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By on April 16, 2011

 

Ice cream scoops are an easy way to portion and serve foods. Think: rice, macaroni dishes, mashed potatoes or Rice Krispies treats. Larger scoops can be used by kids in the sandbox or at the beach or use one to scoop soil or the pulp from inside a pumpkin. The first reader tip shares a few more handy ways to use one.

VERSATILE ICE CREAM SCOOP:

I save a lot of time in the kitchen by using my squeeze to release ice cream scoop for getting even, professional looking portions with jumbo cookies, muffin and pancake batter, hamburger patties, veggie burgers, mashed potato patties, ham croquettes and other meat/seafood cakes. And my hands stay clean too! I’ll be buying a smaller scoop soon for meatballs and small cookies. — Constance, New Jersey

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the water and cocoa with a whisk. Heat on the stove and add sugar. Stir until it dissolves. Then bring to a boil and reduce heat and boil for 3 minutes (has to be 3 minutes, at least). Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla. Let cool and put in some sort of container in the fridge. I haven’t bought Hershey’s syrup for a couple of years. — Jamee, e-mail

RECYCLING TUBE SOCKS:

I have over a dozen white tub socks that were dingy gray and had lost all elasticity. I had bleached them numerous times and they were still gray. At first I thought about sewing some elastic into the top and reusing them. But they were so thin, so I decided it was not worth it. They were in no condition to be donated. So as I was thinking yesterday, I thought of what to do with them. I did not want to use them as rags. Instead I have decided to make a braided rug out of them. My dog hates to sit on the hot concrete outside on my patio during the summer. However the socks would make an ideal rug for him to sit on. — Larabelle, Texas

If you live somewhere with long cold winters (like here in New Hampshire), the elastic tops of old socks can be sewn onto mittens. It helps “extend” the mittens, keeping cold and snow off those little wrists when jacket sleeves ride up. — Khaski, New Hampshire

This is a totally odd niche thing to make out of them, but I’m a K-12 music teacher and I use 10 gallon buckets upside down as frugal drums for my students to play. (I got them for a couple dollars at my local donut shop. They had icing in them.) and I use mismatched tube socks with a bouncy ball tied into the end as a fun alternative to using drum sticks. The kids love to keep the beat with the sock/ball combo. — S.S., West Virginia

LIQUID FABRIC SOFTENER TIP:

If you use vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washer but miss the smell of fabric softener pour 1/2 cup or 1 cup of liquid fabric softener into your gallon jug of vinegar and you’ll still have some of the smell. A bottle of fabric softener will last a long time just using 1/2 cup per gallon of vinegar. You’ll have to use a little of the vinegar in something else to have room in the jug. — Lisa, e-mail

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