Dear Heloise: I recently BADLY BURNED MY FINGERS while baking cookies because I failed to notice that my hot pad had gotten damp in the process of washing and reusing the cookie sheets. I knew that a damp hot pad or kitchen towel would allow you to be burned, but I was working too quickly that day to notice.

Later, when explaining to my friends and family how the burn happened, I was surprised to hear that some of them didn’t know you could be burned by using a damp pad to pick up something very hot. The extreme heat turns the moisture immediately to steam, and the burn can be quite bad.

Please let readers know to watch out for this and never use a damp pad or towel to pick up anything really hot. -- Bonnie P. in Houston

Ouch! But in truth, I’ve done the same thing! Once learned, never again. -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE



Dear Heloise: To always have fresh avocados on hand, I peel the avocados, cut them in half and remove the seed. I put the avocado halves in a vacuum-sealed bag and place in the freezer. When I want an avocado, I simply open the bag and take out what I want. I reseal the avocado in the vacuum bag and return to the freezer. They thaw quickly and taste fresh. -- Lynda in Amarillo, Tex.

Well, they do sell frozen avocado, so I say go for it! For those readers who do not own a vacuum sealer, after removing the seed, press plastic wrap against the avocado flesh. Put the seed back in (to keep the avocado flesh from getting mushy) on top of the plastic and place the entire half, seed included, in a freezer zip-top bag. Store avocado in the refrigerator or the freezer until needed. -- Heloise

P.S.: You may want to double-bag the avocado just to be safe.


Dear Heloise: I know people put seasonings or cheese on popcorn. Not being a huge popcorn fan, I have yet to try it. My daughter puts dry ranch dressing on popcorn for her kids. Needless to say, the family insisted I try it. It’s delicious. I thought it would make an excellent hint, since I would have never thought of it. -- D.H. in New Jersey


Dear Heloise: I read your column in the Temple (Texas) Daily Telegram.

My hint is when you get ready to bake and the butter is in the freezer or refrigerator, just grab the cheese grater and grate it. Now, I never soften the butter before baking. -- Virginia D., Moody, Tex.


Dear Heloise: I was baking a cake and found a simple way to check to see if the cake was done. Instead of a toothpick, I wanted something long enough so I wouldn’t burn myself and could check without having to get the cake out of the oven. I used a piece of raw spaghetti. -- T.A., via e-mail

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

, King Features Syndicate