Friday, May 30, 2008

Cheaper and Better Ingredients in a Pinch

I hate it when I am finally sold on what to make for a meal and halfway through pulling out all the ingredients for a recipe, only to discover I am out of a key ingredient, such as brown sugar.

Today I saw a cheapskate tip that reminded me that before I run to the store, I should check my pantry to see whether I can make it myself. And who knows? The homemade version just might be cheaper and better-tasting.

MAKE-YOUR-OWN BROWN SUGAR. Add a tablespoon of molasses to one cup of white sugar. Mix it with a fork until the ingredients are incorporated thoroughly, and you have instant brown sugar. Add more molasses if you want it darker or less if you want it lighter. -- Sandra R., e-mail

NO-SLIDING BOWLS. Put a small piece of rubber shelf liner under your bowl when using a hand-held mixer. It will keep the bowl from sliding around on the counter. This liner also works well under your cake or pie to keep it from sliding to one side in your cake or pie carrier. -- Billie S., e-mail

COFFEEPOT STAINS. Do you have a stained coffeepot or thermos that can't go in the dishwasher and even vinegar won't clean? Drop a smidgeon of dishwashing detergent and follow with boiling water. Just swish and wipe, and that buildup washes away. -- Name withheld, e-mail

CANDLE WAX REMOVER. Instead of scraping candle wax out of potpourri burners, votive cups or wax tart warmers, just pop the whole thing in the freezer for 10 minutes. The wax gets cold and hard and slips easily away from the surface to which it was stuck. You can reuse the candle tarts later. -- Katy, Texas

WINDOW WASHING. When washing your home's windows, try using windshield washer fluid. It removes bugs, tree sap and bird droppings. It is also fast-acting and streak-free. One gallon can cost as little as $1. Just pour some in a spray bottle, spray on your windows, and wipe off with newspapers. -- Carol H., Missouri

FRESH BREAD. Want a way to keep bread fresher longer or have it come out of the freezer like the day you bought it? As soon as you get home, open the loaf, and wrap a paper towel around the end. Re-close the bag, and either freeze the loaf or store it on your counter or in your breadbox. -- Debbie V., e-mail
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