Simple kitchen tips can be as helpful as an extra hand

How many cups in a pound (450 g)?

Need some kitchen tips and shortcuts that really work? Want to know a few recipe substitutions to use in a pinch? Here’s a few I have collected.

Aluminum foil

A crumpled ball of foil can polish a stainless steel sink. Scrub the sink with the foil and water and the oxidation comes off, then finish by washing with soapy water.

A sheet of aluminum foil with hot water and a tablespoon (15 mL) of baking soda cleans silver cutlery well. Place a sheet of foil in the bottom of the sink. Fill with hot water and mix in the baking soda. Lay cutlery on the foil, then remove and rinse when the tarnish disappears.

Baking pan substitutions

Baking time may need adjustment and deeper pans may require longer baking time.

A 10 inch x 3 1/2 inch (25 cm x 9 cm) Bundt pan equals two eight inch x two inch (20 cm x 5 cm) rounds.

A standard 12 cup muffin tin equals one 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch (21.5 cm x 11.5 cm) loaf or one nine inch x 1 1/2-inch (23 cm x 4 cm) round or one eight inch (20 cm) square pan.

One 10 inch x two inch (25 cm x 5 cm) round equals one nine inch (23 cm) square pan.

One nine inch x two inch (23 cm x 5 cm) round equals two eight inch x 1 1/2 inch (20 cm x 4 cm) rounds or one 10 inch x 15 inch (25 cm x 38 cm) jelly roll or one eight inch (20 cm) square pan.

Brown sugar

Make your own by adding one tablespoon (15 mL) of molasses to one cup (250 mL) of white sugar. Use an electric mixer on low speed or a food processor to incorporate. Adjust the shade of the sugar by adding more or less molasses.

Make light brown sugar by mixing half dark brown sugar with half white sugar. Using dark brown when the recipe calls for light brown sugar will give too much molasses flavour.

Soften brown sugar by placing in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with several layers of damp paper towel. Microwave for 45 seconds on medium-low heat. Break up lumps with a fork. Flip and repeat as many times as necessary.

Clarify a stock

The easiest way to produce a crystal clear chicken or beef stock is to first freeze it, then place it in a fine sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth. Place over a bowl and thaw in the refrigerator. A gelatinous blob will remain after the liquid has melted into the bowl.


Lay shredded coconut on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 F (175 C) oven for added flavour. Use to garnish iced cakes or in baking. Select a can of coconut milk by shaking it. Choose one that is more solid.

Double boiler

If you don’t have a double boiler, place a metal or glass mixing bowl over a saucepan containing water and heat to a gentle simmer.


For a cake flour substitute, place two level tablespoons (30 mL) of cornstarch in a one cup (250 mL) dry measure. Fill with all purpose flour and blend. Self-rising flour can be made by placing 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 mL) of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon (3 mL) of salt in a one cup (250 mL) dry measure. Fill with all purpose flour and blend.


Grate cold, hard butter and it will quickly soften. Mozzarella is easier to grate if it is frozen first.

Use a fine grater rather than painstakingly mincing garlic and ginger. Grate it directly into the salad or dish.

Lemons and citrus

Before squeezing, warm the lemons or oranges to room temperature and roll under your palm on the countertop. If necessary, microwave the fruit for 10 seconds before juicing. Warming the fruit and breaking the inner membranes will bring out more juice from the fruit.

Clean your microwave easily by placing a dish of lemon juice in it. Microwave for two to three minutes and it will clean easily. Freeze extra lemons by cutting in wedges and placing in a sealed freezer bag. Take out as needed.


Take out the extra rack from your oven before preheating. It can be used as a cooling rack on your countertop.

Pan toasting

Toast grains like quinoa or barley in a dry pan before cooking to bring out their nutty flavour.

Toast whole or ground spices in a dry pan before using to intensify their flavours. This works well if spices are old.


Fresh ginger is easily peeled by rubbing with the edge of a spoon.

Use a spoon to get under the shell when peeling hard boiled eggs.

Peel a kiwi fruit by cutting off both ends. Then carefully slide a spoon under the skin and push it around the fruit while holding it in your hand. The kiwi should slide out whole.

oo salty

Add a raw potato to a soup or stew to absorb excess salt. Discard potato.

Food facts

How many cups in a pound (450g)?

  • 4 c. all purpose flour 1 L
  • 4 3/4 c. cake flour 1,100 mL
  • 2 1/4 c. granulated sugar 530 mL
  • 3 1/2 c. icing sugar 820 mL
  • 1 1/3 c. honey 315 mL
  • 4 c. cheese, grated/shredded 1L
  • 2 1/2 c. potatoes, cooked or 3-4 potatoes 625 mL
  • 2 1/3 c. dried navy beans uncooked or 8 c. cooked 550 mL
  • 2 2/3 c. dried kidney beans, uncooked or 7 c. cooked 630 mL
  • 2 1/3 c. lentils uncooked, or 8 c. cooked 550 mL
  • 3 c. corn meal 750 mL
  • 2 1/8 c. rice 50 mL

What do you do?

Please share your tips online at or send us an email at or a letter. If we get enough tips, we’ll print a second list.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

About the author


Stories from our other publications