Dear Sara:

I read your recipe for No-Knead French Bread and am curious about the bread trough. I thought those were wooden bowls to knead dough, not something to put in the oven. Could you please clarify this for me? I am anxious to try the recipe. -- Mary, Arizona

Dear Mary:

There are wooden bowls used for bread dough (for kneading and rising) that are called troughs. They come in varying sizes and many antique troughs are collectible for home decor. There are also French bread/baguette pans that have troughs, too. The pan helps French bread hold its shape, offers ventilation (some swear it makes all the difference for the crust) and allows the baker to bake multiple loaves at a time. These pans are typically non-stick and perforated. You can find them at stores such as Williams-Sonoma or on for $15-30.

Dear Sara:

Someone gave us a gallon-size can of chili sauce and I have no idea what to do with it once opened. Any ideas would be appreciated. -- D.M., Virginia

Dear D.M.:

You can open it and transfer it to freezer storage bags, so it's in smaller portions. Use it in spaghetti sauce, chili, sloppy joes, for shrimp cocktail sauce, on top of meatloaf, as a meat marinade, or in homemade salad dressing, to name a few ideas.

Dear Sara:

I have a question about cleaning the dishwasher. There's a persistent idea on the Internet that you can clean your dishwasher by running it empty with two packs of lemon Kool-Aid. That seems unlikely to me. If it's a matter of acidity, surely vinegar would be more effective. Have you tried the Kool-Aid thing? If so, how did it turn out? If not, how do you clean the inside of your dishwasher? -- R.N., Florida

Dear R.N.:

Citric acid works well to clean dishwashers. Many of my readers fill the soap dispenser with either powdered Tang or lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid and run a full cycle. Lemi Shine dishwasher detergent additive works well, too. I remove the racks and use a green 3M Scotch-Brite pad and an old toothbrush to scrub around the seal/gasket and drain, and to clean the interior walls. I use regular liquid dishwashing soap in hot water, then rinse. Then I clean the interior with bleach and follow up with another rinse. I pour vinegar in the dishwasher and let it run on a hot cycle.

Dear Sara:

I somehow wound up with about 8 ounces each of candied pineapple and candied red and green cherries. They're not fresh or dried; they're the really sticky kind that goes in fruitcake. Any ideas how I can use these without making fruitcake? -- Jo S., email

Dear Jo S.:

I'd make candied fruit cookies or biscotti. But fruitcake can be quite delicious when homemade -- not at all like the type you see in the stores during the holidays. (No offense to those folks who love that kind.) Here's a good recipe that's more breadlike:

photo by joyosity