Advice from Héloïse: How to clean the soot from the fireplace glass | Characteristics

Dear Héloïse: In a recent article, a reader stated that she had a problem with the removal of soot on the fireplace glass. I spent 32 years as a chimney sweep. Do not wet the ashes or rub them on the windows. It is a mild abrasive, and you will stain the glass. A better way is to clean the windows as best you can (or when new) then pour a little household detergent on the INSIDE of the glass and let it dry. This will create a film of soap on the glass, and like the cake of soot and residue on the glass, it can be easily removed with a damp paper towel. Then reapply the detergent. I hope this helps you. —Bill Klein, via email


Dear Héloïse: A suggestion: Write the date of receipt and the customer service number (technical assistance) on the user manual when you receive a new article. Also, take a photo on your phone for recording. It will save you time when you need information. — W. in Valparaiso, Indiana


Dear Héloïse: We love shrimp. They are great when you sauté them, okra, or wrap them in bacon. Several years ago someone told me to take a quart sized freezer bag and put about 10-12 prawns in it. Fill the bag with enough water to cover the shrimp. Then, squeeze the air out of the bag. You will have a freezer bag that looks like a water bladder containing shrimp. Put this bag in the freezer for long-term storage. I’ve kept shrimp for up to eight months with no problems. I just ran warm water over it and in the bag to thaw the prawns and enjoy. — Doyle H. in Houston, Texas


Dear Héloïse: Every year I bought a birthday card for each of my children and I wrote them a short note indicating their tastes, their friends, their hobbies and a few anecdotes. It used to take 5 minutes once a year. I put the cards in a shoebox in my closet. When each child turned 18, I introduced him to his childhood story. It meant so much to them. —Nancy, via email


Dear Héloïse: Whenever I buy spices, herbs and condiments, I write somewhere on the packaging with a permanent marker the date on which I opened it. Marking the date lets you know when to discard and replace items with new, fresher items. — Nancy O. in San Antonio, TX

Round burger patties

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Dear Héloïse: My kids love that their burger patties are round and not deformed. Frankly, me too. I take a large can of peaches and clean the bottom, then shove it into the burger meat. It leaves an impression, which I cut, and I have a nice round burger. — Cathy W. in Parma, Ohio


Dear Héloïse: My strawberries still seem mushy after washing them and refrigerating them. Am I doing something wrong? — Victoria C. in Florence, Alabama

Victoria, do not wash your berries before refrigerating them. Store them in a colander or plastic woven basket so air can circulate around the berries.

But be sure to wash them before eating them. — Heloise


Dear Héloïse: Is there a way to prevent my vegetables from turning pale or fading during cooking? — Edna L. in Emporia, Kansas

Edna, yes. For greener or more colorful carrots, etc., just add a little vinegar to the water while cooking.

And, as a bonus, it will reduce odors too! — Heloise

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