Dear Heloise: Why do the people who put chicken pieces in foam trays put in the little ABSORBENT PADS? They do indeed absorb stray fluids, but they start stinking within 24 hours at room temperature. This isn’t good if it’s two or three days until garbage pickup. -- C.K., via e-mail
I’m with you — they are yucky! But they do serve a purpose. The pad keeps the chicken (and meat) “looking good” by absorbing any liquid that may leak while it sits in the cold storage bin in the store. You are right that it can become smelly if it sits in the garbage can for too long. Try this classic Heloise hint: Wrap the liner in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer until garbage day. Many readers do this with any food that cannot go down the garbage disposal and that starts smelling if it sits in the garbage can until pickup day. Just remember to get it out of the freezer when garbage day arrives! -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I make many soups and stocks during the winter. A good hint for making individual-serving-size portions is to pour the soup or stock into the cups of a muffin tin before freezing. After the soup is frozen, it easily pops out. -- Layla M. in Wisconsin
This is a great way to freeze soups, especially if you have limited freezer space, while being able to have just one cup! After freezing, repackage the soups (in plastic freezer bags or containers) for a better fit in the freezer. Soup is my go-to meal for lunch or dinner, especially in the winter. I have a super (souper!) pamphlet, Heloise’s Spectacular Soups, filled with favorite soup hints, plus recipes from friends and family members. To receive a copy, send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Soups, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. When freezing soups, be aware that soups with noodles or rice may change texture when reheated. Try freezing stocks, and then, after heating, add your favorite noodles or rice before serving. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I have a hint that I have used for years. I may be the only one around who uses popcorn (unpopped, of course!) as a great way to keep salt in a saltshaker from clumping. I have found that over time, the rice breaks into bits small enough to be shaken out. However, popcorn kernels never break up.
The popcorn seems to absorb moisture from humidity, and if there is any clumping, it breaks apart the clumps when you shake out the salt. It takes only two or three kernels in a shaker, and they last practically forever. -- Virginia M. in Texas
Dear Heloise: If you store your “fruit on the bottom” yogurt upside down in the refrigerator, then give it several good shakes before you open it, it will be so much easier to mix. -- Peggy C. in Texas