Dear Heloise: You have a recipe for COOKIES FROM CAKE MIXES that I've always loved. Sadly, when we moved to a new house, I must have lost the recipe. Could you reprint it for me? -- Ada F., Sparks, Nev.

Ada, it's one of my favorite recipes, and it's so easy to make. Here it is:

Heloise's Cookies From Cake Mix

Choose any flavor of cake mix you'd like, and add up to 1/4 cup of nuts, raisins or chocolate chips, or any combination of these three ingredients.

1 (18.25-ounce) box of cake mix

2 eggs

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix ONLY the above ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto an UNGREASED baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. You must watch carefully, because they brown very quickly. Ovens vary, so stand by for the first batch.

If you like simple, easy-to-make recipes that are tasty, healthy and give you more free time, you'll love my All-Time Favorite Recipes pamphlet. To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/All-Time Favorites, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. With the holidays already here, why spend hours in the kitchen when you can use recipes that give you more time with your friends and family? -- Heloise

A CARROT CONNOISSEUR

Dear Heloise: Both my husband and I love fresh carrots from the garden. However, my husband is English, and he believes that carrots should be boiled until they are very soft, just as his mother fixed them when he was a boy. I think they lose most of their nutrients and are just plain unappetizing prepared that way. How should carrots be cooked? -- Lucy R., Falmouth, Maine

Lucy, the way carrots are cooked depends in part on personal preference. Some people like carrots soft, but I like mine steamed. I cut up young carrots to about 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces, then I steam them for about five to six minutes. This way, they retain some of their crunchy texture, and there is less vitamin C loss. If you want a softer carrot, steam them for about 10 to 12 minutes. I also like carrots baked, because it brings out a nutty/smoky taste when they are roasted about 20 minutes. Try one of these methods and see how you and your husband like carrots cooked some way other than boiling. -- Heloise

IT'S TOO RAW!

Dear Heloise: When I see a commercial about steak, it's always half-raw in the middle. Is that the proper way to cook a steak? -- Gina W., Bossier City, La.

Gina, you should cook your steak to your own tastes. Since there are so many illnesses caused by bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking meat to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F. You might prefer a higher internal temperature, but again, it all depends on your personal preference. -- Heloise

 

Milk, eggs and the hike to get them

Dear Heloise: Why is it that when Irun into the grocery store for just milk and eggs, they are always at the very BACK OF THE STORE? -- Mary Ann D. in Texas

Mary Ann, thank you for your letter. This is an opportunity to talk about the layout at the supermarket. There are some "tricks" that grocery retailers use to get us to spend more.

Necessities, like milk and eggs, are in the back of the store. This way, you'll walk through and be tempted by other items.

More-expensive items are in the front. When you first come in, you have money to spend!

Things that go together are placed together, like chips and dip. This will lure you into spending more.

The costliest items typically are on the shelf at eye level.

Retailers may use scents to entice you, too. Warm cinnamon rolls and bread smell yummy!

Get tips on free stuff and fun ideas delivered weekly to your inbox

Be a smart shopper and read those labels! -- Heloise

STUMPED ON STUFFING STOCKINGS?

Dear Readers: Need hints on what to put in those Christmas stockings? Read on: rain bonnets, perfumed soaps, emery boards, lipsticks, new socks, pocket combs, handkerchiefs, keychains, coin purses and potholders.

The above came from the files of my mother's, the original Heloise (1919-1977), and it appeared in a column dated Dec. 24, 1970 -- time-tested! -- Heloise

PRETTY PAPER

Dear Heloise: I use last year's Christmas cards to decorate gifts I'm giving this year. I wrap the gifts in plain wrapping paper and attach card fronts to the paper with double-sided tape.

I select cards that relate to the gift recipient (animal lovers, or pictures of Santa for a child). Then I frame the card with flat ribbon. If you need to ship packages, the flat decorations pack well. -- Sandra, via email

NO GLITTER, PLEASE

Dear Heloise: I wish that card manufacturers would leave the glitter off of greeting cards. Every Christmas, we get several cards with glitter on them. It is pretty, but it gets all over my clothes, it falls everywhere, and it isn't easy to clean up.

When we receive glittery cards, I peek inside the envelope to see who it's from, and to read the verse and any note that has been written, then into the trash it goes! The nonglittery ones get displayed in a card rack. -- A Reader, Charlotte, N.C.

YARN, NOT STAPLES

Dear Heloise: I use yarn instead of staples every foot to hold greenery down on my wooden deck, and I make the yarn long enough to hang down so I can add lights or ornaments to these pieces. -- Marcie in Madison, S.D.

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