Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Simple Solutions in the Kitchen


By Reena Nerbas

Restoring Fireplace Hearth

Dear Reena,

I have a brick hearth and left a freshly sawn tree trunk cut side down on the brick for 3 months. When I picked it up there was a 3 inch circle on the brick. Do you have a suggestion on how to remove this darker circle? I have not tried anything yet as I don’t want to compound the problem. Carolyn

Dear Carolyn,

This may require a little elbow grease but your chance of success is high. Make a paste of baking soda and dish soap. Scrub the area with a damp Scotch Brite pad. Rinse with water and repeat if necessary.

Cleaning Inside the Water Cooler

Dear Reena,

I own a water cooler that is about 10 years old. I lost the directions for cleaning the inside of my cooler. I seem to remember using a bleach solution to clean the reservoir. Can you give me suggestions please? Lori

Dear Lori,

Health Canada recommends that you clean your cooler system after every bottle change. Begin by disconnecting the unit from the wall. Remove the bottle from the cooler unit. Drain the water through the blue faucet into a bucket. Disconnect any removable parts from the unit. Wash parts thoroughly with dish soap and water. Rinse. If you have a hot and cold dispenser, plug the hot dispenser off using a cork or plug. Doing this prevents sanitizer from getting into the hot tank. Combine one gallon water and one tbsp. vinegar. With this solution, clean all of the interior surfaces of the reservoir. Let the solution sit for 7 minutes. Fill reservoir full of fresh bottle water and drain the water through the cold faucet. Repeat three times. Remove cork from the hot tank and replace all parts. Plug unit into wall. You can use 1 tsp. bleach instead of 1 tbsp. vinegar however I prefer vinegar since it is safe for consumption.

Peeling Potatoes

Dear Reena,

Can you please give me a suggestion of a product that I can purchase to make potato peeling less time consuming? Thanks, Harvey

Dear Harvey,

No need to run to the store for special equipment, all you need is: a pot, water and a sharp knife. Boil water in a large pot. While water is heating; use the knife to score each potato skin around the width of the potato as if you were drawing a line around the middle of the potato. Boil potatoes for 15 mins. Place potatoes in ice water. When cool enough to touch; pull off potato skins. Continue to cook as normal. This method actually adds flavor to the potato because you are cooking the spud right in its jacket.

Feedback from Contributing Readers

Re: Open a Stuck Jar

Dear Reena,

Suggestion of using a butter knife is not good for the knife-it will bend or break. Using the opener for a can of juice, turn the pointed side up, place under the edge of the jar lid, lift. You may have to try a couple spots around the lid, but it will pop open. Works every time, Janice

Re: Slipping Bed Skirt

Dear Reena,

Bed skirts have always frustrated me; I have cheated them very easily for many years. I purchase one more fitted sheet the color of my bed covers; I put it over the box spring and don’t bother with the skirt, which only collects dust. Just take off and wash spring and fall cleaning time. Also, for my queen size bed, I use a king size bedspread and put it crossways on my bed to hang over sides. This only works with covers that have no specific pattern on them that would limit placing sideways. For double bed, I use a queen spread.  Velma

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

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