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Plain and all-purpose flours are the same

DEAR HELOISE: What is the difference between plain and all-purpose flour? Both can be purchased at the grocery store, and usually recipes call for one or the other. Is there any difference? — G.B., Russellville, Ala.

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This is a good question, and one that many new cooks ask. There are many different types of flours, so it can be confusing. However, plain and all-purpose flours are the same, and may also be referred to as "regular" flour in recipes. This flour is used in most types of baking. It is a blend of hard and soft wheats, and it has a higher gluten content than cake flour or pastry flour. Recipes will usually specify if a different type of flour should be used. — Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: Here is a great way to save time when cutting celery. Do not separate celery from the stalk. Rinse under cool water, shake off and put a rubber band around the top. Lay it on a cutting board and cut through all the stalks. Cut as much and as thick as you need, and leave the rubber band on afterward. — Glenda Biddix, Kings Mountain, N.C.

DEAR HELOISE: I bought a small, double-sided tabletop grill and love using it to "grill" foods. The cleaning process is a little time-consuming, so I wanted to make it easier. After the meal, I reheat the grill and then turn it off (and unplug it). I take a double layer of paper toweling and lay it on the grill. I pour vinegar on and saturate the towel, then close the lid. I let it cool, and cleaning is just a breeze. I simply wipe it clean — this takes very little effort, and the grill stays sparkling-clean. — S. Solomon, via e-mail

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DEAR HELOISE: To save money these days, reuse plastic zipper-top bags (except those that are greasy or were used for raw meat, fish or poultry). Just wash them thoroughly, rinse and dry with a dish towel. They come out clean and fresh-smelling without any odors of what had been previously stored inside them. — Dorothy, San Antonio

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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