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This article was published April 9, 2014 at 2:30 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I love the self-cleaning feature on my oven. I have noticed, though, that sometimes I have a lot of smoke and smells that linger in the house during and after the cleaning cycle. Do you have any hints?

  • Emily D. in Oklahoma

DEAR READER: Try not to let too much time pass between cleanings. The more food spills that build up in the oven, stuck to the bottom, the more chance of smoke and fumes during the self-cleaning. If there are a lot of spills, try wiping out as much as possible before starting the cleaning. Then, during cleaning, open some windows to help get out the heat, smoke and odors.

DEAR HELOISE: I have discovered a great use for those pizza stones that many people have but find useless except for cooking pizzas. Whenever I use a slow cooker or a tabletop cooking appliance (for example, an electric indoor grill), I place my pizza stone beneath it to protect my counter top from heat. Works like a charm, and makes me feel better about the cooker staying on for so long.

  • Carolyn B., via email

DEAR HELOISE: I have a stainless-steel kettle that keeps getting calcium deposits in it. Vinegar cleans it beautifully, giving it a like new appearance. I now make cleaning the kettle with vinegar a part of my routine.

  • Heidi L. in Indiana

DEAR READER: So glad that you have discovered this Heloise hint. Readers, to clean your kettle, fill it with vinegar (full strength) and bring it to a boil for 20-30 minutes. Allow the vinegar to cool, scrub the kettle for a final cleaning and rinse thoroughly.

Use vinegar and a microfiber cloth to remove hard-water stains on faucets in the kitchen and bathroom.

DEAR HELOISE: I was browning some sausage for a pan of lasagna and came up with this hint: The sausage was still in clumps that were larger than I wanted. I tried breaking it up with my pastry blender, and it worked great.

  • Chris E., via email

DEAR HELOISE: My husband suggested that I send you this simple hint that we use for warming our coffee cups: I sit the cups on the heating vent while the coffee is percolating. By the time the coffee is ready, our cups are warm and do not cool the hot coffee.

  • Melanie C. in Virginia

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 04/09/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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