QUESTION: I very much enjoy and appreciate your solutions in the paper. Here is one challenge that I have and haven't noticed mentioned before. I have a lovely down-filled jacket that is warm and comfortable. But it is a few years old now and the feathers sort of leak out and leave my sweaters looking like I have a bad case of dandruff! Any ideas? Is there anything I can spray it with (short of shellac) that could prevent this from happening? Looking forward to your "solution." Karen, Winnipeg
ANSWER: Both expensive as well as inexpensive down-filled jackets have a tendency to lose feathers. Here are a few suggestions to solve this issue.
If the problem is excessive and the jacket is new, find your receipt and return the jacket. If the jacket is older and cannot be returned, pull escaping feathers towards the inside of the jacket when they decide to stick out. If you pull feathers out, the holes become larger and more feathers will escape. Put your jacket into the dryer and run the no-heat fluff cycle for about 15 minutes.
The reason that this works is because as the jacket is worn the feathers compress and flatten making them easier to fit through the weave. But if you fluff your feathers they will fatten up and have a more difficult time fitting through the fabric.
If all else fails, wear a thin nylon jacket underneath your down-filled jacket to prevent the feathers from clinging to your clothing. Scotchgard products have proven unsuccessful when it comes to keeping feathers inside jackets.
QUESTION: Hopefully you have a solution for my problem. Recently, I was cooking a potato in the microwave. In error, the wrong time was selected (way too long for one potato) and the potato, including the paper towel that it was sitting on, ignited. Fortunately, I had just returned into the kitchen when I noticed the flames inside the microwave.
The inside of the microwave is discoloured from the smoke. Most of the blackness came off when I scrubbed the walls. The top inside wall, however, still has a mottled appearance. Is there anything that I can use to "bleach" or whiten this area? The microwave still functions normally. It's a fairly recent purchase that was quite costly (one of the over-the-range types). Thank you. David, Winnipeg
ANSWER: Although people often share their success stories about removing microwave discolouration by wiping the interior with acetone and then washing with dish soap and water, this is not recommended because acetone is a dangerous flammable solvent.
Instead, clean the microwave by scrubbing it with vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. Scrub to remove the stain and when the unit is clean, leave the remainder of the cleaning solution in a bowl inside the microwave (when not in use) to absorb remaining odours.
QUESTION: I burnt beef stew in my enamelled cast iron pot and after cleaning the burnt food off, the pot is now discoloured with a brown color on the inside of the pot. The normal colour of the inside of the pot is cream. What can I do to get the brown colour off? Thanks. Katheryn, Winnipeg
ANSWER: Adding the element of heat is a powerful tool that lifts stains, odours and kitchen messes. In other words, pour enough vinegar into the pot to cover the bottom, add one tablespoon baking soda. Bring to a boil for five minutes. Turn element off, cover and leave overnight. Wash in the morning. Or sprinkle the bottom of the pot with a layer of dishwasher detergent powder. Fill the pot one-quarter full with water. Boil for five minutes and remove from element. Leave overnight and wash as normal.
Some people have also reported great results with leaving cola in the pot overnight. In the morning, scrub with an abrasive pad.
QUESTION: I would like you to give me a substitute for carton whip cream. B.. Minnedosa
ANSWER: The substitute depends on what you are using the whip cream for i.e. roux vs. whipping. Experiment with the following suggestions: Chill your beaters and bowl. Whip chilled evaporated milk and serve right away, two tablespoons lemon juice can be added to 12 ounces evaporated milk before beating to give it extra flavour.
Another option is pressurized whipped cream which is handy to have on hand but more expensive and less yummy. Other substitutes are frozen yoghurt, well drained vanilla yoghurt or if you are looking for a hot chocolate topping you can use marshmallows. And finally non- dairy whipped cream can act as a substitute for real whip cream.