A reader sends along some ideas he calls "Kitchen MacGuyvering":
Previously I'd suggested softening butter in a bowl of warm water (which works in minutes). Further kitchen MacGuyvering yields the following tips:
To butter a pan (particularly an ornate cake mold), put the pan in the freezer and melt the butter in a microwave. Swirld the butter around in the pan vigorously; it freezes quickly.
An alternative way of separating egg whites is to cut the corner out of a sandwich bag and break the egg into it. Blow into the bag as you would a balloon and squeeze, and the white is expelled leaving the yolk intact.
I haven't any need of the trick myself any more, but you can also, if you need fast egg-white separation, clean your hands very well and then crack the egg into your palm and let the whites run out through your fingers. And if you want a no-mess way to butter and flour your cake pans, there are now cooking sprays that do this; Pillsbury and Crisco make one, and there's another kind called "Baker's Joy". Especially good for bundt pans.
I'm at work on a squash/coconut curry for this week's libertarian movie night. If it turns out well, I'll post the recipe on the blog.