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10 Easy Hacks To Get Your Grill Ready For Summer

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There are few things that say summer quite like the sweet, smoky sizzle of a backyard grill. But after spending months forgotten on a porch, shrouded in polyester and pelted by the elements, your BBQ star typically needs some TLC before it’s back in serious searing shape. So, get your “Kiss the Cook” apron ready: These hacks will help you and your trusty meat-cooking machine get all fired up for grill season.

1. CHECK FOR GAS LEAKS.

The trade-off for gas grills’ swankier appeal is that maintaining them and keeping them safe requires some extra attention. To make sure your gas grill hasn’t sprung a dangerous leak and that everything’s working properly before you get grilling, brush your gas lines with soapy water and check for bubbles—which indicate a crack—when the gas is running. If you spot any, tighten your connection or replace the line.

2. MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANING SOLUTION.

Mix one part water and one part distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and go to town on your grill’s interior. Replace the lid, let the solution soak in for an hour or so, and cooked-on residue and gunk should be broken up enough to easily wipe off when you’re done.

3. TRY AN ONION.

For an even more natural approach, some suggest heating up your grill to bake off some crud, then rubbing down the still-warm grates with a sliced onion, cut-side down, on the end of a fork. The move seems to loosen up grit and make a grill easier to clean.

4. MEASURE YOUR FUEL LEVEL.

Your steak will have to wait if your gas grill is low on propane, so think ahead by checking your fuel level before inviting over the neighborhood. One nifty trick if your grill doesn’t have a gauge: Pour a glass of warm water down the side of your tank. Wherever the water starts to feel cool on the tank is your fuel level.

5. GET BRUSHING.

A sturdy brush with wire bristles has your grill cleaning covered. The supplies you use to clean with vary based on what type of grill you’re working with and the part of the grill you’re cleaning (dish soap and water work for many grills; stainless steel cleaner is recommended for stainless steel exteriors; rotisserie style grill grates do best with just lemon juice and water). Make sure you haven’t left any bristles on your grill surface after your vigorous brush-down.

6. CLEAN OUT TUBES AND BURNERS.

A toothpick, pipe-cleaner, or paper clip works to de-clog any build-up in your gas ports or tubes (make sure the propane is turned off beforehand).

7. CHECK YOUR FLAME COLOR.

Not all flames are created equal. The pros at This Old House advise grillers to be wary of an all-yellow flame on a gas grill, as it won’t be as effective as the blue fire with yellow tips you want. Flames without the blue color probably means there is not enough pressure coming from the gas tank. They recommend using a similar tactic as when your computer stops cooperating, i.e. turning everything off—the tank, the control valve—disconnecting the tank, opening and closing the valves, and then reconnecting and slowly turning the gas back on. If that doesn’t work, it could be your burner ports have gotten wider over the years. Might be time to replace them.

8. KICK SOME ASH.

A charcoal grill has a habit of collecting ash and unburned chunks of briquettes. Before you start using yours for the season, scrape and empty any ash, including whatever’s in the ash catcher if you’ve got one. If you’re using a gas grill, empty the grease trap.

9. HAVE A MUFFIN TIN HANDY.

A summer breeze is lovely and all, until it knocks over your half-empty ketchup bottle. Keep your fixings organized (and, may we say, attractively displayed) by using an empty muffin tin for all the mustard, pickles, and onions your burgers require. Though you might want to keep it covered when your diners aren’t using it to protect your BBQ sauce from bugs.

10. OIL UP.

A light coating of oil or cooking spray prevents rust and keeps food from sticking—making grill prep for next grilling season just a little easier.

All images via iStock.

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Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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Oreo, Amazon
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Try New Oreo Flavors Each Month With a Cookie Club Subscription Box
Oreo, Amazon
Oreo, Amazon

The best cookies are the kind that are delivered directly to your doorstep. Now, as delish reports, the Oreo cookie brand is offering that service to its customers on a monthly basis. Oreo fans who sign up for the Cookie Club will receive a curated box of goodies around the beginning of the month.

Each subscription package comes in a box decorated with the cookie’s iconic design. Inside recipients will find two snacks, which can be any combination of the brand’s many cookies and candy bar flavors (such as classic Oreo and golden Oreo cookies as their examples).

The delivery also includes a recipe card and an Oreo-inspired gift. That gift could be a mug, a hat, a game, or any piece of Oreo-branded swag the company can fit into the box. According to one Amazon user, the box for January included cinnamon Oreo cookies, chocolate hazelnut Oreos, Oreo hot cocoa mix, Oreo socks, and a recipe for cinnamon Oreo mug cake.

The subscription costs more than it would to purchase the cookies from a store, but for true fans the higher price tag may be worth it. The Cookie Club is an opportunity to try out new Oreo flavors that you may have had trouble finding otherwise. It also makes a great gift for any adventurous cookie fans in your life. Subscriptions are available to purchase exclusively through Amazon in 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month packages, with the prices for each coming out to around $20 a box.

[h/t delish]

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