A traveling ID?
Dear Heloise: Travel has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Now more than ever, scams are ruining a travel experience for people. One of the worst scams is identity theft. Before you hand over your hard-earned money, check that the travel website URL has a small lock within the search bar. The URL needs to start with “https://” -- an “s” must be at the end. Booking with a secure website adds a little peace of mind to your trip. The absence of a secure website should be a red flag to warn you that you might not be working with a legitimate agency. -- Kathleen A. in Atlanta
Soggy bottom blues
Dear Heloise: When I make a peach cobbler, I use a ready-made pie crust, but I’m a little disappointed, because the bottom crusts come out uncooked. The top is fine, but I’m not happy with the bottom crust. Someone said to put it on the bottom rack. -- Amy R., Anaheim, Calif.
Amy, here are some things you can do:
Blind bake: This involves baking the crust before putting the filling in (sometimes covering the pie shell with parchment or foil), or partially baking the crust and finishing up the baking process when you add the filling and top. Use weights on the bottom so the crust doesn’t bubble up.
Brush with egg whites: Brush the bottom of an uncooked pie shell with a little egg white mixed with water before adding the filling. As the pie bakes, the egg white proteins will form a moisture barrier.
Brush with chocolate: Brush the bottom with melted chocolate and let it sit before adding the filling. This also can add another layer of flavor to your cobblers or pies.
Bake on a hot baking sheet: Set the temperature of the oven and put a baking sheet in for about 15 minutes, then place your pie on the hot baking sheet.
Dear Heloise: My son’s skateboard is fantastic to sit on when painting baseboards. I can just scoot along with my paintbrush. I also use it when I’m gardening on the patio. -- Doris K., El Paso, Texas
Dear Heloise: I live in a dry climate and get static shocks all the time, especially from metal. What can I do? -- Adell G., Albuquerque, N.M.
Adell, you might try a humidifier in your home to see if that will help with static. Also, if you need to touch metal, keep a key in your pocket. Take the key and tap the metal object once with the key while holding it with your bare hand (no gloves). Then you can touch the metal without getting a shock. -- Heloise
A fresh start
Dear Heloise: As this year draws to a close and a new year is set to begin soon, it’s an excellent time to go through dresser drawers and closets to get rid of things we don’t use, don’t like or are broken or outdated. Recycle what can be used by someone else, but make space in your home and life for new things. -- Elizabeth H., Chapel Hill, N.C.