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A&E >  Food

Is self-rising flour good to keep on hand? When to get your knives sharpened?

British self-rising (you may also see it as self-raising) flour is different from American self-rising flour.  (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
British self-rising (you may also see it as self-raising) flour is different from American self-rising flour. (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
By Washington Post food staff

Washington Post food staff

The Washington Post food staff recently fielded questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.

I watched a master class episode with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood recently. Mary Berry made a comment about everyone using self-rising flour nowadays. I’ve noticed that on British recipes. Your thoughts? Is it just another bag of flour taking up space in our kitchens? Or is it a good addition?

It’s a little confusing because British self-rising (you may also see it as self-raising) flour is different from American self-rising. Over there, it’s flour and baking powder. Here it’s flour, baking powder and salt, usually with a slightly lower protein content flour. People like the American ones (i.e. White Lily) especially for things like biscuits. If you want a devoted flour for something like that, sure, get self-rising. Otherwise, you can make either version at home as needed.

– Becky Krystal

About two years ago, I treated myself to a Wusthof knife set. They are nothing short of amazing. I am wondering how often you would recommend for having them sharpened by a professional. I still have not had them sharpened. Many thanks!

I get my knife professionally sharpened once a year (I’m very overdue at the moment). I talked to some professional knife sharpeners about when you might need to sharpen your knife; one said “when you’re not happy it” and another said when you’re struggling to cut tomatoes without smooshing them or when you can’t make a good clean cut in chicken skin.

– Kari Sonde

Avocado toast is basically guacamole on toast, no?

You could put guacamole on toast and call it avocado toast if you wanted to. Guacamole tends to have a mix of chopped onion, tomato, lime juice and salt. But there’s so many different ways to mix up your avo mash – a lot of people make that mash just lemon, avo and salt, which is not guacamole. I put a mix of avocado, lime, salt and dry garlic chutney, which is not guacamole.

– K.S.

Is there a trick to clean a garlic press that I haven’t thought of? Whether I peel the cloves, and even though my garlic press supposedly cleans itself with a built-in nubby piece that should force out anything left behind, I always end up having to use a toothpick or finger to pick out a layer of smashed garlic. I often opt to use a knife instead, but the idea of the press tempts me back – and sometimes recipes call for it.

The only thing that consistently works for me is to drop it in some water immediately after using, and let it soak while I do the rest of my cooking and cleaning. Then it usually rinses pretty well.

– Joe Yonan

My kitchen is being remodeled, and I currently have an electric two-burner cooktop, a microwave and a gas grill. How can I use my gas grill as an oven? Is it possible? I’d like to bake some barbecue chicken, not grill it, and is it possible to use the grill to bake cookies?

I’m not extremely experienced with this, but yes, you can use your grill as an oven. The key is to make sure whatever you’re baking is as far away from the heat source as possible (indirect heat, if you’re familiar with that term). So that means only lighting one side of the grill and then putting whatever you plan to bake on the other side (and on a higher grill rack, if there is one). Then from there, just make sure you have a way to monitor the temperature of the grill environment, and you should be good to go.

– Aaron Hutcherson

I noticed there are white spots inside my electric toaster on the sides. Do they matter? Do you ever clean inside your electric toaster? I never thought about it before beyond emptying out the crumbs sometimes. Obviously, I can’t wash/scrub it like I would do with a spoon or pan. BTW, the toaster sits between the blender and the electric kettle, so it may have been exposed to humidity (kettle) or tiny droplets without me noticing.

If it were me, I would file this under “Things that I can’t be bothered with.” Right? Cause what difference do spots inside mean anyhow? I think you’re right, it’s probably just discoloration of the metal, maybe from humidity, but I can’t imagine it really matters.

– J.Y.

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