Dear Barbara: My neighbor lady gave me a bag of “self-rising” flour. I was going to make cookies with it, but I wasn’t sure if that would change the taste of the cookies. The recipe didn’t call for self-rising flour. Are they interchangeable? — Jan from Acampo

Dear Jan: Self-rising flour contains salt and leavening (baking powder). If the recipe called for all-purpose flour, and all you had was self-rising flour, you could have used it by leaving out the salt and the baking powder that the recipe called for since it is already in the flour. If you had a recipe that called for self-rising flour, and you didn’t have any, you can make your own by adding 1 cup of all-purpose flour, plus 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt, and sift them together.

So, basically what I am saying is; they are not interchangeable as sold.

Dear Barbara: I do not have air conditioning where I live. When the weather gets really warm, my chocolate chips start to melt. I have been putting them in the refrigerator, but they get a white-ish color. I am afraid they may have gone bad and perhaps I shouldn’t use them. Any suggestions? — M.D. from Lodi

Dear M.D.: The white-ish coloring that you are describing is called “blooming,” and is caused by the butter fat in the chocolate separating from the chocolate mixture and it comes to the top. Blooming chocolate will not hurt you. The separation happens when the chocolate changes temperature quickly. Feel comfortable to go ahead and use them. They will look and taste just the same as they did originally as soon as they are baked in your recipe. Refrigeration is not the best thing for chocolate, but considering the fact that there is no cool, dark place to store it in your home, I would do just what you did, refrigerate!

Dear Barbara: Is there a difference between sherbet and sorbet? I have always wondered but felt intimida ted to ask. I didn’t want anyone to think that I didn’t know! — No name from Lodi

Dear No name: There is no question in the world that only one person doesn’t understand. If you have that question, so do many more. That is why I write this column.

Sherbet is lighter than ice cream, and usually has fruit juice, sugar, water, and some dairy. It may contain a little milk and/or egg whites.

Sorbet, on the other hand, never contains milk. The consistency of sorbet is a little softer than sherbet. Sorbet and sherbet are very similar, and both are very delicious. Enjoy!

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 Please include your first name and city.

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