Q:How do you cook vegetable kebabs evenly?
- Tory Stone, Salisbury, Maryland
A: Since different vegetables cook at different rates, it’s best to either create single-ingredient kebabs or skewer together vegetables with similar cooking times (and cut into same-size pieces), as with the combinations shown here:
- Cherry Tomatoes and Scallion Pieces: 3 to 6 minutes.
- Zucchini and Summer-Squash Chunks With Fennel and Onion Wedges: 12 to 15 minutes.
- Asparagus Pieces and Shallot Halves: 6 to 9 minutes.
- Small Mushrooms with Bell-Pepper Chunks and Parboiled Halved Small Potatoes: 9 to 12 minutes.
Grill the kebabs over direct medium heat, turning them once halfway through. Remember that grill temperatures vary, so you should check for doneness on the early side.
Tip: To avoid watery eyes when cutting an onion, light a votive candle near your chopping board. The volatile sulfur compounds in the onion will burn off in the open flame before they can irritate your eyes.
Q: How can I keep books in good condition on my shelves?
- Gary Kallenbaugh, Brook Park, Ohio
A: To ensure a long shelf life for your books, a little routine maintenance goes a long way. Keep them clean by passing a feather duster along the tops and spines weekly. Once a year, take everything off the shelves and dust the books and shelves thoroughly. Fresh air slows deterioration, so occasional handling is actually good for them. And because dampness can lead to mildew and mold, keep books away from damp exterior walls and windows.
Tip: Rotate stacked books every other month to prevent too much pressure. Paint and seal wooden shelves to protect books against damaging vapors from the wood.
Q: How do I fix a loose strand on my wicker furniture?
- Calihan Cronin, Los Angeles
A: You can repair an exposed strand in outdoor wicker pieces in just a few easy steps:
1. Rest a damp towel on any loose strands until they become soft and flexible. (This can take about an hour.)
2. Reweave each exposed strand into the chair with your hands.
3. Tack each loose strand down with an exterior brad that is narrower than the chair’s weave to secure it in place, if necessary.
Q: How do I mend a ripped kite?
- Cole Bruns, Los Feliz, California
A: A small tear can be fixed with nylon repair tape ($2 a yard, intothewind.com). Keep some with you when flying your kite for on-the-go mends. Line up the torn edges, and cover the entire length of the tear plus an additional 3/4 inch on each end with tape. Then turn the kite over and repeat on the other side.
Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 601 W. 26th St., 9th floor, New York, N.Y. 10001. Questions may also be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.