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HELPFUL HINTS

Posted: April 23, 2014 at 2:24 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Whenever I heat up a frozen meal in the microwave, one of the last directions is to allow the food to “stand in the microwave” for a few minutes before removing. Why is this?

  • Ellen L. in Illinois

DEAR READER: Standing time means that the food is really still cooking a little longer. In a microwave, even when you turn it off or it stops, those little “waves” are still bouncing around. By letting the food “stand,” it finishes the cooking. Also, it’s a safety measure, especially with liquids. It’s called super heating, and putting a spoon or fork in the dish too soon can cause the liquid to splash.

DEAR HELOISE: After a party, I had a chunk of cream cheese with hot-pepper jelly left. I put it into my potato soup. It was really good. It made the soup a little more creamy, and the pepper jelly gave it a little more of a bite.

  • Amelia S. in California

DEAR READER: Great hint, and a tasty one at that.Soup is a good way to stretch the food budget and use up what may be left over in the refrigerator. Save cheese rinds in the freezer and add them to soup for extra flavor.

DEAR HELOISE: Would you please explain the differences among celery seeds, celery flakes and celery salt? Which would be best for chicken-noodle soup?

  • Ruth in California

DEAR READER: Celery seed is a dried fruit (seed), not like regular celery. It has a very strong flavor. It usually is used when making pickles, or it is added to pasta salad, potato salad or egg salad. But use only a small dash, because the taste is very intense.

Celery flakes are dried, chopped pieces of celery, including the leaves and the stalk. The flakes can be used in place of fresh celery in recipes. Of course, you won’t have that crunch, but the taste is pretty close.

Celery salt is a mixture of celery seed and salt. It can be used in coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad and tuna salad.

DEAR HELOISE: I read the hint about spreading peanut butter with the back of a spoon so as not to tear the bread, and I was compelled to write my hint. I put some peanut butter in a small, microwave-safe dish and heat it for several seconds until it becomes soft enough to spread easily.

  • Elaine G. in California

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email Heloise@Heloise.com

Food, Pages 36 on 04/23/2014

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