Recipe gifts are wonderful because all the ingredients are included. While many recipe gifts are for baked goods, you can make a gift basket that includes ingredients for almost anything. Make a food basket with snack items or breakfast, lunch or dinner ingredients. Don’t wait for a special occasion; surprise a busy friend or family member anytime.
The first reader tip shares a recipe gift idea:
RECIPE GIFT: My son gave a great one that I’ll never forget. I coveted his girlfriend’s mother’s pasta sauce, so he got the recipe and reprinted it, then put it and all of the ingredients in a basket. Very thoughtful! — Cheryl, Massachusetts
BAKED-ON FOODS: I have 40-year-old stainless pots that have survived several bouts of burned-on food without being cleaned with noxious-fume cleansers, even after a ﾼ-inch of chili was inadvertently left in one on a low-cook setting. They look and cook as if brand new! My tip: Simply cover the gunk lightly with baking soda, add about a half-inch of water, put it on the stove on low heat and watch as the simmering solution lifts the particles. You must watch to make sure it doesn’t boil over. After a few minutes, set aside to cool somewhat, then gently scrape off with a spoon or spatula.
Repeat as needed until you can easily remove any remainder with a plastic scrubber. — B. Fender, email
REMOVE INK STAINS: I was reading about ink stains today and wanted to share my experience with hair spray. Our dog chewed up a pen with blue ink that left a 2-by-3-inch stain, plus splatters, on a Berber carpet. I was just sick when I discovered it. I had read that hair spray will get ink out and I ran for my can of hair spray. I followed the directions and soaked the area with hair spray, dabbing with a clean white bath towel. It took about 30 minutes, but all of the stain came out.
I did shampoo the area with carpet cleaner, and there is no stain in sight. — Ruth R., Arizona
REUSE PLASTIC ICE-CREAM TUBS: I love these containers! I use a couple for compost, holding kitchen scraps until I can carry them to my compost heap. — Michele, email
DILUTE JUICE: Having worked as a chair-side dental assistant, I can tell you that it’s good to water down juice for kids.
The citric acid and sugar are too much for their little teeth.
My 5-year-old grandson still drinks watered-down juice at my house. — Diana, email
TACO TIP: When making tacos, use hamburger patties for the meat.
Cut the hamburger patty in half and place it cut-side-down on the fold of the taco shell. The meat won’t squirt out the other end of the taco when you bite down. — C.L., Mississippi
COOKING TIP: If fixing something like a fried egg or grilled cheese on the stovetop, completely cook on one side, then turn the stove off to cook the other side. — Niko, Florida
STRETCH GROUND BEEF WITH CELERY: Cut the celery very thin and cook it up with the ground beef. It will take on the texture and flavor of the beef, and you will have a hard time telling the difference. — Sabrel, Indiana
Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living.
To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email email@example.com.