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by on June 24, 2014 10:50 AM

I was way off base when I guessed “egg-gathering basket.” Leslie Hindman, host of the TV show “Appraisal Fair,” held up this round cage contraption with folding sides and asked us to guess, “What the heck is it?” Salad spinner was the right choice, but who knew people were wasting their money on needless pieces of kitchen equipment back in the 1880s?

I used to have a salad spinner. It worked OK, but not as well as the currently popular Oxo model. Even it does not remove all of the water from a load of salad greens. And it takes up a lot of storage space. This does not mean I’ve abandoned my pet peeve for wet, soggy, limp salad greens. I’ve just discovered a better way to dry my salad greens for less money and a fraction of the storage space required for a big bulky salad spinner.

SELF-SPINNER: You need a clean cotton pillowcase. Wash your greens well, shake off the excess water and stuff them into the pillowcase. Gather the open end into your hand so that it is completely closed and step outdoors. With great gusto, swing it around in circles for a minute or two, windmill style. The water will be thrown to the edges of the pillowcase due to centrifugal force, and then absorbed by the fabric. Your greens will be crisp and dry, you’ll get a little exercise and entertain the neighbors at the same time. (If stepping outdoors is not convenient, just pin or tie the pillowcase closed and toss it in the washing machine on spin cycle for a minute or two. Seriously!)

BONE-DRY METHOD: If you want to make sure every bit of moisture is removed before dressing the greens, toss the spin-dried greens with a few sheets of paper towel, each of which has been torn into quarters. The paper toweling will wick away the last traces of moisture. Just be sure to pick out all of the towel pieces before dressing the salad.

SHORT-TERM STORAGE: If you’re not quite ready to assemble the salad, simply leave the greens in the damp pillowcase and put the whole thing back into the refrigerator.

LONG-TERM STORAGE: You can store a large amount of lettuce (even if it’s been cleaned and spun dry) in a plastic container or zip-type bag lined with paper towels. Make sure your container is as airtight as possible, and store it in the refrigerator.

PERK UP SOGGY LETTUCE: Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a large bowl of cold water and allow the lettuce/greens to soak for an hour in the refrigerator.

PREVENT SOGGY SALADS: Place an inverted saucer in the bottom of the salad bowl. The excess liquid drains off under the saucer and the salad stays fresh and crisp.

SIMPLY CLASSIC: It’s hard to beat fresh, cold, dry romaine topped with freshly homemade thousand island dressing. Yum!

1000 Island Dressing:

1 egg, hard-boiled

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1 tablespoon finely minced onion

1/8 teaspoon salt

dash black pepper

In a bowl, mash egg with a fork, stir in the rest of the ingredients until well incorporated. Best when used immediately; however, this delicious dressing will last up to three days in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 1 cup

Mary invites questions at, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at
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