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updated: 1/18/2011 12:41 PM

Ways and means of scraping up some bread dough

Frugal Living

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Q. Dough scrapers: metal or plastic? Which do you prefer? I don't have one yet and want to buy it only once!

Rosie, Canada

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A. I like them both. I use them for different tasks. They were both cheap, too. I like the flexibility of the plastic scraper. It's rigid but has a bit of give. It lets me cut and lift food such as brownies, lasagna and pizza. It has a rounded edge so I can scrape a bowl, too.

Sometimes I use it to scrape pans as I wash them without scratching them and to scrape chopped vegetables from my cutting board into my pan or bowl. The plastic scraper can go into the dishwasher, too. But when it comes to splitting and scraping dough, I prefer the metal scraper.

If I had a natural counter surface that I was working on, I'd want the plastic scraper to prevent scratching. It's a matter of personal preference. You might discover the plastic scraper is inferior to the metal scraper. Because they're both so cheap and used for different purposes, I'd go ahead and buy both. Gasp! Yes, I'm suggesting it's worth having two! If you don't like one of them (which I doubt will happen), gift it to a family or friend.

Q. Uses for salsa Verde? Over the weekend, I was ambitious and bought two types of salsa to enjoy with tortilla chips: traditional red salsa and a green one made with tomatillos. I've never tried the green before. It tasted pretty good the first time around, but the second and third times my fiance and I decided it was too acidic. Now I have a jar of the green and am not sure how to use it up. I thought about trying to cut the acidity with sour cream, but that didn't really help. I have about 1 cups left in the jar and don't want to toss it out.

Libby, Canada

A. I'm not a fan of it, but you might like it in chicken tortilla soup, or chicken or beef enchiladas. Or give traditional macaroni and cheese some southwestern zing. Look for recipes on the manufacturer's website or by calling their customer-service number. I don't know what brand you bought, but I looked on the Pace Foods website (pacefoods.com) and see they use salsa verde in chicken wraps, meatloaf and meatballs, etc. There are 27 recipes you can try.

• Sara Noel owns of Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or sara@frugalvillage.com.

Q. I need help fixing my iron. OK, it is not so much fixing the iron: I know what to do if I can ever get it open. I just can't get it open. I know the connection to the cord is loose but this iron has some unusual screw head. It kind of looks like a cross between hex and stars but very thin. I don't have a tool for this and I have many, plus all my guys have tried from their toolbox. Any tips on how to get it open?

G.G., New Mexico

A. Oh, how manufacturers love to make it tough to fix things yourself. I would take your iron into your local hardware store and either hunt for a tool yourself or ask for help. Sounds like you need a torx screwdriver, but it's hard to tell without seeing it. Check this guide to help identify what you need: apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/la/010508screwhsclassifications.jpg.

Assuming you are right that the connection is loose, I hope a simple tightening of the screws at the eyelet terminals will solve the problem. If needed, a replacement cord should be easy enough to locate at a hardware store. Maybe it's still under warranty? It can be worth asking a small appliance-repair shop (authorized service center) how much it would cost to repair it. Sadly, it's often cheaper and less frustrating and time consuming to buy a new iron.

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