Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Home Baked Cookies

By Reena Nerbas

Thawing Frozen Meat Safely

Dear Reena,

I was a guest at a friend’s home recently; and I was scandalized because she defrosted her raw and pre-cooked meats in the kitchen sink while she was gone to work for the day. I was afraid to eat it; as I understand any kind of raw and pre-cooked meat should be thawed in the fridge. Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

You are right; it is recommended that meat, poultry and fish are defrosted in the fridge or microwave, and not in the kitchen sink or counter. One exception is to submerge frozen packaged meat in cold ice water to defrost. As soon as the ice melts, the water should be replaced with fresh ice water.

Fingerprints on Stainless Steel Appliances

Dear Reena,

Do you have any easy solutions for removing fingerprints from stainless-steel appliances? Thank-you, Virginia

Dear Virginia,

Remove fingerprints on stainless steel appliances using a damp, soft cloth. Next using a soft cloth, wipe the appliances with a small amount of coconut oil. Remove excess and polish.

Freezer Burnt Food

Dear Reena,

I have an upright freezer. Being a senior, I can access all my frozen goods; however, bread gets dry, and frozen vegetables get freezer burnt etc. when I place food on the shelves of the door.  What is the best type of food to place on the freezer door shelf? Thank-you for your help. Nancy

Dear Nancy,

Since many freezers today come with an auto defrost mechanism, the freezer temperature fluctuates drawing moisture from food. Begin by checking the seal of your freezer. A trick that I use is to open the door and position a piece of paper on the seal at the top of the door. Close the door and pull the paper, the paper should not easily slide out, if it does the seal may need replacing. Secondly, make sure that the freezer is cold enough. Freezer burn is caused by air becoming trapped between the food and your packaging. There are a few companies who have come up with freezer bags that have inner linings which form to food, and then excess air is squeezed out. Or if you’re cheap like me, save old cereal liners and store food such as bread inside of each bag or store food in a good quality freezer bag and suck out excess air with a straw.

While there are no set rules for how to store freezer foods, here are a few tips. Store meat products in the bottom section of the freezer, that way if the freezer breaks the juices from the meats won’t contaminate any other food. Use the door shelves to store items that are packaged and small enough to fit such as: juice, cookies and shredded cheese. Frozen veggies can be stacked and stored in the higher part of the freezer. Rotate and date items for maximum freshness.

Treat Yourself to Home-Baked Cookies:

  • Freeze your pre-shaped cookie dough. Virtually any drop cookie can be easily frozen in its dough state to bake at a later time. Simply line a jelly roll pan with plastic wrap (make sure that the pan fits flat in your freezer), scoop out your dough into balls with a cookie scoop and place each ball side by side on the jelly roll pan. Fit as many as you can tightly together. When the pan is full cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it flat in your freezer. When the cookie dough balls are completely frozen, lift up on the bottom layer of plastic wrap to release the balls individually and place them in a zippered plastic freezer bag. Return to freezer.
  • Add a little flour to your favorite cookie recipe for a puffy cookie.
  • Do not soften butter in the microwave if you are aiming for a puffy cookie.
  • Store cookie batter in the fridge between batches.
  • Do not overmix the dough.
  • Make sure that leavening agents such as baking soda, baking powder and cream of tartar have not reached their expiration date.
  • Use the proper utensils when measuring dry ingredients such as flour.

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.

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

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