Dear Readers: ARTICHOKES are delicious vegetables, and one of my favorites! They are low-calorie, fat-free, cholesterol-free and a good source of fiber. However, some people are a little intimidated about how to buy, cook and eat one.
Pick them up and choose the heaviest ones. Look for a nice, green, healthy color, with compact leaves.
You can boil, steam, bake or grill artichokes and serve them with your favorite dipping sauce or, of course, in melted butter or mayonnaise, both of which are tasty but do add some fat and calories. I like to use fat-free ranch or blue-cheese salad dressing.
To eat the cooked artichoke, start by pulling off the outermost leaves, and dip the base (the fat part at the end) into dipping sauce. Now the fun part: Pull the petal through your teeth, getting the tasty part off. When you have pulled all the petals off, you are to the “prize” -- the heart. Remove the fuzzy choke from around the heart by scooping it with a spoon, then cut up the heart and enjoy the reward of your hard work! -- Heloise
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Dear Heloise: How do you store rice, and for how long? -- J.P. in California
Well, you’ve probably heard somewhere that white rice is one of those foods that can be kept forever, but that is not really true. Because of the lack of moisture in white rice, it can last a long time. If stored in a sealed container and kept in a dark, dry, cool place, white rice can last for three years or more.
However, brown rice is different, and will not last nearly as long as white rice. Typically, brown rice is good for about six months or so. You can store it in the refrigerator, though, and it will last longer. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: Instead of buying a special roasting vertical pan for whole chickens, I simply use my fluted cake pan. I spray the pan with cooking oil, then sit the chicken upright in the pan, with the centerpiece of the pan resting inside the chicken and holding it. The juices collect in the ring of the pan, and the chicken roasts beautifully. -- Nicole L. in Indiana
Dear Heloise: I had baked a cake to take to work. As I was getting ready to leave the house, I realized I didn’t have a carrier to put the cake in. I grabbed one of my large glass bowls with a lid. I turned the lid upside down, placed the cake on it and then covered it with the upside-down glass bowl. It made a perfect carrier! -- Katharine W., via e-mail
Dear Heloise: I reuse empty frosting containers to store cupcake wrappers. I label the outside of the container with the theme of the cupcake wrappers inside (for example, Christmas, Halloween, birthday, etc.). -- Kathleen M. in New Jersey