Dear Heloise: I bought a bag of miniature MARSHMALLOWS, which I stored in the pantry. I opened them three weeks later to use, and they were all stuck together in one big blob. It was a sticky mess getting them separated to use in my dessert recipe. How can I avoid this problem? -- Ruth F. in Ohio
Just place them in a container with a tight-fitting lid, or in a freezer-safe plastic bag, and store in the freezer. Remove from the freezer and let the marshmallows warm to room temperature before using.
If the marshmallows are stuck, pour a little confectioners’ (powdered) sugar or cornstarch in the bag and shake to coat. The marshmallows should just break apart. -- Heloise
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Dear Heloise: I love the different flavored waters, but they can be expensive. My hint is to make them yourself. I use bottled water and add sliced fruit (strawberries, raspberries, grapes, pineapple, lemon and lime), cucumbers, etc. You even can add mint leaves. Place the pitcher or container in the refrigerator for at least six hours to let the “additive” infuse into the water. -- Linda B. in California
Dear Heloise: I have a hint for when cooking broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and even poaching salmon. I rinse and trim a stalk of celery, cut it into thirds and add it to my liquids. It eliminates the cooking odors and does not impart a celery flavor to what I am cooking. I don’t know how, but it really does work! -- M.D., via e-mail
Many readers add different things to the water to avoid the odor, like lemon slices, but this is the first I’ve heard of celery! I tested this when cooking some fresh broccoli, and it did seem to help. And then there is my classic hint of setting a bowl of vinegar on the counter and turning the exhaust fan on while cooking odorous vegetables.
Have you ever wondered what causes the odor? It’s the gas that is released as the vegetables are cooked. The LONGER the vegetables are cooked, the STRONGER the odor becomes, so, if you can, try less cooking time and see if there is less odor. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I love to bake. One of the easiest hints I have is to use a fork to make designs on cookies, cakes and lemon bars. Just by scraping the tines of the fork across the frosting or powdered sugar, you can create simple or intricate designs on many baked goods. -- Kelly D., via e-mail
Dear Heloise: I have a hint so that you can go ahead and slice up those apples and pears the day before you need them without them turning brown. Just refrigerate them in lemon-lime soda. There’s no need to keep fresh lemons on hand or put up with the mess of squeezing them. -- Kathi P. in Arkansas
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