Don't leave your tongs out by the grill, as they are one of the most useful and versatile cooking tools to have in your kitchen. In my house, they come in a very close second to chopsticks, which I cook with everyday. Like chopsticks, they make it easy to delicately flip and turn food with precision. But unlike chopsticks, there's no learning curve, so anyone can use tongs for easier, simpler cooking.
Besides the more obvious ways of using tongs to toss salads, pasta, and stir-fries, you can also use tongs to ream citrus, to get those hard-to-reach objects in your upper cabinets, to toast tortillas, and to stand up your recipes.
If you are shopping for tongs, get silicone-tipped ones, which are heat-resistant up to 600 degrees and won't scratch your pans. I have a few tongs in my kitchen, but my OXO tongs get the most use because their locking mechanism makes them stay closed when I'm not using them.
Who needs a citrus reamer when you have a pair of tongs? Just cut your lemon or lime in half, de-seed as much as you can, and slide it in-between the two arms of your tongs. Press the two arms closed and let the lemon juice drip neatly into a bowl. (For more cool ways to get juice out of lemons and limes, click here.)
Heat up your tortillas directly over a low flame for perfect, warm tortillas and use your tongs to flip them until they're perfectly charred. It takes less than a minute and makes a huge taste difference in your tacos or your dinner.
If you have a recipe card, sheet, or magazine that you need to stand up, use your tongs as a makeshift recipe stand for easy reading and cooking. (For more ideas on keeping your recipes easily visible, click here.)
Tongs come in handy when those hard-to-reach items on the upper shelves are more than a stretch away.
You can actually go old-world and open a wine bottle with a pair of hot tongs. This method actually removes the entire top of the wine bottle, cork and all, and was originally used to open old port bottles whose corks had crumbled over time. See how it's done by Jonathan Ross, a sommelier at Eleven Madison Park in New York.
With your metal or silicone-tipped tongs, reach in and rotate your pan or your cookie sheet in the oven during cooking. You won't have to fumble to pull out the shelf and your oven will lose less heat because you can be in and out quickly.
This is an obvious one for salad, but tongs are also excellent for tossing stir-fries while they're cooking in the wok, and for tossing pasta with sauce and other ingredients.
Tongs are necessary when grilling, but they're good for more than just turning cuts of meat and hot potatoes. Use tongs to quickly turn skewers by gripping the food itself, and you won't have to fumble around with the edges of the sticks. And an oiled up paper towel and tongs can clean up a hot grill quicker and easier than most grill-cleaning tools. (Check out more of our great grilling hacks here.)
For better control and delicacy when flipping delicate foods like scallops, use tongs instead of a spatula. For breaded food, tongs can do a better job preserving the outer layer than other tools when you need to turn them over.