I need to start out by apologizing to Deanna Campbell. She's a faithful reader who gave me a tip some weeks ago on a better way to cut brownies. She said a simple plastic knife will do a better job than any regular knife, and she keeps a plastic knife in one of her kitchen drawers for just this purpose. Well, I didn't believe her. I thought that there was no way that a plastic knife could cut gooey brownies without making a big mess. Well, I was wrong. I eventually got around to testing it out and sure enough, it worked amazingly well. It even worked better than my favorite brownie tip, which is to use a credit card to cut them. I'll never doubt Deanna again.
Joe Britte is an officer with Gainesville Police. He recently told me that daylight home invasions are on the rise. The culprits are usually young men with little education and no job. Joe said one of the best things you can do to reduce the risk of a break-in is to have a security sign outside of your house. He said the criminals are always looking for the easiest and safest home to break into. If you have a security company sign outside of your house and your neighbor doesn't, odds are they'll go after your neighbor.
Randall Murray is the wine critic for The Times and will occasionally give me a great tip. Here's another one: "Tim, it's the holidays and I hate getting those blasted sticky price tags off gift items. I use a liquid called Goo Gone, and it works like a champ. I just used it to remove tag residue from a bunch of wine glasses we're using for a Christmas party. My neighbor used some to remove adhesive residue from his arm where an IV line had been." Randall is right. Goo Gone is the best product I've found for removing sticky residue. By the way, there's a tip that's been around for years that you can use peanut butter to remove sticky residue. Baloney, it doesn't work. Save the peanut butter for your sandwiches.
Tim Thompson lives in Gainesville. E-mail Tim your ideas for tips, tools or tricks.