DEAR HELOISE: I have some plastic and melamine bowls I use in the microwave. They always have a hard substance around where the food is and I can't get it off. Could you tell me what to use on it?
-- Ila V., Grant, Mich.
DEAR READER: You no doubt have a residential brand of melamine instead of a commercial brand, which is expensive and not easy to find. That means you should never microwave anything in your melamine. The substance that you refer to as being stuck on the bowls has more than likely etched itself into the bowls. It's not recommended for microwaving foods. In the future, always look on the bottom of dinnerware to see if it's microwave safe.
DEAR HELOISE: I love flavored liquid dairy coffee cream, but when the liquid has been all used up, there always remains a fair amount of clotted cream stuck to the bottom of the bottle that cannot be poured.
When this happens, I pour several spoonfuls of hot coffee into the bottle and shake it until the remaining cream has melted into the coffee. I then pour it all into the rest of the coffee in my cup. I never waste a bit of it now. Thanks for all your hints.
-- Gina P., Columbus, Ohio
DEAR HELOISE: When a recipe calls for minced onions, do I use dried onion or a fresh one?
-- Janice G., Findlay, Ohio
DEAR READER: Whenever possible, always use fresh. There is a different taste, and I think you'll like it.
DEAR HELOISE: I made your Pumpkin Bread recipe last year, and it was a big hit with my family. Since my son is coming from California to spend a few days with us, I wanted to make it again for him, but I've lost the recipe. Would you reprint it?
-- Claire D., Kenner, La.
DEAR READER: This is a favorite at my house too. Here's the recipe:
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup salad oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
Sift together dry ingredients. Add nuts and mix well. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix just enough to blend. Pour into a 9-by-5-by-3-inch greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes.
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