The unglazed bottom of a ceramic mug can be used to sharpen smaller knives. Applying moderate pressure, hold the knife at a 20-degree angle and carefully draw the entire length of the blade across the rough surface.
Mortars and pestles are great for grinding chiles, spices, nuts, or even herbs. However, if you don’t have this tool on hand, place the ingredients to be ground in a shallow, diner-style stoneware coffee cup (which will be the mortar), and use a heavy glass spice bottle as the pestle.
The splay of tongs makes them unsuitable for placing on a spoon rest while cooking. As a space-saving alternative for catching drips and spills, place the tongs in a heavy beer mug or coffee mug to keep your stovetop or counter clean.
Cocktails like martinis and Manhattans should be shaken, not stirred, and not just because James Bond says so. Shaking the cocktail with the ice chills the mixture more thoroughly than simply stirring it. A spillproof coffee mug with a screw-on lid makes a fine substitute for a proper martini shaker. Just be sure to place your finger over the sipping hole when you shake. The lid will keep the ice in the “shaker” when you pour.