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Everday Cheapskate: Great tips for summer

If you could stand a little cooling relief now that summer is in full swing, today’s great reader tips just might do the trick.

GRAPE ICE. Frozen grapes work like ice cubes to chill white wine or other summer drinks, but without watering them down. And they look great, too. — Des, email

SUMMER FUN. A visit to our local library recently reminded me that public libraries across the nation often have free concerts, puppet shows and other programs in the summer. Many events are geared toward kids. And the price is right. Check your local library’s website for information. — Molly, Pennsylvania

QUICK-RELEASE TRASH BAG. To avoid suction, which causes resistance, when removing bags from a trash can, drill a couple of holes in the bottom of the container. — Bob, Kentucky

ICE CREAM TRICK. For easier serving, cut ice cream with a knife. If serving ice cream from a round container, cut down the middle of the full container from top to bottom. Lay ice cream on its side, peel off the container and slice. — Suzie, Colorado

NO-DRIP ICE PACK. For do-it-yourself ice packs that don’t drip, saturate a sponge with water, place it in a zip-type freezer bag, and freeze. Useable straight from the freezer. — Sid, Germany

Dear Readers: Last week, one of our reader-submitted tips had to do with rinsing browned ground beef in a colander, allowing the grease to “wash” away down the drain. Oh my, that tip certainly struck a dissonant chord with a number of readers.

I heard about everything from septic tanks to county laws and all the reasons that this was not only distasteful, but the fact that I printed it could be grounds for arrest. I’m not so sure about that. After all, I and millions of others in this country have garbage disposals, which are quite legal. We put all manner of stuff down them, including greasy things from time to time.

However, given the impassioned pleas for me to “retract” that suggestion, I’ve chosen to print one of the nicest and most helpful responses that arrived in response to that dubious tip.

Dear Mary: Please encourage your readers to not dispose of unwanted beef fat down the drain, as was suggested by your reader, Deidra, in a recent column. Instead, let the unwanted liquid solidify in a bowl. It separates into two parts. The top part is tallow, beef fat, and the bottom is actually useable beef stock. If the writer paid $2.50 a pound of the original 5-pound package of 20-percent fat content ground beef, then she is throwing away at least $2.50.

Who the heck wants a hunk of tallow? Well, I bet, with the fast-growing hobby of soap-making, Deidra could find a local soap-maker, savonnier, who would gladly take it off her hands.

Butchers have discovered that tallow soapers covet their fat trimmings. As a result, they have started charging for what they used to give away.

Besides, disposing of the cooked-off liquid clogs up the system eventually. If you have budding savonniers out there, have them look up “tallow soapers” on Facebook. — Carol Isler, Handcrafted Soapmaking Guild Certified Instructor

You can email Mary at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Include your first and last name and state.

Mary Hunt is founder of


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