Dear Heloise: One cannot purchase small amounts of freshly ground PARMESAN CHEESE in most supermarkets. We don’t use much, and by the time we’ve gotten about halfway through, we see blue spots in the Parmesan, which we then discard. Any suggestions? -- John Campbell, via e-mail
Yes, and it’s very simple: Buy a small block of cheese and grate it yourself. The shelf life for fresh-ground Parmesan is about two weeks (after opening). Be prepared to use it within this time. Once grated, store it in an airtight glass or plastic container in the refrigerator.
When buying a wedge/whole piece of Parmesan, wrap the cheese in wax or brown paper, followed by plastic wrap around the outside. The cheese will be able to breathe, but will remain airtight. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I could have cried when I realized I’d thrown away my copy of your recipe for refried bean dip. Please reprint it for me. -- Cora J. in Texas
Cora, don’t cry! Hard to believe this recipe was first printed in 1971 by my mother (the original Heloise, 1919-1977), but it is just as good today! Gather these ingredients:
2 cups of pinto beans, cooked or canned (drained and rinsed)
2 slices of very crisp bacon
A pinch of garlic
A pinch of chili powder
Place all the ingredients in a blender. Depending on your preference, blend until the mixture is smooth, or leave slightly chunky. Refrigerate until cool.
I add a couple of drops of hot sauce at times, but you can add chopped jalapenos, green olives or any other extra to make it your own. All recipes can be changed to fit one’s personal taste. Some of my favorite recipes that you can add your own ingredients to, such as my Olive Nut Dip and Taco Casserole, are available in my Heloise’s All-Time Favorite Recipes pamphlet, which you can order by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Keep a selection of different canned beans in the pantry for making dips and adding to soups, stews or casseroles. -- Heloise
Dear Readers: Here is a reminder hint when cooking in the kitchen: Make sure to turn all pot handles to the inside, where little hands, or even adults walking by, can’t hit them while on the stovetop. Small hands or an accidental hip bump can cause serious injury.
Also, don’t wear long sleeves that hang loosely and can get caught on anything on the stove. Make it a point to change before you start cooking, especially if you just got home from work. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: After years of putting up with batter dripping down the sides of my waffle irons, I found an elegant but simple solution. After pouring in the batter, leave the lid open for 30 seconds. Voila! No more overflowing batter. -- Jack G. in Middlesex, N.Y.