DEAR SARA: Do you know of any way to unseal envelopes? I bought several at a flea market. — Linda W., email
DEAR LINDA: Place an envelope in the freezer for at least an hour and it should unseal with ease once you take it out. I wouldn’t do all of them at once; try one or two at a time as needed, so they don’t reseal.
DEAR SARA: I love all your freezer tips and have used many. I bought bags of lemons and limes on sale and have frozen the juice in ice-cube trays, but how can I freeze the zest without it drying out? — Evelyn, email
DEAR EVELYN: Use a microplane to grate the lemon zest, then place a tablespoon in each cubby of an ice-cube tray, top it off with water and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer storage bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible. To use, thaw and remove excess moisture by patting it dry with a paper towel.
DEAR SARA: What do you do with those little bits of leftover spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, etc. after a meal? It’s not enough to save for tomorrow’s lunch, but I hate to toss it. Being pasta, it will cook to mush in a soup. It’s covered in sauce, so it might not be complimentary in a bread or baked good. Can you suggest any alternative uses? — Leona, Canada
DEAR LEONA: It might not be enough for an entire meal, but you can still eat it as a side for lunch or dinner. Instead of trying to be creative with such a small amount (especially difficult because it already has sauce mixed in), I’d simply make sure to eat it later that evening or the following day. I would add some vegetables to it.
DEAR SARA: How do you clean the dryer lint screen? My husband is constantly on my back over the lint screen. I remove the lint regularly (OK, maybe not often enough), but cleaning it is a chore. — Katherine, Arizona
DEAR KATHERINE: There are lint screen brushes that make it easier to clean. They cost less than $15. But you can use a toothbrush or a dishwashing brush if you don’t want to spend extra money. Put some dish soap and hot water into your tub. Place the screen in the tub and let it soak for a while to loosen the lint and residue. Scrub with whichever brush you decide to use, then rinse. Let it dry before placing it back in the dryer slot.
DEAR SARA: Sometimes I make pork chops in cream of mushroom sauce in the slow cooker. I always make a veggie and a pot of rice with it. I’m wondering if I can simplify this more by tossing the rice in the slow cooker to cook in the soup. If so, should I toss it in in the morning when I throw the soup and chops in, or should I wait and toss it in before dinner? — Amy, New Jersey
DEAR AMY: I suggest that you continue to make the rice separately. It’s not that you can’t add rice to the slow cooker — you can add it toward the end of the cooking cycle — but it tends to get mushy. You have to add extra liquid for it to cook in, too. For Minute Rice, I’d add it in the last 15-30 minutes of cooking time. You might enjoy a rice cooker. I love mine.
Not that Minute Rice is hard to cook, but you can add rice and water to a rice cooker and walk away. The rice tastes better and is cheaper, too.
I always made rice on the stovetop in a saucepan, but I was gifted a rice cooker and I love having perfect rice every time and not having to watch over it as it cooks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.