Solutions & Substitutions Column - Reena Nerbas - Nov 22, 2012

Solutions & Substitutions Column – Reena Nerbas – Nov 22, 2012

We are proud to announce that Grocery Alerts will be republishing the fantastic columns by Reena Nerbas. Reena has written three National Best selling books, “Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions and Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets” and Household Solutions, with Green Alternatives, currently available on-line, phone orders and by mail.

You will see her work every week in major newspapers across Canada.

Her website is This advice column shares household solutions and substitutions.

Cleaning the driveway (brown marks from apples)

Hi Reena,

I’m so glad you have a blog now, that way I can go back on some articles you have had in the past. Also, we go away for winter, so I can keep up with you that way. I have a question: My friend had a new driveway poured, he also had an apple tree nearby that dropped those little apples on the driveway with a splat and left dark brown marks. What would you suggest he use to remove those marks? I know it’s too late in the season now, but hopefully you can suggest something for the spring. Thanking you in advance, Elvera

Dear Elvera,

Sprinkle the driveway with a box of baking soda. Using a stiff brush, dampened with water. Scrub the area until the stains are gone. If the stains remain, scrub the driveway with one of the following: laundry detergent and water or TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water or washing soda and water. Rinse. As a last resort, combat tough spills with muriatic acid and a pressure washer. Apply the acid following the manufacturer’s directions, and let it soak for several seconds. Keep in mind that muriatic acid is a dangerous product; if you use it, wear rubber or latex gloves, safety goggles and protective clothing, and never wash it down storm drains. Test all solutions on an inconspicuous area first.

How to clean kitchen cupboards and a monster cookie recipe

Dear Reena,

Can you please tell me how to clean wood finish cupboards?  Also, what is a great recipe for ‘Monster Cookies’?

Sincerely, Lorraine

Dear Lorraine,

Mild dish soap and water is all that is recommended for cleaning the grease off of kitchen cupboards (just a damp clean cloth or mildly abrasive cloth and no excess water, dry immediately). This is very effective, since dish soap is created as a grease cutter.

Here is a wonderful recipe that makes six dozen ‘Best Monster Cookies’!

In a bowl combine 1 cup butter, 1 and a half cups peanut butter (if you don’t like peanut butter, substitute 1 cup margarine for peanut butter), 2 cups brown sugar and 2 cups white granulated sugar. Add 4 eggs and 1 tbsp. vanilla, beat until smooth. To the batter add, 3 cups flour, 5 cups rolled oats, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. baking powder and 1 tsp. salt. Mix until combined. Stir in 2 cups chocolate chips and 1 cup M & M’s. Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until edges start to turn light brown. Freeze leftovers.

Extra Tip: You can substitute some of the candy for the same amount of peanuts or walnuts.

Cleaning a water cooler

Hi Reena,

I own a water cooler that is about 10 years old. I have misplaced the directions for cleaning the inside of my cooler. I seem to remember using a bleach solution to clean the reservoir. Can you give me suggestions please?

Thank-you in advance, Inez

Dear Inez,

Health Canada recommends that you clean your cooler system after every bottle change. Begin by disconnecting the unit from the wall. Remove the bottle from the cooler unit. Drain the water through the blue faucet into a bucket. Disconnect any removable parts from the unit. Wash parts thoroughly with dish soap and water. Rinse. If you have a hot and cold dispenser, plug the hot dispenser off using a cork or plug. Doing this prevents sanitizer from getting into the hot tank. Combine one gallon water and one tbsp. vinegar. With this solution, clean all of the interior surfaces of the reservoir. Let the solution sit for 7 minutes. Fill reservoir full of fresh bottle water and drain the water through the cold faucet. Repeat three times. Remove cork from the hot tank and replace all parts. Plug unit into wall. You can use 1 tsp. bleach instead of 1 tbsp. vinegar however I prefer vinegar since it is safe for consumption.

Dear Reena,

A very recent column suggested that Meghan’s boyfriend’s “world’s worst manners” were primarily a result of sub-cultural variances.  While I whole-heartedly agree with your explanation and solution, I am slightly bewildered by Meghan’s concern that her ill-manneredly boyfriend “leaves his napkin on the table when he goes [away] to the bathroom”.  Where does she expect him to leave his napkin?

I was under the impression that the napkin should always be left on the table when leaving, for whatever reason with the only exception that the (home) hostess would place her napkin on her chair-seat when she arose to attend to items to or from the kitchen. Have I been ‘wrong’ all these many years?  Has this napkin-placing etiquette changed? Thank-you for a truly fascinating column, James

Dear James,

Nice that you have given this matter some thought! Manner experts advise that if you need to leave the table during a meal, place your napkin on the seat of your chair. You are never supposed to put your napkin back onto the table before the meal has ended. According to North American etiquette, at the end of the meal the hostess picks up his/her napkin and places it on the table to the left of his/her plate. When this occurs, guests also place their napkin on the left of their plate. This indicates that the meal is over.

Fabulous Tip of the Week

I recently read an article about rabbits in the yard eating things we do not want them to eat. I found an excellent inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy solution. Grate Irish Spring bar soap just like cheese and sprinkle it around problem areas (or around perimeter of property) to keep rabbits away.

Submitted By: Mel


Steven Zussino

Steven Zussino is the co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. He loves to help Canadians save money on groceries. He also runs the blog,