Dear Heloise: As a reader of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., I’m not being too dramatic when I say that you may have saved my adult daughter’s life, or at the very least prevented an episode of anaphylaxis. She found out a few years ago that she’s ALLERGIC to edible flowers.

Neither she nor I knew that capers were in this category until I read it in your column. Your column spurred further research on our part, as it made us wonder what else is out there that is part of a flower that we don’t know about. Thanks and appreciation, as you never know how you may help others in unexpected ways. -- Glenda L. in Louisiana

P.S.: This is the second time you’ve helped us in this area. The other time was when you suggested carrying two EpiPens in case one malfunctioned.

Glenda, thank you for writing and sharing your story. Wow, who would have thought something as simple as “What is a caper?” would yield such great (and potentially lifesaving) information.

People often ask how topic ideas come about. Obviously from readers who send in questions or hints to share. But also, many ideas come from people I meet when traveling and giving speeches, or doing TV shows and working with producers to plan a segment.

The caper question came from a reader. One of my assistants keeps them as a staple in her house, so she was happy to do the research. Guess what? No one in my office had a clue that capers are part of the flower family!

The epinephrine auto-injector idea came from the same assistant, who discovered that one of her daughters was deathly allergic to fire ants. The poor girl got bitten while at school and was taken by ambulance to the hospital! Now she must keep the injectors at school and with her at all times.

If anyone reading this column is highly allergic and must keep an epinephrine auto-injector handy, you should have two available. Why? In case one doesn’t work, you don’t use it in the required length of time or when used the pen malfunctions, etc.

Sometimes the “simplest” hint or question starts a journey discovering all kinds of interesting (and some NOT) information! -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE



Dear Heloise: I eat a bran muffin every day. The store-bought muffins are very dry, as are the ones I bake from a packaged mix. What can I do to improve their taste and texture? -- D.C.F. in Pennsylvania

There are a couple of things you can try when making your own from a mix. First, try substituting applesauce for the oil in the recipe at the same ratio (for example: 1 cup applesauce instead of 1 cup oil). Second, in place of liquid (milk or water), add that same amount of orange juice, apple juice or any other favorite juice. Experiment to see which tastes the best to you. -- Heloise

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

, King Features Syndicate