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Is the world your oyster, but you used the wrong fork?

If so, here are some perfectly proper manner tips from excellent etiquette maven Marjabelle Young Stewart. (Stewart has been dubbed "the Queen of Courtesy" by Newsweek magazine, and has taught manners to young Eisenhowers, Nixons and Bushes.)

- As for cherry tomatoes, a hostess should cut them in half; it's mean to leave them whole.

- Food with pits frightens people, but it's okay to remove the pits with your fingers and put them on your butter or salad plate. (Cup your hand as you take pits from your mouth, somewhat shielding the act from view.)

- If you find a small beast in your drinking glass or food, do not call everyone's attention to it. Quietly ask your host for another glass or dish.

- When you're finished with your meal, put your crumpled napkin to the left of your plate. Never refold it.

- Rest silverware on your plate, not sticking out like oars; when finished, leave it in the "four o'clock position."

- Never, ever use a toothpick in public. In otherwords, at all times, remember that your manners shouldn't make the person seated across from you sick.


In the 1996 Old Farmer's Almanac Good Cook's Companion, we're fond of this foodie idea:

Lisa Owens: "We like hot sandwiches but don't always have gravy on hand. Now when I make a roast, I put the leftover gravy in ice cube trays, freeze them, pop the gravy cubes into baggies, and stick them back in the freezer. It's very easy to heat up one or more cubes in the microwave and pour over meat sandwiches for a meal."

If you have a cooking or kitchen hint to share, send it to:

"Hints", The Old Farmer's Almanac Good Cook's Companion

Dublin, NH 03444.

$10 will be given for each hint they publish.


Water taken in moderation cannot hurt anybody.

--Mark Twain