DEAR SUN SPOTS: Why would the gravy in a chicken pot pie turn to glue, or disappear altogether? I can’t make a nice pie, one with a bottom crust, too.

Turkey day is coming up soon and it would be nice to have helpful hints and good recipes for the perfect pot pie. — No name, no town

ANSWER: I think this reader is using too much thickener for her gravy. The tip I can offer is that when making the gravy, I use 1 tablespoon of corn starch or flour blended into 2 tablespoons of water for every two cups of chicken or turkey stock. After this is cooked and thickened — but not too much — and taken off the heat, I blend in a tablespoon or two of butter. This makes the gravy glossy and richer-tasting. Another secret ingredient I add is Better than Bouillon. It comes in a small glass jar and is sold at the grocery store on the shelf with the bouillon cubes and boxed broth. This really enhances the flavor nicely.

I then add the meat and vegetables to the gravy and cook over low heat just until warmed through then pour that on the bottom crust or if I’m not using one, into a buttered baking dish or pie plate.

If I have a bottom crust I pre-bake that crust for 5-10 minutes at 425 degrees before spooning in the filling. This seems to keep the bottom crust from getting soggy.

How about it, readers? Do you have a recipe or tips that give you a stellar pot pie every time? Please share!

DEAR SUN SPOTS: What is an airbnb? I am from the old country and I have never heard of this before. — Heidi, Dryden

ANSWER: Airbnb is an online company started in 2007 when two people welcomed some guests to their San Francisco home. It has since grown to 4 million hosts who have welcomed more than 1 billion guests worldwide.

Staying at an airbnb is an alternative to a hotel. Individuals can rent their properties by becoming a host and advertising their home, apartment, condominium, or another property they own online through the Airbnb website.

For example, one of my family members was part of Airbnb and rented a waterfront cottage by the week in the summer. She made enough money to pay her yearly property taxes and then some!

Travelers and adventurers have a choice of so many unique places to stay, from a treehouse in the woods of Maine to a spacious home with indoor pool in Costa Rica, and so much more.

I have had the opportunity to stay in a home in Europe that I found on Airbnb. I had everything I needed and the host was close by to offer support. My family members have also had excellent experiences with this option. They have stayed in airbnbs in Ireland, Mexico and throughout the U.S.

These places generally provide more privacy than a hotel does. They have a kitchen for preparing your food, and if you’re traveling with other family members, you can choose sleeping accommodations that give everyone more space, and in most cases, it’s a more cost-effective choice.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].


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