Last updated: February 19. 2013 5:44PM - 154 Views

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Q: I have several large, white mushrooms growing on and around my patio. One is the size of a bowling ball, the other near the size of a soccer ball and one larger than a golf ball. They are hard. Has the strange summer weather caused these to sprout?

A: Those alien-looking mushrooms are giant puffballs, Calvatia gigantea. They often sprout in early fall after heavy rains, and so do questions about them.

The smooth, white mushrooms are edible when they're young, if you're so inclined. But if you want to eat them, you need to pick them while the insides are still uniformly white. Once the insides start to turn yellow or brown, the mushrooms are no longer tasty and might even be toxic.

What's new

You don't need an ice bucket to keep wine chilled outside the refrigerator.

The VinOice is a chilling rod that you insert into a wine bottle to keep it cool for up to an hour. It's attached to a drip-free pour spout, so you don't have to remove the rod to pour the wine.

The rod is filled with a food-safe gel that you freeze ahead of time.

The VinOice sells for $27.95 at www.homewetbar.com. It's also available at some beverage stores, grocery stores and gift shops.

— McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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