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When is ‘convection bake’ a better idea than the standard setting? 

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Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 2:39 pm

Dear Barbara: My oven has “convection bake” and “regular bake” features. When should I use convection bake and when should I use regular bake? I’m not really sure! — Tricia from Elk Grove

Dear Tricia: I’m so jealous of those who have convection features on their oven! I don’t have one, but I know quite a few people that do. Most say they use it for almost everything.

Since it circulates the warm air surrounding the food, it cooks faster by about 25 to 33 percent and much more evenly, sealing in the natural juices. My convection-savvy friends did suggest you turn the temperature down about 25 degrees.

It is not recommended for long, slow cooking, such as braising. You would not want to use it for deep roasting pans, or anything that you are going to cook covered. Being that the air needs to circulate around the food, it would defeat the purpose if the food were to be covered.

Dear Barbara: I brined and smoked a turkey for the holidays. It was wonderful, but I only wanted to use the breast meat. Since I didn’t have time to remove the dark meat, I put the whole thing, including the roasting pan into a new garbage bag, and set it in the outdoor freezer to get it out of the way. Now I want to remove the rest of the meat but I’m not sure if it is still good. I have never done that before. Do you think that it is still OK? — Lydia from Lodi

Dear Lydia: You didn’t have it protected enough, or wrapped tight enough to store it for any length of time, but it has only been a few weeks, and you did have it sealed loosely in plastic.

When you thaw the turkey and take the meat off the bone, I would suggest using it within a few days. Refreezing the meat is definitely not recommended.

Dear Barbara: I drink huge amounts of coffee. I have decided to switch to tea, specifically green tea, because of all the health benefits. Since I am not used to having tea on hand, what is the best way to store it? — Larry from Galt

Dear Larry: I can’t give up my coffee, but I do enjoy a nice cup of tea once in a while.

According to davidhayden.com, tea needs to be purchased in small amounts, especially green tea. Even properly stored, most experts recommend using green tea within six months for the best taste.

Ideally, green tea should be stored in an opaque, airtight container such as metal, ceramic or even wood, as long as it is airtight. Store the container in a cool, dark place, away from any smells that can permeate the green tea leaves. Be sure and use a container that hasn’t had any other tea stored in it, or it can alter the flavor of your tea.

Dear Barbara: My family had a late holiday get together this week, and I seem to have an abundance of eggnog left over. Is there anything I can use it for? I hate to throw it out when it is perfectly good. — April from Lodi

Dear April: Eggnog makes great French toast! Just soak the bread in it and cook it the usual way. Also, a good quality eggnog has all the ingredients already in it to make great ice cream. Just pour it into your electric ice cream maker and you’re done!

Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at bdspitzer@comcast.net. Please include your first name and city.

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