Dear Heloise: We read your column every day in the Ventura County (Calif.) Star. My family has come up with a hint that may help others who never know if the dishes in the DISHWASHER are clean or dirty.
When the dishwasher is emptied, we immediately fill the dishwasher soap container and close it. That way, anyone who has a question about whether the dishes are clean or dirty needs only to look to see if the container is closed or open. If it is open, the dishes are clean. If the container is closed, put your dirty dishes in. -- Diana L. in California
This is a good hint, especially if the dishwasher is used every day or two. Most people do run it at night, when dinner is over and the kitchen is "closed."
For other readers who don't use the dishwasher daily, please note: Powdered detergent (and some of the new "packets") can be affected by moisture. -- Heloise
P.S.: Here's another hint: Put a coffee cup (open end facing up) on the top rack. If there's water in there, the dishes are clean!
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P.O. Box 795000
San Antonio, TX 78279-5000
Keeping corners down
Dear Readers: Many of you shared your hints about keeping parchment paper on pans. Here are two of them:
* Traci A. in Washington wrote: "I love reading your column in The Spokesman-Review every day. I spritz cooking spray on each corner of the cookie sheet to hold the parchment down. You don't need a lot. Just a dab."
* Linda S., via email, said: "Here's a trick I learned when working in our local grade-school cafeteria: Tear off the desired length of paper, crumple it up as if you were going to throw it away, then simply smooth it out on your cookie sheet with your hand. Spritz with a little water if it is still unruly."
Dear Heloise: I tend to be a messy cook, especially when baking. I now start my preparation by placing a large piece of waxed paper on the counter. When I measure flour, separate eggs, etc., if anything spills, it goes on the waxed paper. When I'm done, I just pick up the waxed paper and put it in the trash. -- Rebecca S. in Colorado
Dear Heloise: To save time washing and rinsing dishes after I have cooked or baked, I fill the sink with warm, soapy water. When I'm done with a utensil or a dish, I slip it into the water. When I am finished cooking, all I do is rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. No more scrubbing! -- Sandy, via email
A good way to speed up cleanup! Just be sure there are no sharp knives to cause a mishap. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I use an orange peeler to score onions when making shish kebabs. It seems to work much better than a knife, as it doesn't score more than one layer at a time. -- Carol Y. in Indiana