Dear Heloise: How long does cornstarch last? There is no date on my box of cornstarch. My mother claims it will last for years. but I have my doubts. --Callie Y., Provo, Utah
Callie, looks like your mother is right (mothers often are!). As long as your cornstarch is kept dry it will last a long time. The best way to store it is in a plastic or glass container to make certain moisture is kept away from the cornstarch. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: When I open a new package of bacon, I always take out two or three strips, wrap them in cling wrap and freeze them. When I make green beans or any other food that's enhanced by a little bacon, I have my bacon strips handy in the freezer. -- Lois C., Beaverton, Ore.
MOTHER'S CHINESE BEETS
Dear Heloise: I love your Chinese Beets, but it's been a while since I last made them, and I have forgotten all the ingredients and the correct amount of things. Lately I've been craving those beets, so would you reprint the recipe for beet lovers like me? -- Sarah F., Greensboro, N.C.
Sarah, it seems like everyone loves this recipe, because we get so many requests for it. Here it is for all those beet lovers out there. You'll need:
6 cups cooked, sliced beets OR 3 (14-16 ounce) cans of sliced beets
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider or white vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
24 whole cloves (can use 12 or so for first time users)
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons cooking oil (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A dash of salt
Drain the beets, reserving 1 1/2 cups of beet liquid. Place the beets in a medium saucepan with the reserved liquid and the remainder of the listed ingredients.
Stir to combine and cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat or until the mixture thickens. Let it cool, then store in the refrigerator.
If you like easy, quick and healthy dinners, you'll enjoy the recipes in my pamphlet "Heloise's Main Dishes and More." It's easy to get a copy. Just go to www.Heloise.com, or you can send a stamped (75 cents), self-addressed envelope along with $3 to Main Dishes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Make your next dinner a blue-ribbon winner. -- Heloise
REHEATING IN THE MICROWAVE
Dear Heloise: Whenever I need to reheat something, I use my microwave oven. I've found that if I lay a paper towel across a bowl or something else, then place a wooden spoon on top of the paper towel, everything stays in place. Without that wooden spoon, the paper flies off. -- Nora W., Caldwell, Idaho
USING YOUR NOODLE
Dear Heloise: I love to make homemade cakes, but mine are usually thicker and richer than a box mix. The problem was, I needed something longer than a toothpick to test the batter and see if it was cooked through. I finally remembered one of your hints about using a long, uncooked strand of a dry spaghetti noodle, and it worked. That was a great hint! -- Wendy T., Aberdeen, Ark.