Free Range on Food

Sep 14, 2011

Today's topics: What to do with new apple varieties, the magic of boiled cider, and more. With special guest Tony Rosenfeld.

Past Free Range on Food chats

Greetings, folks, and welcome to Free Range! We're autumnal today -- talking about apples and all those great varieties you now see in the markets, and what to do with them; our favorite apple recipes from the archives; and our favorite old/new find: glorious boiled cider.

What's on your mind? Let us know, and let us help. We have special guest Tony "Cook Angel" Rosenfeld in the room to help us answer q's, Jim "I Smell Smoke" Shahin will be joining shortly, and we never know whether Jason "Boozehound" Wilson will make an appearance. Tim Carman is on assignment.

As always, we'll have books to give away to our favorite chatters today. Book identities will remain under wraps until the end of the chat.

Let's do this!

Thanks for the excellent apple resources today. My beloved grandfather's favorite apple was the Macoun & I'm always THRILLED to find them and think of him while munching! aren't they actually an old variety just being rediscovered? also, are they are early season apple?

I'm with you on Macouns. They are my favorite eating apple: sturdy and just sweet enough. As I know it, they are a cross between Macintosh and Jersey Blacks. Wikipedia lists them as first being cultivated in the 1920's in New York. Generally, they are one of the last apples to come to market (mid October), so you'll have to be patient and wait just a bit more!

I'm so excited for the fall! I love apples and root vegetables and soups and falling leaves, sweaters. Hurray!

We feel as you do.

Fall is the best.

Looks great, want to try it. Would it work to double the recipe, or would that just take TOO long to reduce in greater quantity? thanks for the EXCELLENT chats week after week!!

Boiled cider seems to take forever, till you're down to the last half hour or so. If you want to make twice the amount, I'd put two big pots on the stove with a gallon of cider in each.

Hi food lovers, quick question about a weird phenomenon I've experienced with my slow cooker (Rival brand Crockpot, about 8 years old, though I'm not sure that would make a difference). I often make beans in it to freeze for future use - no problems there. But occasionally I've tried to make a soup in it, most recently tomato, and the soup has a...nasty taste. It's hard to describe, but sort of like a burnt, plastic-y flavor. I don't leave the soup in for an overly long. Any idea what could cause this? Should I always be sauteeing onions/garlic on the stove before adding to the pot? Any insight appreciated, as I hate to waste food! Thanks!!

Hmm. Very strange. So this always happens when you make soup, but not when you make other things? And you've noticed it when you've made several different soups, not just the tomato?

What is the best way to feeze basil - or is that not recommended? Is there a better way to preserve it without it turning black? Many thanks!

The best way, as Susan Belsinger wrote last year in a piece all about preserving herbs for the winter, is to combine it with a little oil and make Basil Paste. I do this -- and enjoy basil all winter long.

I love Jonagold apples for snacking (you list them only for cooking/baking). They taste more like the apples of my long-ago youth than any other apple I have tried -- And when I say "long-ago," I mean back when the grocery store only carried one kind of apple, identified simply as "apples." Try sliced Jonagolds with Saint Andre cheese for an amazing treat.

I'm also a huge fan of Jonagolds. Though I've tried apples with most every kind of cheese, I can't say I've tried the pairing with Saint Andre. I definitely will give it a go - maybe this weekend when I'm looking for something to go with wine. Thanks!

What is the best substitute for whole milk if I'm making something that's dairy free? Soy milk? Rice milk? Almond milk? Coconut milk? There's too many choices!

It might depend on your recipe....whole milk's got that fat content going for it, so low-fat coconut milk (almost twice as much fat as the whole milk) might be your closest option. Rice and almond milks contain much less fat.

I bought some ground lamb at the farmers market recently. With the cool weather expected this weekend, I'm in the mood to make a shepherd's pie. I know peas are the usual green vegetable, but I don't like them. Do you think diced zucchini is an acceptable substitute? Since they have a lot of moisture, should I saute them first? I'm thinking of adding some mushrooms too.

Luckily, the goodness a shepherd's pie does not rest on the inclusion of a green veg. I think zucchini would get kinda mushy whether you cooked it or not, and since you'll have all that glorious baked potato mess on top, think about adding carrots instead, or even corn. Could be chopped green beans, if you want that color in there. I'd saute the mushrooms first so they wont be releasing extra moisture into the mix. Key: onions, a bit of thyme, a little Worcestershire sauce. Sometimes I do a mix of sweet potato and Yukon Gold, which makes for a nice color on top. 

I hope I am phrasing this correctly. If a person puts a tablespoon of salt in a home made soup and that tablespoon is 7200 mg of salt and that soup equals 10 servings are you getting 720 mg of salt in each serving? Also, I have had arguments with people who have high blood pressure telling me that it is ok and healthy to use sea salt instead of regular table salt. My theory upon research is that if you have a problem with blood pressure then sea salt, table salt, salt in general is going to contribute to that problem - is this correct?

Your math is correct!

On the sea salt thing, there's the same amount of sodium by weight in sea salt and table salt. The difference is that table salt is more highly processed and sea salt has other minerals in it, traces left from the seawater source. And different sea salts vary more in terms of flavor and texture, because it can be more or less coarse. But in terms of sodium, which is the bugaboo when it comes to high-blood pressure concerns, no diff.

BTW, did you read Tim Carman's interesting take a few months back on his attempt to reduce his sodium intake? Fascinating stuff.

I have a box of apple cider spice packets in my pantry that I didn't use up last year. Do you think these are still good since they're dry?

They should be fine.

Do you need to rinse in water raw chicken or pork before marinading or cooking in oven or barbeque-ing to get off extra bacteria? I always do this, but as I was dousing my sink with clorox I wondered if I have been misguided all these years. Thanks!

I'll give you my cook's (ie: non-scientific) opinion on this one. I generally rinse all chicken, pork that's been in cryovac, and all fish; note, this means that I generally don't touch beef or loose pork chops.  For those things that I do rinse, cleaning these products of the surface bacteria is as much about flavor as it is food safety. It improves the texture and also tends to freshen up the flavor. It's important then to dry  well whatever you've rinsed to ensure that it browns (and not steams) during cooking. Use a wad of paper towels to do the drying. 

This chat was not included on the list of upcoming chats in yesterday's online Post (Tom Sietsema's chat was listed). I'm not positive but it may not have made the weekly line-up either when I looked on Monday. Also, as late as ten-ish last night, clicking on the "Free Range" link brought up last week's discussion and no way to submit a question for today. I thought you were taking a break this week, and am very glad to see you're here! I don't know if this was some sort of tech problem over there, but thought you'd like to know about it ...

Thanks! It was an oversight by our Web team -- but thankfully it was fixed. Thanks for letting us know.

OK guys, several weeks ago I won the book on blood pressure and have sent Tim my information twice to no avail. Just to let you know, you are the only reason I have renewed my subscription to the Washington Post. Thanks

So sorry about this! OK, send your information to our new Food aide, Becky Krystal (Tim moved over to Book World), at, and cc me at We'll get this done!

Oh, do I love apple season! You left out one of my favorite apples from the chart: Blacktwig. That's probably wise, alas; I've noticed them starting to make grocery store appearances, but those versions are so mealy while the orchard ones are celestial. Have you had a good Blacktwig? Also, I hunt obsessively for unpasteurized apple cider each fall, and each season I several faithful spots convert to flash pasteurization. I understand the e. coli concerns, but the difference in flavor is remarkable. Can I ask chatters to report back over the next few months if they source it? I'd be eternally grateful!!

Good, you gave me something new to hunt for myself, because I've never been lucky enough to try a Blacktwig. From your description, I'll defintiely stick with the farmers markets when I go searching. As with cheese and milk, I can attest to the great difference in flavor between ciders that have been pastuerized and those that haven't.

I'm making a German potato salad for an Octoberfest themed dinner in a couple weeks. I'd like it to jazz it up a bit while not straying too far from the original taste, and also not by adding meat. Do you have a good go-to vinegar-based potato salad recipe I could steal?

I love David Hagedorn's version; make it every summer.  He's already taken care of the "jazz" by way of adding smoked Spanish paprika, which also gives it a lovely color.

I ruined a Circulon pot doing a cider reduction. It stained/coated the pot permanently. I'm not sure if it reacted with the anodized aluminum or if it would do that to other pots, such as a light-colored Le Creuset interior. Just a warning. Now the recipe - the recipe was for pan seared scallops served over mesculin greens with this drizzled on top. Lovely! I would think that the reduction would make a really nice base for regular salad dressings as well. Or cocktails. Jason??

I would eat this syrup on a shoe. I've added to a vinaigrette and drizzled it on roasted vegetables already.  If Jason pops in, and given how fond he is of apple brandy, I'd say he'd be up for experimenting.

Bummer about your pot. I  think the enamel-coated Le Creuset would be fine. I used a stainless steel pot for testing.

I was always told as a child that most of the vitamins are in the apple peel, so I should eat it. Do you know if that's true? Or, conversely, is there a reason not to eat the peel? Do any of your recipes include the peel? (I do like it and even like applesauce with the peel left in.)

I think your parents were right. A lot of vitamins (and fiber) are packed into an apple's peel, as they are with tubers like potatoes or the green outer leaves of heads of lettuce.  To prove that your parents weren't just recylcling old wive's tales, check out the difference in the nutritional analysis between skin-on apples and skinless apples.

One of Tony's recipes -- the Spicy Sweet Potato and Apple Hash -- uses unpeeled apples. I'm with you on loving the peel left in applesauce.


Another recipe in our archives that uses the peels: Apple Chips. You could also just leave the peels on in some applications, such as this Roasted Pear-Apple Sauce and Jim's Smoked Applesauce.



I have tried to do many recipes of Puerto Rican bread with no luck. The bread is very soft, a little bit sweet and somewhat dense with a no too thick crust (pan sobao). Are there any recipes out there of a bread similar to this one? Bread, the quintessential food!

Baker Lisa Yockelson says this:

My initial response would be: Why "no luck"? Are you having trouble finding a recipe or do you have a problem with baking the bread? The lard-enriched bread is a reasonably straightforward one--in some recipes the lard is replaced with shortening--and there is, indeed, enough sugar in it to qualify as sweet. You may wish to consult some of the older and major bread books, such as A WORLD OF BREADS by Dolores Casella or BERNARD CLAYTON'S COMPLETE BOOD OF BREADS by Benrard Clayton.

I wanted to make a recipe that calls for 1/3 cup of milk and found I had only skim milk and light cream on hand. Could I have combined them to make the equivalent of whole milk? Or could I have used the cream alone, for an extra-rich result? The recipe is for cornbread. Thanks, Rangers!

I'm no great baker, but I've made plenty of cornbreads in my day and I think you should be just fine with a mix of skim milk and light cream (say 1/4 cup skim milk and 2 Tbs. light cream). Most of my favorite cornbreads use light buttermilk as the liquid and this mix of light cream and skim milk should replicate the fat content and consistency of that.

I also put the question to Lisa Yockelson (author of "Baking Style" and other great books), and she said this:

For use in corn bread, it would appear to be just fine to use skim milk if there are other enriching ingredients in the recipe (such as melted butter) and a desirable number of eggs. If there are not enough enriching ingredients, you could handily mix 3 tablespoons light cream and 3 tablespoons skim milk. The reason for using a little extra skim milk (making 6 tablespoons of liquid as opposed to 5 1/2 tablespoons or 1/3 cup) is to adjust for the density of the light cream. And, yes, you could have used light cream alone. However, in order to be completely sure of the swap or using any one particular ingredient not called for in the recipe, I would need to see the entire list of ingredients.

7 adults in a lovely cabin in need of a good not so complicated-but-delicious- homemade breakfast (no pork products). Options?

With an oven and access to a store that has fresh produce?

If so, how about a Blueberry Cornmeal Cake, some Creamy Eggs With Tomatoes and Peppers and some broiled grapefruit and/or citrus slices, sprinkled with sugar and topped with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt?

Hey! I'm looking for a good source of dried chilies. I live on Capitol Hill in DC and don't have a car. I haven't been able to find anywhere in my neighborhood that sells a good selection. I'm willing to go online for a good price or anywhere in the area that is metro accessible. Thanks!

The Florida Avenue Farmers Market has a couple of stores with terrific (and cheap) selections of dried chiles. The Market isn't TOO far from Capitol Hill, if you are up for a leisurely walk (chiles are light, so carrying them home shouldn't be a big deal). Also, the New York Ave Metro station is relatively close to the Market. 

I see many apple pie and tart recipes that call for Granny Smith apples. But this time of year I'd like to use something seasonal, and local. Can you please recommend some varieties of apples that could substitute for the Granny Smith in a pie or French apple tart? Thank you.

So there definitely are local Granny Smiths, but it's just going to take a little while (about 1 month- mid October), for them to come to market. In the meantime, you're right that most Granny Smith's are coming from elsewhere (like Washington state). Until Granny Smiths show up on the scene, you're best off looking for other firm-textured apples. Ginger Golds will be arriving to market in the next week or two as will Empire or Mutsu which also are good fits in desserts.

Ginger Golds are here!

There was small debate between some of my family members last weekend that I was hoping you could help me out on. When does a recipe belong to the maker and not to the cookbook? For example, if someone's been making Toll House cookies for a zillion years and can do it without looking at the recipe or measuring or all that jazz, are they making Toll House cookies or are they making Terry's Tasty Treats? How many times do you think you have to make something before you can claim it? Or can you never claim anything until you've made a modification?

Interesting. If Terry hasn't done a single thing to alter her Tasty Treats and is following the Toll House recipe, it doesn't really matter how many years he/she has made them! Ownership has more to do with origin of input. And even then, to be proper, if Terry had added espresso powder, used a different kind of chocolate morsel and let her dough rest in the fridge for 2 days, he/she should STILL admit to it being a recipe that's adapted.

I really like this turkey meatloaf recipe. But it is giving me a complex about my cooking skills. The recipe is rated easy. I can live with that as the only real skill needed is with a knife. It also says the prep time is only 10 minutes. And they must mean that because the cooking time is exactly as long as the time you are supposed to keep it in the pre-heated oven. 10 minutes! Really? In that time you are supposed to peel and chop a large onion. Finely chop 8 ounces of mushrooms. Chop the garlic. Measure out all the other ingredients. Cook the mushrooms and onions and garlic and the pepper flakes. Let it cool. Mix all the ingedients. Form the loaf. Peel, slice and "shingle" (whatever that means, I just chop and sprinkle) the shallots. It takes me close to an hour to do all this. Am I misinterpreting? Do they not include preparing the onion and mushrooms and garlic and shallots in the prep time? What is cutting up vegtables if it isn't preparation time? I haven't checked the estimated prep times for any apple recipes, but peeling, cutting and slicing apples takes forever too. Is there a trick for how to do it? Is it really supposed to happen almost instantaneously?

I wouldn't get a complex, no. These estimates are really iffy, in my experience, and this is no exception. But prep time should be just what it takes to put together your so-called mis en place, the collection of measured/chopped ingredients that you need to get going. In this case, prep stops when you start cooking the mushrooms. You have to look over the steps, imagine yourself doing it, and gauge for yourself how long that's going to take.

For the person a few chats ago looking for Carolina BBQ -- there's a freestanding hole-in-the-wall on Route 210 in Accokeek (southern Md.) called B&J Carryout, and they have a BBQ sandwich that I believe is Carolina style --- the pork isn't swimming in a Sweet Baby Ray-type red sauce, but rather looks almost naked, but has a tangy (vinegar?) flavor. It's delicious. I'm not a connoisseur of Carolina BBQ, so it may not be "good" by the OP's standards, but it would be worth checking out! B&J also does awesome soft-serve ice cream in the summer.

Smoke Signals, and bbq hounds everywhere, thank you for the tip. Looking forward to checking it out. 

Sea salt seems stronger to me, so I think I use less. Is that not generally true? Also, is it potentially dangerous to use only sea salt because it doesn't have added iodine? I'm not sure if the iodine is needed ...

Yes, I do find that sea salt has a stronger flavor, so I think I use less than I did when I used table salt, it's true. But I hesitate to say that it's REALLY less, since some sea salts, especially the coarser ones, surely have a different weight by volume than table salt.

On the iodine question, there are other ways to get it -- seaweed, dairy products among them.

I'm a little tired of pesto and so is my kid, but I hate to waste it when the plants are as high as an elephant's eye.

Thanks to my fabulous farm-share, I find myself with an overabundance of apples and pears during this season. I love making "apple"sauce with both of them, but (a) can you recommend any other easy dishes, maybe baked goods/desserts, that encompass both fruits, and (b) this might sound weird, but are there any other fruits that would go well in that type of sauce with apples? I don't always have pears, and am trying to branch out and see what other combinations taste just as good. Also, I have found that a mix of gala apples and any type of pear is *ridiculously* tasty when put in the crockpot for a few hours with just a tiny bit of sugar and a good shake of cinnamon/cloves/nutmeg. More people should make applesauce from scratch, in my opinion - so easy!

I think making pie filling's an excellent way to go. It can be canned (water-bath or pressure) or frozen. Nothing like having it on hand to make hand pies or a crumble/crisp in short order. I'd also make a pear puree, which you could freeze and use as a base for making sorbets or granitas or risotto (yes!), or  a great sauce to go with something chocolate or something porky.

Penzey's has a good selection & good quality if you have one nearby; they also ship. So do many places in New Mexico, which smells amazing in fall with the chiles roasting and pinon burning in the fireplaces ... I want to go back, right now.

Of course we're not talking copyright, which is mighty strange for recipes. But I've made a chocolate bread recipe from an otherwise second-rate bread book for ages, and tweaked it very slightly to match my oven and mixer and such. I say it is mine, especially because the original was nearly identical to several other recipes anyway. I pass it along with my tweaks and advice. I have added value over the cookbook version. It's mine now. I tell whoever asks what the original source was, anyway.

Where do you think the expression "How do you like them apples?" comes from?

From an apple farmer. Obviously. ;-)

I love sweet apples. Since apple picking isn't really an option for me it's not that often that I eat really good ones. Usually the apples are mediocre. Last year I tried Ambrosia apples for the first time. Yummy! A new favorite...but they are barely ever in stores. Do you know if they are more seasonal than other apples (like gala or fuji which are always at the store)?

Though apple picking may be out for you, do try to get to a farmers market if that's an option because the quality and freshness of the apples there can be a revelation (the next best thing to picking your own).  Ambrosia aren't necessarily more seasonal or local than Gala or Fuji apples. Rather, they are one of the lesser known cultivars which is only likely to appear from a local orchard during the apple season. Plenty of local orchards grow Gala and Fuji during the apple season (fall), but because these varieties of apples are so popular (and hold so well in cold storage) they tend to appear at the supermarket all year round from far-flung places like Chile or New Zealand. Now, during the apple season, do indulge in most any variety that you can find that's from the area. You'll notice the difference in taste and texture.

Make some bread pudding! My friends and I had a cabin trip a few weekends ago, and I put a bread pudding in while everyone was still sleeping/just waking up. The bread pudding smelled great waking up and it was easy to share. Plus, you can use whatever flavors (apple, peach, vanilla, or even savory) that you want.

Thanks so much for the apple guide! My grandpa and I had an "apple tasting" a few falls ago where we had a taste test to figure out which cheeses went best with which apple types. I can't remember any of our results, so I think it's time for another apple tasting

Joe, in your book "Serve Yourself", the no-knead pizza dough recipe calls for 4 cups of bread flour. But the WaPo version of the recipe ( calls for 3 cups. Which is right? Is there a version that has the amount of flour by weight?

They both work, but I ended up adding another cup of flour when working on recipes for the book because I wanted the dough to be a little sturdier. Believe it or not, given how this dough works (it's VERY wet and seems unwieldy), it can come together either way!

I just looked up "Cook Angel" and love the idea! (Apparently, people send you photos of two ingredients they have on hand and you come up with a recipe!) How is it going? Do you have a best new pairing and most difficult pairing to share with us?

You got the idea (which is great because the site is a little different and I'm never sure if people will)! It's actually been going really well. I never had anything interesting enough to say in a traditional blog, so instead it's been kind of fun to build Cook Angel and see if I can help people with their cooking questions. My favorite questions so far have been when people just take a pic of their fridge and say "Help!!" I think a lot of us find ourselves in the exact same position (a lot of food in the fridge, no idea what to make) at least once a week and, to me, that's one of the great culinary challenges of  all - forget Iron Chef! Thanks for the kind words!

If anyone's interested on the US Copyright Office's take on recipes, read this:

Does the poster (or the Post) have instructions/a recipe for black beans in the slow cooker for future use? I've been wanting to move from canned to dried beans and this weekend's weather may finally make it happen.

We sure do. Orange Black Beans With Cumin starts with canned beans, but you could certainly substitute dried beans that you've soaked overnight. And just for fun, here's a recipe for Chipotle Black Bean Vegetable Soup as well.

I've got a bunch of frozen rhubarb in my freezer. I'm up in the air about what I should make with it. Any exciting, different recipes (beyond the typical strawberry rhubarb pie?)

Aren't you a smart shopper! I failed to freeze any this year. How about these savory options: Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce or a Tangy Rhubarb "Barbecue" Sauce or Strawberry-Rhubarb-Glazed Chicken Thighs?

This chat doesn't appear in the Live Q&A's list on the right of the screen - thought it was canceled coming over from Tom's until I checked the homepage. I'm a Post subscriber and a regular chat consumer, and the ongoing issues with chats is a continuing irritation. The Post's writers are great, but they are done a disservice with the new redesign and chat issues.

Sigh. Thanks. We're reporting this.

They have 'em at Graves Mountain Lodge

I have two tomato plants that now have brown withered leaves, but plenty of fruit. However, they are green. If I pick them, will they ripen? Is there anything I can do to hasten the process? It wasn't just Irene, it was the 5 days of torrential downpour from Lee. Sigh...the life of a farmer.

I hear you about the garden! Soon after writing my ode to my community garden, about to disappear, the rain pretty much ruined much of its contents. Sad! Anyway, read up on green tomatoes from Adrian Higgins. The upshot: Tomatoes that are just starting to show a little red will ripen fine, while the hard-green ones may be more problematic. Adrian has suggestions for how to handle, and recipes.

The main thing is not to bake too long or at too high a temperature. Both toughen the crust. There are Portuguese bread and Hawaiian bread recipes that are similar. Try those but use lard in place of butter or shortening.

I made my usual black bean soup in the slow cooker, but this batch was terrible and I threw it all away. I use the slow cooker bag liners, but it wasn't a new box. I'm wondering if it was the celery/onion/carrot mix I used (and I saute those in olive oil before adding to the beans).

I'm new to those liners -- just looked em up. I don't know much about them, but if what you're tasting is "plasticky," then I would venture to guess that it's ... the plastic bag you're cooking the soup in all day, don't you think? Not the veggies. Do you need the bag?

For posting the link to Tim's sodium sob story. (Couldn't resist the alliteration.) My dad is an amazing cook who's trying to cut down on salt - I guarantee we'll both make the pork tenderloin recipe.

Currently buy the above two ingredients in the "50 gallon drum" versions available at a membership discount store. Would like to try a more refined version of the two but don't know where to start. Do you have a couple of brand selections for me and why those paticular brands. Thanks!

Well, get ready, you're going to spend a lot of money to get truly good olive oil and genuine balsamic vinegar. There are lots of top-notch oils out there - France, Spain, California, Argentina even, among other places, are exporting nice estate oils. My favorite, though, is from Italy. There are so many regions and so many different flavors in Italy alone, you could spend a lifetime learning about them. (I'm hoping to.)

Main thing you want to look for is that the oil is extra-virgin, cold-pressed, and then look for the date. A lot of vendors keep old oil on the shelves, I've found, and when it's old, it becomes rancid. Ideally, you want an oil from the most recent harvest, which is coming up in late October, erarly November, and then you don't want it around for more than about a year and a half. 

A reputable online source is; they visit estates and bring back top-of-the-line stuff. One you might try is Tenuta di Valgiano, on the western fring of Tuscany; it is a beautiful, robust, slighly peppery oil. Another: Roi, from Liguria on the Italian Riviera. It's very delicate, great for salads and finishing grilled vegetables. 

As for balsamic vinegar, it can easily run over $100 for a tiny little bottle of the real thing. Lots of balsamic vinegars on the shelves are little more than vinegar with sweetener and caramel added. The real deal comes from Modena and neighboring Reggio Emilia. It is aged in wood barrels for at least 12 years. Look for the term Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale. 

After rinsing your protein make sure you dry it throughly before searing or grilling. That way you get a nice crust. Any remainign water will just steam the protein rather thne brown it. You lose flavor.

I only ever see them for sale in the DC area for two to three weeks, sometime in October, not for two months ...

Thanks for the response! I cast a relatively wide net with my seasonal timeline for each of the different apples in today's piece. How long each of these varieties sticks around is dependent on quite a few factors: the weather, harvest, where in metro DC you live, etc... All I can hope is that they stay around as long as possible, because Jonagolds are one of my favorites.

Honeycrisp for snacking; Stayman for pies. Never have I found an apple pie equal to ones I make with Staymans (including ones I've made with other varieties!). I cannot wait until these varieties start showing up!

So, any thought on where to find varietal apple cider for the boiled cider recipe?

Farmers markets are a good source for apple cider. I buy mine from Kuhn Orchards at the 14th/U Market on Saturdays.

Someone mentioned sea salt doesn't have it...neigh does kosher salt. And it tastes better.

I'm hoping you can help me with a strategy for Rosh Hashana dinner. I can hold up to 12 at my dining table. (Provided everyone gets along, as it gets kind of tight.) More than that (which is a possibility) and I either need to just have a buffet with people balancing plates on their laps in the living room, or split the group into two tables...and the two tables would probably need to be in separate rooms. Which do you recommend? And do you have a great chicken recipe for Rosh Hashana? There's a chicken with figs all over the internet, but I can't find anyone who has ever made it. Thank you.

Tables in different rooms can work just fine. Maybe get people to switch for the dessert course? You can make slight entertainment out of it by placing numbers or dots on the back of placecards on the table.

Recipe ideas: Thai Roast Chicken (smells heavenly), Baked Chicken With Tarragon, Mustard and Pear (you could triple the recipe easily).

Speaking of Rosh Hashanah, we've got new recipes and a nice story coming next week.

You also want to check that the bottled says "Made in...." as opposed to "packed" or "bottled in". Some shady producers give the impression that their oil is from a certain country, but it is from another or even many others.

I have a small, whole organic chicken in my fridge that I must do something with tonight. I also have two oranges that are a bit overripe and a lime. I was thinking of spltachcocking the chicken (I hope I'm spelling that right and did not just use an inadvertent vulgarity) and marinating in the citrus and---what? Olive oil, rosemary? other herbs? I plan to cook it on my bbq grill.

It seems like you've got the makings for a really nice dinner and you're heading a nice direction all on your own. Spatchcocking is my preferred method for cooking a whole bird on the grill (much quicker and easier than the beer-can technique) - you're right, though, the term always sounds a little severe. As far as the marinade goes, I think your pairing of olive oil, rosemary and orange sounds great. Cut the orange in quarters, give it a squeeze and throw both the juice and quarters into a large baking dish. Sprinkle the chicken all over with salt (about 2 tsp.) and pepper (about 1 tsp.) and set it into its orange juice bath with some chopped rosemary (about 2 tsp.), a good splash of olive oil (3 or 4 Tbs.), and maybe 1 or 2 cloves smashed garlic. Refrigerate it until grilling and give it a flip every hour or so so the flavors get dispersed.

I grew up in Western NY, where the variety of available apples is quite different than it is here. It has taken me years to get used to the difference, and I still miss 20 ounce apples!

Easily the best eating apple but it's probably past its season now. Usually available in late August in ew England.

Hi All Thanks for your suggestion of the farmer's market in Baltimore last weekend for the Damson plums. I was participating in the Nations Tri (well, Du) last Sunday so couldn't get up to the Baltimore farmer's market on Sunday but visited no less than 9 markets from Bethesda to Frederick last Saturday and came up empty handed, :( I'm really bummed and wondering if I should try the Baltimore farmer's market this Sunday. Or if you know anywhere else to find them. We have great friends from the UK coming to visit during Christmas and would love to be able to give them some homemade Damson gin! Thanks as always, love you guys!!!

Can't guarantee for sure that the plums will be at Baltimore but I saw 2 stands that had them. And if you've never been to that market, it's worth the trip anyway (go with an appetite -- there's plenty of food being prepared at different stands). Other ways to go:  Contact the Balto market manager (through newsletter/online) to see whether she knows if they will be there this Sunday. Contact the produce manager at your nearest and friendliest grocery store and ask to special-order. Check our Market Roundup each Thursday morning on All We Can Eat to see whether they'll appear at area markets. Find a produce shipper online who'll deliver them to your door.

Tried Taylor and they are okay. Best steak and cheese, subs and pizza tru Gianni's in Odenton on Rt 175 in same shopping center as Popeyes and Pizza Hut. They have the best sub rolls in the area. there used to be this place in Marlow Hieghts many years ago that imported their grill from Philly and got their rolls from Philly Giannia's steak and cheeese and sub rolls is far superior. Post rave about the place in Marlow Heights. BTW Gianni's is located next to a Subway.

You know Taylor's cheesesteak place hasn't opened yet, though, right?

From the Summit Point Raceway Orchards.

Having suffered through a low-iodine diet, let me tell the questioner - there's iodine in EVERYTHING. Seriously, when on a low-iodine diet, the list of allowed foods is less than a page long. You'll get plenty of iodine in a normal diet, and while sea salt doesn't have added iodine, it does have some.

I'm embarrassed to admit it's Betty Crocker's cornbread and muffin mix.I had some fantastic, moist cornbread with corn kernels baked in and the person who made it told me to find the recipe on packaged cornbread mix. So I bought the mix for the recipe, really. Anyway, it calls for adding 1/3 cup milk, 2 T melted butter (or margarine or spread), and one egg. If you want the list of ingredients in the mix, I can send that, too.

Lisa says:

I see--no apologies needed! To correct my previous reply typo--1/3 cup is 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (not 5 1/2). There seems to be a lesser amount of enrichment, so, in this case, I would go with 1/3 cup light cream.

Please be cognizant that when making boiled cider, you are evaporating an enormous amount of liquid into your kitchen. Run an exhaust fan and keep windows open. You would never make maple syrup in your kitchen because all of that evaporated moisture would cause damage to your ceiling and walls. The boiled cider isn't as much liquid, but there is a reason why people make maple syrup outdoors!

Hi Free Rangers, I guess this is a common problem but my fiance and I are trying to figure out how to have easy, hot dinners. We want to scale back the eating out but are having a hard time figuring out easy meals. I can cook but most of things I do involve a lot of time and energy, and after a long commute, I can't manage that on the weekdays. There has to be a solution other than sandwiches! Thanks.

Eggs. So many ways to go, none of them take a long time.  Hit our recipe finder, searching on Eggs Fast Main Course. You'll see frittatas, fried eggs in bread crumbs, shrimp burgers, indian spiced scrambled eggs.

And don't forget the stir-fry route. And making batches of soups on the weekends....You can do this!

Well, you've cooked us uncovered for 4 to 5 hours or until we have reduced to a little more than 2 cups and we coat the back of a spoon, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and to Tony Rosenfeld and Jim Shahin for helping us answer them.

Now for the giveaway books. The chatter who cried out "I'm so excited for the fall!" will get "Recipes from the Root Cellar" by Andrea Chesman. The one whose Circulon pot fell victim to boiled cider will get "Jam, Jelly & Relish" by Ghillie James. Send your mailing information to Becky Krystal at, and we'll get them to you.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading. And happy soon-to-be fall!

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