Dear Heloise: I read your hints every day. I appreciated the column on oils; however, you did not name PEANUT OIL, which we use in our turkey cooker. What are your thoughts on peanut oil? -- Jim C., Spokane, Wash.
In Texas, peanut is the oil of choice for frying turkeys. The United States Department of Agriculture actually recommends peanut oil for deep frying because of the high “smoke point” (how high a temperature the oil can be heated to before it breaks down).
You can safely reuse peanut oil three to four times, if it is free of spices and seasonings. Let the oil cool down, then strain it through cheesecloth. I tested this using a paper coffee filter with vegetable oil, and it worked just fine. Place the oil in an airtight, sealed container, and store it in a cool, dark place for up to six months. Make sure to heat the oil to above 350 degrees Fahrenheit before putting food in it. -- Heloise
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Dear Heloise: To keep the tray in the toaster oven clean and looking good, I use aluminum foil. However, I came across some old foil that I had used for doing highlights in my hair. These are precut, pop out, and they fit the toaster-oven tray perfectly. No more guessing the size to be used. It saves time and is inexpensive. -- Brenda E., via e-mail
Brenda, most people do the same with aluminum foil. However, manufacturers say NO to doing this because of the possibility of overheating. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I’ve used tortillas in place of dumplings for several years. One day, as I reached for a knife, I noticed my pizza cutter and tried it. Much to my surprise, it did a better job and was much easier. If it begins to get dough on it, I just wipe a tiny bit of cooking oil on the blade and continue cutting. -- Jim D. in Arkansas
Dear Heloise: Here is my hint for keeping cilantro fresh (parsley and mint, too) for up to two weeks. Bundle the stems together with a rubber band and stand the bunch upright in a small, heavy container filled with water. Loosely cover the rest with plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Stand the container in the fridge, and you can use the herbs for much longer than the usual three to four days. -- Betsy W., Spokane, Wash.
This is a tried-and-true hint. You also can snip off 1/2 inch or so of the stem every few days, and you need only about 1-2 inches of water in the container. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I found that the fastest way to remove the seeds and membranes of jalapeno peppers is to scrape them out with a grapefruit spoon. Its narrow and slightly jagged edges quickly cut loose the unwanted portions of the peppers. -- Keith M., via e-mail
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