Tips that are a piece of cake… with icing

Dear Heloise: My CAKE ICING is usually just too thin when I make it from scratch. How can I correct this problem? — Brooke H., Seaford, Del.

Brooke, just add a little more powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want. And speaking of cakes, the following letter has another cake question! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: My cake always seems dry and crumbles too easily. Any hints on how to get a moist cake? — Nicole R., Dalhart, Texas

Nicole, add two additional tablespoons of oil to your cake mix, and crumbling shouldn’t be a problem. But be sure not to overbake, either. For unique cake recipes and cake-baking hints, order my four-page Heloise’s Cake Recipes by sending $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (71 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Cakes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at FYI: To avoid lumpy cake mix, add the water to the bowl first, then the cake mix. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: When a recipe calls for lemon zest or grated lemon peel, I manage to turn it into mush! What am I doing wrong? — Rosalinda N., Jupiter, Fla.

Rosalinda, freeze your lemon or orange peel before trying to grate it. This really simplifies the task. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: How can I keep onions from making me cry when I’m cutting them? — Lillian B., Brunswick, Ohio

Lillian, the best way is to keep those onions refrigerated until you need to cut them. The cooler the onion, the fewer the tears. Or try keeping your mouth tightly closed while cutting them. Some of my readers have suggested cutting or peeling onions under cold running water. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have some very expensive, and very sharp, kitchen knives that I don’t want to just toss in a drawer. How can I store them properly to keep them sharp? — Valerie K., Preston, Idaho

Valerie, there are magnetic strips today that keep knives separated and close at hand, or you also could take an empty coffee can, fill it with rice and store your knives blade down in the rice. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: My grandmother says it’s OK to pour grease down the drain if you keep running hot water for several seconds afterward. Is that correct? — Inez G., Socorro, N.M.

Never, ever pour grease down your drains, even if you have hot water running. If you keep flushing grease down your drain, somewhere in your future is a clogged drain and, very possibly, an expensive plumber’s bill. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I like to fill my sink with water and bleach and let it sit for a few minutes to clean it. The results are very nice, and it doesn’t seem to damage my sink like an abrasive cleaner would. — Jean D., Coeur d’Alene, Idaho


Dear Readers: A serving of sugar is 8 grams, or 2 teaspoons, and it has about 30 calories. — Heloise


Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Letters won’t be answered personally.