New Ideas for the Chopstick
I love chopsticks. I’m not really sure why, since I’ve never been able to master eating with them. Maybe I like that they are elegant and made from the most beautiful natural resource around. Their clean angles and sturdy design make them destined for something much greater than sitting at the back of my kitchen junk drawer. If you’ve got a few lying around that you won’t be wrapping a noodle around, check out some handy tips for breathing new life into an ancient tradition.
Crafting – If you’re handy with the arts, or just like to build things, then the chopstick can be very useful to you. Chopsticks can be the medium of baskets, jewelry, frames, mobiles, or abstract centerpieces. There is no limit to the imaginative creations that can be made from them. (You can visit Real Green Goods, for a website that offers some great products using chopsticks. You might be inspired to create some of your own!)
Cooking – In addition to the popular method of using a chopstick as a skewer for baking or broiling meats and veggies, chopsticks can also be used in steaming. If you are without a steam tray or basket, simple stack several layers of chopsticks across the bottom of a large soup pan. Fill the bottom with a few inches of water, but not enough to meet the top of your chopstick stack. Layer large pieces of fresh veggies on top of the chopsticks and cook while covered. (Pay close attention to make sure that you don’t run out of water. Cooking with a dry pot could cause the chopsticks to burn.) Add water as needed until the veggies are cooked yet tender.
Another handy kitchen use deals with the unpleasant task of deveining shrimp. To easily remove the icky black lines in the back of the shrimp, insert the tapered end of the chopstick into the back of the shrimp’s “spine” and push forward along the length of the shrimp. The vein should scrape out easily.
Chopsticks can also make a great temperature gauge for that skillet or pot of hot cooking oil. With a small amount of meat (or whatever you’re frying) on the end of a chopstick, touch the bottom of the pan. If it sizzles, you’re ready to cook!
Gardening – If the thought of wasting wood bothers you, give back to the green good by implementing chopsticks into your horticulture routine! There are so many uses for chopsticks in the care of plants that it is impossible to list them all here. The art of Bonsai uses chopsticks in many daily routines, including checking water, repotting, and shaping. If Bonsai isn’t your thing, you can still use chopsticks to support your houseplants or to make plant labels that you can stick in the soil.
Cleaning – Chopsticks are great for getting into hard-to-reach areas. Wrap a small cloth around the end of one and secure with a rubber band to make your own bottle brush or dish scrubber for long-stem flower vases. The tapered ends make a good sturdy tool for digging out dirt and mold from seams of shower fixtures and along baseboards. They are also great for getting pieces of bread out of the toaster (just be sure to unplug the toaster first), cleaning the dryer vent, and fishing items out from under the TV console or large appliances. I’ve also used them for getting gunked-on batter from the crevices of the waffle iron!
The list of uses for chopsticks is endless, so there is hope that mine will find purpose in my lifetime. Not convinced that you’re ready to give up using chopsticks for eating? Check out this guide for making spring-loaded chopsticks from a clothespin! So simple, even a child can use them!
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