Question: Do you have any suggestions on what to use for beef and chicken stocks other than making them from scratch? In recipes calling for stock or water, I'd like to use stock without having to make it from scratch.
Answer: Canned varieties of these stocks, as well as bouillon cubes and granules, which are reconstituted with boiling water, are available in supermarket soup sections. A line of frozen stocks, marketed under the name Perfect Addition, can also be found at Bristol Farms Markets, Gelson's Markets, Irvine Ranch Farmers Markets, Vons Pavilions, selected Hughes Markets and Howie's Ranch Markets in the San Gabriel Valley.
Q: Many cocktails call for orgeat or almond-flavored syrup. I would like to know where it can be purchased.
A: Trader Vic's Food Products Inc. produces an orgeat syrup that is available at all Vendome Liquor and Wine shops, as well as other liquor stores around the Southland.
Q: I have been searching the supermarkets for the last several months looking for Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crusts. I cannot find them any longer. Have they stopped making them?
A: The local office of Pillsbury informs us that the company still produces the piecrusts, but unfortunately they are not distributed in Southern California.
Q: Where can I get casings to make sausages? I have asked in every market that I go to, but no one seems to know. Surely there must be somewhere in the Los Angeles area to buy them.
A: Casings are available, although sometimes they must be ordered a day or so in advance. The meat counters at Grand Central Public Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, almost always have casings available. Irvine Ranch Farmers Markets will order them for you. Gelson's Markets in general have casings on hand, but if you need a large quantity it's best to order them ahead of time. We also called several meat markets around town and found they either had the casings on hand or could order them.
Q: I was sent a can of cream of coconut, about the size of a soft drink can, for a special cake. I want to make the cake again, but have been unable to purchase the cream of coconut in my area. Can you please help?
A: Cream of coconut is marketed under several brand names and is often found in the liquor department of supermarkets or at liquor stores.
Q: Other than for frosting, how can powdered sugar be used instead of granulated sugar?
A: Do not try to substitute powdered sugar for granulated sugar in baking, warn Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker in "Joy of Cooking" (Bobbs-Merrill: 1986). However, in other uses, substitute 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar for 1 cup granulated.