Dear Barbara: I’m having trouble with pancakes not being done. I wait until there are bubbles on the top of the pancakes and then I flip them. They are still pale and raw looking. What am I doing wrong? — Angie from Lodi
Dear Angie: When you see the bubbles come up, you need to wait until they stay. If they appear and then go away, the pancake is not done. Also, it is best to use a skillet that is not much bigger than the heating element. If it is too big, the pancakes on the outer edge won’t cook as fast because of uneven heat.
Dear Barbara: My co-worker said that she bought frozen chicken and it was in her car. She planned to run some errands after work and said she would just put the chicken in the back window and it would be thawed by the time she got home. I told her that would be a breeding ground for bacteria and she told me as long as the center was cold, it would be fine. I’m writing to you to prove a point. I know she reads your column, so what do you think about that? Won’t the bacteria grow even though the middle is still cold or frozen? — Julia from Lodi
Dear Julia: Do yourself a favor and turn down any invitation you might receive to have dinner at her house!
The reason they say not to thaw meat on your counter top (or car window) is because meat thaws from the outside in. You are then giving the bacteria time to multiply on the outside of the meat. You can, however, put the meat in an air tight container or wrap it well in plastic wrap and thaw it in ice cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the meat has thawed. I hope she understands about thawing meat out of the refrigerator. I would certainly hate to see someone get salmonella poisoning just because she didn’t know!
Dear Barbara: How do you know if a flower is OK to eat? — Lydia from Acampo
Dear Lydia: There are something like 42 edible flowers. Don’t buy them from a flower shop or supermarket. Those tend to be treated with pesticides. However, you can buy them at the farmers market, which saves a lot of time and they are perfectly OK to eat.
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.