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Letters to the Editor: Coffee Roasting, Beef Jerky, Freezer and More

Mary Hunt on

Today I want to tell you, my dear readers, just how much joy you bring to my life with your comments and feedback. You give me a daily dose of reality because I use my inbox to measure the temperature on how this column is being received.

Now and then, I get a comment -- and I tell you this quite reluctantly -- that is just not fit to print. Others make me smile, and some even make me cry from time to time. But all are received joyfully, regardless of the content. That's because they let me know that at least one someone out there is actually reading what I write! Here are some of your responses to past columns:

Comments on "How to Get Started Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans"

Dear Mary: Can someone who drinks decaffeinated coffee do this? If so, how? -- Lois

Dear Mary: I have been following you for years and enjoyed the post on home-roasting coffee beans. We are in search of the perfect coffee maker. French press, pour-over, drip ... which is your favorite? -- Lynne

Comments on Make It Yourself: Beef Jerky, French Salad Dressing and Steak Sauce

Dear Mary: The lowest temperature on my electric oven is 170 degrees F. Do you think it will still work for making beef jerky? -- Wiski

Dear Wiski: Yes. Set the oven temperature as low as it will go. Ideal temperature is 140 degrees F, which will dehydrate the food without cooking it. Since yours only goes as low as 170 degrees, use a wooden spoon (no plastic! it could melt) to prop open the oven door to vent. This lets air circulate and dehydrate the food faster. -- Mary

Comments on "Money-Saving Tricks to Put Your Freezer To Work"

Dear Mary: I agree with the paper towel trick of putting one inside a bag before freezing bread and bakery items. It's amazing! I don't understand it either. My best guess is that it wicks away condensation. You should pop one in with your cheese before freezing, too. It keeps it from getting mushy when defrosting. By the way, you should always defrost in the fridge for safety reasons. Plus, it also helps the item from becoming mushy. Give it a try. -- Kathleen

Comments on "Ask Me Anything: Vacuum Cleaner and Home Chef Packaging Material"

Dear Mary: I thought I would just write a quick response to your method of ice-pack disposal, since I'm a teacher. Instead of throwing out and/or recycling, schools would love them. There are daily situations that require the use of an ice pack, and we often don't have enough. I know I scooped a few from someone recently, and I would never say no if offered more. Thanks for your continual good advice. -- Sandra

Comments on Everyday Cheapskate Gift Guides

Dear Mary: As a wife who has received many unwanted kitchen and household items touted in your columns for holidays such as Valentine's Day, Christmas, my birthday and my anniversary, might I ask a favor of you? Would you please think twice about your timing on promoting these utilitarian items so close to gift-giving holidays? The last item I want, especially for Valentine's Day, is an Instant Pot. Men read newspapers and don't listen to what their wives would like to have for holidays; they listen to what you promote. Better yet, perhaps you could use your column to direct men on what women would really prefer to receive on a romantic holiday. -- Shari

Dear Mary: I never send emails. I am using my wife's account here, which I also sneak into when I need ideas for gifts to buy her. She has taught me how to find her file of your columns labeled "Gift Guides by Mary Hunt." You have saved my bacon more than a few times. She thinks you can read her mind, and I wouldn't doubt it. Thanks. -- Greg

Comments on "Mailable Cookies to Make Someone's Day"

Dear Mary: When we sent hundreds of boxes of cookies to the military overseas, recipients told us they also ate and enjoyed the popcorn we used for packing! -- Rita


Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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