Renovation & Design

Freeze chocolate for no-static shavings in cappuccino

Question: I have a block of Callebaut chocolate which I shave for sprinkling on cappuccinos etc. I have tried a potato peeler and a handheld grater for this purpose, but both cause static electricity shavings everywhere! Is there anything I can do to prevent the static? Thanks. —Jeanne

Answer: Ah, one of my favourite subjects! Begin by freezing the chocolate for 30 minutes. Chill the dish that you will grate the chocolate onto. Spread a little margarine or butter onto the grater. Spray the grated chocolate with a small amount of water. It won’t fix the issue, but it will reduce the static. The harder the chocolate, the better the results. You can also use a sharp, serrated knife to form perfect, clean chocolate shavings. Lay the chocolate onto the counter and place the blade teeth onto the chocolate, pull the knife towards you, repeatedly, for perfect little curls.

Question: We had a gas fireplace installed five years ago. It is running well with no issues at all. Is there anything that I should do for general maintenance, or are they self-sufficient appliances? —Fred

Answer: Regular maintenance on your gas fireplace should be completed annually, whether it seems to need it, or not. Schedule an appointment with a certified gas service provider. They will check to make sure the unit is working properly, and safely, service the batteries, and clean the fireplace. This should not be completed by the homeowner.

Question: I cooked chocolate pudding from scratch. While it was hot, I put it in the fridge to cool, but it would not thicken up, so I threw it in the garbage. Is there anything I could have done to save my dessert? —Joyce

Answer: Yes definitely. Next time, pour one quarter cup of milk into a cup and add three tbsp. cornstarch. Stir to dissolve and add the milk to the pudding. Bring to a boil while stirring. The pudding will thicken to the proper consistency.

Question: I purchased a used couch, and when I removed the cushions to clean, I noticed gum stuck on the bottom of the cushions. How can I remove ground in chewing gum? —Charles

Answer: Pile ice onto the gum, wait for 10 minutes until the gum has hardened. Peel it with your fingers or a plastic spatula. You can also spread, smooth peanut butter, or mayonnaise onto the area; work it onto the mess. The gum will become oily and easy to remove. After it is gone, clean the area with dish soap and water.

Household Hacks

I save dryer lint and stuff it inside empty toilet paper rolls to make my own kindling. These are perfect for starting bonfires outside. —Terrance

Make your own canvas bag or shoe, cleaner. Combine one tablespoon of Dawn dish soap and one tbsp. three per cent hydrogen peroxide. Wipe onto shoes and scrub with a soft toothbrush. Wipe off with a wet dish cloth. —Salver

To help your ground beef go further, add a freshly chopped mushroom. Mushrooms are less expensive and easy to find at the store. —Jemima

I took a flight to the U.S. and had extra clothes that I couldn’t fit into my carry on. I stuffed them into a pillowcase to make a pillow and the airline didn’t charge this as an extra carry on. I don’t know if this would work for all airlines, but I was happy and wanted to share my experience! —Denise

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

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