Dear Heloise:

My coffee has been tasting stale for a while now, and I have been blaming my husband, who makes the daily pot. Then I remembered that it could be the residue in the maker and it could need a cleaning, but I have forgotten the formula for cleaning it. Please advise.

Carol, via e-mail

Carol, I'd be happy to reprint the easy way to clean a coffee maker using my favorite -- vinegar! All you need to do is run some full-strength vinegar through a regular brew cycle, followed by a couple of brew cycles with plain water.

This should have your coffee tasting good again! Did you know that if you soak cloudy glasses in hot (not boiling) vinegar, they will become crystal-clear?

Some stains can be removed from vases and decanters by pouring full-strength vinegar in to cover the stains. Allow to sit overnight, and in the morning rinse out well. For stubborn stains, add a teaspoon of raw rice and shake vigorously.

Dear Heloise:

Isn't there a way to make lasagna without having to cook the noodles first?

Frankie in Arkansas

You don't have to cook the noodles first when making lasagna. Here is what you need to do: Just layer the hard, uncooked lasagna noodles in a large pan as you normally would (i.e., noodles, sauce, cheese, etc.). Keep in mind that you will need more sauce, as the noodles will absorb some as they are cooking. You might need to practice this dish a couple of times so that you will know exactly how much sauce to add. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Dear Heloise:

Here is what I do if I accidentally burn something in a pan: I fill the pan with water, add a couple of squirts of dishwashing liquid and place the pan on the stove. I let the water heat just to boiling and then turn the heat off. Now the gunk can be scraped right off.

Delores in North Carolina

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(c)2004, King Features Syndicate