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Why are carrots a little hairy?

Dear Heloise: What causes the hairy strings to grow on carrots, and what causes carrots to have cracks in them? Oh, and are they still safe to eat? — Ron T. in Pennsylvania

The little white “hairs” are small roots growing that are looking for moisture. The cracks can be caused by too little moisture or by the carrot trying to grow around something in the soil (pebbles, rocks, etc.).

The carrots are safe to eat as long as they are not in any way slimy and still feel firm to the touch. Use a vegetable brush to scrub the “hairs” off, and check the cracks/splits to be sure there is no decay present before eating. — Heloise

Parsley substitute

Dear Heloise: I rarely keep fresh parsley, although many recipes call for it as an ingredient or garnish. I do, however, always have celery in my refrigerator. I have started using the leaves as a parsley substitute, and I love it! I add it to soups, salsa and many other dishes. — Heidi W., Hickory, N.C.

Celery leaves are a great substitute for parsley! They actually have a great flavor that enhances recipes. There are so many foods that can be substituted for other foods. Making tuna or chicken salad and find you are out of celery? Add some chopped water chestnuts or coleslaw for that added crunch! — Heloise

Spice bag

Dear Heloise: I have enjoyed Hints From Heloise since your mother’s days of writing them. I was making a batch of pickled vegetables, and the recipe called for using cheesecloth to make a bag for the spices. I didn’t have any cheesecloth, so I hit upon the idea of using a tea bag.

I emptied the tea from the family-size tea bag, and put my bay leaf and spices in the empty bag. I even could use the string on the bag to tie it up. It held up during the boiling process (it’s meant to be in boiling water).

Not one to waste, I put the loose tea in my tea ball and brewed a nice cup of tea! — Sue P., Walhalla, S.C.

(Heloise is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. Send money-or time-saving hint to P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or E-Mail: Heloise@Heloise.com.)

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