When in doubt, throw it out
photo by mmarchin
DEAR SARA: Do you ever use cracked eggs, or do you always toss them? — Becky, Texas
DEAR BECKY: I inspect them at the store before buying them. If an egg is cracked, I crush the shell and toss it into the garden. One could argue, if I check them at the store, then I know I cracked the egg myself. But it’s possible I missed the crack, so I won’t eat it. Don’t rely on whether it looks or smells fine. There’s no sense in getting sick over an egg.
DEAR SARA: Can rice packets be prepared in a rice cooker? My rice cooker has water lines on the tub as well as a measured cup to use. If I want to make a Carolina rice packet or similar in the rice cooker, would it work if I just follow the packet directions? It calls for 1-2/3 cups of water along with the mix. Probably a silly question, I know, but it would be so much easier to make it in the cooker than on the stove. — Michelle S., Massachusetts
DEAR MICHELLE: Yes, you can use rice packets. You can even steam vegetables at the same time. Place your cut vegetables into a small metal strainer, unless your rice cooker came with a steaming tray, and place inside your cooker. Rice cookers are versatile. You can cook meat (such as meatloaf or taco meat) and oatmeal, bake bread, and make casseroles and soup in them.
DEAR SARA: I want to give my living room an updated look, but I can’t afford to buy much. I know changing toss pillows is a common way to give a room a new look, but I’d like to do more than pillows. Please don’t suggest painting, decorative throws, curtains or shopping at thrift stores. — Georgia K., Indiana
DEAR GEORGIA: My favorite updates are rearranging furniture and bringing in houseplants. Simple changes such as decluttering, placing an area rug, bringing a new lamp into the room, and hanging a new framed picture or mirror can update a room without costing a lot.
DEAR SARA: What do you do with leftover pancake mix? My family loves pancakes, so I make them quite often. I often have leftover mix, so I cook the extra mix. I’ll leave it on the table for them to eat at random, and the pancakes soon disappear. They love them cold. I’d love to find other ways to use up the mix, though. Any thoughts? — Carol, e-mail
DEAR CAROL: I rarely have extra unless I double my recipe. Sometimes, I’ll set them in the refrigerator, and my kids will eat them cold or microwave them later. I’ll plan ahead and make extra to freeze, too. You can make onion rings with the batter. Add some seasoning salt to the pancake batter. Slice your onion into rings, dip into the batter, and fry. Try banana or apple fritters. Dip the cut fruit into the batter, fry, and roll into cinnamon and sugar. You can even make cupcakes out of the batter. It’s delicious with maple frosting.