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Using non-food items for food-related uses?

As in using a DVD spindle to store and transport a bagel sandwich (see picture below). Wish this was my idea, but it's not.

Still, it got me thinking.

Are there any other great uses for non-food items?

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  1. That is fantastic!! No way that thing's getting crushed.

    The only thing I've done that's even close is use a couple of pencils as chopsticks when people bring stuff into the office and there's no utensils around.

    1. Maybe more common than I know:

      Buy a BBQ chicken here in Cali, Colombia; and the seller will cut it up if you want--with hand garden shears.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Sounds like the cart ladies at dim sum who will split an order. They're probably not as heavy duty as the ones they need to cut up a chicken, but substantial nonetheless.

      2. I wouldn't recommend anybody doing this and I know it is dangerous but I spread newspaper tight to my electric burner when I saute anything that throws off a lot of grease. I can't stand that "grease all over the range" look. And yes, the newspaper has occasionally started smoldering but I am very diligent and I NEVER leave the pan unattended.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Scagnetti

          Why not use foil? Less flammable, and still clean.

        2. I use regular paint brushes for brushing on oils and coatings, i use regular spackle tools for cakes, i use PVC molds all the time for plating

          3 Replies
          1. re: jpschust

            How do you clean those brushes? I tried, and can't get the olive oil out!

            1. re: mojoeater

              Dishwasher in the utensil area works just fine for me :)

            2. re: jpschust

              I have a drywall knife for scraping chocolate molds, the Wagner airless paint sprayer for spraying chocolate, PVC rings of course, and panels from an IKEA wastebasket that I use a a stencil for thick batters such as meringue.

            3. microlanes started out as woodworking tools

              1. That is awesome!

                I keep my kitchen tools in a toolbox, and sometimes wander through the hardware store and find things I can use, especially for pastry, baking, and chocolate work--putty knives, pvc pipe rings, blow torch, woodworking tools....

                I like to use a large (18") terra cotta saucer as a pizza stone, and I sometimes bake bread in terra cotta pots or coffee cans.

                I use a knitting needle to flip aebleskiver (but that is sort of traditional).

                A 5 gallon bucket with lid is what I proof my dough in, make lemonade and sangria for backyard BBQ's in, and doubles as a seat when the lid is on.

                Several quilting tools work brilliantly for decorating cakes draped with fondant.

                1. This is the opposite of what you asked, but when I was learning to knit, I substituted a trussing needle for a knitting needle after I had ripped several rows out because it was thinner and sharper, and I could more easily get the stitches onto it!

                  1. Wooden closet-rod dowels, cut to whatever length you like, make wonderful rolling pins. Plus, no big Wms-Sonoma price tag for a tony traditional pin. Just clean well and treat with mineral oil before using it.

                    1. i couldn't access cheesecloth at the last minute, so grabbed some gauze and strained out my ricotta for some ravioli that way. except for the width being a bit small and it not being cheaper than cheesecloth, it worked really well in a snap.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        When I was a kid we used to have an all day singing and dinner on the grounds after the worship service on Homecoming Sunday. The ladies would make about 20-25 gallons of lemonade from fresh lemons. They would serve it out of a huge galvanized washtub bought especially for this purpose, and never used for anything else. The kids all helped roll the lemons, so they could be juiced more easily.

                      2. I've seen an in-sink baby bath filled with ice and used as a cooler. It might have been at a baby shower.

                        1. I use needle-nose pliers for removing bones from salmon. I use a very large, round tea infuser for holding a bundle of herbs and/or spices when they need to be removed from the stock or stew after cooking.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: CindyJ

                            HAHAHA. I use my tweezers for removing pin bones from salmon, or any fish.

                          2. non flavored dental floss works great for cutting butter, cream cheese and other softer cheeses.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: rcheng

                              Empty (or full, depending on the day - and if your perscription is for Prozac) perscription container for salad dressing. I know there are small tupperware containers, but nothing beats the screw-top lid, perfect size, and of course a bit of Prozac with my greens :)

                              1. re: chownewbie

                                You can use empty film canisters for condiments, too.

                                We use a thimble to cut the middle out of donuts. A spray bottle to mist oil on veggies/pans/whatever. And, of course, the blowtorch for the crème brûlées.

                                1. re: piccola

                                  I've always heard that the film canisters are not good for food items because of chemicals in the film that get left behind in the container.

                                  Don't mean to be a doomsayer, but just wanted to mention.

                              2. re: rcheng

                                wow, i almost forgot about this, but dental floss is also great for cutting cake layers in half -- just score with a knife first, then use the floss, and you'll get a perfect cut.

                              3. In the hotel kitchen where I used to work, we used an industrial paint gun to apply chocolate coatings to some of our desserts (like tiramisu). The banquet cooks used segments of PVC pipes as ring molds for salads and other things. Of course these items stayed in the kitchen and were used *only* for culinary purposes; we didn't lend out that paint gun to our maintenance guys for touch-up jobs around the hotel!

                                1. At a taqueria I frequent, one time I saw a large batch of refried beans being mixed up with the use of a cordless drill and what i would assume to be a paint mixing attachment. There are other items out there that could probably be used for the purpose, but I imagine this way is probably a lot cheaper than any of them.

                                  1. Of course there are those semi-lunatics who cook their food using the engine blocks of their cars to supply the cooking heat, (the food is wrapped in foil and placed under the hood where it hopefully will not fall off). Then there is a sub-set of these same folks who "cook" food by placing the foil wrapped packets in their dishwashers and using the hot water and steam to cook the food. And finally you have the guy's who convert their cars to run on used cooking oil instead of gas or diesel fuel, (does that count?).

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: tony michaels

                                      I'd love to have a car that smells like french fries. I fully intend to buy an old Caddy or some other big American car (with bench seats, much better for car-nics than the stupid bucket seats) and convert it to cooking oil. And I have been known to heat up my son's chicken nuggets on our car's engine block on trips to the cold, foggy beach.

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        A Fry Caddy, sounds like a good idea. And only heating up the nuggets? That hardly qualifies for quasi-lunatic status. :-D

                                      2. re: tony michaels

                                        My sister-in-law, who is a very good cook, has a recipe for "dishwasher salmon" that is really wonderful -- herbs, lemon slices, aromatics, white wine -- all sealed up in foil with a whole salmon. It was one of the entrees at a 50th wedding anniversary party a couple of years back, and it was delicious!

                                      3. You know those folding thingies that people use to tan and/or deflect sun in windshields? We've used those to make "Playa" nachos at Burning Man...

                                        1. Depending on how broadly you define "food related" . . . I raid the power tools -- drills with a variety of bits and dremels (sp?) with a variety of attachments -- to carve my Halloween pumpkin with.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Xine

                                            Unflavored dental floss is also the best "knife" for cutting cheesecake. It also works well on a frosted sheetcake---the cuts are almost impossible to see, so the design/decorations still look good even after the cake is cut.

                                          2. I've seen people use their washing machines to store canned and bottled beverages for a party. Fill the basin with ice and put your beverages in their. Wait overnight after the party's over, let the ice melt and drain. Oh, and take any extra drinks out first.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: susan1353

                                              Which reminds me of another culinary use for the washing machine: Salad spinner. Just load the salad greens into a pillowcase (or other similar container,) tie it shut (make sure it's nice and tight,) and run it through the spin cycle.

                                            2. Mr Goddess once used a power drill to uncork a red wine.

                                              Results on white shirt and white walls were not pretty.

                                              1. At a highway paving project in South Carolina in 1976, I observed a laborer shovel out a shiny lump from a corner of an asphalt spreader at the start of lunch. It was a chicken wrapped in a bundle of aluminum foil. I was told he did that every day. 6 hours in asphalt at 280 degrees cooks a chicken.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  whacking your pizza on the manifold outlet of your V8 will keep it hot on the way home, too ;)

                                                  1. re: purple goddess

                                                    pg - aka suacie aussie- so in the Dead Heart, just throw it on Ayers Rock? :)

                                                2. Spray bottles- especially garden style "Hudson Sparyers" are great for applying apricot glaze to fruit tarts and egg washes to breads, noodles, etc...

                                                  1. We had a dishwasher when I was a kid in the '70s. It was the kind that had a hose that you had to connect to the faucet when you wanted to use it. I think it came with the house when my parents moved in. They never used it to wash dishes--my mother didn't like waiting long enough for it to fill up to run it. So we used it as a rather large bread box instead. I also remember finding the Easter baskets in there once.