Sunday, May 6, 2018

Solutions and substitutions with Reena

Reena Nerbas


Dear Reena,  
Whenever I bake apple pie, the crust ends up with a soggy texture. What can I do to prevent a soggy crust?  - Mavis 

Dear Mavis, 
Before you bake your next hot, apple pie, cook the apples slowly first over low heat for 15 minutes. Add sugar to the apple slices; doing this will extract some of the juices, and make the crust less soggy. Choose Granny Smith apples, they are perfect for apple pie. Another trick is to peel and cut the apples, and then place them in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, nutmeg (optional) and cinnamon (according to the recipe). Leave at room temperature for one-two hours. This allows the apples time to release their juices. Strain the liquid before adding the apple mixture to the crust, let apples drain for 15 additional mins. Continue to follow the recipe as directed. 

Dear Reena, 
What is the best way to store apples? I store mine in a fruit basket on the counter, and if one gets a bruise, the rest are rotten within a few days. - Linda

Dear Linda, 
You are right; contact with one rotten apple will spoil the entire bunch. If you are planning to store apples for an extended, period of time, wrap each unwashed apple individually with a piece of newspaper and store inside a box, in a cool dark place such as the basement, refrigerator or your pantry. The newspaper is intended to prevent apples from contacting one another, thereby protecting each apple. Bruised apples should not be stored for longer than a few days, either use them right away or make them into apple cider, apple pie filling or applesauce. If the apples are to be eaten within a few days, store them in the fridge, away from carrots and potatoes. 

Dear Reena, My absolute favorite drink is tea. I have several apples in my cold, storage room, and I am wondering whether you have a great tip for making tea from apples - Thanks, Bernie 

Dear Bernie, Absolutely, here is a simple recipe for making Homemade Apple Tea: Into a pot combine 3 cups of water along with one apple, cut into cubes. Some people like to add a tea bag to the mixture, but this is optional. Boil for 10 mins. Strain the liquid into a mug, and add one or two cinnamon sticks and one tbsp. honey. Another option is to use orange peels instead of apple cubes, or combine both apple and orange peels with water; boil and strain. 

Appleicious Tips

Revive old apples by peeling and cutting them into chunks. Soak them in cold apple cider or juice for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. - Alex 

I used to pack my child’s lunch with one apple each day, but day after day I noticed that he ate everything except the apple. I asked him why he never ate the apple, and he replied that it took too long, and it was difficult to eat with braces. Here is a trick that I used to make apple eating simple, and faster. Use an apple corer to pull out the core, the apple will now have a hole in the center. Slice the apple horizontally several times, into quarter inch pieces. Place the core back into the hole. This prevents the apple from browning, and holds the apple pieces together. At lunch time, my son would remove the core, and eat each circular piece of apple with ease. - Anna

A soggy apple pie means the pie was baked at too low a temperature. All pies should be baked at 400 degrees or higher, so the crust will bake before the juice is able to soak in. I've been baking pies for 60 years, without soggy crusts. I also find that Granny Smith apples do not make good pies. Macintosh, Spartan, or Rome Beauty apples are much nicer. Apple pie should have a juicy, tender filling in a crisp, browned crust. Nobody leaves the crust from my pies! - Edna 

Dear Reena

Dear Reena,
Every time I store potatoes at my house, within days they start to grow eyes. How can I prevent this? I keep them in my pantry, in a wooden potato box that has onions on the bottom. I’ve tried keeping an apple with the potatoes, but to no avail. - Anne

Dear Anne,
Sounds like you may have high humidity in your home. Contrary to what many experts advise, I have always stored potatoes in a plastic bag in the fridge. They last for months without any problems.

Hi Reena,
I have several face cloths that have become hard, which I believe is because of soap which has built up over time. Do you know of anything that will make them soft again? Thanks, Judy

Dear Judy, 
I agree, towels often lose their softness when they are saturated with fabric softener and/or detergent. In order to strip the residue from the textiles, soak them in a full-strength solution of white vinegar. Leave for one hour, and wash as usual, using only a small amount of detergent and a half cup baking soda. Transfer to the dryer, and remove them as soon as they are dry.

Dear Reena,
I experience an annoying problem whenever I make a low-fat loaf. I spray the non-stick loaf pan with Pam for baking, but I still have a difficult time cleaning the pans. Thanks for a solution, Bonnie

Dear Bonnie, 
I discovered this solution after years of struggling with the same challenge. I now cut a piece of parchment paper so that it hangs over the side edges of the loaf pan. Add your ingredients to the pan, and bake. When baking time is complete, grasp the parchment paper, and lift the loaf out of the pan. Pans stay beautiful much longer, and clean-up is so easy!

Dear Reena, 
Do you have any tips for how to rejuvenate Sharpie markers?  - Radah 

Dear Radah, 
Soak the tip of the marker in rubbing alcohol until you see the ink start to bleed out. Remove the marker from the alcohol, and let it sit for one hour with the cap on. Test on a scrap paper before using it on your good paper. 

Dear Reena, 
I usually purchase spaghetti noodles in bags. After the bags are open, the noodles fall in my pantry, and make a mess. Any ideas for a better way to store long noodles?  - May 

Dear May, 
Here are a few options, so that you don’t have to “noodle around” your pantry collecting the mess of fallen food. After opening the bag, fold the top and close it with a bag clip or a clothes pin. In some cases, the bag rips; several stores sell long pasta storage containers. If you like the taste of Pringles chips, eat the chips, and then clean out the container with a cloth. Store spaghetti noodles in the empty container. 

Dear Reena, 
The tile backsplash directly behind the stove has grease marks. Any solutions? - Pam 

Dear Pam, 
There are products on the market designed specifically for cleaning beautiful tile; here are suggestions in case you do not have access to commercial products. Begin with a combination of dish soap and water, scrub with a non-scratching abrasive cloth. Next make a paste of baking soda and 3% hydrogen peroxide, scrub with a non-scratching abrasive cloth. Worst case scenario; clean the area with household ammonia (test on an inconspicuous area first).

 Miscellaneous tips

Instead of bag clips, I close bags of frozen food that I purchase with binder clips. That way I can clip the bags onto the wire racks in my freezer. They hang on hooks in an orderly fashion, instead of lying aimlessly at the bottom of the freezer, becoming forgotten. I also close my bags of spices with binder clips. I fashioned a rod with metal hooks in the pantry, and hang the bags of spices on the rod. - Henry 

Use a binder clip on the end of your toothpaste. As you empty the tube, roll it and clip it with a binder clip. Makes getting the toothpaste out a whole lot easier. -  Mary 

I purchase packages of small, colorful, metal binder clips and then use them in many of my gift wrapping projects. I usually attach a note underneath each clip. This makes the gift look extra special. Tiny clothespins also work for this purpose. - Mary

In your column you suggested to use gravel in cleaning narrow bottles. When cleaning all my flower containers I use Polydent tablets with wonderful results. For a narrow bottle, a tablet will fit in the opening (or break a tablet into pieces.) - Anne

Interesting Discoveries:  My grandson stored metal containers of shaving cream on the side of the bathtub which left some awful rust stains. My daughter tried several cleaners and mixtures to clean it off, but never succeeded. Finally, as a last resort, she applied peroxide on the stains, covered the peroxide with cream of tartar, covered the patches with a paper towel, moistened with a bit of peroxide, and waited one half hour. She scrubbed the spots with a soft sponge, and all the rust stains came off beautifully. A nice and cheap alternative to changing the tub or having an insert installed. - Pauline

Reduce the appearance of freckles by spooning onion juice and, 2 teaspoon vinegar, over the spots daily. It does not take long for them to disappear. - Jean

I used to endure a lot of fabric damage, due to moths. I then placed mothballs in all of my drawers and chests, but they stink. I finally discovered that when I wrap fabrics in newspapers, the moths do not eat the fabric. Apparently, they do not like the smell of printer’s ink. - Jesse

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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