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DEAR READERS: Are you "holidayed out"? Maybe a trip to a buffet restaurant is in order, but first let's talk food safety.

An important safety factor on the buffet is temperature control. If food, like seafood, is piled up on the buffet, the temperature will not be consistent throughout. This can lead to bacterial growth.

Along those same lines, give the soup a hearty stir before ladling. This will help to give a consistent temperature, and you'll get a good mix of vegetables.

Always get a fresh plate for each trip, and sample lots of different foods.

One more thing: The handle of the serving tongs should not touch the surrounding foods.

P.S. It should go without saying, but wash hands before and after dining.

DEAR HELOISE: I am a retired antiques dealer, and I have found that keeping silver items clean and shiny is easy using baking soda. I set the item in warm water and rub the soda onto it with my fingers. If the piece is very dark, I use a soft toothbrush, rinse and dry.

This works wonders on jewelry, and is even better on flatware because it is ready to use without any residue.

-- Janice C., California

DEAR READER: Janice, baking soda is a great, environmentally sound cleaner. A couple of caveats: Oxidized and heirloom pieces shouldn't be cleaned; it could diminish their value.

Baking soda should be in everyone's cleaning closet: It's cheap, safe and readily available. There are good commercial silver polishes on the market, but give baking soda a go first, and start saving money.

DEAR HELOISE: When the holidays are over, I stuff the loops of my bows with newspaper sleeves and store them in a large bag. Next year, if the tails are a bit wrinkled, I touch them up with a warm iron.

-- Sandra H.,

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

P.S. I love your column.

DEAR HELOISE: I use paper towel cores to store kitchen tongs. I wrap the tube with packing tape or decorative contact paper for added strength and slide the closed tongs into the tube. Saves space and clutter in the drawer.

-- Jerry in

Okeechobee, Fla.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Heloise@Heloise.com

Weekend on 01/03/2019

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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