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Posts Tagged ‘Tip’

Dear Readers,

It’s that time of year when summer thunderstorms occur and many times the electricity goes out.  The first thing I think of is what will happen to all the food in the fridge and freezer.  Here’s an interesting article that answers this question.  The article is entitled “Keep your cool when the power goes out” and was written by Kathleen Purvis of the Charlotte Observer.  I am going to quote the article verbatim.

“Q:  Late-summer storms have knocked out my power several times lately.  Every time, I’m nervous about the food in the refrigerator and freezer.  I used to check the cubes in the ice bin.  If they had started to melt, I would toss everything.  Is there a better rule of thumb for when items are no longer safe?

A:  As long as you keep the refrigerator and freezer closed, they are insulated enough to keep food cold for a while.

A full chest freezer, kept closed, will stay cold for three to four days, an upright deep freezer for two to three days, and a refrigerator’s freezer for one to two days.  A closed refrigerator should keep food cold for four to six hours.  You can stretch that by placing block ice or bags of ice in the refrigerator on a pan to collect the water as it melts.

As soon as the power comes back on, check the frozen food:  If there are visible ice crystals and the food feels cold, it can be refrozen.

For the refrigerator, keep a thermometer inside and check it as soon as the power comes back to make sure it’s still below 40 degrees.  Fresh meat, poultry, lunch meat, hot dogs, eggs, milk, soft cheese and prepared or cooked food should be discarded if they were above 40 degrees for more than two hours.  Fruit, juices and vegetables are OK if they smell OK and don’t show any signs of spoiling.”

Hope you find this info helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a tip I want to pass on to you from a column called “Top Drawer” written by Joyce Clark Hicks and appears in the Raleigh News and Observer.

“Cool Uses For Ice Cubes

The August edition of Real Simple magazine offers these cool new uses for ice cubes:

Soup skimmer.  To skim fat from soup without refrigerating it, fill a metal ladle with ice cubes and glide it along the surface a few times, wiping the ladle as needed.  Excess fat will cling to the ladle’s bottom.

Soil soaker.  Avoid messy spills by watering your plants with frozen water.  Cover the surface of soil with ice cubes.  They’ll gradually hydrate your plants as they melt.

Caulk smoother.  As you squeeze a new caulk line around the bathtub, run the corner of an ice cube behind it.  The ice will create a clean edge without sticking.

Disposal scrubber.  Run a handful of ice cubes and a pinch of baking soda through your garbage disposal.  You’ll get rid of the built-up grease on the blades and the smell of any leftovers.”

Hope you find these tips helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Since I try to offer motherly advice to my readers, I would be remiss if the problem of bed bugs wasn’t discussed, especially since we are entering vacation season.  Kitty Bean Yancey of USA Today wrote a very informative article concerning these loathsome insects.  A lot of her information came from “The Bed Bug Survival Guide” by Jeff Eisenberg.  I’m going to quote her article directly because I think this info will be very helpful to you.

“Bedbugs are once again an epidemic…They can live up to 18 months without a meal and can lie dormant until they do damage.”

Eisenberg says bedbugs “can lay eggs in the zipper of your briefcase and fit into a crack the width of a business card”.

“Here are some of Eisenberg’s tips for avoiding the critters, who are harder to eliminate since the powerful chemical DDT was prohibited.

Having dinner out?  Put your handbag on your lap instead of on the back of the chair or, worse, at your feet.

On a plane?  Decline a pillow and blanket.  And take a carry-on stored in the overhead bin rather than checking a bag that goes in the luggage compartment.

Checking into a hotel?  Put your bag in the bathroom, where critters are less apt to crawl (they like wood and upholstery).  Don’t use hotel drawers, and keep clothing in sealed plastic bags.

Don’t be fooled by luxury.  You are just as likely to be bitten at a five-star hotel as you are at a place that rents rooms by the hour.

Men are less likely than women to show evidence of being bitten (or more correctly, sucked) by bed bugs.  Also bed bugs inject an anesthetic, so it can take many hours for a bite to show, which makes it harder to know where you got one.

Use a high-powered flashlight to examine both sides of a mattress, plus the headboard and box springs, for blood and fecal matter that would indicate the presence of bed bugs.”

I hope this info doesn’t keep you from taking a vacation; just be sure to be very vigilant.  In this case, an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Mimi loves snacks and knowing what snacks to choose for only 100 calories makes diet control  very palatable.  Judy Hevrdejs in an article titled “What can you have for 100 calories?” printed in the Chicago Tribune lists a number of healthy and not so healthy snacks containing only 100 calories.  Here is the list of snacks.  Use it wisely because the “Mayo Clinic points out that to work off 100 calories (if you weigh 160 pounds):” one has to “cycle or play volleyball (about 20 minutes): bowl, ballroom dance or walk (about 30 minutes): or do low-impact aerobics (about 16 minutes).”

Snack List

Hard cooked egg (1 large):  78 calories

Raw spinach (10 ounce package):  65 calories

Raisins (about 3 tablespoons):  81 calories

Fresh blueberries (1 cup):  84 calories

Apple (1 medium):  95 calories

Smooth peanut butter (1 tablespoon):  94 calories

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets (2 pieces):  95 calories

Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips (about 7 chips):  95 calories

Fresh strawberry halves (2 cups):  98 calories

Dry roasted peanuts (about 16):  99 calories

Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (2 cookies):  120 calories

Dry roasted almonds (about 13):  99 calories

Baby carrots (25):  100 calories

Well, now you have a choice – two chicken McNuggets or 2 cups of strawberry halves.  Looks like a no-brainer to me.  What will you choose?

Keep smilin’!

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Kitchen Tips From Mimi

Dear Readers,

I have “The Cook’s Answer Book” torn from the April 1, 1997 issue of Family Circle.  I refer to it often and would like to share a few tips from it with you.  I’ll quote directly from the booklet.

“Q.  Following instructions from an old cookbook,  I threw spaghetti against the wall to test for doneness.  It stuck.  Is it done?

A.  Probably–but clean the wall and use this method instead.  Fish a piece of pasta from the pot and run under cold water.  Bite it:  the pasta should be tender but firm, without a white core; mushy pasta is not nice.  Two more often-heard queries:  Should I add oil to cooking water to prevent pasta from sticking?  Oil is for salads.  Use plenty of boiling water and stir occasionally; nothing will stick.  Oil in the water may coat pasta, causing sauce to slide right off.  Do I rinse cooked pasta or not?  Don’t rinse!  Starch on pasta helps sauce adhere.  The exception:  Do rinse if making cold pasta salad, so pieces stay separate.

Q.  Should I go ahead and carve the roast as soon as it comes out of the oven?

A.  No–let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  During cooking, most of the meat juices retreat to the center, leaving the edges dry and center wet.  As the roast stands, the liquid magically redistributes itself; plus, the meat firms up for thinner slicing.  Also, remember to remove the roast from the oven while it’s slightly underdone; the internal temerpature will continue to rise anywhere from 5 degrees for a thin cut, to 15 degrees for a much thicker piece.

Q.  How do I tell when fish is done?  When the scales fall off?

A.  Gently poke the fish with a fork in its thickest part.  Properly cooked, the flesh just begins to flake easily and is opaque (cloudy or milky)–not translucent or raw-looking.”

Hope these tips are helpful and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

“Flavors To Shake the Salt Habit” is the title of an article written by Betsy Towner that was published in the December, 2010 AARP Bulletin.  It lists herbs and spices to use in various food items in place of salt.

Here is a partial list of the foods with these salt-free add-ins:

Roasted beef – bay leaf, garlic, parsley and thyme

Roasted poultry – marjoram, oregano, pepper, rosemary, sage and thyme

Beef stew – bay leaf, garlic, onion, parsley, pepper and thyme

Chicken soup – bay leaf, onion, parsley and thyme

Chili – drilled chili, cumin, garlic, oregano and pepper

Vegetable soup – basil, garlic, onion, oregano, parsley and pepper

Pasta salad – basil, garlic, mint and parsley

Black bean soup – chili pepper, cumin, coriander seed, garlic, onion, oregano and pepper

Lasagna – basil, chili pepper, garlic, onion and oregano

Pasta primavera – fennel, pepper and thyme

Veggie stir-fry – chili pepper, cilantro, garlic, ginger and sesame seed

This seems like an interesting way to cut down on salt in a recipe.  Lowering salt intake is very good for a healthy heart.  I think it is worth a try.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Isn’t it a treat to receive fresh flowers for a birthday or special occasion?  They are such a luxury and we all want them to last forever.  Well, here are a few tips on how “to get the most bang from your bouquets”.  These tips are from an article written by Barbara Mahany of the Chicago Tribune.

1.  Keep the water clean.  Bacteria can clog stems and hasten rotting.  Use the packet of powder from the florist or concoct your own.  Here’s a recipe from chemistry.about.com:  Combine 2 tablespoons each white vinegar and sugar, 1/2 teaspoon household chlorine bleach and 1 quart warm water.

2.  “Ditch the scissors: Use a sharp knife or garden shears.  Scissors merely squeeze and crush stems”.

3.  “Cut on the angle:  You might think this boosts the water uptake, but really it keeps the stems from resting flat against the bottom of a vase and blocking the entry point for water.  By cutting off the bottom inch or two, you remove the natural seal that formed when the stem was first cut”.

4.  “Short is good:  Shorter stems allow water to get to the bloom more easily”.

5.  “Lose the leaves:  You want the energy surging to the bloom, don’t you?  So don’t provide a detour into the leaves.  And don’t think of having any foliage under water, where it will swiftly break down and turn to goo”.

6.  “Cut the heat: Room temperature tap water (not lukewarm, not chilly) is the happiest bath for most bouquets”.

7.  “Storing fresh-cut flowers for six hours in a cool corner of the basement can triple the vase life”.

8.  “Ditch the swamp water:  OK, sometimes it’s a pain to airlift a big bouquet and change the water.  Sam McGee of Prufrock Floral and Botanical Design in Winnetka, Ill., shares this trick:  Instead of budging the flowers from the vase, hold the vessel under a running faucet for about five minutes.  As the water spills from the vase, you are essentially changing the water without moving a bloom.  Once it’s crystal clear you are back in business”.

Hope you find this article enlightening – I certainly did.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This is the final installment of tips from Maureen’s e-mail.  I hope you find all of them informative and useful.

1.  Goodbye Fruit Flies:  To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass and fill it 1/2 inch with apple cider vinegar and 2 drops dish washing liquid.  Mix well.  You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

2.  Get Rid of Ants:  Put small piles of cornmeal wherever you see ants.  They eat it, take it “home”, and can’t digest it so it kills them.  It may take a week or so to take effect, especially if it rains.  But it works and you don’t have to worry about small children or pets being harmed.

3.  Info About Clothes Dryers:  The heating unit went out on my dryer.  The repairman said he wanted to show me something.  He went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter.  It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.)  He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it.  (The line filter is made of a mesh material.)  The hot water just sat on top of the mesh.  It didn’t go through at all.  He told me that dryer sheets produce a film over that mesh and that’s what burns out the heating unit.  You can’t see the film, but it’s there.  It’s what is in the dryer sheets that make your clothes soft and static free.  You can actually feel this waxy film on the unused dryer sheets.  It builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen.  This is also what causes dryer units to catch fire and potentially burn your house down!  He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time and to keep your electric bill lower is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water, using an old toothbrush.  Do this at least once every six months.  He said that will make the dryer last twice as long.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here is a continuation of the tips that I received from my walking partner, Maureen.  Check them out.

1.  Keeping Weeds Away:  Wet newspapers, put layers around the plant overlapping as you go.  Cover with mulch and forget about weeds.  Weeds will grow through some gardening plastic but they will not get through wet newspapers.

2.  Broken Glass:  Use a cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of broken glass that can’t be seen easily.

3.  Chop up leftover snickers bars from Halloween.  Peel and slice a few apples into a baking dish and sprinkle chopped candy bars over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Serve alone or with ice cream.

4.  No More Mosquitoes:  Place a dryer sheet in your pocket.  It will keep the mosquitoes away.

5.  Squirrel Away:  To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle them with cayenne pepper.  The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.

6.  Flexible Vacuum:  To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum.  It can be bent or flattened to get into narrow openings.

7.  Measuring Cups:  Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water.  Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry the cup.  Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes out.

8.  Foggy Windshield:  Hate foggy windshields?  Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove compartment of  your car.  When the windows fog, rub with eraser.  Works better than a cloth!

9.  Reopening An Envelope:  If you seal an envelope and then realize that you forgot to include something inside, just place the sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two.  Voila!  It unseals easily.

10.  Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs.  It’s cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth.  It’s also a great way to use up the hair conditioner you bought but didn’t like!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Okay, these aren’t my original tips.  (I wish they were!)  The came from a list of useful info e-mailed to me from my faithful walking partner, Maureen.  She cautioned me to “remember this is from the internet – and who knows if any of these things are really the truth!”  The tips are very interesting but you can choose if you wish to use them or not.

1.  For a cool brownie treat, prepare brownies as directed on package.  Melt Andes mints in double boiler and pour over warm brownies.  Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

2.  Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick the little “stringy things” off of it.  That’s how the primates do it.  (We’re primates too!)

3.  Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.  It will stay fresh much longer and not get moldy.

4.  Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.  It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

5.  To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich, add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

6.  Add garlic immediately to a recipe, if you want a light taste of garlic and add it at the end of the recipe, if you want a stronger taste of garlic.

7.  Reheat Pizza:  Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to medium-low and heat until warm.  This keeps the crust crispy; no soggy microwave pizza.

8.  Easy Deviled Eggs:  Put cooked egg yolks in a zip-lock bag.  Seal, mash till  they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly.  Cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg white.  Just throw bag away when finished, for an easy clean up.

9.  Expanding Frosting:  When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes.  You can double it in size.  You can frost more cake or cupcakes with the same amount.  You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

10.  Reheating Refrigerated Bread:  To warm biscuits, pancakes or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave oven with a cup of water.  The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Keep smilin’!

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