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Our neighbour keeps giving us cookies. What do we do?

The question

We have a neighbour who thinks she's Paula Deen. At least once a week, she drops by with plates of cake and fluffernutters. My husband insists we bake something to send back with her dishes, but I'm afraid it'll encourage her. We don't have all day to be baking. What should we do?

The answer

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The first time a neighbour sends over baking, it's polite to return the plate and the favour. If you're up for it the second and third times, maybe bake something then too (or send a handwritten thank you card and a bunch of tulips if you prefer).

But once a week isn't a favour; it's pathology. You've got to nip this neighbourly sugar coma in the homemade Golden Buds. I'd try tact and dishonesty as an opening gambit – you just can't eat this much baking or you'll tub out, etc. Failing that, a convenient sudden gluten allergy might do the trick (though you'll know it's backfired when she starts sending over chocolate tapioca and textured vegetable protein cakes).

If all that fails, why not try considering yourself lucky and enjoy the baking. Then stockpile the dishes and return them (empty) no more than twice a year.

Follow food writer Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail

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