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Just the other night I suffered a kitchen disaster. I hate when that happens. I ruined an entire pot of pasta because I got busy and was not paying attention. By the time I realized, the pasta had cooked way beyond al dente, all the way to total mush.

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It killed me to dump the whole thing down the disposal, but there was no way to undo that disaster.

Thankfully, that’s not true for every cooking mistake. This is a list you’re going to want to keep handy just in case.

Too much salt

It’s a common cooking mistake. If you’ve added far too much salt to a sauce or soup and you have enough ingredients, double the recipe or make more by half, then mix it in with the salty batch a bit at a time until you’ve reached your desired flavor.

Another trick is to add a bit more unsalted water to the mix, provided this will not also dilute the flavor.

Burnt toast

Don’t toss it until you’ve tried this neat trick: Use your cheese grater to quickly scrape off the burned layer. Works like magic!

Undercooked cake

The first sign of a cake that’s not done is that sinkhole in the middle. Once cooled you cannot re-bake it. But don’t worry. This is not a hopeless kitchen disaster.

Break the cake into pieces (even those parts that are undercooked) and combine them with whipped cream and fresh fruit to make dessert parfaits or one large trifle

ENJOY: 25 Items Under $25 to Help Organize Your Life

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I remember my grandmother saying, “If we didn’t need food, we’d all be rich!” This may be true. But then, a life without food would be a little less pleasurable.

Still, there are so many ways to make great food cheap, make perishable food last, and the grocery budget stretch like nobody’s business.

Enjoy today’s tips, filled with practiced wisdom for practical solutions to make cooking and brewing coffee fun and rewarding for you and your family. Bon appétit!

One lovely cuppa

If you love coffee as much as I do and have never tried a gadget called AeroPress you are in for a delicious surprise.

Aerobie is manual and the cheapest, easiest, fastest way to make a really great cup of coffee. And yes, I do mean just one cup of perfectly brewed coffee at a time—or up to three cups.

Aerobie is small enough to store in your desk drawer at the office and another at home. Can’t break the $4-a-day Starbucks habit? This could do it.

Heat the mug

Tired of that first morning cup of steaming hot coffee cooling off too quickly? Do this:

As your coffee is brewing, fill your coffee mug with water and heat it to boiling in the microwave. Pour out the water into a dirty dish or pan that needs to be soaked, and replace with hot coffee. You’ll be amazed by how much longer the coffee stays hot.  Read more

What I love more than great tips and brilliant ideas from my readers are the lovely words of love and thanks. Yeah, I’m a sucker for friendship and I value each and every one of you more than you will ever know.

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Just knowing that so many friends are reading these columns every day makes me excited and energized to keep going!

So whatever you do, keep those tips, great ideas, questions, and the love coming.

Freeze milk for later

I use whole milk, but only occasionally in some of my special recipes. Instead of purchasing the smaller size milk container for that one recipe, I purchase the gallon-size whole milk which is much cheaper per ounce.

I freeze what I don’t need in 1-cup measurements in freezer bags. I am surprised how many times during the year this saved me from purchasing yet again a smaller size milk container for just one recipe.

I am so grateful for your daily emails—they have helped keep me on the right track. Thank you. Linda

 

Safe take-apart

I am a retired soldier. During my active career, we moved often. That meant my inner DIY needed to come out often. We disassembled many things over the years and I would like to add to your tips on taking things apart. Once the item is disassembled, always reposition the fasteners, screws or bolts and nuts back into the holes, exactly where they were. You are not putting the item back together, simply inserting the hardware into the specific slots and holes.

Packing all of these items into a zip-type plastic bag sounds like a good idea, but unless you very securely tape the little bag to the back of the item you took apart, the bag always seems to get lost some way or another.

Putting the fasteners back where they were means they will always be in the right place when and where you need them!

Now that we have retired, we still have some things disassembled in our shed for storage, and the fasteners are back in their spots waiting to be used in the reassembly, without hunting for them. Colonel T.W. Read more

Whether you are naturally gifted in the kitchen or had the pleasure of growing up with some talented cooks who were happy to give you a few pointers along the way—lots of people shy away because they find cooking complicated, and even a bit confusing.

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Fortunately, there are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone improve their cooking game, and maybe get some interest in further developing their skills. Here is a run-down of some really fun and useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level.

Ice cream—it’s in the bag

Ice cream can get rock hard in the freezer and it takes ages to thaw out just enough that you can eat it. A simple trick to keep it just the right consistency is to put the container in a plastic freezer bag before throwing it in the freezer.

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Flying this week? You won’t be alone. TSA estimates a record 46 million people will be joining you in domestic airports and on airplanes, which will beat all records in holiday air travel.

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It goes without saying that you need to get to the airport early. But this week, double the time you might normally allow to arrive, get through security, and to your gate.

Beyond that, check out these tips and tricks to make your experience less stressful. After all, you do want to arrive with joy in your heart and kind words on your lips.

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As we face the crush the Holiday prep, could you possibly use some help? Try these tips and ideas on for size.

Double up

When you cook this month, double your favorite meals and freeze the leftovers. Then, when you’re in a frenzy the few days before Christmas, you won’t have to fret about making dinner, too.

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Electronic cards

You can save a lot of time and money when you send electronic Christmas cards, or eCards. There are lots of free sites—DaySpring.com and BlueMountain.com offer the best selections.

Shop from home

Shopping online can save a lot of time, frustration and gasoline. Finding free or reduced shipping makes online shopping even better. Dec. 14, 2018 is Free Shipping Day. Check FreeShipping.com for retailers who will be participating.

MORE: 9 Ways to Avoid Christmas Debt Even If You’re Short on Cash

Get cash back

If you’ll be shopping anyway, you might as well get some of your cash back. Ebates is by far the easiest and most efficient way to do that. An Ebates account is completely free, easy to set up. Then every time you shop online, make sure you have your Ebates account activated (it’s so easy—you’ll see once you have an account). And you can use your Ebates account in-store, too!

If you’re curious why I’m such an Ebates fan, yesterday I got another Ebates check in the mail—cash back for things I would have purchased anyway, including the rental car Harold and I used on our recent New England getaway. I didn’t expect it, but I’ll take it!

The hardest part about using Ebates? Remembering to use it! Ha. However, they do make it pretty easy. I believe I’ll stop forgetting, now that it is putting money back in my pocket.

RELATED: 3 Ways to Find Extra Cash for Christmas Read more

From frozen key locks to hazy headlight covers, today I have a handful of completely unrelated household tips to entertain but also make your life a little easier. Enjoy!

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Organize household supplies. Use an over-the-door hanging shoe rack with clear vinyl pockets to organize and store cleaning supplies, one item per pocket. This gets them up and out of the reach of children. But even better, now you can actually see what you have.

Open blister packs. Use a manual can opener to open “blister packs” that take the strength of a muscle man to break into. The can opener will make a neat and safe cut to open the package so you can retrieve its contents and not slice your fingers in the process.

Remove headlight haze. Have your car’s headlight covers become hazy? You could spend a lot of money on a commercial product to remove that haze or grab some toothpaste and a soft cloth. Apply the toothpaste and vigorously rub the toothpaste over the entire hazy cover. Wipe off the toothpaste with a clean rag. Look at that! Completely restored to clear and bright. Toothpaste is abrasive. You are essentially sanding away the haziness. If you have a lens protectant, you will be sanding this away as well so you may want to replace it after doing this.

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The tips in today’s post are filled with practiced wisdom for practical solutions, novel ideas, and inspiring concepts that make cooking fun and rewarding for you and your family—and stretch that food budgt!

GRATE SAVINGS. You pay a lot to have someone else grate your cheese for you—at least two bucks a pound more than if you buy it by the block. You’ll also save by cutting up whole chickens, slicing your own pickles, slicing meat for cold cuts, and using a blender or rolling pin to make your own bread crumbs.

FOUND FOOD. You know that last slice of bread? Often it’s dry, past its prime and not enough to make a sandwich, so into the garbage it goes. Well, not so fast!

Making your own breadcrumbs is as simple as whirring a few slices in a food processor blender until the bread becomes fine textured crumbs. Bake the crumbs on a baking sheet; 350 F stirring every 10 minutes. Depending on how much moisture you’re dealing with and the depth of the crumbs, it should take about 20 to 30 mins.

Make Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs by adding 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning blend to every 2 cups to crumbs before baking. Cool completely then store in an airtight container.

VEGGIE BOUQUET. Store asparagus in the fridge in a glass of water (like cut flowers in a vase). It will stay fresh for a couple of weeks. Works with celery, too. Read more