Here’s the Secret to Making Fabulous Pie Crusts

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Dear Reena,

Any advice for making flaky pie crusts? My track record tends to be creating hard crumbly disasters that make me feel like giving up on baking pies. — Meghan

Dear Meghan,

The secret to making fabulous pies is not to over-knead. Handle or mix the dough as little as possible and make sure the dough is cold. When rolling the dough, you should still see flakes of butter. For an easy and delicious pie crust, check out the recipe on the back of the Crisco shortening box.

Dear Reena,

I live in a rural community and I rely on a well for water and a septic system. Cleaning with all that vinegar is a no-no for septic systems. Is there any other solution that you could provide besides the all-powerful vinegar? — Yolande

Dear Yolande,

It is important not to overuse commercial cleaners, as some experts agree that this may break down the beneficial bacteria in septic tanks. Experts agree that a small amount of ammonia will not kill helpful bacteria or leach into the groundwater and is therefore safe to use. 

Dear Reena,

I have burned a pot very badly. It had red cabbage in it and I cannot remove the black from the bottom. Can you give me a solution for this? — Hulda

Dear Hulda,

Soak the pan with dishwasher detergent and hot water for a couple of hours, then scrub with a steel wool pad. Another option (and this is what I like to do) is to pour baking soda, dish soap and enough water to cover the bottom into the pot. Boil the contents for five minutes. Let sit just until cool enough to handle and scrub with an S.O.S pad. Some people use oven cleaner for this purpose and leave it overnight, but I prefer baking soda.

Dear Reena,

I love to eat breaded meat. How can I prevent breading from sticking to the pan? — Melanie

Hi Melanie,

The key is to use two steep pans and a bowl. Fill the first pan with flour. Put beaten eggs into the bowl. The second pan should be filled with dry bread crumbs, seasoning and a teaspoon of lemon-pepper, salt and Parmesan cheese. The flavour is all on the outside, and you want the taste to last for the entire chew. Put the meat into each bowl. Pat firmly. Flip each piece over and repeat. Put the meat uncovered, in a single layer, in the fridge for an hour or so. The egg seems to evaporate, and you are left with a nice crust before you even cook it. Either pan fry in a mix of a little oil and butter or olive oil. Baking works well with stuffed chicken, but it tends to get a little gooey on the bottom. 

Dear Reena,

I spilled some red wine on my white leather kitchen chair. I wiped it immediately, but it is stained in the grain of the leather, and the seams. Please help me. — Trista

Dear Trista,

The faster you work the better. Blot the area using a white cloth, dish soap, baking powder and water. Make a paste and gently scrub. Wipe with water, or if the spill is new, sprinkle the wet area with salt or a little white wine to absorb the colour. Do not use hydrogen peroxide as some sources advise; this may permanently discolour the leather. Sunlight bar soap is another great option although it is becoming increasing difficult to find.

Hacks for any time

of the year:

I protect my TV remote control by wrapping it with plastic wrap. I then heat the plastic with a hair dryer so that the plastic clings to the remote control. This prevents the remote from getting dirty, as I just wipe it whenever it gets greasy or grimy. — Landa

If you separate bananas instead of leaving them on the stem, they will ripen faster. — Kristi

I purchase chlorine tablets from my local pool supply store. They are very inexpensive and effective for cleaning my toilet bowls. I drop one into the tank of each of my toilets and replace them after two to three months. — Marvin

Feedback from a Reader

Re: Hardened Spill on Ceramic
Stove Tops

Dear Reena,

We have had a ceramic stove top for many years and have discovered that everything that we baked onto the top could be removed fairly easily with those little packs of razor blades that can be bought at any home centre. Rubbing the blade over the crud will eventually remove it all, without any damage to the ceramic top, no matter how much force you use. We always keep one blade in our cupboard, near the stove for this purpose. It works great on windows as well. — Bill

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website at reena.ca. Ask a question or share a tip at reena.ca.