Dear Barbara: I used to make all my pie crusts from scratch, but I’m older now and want the easy way out. I’ve used the pie crust mix that comes in a box and I didn’t care for it. I’ve also used the refrigerated pie crusts that you just unroll and put in a pie plate. The crust was too small and also was not in a circle. I had to “patch” the places that didn’t meet the edge of the pie plate. Any suggestions? — Charlene from Lodi
Dear Charlene: I know exactly what you mean! I think most of us have tried that. The only time I make my crust “from scratch” anymore is when my adult children are home. They can spot it in a minute and respond with, “That’s not your pie!”
I’ve tried most of them and they all work; just not well. Have you tried Marie Calendar’s frozen pie crust? I prefer it over the other brands. It’s flaky and comes in its own pie pan that is reusable. I don’t like it for a two crust pie. They want you to use a bottom crust for the top and it just doesn’t look nice. The crust works well for a one-crust pie.
Dear Barbara: I made a stock pot full of chicken stock. Now it has been four or five days since I made it. My question being: Is it still good? I tried to look it up, but there were so many opinions as to how long. Some said 2 days; some said 2 to 4 weeks. I don’t know who to believe. I thought I would ask you and see what you would do. — Jackie from Lodi
Dear Jackie: I have a book, titled “Timing is Everything,” written by Jack Piccolo. The author advises that you should only keep the stock two days, and to bring it back to a boil before serving.
I have always used the three-to-four day theory. The best way of telling if stock is still good is to smell it. It will definitely smell bad. If you’re still unsure, take a little taste. If the stock tastes a little “off’, then you should not use it. Another precaution is to bring the stock to a rolling boil for a few minutes. That will kill any bacteria left in the stock. You need something to cool the stock down quickly. I find that filling a tight fitting plastic container, such as Rubber Maid or Tupperware, with ice and dropping it in the middle of the stock helps. You can also set it in a sink partly filled with cold water and ice. As soon as it is cool enough, set the stock pot in the refrigerator.
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.