Dear Heloise: Why is salt used in so many recipes? Even cake recipes have salt added. Why? -- Rhonda S., Minot, N.D.
Rhonda, salt is used in recipes to enhance flavors. It often brings out such flavors as sweetness, or sometimes is used to counteract a flavor that's bitter. It's also a nutrient, because most table salt in the United States contains iodine, which prevents goiters. When salt is used in making bread, it has an effect on the texture of the bread, and it also is a color enhancer for many processed meats. -- Heloise
Lemon to the rescue
Dear Heloise: Need a substitute for salt? Try fresh lemon juice instead of sprinkling salt on your vegetables. The taste is terrific, and it's healthy for those who need to limit their salt intake. -- Kate L., Tiverton, R.I.
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No flat cookies!
Dear Heloise: I've found that if I refrigerate the cookie dough before I make cookies, they stay fluffy and full. I also have two baking pans, and I let the pans cool rather than placing the cookie dough on a warm pan, because this will flatten the cookies. -- Gail S., Rockville, Md.
A new coffee discovery
Dear Heloise: I recently discovered that those little containers that make one cup of coffee at a time now come in compostable containers. Instead of throwing them in the trash, I now can place certain brands in with my recycled items. As a devoted believer in recycling, I think it's important to reduce landfill trash as much as we can. -- Patty H., Ogden, Utah
8 buns vs. 10 hot dogs
Dear Heloise: Why are there 10 hot dogs in a package, but eight hot dog buns in a pack? -- B.T., via email
Meatpackers typically deal in pounds (a hot dog weighs 1/10th of a pound), so 10 hot dogs weigh 1 pound. The manufacturers of hot dog buns like to work in the number of loaves. Since they generally use pans that bake eight buns at a time, it makes sense that they would package their buns in units of eight. Maybe the meatpackers and bakers should get together on this! -- Heloise
Dish drainer tray hint
Dear Heloise: Here's a hint for you: I put a small kitchen sponge under the end of my countertop dish drainer tray away from the sink to improve drainage of standing water in the tray. -- Mary H., Arlington, Va.
Put some zip in your eggs
Dear Heloise: I love to chop up some scallions and mushrooms and add them to scrambled eggs. It improves the taste and texture. -- Lonnie R., Holland, Mich.
Dear Readers: A growing trend is serving popular drinks in a copper mug. There's nothing wrong with that, but those mugs should be lined with something, such as stainless steel or nickel, that will keep the copper from leaching into the drink (especially with acidic drinks). Why? Over a period of time, the exposure to copper could result in nausea, dizziness and irritation of the eyes, mouth and nose. -- Heloise