Hey Heloise, I Got Your Household Hints Right Here


As a young lad I was a little different from my peers. Not an outcast, really, but the kind of guy who would routinely get picked next-to-last for the sandlot baseball game or neighborhood buck-buck team, even though I was athletic, if small. But it was my eccentricities that always kept me out of the inner circle.

One of these peccadillos was a fascination with a newspaper column called Hints From Heloise. It ran in the daily paper, and was full of tips and tricks to help you run a tight ship in the kitchen and household. Heloise was depicted in a black-and-white photo with a tower of bone-white hair and thick eyebrows so dark they seemed to absorb the light. I always thought she looked like Betty Crocker’s trashy sister.

I was fascinated by all these goofy little household hints, even though the closest I ever came to running a household was slowly starving a colony of ants by neglecting my Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm all summer.

Now, as a fully functioning adult who is responsible for a large share of the cooking, cleaning and household chores, I have come to realize that a lot of the hints I have held dear to my heart for decades are—how can I put this?—complete bullshit.

Take this one, for example: use a pizza cutter to quickly and neatly cut a pan of fudge into clean squares. Make sure the pan of fudge has been chilled in the refrigerator before you slice it. Yeah, right. I tried this several times, but I have just really gotten tired of hearing people complain about pepperoni bits and mozzarella strings in their fudge.

Fry some bacon. Bob Wire. Humor Blogger, Missoula. MT

Battered bacon anyone?

I love this one: to keep bacon from spattering when it cooks, dust it in flour before you put it in the pan. I always take this a step further by dipping the bacon in egg before I dredge it in flour. Who doesn’t like battered bacon?

Here’s one for those of us who don’t usually eat organic produce: sprinkle some baking soda and gently scrub and rinse your fruit and vegetables to remove any residue and dirt. Seriously? This may have worked twenty years ago, but this GMO-pumped, pesticide-soaked, chemical-drenched supply of fruits and vegetables we bring into our homes is not going to be washed clean by a simple sprinkling of baking soda. My solution is to run store-bought produce through the dishwasher on Pots and Pans cycle, with a few ounces of Gunk™ original flavor engine degreaser. Delicious!

Reanimating crystallized honey: If your honey has turned to hard crystals, simply put the container in a bowl of hot water for a half hour and it will turn back into honey. Say what now? A lot of these tips seem to be generated by people who tend to think ahead. (“Remove the fully cooked turkey from the oven, and don’t forget to put the potatoes in one hour ago.”) Man, when I get a honey jones, I want my honey right now! I did try to speed up the process once by microwaving the honey jar for one minute. Next tip: how to clean exploded honey and melted plastic from inside a microwave.

How to separate eggs with a funnel: break an egg into the funnel, and the yolk stays behind while the whites run out onto the counter. Wait! Don’t forget to get a glass five minutes ago to put under the funnel. And when you’re finished, always remember to return the funnel to the garage.

How to Avoid a stove-top fire. Bob Wire. Humor Blogger. Missoula, MT

How to avoid a stovetop fire? Maybe move your box of Kleenex?

One popular—and potentially lifesaving—tip concerns how to put out a stovetop grease fire. They say to use all the open boxes of bacon soda you have laying around. Well, first off, I’m not using the one they said to keep behind the toilet to absorb turd odors. And the one in the fridge? It’s buried so deep in the back on the bottom shelf that by the time I’m able to pull it out of there the hook and ladder crew that put out the house fire will already be enjoying some chicken wings at Hooters. The best way to put out a grease fire is to stop, drop and roll…roll the hell out of there and run for you life. And next time, dust that bacon, my friend.

One of my favorite cooking tips was one that appeared in Sports Afield, a magazine I was enamored with as a young outdoorsman. I used to load up my rucksack with food, fill my canteen with water from the hose, and hike for several city blocks until I found the perfect neighborhood tree where I could sit in the shade and read Sports Afield for hours and hours.

The tip showed an easy way to tell if the oil in your cast iron campfire skillet was hot enough to start frying fish. It suggested that you take a strike-anywhere match and skim it across the surface of the hot oil. If the match ignited, then the oil was ready. I doubt the writer of the tip ever actually tried it, or the tip would have been more about how to signal an emergency medical evacuation using a giant column of black smoke.

Crying while chopping onions. Bob Wire. Humor Blogger. Missoula, MT

Damn contacts!

When it comes to chopping onions, there is entire subgenre of tips devoted to getting around that eye-burning, weeping price you pay for oniony deliciousness in your recipe. One idea is to breathe through your mouth. You know, like you do when you’re putting a box of baking soda behind the toilet. Another tip is to cut the onion underwater. Honestly, I don’t know if I could hold my breath that long.

Wear a respirator or gas mask. Dude, I’m making chili, not cooking up a batch of meth. Here’s a good one: wear contact lenses. Hey, that makes sense! Guess what—I don’t wear contacts. Instead of some irritation and tearing up, why don’t I put a trash can lid directly into my eye. No thanks.

My favorite tip is to whistle while I cut. It’s simple! It’s entertaining! It’s uplifting! It sometimes works! As you’ll see in the accompanying video, it’s not foolproof. But I think it’s worth a shot. Just don’t choose a tune like “Flight of the Bumblebee,” or you’ll get lightheaded and pass out on the floor, and someone will have to come along and revive you with a box of baking soda. And a funnel.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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