Are You Ready to Make the Switch to Induction Cooking?

I have to tell you that receiving the message in today’s post put the biggest smile on my face. Induction cooking? Oh yes, I do know something about that! But I must confess that the prologue to Cathy’s question is what warmed my heart.

 

induction cooktop GE-Cafe

Dear Mary: First of all, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you for your years of advice and guidance! I have purchased your books, READ your books, and given them as gifts many times. I hardly EVER buy anything or try a new product without checking with you first. I know that if you have endorsed it, I can trust it. Thank you for promoting quality and value in all the products and ideas you share. Your work is amazing.

That being said, my husband and I just purchased a home. The gas stove and microwave oven are 28 years old. Although they both still work, (I know, they don’t make them like this anymore) they look their age and I question the safety of the microwave. I was all ready to purchase a mid-level free-standing gas range.

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Ask Me Anything: How to Store Potatoes, Adult Children Money Matters, Shrinking Tuna, and More

It’s Mailbag day and time to reach in my a file named ECMailbag. That’s where I save all of the questions and letters that you, my dear readers, send to me. I don’t have the time to respond personally so I love it when I get to respond to your questions here.

Questions Mark ( ? ) word in paper note on blue background

Here is a quick summary of the questions I’ll answer in today’s post. You can click on one to go straight to it, or just scroll through to read all. Enjoy!

Contents

1. Why not store potatoes in the fridge?

2. Lights: Turn off or leave on when leaving a room?

3. Should I rescue my adult child from her deep debt?

4. Let’s talk about that missing ounce of tuna

5. How to get out the Wite-Out?

6. How to deal with ugly baked-on crud on baking sheets?

 

Dear Mary: I just read your past column on keeping produce fresh longer. You said to not refrigerate potatoes. Why not? I have been doing this for several years. Dee

Dear Dee: When potatoes are stored below 40℉, the starch in them turns to sugar. This gives them an unnatural taste and you will also notice that refrigerated potatoes turn an ugly brownish color when cooked.

The ideal storage conditions for potatoes are places that are dark, cool, and well-ventilated—like the lowest shelf in a pantry. Too much light makes potatoes turn green. If that happens or if they spout, you can still use them. Just cut off the green spots and the sprouts before you cook them.

Next time you cruise the produce section at the supermarket notice how and where the potatoes are handled: They’re never refrigerated and kept perfectly dry.

Dear Mary: Is it better to turn off fluorescent lights when you leave the room? I was always told that it took more electricity to turn them on than to let them burn all day. Shirley

Dear Shirley: When it comes to residential use, the Department of Energy suggests generally that if you leave a room for more than 15 minutes, it is most cost-effective to turn all lights off whether fluorescent, incandescent, LED, or halogen, although you would be wise to turn off the incandescents the minute you leave. You can install smart timers that will do this for you. Check with your local home improvement center.

Dear Mary: I have two daughters in their twenties, both are married. One has a terrible credit score, and is diving deeper and deeper into debt. The other daughter and her husband have recently graduated from college and are very good money managers. They are budgeting, saving a down payment for a house, and paying off their college loans very quickly. I am afraid that my one daughter will become very jealous of her sister’s financial successes. Do I just stand back and do nothing? I see this as a disaster just waiting to happen. Cheryl

Dear Cheryl: You’ve got a sympathetic ear in me. We have two sons adult sons and I know how my mother’s heart wants to fix everything little thing in their lives. But we both know that’s about the worse thing we can do for our adult children. Our “brilliant help” is not always appreciated the way we think it should be. So I’m going tell you what I would tell myself if I were in your situation: Back off. If you are not a co-signer on your wild child’s debt, it really is none of your business.

Your children are adults with lives of their own. Both of your daughters are learning to live with the consequences of the choices they make, whether good and bad.

As tempting as it might be for you to give or lend money to your spendthrift daughter in an effort to level the playing field (I’m assuming that’s what you have in mind here), that would be a terrible mistake. It will only put a Band-Aid on the real problem and it could alienate the other girl.

I suggest that you focus your energy on coming up with a list of resources she’ll need, like credit counseling, books, and other resources so that if and when she does comes to you for help, you’ll be ready to give her what she really needs—and wants—to make a U-turn on her road to financial devastation.

Dear Mary: In response to your column in my local newspaper, “A Can of Tuna in the Real World,” where do you find 6-ounce cans of tuna? l have not seen a 6-ounce can of tuna in years. They’re all 5-ounces now! Ted

Dear Ted: You are mostly right, and my apologies for mistakenly referring to the out-of-date 6-oz. size. Many brands of canned fish and meat have joined a list of dozens of products that have downsized over the last decade with no price reduction, including cereals, coffee, toilet paper, and even mayonnaise.

I say “mostly right” because the only brand of tuna I buy is Kirkland Signature Solid White Albacore Tuna, 7-oz. cans in an 8-pack, for $16.99, available at Costco warehouse clubs and also online for members. It is the best canned tuna I know of as measured in both quality and value. Costco also offers an 8-pack Chicken of the Sea Solid White Albacore in 7 oz. cans, $16.49.

Dear Mary: I so messed up. I spilled a bottle of Wite-Out on my wood dining table. It’s not the finest table in the world, but still, I’m heartsick because low-quality or not I love the style. Ann-Marie

Dear Ann-Marie: There are two products that will remove the Wite-Out from finished wood or other surfaces. You may even have one or both in your garage. WD-40 or Goo Gone will work well. Both are available online or at your local home improvement store, in the paint aisle, or online.

Just spray either product on the Wite-Out spill and allow it sit for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Then gently scrape it off with a blunt object like a plastic knife edge. That should do it!

Dear Mary: Is there a way to remove baked-on grease on my favorite baking sheet pan? Love your column for all its great inexpensive ideas. Maggie

Dear Maggie: Yes, there are several. My favorite is with Dawn Dish Power Dissolver, a remarkable cleaner, albeit somewhat hard to find, that melts baked-on crud with no fumes, requiring little effort. It even leaves a pleasant fragrance.

A good oven cleaner like Easy-Off Fume-Free Oven Cleaner can be an effective oven crud cleaner, requiring more effort and elbow grease.

Here’s a DIY option, some readers have reported as being effective: Make a paste of baking soda and fresh hydrogen peroxide. Spread this over the problem area on that sheet pan. Let it sit for a while, then using a good amount of elbow grease and a scrubbing pad, go to work on it. This will work in most situations, leaving that pan looking nice and clean. I can’t guarantee it will look like new, but much better than it looks now!

 

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Help! I’m Drowning in an Upside Down Car Loan

It’s time once again to reach into my virtual mailbag to pull out a few questions from you, my dear readers!

A recent opportunity for readers to weigh in on what they like best and want they want to read more of here at Everyday Cheapskate revealed that answering reader mail is right up at the top of your favorites! (It’s mine, too!)

Dear Mary E-mail icon pattern cloud shape.

Contents

1. Upside down in a car loan 

2. Kiddy credit files

3. What are U.S. 801(k) plans?

4. Slammed by a tax bill

5. No shortcuts for quality suede

6.Get out of debt first

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Ask Me Anything: Plastic in the Oven, DIY Spreadable Butter and More

I love my overflowing inbox filled with questions from my dear readers. What I don’t love is not being able to respond personally to each and every one!

So today, rather than trying to decide which ones to answer, how about I just reach in and let’s see what comes out.

Question and Family

Oven: Hot Mess

Dear Mary: I have a big problem. I turned on my oven without removing a Tupperware container of cookies and the plastic melted all over the bottom of the oven. I was able to scrape some of it off, but a lot still remains. Do you have a solution for me? Lorna

Dear Lorna: Tupperware is made of low-density polyethylene, which is resistant to any kind of solvent. Don’t even waste your time with oven cleaners.

Instead, put ice (in a bag) on it to make it brittle, and chip it off.  Scrape off the residue with a putty knife or similar flat edged blade. It’s a lot of work and a real pain, but not the end of the world.

DIY Spreadable Butter

Dear Mary: I love the soft texture and spreadability of whipped butter, but the stuff in the tubs is to me questionable nutritionally and costs more when compared to stick butter.

My favorite is the butter that is whipped with olive oil. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make my own whipped butter? I have no idea what type of proportions I would need, or if a third ingredient is necessary so it will easily spread. Sara

Dear Sara: Yes, you can do this yourself and quite easily! You’ll need two sticks of real butter (that’s one cup, and please do not substitute with margarine), 1 cup of canola or olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and an electric mixer.

Allow the butter to come to room temperature in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix it with the electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds or until it becomes creamy. Keep the mixer running and add the oil in a small, steady stream. Add the salt. Keep mixing until it looks very light and fluffy.

Store the whipped butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy its spreadability even straight from the refrigerator.

By the way, despite rumors to the contrary, canola oil is not toxic according to Berkeley Wellness (see Canola Oil Myths and Truths). And while it is more cost effective to use canola oil, research from Livestrong (Is Canola Oil More Healthy Than Olive Oil?) reports the nutritional value of canola oil and olive oil are almost identical.

FREE: Make Your Own Mixes eBook

Dying Car? Maybe It’s Only Sick

Dear Mary: My car is dying after 10 years. I’m now stuck with trying to come up with financing for another car. Any extra money I have after bills and rent goes towards savings and credit-card debt.

To afford payments on a car I will probably have to reduce the amount I have going to my retirement account and cut back on the extra payments on my credit card. Would it be better for me to lease a car or buy a late model used car? Paula

RELATED: 25 Ways to Save $1,000 a Month

Dear Paula: I’m not convinced that your old car is terminal. Repairs—even expensive repairs—are cheaper than big new car payments every month.

Find a good mechanic who will do what needs to be done to keep your car running for a few more years. Use the tactics you mention to pay cash for the repairs.

Then start saving by cutting out all unnecessary spending so you can pay cash for a replacement car in a couple of years. And good luck!