Dear Heloise: When I baked some COOKIES recently, I was reminded of some tips that might be helpful to others:
If a recipe calls for shortening, don't assume you can use margarine. Use solid vegetable shortening for best results.
Always sift powdered sugar for frosting and glazes. Sifting eliminates those unsightly little bumps of undissolved sugar.
Clean off cookie sheets with a sturdy paper towel between batches.
Use a paper towel to spread a thin film of vegetable shortening on cookie sheets. I find that the baking sprays leave a sticky residue that is sometimes impossible to remove.
Bake a few cookies to test oven temperature and baking time. Better to ruin two or three than a dozen.
Thanks for all your wonderful ideas. I seldom buy any cleaning products anymore -- now I use vinegar, baking soda and cleaning cloths. -- Sally Taylor, Stanwood, Iowa
Sally, your baking hints are the best! You're right about not using vegetable spray on a cookie sheet, since most contain lecithin, and that can cause a gummy buildup.
As for vinegar and baking soda for most cleaning chores, I love them! FYI: Don't forget that vinegar is wonderful as a deodorizer. Just wipe some on your cutting board or inside the fridge to clean and freshen. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: This is in response to "A Dallas Reader" regarding different flavors of ice cream in one container.
While she is waiting for ice-cream makers to include several flavors in one container, she can try what I have done since my favorite Italian restaurants quit offering spumoni ice cream.
I go to a local ice-cream chain, pick out several of my favorite flavors and have them dished up in a gallon container.
By the time I get home, the ice cream is soft enough to lightly swirl the flavors together before placing the container in the freezer.
Thereafter, each time I have a dish of ice cream, I get a taste of each flavor. A very flavorful treat! -- Imogene Maurer, League City, Texas
Dear Heloise: Take low-fat sour cream and add sugar-free sweetener, plus vanilla extract, and you have a great topping for a bagel or toast or even pancakes.
In fact, I put it on anything I would put cream on. You can add mashed strawberry or banana to get different flavors. The combinations are limitless, and the fat and calories are small. -- Pat Leon, Caldwell, N.J.
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