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This article was published December 11, 2013 at 1:44 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Here is a hint for leftover candy canes. I make cookies and use crushed candy canes in some recipes.

Last year, I bought a box of 60 candy canes and had plenty left over. Instead of putting them out plain, I dipped the straight end in melted chocolate and let them cool off. After the chocolate dried, I put each into its original wrapper. The hook part was out, so the guest could pull out the candy without touching the chocolate. They were a hit, and looked festive and attractive.

  • Sue B. in Nebraska

DEAR READER: Your hint is a yummy money-saver, too.

DEAR HELOISE: I love to bake, especially cream pies, but I can’t find the ingredient cream of tartar at any grocery store. Do you know how to make a home version for use in pie meringue?

  • Sadie R., Mansfield, Ohio

DEAR READER: For meringue, substitute the same amount of white vinegar or lemon juice for cream of tartar. For example, if the recipe calls for a half teaspoon of cream of tartar, add a half teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Add a quarter teaspoon of white vinegar to three egg whites if you want to make the meringue extra fluffy. You should be able to find cream of tartar in the spice section at the grocery store. If not, just ask the manager.

DEAR HELOISE: Every pasta recipe calls for 4 to 6 quarts of water for each pound of pasta. Why do we need to use so much water?

  • Ellen in Washington

DEAR READER: It makes it easier to fit larger, longer pastas like spaghetti into the pot. It also helps keep the pasta from sticking together, since there is a lot of room and water.

An additional hint for helping the sauce to stick to hot pasta is to never rinse it.The starch left on the pasta helps the sauce adhere. Rinse if making a cold pasta dish.

DEAR HELOISE: My wife and I bought a fairly expensive bottle of wine, and I had a hard time removing the cork. I couldn’t get all of it out; the bottom crumbled and dropped fragments into the wine, many too small to pluck out. I discovered that the cork could be separated by filtering the wine through a coffee filter.

  • A.S. in New York

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

Food, Pages 36 on 12/11/2013

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS

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