Cooking Questions Answered

Payneville, KY(Zone 7a)

Here it is folks! If you have questions about almost anything that has to do with cooking, baking, etc. here's the place to post them and one of your fellow DG members will try to answer (to the best of our ability)...Let's roll......

Any questions out there? We're here waiting for you....

(The following postscript added by Terry)

Please keep ALL POSTS on topic. You may post:
1) cooking questions
2) a response to answer a posted question
3) a cooking tip you'd like to share

All other posts (sidebar conversations, thank-you's for help, etc. should be handled in another thread or via private messaging.)

High Desert, CA(Zone 8a)

I have a suggestion. I am sure a lot of us will be preparing salad this coming holidays. Onion juice can mess up people's stomach after a few days.

The solution: take a piece of cheese cloth, about 12" long. grate onion over the cheese cloth. Once all onions are grated, take all four corners of the cheese cloth, squeeze out all the onion juice over the sink, like you would squeeze water out of a wet cloth.

Loosen the grated onions and use in salad. Onions without the juice make the salad palatable and will last longer, plus they have the crunchy sensation when eaten.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

How do you thicken tomato sauce? We tried corn starch and that helped but still to thin - we cooked it for quite a while but maybe needed more. (tasted good but skinny. )

High Desert, CA(Zone 8a)

If you want a thicker tomato sauce, make a roux, using equal parts of all-purpose flour and olive oil.

When I make tomato sauce, I seldom add liquid - only /4 cup of water or wine (barely add enough liquid to cook the sauce)

The sauce naturally thickens on its own without having to add any thickener.

Whitby, ON(Zone 5b)

I use tomato paste to thicken tomato sauce. Cooking down helps too, but paste gives it a sauciness that I like.

Louisville, KY

Conversion Tables

Measurement Equivalents
1 tablespoon (tbsp) = 3 teaspoons (tsp)
1/16 cup (c) = 1 tablespoon
1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons
1/6 cup = 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
3/8 cup = 6 tablespoons
1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons
2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons
1 cup = 48 teaspoons
1 cup= 16 tablespoons
8 fluid ounces (fl oz) = 1 cup
1 pint (pt) = 2 cups
1 quart (qt) = 2 pints
4 cups = 1 quart
1 gallon (gal) = 4 quarts
16 ounces (oz) = 1 pound (lb)
1 milliliter (ml) = 1 cubic centimeter (cc)
1 inch (in) = 2.54 centimeters (cm)

In case a recipe calls for something you don't have consider:

For: 1 Tbsp fresh herb
Use: 1/3 to 1/2 tsp dried herb (of the same kind)

For: 1 clove garlic
Use: 1/8 tsp garlic powder

For: 1 egg in baking
Use: 1 tsp cornstarch plus 1/4 cup water

For: 1 whole egg
Use: 2 egg yolks plus 1 Tbsp water

For: 1 cup whole fresh milk
Use: 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water, or 1/3 cup dry milk plus 1 cup water

For: 1 cup buttermilk
Use: 1 cup plain yogurt, or 1 cup sour milk (4 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to make 1 cup -- let sit for five minutes before using)

For: 1 cup sour cream (in baking)
Use: 7/8 cup buttermilk or sour milk plus 3 Tbsp butter

For: 1 cup sour cream (in salad dressings, casseroles)
Use: 1 cup plain yogurt or 3/4 cup sour milk plus 1/3 cup butter

For: 1 cup cream
Use: 1/3 cup butter plus 3/4 cup milk

For: 1 cup corn syrup
Use: 2/3 cup granulated sugar plus 1/3 cup water

For: 1 cup brown sugar
Use: 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 Tbsp molasses

For: 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
Use: 1 cup granulated sugar, packed

For: 1 cup margarine or butter (in baking or cooking)
Use: 1 cup hard shortening or 7/8 cup vegetable oil

For: 1 square unsweetened chocolate
Use: 3 Tbsp cocoa plus 1 Tbsp oil

For: 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
Use: 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 4 tsp sugar

For: 3/4 cup cracker crumbs
Use: 1 cup bread crumbs

For: 1 cup cake flour, sifted
Use: 7/8 cup all purpose flour, sifted (1 cup minus 2 Tbsp)

For: 1 tsp baking powder
Use: 1/3 tsp baking soda plus 1/2 tsp cream of tarter, or 1/4 tsp baking soda plus 1/3 cup sour milk

For: 1 Tbsp cornstarch for thickening
Use: 2 Tbsp flour

For: 1 Tbsp flour for thickening
Use: 1 1/2 tsp corn flour, arrowroot, potato flour, or rice flour; or 2 tsp tapioca

For: 2 Tbsp tapioca for thickening
Use: 3 Tbsp flour

Louisville, KY

Homemade Egg Substitutes:

Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on earth and can be part of a healthy diet. However, they are perishable just like raw meat, poultry, and fish. Today some unbroken, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain Salmonella enteritidis bacteria that can cause food borne illness. While the number of eggs affected is quite small, there have been cases of food borne illness in the last few years. To be safe, eggs must be properly handled, refrigerated, and cooked.

No one should eat foods containing raw eggs. This includes "health food" milk shakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or eggnog made from recipes in which the egg ingredients are not cooked.

To make a recipe safe that specifies using eggs that aren't cooked, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.

What is a good substitute for eggs?

Ener-G Egg Replacer - follow directions on box.
2 Tbsp corn starch = 1 egg
2 Tbsp arrowroot flour = 1 egg
2 Tbsp potato starch = 1 egg
1 heaping Tbsp soy powder + 2 Tbsp water = 1 egg
1 Tbsp soy milk powder + 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsps water = 1 egg.
1 Tbsp flax seeds + 1 cup water = 1 egg. Blend seeds and water for 1 to 2 minutes
until desired consistency.
1 banana = 1 egg in cakes.

Homemade egg substitute recipe

Homemade egg substitutes are less expensive and just as satisfactory. They also have few calories. Here's a low cholesterol egg substitute recipe:

1 tablespoon of nonfat dry milk powder
2 egg whites from large eggs
4 drops of yellow food color

Sprinkle powdered milk over egg whites, then beat them with fork until smooth. Add food color, and beat until blended. This makes one-fourth cup, which is equal to 1 large egg. If you use this homemade substitute for scrambled eggs, cook it in vegetable oil or margarine so the eggs won't be too dry.

Payneville, KY(Zone 7a)

The longer you cook your tomatoes, the thicker it will be. It also depends on the type of tomatoes you use. Some tomatoes will not thicken, no matter what you do. Roma or paste type tomatoes are the best.

Wingate, MD(Zone 7b)

I used too much salt in a sauce I made for cream chicken. What can I do to make it less salty?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Add potatoes to draw out the salt. (You can fish out the chunks later if you don't want them in the sauce.)

Payneville, KY(Zone 7a)

If you don't want to cut up the potato, you can leave it whole as well.

My DH's grandmother used to put a whole potato in baked beans to take the "gas" out of them.

High Desert, CA(Zone 8a)

The Mexican herb Epazote takes the gas from beans. I have personally tried it. and it works; use sparingly though.

High Desert, CA(Zone 8a)

Fresh garlic tips

When using fresh garlic, cut off the root end to facilitate easy peeling of garlic.

To chop garlic fine, spread barely a teaspoon of salt on chopping board. Place garlic in center of salt and whack the garlic with knife. Hold the tip of the knife with your left hand and chop the garlic over the salt until garlic is finely chopped. the salt absorbs all the garlic oil, not the chopping board.

Springboro, OH(Zone 6a)

I'm wondering what simmering the sauce "for a while" meant? I cook my spaghetti sauce over very low heat (barely simmering) for 6 hours. No lid will help liquid evaporate. I agree it's best to not add liquid to tomato sauces unless you know for certain that you need it.

Payneville, KY(Zone 7a)

There is already enough liquid from the tomatoes and if you're trying to make paste, you don't want to add any more liquid and wouldn't want to if canning tomatoes anyhow.

I usually put a lid on, but teeter it and don't put it on all the way or the tomatoes will burn. Otherwise, I have one heck of a mess on my stove. I would think simmering means at the lowest heat until desired thickness.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Try using a crock pot to finish simmering tomato sauce after you have it well-started on the stove.

Bodrum, Turkey(Zone 10a)

Here the eggs you buy from the super market are not refrigerated. also, in the bazaar, they have fresh eggs from the farm, just sitting out there, in the hot sun etc. How long are eggs good for? Here, they don't put dates on things....I do get nervous about this.

Also, the milk here is not refrigerated, they have milk that is, but most f the milk is called "long life milk" that has had something done to it...but what? and it tastes fine, I only use it in my coffee, but my daughter uses it in cereal and she says its fine.

Whitby, ON(Zone 5b)

Pebble, I'm surprised some of those eggs haven't hatched, which is a good reason to refrigerate them!! I don't think it'll hurt them for a short while when they're really fresh to stay out of the cold, but should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Here we buy eggs in cartons with a "best before" date stamped on them - its usually about 3-4 weeks from when you buy them.

I can't help you with the milk though; obviously fresh milk comes from cows warm, but will sour quickly if its not kept cold. Long life milk is new to me. I wonder what they do to it??


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)


Long-Life Milk

Is long-life milk safe for children? Is it as nutritious as regular milk?
by Linda Somers

Yes, to both questions. Long-life milk (also known as ultrahigh-temperature- processing, or UHT, milk) does not need to be refrigerated before it is opened and has a shelf life of about three months. After it is opened, it lasts about as long as regular milk. It is safe for children, and its nutrient content is not measurably different from that of other milk.

Linda Somers is a pediatric clinical nutritionist at the Children's Memorial Medical Center in Chicago.

Payneville, KY(Zone 7a)

Pebble, Darius is correct. In Germany, they sell their milk on the shelf in UHT containers. What a great idea.

As far as eggs, we've sold eggs for years at the farmers' market and all the time we hear "in France or in ...such and such a place, they don't refrigerate eggs. We can't even keep them out on the table for a few minutes, for the health dept shutting us down. Most eggs work better in cooking if they are at room temperature anyhow.

But most people in other countries don't have large refrigerators and freezers like we do. They shop daily and buy what they need to use in a day's length. I'm not sure I would want to eat eggs that have been sitting on a countertop in the hot sun for 2 weeks, but I think a day or so might be okay. Keep out of direct sun and buy only what you'll use in that time frame.

And one more thing, we have "factory farms" and "confined chicken farms" here in the US and the diseases that they tend to foster are obviously more prevalant than in operations where animals are raised the way nature intended them to be. Thus the need for antibiotics and hormones and the breakdown of organisms that would maintain such a shelf quality.

I'd love to live in a community where each morning you can go to the store and buy fresh for each day's meal. That's the way it used to be done, even in this country, but we've gotten too busy and like convenience. :)

I'm no expert, but these are my observations and guesses in answer to your question.

:) Kathy

Payneville, KY(Zone 7a)

That would be wondeful Pebble. If your eggs float to the top, they are getting old. The reason is that there is an air pocket in your egg and as it gets older, the air pocket gets larger, thus causing it to float. In KY, we can sell eggs for 45 after their processed date. The shelf life is 90 days after process date. So even if you buy them on the last day, you can still keep them a month and a half. I think people throw eggs away they've had in their refrigerator for a month, because they think they are old. They are still good. Just check the date.

And you can check the process date at the end of each there is a code number printed and the first 3 numbers are the day of the year it was processed. For instance, if processed on January 30, the number would read 030; if they were processed on April 18, the number would be 108 for it being the 108 day of the year (not in a leap year) :) You can figure 90 days from that date that your eggs are good until. (those eggs would be good from April 18 to July 16) *****refrigerated of course*****

Pebble, one more thing. When you purchase your eggs, you could ask the seller when the eggs were processed/layed. Then I would write that date on the carton, so you know, take home refrigerate and take it from there with the 90 day rule above. :) Kathy

Whitby, ON(Zone 5b)

To test an egg for freshness, put it in a full cup of cold water. If the egg floats don't use it. (If I mixed this up, somebody please let me know-it could be the other way around, but I'm pretty sure this is right.)


Pocahontas, TN(Zone 7b)

What is your favorite skillet, brand and size for general use. If you could only have ONE what would it be - antique, old or new doesn't matter?


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Only one: Cast iron, 10-12", old but not necessarily anique.

If I could have two, the second would be a stainless steel sauté pan, about the same size, copper bottom, layeres steel in sides as well as bottom.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

When I make my own bread/rolls I always use 2 envelopes yeast since my 1 env efforts never really took off in raising. Am I just too impatient? I am talking about recipes that call for 1 envelope.

Payneville, KY(Zone 7a)

i have a set of pans that I bought 18 years ago. They cost a fortune and are made by West Bend. They have what's called the MultiCore bottoms and are for waterless cooking, although I've just used them as any other pan. They have the vent in the lid that opens and closes. They are stainless steel and I love them. They are heavy, but are very good pans and you'd never believe how old they are to look at them.

Whitby, ON(Zone 5b)

Anastatia, your guess is right, you are being too impatient. It's best to let the yeast do the work over time; your bread will be better textured for it. Too much yeast will also cause the tops of your bread to mushroom over the top of the pan. Bread baking is like a chemistry experiment - you should follow the recipe closely for the best results. I make my bread using a bread maker for the dough, but the essentialls stay the same - follow the recipe for best results. Happy baking!!


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I've seen those, Kathy. Nice pans.

Anastatia, yeast can deteriorate with age even in unopened packages. I had a problem with dough rising until I found a warmer place for it and became more patient. Didn't take more yeast.

The Tassajara Bread Book is my favorite bread cookbook.

Whitby, ON(Zone 5b)

Electric Bread is my favourite bread cookbook. Some mighty fine recipes for a breadmaker in it.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

I just can't get worked up about raw eggs. I don't think people get sick from raw eggs any more than they do from any other foods. I worked as a chef and must have made hollandaise a thousand times. No one ever got sick that I recall.

I also have been making a health food milkshake for about 20 years with a raw egg, frozen fruit, acidophilus milk, Splenda, nutritional yeast, powdered calcium and occaisional other items and never got sick off it. But it sure made a delicious energetic substitute for breakfast....

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Remember in both the examples you gave, there is some acid whitch mitigates most of the effect of raw eggs.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

well, yes, both the hollandaise (lemon) and milkshake have acidic fruits in them. But I still don't think it's a problem or I'd never eat mayonnaise. I remember when folks kept mayonnaise in the cabinet instead of the fridge..........geez!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Well, I keep my butter in a cabinet, all except maybe for 2-3 hot weeks in summer when it melts too much.

Rutland , MA(Zone 5b)

Do you really keep your butter unrefrigerated most of the year? I've seen some products in magazines that claim you can put butter in them without refridgeration but I did'nt believe them. How is it possible?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Herbie, it stays cool here in the mountains all summer except for maybe 2-3 weeks. The butter never does anything but get a bit soft, enough to spread it. The butter gizmos that hold butter in an upside-down cup suspended in water do the same thing.

However, if I am doing a LOT of baking, the kitchen gets too warm and I have to refrigerate it then.

Rutland , MA(Zone 5b)

According to Alton Brown on The Food Network and his new book "I'm just here for more food":

An unrefrigerated egg ages a week in a day; keep eggs refrigerated.

The rate at which an egg goes downhill has more to do with handling than time.

The warmer it is, the faster the membranes that separate the different parts of the egg deteriorate. Properly stashed in their carton in the back of the fridge, eggs will keep an amazingly long time.

Grade AA grade eggs will drop to Grade A eggs in about a week but won't descend to Grade B for about six weeks. After that they're still perfectly edible but I would not do much more than scramble them.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Here's a link to a "butter bell" that keeps butter fresh at room temps<. I don't use one but only because it's cool here.

Rutland , MA(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the info on the butter. Do you mean to say that you just leave the butter out of the fridge and it doesn't go bad?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Yes Herbie, I just leave my butter out of the refrigerator, sometimes in a cabinetm more often just on the counter in a glass butter dish. It holds its shape, does not melt ANY and does not go bad. It does soften eough to easily spread on toast.

Harford County, MD(Zone 6b)

I have two butter boats for my butter. One holds a whole stick and one a half stick. I mostly use the smaller one. Water goes in the bottom dish and because the rim around the edge of the top part that comes into contact with the water is not glazed, it allows the water to to keep the butter fresh for weeks,( if it lasts that long ). I just love mine.

Like you, Darius, if it gets really hot in the summer I may set it in the fridge.

Another good thing about them is you can put warm or hot water in them if you need to soften butter really quick

Thumbnail by ginlyn

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