August 8, 2014 at 1:00 am


Add fruit to green salad, thwart the woodpecker

A lemony vinaigrette will dress up juicy summer peaches used in a green salad. (Tony Cenicola / New York Times)

Q. I want to add fruit to my green salads. What kinds of dressings will work best?

A. Consider the flavor and aroma of your fruit when deciding which acid to use in the dressing. (Vinegar or citrus juice will naturally brighten and heighten any fruit’s flavor.) A light drizzle is plenty — too much liquid will ruin a salad. Dress it right before serving. Here are a few of the Martha Stewart Living test kitchen’s favorite pairings:

Champagne Vinegar + Honeydew: This light vinegar doesn’t overwhelm the melon’s subtle flavor.

Limes + Blueberries: A milder citrus is a good match for sweet and tart blueberries.

Balsamic Vinegar + Strawberries: Contrast strawberries’ natural sweetness with rich and tangy balsamic vinegar.

Lemons + Peaches: Lemons’ intense acidity is a nice counterpoint to juicy, succulent peaches.

Q. How do I stop woodpeckers from destroying the siding on my home?

A. Woodpeckers cause damage and noise when making nests, staking out territory or looking for food, says Geoff LeBaron, an ornithologist at the National Audubon Society. To prevent damage to wooden siding, try these methods. (And consider a birdhouse for those displaced.)

1. Staple bird netting (available at hardware and garden supply stores) over large, round holes, which are signs of nesting.

2. Hang reflective aluminum streamers, such as Irri-Tape, near the damaged areas — their movement and shine should deter the birds.

3. Hire an insect exterminator if you see small, irregular holes, which indicate an infestation. This way, the birds will forage elsewhere.

Q. How can I chill drinks quickly for a crowd?

A. Don’t make guests wait for cold refreshments! To quickly chill drinks, fill a bucket halfway with ice, pour a handful of salt over it, then fill the bucket two-thirds of the way with cold water. Add the bottles. The salt lowers the water temperature, so the drinks are cooled more rapidly.

Q. What’s the best way to remove stains from glazed stoneware?

A. Tackle stains on glazed stoneware with baking soda. Run a damp cloth over a bar of soap, then sprinkle it with baking soda and rub it over the surface. (Don’t use this method on antiques.) Repeat once for stubborn stains.

Q. Do you have any tips for how to find the best deals online?

A. Deals may find you if you take your time shopping online, says Mark Ellwood, author of “Bargain Fever.” Register with an online retailer, log in, then place an item in a shopping cart and navigate away for a few days. Don’t be surprised if you receive an email with a promo code or other incentive to finalize the purchase.

Questions should be sent to Martha Stewart Living , 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. You may also email questions to Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.

Taking a few simple precautions can help you prevent woodpeckers from ... (Suzanne DeChillo / New York Times)