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Helpful Hints

By Heloise

This article was published August 13, 2014 at 1:54 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I organize place mats by using pants hangers, the ones with the clips. I hang and organize them by color. It's so much easier than sifting through the endless place-mat pile!

-- Kelly in Little Rock

DEAR HELOISE: I don't like to cook (I am a widow), so I eat a lot of frozen entrees. Every entree I buy says to cook in a 1,100-watt microwave. A few years ago, I bought a new microwave, so I asked for a 1,100-watt one. No one had one -- they were all 1,000-watt.

Why do manufacturers insist on their products using 1,100-watt microwaves for cooking when all you can buy is 1,000-watt? Everything I cook in the microwave I add 30 seconds to, and it works just fine. Any hints?

-- Shirley S. in Michigan

DEAR READER: There are many more 1,100-watt microwaves available today in all price ranges. It might be time to buy a new one, since the average life span is about 10 years, depending on use. If yours is still working fine, it's OK to use. Food cooks faster the higher the wattage. Adding a few extra seconds of cooking time (on a low-wattage model) makes up the difference. It's better to "undercook" than "overcook," as you can always zap it a few more seconds.

DEAR HELOISE: Yes and no to those who want to cook pies on a pizza stone (Heloise here: A previous hint from a reader stated that she bakes many different items on a pizza stone, including pies). Make sure the pie isn't frozen, as my pizza stone cracked during baking.

-- Carol M. in Indiana

DEAR READER: Thanks for the reminder. You can use your pizza stone to bake and cook many things, but be sure they are not frozen.

DEAR HELOISE: I frequently buy watermelons in the summer. They are hard to handle, and quite often my clothes are soiled from contact.

My very simple hint: I put the watermelon in one of the plastic bags the market uses to bag my groceries. Not only is the watermelon easier to carry (of course I support the melon from the bottom), but I no longer worry that my clothes will be dirty. I even leave the bag on the melon until I am ready to remove it from my refrigerator. Using a plastic bag makes handling watermelon so much easier and cleaner.

-- Bette Y., via email

DEAR HELOISE: My family loves fresh corn on the cob, but some don't like eating it off the cob. I stick the cob on the inner ring of a fluted cake pan and cut off the kernels.

-- Dana T. in Nebraska

DEAR READER: I do the same, just on my plate. This is especially nice for someone with braces or dentures.

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 on 08/13/2014

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