Question: I am baking a cheesecake and would like to avoid making a water bath. I don’t want my cheesecake to crack, is there any other option?
Answer: If you are trying to prevent cracks in your cake as well as prevent a soggy bottom crust, place a roasting pan full of water on the rack beneath the cheesecake. This technique works most, but not all of the time — the water-bath method is the superior method.
Question: My boyfriend was sick with a cold, and so, wanting to make him feel better, I made him homemade chicken soup. This project of love turned into a disaster when the soup burned and actually set fire to the kitchen. Yes, you heard me, I burned soup! Do you have any great chicken-soup recipes?
Answer: Place a one-, two- or three-pound whole chicken and four chopped celery stalks (with leaves) in a pot and cover it with water.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to minimum and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot. Strain the liquid into a large pot and discard the celery tops. Add one pound of baby carrots, two chopped onions, two beef-bouillon cubes crumbled, two 14.5-ounce cans of chicken broth and one package chicken noodle soup mix into the pot.
Allow this to simmer and season with a quarter-teaspoon each of thyme, dried parsley, poultry seasoning and dried basil. Add three star anise, five peppercorns and two bay leaves. Remove chicken from bone and cut into bite-size pieces. Add meat to pot and cook until veggies are tender — around 1½ hours. Drop an eight-ounce package of pasta into the pot. Stir and cook for 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy the compliments.
Question: My dryer vent leads right onto my back patio and spews the fluff from the dryer all over the patio and into a garden. Can I put something over the vent to catch the fluff or would that be dangerous?
Answer: It is wise that you vent your dryer to the outside of your home, because allowing a dryer to vent inside can subject family members unnecessarily to gases, fibres and other toxins. It is also smart to clean your vent regularly. Lint should be removed from the trap often, and the trap should be cleaned with soap and water to remove lint and fabric softener buildup. As well, vacuum the chute that holds the lint trap. However, even with all that, some of the lint sneaks past the trap and into other areas of clothes dryers. It is therefore necessary to have ducts thoroughly vacuumed out by a professional to avoid fire hazards. In order to catch some of the fluff flying into your garden, you can position nylon pantyhose over the outside vent, but you would need to clean it after every load.
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.
Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca. Ask a question or share a tip at reena.ca.