Q: Is there a White House Christmas ornament this year? How do I get one?
A: Yes, and it celebrates the Christmas of 1895 — the first White House Christmas tree with electric lights — and President Grover Cleveland.
That's right. The annual Christmas tree ornament has nothing to do with the current president.
The White House Historical Association issues Christmas ornaments honoring past presidents, beginning with George Washington. This year they're up to President Cleveland, for his second term. There's already one for the first term. (For those who didn't know, Cleveland was the only president elected to two non-consecutive terms. He was the 22nd president from 1885 to 1889 and the 24th from 1893 to 1897.)
The 2009 White House ornament shows a snowy White House at dusk on one side, and lighted Christmas tree on the other, and costs $16.95. To order, go to whitehousehistory.org or phone 1-800-555-2451. Orders will arrive in five to 10 business days.
Proceeds of ornament sales fund the acquisition of historic furnishings and artwork for the White House collection, and educational programs.
Q: Can oil used for deep frying a turkey be kept and used again? How long and how many times can it be reused? If I need to get rid of it, how do I do that?
A: The oil can be re-used. When the oil is cool, it should be strained to remove any floating particles. Straining slows the rate the oil breaks down. The oil should be sealed and stored in a refrigerator, if possible. Otherwise, it should be placed in a dark, cool, dry place.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about the number of times the oil can be re-used, according to Julie Miller Jones, professor of foods and nutrition at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Smell and color are the best guides as to how many times it can be used. There should be no "greasy spoon," turpentine, fishy or other off-odors. Each time the fat is used, it will darken; don't use it if it gets too dark.
For home disposal of used cooking oil, place in bottles or cans and put in the garbage. But realize that grease and cooking oil are not accepted by garbage haulers in any great quantity. However, some businesses do accept grease for recycling into animal feed and biofuel.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.