wooden spoons

photo by southern foodways alliance
DEAR SARA: I bought a bunch of wooden spoons at the thrift store the other day, but I'm not sure how safe it is to use them. I mean, if I run them through the dishwasher, they should be OK, right? Or should I just toss them? -- Nishu, Washington

DEAR NISHU: I would use them to stir nonfood items, such as paint. You don't really know how they were used before you brought them home. I'd prefer you used them in the garden or for crafts rather than for food.

DEAR SARA: How do you store your fresh bread after it's baked? Do you use old bread bags or what? I'm going to make a sandwich-bread recipe that makes three loaves. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. -- Gail, Ohio

DEAR GAIL: I would cut it into slices and freeze the amount I wouldn't consume in a day. For the bread that you don't freeze and plan to eat the same day, you can place it in a paper bag or simply wrap a kitchen towel around it.

How do you store your home baked bread?
DEAR SARA: Other than reusing baggies and foil, how do you cut down on the cost of these items? I feel as if I am nickeled and dimed to death with these products. I can't stand another plastic container in my house, so that won't work. --Sandy, e-mail

DEAR SANDY: I have containers that are versatile. They can go from oven, stove top, or microwave to refrigerator or freezer. I have a set of Nouveau cookware by Princess House that I've had for over 10 years. They are easy to clean. Anchor Hocking makes Bake 'N Keep containers that are similar to the refrigerator sets from the 1930s. CorningWare makes excellent glass bakeware such as their Pop-ins line, too. Check individual packaging for the temperature guidelines to fit your storage needs.

Weird question. Can I freeze celery? -- Holly, New York

DEAR HOLLY: Yes, you can freeze it. You can slice into smaller sections, blanch it for three minutes and place it into a freezer storage bag or container. Because celery contains a lot of moisture, consider freezing it on a tray and then transferring it to your freezer container. Blanching isn't absolutely necessary. You can place it into the freezer raw. It will lose its crispness whichever freezing method you choose, but it will still be good for cooking.

DEAR SARA: I have a salad-dressing question. My neighbor just gave us a gallon of Thousand Island Dressing. What the heck can I do with Thousand Island Dressing besides salads? I really don't want to eat that much salad in the near future. -- Kimberly, Oklahoma

DEAR KIMBERLY: It's great on burgers, Reubens, seafood and for chicken and turkey sandwiches. Or divide it up into smaller containers and share it with friends and family. A gallon is an awful lot to try to consume without wasting any.