Dear Heloise: One might assume that we would know by now, but we get frustrated in finding it difficult at times to peel the shell from hard-cooked eggs.

Would you please share the secret with us? — Midge in Pennsylvania

The fresher the egg, the harder to peel. Buy eggs a week or so before you need to cook them for hard-cooked eggs. Here are the instructions from our friends at the American Egg Board:

Gently put the eggs in a single layer in a deep saucepan that has a cover and add water so it covers the eggs by 1 inch. Cover the pan and place over heat until the water comes to a boil. ("Boil" is defined as the point at which large, breaking bubbles form in the water). When the water boils, turn off the heat and keep the pan covered (remove the pan from the burner if you have an electric stove).

Let stand 15 to 17 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs. Run cold water over the eggs until they are cool or add ice to cool quickly, about 5 minutes.

Peel eggs by cracking the shell all over and rolling it between your hands to help loosen the shell. Hold the egg under water and start at the large end to begin peeling. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Among my least-favorite cooking chores is chopping onions. To lessen the frequency of the task, I use my food processor to chop five or six cooking onions in one session. These I place in 1/2-cup increments in plastic sandwich bags, then place the bags in a heavy plastic freezer bag and freeze. The onions are thus measured and ready to pull out as needed for casseroles, meatloaves and such. In the same freezer bag, I also keep a sandwich bag of chives, which I have washed, dried with paper towels and chopped to be available as needed. Neither would be good in salads, but they are a boon to have on hand for cooking. — Claire from Kentucky

Dear Heloise: My wife makes a most wonderful meatloaf. To make it, prepare your usual mixture, but spread it thin on a sheet of wax paper, then spread a thin layer of drained sauerkraut over all of it. From one edge, roll up (it helps if you chill it a little) like a tube. Bake as usual. Even folks who don't like sauerkraut (my wife among them) love it! You can do this with grilled burgers — mix it up in your ground-beef patties. — Steve Shirley, Conway, Ark.

Dear Heloise: I keep a big, brown envelope full of special recipes I want to try, hints from Heloise, articles on restaurants I want to try in the future, companies I want to patronize, etc. This easily can be added to or culled out. — T.F. from Winchester, Va.

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; fax: 210-435-6473; e-mail: [email protected]. © King Features Syndicate Inc.