DEAR READERS: With Memorial Day weekend coming up next weekend, it's time to get the outdoor grill ready (if you haven't already). Here are some hints to start off the season right:
Remove all grates, clean with soap and water, and rinse well.
Check all parts of the grill: the burner, gas tubes and lava rocks (if used). Make sure there are no insects (they love to hide in the little spaces) and no grease or dirt in the fuel line to prevent gas from coming through the lines or out of the burners.
Wipe down the entire grill, inside and out, with soap and water. Rinse and let dry.
Clean out any old grease from the collection pans or ashes that have accumulated.
Make sure the grill is set up away from the house and is not near bushes or overhanging trees.
P.S.: Your garage is not the place to grill, either. Just imagine if there was a mishap and a fire started. This advice applies to turkey fryers, too!
DEAR HELOISE: Is a pastry blender really a necessary tool to have when making pastry dough?
Joanne In Colorado
DEAR JOANNE: Some would say it is. The pastry blender is a baking tool that's worth investing in. This tool, usually stainless steel, has a smooth, rounded handle, with curved wires creating a half-moon shape. The wires cut the shortening or butter evenly and quickly into the flour.
Use a pastry blender to blend the two ingredients before the butter or shortening starts to warm up and melt. It is bigger pieces of butter or shortening inside the dough that create a flaky crust once it is baked.
DEAR HELOISE: A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to boil some baby lima beans, but unfortunately I let them boil dry and then burn. The bottom of my cooking pot looked beyond cleaning.
I remembered that I had your book "Heloise From A to Z." I found the following hint for pots and pans: "Cleaning aluminum: Put about 3 tablespoons of cream of tartar and about 1 quart of water in the gunky pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it continue to boil for about 10 minutes. Wash and rinse the pot well."
Worked perfectly. Thanks, Heloise.
Emilie P. In Arkansas
DEAR EMILIE: You're welcome and thank you for the nice words about my book!
DEAR HELOISE: The other day, my next-door neighbor was making cupcakes but had no cupcake liners. I told him to use aluminum foil. Just take the foil, cut it into four squares and put it in the muffin pan for cupcakes.
It really worked great!
Penny In Louisiana
DEAR HELOISE: Watermelon can be roly-poly to try to slice, causing the knife to slip dangerously.
I slice a small piece across one side so I can set it down without it rolling around. Slice away and enjoy.
Suzie, Via Email
Send a great hint to Heloise, P.O. 79500, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.