaise cannot be cooled and reheated.