Dear Reena: What is the fastest and easiest way to melt marshmallows without burning them?
Dear Samantha: When heating marshmallows on the stove, grease the bottom of the pot before adding them. You may want to add water to the pot if it won’t compromise your recipe. Marshmallows are less likely to burn if you use a double boiler. Or use your microwave oven. You will need a large microwave-safe bowl because the marshmallows expand when heated. Microwave the marshmallows for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until melted.
Dear Reena: What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?
Dear Rita: While both baking soda and baking powder are chemical leavening agents, there are notable differences between the two. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate; it is about four times as strong as baking powder.
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate but also includes cream of tartar and starch. Run out of baking powder? To make one teaspoon of baking powder, combine one quarter teaspoon of baking soda, half a teaspoon of cream of tartar and one quarter teaspoon of cornstarch.
Dear Reena: Do you have any suggestions for making toilet bowl cleaner?
Dear Millie: Here is an easy formula for making your own toilet bowl cleaner: Pour a quarter cup of baking soda and a half cup of vinegar into the bowl. Add half a teaspoon of tea tree oil. Scrub with a toilet brush.
You can also drop a denture tablet into the toilet with the ingredients listed above. Leave it for 30 minutes then scrub.
Dear Reena: How do you get ballpoint ink marks off the leather of a new car?
Dear Charlene: A solution that works on some leathers might not work on others.
Here are a few favourites to try: rubbing alcohol, dish soap, shaving cream, hairspray, WD-40, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and (worst case scenario) bug spray.
Whichever solution you try, test on an inconspicuous area first. When you are confident that it’s not going to discolour the leather, apply to the ink mark, wait 15 minutes and wipe.
Fabulous tips of the week
• Make fluffier omelets by adding half a teaspoon of baking soda for every three eggs.
• Sprinkle baking soda onto a powder puff and use it under arms as a natural deodorant.
• Use a pant hanger with clips to hold your cookbook. Clip the book onto the hanger and hang it on your cupboard handle.
• Homemade face cream: In a small glass jar, combine a quarter cup sesame or grape seed oil, one teaspoon jojoba oil and a quarter cup Aloe Vera gel. Shake. Massage onto face before bedtime, being careful not to get any in your eyes. Keep refrigerated.
• While cooking homemade broth or stock, consider not skimming off the foamy solids that rise to the top of soup pots. These solids are packed with flavour and nutrition. Sieve the broth toward the end of cooking when you’re discarding the bones, herbs and mirepois.
Check Reena’s new website — reena.ca — to send tips and questions, to find missed columns or mislaid solutions, or to engage Reena to speak at an upcoming event.