Solutions and substitutions

Reena Nerbis

Dear Reena,

What does one use to clean the inside walls of a propane fireplace? The manufacturer is no longer in business. Thank-you. Pat

Dear Pat,

I contacted a propane specialist in the United States, here is what he recommends. When cleaning your fireplace, never use soap, water or any chemical cleaner to maintain the fireplace. Doing this will leave deposits on the burner or vents. The best way to clean the interior is by vacuuming it with the dust attachment on your vacuum. The main purpose of this is to get rid of dander, dust or pet hair; if this is not done the fireplace may smell with the first burn of the season.

Also, make sure that the fireplace is burning properly, the fire should have a blue flame, if this is not the case ask your local propane provider to have a look at the unit.

Dear Reena,

I peeled too many potatoes and want to bake them. I am worried that since they are a few days old, they will taste dry if I bake them. Should I just throw them out? Dawne

Dear Dawne,

Even though the potatoes have lost their peel, they haven’t lost their appeal. Spray them with Pam or simply massage with olive oil, wrap in foil and bake as usual. This leaves them moist and tasty and prevents waste.

Dear Reena,

What is the purpose of adding food coloring to food? Do you have any suggestions for making natural food colors for cake icing? Esther

Dear Esther,

Do you remember a few years back when Pepsi created a clear cola called, Pepsi Clear? It didn’t last because people associate certain colors with flavor. Manufacturers add color to food to make food look more delicious which is why oranges are sometimes spray painted to appear more orange.

Since there is evidence that certain food colors elicit allergic reactions in people, the Canadian government has been working towards listing individual food color ingredients on food labels so that the public can become more aware of what they are consuming.

To make natural green food coloring, combine avocadoes with a little lemon juice. For yellow, add a small amount of turmeric to your white icing. Pomegranate juice is great for making red, as are beets. And blueberries work well for blue icing unless pomegranate juice is added in which case icing becomes purple. Note: Be cautious not to add too much food coloring as you do not want runny icing.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at