Top Drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentMay 23, 2014 


You can cook sweet corn in the microwave without removing the husks.


Best for pasta

Just when you thought you had perfected the art of cooking spaghetti, along comes this tip from the Huffington Post to remind you that your results could be better.

It turns out that you should roll uncooked spaghetti in opposite directions between your palms so that the pasta fan out and point in different directions. Then place them in boiling water. Fanning them out will prevent clumping. Strands will separate naturally.

To get the same results with short pastas such as penne and ziti, it’s best to shake the pasta into the water gradually instead of dumping it all in at one time.

Thanks to HuffPost and Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network for the tips.

Best for taming paper messes

Susan Nunn of Raleigh offers this tip for cutting paper clutter in your home.

“Try pulling from the bottom of a pile, instead of the top. Chances are good that the bottom thing’s deadline has passed, or the decision it represented no longer needs to be made. So you can easily toss it (recycling the paper, of course).

“Keep pulling from the bottom until you’ve removed the pile, or at least reached more recent layers. You’ll have reduced it by much more than if you’d started at the top, and you just may feel energized enough to tackle another one.”

Best trick for corn

Warmer temps mean sweet corn will be in abundance soon. If you get frustrated stripping those pesky silk strands from the cob, check out a post on the Holm Family Cookbook website. Here is a magic trick to getting squeaky-clean corn.

1 Remove a few of the dry, outer husks.

2 Cut bottoms off the corn right above the place where the husk is attached.

3 Place a moist paper towel in the microwave and place the corn on the paper towel.

4 Cook the corn. (2 minutes for one ear; 3 to 4 minutes for two ears; 5 to 6 minutes for three ears; 7 to 8 minutes for four ears; and 8 to 9 minutes for six ears.)

5 Let the corn sit in the husks for about two minutes. It will finish cooking and will be easier to handle. (If you let it sit too long, the silk will stick to the ears and will be harder to remove.)

6 Using an oven mitt, pick up the cooked corn by the top; squeeze and lightly shake out the ear of corn. It should just slide out, leaving the silk and husks intact.

You can see the original post at

Best for foil and kitchen wraps

Is your kitchen short on space? Store aluminum foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper and more in a vertical magazine rack perched on a shelf in a cabinet or the pantry. Thanks to Pinterest for the idea.

Best for freshening the fridge

The next time you clean your refrigerator, keep it smelling fresher longer with this tip excerpted from the First Home Love Life blog. Instead of keeping an open box or bowl of baking soda on a shelf, take the time to “add a few drops of lemon essential oil to it.” The result, according to the blog, is “like a fresh but subtle breeze of lemon hitting you in the face every time the fridge gets opened.” You can find these and other home tips at

Best for summer grilling

Learn how to prepare your grill for the summer season with a video tutorial on Get expert advice on removing grease, ash and residue from your gas grill, and how to clean, season and prepare your charcoal grill at

Best summer salad

Joyce Mattocks of Southern Pines wrote in to share her recipe for a chilled Spring/Summer Rice Salad.

You will need:

1 (6.9-ounce) package Chicken Rice-A-Roni

1 (6 1/2-ounce) jar marinated artichokes

3 green onions, chopped

1/3 cup mayo (mix with marinade)

1/4 teaspoon curry powder


Prepare Rice-A-Roni, using only 2 cups of water, but otherwise following package directions.

Reserve marinade from artichokes, and chop artichokes into smaller pieces. Chop onions.

Mix marinade with mayonnaise and curry powder.

Combine all ingredients, chill and serve.

(Features editor Carole Tanzer Miller makes this salad a meal by adding 2 cans of shrimp or crab, drained, and 1/2 cup chopped green pepper to this recipe. To serve, slice a green pepper in half, vertically, and fill it with salad.)

Best of the tube


Kitchen makeover: Schoolteachers Jill and Warren want to buy their forever home before the start of the new school year, but the condition of their current home means they won’t net top dollar. Determined to transform its rundown interior, Jonathan tackles a major kitchen renovation and gives every room a clear definition. Meanwhile, it’s up to Drew to find a budget-friendly, move-in-ready home. Balancing the couple’s wish list with their finances proves tricky. “Buying and Selling” airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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