Dear Readers: Do you use real or imitation VANILLA EXTRACT in your kitchen? What is the difference? The first difference is cost! Real vanilla is more expensive because of the time it takes for the plant to grow and the way it is harvested. Imitation vanilla is easily manufactured at a cheaper cost.
Real vanilla is made from natural vanilla beans, while imitation generally is a combination of real vanilla and other ingredients that are both natural and artificial. Real vanilla lists alcohol as an ingredient, while imitation does not contain any alcohol.
Finally, there is a taste difference. There are those who think the imitation vanilla is bitter, but many cooks use it in baking with no noticeable aftertaste. More-experienced cooks, however, will keep several different bottles of both real and imitation on hand for specific foods they are cooking and baking. -- Heloise
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San Antonio, TX 78279-5000
Dear Heloise: I’ve got mosquitoes swarming my kitchen. I used your mom’s old hint of letting them collect on the walls and then sucking them up with the hose attachment on the vacuum, but they just keep showing up! We don’t keep any doors or windows open, so I think they might be in our pipes. Help! -- Ainsley in Michigan
Mother had the right idea for catching the loose mosquitoes flying around, because if you were to swat them, they’d stain the walls. First, check around the house for any standing water in plant saucers or other areas. If you don’t find anything, then it is possible that these pesky insects are coming from the drain in your sink. To remedy this, plug the sink and fill it with the hottest tap water. Pull the plug using kitchen tongs, and the force of the water will flush away bugs and any larvae. Mosquito-free! -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: With only my husband and me to cook for, I often like to freeze leftovers. Freezing the entire leftover quantity of soups and such requires a long thawing time, and I often don’t want to use all of the leftovers at one time. So, I purchased silicone muffin pans, and I freeze the cups full (about 1 / 3 portions). Once frozen, I transfer them to a freezer bag. When ready to use, I remove only the portions needed. This makes for shorter thawing time and enables me to use the leftovers more efficiently. -- Lana H., Bluefield, Va.
Dear Heloise: The egg tray in our refrigerator has slots for 14 eggs. When we have one or two left and buy another dozen, my husband marks the “old” eggs with a pen so we will know to use those first. This helps us avoid the risk of repeatedly leaving the “old” eggs in the tray. -- Marsha M., via e-mail
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