Keep the tears away

Dear Heloise: When working with onions, I have two things I do to reduce the tears: (1) Core the onion. Then after the onion is cut, you can continue to cut up the core. I use my apple corer. (2) Run fingers and hands under cold water, and rub fingers on a stainless-steel spoon. In less than 30 seconds, the smell is gone. This works with garlic, too. — Susan D., Highland, Ind.

Dear Heloise: What is the difference between cornstarch and tapioca starch? Are they interchangeable? — Ruth M., Omaha, Neb.

Ruth, tapioca starch comes from the root of the cassava plant. Cornstarch comes from the grain of maize (corn). Both are thickening agents. If you are preparing a sauce made with cornstarch, it will be opaque, while a sauce made with tapioca starch will appear translucent. If your recipe requires a long cooking time, use cornstarch. As for interchangeable, it all depends on the dish you are making, but go with the instructions. — Heloise

Dear Readers: So many of you keep asking for the Heloise Olive-Nut Dip/ Spread recipe, it’s time to dig into the vault and print it again:

Heloise’s Olive-Nut Dip/

Sandwich Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup sliced salad olives (the jar will say “salad olives” and is filled with bits and pieces of olives and pimientos)

2 tablespoons juice from the olive jar

Dash of pepper (no salt)

Mix all of the ingredients well and refrigerate for an hour or more.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: Our tomatoes were rather small this year. So, instead of slicing them clear through to put on a sandwich, I butterflied them and laid the connected halves on the bread. They didn’t slide around on the bread. Love my fresh tomatoes. — Diane U., Springfield, Ill.

Dear Heloise: There are several places most of us forget to clean or disinfect in our kitchens. Some of these are phones, refrigerator handles, kitchen-cabinet knobs and drawer handles, and the top of the refrigerator or microwave oven. — Claire M., Greenville, N.C.