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Thursday, July 10 , 2014

The Secret to Spotless Crystal

We'd like to help you care for your crystal—the fancy tumblers and stemware and serving pieces you take out only for company and on special occasions. That ice bucket wedding gift, that beautiful vase that's heavy as heck...

To clean these irreplaceable treasures, fill a basin or sink with three parts hot water to one part white vinegar. Dip a nonabrasive sponge or cloth into the solution and gently clean the item...or dunk the whole piece into the mix, whatever's easiest. Once all the crystal is clean, rinse each piece with water and dry with a lint-free cloth. Your best bet in terms of lint-free is a linen towel or a cloth made of least 25% linen.

No-more-broken-glass tip: Crystal can be scary to clean because you don't want to drop it and chip, crack or break it.

Here's what to do: When you wash delicate crystal (or any glassware that's difficult to handle), line the sink with a very fluffy towel or a thick rubber mat in case a precarious piece slips out of your hands. Keep your basin of washing solution to the side, and gently wash and rinse the item over the towel or mat, which will protect your treasure even when wet. Now you can relax!

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Wednesday, July 09 , 2014

Neat Packing Trick

You know those cardboard separators that the liquor-store cashier uses for wine when packing the bottles in a brown paper bag? Save those, and when you're packing for summer vacation, use them to separate clothing in your suitcase. What, you don't drink wine? Go to the nearest liquor store, and ask if they have any extras. If you’'re a woman, roll up tops, shorts, a light jacket or two, a dress (or two) skirt and place each type of clothing in a sectioned area. If you're a man, section out the T-shirts, wrinkle-free dress shirts, shorts and a light blazer or two. Then (no matter what your sex!) lay folded pants on top. And then do this...

Be sure to pack what you'll need first last. For example, if you have an overnight stop at a hotel, you may want to have your nightclothes handy. For the next morning's swim or jog, you may want your bathing suit or running shorts within easy reach. Place those items on top of the pants layer. Now you don't have to search for those garments, messing up the other clothes you packed so neatly.

More help with travel...

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Tuesday, July 08 , 2014

No Eggs? Bake with This Instead

You crave a little cake, so you check your pantry and refrigerator for the needed ingredients. All's good, except no eggs! Here's what to do...*

If you have zero eggs and need only one: Add two tablespoons of liquid (milk or water...whatever's in the recipe), plus two tablespoons of flour, plus one-half tablespoon of shortening, plus one-half teaspoon of baking powder. This provides the leavening agent usually supplied by the egg. We tried this substitution in cornbread. It came out a little denser than usual, but it was delicious!

If you don't have enough eggs: If you’re baking a cake and you’re short one egg, add one teaspoon of baking powder or white vinegar to replace the missing egg. We do not suggest this if eggs are the main ingredient for the cake, like a chiffon or a custard.

For a recipe other than cake: Try this when you're minus one egg—use one teaspoon of cornstarch plus three extra tablespoons of liquid (whatever you're using in the recipe).

If you want to halve a recipe: Don’t bother splitting an egg in half. Just use a whole egg.

More tricks for delicious goodies...

*Thanks to Substituting Ingredients: An A to Z Kitchen Reference, Third Edition by Becky Sue Epstein and Hilary Dole Klein (Globe Pequot Press) for help with this tip.

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Monday, July 07 , 2014

Bug-Splat and Bird-Doo Remover

Don't you love summer road trips? They would be even better without the bug splats and bird doo on the windshield. Here's what to do...

If you get bugs or bird doo splattered on your windshield, mix one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent with two cups of warm water and pour it across the top of the windshield. Then take a plastic-mesh onion (or potato) bag or a shower sponge (the kind with the plastic weave), and give the splats a going over. You can start with just wiping, then scrub harder if you need to. Finish the job by wiping the windshield with a clean cloth.

Alternative method: Panty hose have a nice, nonabrasive scrubby surface and might even work better than those mesh bags depending on your exact splat. Never throw out old pantyhose!

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Friday, July 04 , 2014

Say No to Sparklers

Did you know that an average of 200 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July Fourth holiday? That's according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. And you'll be surprised by what seemingly harmless handheld item causes a big chunk of those injuries.

Sparklers burn at temperatures over 1,000ºF—hot enough to melt some metals. And over 50% of injuries from sparklers happen to children under five years of age! Please do not ever hand a small child a sparkler. Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have only partially ignited (and be sure children of all ages know that). And, of course, make sure that fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them, or you may have fireworks of a different sort (are those police lights?) coming to your party.

Better still, leave the fireworks to the professionals! We can guarantee that a public fireworks display is going to be better than anything you can set off in your backyard. When something goes wrong with fireworks, it can result in severe burns, fractures, disfigurement or even death. Be sure to remind your loved ones about that. (Then go hand them each a red-velvet cupcake with white icing and blue sprinkles.)

Have a safe, happy Fourth of July holiday!

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Thursday, July 03 , 2014

Patriotic Party Touches

It's summer, so who wants to fuss to celebrate a holiday? Here are two simple ways to commemorate our great country...

Get a blue vase and fill it with red flowers (roses, zinnias, scarlet salvia or dahlias) and white flowers (phlox, Queen Anne’s lace, cosmos or chrysanthemums). Presto!—nature's Old Glory for your table.

Serve up patriotic colors with red velvet cupcakes with white icing and blue sprinkles. (We were going to say blueberries, but that's way too healthy to put on a red-velvet cupcake.)

More help with celebrations...

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Wednesday, July 02 , 2014

Kitchen Sunburn Soother

Did you worship the sun a little too much recently? Here are two refrigerated healing lotions for your sunburn that cost a lot less than the fancy cosmetic-counter stuff...

Spread sour cream or yogurt (Greek yogurt spreads best) over the sunburned area, particularly your face—these fermented milk products contain lactic acid, which is a natural exfoliant and helps your skin feel soft and smooth. Leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with lukewarm water. The cold sour cream or yogurt will help your body take the heat out of the sunburn a little faster...and it just feels good, which is what you need.

Caution: Do not put sour cream on broken skin. It can cause infection.

More help with your skin...

 

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Tuesday, July 01 , 2014

Put Your Brillo in the Freezer

You are washing a grimy pot or a greasy baking sheet, wishing for a steel wool pad, but you hate the rusty mess and spiky metal splinters it makes. Struggle no more! You may freely purchase steel wool. Here's what to do to keep the pad from rusting...

After using a steel wood pad, if there's still some scrub left in it, place it in a little plastic bag and store it in the freezer. It will stay rust-free. When you're ready to use it again, put it under warm water and it will thaw in seconds.

To avoid getting metal splinters, wear rubber gloves when you use steel wool. If you don't have gloves, you can protect your fingers by cupping the steel wool pad in the rind of a lemon, orange or grapefruit.

More help for your home...

 

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Monday, June 30 , 2014

This Fruit Shines Your Silver

You've just uncovered your mom’s tea set stored long ago, and it's completely covered with tarnish. Go to your fruit bowl for help. Here's what to do...

After you eat a banana, cut off the hard ends of the peel and discard. Purée the rest of the peel in a blender or a food processor. Then, using a soft cloth, rub the silver with the puréed peel. Wipe, rinse and buff dry with a clean, soft cloth. You'll be able to see your happy face reflected in the silver now—and with no icky fumes from chemical cleaners.

You can also keep the peel whole and massage the silver with the inside part of the skin—this works well enough on spots of tarnish. For tough jobs, stick to the purée. Either way, be sure to rinse and buff the silver well with a soft cloth.

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Friday, June 27 , 2014

Beans, Beans Without the Gas...The More You Eat, the Less You Pass

We love beans, but we hate the intestinal gas they create! There are numerous ways to cook dry beans to lessen the gaseous effect they can cause. Some methods work for some people, others work for others. Here's a way that works for us that you might not have heard of...

Soak dry beans overnight in water with one teaspoon of fennel seeds (tied up in a piece of cheesecloth). The next morning, take out the seeds, spill out the water and cook the beans as usual in fresh water. During the cooking process, toss in a few pieces of raw peeled potato. When the beans are done, remove the potato pieces. Remember to add salt when the beans are soft, at the end of the cooking—salting too soon will impede the cooking process, and the beans will take forever to get done.

The only way to know if this method works for you is to test it...when you're dining alone.

Do you have a favorite way to cook dry beans that makes them less gassy? Tell us in the comments section below. We'd love to know!

More ways to ease digestive discomfort...

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