Dear Heloise: Thank you for your wonderful hints in The (Harrisburg, Pa.) Patriot-News. I read your hint on how to clean the interior of aluminum pans. I have pans with dark interiors from cooking things such as asparagus, etc., and they need a good cleaning. Please help!

— Charlotte McCrary, Hummelstown, Pa.

Thanks for the kind words. The secret to getting those aluminum pans clean again is as close as your spice shelf. Just grab the jar of cream of tartar. Fill the pan with water and add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar for each quart of water. Bring this to a boil. Let it "cook" for 10 minutes. Pour out the water, let cool, wash and rinse. It might take more than one cream-of-tartar cleaning.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: To help keep coffee grounds fresher and make them easier to pour from the plastic container, I cut a small pouring spout in the foil opposite the handle. This makes it easier and less messy to pour and measure. The foil stays intact, and the lid can be replaced. I keep my coffee in the fridge, which I think keeps it fresher.

— Rich Kirby, La Vista, Neb.

Dear Heloise: I remember seeing a recipe for making a buttermilk substitute. Would you please print this in your column again?

— A Reader, via e-mail

Unless you are a buttermilk drinker, you probably don't keep it on hand. There are a couple of ways to solve this problem:

Mix plain yogurt with whole milk: 3/4 cup of yogurt with 1/4 cup regular milk.

No yogurt? No problem! Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup regular whole milk. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. It should thicken before being added to the other ingredients.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: How does one handle sterling-silver knives, forks, etc., for long-term storage? Is plastic wrap acceptable?

— Helen Wick, via e-mail

The first choice is a cloth-lined chest or drawer, which most of us don't have. Next are cloth bags. You can store silver in sealable plastic bags or by wrapping the silver tightly in plastic wrap. The key is keeping the air out. DON'T use rubber bands around the plastic, as they can harm the silver. Don't store in a basement or attic, either.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: I have found a way to keep soap-filled scouring pads from getting rusty. After I use one, I put it in an airtight, sealable plastic bag. It will stay fresh for months.

— Janice B., Montgomery, Texas

Another way to save on them is to cut them in half or in fourths for use, or pop into a plastic bag or small container after using and into the freezer. They won't rust!

— Heloise

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; fax: 210-HELOISE; e-mail: [email protected]

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