Renovation & Design

Renovation & Design

Keys to creativity

Laurie Mustard 
December 5

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Renovation & Design

You'll need a side of mayo to remove that Christmas tree sap

Question: While putting up the Christmas tree my pants, shirt and hands became layered with tree sap. What can I do? Thanks for your help! Conrad

Answer: Smear your hands, shirt and pants with mayonnaise. The tree sap will come right off. Follow with a solution of dish soap and water. Blot the area and wash the pants and shirt according to the care label.

 

Question: A friend has purchased a home with tile and grout everywhere and says both are very dirty. We are looking for an easy and effective cleaning process. You have helped us in the past and I’m hoping you can do so again; fingers crossed. Elaine

Answer: Get yourself a handy little piece of pumice stone. Pour some dish soap onto the pumice stone and wet it, then scrub the grout. Next spray isopropyl alcohol onto the grout to prevent mildew from growing and discolouring the grout (keep away from small children). Another option is to make a paste of borax and water and scrub grout with an old toothbrush.

 

Question: How can I make perfect cream puffs and prevent them from sinking after they are taken out of the oven? Andrea

Answer: A perfect cream puff is definitely a work of art and here are a few tricks to getting them right every time. After you stir the water, salt, butter and baking powder together, turn up the heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil. Turn the burner to low and dump the flour mixture in all at once, stirring it together with a wooden spoon. Once mixed, remove from heat. Let the dough cool for 20 minutes before adding the eggs one at a time.

Total time for beating each egg is about two minutes. Test your dough by lifting out a spoonful and dropping it on top of the rest of the dough. If it stays on top and maintains its shape, it’s ready to bake. If not, beat it some more. Drop the dough by large spoonful’s onto a cookie sheet. Don’t crowd the puffs. They should be at least three inches apart. If you want to make mini puffs, drop small spoonful’s on sheets — 15 to each sheet. Without opening the oven to peek during baking, bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes for large or 15 to 20 minutes for mini puffs. Finished cream puffs should feel firm to the touch and appear golden brown. Remove the cream puffs from the oven and pierce the side of each one with the point of a sharp knife (to remove moisture from inside puff); this is not necessary for mini puffs. Cool puffs on a baking sheet, careful to keep them away from drafts. Fill with something delicious such as whipped cream, tuna, chocolate, whipped coffee, chicken salad, vanilla custard, salmon or crab mousse. So delicious!

 

Holiday cheer!

I came to the end of my Nutella jar and had a brainstorm that turned into a tasty win! Place a few scoops of vanilla ice cream into the jar and…eat with a spoon. — Sol

I read a study that said adding one tablespoon of glycerin to Christmas tree pots reduces the loss of pine needles. — Margaret

Add one package of instant-pudding mix to a boxed cake mix to moisten the cake and enhance the flavour. — Jamie

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.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: info@reena.ca. Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca.

 

Reena Nerbas 
December 5

Renovation & Design

Some like it warm

Marc LaBossiere
December 5

Renovation & Design

Piles of goodness

Marc LaBossiere
November 28

Renovation & Design

Many options for removing stains from vinyl flooring

Question: How can I clean a brown stain off my vinyl flooring under the baseboard heater?

Answer: Many have found pouring three per cent hydrogen peroxide onto the floor every day for three days is helpful. Others have had great success by combining 1/4 cup OxiClean with about four litres of boiling water and pouring the solution onto the area. Another solution is bleach, but this application removes the finish and shine of the floor. Mineral spirits are another treatment people have used succesfully.

 

Question: How do you keep meringue from shrinking? I have tried adding cream of tartar (about 1/2 teaspoon per pie) but it has not helped. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Stuart 

Answer: Here are a few tricks to prevent meringue from shrinking. Instead of cream of tartar, add cornstarch to the egg whites. In a small pot dissolve, two tbsp. sugar, one tbsp. cornstarch and half cup of water. Heat on medium and stir until clear. Prepare filling as normal and spoon onto crust very evenly while the filling is nice and hot. Beat three (room temperature) egg whites and 1/2 tsp. vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in six tablespoons of sugar. Add the cooled cornstarch mixture and beat until stiff peaks form. Be sure to spread the filling over the entire edge to seal the sides and prevent the meringue from shrinking. Bake in a 350F oven until meringue is golden brown. Cool and refrigerate.

 

Question: I have been baking bread for 40 years and every once in a while, the bread goes in the oven looking fabulous, only to sink in the middle as it bakes. It still tastes fine. Any idea why this happens and how to correct it. Thank you, Rod

Answer: There are a few common reasons for this: The dough has not been kneaded long enough to activate the gluten. The protein content in the flour that you are using is too low, check the ingredient list to make sure the protein content is at least 11 per cent. Ensure your yeast is fresh and you do not over proof the dough. I always let the dough rise for one hour, shape into buns or bread, and let rise for another hour before baking. High humidity in your oven can also affect your dough, as it will rise at the beginning of the bake and then fall. Lastly, I bake most breads at 350F.

 

Question: I have old country china and it’s not supposed to go in the dishwasher. I’m hoping you have a homemade dishwasher detergent that won’t harm my china. Thanks, Linda 

Answer: China should not be washed in the dishwasher if it was made before 1979. If the china is newer, you can use the delicate setting and a commercial product such as Cascade. Make sure the water temperature is not too hot. If you do not trust commercial products, use two cups of vinegar and run the delicate cycle, however, because of the state we are currently in, I would opt for a commercial detergent.

Tip of the week

When it comes to products such as salad dressing, soya sauce, vinegar and cooking oil, the contents tend to pour out too quickly. Instead of removing the seal, after opening the bottle, puncture a hole in the seal. This will make controlling the flow easier. 

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.

 

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: info@reena.ca. Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca.

Reena Nerbas 
November 28

Renovation & Design

Legends of the folly

Colleen Zacharias
November 28

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