Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Solutions and substitutions with Reena

Reena Nerbas
Dear Reena, I would like to bake a Christmas Fruit Cake for the first time. The recipes I've looked up on-line are big recipes and expensive. Is it possible to make half a recipe? One asks for five eggs (how do I divide)? Shirley

Dear Shirley, The easiest option; is to use 3 small eggs (instead of medium or large). The more technically accurate solution includes measuring. A large egg equals about 3 tbsp. of contents. If the recipe calls for both egg yolk and egg white; beat the egg, and use one and a half tbsp. for the Christmas Fruit Cake recipe.

Dear Reena, While putting up the Christmas tree; my pants, shirt and hands became layered with tree sap. Thanks for your help! Dale 

Dear Dale, Smear your hands, shirt and pants with mayonnaise. The tree sap will come right off. Follow with a solution of dish soap and water. Blot the area and wash the pants and shirt according to the care label.

Dear Reena, I own two old microfiber chairs that have multiple stains that range from: pets and milk to dirt and soup. The chairs look like they are ready to hit the garbage, should I take the plunge and toss them out? Bryson 

Dear Bryson, Close the lid on the garbage and forget about throwing the chairs out. The stains should come out with the help of rubbing alcohol. Pour the alcohol onto the stains, and scrub with a nail brush. Swipe the stains back and forth and the chair should finish clean. Dear Reena, I made a turkey for Thanksgiving and used the drippings to make gravy. I poured the drippings into a container and once it cooled, I added cornstarch and put it in the fridge overnight. Right before serving, I heated the contents in a pot, but the gravy would not coagulate and it remained separated and inedible. What happened? Reba

Dear Reba, Gravy is the finishing touch to a wonderful turkey dinner. It was wise to pour the drippings into a container and put it into the fridge. Next time after the drippings have cooled in the fridge, remove the layer of white fat. Do not add cornstarch or flour to the drippings until you discard the fat. Cook as normal, and the gravy should taste spectacular. 

Dear Reena,  I have often noticed that restaurants have grains of rice in salt shakers. Is this for good luck or a joke that someone plays on the waitress? Bethany

Dear Bethany, While some people consider the following a myth, here is the reason why many people add rice grains to shakers. A few grains of rice added to salt shakers is a great way to prevent salt from clumping, because rice is said to absorb moisture. 

Did you know? Many people believe that the cure for handheld devices that accidentally become wet, is to leave them in a bowl of rice for several hours to absorb moisture. 

Dear Reena, Please advise me on how to clean the black ceramic shower tiles in my shower; we have very hard water. I have used many products to try to eliminate the mineral deposits and soap scum, but the tiles remain blotchy and stained looking after they have dried. Thank you. Barbara

Dear Barbara, Whenever I want to freshen up old grout, I get a handy little piece of pumice stone. Pour some dish soap onto the pumice stone and wet it, then scrub the grout; looks wonderful. Next spray isopropyl alcohol onto the grout to prevent mildew from growing and discoloring the grout (keep away from small children). Another option is to make a paste of borax and water, scrub grout with an old toothbrush.

Dear Reena, Thanks to a lazy dog owner, I stepped in a pile of you-know-what and I didn’t notice until the following day. After cleaning the mess up, the smell is lingering. The sole is a rubberized material used on walking shoes. I have scrubbed with a variety of products, but I cannot get rid of the smell. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you. Leslie

Dear Leslie, If possible, toss the shoes in the washing machine and wash with heavy-duty detergent and hot water. If the shoes are not washable, scrub the bottom sole with an old toothbrush, water and quite a bit of whitening toothpaste. Soak the bottom sole in 50/50 vinegar and water.

Dear Reena, Since having children my hair has become very frizzy. I use several commercial frizz reducing products. I have noticed that when I dry my hair with a towel, it creates more frizz, and using my hair dryer also increases the frizz. Is there any other way to quickly dry my hair? Belma

Dear Belma, Squeeze (don’t rub) your hair with a cotton t-shirt instead of a towel. Cotton will absorb moisture without frizzing. Or wear a microfiber after shower head wrap. Use the cool setting on your hair dryer instead of hot.

Dear Reena, What is the difference between jam and jelly? Mavis

Dear Mavis, Jelly is made by crushing fruit and then straining the juice. The juice is boiled usually with sugar and added pectin. Together they react and result in a thicker consistency. The fruit in jam comes from fruit pulp or crushed fruit, because of that jam is less stiff than jelly.
Readers Share Success Stories
  • Yesterday I got a brilliant idea... well, I thought it was brilliant. Both my husband and I are in our 70's and it's a bit difficult for us to get down on the floor. Yesterday we had to kneel down to read the serial number on our stove (to have it repaired). To get that number one has to pull out the drawer at the bottom of the stove. The sticker is right there, on the right. But to be able to read it, especially with bifocals, required some major efforts on our part. We did it, and after we were done, my brain clicked in - I have a cell phone with a camera, and it just requires one of us to bend over and click a photo. If it doesn't work, erase and do another one or use a digital camera. Plus, if numbers had been difficult to read, we could have transferred the photo to our computer. I'm going to use this trick next time something rolls under the bed! Thanks again for what you do. Submitted By: Lilianna
  • Clean brown bathtub stains by combining hydrogen peroxide with Dawn dish soap. Leave for 30 minutes and scrub. Submitted by: Micah
Who Knew?
  • Use coffee filters to hold tacos while eating. The filter makes eating tacos less messy. Submitted By: Taylor
  • I came to the end of my Nutella jar and had a brain storm that turned into a tasty win! Place a few scoops of vanilla ice cream into the jar and…eat with a spoon. Submitted By: Ryan
  • When my expensive Tom shoes were damaged by water, I was determined to find a solution. I found success by rubbing my new Tom canvas shoes with a piece of beeswax. After that I used my blow dryer to heat the wax and soften it so that I could coat both shoes evenly. The shoes feel a little stiff but the water beads off, and I know they will last me a long time. Submitted By: Candace
  • I read a study that said; adding one tbsp. of glycerin to Christmas tree pots reduces the loss of pine needles. Submitted By: Margret
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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