Dear Heloise: I need help with my new slow cooker. I'm wondering where I am going to find 10 to 12 continuous hours to cook a meal. I don't want to be peeling veggies when I first get up, and I don't want to be eating dinner at 9 at night, either. My slow cooker does not have a turn-off switch or a timer, and I hesitate to use it when I am not here. All the wonderful recipes require between eight and 12 hours. But I really like this concept of cooking for one person rather than eating frozen microwave products or preparing dinner from scratch when I am tired. Alice Chandler in New Hampshire
First of all, slow cookers make meal-cooking a snap. It does require a little work on your part to get the process started. If you don't want to cut up veggies in the morning, you can either buy veggies that are already cut up or cut them up the night before. Normally, if you turn the pot on when you first get up, you should have enough time to cook the meal. If you aren't comfortable leaving the slow cooker on by itself, then it probably isn't the appliance for you.
Be sure to read through your owner's manual to check guidelines and safety issues. And, if you use the pot, don't remove the lid to check on the ingredients while cooking. Each time you remove the lid, you can lose 20 to 30 minutes of cooking time. The only time you need to stir a recipe is if the recipe specifically states to in the directions. Heloise
Dear Heloise: I read the other day the letter about low-fat and low-calorie milkshakes made with nonfat milk, bananas, etc. The writer should put a couple of ice cubes in the blender with the other ingredients -- makes it frothy. Jan Carpenter, River Edge, N.J.
Jan, we do this in our office for a tasty and cool afternoon break. Heloise
Dear Heloise: I so enjoy reading your column and appreciate the hints you offer to help my family save time, energy and money -- all precious commodities!
Regarding substituting whole-wheat flour for all-purpose: I almost always use whole-wheat in place of white and have never had a problem with the final product. My trick is mixing an additional 1 teaspoon of baking powder with every cup of whole-wheat flour. Michelle, via e-mail
Dear Heloise: I use my plastic tortilla warmer as a child's plate when my young grandson is visiting. I use the larger tortilla warmer (plastic foam) to warm bagels.
Also, I date leftovers with masking tape before putting them in the refrigerator. I have used this method for more than 20 years. A Reader, via e-mail
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.
King Features Syndicate