Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Easy to test baking staples for viability after winter

QUESTION: My question pertains to baking supplies and other staples. I leave staples such as rice, dry pasta, lentils etc. at our unheated cottage over the winter. Do products such as baking soda, baking powder, flours and Bisquick lose their viability after six months of freezing temperatures? Each of these is stored in closed containers or jars, but how can I check to see if they are still as potent as they need to be. Thanks in advance. Greg, Winnipeg

ANSWER: This is a great question! Baking soda and baking powder are not subject to spoiling, although they will eventually fail to rise to the occasion as leavening agents for baked goods.

To put baking powder's effectiveness to the test measure 1 tsp. baking powder with a half-cup of water. The mixture should bubble immediately and if it does it will still act as a leavening agent. To test baking soda, mix one-quarter tsp. baking soda with 2 tsp. vinegar, the mixture should bubble.

As for flour and Bisquick, you will know if they are rancid by the smell (or any sign of bugs). I always keep my whole wheat flour in the fridge but any of the four products are freezable.

QUESTION: My son plays team soccer and wears a black jersey with white numbers. I washed the jersey and the white came off of the number on the back of his jersey. Now he is the only player on the team with numbers that are black instead of white. I have tried to remove the black but it looks as though the white numbering actually peeled off, now what can I do? Lesley, Arborg

ANSWER: Your son will look as wonderful as all of the other players on the team with this easy and inexpensive tip. Purchase white fabric paint and simply paint the numbers. His shirt will look great!

Feedback from Outstanding Reader:

Dear Reena,

I read a recent item in your column about dandelion control, and it reminded me to pass this information along.

For years I had been frustrated that controlling dandelions with pesticides didn't seem to be effective because all it seemed to do was give the plants a huge growth spurt, and cause them to go to seed earlier than they normally would have, before the pesticide killed the main plant and root. As a result I wasn't so certain that spraying them was doing any good.

So, I called a farm extension specialist in the Department of Agriculture, and he explained that after the dandelion has been sprayed with weed killer, any seeds it produces afterwards will not grow.

Now, I may be a slow learner, or maybe I just wasn't paying attention, but I was raised on a farm and I had never heard or been told that before! On our acreage we have so many dandelions growing uncontrolled on surrounding land that it is a losing battle to try to control them. So, we just enjoy the color and try to keep our lawn grass in the best possible condition, which seems in itself to somewhat control the number of dandelions that grow in the lawn.


Fabulous Tip of the Week:

*To remove sticky price tag residue from books, wrap masking tape around your fingers and press tape over the sticky area. The tape will lift gummy leftovers.

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