Dear Readers: Certain EGGS are labeled “free range” or “cage free” -- what does this really mean?

According to our friends at the American Egg Board, free-range eggs come from hens that are either raised entirely outside or are allowed outside when the weather is good. These hens ideally would have access to plants and insects, but the time spent outside can vary, depending on the producer.

Cage-free eggs come from hens that are kept inside, roaming around the floor of a large room or open area of a barn, and are not typically let outside at any time.

Both free-range and cage-free eggs are considered to be specialty eggs, so expect to pay a higher purchase price. -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE



Dear Heloise: As I sit here eating my hot bowl of oatmeal, I recall a school morning when my kids were little. I prepared oatmeal, but we were out of milk. I found that a scoop of vanilla ice cream was a wonderful treat on hot oatmeal. It was delicious, and I still enjoy it now and then when I am not counting calories! Thank you for all your simple and practical hints. -- Jane from Texas


Dear Heloise: My wife, Kim, worked as a nanny for more than 20 years. One of the families she worked for would make an unusual meatloaf. They’d take out a pound of hamburger and put it in a mixing bowl. Then they’d open up the fridge and start grabbing leftovers like rice, barley, veggies, an egg or two, and anything else that they could find, dumped it all in and mixed well. All this was then cooked up as meatloaf.

The first time Kim made meatloaf this way, I thought she had totally lost it. I had to eat some humble pie, because the meatloaf turned out really good. -- Kevin from North Carolina

Kevin, you never know when crazy-sounding ingredients will work together and taste just fine! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I love your column and read it daily in the (Warren, Ohio) Tribune Chronicle. I have a hint to share. When I need buttermilk for a recipe, instead of buying a whole quart, I mix half sour cream and half milk. No leftover buttermilk to store. We always seem to use up the sour cream. This has not failed me yet, even in cake recipes. -- Linda C., Howland, Ohio


Dear Heloise: With wonderful citrus in season now, I am buying it in plastic-net bags. When empty, I cut off the labeling and am left with a tube of plastic net. I turn each end inside the tube and twist a twisty around the middle. It looks like a puffy bow. It makes a wonderful scrubbie! -- Carolyn in Kerrville, Tex.


Dear Heloise: Ranch dressing can be substituted for mayonnaise on sandwiches or when making tuna salad, etc. My family actually prefers it. Give it a try. -- A Reader, via e-mail

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.

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