Dear Barbara: We love to marinate meats for the grill. How long can you keep the marinade for marinating further meats? — Kyle from Galt
Dear Kyle: You should never save marinade that you have had raw meat in! That would be a bacteria-fest!
If you make a marinade that you like, use what is needed for that particular meat and save the untouched marinade in the refrigerator. You can save the unused portion for about a week in the refrigerator, or freeze it for about a month.
If you want to baste the meat you are grilling, use some of the unused marinade, not the one that the raw meat was in; be sure you also use a clean basting brush.
Dear Barbara: I have seen in magazines where they have little cakes in flower pots, or dips, etc. Are clay pots safe to use and eat the food in them? — Haley from Lodi
Dear Haley: The pots you see in magazines for cakes, etc. are food-grade pots made to bake in. I once was given a dip mix that came with a little shovel and pot. I know that the pot was specifically made for food. Your regular clay flower pots are made for flowers, not food! If you want the shape of the flower pot, you could line it with aluminum foil and bake in it, but not directly. However, that is a really cute idea, and what fun it would be to decorate the flower pot! You could put iced cookies on a stick with chocolate cake as dirt in the pot. I may have to try this.
Dear Barbara: I have a two-part question. First, do you think dented cans are OK? Secondly, we camp a lot, so would it be safe to heat food in the can? It would save time and I would not have to do a bunch of dishes later. — Margaret from Lodi
Dear Margaret: This is an easy question. Yes, dented cans are fine as long as they are not bulging at the top or bottom or leaking. You can heat food in the can if you remove the top and place them in a pan of water to heat them. It would save you a lot of work while camping.
Dear Barbara: Someone told me that there is a sweetener called stevia that is suppose to be all-natural, but contains no sugar. Have you ever heard of it? I haven’t seen it at my store. Do you know where I could buy it? — Sarah from Lodi
Dear Sarah: I am familiar with stevia and actually have some in my cupboard. Stevia is an herb. It is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and has no calories. You can purchase stevia at health food stores. You can also see “no calorie” sweeteners that contain stevia, but used with other ingredients. The only one I know you can bake with is Splenda. Splenda is half sugar and half artificial sweetener. I don’t know if it changes composition with heat, like other artificial sweeteners.
My husband and I both feel that stevia has an unappealing after-taste. You may want to read articles about it before you buy it. If you go to Google and type in “stevia,” I’m sure there would be many articles that would give you all the information you would need.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.