Substituting ingredients; how soon to use leftovers

When Chef Damian Lehman of the Wichita Country Club described the menu he would be teaching with the fresh flavors of spring, it sounded fabulous, right down to the fava beans.

But secretly, I was glad he was doing the favas, not me. I learned a lot about fava beans last season. With a recipe in hand, I headed to a supermarket to purchase them. The first obstacle was finding them; I found no frozen ones and learned fresh favas are highly seasonal. I finally found some at a large supermarket.

I selected the beans carefully and placed them in a plastic bag. Weighing in at $3.99 a pound, they came to a whopping $13.59. It seemed a little pricey for beans, but I just knew they would be delicious.

Once home, I shelled them and ended up with an enormous pile of empty pods and a scant two cups of beans. The pods went into the compost; the beans into a pot of boiling water to be blanched for 2 minutes, then refreshed in ice water.

At that point, most vegetables are ready to be seasoned and finished, but not fava beans. Fava beans must be peeled. Yes, peeled. I had never peeled a bean before in my life. The outside skin slipped off, and inside was a bright emerald jewel.

To my dismay, my two cups of beans had shrunk to one cup. The recipe turned out fine, and the learning experience was invaluable. I discovered that fresh favas are expensive and highly labor intensive. In future recipes, I might just substitute frozen baby limas.

Our first question today has to do with substituting ingredients.

Sometime recipes call for buttermilk. I seldom have buttermilk and am wondering if milk will work as well?

Buttermilk is often used in baked goods such as cakes, biscuits and waffles. You can use milk but will need to add an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice. To each cup of milk, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar. You will be missing some of the tangy flavor associated with buttermilk, but will have an acceptable product.

When eating out, I often take home part of my meal to have later. I always refrigerate it but sometimes don't eat it right away. How long can leftovers be stored in the refrigerator and still be safe to eat?

The general rule is five days for most foods. Refrigeration slows down bacterial growth but does not necessarily stop it. Foods should be reheated to 165 degrees and held there for at least 15 seconds before consumption.

I often make my own salad dressings. How long will homemade vinaigrette keep in the refrigerator?

It will depend on the ingredients you use. If it is basically oil and vinegar, it will keep several weeks, because both ingredients are stable. However, if you are adding fresh herbs or other fresh ingredients, plan to use the dressing within a week.