Merry Christmas!

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - Write to Heloise at P.O. Box 795001, San An­to­nio, TX 78279-5000; Fax 210-HELOISE; or email [email protected] Heloise.com.

DEAR READ­ERS >> CHRISTMAS is the sea­son for faith, fam­ily and friend­ship. Let us take the time to en­joy our loved ones and remember those we’ve lost. Happy hol­i­days to all!

AN EAS­IER WAY TO CLEAN?

DEAR HELOISE >> I have read your col­umn for many of my 89 years and en­joyed us­ing some of the hints.

One of the things my mother taught me was this: If you have dishes or uten­sils with raw egg on/ in them, do not run un­der hot wa­ter. You will cook the eggs and have a more dif­fi­cult clean­ing job.

— Ma­bel Vi­o­let D., Amherst, N.H.

DEAR MA­BEL VI­O­LET D. >> DARK VS. LIGHT

DEAR HELOISE >> I was bak­ing cook­ies and a ques­tion came to me: Can you use dark brown sugar if you are out of light? Does the dark have a more in­tense fla­vor? I would think it does. If you can, would you use less? Most of my recipes call for reg­u­lar gran­u­lated or light brown sugar. So I was won­der­ing if you would use less of the dark brown sugar and a little more of the reg­u­lar gran­u­lated sugar.

— Su­san E., Day­ton, Ohio

DEAR SU­SAN E. >> Dark brown sugar has more mo­lasses than light brown sugar, but if you feel the taste will be too strong, try one of th­ese sub­sti­tutes:

• Light brown sugar from white sugar: Add 1 1/2 ta­ble­spoons of liq­uid mo­lasses to 1 cup of white gran­u­lated sugar.

• Light brown sugar from dark brown sugar: Take 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar and mix it with 1/2 cup of white gran­u­lated sugar.

• Dark brown sugar from white gran­u­lated sugar: Take 1 cup of white gran­u­lated sugar and mix with 1/4 cup of mo­lasses.

DEAR HELOISE >> To Jenny in Texas who hates cold cof­fee: You can go to any home goods store and buy a hot plate for less than $10. Your cof­fee will stay hot as long as you need it.

— Jackie in Rogersvill­e, Tenn.

DEAR HELOISE >> Most peo­ple like baked ham but can’t tol­er­ate the salt con­tent.

I’m won­der­ing if any of your read­ers will know how I can ex­tract some of the salt from the ham. Soak­ing in ice wa­ter does not work for me.

— Millie in Lawrence­burg, Tenn.

DEAR MILLIE >> Millie, ac­tu­ally, you’re on the right track. Maybe try soak­ing the ham in cold wa­ter in a cov­ered bowl in the re­frig­er­a­tor for a longer pe­riod of time, up to 72 hours. Be sure to change the wa­ter ev­ery four hours, but you don’t want to re­move all of the salt. The ham will spoil more quickly.

DEAR HELOISE >> How can I tell if fish is fresh? I worry about the pos­si­bil­ity of con­tam­i­na­tion.

— Lynn C. in Hawaii

DEAR LYNN C. >> Lynn, look into their eyes. The eyes need to be bright and clear. A fresh fish will have red or pink gills, and the scales will be shiny. Fish that is not fresh can har­bor dan­ger­ous bac­te­ria. It’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to use only fresh fish and ex­tremely fresh shell­fish.

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