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Dear Heloise: The French usually use bouillon when a recipe calls for adding water. This is especially useful when making soups and stews. You can get bouillon in liquid or solid form (cubes), and either way it will improve the flavor of your recipe. — Rosemarie S., Ketchum, Idaho


Dear Heloise: Before I head to the grocery store, I go through my box where I store my coupons and get out the ones for products I plan to purchase. This saves time, instead of trying to find the ones I need at the checkout. Here are a few ideas where you can use coupons, besides the grocery store:

• Tuck a few coupons in a baby gift for things like diapers, baby food, etc.

• Take coupons to work and share with co-workers.

• Give some to a family or friend in need of help with their food budget.

— Agnes R., Ashland, Mass.


Dear Heloise: I have no luck making pico de gallo. Please print your recipe so I can use it for the next sports event we have here at home. This way, I won't be totally embarrassed by my tasteless attempts. — Erica D., Pine Hill, N.J.

Erica, here is my version of pico de gallo. It's always been a crowd-pleaser at just about any time. You'll need:

1 cup coarsely chopped tomato

1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 or 3 fresh serrano peppers, minced

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1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir together the tomato, onion, cilantro and peppers. Add salt and mix well. Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

If you like this recipe, you'll find it and more in my pamphlet Heloise's Seasonings, Sauces and Substitutes. Send $3, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Seasonings, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at Pico de gallo is best made fresh and eaten the same day, although it can be refrigerated for a day or two. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: What can be used to eliminate a smell in the microwave after you warm something up? — A Reader in Finger Lakes, N.Y.

If your microwave needs some cleaning and freshening, put 2 tablespoons of either lemon juice or baking soda and 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Let the mixture boil in the microwave for about five minutes so that the steam condenses on the inside walls. Then wipe off the walls and the inside of the door. This should cut any lingering odors in your microwave. — Heloise

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