Free Range on Food: Why you should learn to cut up a whole chicken, the 50th anniversary of community cookbook 'Talk About Good!' and more.

Aug 16, 2017

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Good afternoon, Free Rangers!


We're running lean today. Editor Joe is on vacation and Deputy Editor Bonnie is spending the entire day getting educated on, well, stuff I don't understand.


BUT we have lots of guests to fill their shoes. We have former Post staffer Marie Elizabeth Oliver to answer q's about her heartfelt and deeply reported story on "Talk About Good," one of the best-selling community cookbooks of all time. (We also have a copy of the cookbook to give away for the chatter with the best question about the volume.)


We also plan to have Brian Patterson, chef-instructor at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, and Daniel Salatin, operations manager for Polyface Farms, to talk about Bonnie's story on how breaking down your own chickens could save you hundreds of dollars a year.


Finally, we can also discuss Maura Judkis's story about a Berkeley, Calif., hot dog shop employee who resigned after Twitter outed his presence at the Unite the Right rally last weekend in Charlottesville.


For you Post Pointers: Today's code is FR6011. You'll need to record and enter it at the Post Points site under Claim My Points to -- you guessed it! -- earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter it by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to get credit for participating.  



The other cookbook we're giving away today is "Delicieux: The Recipes of France," by Gabriel Gate, which is featured in this week's Dinner in Minutes.


So let's get this thing started!

Hi, I noticed you're going to discuss the Louisiana Junior League cookbook "Talk About Good," but there's a Junior League cookbook much closer to home, and that's "Virginia Hospitality," first published in 1975, I believe, by the Junior League of Hampton Roads, Virginia. It's a historical treasure, and every recipe in it is great.

Hi, Thanks so much for the recommendation! When I was researching this story, I became fascinated with how much these cookbooks have impacted food culture around the country and kept recipes and food traditions alive that may have otherwise been lost. When I spoke with the Junior League International, their spokeswoman mentioned that although these types of cookbooks as fundraisers have decreased in popularity over the years, the ones still around have a cult following. I think one of the women I interviewed in the story said it best: "When you get someone's grandmother's best recipes, you know it's going to be good."

I used to bake a lot of homemade bread, adding wheat gluten (which I purchased at the local outlet of a major health food chain) to all-purpose flour in order to create a bread flour. I got out of the habit of making bread for a while, but resumed this past winter; luckily I still had a partial box of wheat gluten in the fridge, which was still good. Now that I've used it all up, I went to buy some more at the same health food store, where I was informed that they no longer sell it, but would I like to buy some gluten-free foods? Uh no, I want more gluten, not less. My local major supermarket chain also does not sell wheat gluten. So apparently my most convenient source will be need to be online ordering. Can you recommend some reliable online sources?

Where are you and what stores, may I ask? Locally I've seen it at Whole Foods on P Street NW and Yes Organic on Georgia Ave. NW. But curiously, when I called both stores ahead to ask if they had it, they said no. It was right by all the specialty flours, though.

As for online ordering, Amazon has it, of course, but you could order direct from Bob's Red Mill. I also like the selection from Barry Farm Foods (their site is a little, um, 90s/early 2000s looking, but they're reliable.)

Your article inspired me to give this a shot (once the kids are back in school.) However, I generally buy chickens directly from a local farm. (Polyface was a fave when we lived in NoVa.) These typically come frozen, so can I refreeze the pieces after cutting? If not, can you recommend some freezer-friendly recipes for the various parts?

If you make a braise or a stew or a soup, that will freeze well!  Refreezing raw meat will make it tired--tough and dry.  

You can refreeze birds after cutting up.  just make sure the bags you use are tight.  Less air the better.  The other idea is to use the whole bird for different meals over a week.  The bird and its parts will last a full week in fridge.

I never knew chicken came in parts!!! My parents always bought whole chickens. Then we raised chickens. I can't tell you how old I was when I learned how to cut up a chicken. When I moved out I still bought whole chickens and cut them up. Cheaper and a lot of uses for a single person chicken salad, fried, roasted, soup, etc.


--- a chicken, that is. This method ends up with boneless breasts. Is there a way to remove the breasts on the bone? Thanks.

Do you mean that you want the two breasts still on the whole rib cage?  If so then its pretty straight forward:  once you remove the legs and thighs, just put the tip of the knife in the arm pit--or "wing pit" of the chicken and cut through the rib cage, from head end to tail end.  The breast will easily away from the back, with the keel bone and rib cage still attached.  Roasting the breast this way will keep it more moist and flavorful.  

After all the talk of harissa last week, I've got a new favorite snack - harissa with tuna, olives, cilantro and pistachios. I'd never thought of putting harissa with canned tuna before the chat - thanks a ton for all the awesome food inspiration over the years!

I've been making a lot of ice cream lately, just because. I made the WaPo recipe for Baklava ice cream and the cinnamon stick gave it a different, almost "liquored up" flavor. Does the flavor of cinnamon sticks vary from brand to brand? It's something I've never thought about until now. I used Swad brand sticks from an indian grocery.

Cassia cinnamon (the one that rolls up like a scroll) is milder that true Indian cinnamon (which is more quill like).

What's up with the WaPo Food section of the website? I wanted to catch up on the food articles before the chat today, but despite continuous scrolling, I keep reaching an error about no more content and the only content I can view is from yesterday on. :(

Thanks for alerting us! We'll pass along the message and get it fixed. 

Every article particularly great today. Yours is the only part of the paper that can make me cry happy tears, unlike the ones I seem to be shedding over the rest of the news. I especially loved the piece on Talk about Good. If only we could Parle le bon

Thank you! Joe and Bonnie consistently put together amazing sections every week.

to meat in a whole chicken? Yes, I know the other bits are useful. Really, I do. But if I am trying to figure out what I need to buy to get 3 or 4 ounces of meat to put on a lunch salad I bring from home, I do need to know. I get about 15 ounces out of a small rotisserie chicken from a market (that includes a little snacking around the legs since that is usually already dried out a bit). But I bet that the ratio is different on a larger bird. And I'm SURE it is different between a raw and cooked on.

The meat to bone ratio is MUCH better on a large bird.   On a 5 lb bird we get 1.5+ lbs of breast, 1.5 lb of dark meat after deboneing the leg and thigh.  After this, you will still have wings and backs.  When you look at it this way you can plan on a family of 2 getting 4-6 meals per bird.  White meat-2 meals +.  Dark meat 2 meals.  Backs 1 meal (soup or stock of some kind) and wings for fun! 


Question - does the Louisiana cookbook teach you how to make benigets or are those only eaten/prepared in New Orleans? Anecdote - my favorite cookbook from growing up remains the Teatime at the Masters cookbook published by the Augusta Junior League. It is increasingly battered and we've started photocopying pages of family favorite recipes in an effort to keep it from falling apart!

Yes! There are two beignet recipes, one called "New Orleans Doughnuts" and one called "Morning Call Style Doughnuts." One uses frozen bread dough, and I've also known people to use biscuit dough as a shortcut. Inside tip: If you come to visit New Orleans, stop by Morning Call in New Orleans City Park to avoid the lines of Cafe du Monde and eat among the oak trees.

Tea-Time at the Masters was another one of the books that got mentioned while I was reporting this story. It's a classic. So many great community cookbooks out there! I love the idea of taking pictures of the recipes. I might have to try that.

Hi Joe! Made the veggie bagna cauda and loved it! I rated it too :) Even impressed my "Italian" boyfriend who was very skeptical about all the garlic and use of the lemon peel. I do have a question though.... it seemed very oily. There's a good 3/4 inch of olive over my leftover mixture. Is the recipe supposed to be this oily? It seemed pretty excessive. Would I be able to use the extra olive oil to cook with as I would for any recipe that calls for olive oil? Or would it cooking with it again create a burnt flavor? Thanks! Love the weeknight vegetarian column :)

Since Joe's out, I'll weigh in here. It is an oily sauce, but that's how it's supposed to be. (Plus the layer of oil on top helps preserve it -- for up to two months.)

And sure, you could cook with the oil; but maybe its flavors would shine more in salad dressings or drizzled as a finishing oil at the end of cooking/just before serving.

Roasted Broccoli Rabe With Miso Bagna Cauda

RECIPE: Roasted Broccoli Rabe With Miso Bagna Cauda

Some friends are coming over Saturday for a casual dinner. It's that time of year when I almost can't bear to turn on the oven and every single one of my usual dinner party dishes sounds too heavy! Unfortunately I'm in an apartment and don't have a grill or outdoor space. Inspiration or advice please!

Cook your chickens earlier in the day, chill, and toss the cooked meat in an entree salad!

You might have missed it, but in July, we published our annual No Cook Issue to help home cooks prepare a meal without ever turning on the oven.


Some ideas:

RECIPE: Kale and Cashew Pesto With Ciabatta and Heirloom Tomatoes


RECIPE: Flounder Crudo With Marinated Summer Vegetables


RECIPE: Strawberry Air Cakes With Vanilla Ice Cream


RECIPE: Beef Carpaccio Salad With Citrus-Chile Dressing

Loved the piece on breaking up the whole chicken. I fee pretty comfortable with the bird (thanks to many Thanksgivings) but am at a loss when it comes to breaking apart a whole fish. Any tips on how to cook a whole fish and how to filet it?

Sharp, flexible boning knife, and practice!  Flat fish like flounder have a different architecture from round fish like rock fish and salmon.  Just follow the bone with your knife!  

A few years ago, we ran a story on how to fillet a whole fish.


It was titled, well...


STORY: How to fillet a whole fish

Can Daniel talk about the cost savings to consumers who are willing to cut up their whole chickens?

Just chiming in:  when you buy chicken already cut up, you are paying someone else for that service.  You are charged a higher price per pound that for whole chicken.  

but then I'd be stuck with all that white meat ;)

Definitely a conundrum. 

always a use for white meat--could be cooked and used as a filling for those crepes!

hahaha, I love a chatter with a sense of humor!

I've recently been on a Peter Mayle reading binge, a year in Provence, toujours Provence, ( yes I know I'm 20 years late). This has me daydreaming of France and French cooking. What is a simple but quintessentially French dish that I can make at home to satisfy this urge of mine?



Why not make your own bread in honor of Mayle's book, "Confessions of a French Baker"?


RECIPE: Whole-Wheat French Country Bread

The crepe recipe looks delicious! I've never made crepes before. Looks like a good summer recipe instead of heating the oven (which makes my apartment into a furnace). Do you need to sift the flour first so that you don't over-mix in order to make it lump-free like the recipe states? Also, what kind of things would work well as a sub for mushrooms if you wanted to offer a second crepe option for dinner? Thank you!

You could sift if you're really concerned, but whisking/gradually adding the flour does the trick, too.

As for other fillings, try sauteed veggies, leftover ratatouille, leftover roasted chicken, etc., etc. 

During her lunch break, Bonnie adds: "You don't need to sift at all. A whisk and 15 minutes rest does the trick."

I can assure you this is not a lost art in my house - how else would I make chicken soup?

You could buy bones from the butcher, but I get your point!

My husband bought me a fancy ice-cream maker for my birthday, which I have been putting to good use. :) This has left me with lots of leftover whites -- any tips for freezing these? Thank you!

You can freeze them in ice cube trays, then transfer to a zip-top bag for longer storage. Or measure (either by volume or by weight) out the amount you're freezing and store directly in a zip-top bag. Either way, label with the contents/amount  and date the bag (they're good for a year in the freezer). 

When you're ready to use them, defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Avoid defrosting in the microwave, where you'll almost always end up cooking them slightly (yep, done that). 

Here are some recipes to use them in, too:

‘Ugly but Good’ Chunky Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringues

ARTICLE: Oh, what a few extra egg whites can do for dessert

Bonnie: Thank you so very much for the cinnamon roll recipe. I immediately baked a batch the afternoon of last week's chat, to rousing success. I used bread flour only, and I am going to test different icings (I think a cream cheese frosting would compliment the rolls well.) I highly recommend these for anyone in need of comfort food. I hope the recipe makes it into the Recipe Finder soon.

Thanks for reporting back! (Here's the recipe for anyone else interested.)

I have a feeling it will indeed make an appearance in an upcoming photo shoot.

I've tried a few times (going for spatchcocked or bone-on breasts) and had a really hard time with the backbone - I've used shears, a "carving" knife, and my standard chef's knifes. Any tips / tricks for how to make it easier other than just continuing to practice? I've got a long way to go before I'm in the 2-5 minute range...

to split the breast bone so that the whole breast splays out, place the meat side down so the bone side is up facing you, and with the heal of a chef's knife, just tap the thickest part of the sternum near the wish bone to crack that bone.  Should splay out with just a little pressure.  

I had the same problem finding it (to make the Vegan Burger recipe y'all posted from a month or so ago...which was fantastic, BTW!) - ended up at Yes Organic Market for a 22-oz bag of Bob's Red Mill. However, a few days later I was in the back corner of the NoMa Harris Teeter and buried between all the gluten-free items, was, lo and behold, Bob's vital wheat gluten (for a very similar price as was found in Yes). Looking online, I think you can get a larger package of a different brand shipped to your local WalMart for free, for a lower price.

Good to know!

My tomato crop finally showed up. I'm looking for a recipe for a onion, tomato and goat cheese tart. Thanks!

try a tomato and zucchini tart!  with plenty of basil and parmesan cheese!

Use a pre-baked pie shell (flaky dough).  Slice the zucchini very thin and toss with salt, olive oil and basil.  The salt will pull some of the moisture out of the slices of zucchini.  Slice tomatoes thin.  Alternate slices of zucchini and tomato in a dense overlapping patter.  Top with parmesan cheese and bake at 325 for about 20 - 30 minutes.  Serve room temperature.

First of all, I am SOOOOOOO excited about your article on the superiority of the whole chicken over the store purchased cut-up parts. When others see a person in a supermarket picking up a box of skinless boneless chicken breast I see a person standing on the bridge throwing down big bucks. I don't recall when I bought my last box of cut-up chicken. My organic whole chicken costs less than others pay for the cut-up skinless boneless so called "natural" chicken parts, and most importantly it is tastier and presumably better for me. I have been cutting up whole chickens for a very long time. Learned from a French cookbook without pictures. Depending on the knife it takes me 4-15 minutes. Knife is the most important. It does not have to be a famous make or expensive. It has to be truly sharp and a perfect fit for your hand. Pairing knife works for me. Now to "Shame on Bonnie" part. Telling us that Brian Patterson can cut up a whole chicken in 2 minutes, it is like telling us that Pellaprat could butcher a whole cow with a pairing knife in two hours. Brian Patterson is an amazing chef. Years ago in her forward to The Making of a New Cook Kamman calls him "America's best" among the most promising chefs. (For full disclosure I was lucky to have taken classes for non-prophessionals from him. ) What I am trying to say is that for a home cook to expect to cut-up a chicken in 2 minutes is a bit stretched. Nevertheless we should all try. With a sharp knife it will become easier and easier.

Thank you for the kind words!  Keep up the great work!

I realize that Louisiana is a bit different because of its French influence, but how do these (or do they?) Junior League chapters deal with the enormous debt they owe to African-American cooks who were not allowed to be members of their organization?

Great question, and the topic is something I wondered about while researching this piece. I actually came across this article that does a good job of documenting, "A Black History View of the Junior League." Here is a quote from that piece:

While there is no confirmation that any League’s By-laws banned certain ethnic and religious groups, AJLI remained fairly homogenous for almost 80 years. In 1978, diversifying the membership became a priority for The Junior League, with the adoption – despite some attempted dissent from a few groups in Southern states – of a statement by AJLA that they "reach out to women of all races, religions and national origins." As a former, African-American President of The Junior League of San Francisco, Annette Harris, said: "The Junior League is not the all-American, upper-middle-class organization it was, even 30 years ago. The idea of giving back to the community is not just for a particular class."

OP here: I live in a different part of the country, less populous than DC, so fewer retail options here. Will check out the online sources you recommend. Thanks!

Gotcha. Good luck!

Reading about 'Talk about Good!' made me miss home (New Orleans) so much. I can't believe I've never heard of it before. It's making me want to stuff some mirlitons this weekend! What's your favorite recipe from the book?

I love mirlitons, too! As I mention in the story, the gumbo recipe is the one I turn to most often. I'm also a sucker for the biscuits from scratch, made directly on the countertop.

Hi, It was lovely to come across the crepe article & recipe as I was craving pancakes this morning and told myself it was bizarre to think about them when the weather is hot and humid, so I had scrambled eggs instead. Two quick questions about the recipe -- Will unsweetened almond-coconut milk be an acceptable substitute for low-fat (is that 2%?) milk and, please, won't you suggest which herbs to use, and whether to use one or a combination?

I think the milk sub should be fine, provided it doesn't have a really strong flavor (worried about the coconut, but being cut with almond should help).

As far as herbs, try dill, parsley, chives, basil, cilantro, tarragon, a little oregano, a little rosemary...anything you like! Go lighter on the stronger ones (like oregano or rosemary).

Herby Mushroom and Swiss Crepes

RECIPE: Herby Mushroom and Swiss Crepes

I have been looking for a way to cook eggplant beyond parmesan and ratatouille, and have noticed that so many recipes call for salting. I believe this is intended to quell any bitterness... but I have never salted an eggplant and I have never had a bitter eggplant. Is there any other reason to salt? If not, I'll just take my chances that my (many years-long!) lucky streak holds...

I used to be more of a salter--makes the eggplant more absorbent for tomato and olive oil fluids.  But lately I have been roasting the eggplant more and salting less.  

I just don't need the dry and flavorless breast meat. So I buy thighs and backs and stay happy, except I do miss the nice shoulder piece.

I understand.  What kind of birds do you buy that had dry white meat?  The birds we raise on pasture we find to have very nice and moist breast meat.  Give it a try- any thing pastured.  Bound out the breast to about 1" thick.  Put some kind oil (olive, lard) in a pan with some garlic.  Fry until just done- don't over cook.  some of the best ever!  Good luck


I'm not a great cook, but I'm generally competent. However, the fact that I have never, ever cut apart a chicken has been a thorn in my side for years now - one of those things I figured I'd eventually ask mom to show me (like her pickled pumpkin method), but she passed unexpectedly. I just had no idea where/how to start. Thank you for the tutorial - I shall hone my knives and do it this weekend. And figure out what to do with the shredded chicken afterward. I think I'll need a few times to get it right.

Good for you!  Just remember to cut in the "valleys" to hit the joint the best.  "White is right" the joint should be white when you cut though.  Good luck!

The diagrams on cutting up a chicken were accurate in using the term "half=breast" to describe the part being separated. But Brian Patterson's answer in "Breaking it down" was "Do you mean that you want the two breasts still on the whole rib cage?" Every chicken I've ever seen had only one breast on the whole rib cage. Or are there "double breasted" chickens in the breeding pipeline?

Ha!  You are right, we should refer to all the white meat on the bird as the breast.  

2 breasts, 2 tenders.  But you should get 5 servings of white meat.

Loved the article "Talk About Good"! Preserving this culture of "grandma's best recipes" allows those of us who never knew our grandmother but identify with a locale to have a bit of that history, too. It seems to me that these types of cookbooks are more prevalent in the South, did you find that in writing the article? Food is part of our history, a link with all of our family that came before us. Thanks again.

Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. Yes, I did find from the research I did that the Southern Junior League cookbooks (Baton Rouge, Charleston, Augusta, etc.) seemed to have the most staying power. The spokeswoman from the Junior League said that the cookbook fundraisers seemed to be more popular in the south as a whole. I do think it has something to do with the food culture and reverence for tradition.

Was recently at Central and had their Velvet Mojito, which amongst the usual suspects, also has "Velvet Falernum." Went looking for it and I was 0 - 3, and 1 - 3 in that one person knew what I was talking about. Can I make it myself? Or do your resident alcoholics know of a place?

Check Ace Beverage, Batch 13 or Schneider's. It's an old school tiki ingredient but shouldn't be that hard to find these days. If calling, you might try asking for the most common brand, which is still John D. Taylor's -- might help them navigate their database. You can also make your own if you're feeling ambitious!

Me too...until my husband and I both got better-paying jobs, and I started paying for convenience. I can't tell you the struggle with my conscience the first time I bought a package of chicken parts, and the first time I bought cut-up salad mix from the supermarket salad bar! I tend to go for whole chickens these days, though, since we are near a farm that raises them free-range, so I roast the whole thing right away and then strip and package the meat for the freezer (and of course make stock from the carcass).

You are doing it right!

Spatchcoked a turkey and slow cooked it on the Barbie. Question: when I do chicken I have no problem pressing on the breast bone to flatten it out. But that Turkey was another bird altogether. I ended up cooking on one side and flipping to the other (tore my skin!). Any secret for flattening out the bird so I can cook it skin side up? What I ended up with was delicious, crispy skin, tender bird.

With the breast side down and the center of the rib cage facing up, just tap the center of the sternum (keel bone) with a heavy chef's knife to help split that bone and splay out the meat of the breast.  

I've seen it at Shoppers Food Warehouse and other places, in the baking aisle. But why not just buy bread flour? You can get Harvest King/Better for Bread or whatever they call it now at most grocery stores, and you can get King Arthur Bread Flour at lots and lots of them.

I prefer the straight gluten because I have limited pantry space; easier to add gluten as needed when I'm making bread and the like, ya know? But sure, if you have room, buy all the flours!

This is more of a comment than a question. I typically scan through the recipes before reading the articles and immediately noticed the recipe for Butter Dips. I have a smallerized version of this exact recipe which I bake in either an 8X8 pan or a 8 or 9 inch cake pan depending on how I feel like shaping the dough. Until this morning, I thought it came from the recipes I pulled from my mother's Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, but it's definitely not there. (I have the 50th anniversary edition thanks to my kids.) Now, I'm thinking it came from a community cookbook that my maternal grandmother's Byzantine Catholic church in Homestead used to put out. Interesting how recipes circulate and take on a life of their own in the community cookbooks. Probably an academic paper on popular culture in there somewhere.

You might find this piece on the Library of Congress blog interesting. Alison Kelly, one of the women I interviewed for the story, researches community cookbooks in the library's archive and has found so many fascinating cultural nuggets!

I got a hankering for fresh peach pie, to use up some of the trimmable but ripe local peach seconds I got for a song from my farmers' market. But I didn't feel like going through the rigamarole of making crust (including having to wait while it chilled, then the mess of rolling out crusts). So instead I made a batch of the standard oatmeal-based topping that goes on Apple Crisp (minus the cinnamon and nutmeg I add). I added a bit more flour but a bit less sugar to the peaches than I use for apples, and baked until done. So easy! Why didn't I ever think of this before??? Yummmm!

Also try a cobbler or johnny cake; slice fruit, dress with sugar and a pinch of spice or splash of booze, place in a butter baking dish, and top with  a thin layer of  biscuit dough and bake!  Finish with sugar!

Annie Wilderman's lament about the wasted chicken backs and necks suggests that she is not from a family of crabbers. The backs and necks are traditional crab bait. And for anyone who makes their own consummé, they are a great source of flavor.

All the backs and necks should be used to make stock!  We buy 100 lbs of backs and necks once a week here at school to produce stock.  Once you start using your own home made chicken stock you will never go back to box stock or bouillon cubes in your cooking!

How common are other southern "staple" recipes in Acadiana cooking? Like pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and all? Is Louisiana cooking closer to classic French? Or maybe a fusion of both? What is your favorite recipe (the gumbo you mentioned on a cold Mid-Western night)?

Cajun food is distinct from any other place in the South, even nearby New Orleans! For example, I once tried to get a recommendation for a recipe for shrimp and grits, and called around to my mom, aunts, mother-in-law, no luck! They had never made it before. Things like gumbo, stews, rice and gravy, are more Cajun staples. That's not to say people don't cook or use other ingredients. And yes, gumbo is definitely my weakness, although I do love a good smothered chicken rice and gravy.

For decades, we've fed our dogs the giblets, in particular the gizzards and hearts. That is, we fed them the ones we were not using for gravy or stuffing. Years ago, a visitor from England was scandalized when he saw me feeding the dog gizzards (gizzards bought for that purpose). He commented rather tartly "Those are people food". Ever since then, I've used the broth from cooking the frozen gizzards (with its assortment of little pieces), a bay leaf and a bit of thyme for preparing my rice. Yummy.

we confit the gizzards:  cure them overnight with a little salt and aromatics, then immerse them in either rendered duck fat or chicken fat and cook them very low and slow until they are buttery tender!

Is there such a thing? Yes, most of us use cassia, which is not true cinnamon. But true cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, which the residents of that country will be happy to inform you is not part of India.

I appreciate the distinction, and I agree that most true cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, but my sources say not to the exclusion of Southern India.  

King Arthur Flour is the treasure trove of all baking ingredients. They sell plenty of extra gluten!

Can't believe I left them out! Of course they have vital wheat gluten.

Is there a quiche recipe I can make without a pie crust? Is that a thing? I'm planning to make a quiche for the savory dish at a brunch I'm hosting this weekend but I'd like it to be on the lighter side ... no crust would be appreciated. (I think everything in the recipe finder had a pie crust of some sort - I'm happy to be wrong though)

crustless quiche is basically a savory custard, and there is plenty to like about that!

Crustless quiche = frittata in my books. 

Farmers Market Frittata

RECIPE: Farmers Market Frittata

Persian Zucchini Frittata

RECIPE: Persian Zucchini Frittata

I had to freeze a quart of heavy cream while I went away for a few weeks. I am now defrosting it in the fridge, but I realize it will probably be slightly changed after being frozen. I usually make ice cream, but maybe it's no longer good for that? Any other ideas for frozen and defrosted heavy cream?

make butter

What can I substitute for gelatin in a pudding tart recipe? I don't know the conversion for "sheets" of gelatin to another substance? (As an aside, I really hate when restaurants don't think of gelatin in their desserts as containing meat products!)



I find a difference in cutting up "free range" birds from different stores. Some are way more fatty than others. Am I really getting "free range". Can you recommend a good brand to purchase. We have decided to grow our own so we know what we are getting, just waiting on them to get to size

Great Q!  There is a very big difference and the amount and color of the fat tells a LOT about how the bird was raised!  Remember that "free range" dose not mean pastured!   If you are looking for bird that has been outside on daily moved pasture you will see that fat never being white but more of a yellow.  It should have very little to no fat under the skin around the breast if it's pastured.  The other way to tell is to FB search "glasswalls" or chicken shift.  to see video of good movement.  You are picking up on something that most miss.  Good job

Every November, my local grocery store gives a free turkey up to 14 lbs. to anyone who spends $300 in the previous six weeks. For the past several years, I've been cutting up the turkey, so it will roast faster, and I can take the thighs and breasts out of the oven at separate times. I don't spatchcock, I leave the two sides of the breasts attached to the backbone. I use a thin bladed, 4" very sharp knife.

Look for 'vital wheat gluten' in whole foods and some supermarkets. You add 1 tablespoon for each cup of all-purpose flour to mimic bread flour. It is definitely available.

I've signed up for the automatic email alert from the WaPo Food section, which comes a few times a week -- love it!

Glad to hear it!

I almost didn't read the story, because my experiences with community cookbooks have been very disappointing. I think it's mainly due to lack of curation, which is probably based on not wanting any contributor to have hurt feelings; but every one of those books have had huge numbers of recipes that consist of combining a can of this and a box of that. I buy one to support the group, but then toss it into a donations bin. Having said that, I'm glad I read the story! This sounds like the recipes are authentic and start with actual ingredients and have been refined through the years. How wonderful!

Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad your read the story!

and churches and bowling leagues. I still mourn my parents' lost copy of the Kol Emeth (Palo Alto) cookbook from the 60s that had unmodernized but superb California Jewish cooking from just before the culinary revolution took hold.

Grew up in North Dakota and own some old and very unique community cookbooks that were put together by small towns, frequently related families. And my MN grandma's Swedish Lutheran church's cookbook from waaay back when is wonderful

They make wonderful manicotti (topped with either marinara or bechamel sauce).

I have a copy of the small town women's group fundraising cookbook from the late 80s. Some fun recipes, but delightful, too, for what was considered daring at the time, the snarky/smarmy comments from contributors, and the coupons from local businesses. I haven't been daring enough to see if they'll still accept them.


The cookbook from the Mississippi Junior League, "Southern Sideboards," is almost a requirement in my extended family. In fact, when my brother married a local woman when he was in the Peace Corps, my aunt gave them a copy for a wedding present just make sure the new bride would be on board. Several of the recipes are "grandma's best," but you can also tell (sometimes because it's acknowledged out loud in the credits) that they're "grandma's African-American cook's best." Damned good cookbook, regardless. Where else am I going to learn how to make dove gumbo for a hundred?

Brian's answer had him cutting on the wrong side of the chicke. The question is, is there an easy to cut down the BACK bone, not the sternum.

As far as cutting down the BACK of the chicken, you will need a heavy duty chef's knife or a small cleaver to "cleave" the rib bones from the spine.  

Can't resist the opportunity to tell you about my favorite community cookbook -- The World Cookbook, published by the National Republican Heritage Groups Council in 1972. It featured recipes submitted by members of Congress and their wives. My favorites included a recipe for fruit jello -- which consisted of stirring the contents of a can of fruit salad into a bowl of still-liquid Jello (I've forgotten which flavor) -- and a recipe that used peanuts and included the instruction, "wipe salt off peanuts" because the peanuts would, of course, come from a can of "cocktail peanuts." Also, the "heritage" was all European.

"The Times and Tastes of Culpeper Cookbook" includes historical as well as contemporary Virginia recipes.

Thanks for that!

When we travel, I rarely buy a souvenir except for a community cookbook. I have them from church groups, junior leagues, etc. The question is to whom should I pass them on to? No one in the family would be interested.

Maybe donate them to the local library for historical purposes?

Well, you've picked us apart today, which means we're done.


Thank you to Marie Elizabeth, Daniel, Brian and Carrie for their time and terrific answers.


For the cookbook giveaways, the chatter who asked about the African-American influence on Junior League cookbooks gets a copy of "Talk About Good." And the chatter who asked about sifting the flour in the crepe recipe earns a copy of "Delicieux: The Recipes of France."


Please provide your contact information to Kara Elder at, and she'll send you your cookbooks.

In This Chat
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Marie Elizabeth Oliver
Marie Elizabeth Oliver, a former Washington Post staff member, is a writer, editor and award-winning digital journalist based in New Orleans.
Daniel Salatin
Daniel Salatin is the operations manager for Polyface Farms in Swoope, Va.
Brian Patterson
Brian Patterson is the director of the culinary arts program and a chef-instructor at L’Academie de Cuisine.
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