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Hints From Heloise: Can that open baking soda in the fridge do double duty?

Dear Heloise: I like to use a box of baking soda to deodorize my refrigerator and keep a box in the fridge for several months. Can I then use it in various recipes? I hate to waste food, and if the baking soda is still usable, I'd rather not just toss it out.

— Sandy M., Englewood, Fla.

Sandy M.: Sorry but that box of baking soda has already absorbed many odors in your refrigerator, which are not suitable for cooking. However, you can pour it down a drain in the kitchen or bathroom along with a cup of vinegar to deodorize your drains. This way you won’t have wasted the baking soda.

There are so many uses for baking soda, both in the kitchen and in general housekeeping. To get a bounty of ideas for baking soda, try my pamphlet “Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes.” To get a copy, just go to or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope (75 cents), along with $5 to: Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

There are so many uses for baking soda, and it’s safe to use around children and animals.

Dear Heloise: I love to make meals appear attractive to the eye as well as taste good. In the warmer months I make a lot of salads. I use my egg slicer to slice avocados, olives, strawberries and small tomatoes. I score my cucumbers lengthwise with a fork so they have a fluted edge when sliced. I use a potato peeler to make curls from carrots. To me, appearance is half of the appeal of food.

— Gloria S., Marion, Iowa

Dear Heloise: After reading the label on a jar of coffee creamer, I realized that there were too many chemicals in it to suit me. Instead of buying a coffee creamer, I use dried, powered skim milk in a box. It doesn't cool my coffee, but it's healthier, just as tasty (personally, I like it more than the creamers) and, ounce for ounce, it's cheaper.

—Belinda V., Golden, Colo.

Dear Heloise: I had a large number of guests this past weekend, and my oven got used a lot. There were spills on the bottom of the oven that I couldn't get off unless I scrubbed, and I felt that might cause some damage. So I took three sheets of paper towels, soaked them with water and poured some white vinegar over it, then placed it on the spills in a cold oven. (DO NOT do this with a warm oven!) After a couple of hours I went back and wiped the bottom of the oven, and the spills came up with no problem.

— Paula E., Woodburn, Ore.

Dear Heloise: I made a huge birthday cake for my husband, and there was a lot left over. Several people wanted to take a slice home with them, so I got out my cling wrap, sprayed one side with a nonstick spray and used it to wrap the pieces of cake. The nonstick spray keeps the icing from clinging to the film.

— Karen P., Red Wing, Minn.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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