Sunday, April 16, 2017

Solutions and substitutions with Reena

Reena Nerbas

In this issue: Cornbread tip, soiled cushions, salty water stains on windows, keeping mice out of farm machinery, cleaning ovens, all about rice, household hints, cleaning aluminum baking sheets, hardened honey, stinky pet fish, reface/recasting thermoplastic kitchen drawers, household hints.

Dear Reena,

I made cornbread and it was very crumbly. What did I do wrong I used one egg should I use two next time? Carolyn

Dear Carolyn,

Here are a few hints for making delicious cornbread: Use buttermilk instead of milk and/or water. While you do not want to add excess moisture, the following are a few options of ideas to try: Add half cup sour cream to your recipe. The extra egg is a good idea, and some people like to add a can of cream corn to the recipe to add moisture. Yum!


Hi Reena,

We have a set of four nice, thick chair cushions that we have treated well for 15 years. They are never left outside at night, and are often stored in our shed during summer days when not needed. On an unusually warm day in November, I went to get them from the shed, and discovered that they had become soiled from mice that had gotten into our shed (they were stinky and damp). We left them outside to dry off, then put them away to deal with this spring.  Now I'm wondering if they can be washed in a large commercial washer at a laundromat (larger capacity), and if so, what should I use on them (borax?) I want to make sure they are well disinfected. Any advice would be very appreciated. Thanks, in advance. Jill

Dear Jill,

Washing the cushions in a large capacity washing machine is absolutely genius! Use heavy-duty detergent and air dry the cushions. The only change that I would make is to use 1-cup of white vinegar in place of borax. After the cushions are dry, wipe them with tea tree oil to help deter rodents.


Hello Reena,

We have a house down south by the ocean and the salty water stains our windows, making them difficult to clean. Any suggestions? Josie

Dear Josie,

Give the following recipe a try: Squeaky Clean Window Cleaner: In a spray bottle, combine 1 tsp. (5 mL) inexpensive shampoo or dish soap, one quarter cup (60 mL) rubbing alcohol and fill the remaining portion of the bottle with white vinegar. Spray and wipe. Ammonia may be substituted for vinegar. Using a squeegee will help make this job a lot less tedious and a lot more fun!


Dear Reena,

Do you have any advice to help keep mice out of farm machinery? Thanks, Bonnie

Dear Bonnie,

While some people resort to glue boards, mouse traps and poisons other people are repulsed by the thought of hurting little animals. Health Canada recommends that when all else fails, control mice with a pesticide in tamper proof bait stations filled with rodenticide. This poison used to control rodent populations must be kept away from food and children and pets. It is important to read the label directions and use safety precautions such as wearing gloves whenever handling rodenticide. It is also important to note that a mouse can have up to 16 babies at a time and therefore if the problem is not controlled, you will quickly have hundreds of mice running around. Since you cannot seal off farm machinery the way you would a home with items such as; expandable foam or steel wool, the problem will continue to grow. When the challenge has reached this degree, your best bet is to call in professionals to help you control the mice or borrow a cat for a little while (making sure that the cat has no access to any poisons). Scent is your best bet, but what works for one type of mouse will not work for them all. Deter certain mice with many fabric softener sheets around where the mice like to congregate or shaving cream on a cotton ball or oil of peppermint or Irish Spring soap slivers. Spraying the perimeter with pepper and water is also effective.


Dear Reena, 

Years of use have left my aluminum baking pans (even top quality ones) unsightly and horrible. Can anything restore them? Thank-you, Margaret

Dear Margaret,

Here is a very easy solution to clean unsightly aluminum baking sheets. Sprinkle a generous amount of good ‘ol fashioned baking soda onto the sheet. Pour 3% hydrogen peroxide over top. Sprinkle with additional baking soda. Leave for 2 hours; scrub with a green scrubby pad. You will be amazed at the results!


Dear Reena,

I keep honey in a plastic bottle, and now the remaining honey is sticking to the bottle. What shall I do so that I can still use the leftover honey? Thank you, Enn

Dear Enn,

If you wish to make honey liquid, put the container in a pot of warm water until it softens enough to pour. Never microwave hardened honey, doing so kills the natural benefits of honey. 


Dear Reena,

We love fish but I hate the smell that's in the house for days after; is there anything that can be done? Joan

Dear Joan,

Open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan. Overpower the fish scent by bringing a pot of water to a boil, and squeeze in the juice and rinds from three lemons. Boil for 30 minutes, or until your fish smell is completely gone. You can also toss cloves, cinnamon, or nutmeg into your brew and boil those as well. 


Hi Reena,
I would appreciate it you could recommend a place where they can reface/recasting thermoplastic kitchen drawers, that peeled/shrank from the stove heat. Do you have any suggestions to fix them; or a place that can restore them? Renee

Dear Renee,

The easiest and most expensive option is to replace the damaged door. Without knowing which area, you reside in, makes it difficult to recommend a reputable repair company. Visit a cabinet retailer in your area, they will likely recommend an expert near you. If you would like to repair the door yourself, you may have success heating the area with a heat gun or hair dryer. If the glue softens, peel the thermoplastic upwards. Use a good wood glue such as Elmer’s to smooth and adhere the thermoplastic textile onto the surface. Some people cut away the peeled edge with an X-Acto knife and then paint the edge to hide the damage. However, based on the photo that you submitted and the fact that the outer edge bubbled, this is not an option for you. 


Household Hints: 

When I paint, I always secure a rubber band across the top of my paint can. Instead of wiping my paintbrush on the side of the can, I wipe it on the rubber band. That way the can stays clean! Submitted by: Thelma

Store cupcake liners in mason jars. They hold their shape and look pretty. Submitted by: Janet

One of my best hints uses cornstarch. I worked in a jewelry store for many years and people would often bring tangled necklaces to me to untangle. I discovered that sprinkling the necklaces with cornstarch made them easy to untangle. Submitted by: Jeremy 


Feedback from helpful reader re: Cleaning a self-cleaning oven without self-clean mode

I recently read in one of your columns a tip by Arla for cleaning ovens: Warm oven to 150 degrees. Place pan of hot water on bottom rack, smaller pan with 1 cup ammonia on top rack. Leave for a few hours, I tried this and was very disappointed! Since I have never used ammonia before, I never realized that my house would fill with a deadly vapor resulting in the need to evacuate my child and pet from the house. After opening all windows and turning on all fans, I vacated the house and returned a few hours later and proceeded to clean the oven. After all that hassle, it didn't even clean the oven! So back to hated oven cleaner I go. Karen

Feedback from Caring Reader 

Hi, Reena, 

A while back, you explained how to use baking soda and vinegar to clean an oven. I used it successfully on the burnt-on stains under one of my stove elements, where none of my regular cleaners had any effect at all. As you said to, I used a lot of both. I let the solution sit for 15 minutes, then I scrubbed it with an abrasive cleaning pad. The scrubbing didn't appear to have worked at first, but suddenly it started to make a difference. It took a lot of scrubbing, but I removed the stain. That part of my stove top hasn't looked so good in years. So, thank you! Joan 

All about rice

There are many stories about how and where rice came from. Most believe the roots of rice come from 3000 BC India, where natives discovered the plant growing in the wild and began to experiment with it. Rice is great for cooking and so much more… 

Make your own homemade glue using rice: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sticky cooked rice with three quarter cup water. Boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and store in fridge.

Here’s an old trick, save leftover rice water and use it in the shower as hair conditioner. Leave in hair for 30 minutes, some people say it dries their hair out but many people have used rice conditioner for most of their lives.

Make a rice bag to keep your feet warm at night. Sew a cotton sack and fill with uncooked white rice. Sew another bag (flannel works well) around the first to act as a pillowcase, making sure not to finish one end, so that the case can be washed regularly. Put the bag in the microwave for 1-2 mins. Great for headaches, aching bones and earaches. Or put the sack in the freezer and lay it on your forehead if a headache should arise.

Grind up 1 cup of uncooked rice in a coffee grinder to clean the grinder and sharpen its blades.

Leftover water used for washing rice is a good fertilizer for your household plants.

Add a few grains of rice to your salt shaker. Rice absorbs moisture faster and more efficiently than salt does. Therefore, it prevents salt from caking up in the shaker due to high humidity.

For fluffier and great tasting rice, add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar to the boiling water before adding rice. Rice will be easier to spoon and less sticky.

When cooking rice add 1 to 2 tsp. of oil, butter or margarine to the water, this helps prevent the water from boiling over. Butter or olive oil keeps the grains from sticking together, while a little salt adds flavor. Another way to change the flavor of rice is by adding garlic, lemon juice and grated zest, curry or turmeric to the pot.

There are many variations when cooking rice. For a nice flavor soak three quarter cups of rice in cider before cooking. Or add one can of mushroom soup before baking/cooking rice. Spoon salsa over cooked rice or add uncooked rice to pot before cooking. Or cover cooked rice with beans. Or add peppers to dishes before cooking rice. Or toss rice with salads. Or grate cheese and melt over rice. Or serve rice with scrambled eggs.

Rice improves with a rest after cooking, this gives you more flexibility for completing the remainder of your meal. For a longer wait, place a slice of dry bread on the rice to keep it fluffy; cover.

Leftover rice freezes well. Store in sealable bags.

Make rice pudding using leftover rice. Place 2 cups cooked rice in a bowl, add 1-2 cups low fat Cool Whip, 1 cup raisins and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Mix well and cool in fridge until needed.

To clean a pot with baked on rice. Boil vinegar, baking soda and dish soap in a pot for 5 minutes. Let cool and scrub.

Rice is the first food a new bride in India offers to her husband and the first food offered to newborn babies. 

Rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica. 

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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