Dear Heloise: My “from scratch” yellow cake tends to be on the dry side. What can I do so it’s more moist? I try not to overbeat or overbake.

 — L.R., Harrisonburg, Virginia

There are several things you might like to try:

1. Add an extra 1/3 cup vegetable oil to your batter.

2. Add one box of instant pudding mix to your cake’s dry ingredients. Vanilla with your yellow cake would taste nice.

3. Separate the white from the yolk of one egg used in the recipe and use only the yolk.

4. Try brushing your cakes with simple syrup to keep them moist. You might even want to add a little flavoring or liquor. But don’t oversoak the cake.

It’s not necessary to use all these hints on one cake. Experiment to see which method you prefer.

— Heloise

Firmer gelatins

Dear Heloise: I make a gelatin (molded) salad that my family loves. It’s become a tradition to have it every Thanksgiving. This year, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving outdoors, and as you probably know, it’s very warm here on Thanksgiving. I want the gelatin to stay firm in warm weather. Any hints on how to do that?

 — Georgette T., Hollywood, Florida

Georgette, to help your gelatin stay firm, add one teaspoon of white vinegar to the recipe. Also, take the serving plate and put it in the freezer the night before so that it’s nice and cold.

If you like this simple hint with vinegar, you’ll find many more and a few tasty recipes in my pamphlet Heloise’s Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More. To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at www.Heloise.com. Did you know that vinegar can clean out the lime deposits in a kettle and do so much more around the house?

— Heloise

Fresh veggies from Uncle Sam?

Dear Heloise: I recently read an article that made a lot of sense. It championed the cause of Medicare and Medicaid paying for fresh vegetables and fruit for people 65 and over who have various health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. It’s preventive medicine to encourage people to eat healthier, and it’s a boon to American farmers. There could be a dollar limit per month, per person, but it would help many people avoid complications due to dietary deficiencies, and in the long run it would cut down on health care costs.

 — Keith L. in San Antonio

Keith, it’s a great idea. However, the cost of administering such a program might be prohibitive. Still, it could benefit many people and provide much-needed nutrition to so many Americans.

— Heloise


Dear Heloise: I love and use a lot of bananas in my recipes, but I’ve heard it’s possible the banana as we know it will be extinct soon. Is this true, and if so, why?

— Brenda G., Hillsboro, Ore.

Brenda, the most common banana in American stores is the Cavendish. In 1992, a new type of fungus was discovered in Asia that had a devastating effect on the Cavendish. This fungus has wiped out banana plantations in many parts of the world. There are other varieties of bananas, of course, but the future of the Cavendish banana is still unknown.

— Heloise

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