Dear Heloise:

I was baking the other day, and I realized I needed some brown sugar and didn't have any. So, I mixed 1 cup of granulated sugar with 4 tablespoons of dark molasses and mixed it well. It worked just fine.

Jackie from Minnesota

Just keep in mind that when you make substitutions, the flavor and texture might be a little off. You can use dark or light molasses, depending on how strong you want the sugar. The darker the molasses, the stronger the flavor will be. Did you know that 1 pound of brown sugar is equivalent to 2 1/4 cups? You can soften hard brown sugar by placing the sugar in a container with a tightfitting lid along with a piece of bread or a slice of apple. Let sit (with the lid on) for a while, and the moisture should help to soften the sugar.

Dear Heloise:

I use my bread maker constantly, and I get comments from friends saying they rarely use theirs because they would eat too much bread.

I use the dough setting on the machine and follow the recipe for rolls. This way, I can make two small loaves or one small loaf and a few rolls. My toast is smaller and so are sandwiches, so I don't pig out on large slices of bread.

I also make different types of bread, such as garlic, cinnamon-raisin, etc., by adding different ingredients to the dough. The only drawback is that it does not bake in the bread machine, so you must be prepared to wait for the dough to rise before baking.

Jean Barkley

Kingston, Ontario

Dear Heloise:

When my husband and I travel, I always pack a binder clip or two. Sometimes the drapes in a motel or hotel don't shut tightly to block out the light, so I use the clips to close the gap. These work well and take up very little space in the suitcase.

Jean Hale, Lake Worth, Fla.

Dear Heloise:

I recently purchased a new microwave, but before disposing of the old one, I removed the large dish from it. This flat dish can be used as a large serving tray and comes in handy, especially at parties.

Eileen Donlon

Staten Island, N.Y.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

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