Question: Is it possible to transform granulated white sugar into brown sugar?
Answer: To make the equivalent of one-half cup of brown sugar, blend one-half cup granulated white sugar and two tablespoons unsulfured molasses. It is preferable to make the mixture as needed. If the brown sugar is to be combined with other ingredients, it's not necessary to pre-blend the granulated sugar and molasses.
Q: Can you tell me how much salt there is in one stick of butter?
A: There is about half a teaspoon salt in a stick (quarter-pound) of butter says Marlene Sorosky in her book "The Dessert Lover's Cookbook" (Harper & Row: $22.50, 1985).
Q: The recipe you printed for El Torito's fajitas calls for achiote powder. I cannot find this anywhere. Can you tell me where I can obtain it or what I can substitute?
A: Achiote powder is available at Central Bulk Foods, Stall C-12, Grand Central Market, 315 S. Broadway, Los Angeles. Spokesman Ben Weinman tells us paprika may be substituted for achiote powder.
Q: I grow Concord grapes and would like to make them into juice, but I don't have a press or extractor and do not want to buy one. Can you advise me how to prepare the grapes for juice without these devices?
A: The following recipe, adapted from "Better Than Store-Bought" by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie (Harper & Row: 1979), is "an old-fashioned method for obtaining a great deal of juice from few grapes, with no work involved aside from the final processing."
CONCORD GRAPE JUICE
Ripe concord grapes
Wash and stem grapes. Place 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups grapes in clean 1-quart canning jars. Add 1/2 cup sugar. Add boiling water to within 1/2 inch of rims of jars. Cover jars with lids and screw bands down firmly by hand.
Place jars in boiling water bath canner rack and carefully lower into canner filled with boiling water. Add boiling water, if necessary, so water is 1 to 2 inches over top of jars. Begin counting processing time at point that rolling boil begins. Process 10 minutes.
Remove jars and allow to cool. Store in dark place at least 2 weeks. Strain juice and serve chilled.
In response to the Oct. 16 You Asked About . . . column on finding baking soda in Germany, both H. Alami of Los Angeles and R. North of Alhambra tell us the German equivalent is natrium-bikarbonat, sometimes referred to just as natrium.