Dear Heloise: I am unsuccessful in hard-boiling eggs. Please tell me the recipe or solution. Thank you. — Lin H., Ventura, Calif.

It may not be your fault! If the eggs are fresh, they will be a pain to peel! For "hard cooked" (the technical term), older eggs are better, as there is more of an air pocket.

Here is how the American Egg Board says to hard-cook eggs:

Carefully place the eggs in a single layer in a pan and cover with cold water at least by 1 inch. Put a lid on, and heat until the water comes to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered. If you have an electric stove, remove the pot from the hot burner and move it to a cool one.

Let eggs stand about 12 minutes for medium eggs, 15 minutes for large eggs and 18 minutes for extra large. Pour off the hot water, then run cold water over the eggs. Let sit until the eggs are cool. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Whenever I'm mixing a batter, etc., in a bowl on the countertop, I find that putting a cloth hot pad or dish towel under the bowl will prevent it from sliding, and also it won't scratch the countertop. — J.C. in San Antonio

Dear Heloise: I make a lot of macaroni-and-cheese salad. I have always unwrapped single slices of American cheese and diced each one separately, as they will stick to each other. Today, I put the cheese in the freezer before unwrapping the slices. I stacked the frozen cheese and then chopped through all layers one way and then across, making small squares. They never stuck, and this was so much easier. — Carol Vaughn, Haslet, Texas

Dear Heloise: Tell "David in Little Rock" that until breakfast-cereal companies come out with a better box, use a letter opener to open the box. Slide the blade in at one end of the top flap and gently lift to separate from the bottom flap. Then use the point of the opener to enlarge the slot for the reclosable flap. Since I started doing this instead of using my fingers, I've had a lot better luck. — Alan, via fax

Dear Heloise: I have the perfect solution for removing the purple on fingers after shelling purple hull peas! Put bottled lemon juice on a cotton ball or paper towel, then rub on your fingers. Works instantly! Clean fingers, with no trace of purple. — Pat W., Parrish, Ala.

Dear Heloise: For food burned in a pan, I have found that an overnight soaking in vinegar lifts off the burned material. — Joy, via e-mail

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; Fax: 210-HELOISE; E-mail: © King Features Syndicate Inc.