Easy Kitchen Shortcuts

The Fastest Way to Freeze (and Retrieve) Ground Meat: Fill a zippered plastic bag with raw meat, press it flat, and seal. Score the meat into equal sections by pressing a chopstick over the bag, tic-tac-toe style, then freeze the grid flat. The next time you need ground beef, simply break off enough for your recipe.

The Fastest Way to Upgrade Your Cabinet Hardware: To give new, shiny brass hardware an instant patina, rub the knobs and the pulls with fine-grit sandpaper. For the most even finish, sand in only one direction.

The Fastest Way to Tell if Eggs Are Fresh:Toss eggs, gently, into a bowl of water. If the egg sinks to the bottom and lies on its side, its fresh. If it sinks and stands large-end up, get crackin in a few days, since its on the verge of going bad. If it floats, toss it.