… to be on the dry side. What can I do so it’s more moist? I try not to overbeat or overbake.

– L.R., Harrisonburg, Va.

There are several things you might try:

1. Add an extra 1/3 cup vegetable oil to your batter.

2. Add one box of instant pudding mix to your cake’s dry ingredients. Vanilla with your yellow cake would taste nice.

3. Separate the white from the yolk of one egg used in the recipe and use only the yolk.

4. Try brushing your cakes with simple syrup to keep them moist. You might even want to add a little flavoring or liquor. But don’t oversoak the cake.

It’s not necessary to use all these hints on one cake. Experiment to see which method you prefer.

– Heloise

Dear Heloise:

I make a gelatin (molded) salad that my family loves. It’s become a tradition to have it every Thanksgiving. This year, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving outdoors, and as you probably know, it’s very warm here on Thanksgiving. I want the gelatin to stay firm in warm weather. Any hints on how to do that?

– Georgette T.,

Hollywood, Fla.

Georgette, to help your gelatin stay firm, add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the recipe. Also, put the serving plate in the freezer the night before so it’s nice and cold.

– Heloise

Dear Heloise:

I love and use a lot of bananas in my recipes, but I’ve heard it’s possible the banana as we know it will be extinct soon. Is this true, and if so, why?

– Brenda G., Hillsboro, Ore.

Brenda, the most common banana in American stores is the Cavendish. In 1992, a new type of fungus was discovered in Asia that had a devastating effect on the Cavendish. This fungus has wiped out banana plantations in many parts of the world. There are other varieties of bananas, of course, but the future of the Cavendish banana is still unknown.

– Heloise

Email a great hint to

nio, TX 78279-5001; by fax: 1-210-HELOISE; or by email: Heloise@Heloise.com.