Question: What is tamari and where I can purchase it? During the past month I have found several recipes calling for this ingredient, but my grocery stores don't have it.
Answer: Tamari is a thick, unrefined, yet mellow-flavored soy sauce. It should be available in health food stores.
Q: I have a recipe for marinated lamb that my husband likes to prepare grilled. It's best if marinated for 48 hours. Is it safe to do this in a cool, not refrigerated, place?
A: It is recommended that foods be marinated in the refrigerator not at room temperature. Food should never be held between 40 degrees and 140 degrees for more than two hours, including the time for preparation and serving. Between these temperatures bacteria grows rapidly and some may produce toxins.
Q: I recently purchased two cast-iron corn-stick pans. Does anything special have to be done to the pans before I use them for baking?
A: Before using, cast-iron cookware needs to be seasoned to prevent rust and to keep foods from sticking. Begin by washing the pans with mild, soapy water and a stiff brush, then rinse and dry thoroughly. Rub a thin layer of oil over the entire surface of the pans. Place both in the oven and bake at 325 degrees 1 hour. Turn off the oven heat but keep the door closed and allow the pans to cool to room temperature inside the oven.
Cast-iron cookware will continue to turn black with use and the pores of the iron will be sealed. After each use pans should be washed, rinsed and dried. Never scour or put the pans in a dishwasher. Always apply a thin coating of oil to the cooking surface before storage.
Q: A recent column on making kefir called for kefir culture. I have contacted six health food stores and so far none have it. Can you be a bit more specific?
A: You misunderstood. The recipe called for commercially prepared kefir, which is used as a kefir starter. It is available at health food stores.
Q: How does one make homemade yogurt?
A: The following recipe comes from the "Better Homes and Gardens Golden Treasury of Cooking" (Meredith Corp., 1973):
"Heat two cups skim milk to just below boiling point (200 degrees). Cool to 115 degrees. Place two tablespoons plain yogurt in mixing bowl; blend in warm milk. Put two tablespoons mixture in a custard cup to use in place of plain yogurt as a starter next time. (To make fruited yogurt: add one-quarter cup crushed fresh or frozen fruit and two tablespoons sugar to mixture after removing starter.) Cover the yogurt and starter with clear plastic wrap and a towel. Place in bowl of warm water (115 degrees). Let the yogurt stand till firm when shaken gently, six to eight hours for plain, three to five hours for fruited. Change the water occasionally, keeping the temperature constant at about 115 degrees. Chill yogurt and starter. Makes two cups."