Free Range on Food: "Healthy" food, the joy of crunch, barbecue in Paris and more

Lamb and Phyllo Cigars.
Jan 20, 2016

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!

Bonnie and Joe will be chatting with us, but they've handed me the keys to the sports car today. Let's see what this puppy can do, all right?


So, have you stocked up for the Massive Snow Dump (MSD for short) forecasted this weekend in the DMV? What do you plan to cook while you're hibernating with the family? Me? I plan to bake Maggie Austin's Apple Bread and the Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili that Joe recently wrote about.


Tell us what you plan to cook.


Or let's chat about some of the stories in this week's Food section, such as Fritz Hahn's piece on the historic growth in American breweries. Or Jim Shahin's report on the growing popularity of American barbecue in Paris and other places around the world. Or author Michael Ruhlman's essay on why no food is "healthy."


All three -- Fritz, Jim and Michael -- are expected to join us, so let's get this thing started proper.


As usual, we'll be giving away a pair of books to our favorite two questions.


Oh, and for you PostPoint members, here's today's code: FR1842.  Remember, you'll record and enter it into the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

I caught Ms. Benwick's recipe for a non-creamy tomato soup in today's Food section. My preference swings in the opposite direction. I adore Cosi's tomato soup, with a great balance of tanginess and creaminess, smooth but with a few small chunks of tomatoes. (Should I be embarrassed to admit this?) Any tips or recipes for replicating this at home?

I'm equal opportunity when it comes to tomato soup; this Dinner in Minutes recipe is suitable for the non-dairyists among us, and I liked the bit of extra tang afforded by the bit of wine.


You, Cosi soup fan, might like to try this one from our Recipe Finder instead (and also w/croutons!) And there are others....


RECIPE Tomato Soup With Grilled Havarti Cheese Croutons

Question for Cathy: I just made this year's first batch of Meyer lemon marmalade using lemons that weren't fully ripe. The texture is lumpy--not too stiff, but lumpy. Googling tells me I had too much pectin. So, my question is how can you tell you'll have too much pectin? I did notice it setting up on my stirring spoon, so stopped cooking before reaching jelly temp (216 at my altitude). But is there a way to *know* how much pectin is in the fruit? And to adjust for that? Thanks!

From DIY columnist/preserving guru Cathy Barrow:


Regarding the lumpy jam: Is it possible the pectin was not well combined with the sugar? That is the only circumstance where I have had lumpy jam and it is just awful. There is no recovering, unfortunately. I think I strained mine and used it in a barbecue sauce (my solution for most preserving errors.)

To your second question: In the home kitchen, it is impossible to know with absolute certainty how much pectin is in the fruit, but a good rule of thumb is that underripe fruit will have more pectin than overripe fruit, and citrus fruits (lemons particularly) have enormous amounts of natural pectin. For that reason, I can’t help wondering why you are using pectin for your marmalade at all? The Meyer lemon rinds and juice, combined with sugar should provide sufficient pectin to set at temperature (216 in your case.) For more information on pectin, here is a blog post I wrote a while back.

There is a European pectin called Pectin Jeune used most often for pate de fruit. I was told to use it as a kind of booster when the cooked preserves at temperature still seems thin. I have only used it a couple of times, and once was disastrous, but I’ve heard it can provide more flexibility.

Any good brands of seitan out there? Was thinking of making it myself too - saw the recipe and it looks pretty fool proof. Worth making or better to buy?

I'm not a huge consumer of seitan, but I do like the stuff made by Upton's Naturals. I think the matter of making or buying probably comes down to time and money, eh? I've never made it, but my sister has, and it's not exactly quick -- but it's certainly cheaper than buying.

What is the first and only advice you would give someone who never touched a pan nor a cooking spoon but wants to learn how to cook?

Why "first and only"? What kind of totalitarian system are we talking about here? ;-)

I'll do you even better, and I'll limit myself to one word: Start.

That is, jump in. Start touching those pans and spoons, find good sources for recipes that appeal to you, and get going. Ask good cooks you know to spend time cooking with you, and you'll pick up plenty of tips. Take classes. Explore.

SEE THIS: A searchable database of cooking classes in the DC area

yes, joe's response one of the best I've heard. just do it. most of cooking is common sense (thinking) and the rest is basic technique. first thing most chefs teach new cooks is how to salt food properly.

and there is of course, um, a small but valuable tome called Ruhlman's Twenty, my manifesto on the fundamentals.

by calling the food "healthful." Though, I must admit, I find "healthful" somewhat off putting and can't really finger exactly what is the matter with it. Anyway, I think that we are getting a little obsessive in our society (at least the upper middle class and upper class parts of it) with the exact nutrition information of every bite. Fewer empty carbs (starch and sugar) and more vegetables would go a long way to cure what ails us even if the tomatoes had slightly less lycopene than the ones grandma ate. I do wish doctors spent more time learning about nutrition. When my doc said lose 20 pounds, he offered no advice about how to do it and didn't offer to send me to someone who could help. Well, I'm down 40 by restricting carbs a lot and whole host of other problems disappeared too (mild asthma, tendonitis in my ankles and being exhausted by 9:30 at night to name a few). He has my medical history. A mother with diabetes and a dad who is pre-diabetic should have been enough of a hint that my genetics don't do so well with carb metabolism as I age. I just didn't know. But why didn't he?

I don't think healthful means anything either, which is why I avoided using it. for good nutrition advice and recipes, visit dr sukol's site, your health is on your plate.

ARTICLE: No food is healthy. Not even kale.

Salivated at every word, but paused, eyebrows raised, at "crispy fried garlic." Is it edible? I have been conditioned to ditch garlic the moment it gets brown. Am I getting rid of the best stuff?

Greetings, Crunch Nation member. Oh yes, fried garlic is edible -- although you can ruin it in the blink of an eye. It's particularly popular in Asian cuisines. Sometimes in a recipe when the purpose of frying garlic is to flavor the oil, the directions might tell you to pitch it.


To fry garlic for garnish and optimum crunch, you'd want the oil to be at 365 or so, and the garlic to be sliced paper-thin, preferably with a mandoline. Takes about 30 seconds. That's it!


ARTICLE The one food texture that makes me happiest

I have a question about egg wash which probably applies to many kinds of dough. I am making empanadas ahead of time and plan to freeze them. The recipe calls for an egg wash. Do I put this on before I freeze them or right before baking? Also, I have some extra dough and am thinking about experimenting with sweet fillings. Can you freeze Nutella in dough and expect it to bake ok? What about canned dulce de leche? Thanks!

egg whites freeze great, so I would say either, and yes to everything else. yes is usually a good response, generally.

We have a large homemade lasagna in the freezer that'll bake up nicely. Also bread/butter/cheddar for grilled cheese sandwiches, frozen vegs/pasta/beans for meatless soups, eggs/flour/sugar/cocoa for baking basic desserts, fresh citrus, tea...

Sounds like I'll be shoveling my way to your house!

What's a good strategy for making chicken stock and soup on a long snow day/weekend? Is it best to roast a chicken first and use the carcass for stock? Or can you just start with a fresh chicken?

Perfect quest for just such an opportunity -- aromatherapy plus good eats! I like the flavor that roasted chicken bones bring to a stock, so if you have the time and some ideas for what to do with the roasted meat, then I'd go with roasting first. For a beautiful, golden stock, a fresh chicken's always good.


One thing to note about roasting first: Go light or skip your usual chicken S&P seasoning. It'll make a better/more useable stock (like, say, in case you were going to reduce some of that stock to make a sauce; reducing a salted stock intensifies the salt aspect sometimes to an unhappy degree).

We have a nice range of stock options in our database -- smoked, done in a slow cooker..... Take a look.

What do they do? The classics or do the have some with a French flair? I can only imagine mac n' cheese made with Gruyere and heavy cream and vegetables that crunch. How big are the portions? Keeping it American or more French (i.e., right sized)?

     Some do the classic sides, others less traditional. Alas, I did not find a mac'n'cheese with Gruyere, but I did find that a housemade béchamel was used. Some places did a version of baked beans (I found it overly sweet, but, then, I find most American versions are also too sweet.) The Beast had mashed potatoes in gravy. The most non-American was Flesh, which grilled or smoked a variety of dishes, from haricot verts to mushrooms to kale (for a Caesar salad), all served with house-made dressings or sauces. Portions were not American large, but, I'd say, not stereotypical French small either; about right, I guess you'd say.

Great to see the bbq story. I remember going to Blues B-B-Q years ago. It wasn't the best I've had but she was doing what she could with what she had for an audience not ready for it. A vanguard of the scene there. And she had Dr. Pepper!


ARTICLE Move over, foie gras. The latest rage in Paris is . . . American barbecue

     The Dr. Pepper was a great touch. So was the Frito pie. Oh, and something they don't really do in France: pitchers of beer! 

We made beef chili with cocoa powder and honey in it last night and have a frozen turkey tetrazzini and oatmeal carmelitas in the freezer. Planning to make sour cream bran muffins tonight! We were surprised by how much the chili ingredients set us back though-like sixty bucks-realized we could have bought a tenderloin or free range chickens.

That's so true about good ingredients. They're expensive, no  matter what dish you're making.

I've been baking a lot of banana bread lately. They've turn out well, but the sides/bottom seem slightly overcooked. The inside is just right. I guess it's the pan? Any suggestions?

Or it might be the recipe (sugar or molasses browning) or where you're placing it in your oven (hot spot). Can you send us the link?

Huge vats of tortilla soup! I started yesterday but need to make more as I ate it for lunch, supper and a late-night warm-me-up after being stuck at a bus-stop for 40 minutes! (Brrrr and grrrr!) Plus hot tortilla soup is the. best. gift to hand to doormen and anyone else forced to face the weather so it's impossible to make too much. And speaking of tortilla soup, I am ++thrilled++ to learn from you that Pati Jinich has another book coming out! Brava!

Yes! Pati's new book, "Mexican Today," comes out on April 12.

Did Jim find any other BBQ places in France? Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, Marseille, Strasbourg? I'm doing a month long driving tour and was hoping to get a taste of home at some point.

    Jeez. If only... I was in Paris only. I'm sorry, I can't help with barbecue restaurants in other parts of France. I'd love for you to send me dispatches during your travels of what you find. 

Chatters? Any barbecue hounds who found cue joints around France?

I got a pressure cooker for Christmas! What are the first three things I should make so I can see how awesome my pressure cooker really is?

Things that would normally take a long time to cook, of course:

Beans, and I don't mean from a can.

Grains, and I don't mean white rice: Brown rice or wheatberries, something really hearty.

The type of I don't cook anymore: short ribs. Or pork butt/shoulder. Or chuck roast.

Do you have a good recipe for cauliflower waffles? One that actually works? :D

Cauliflower WHAT? This is a new one on me, although I do know that cauliflower everything has been the rage -- pizza crust, "rice," etc.

Now, after a little Googling, I can see that these are everywhere, aren't they? Or at least a lot of places. I don't immediately see a recipe online from a source that I know from experience I can trust. Doesn't mean I know I CAN'T trust them, but ...

Chatters, any thoughts?

BTW, I assume you saw Karen Heller's entertaining piece about the recent shortage/price hike in cauliflower? I was inspired to assign it to her after inquiries on this here very chat!

ARTICLE: Cauliflower is so hot, you may not be able to afford it -- or find it

Get a seasoned cast iron skillet and use it with lots of oil for just about everything. Never, ever, ever wash it with soap and water. Get a good chef's knife, tongs, and a stock pot. Then what Joe said.

second that cast iron skillet advice, and the good chefs knife. biggest problem in american kitchens is dull knives.

My buddy, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats, disagrees about the soap issue. He says a properly seasoned cast-iron pan should withstand soap, no problem.

I get the point of Ruhlman's rant about "healthy" food, but as a gardener, there are lots of ways to differentiate healthy from unhealthy plants. Does he think it possible that healthy plants can become healthy food, it they are cooked with care?

no, I don't think we should use that word to describe things that are no longer living. (and I liked your header)

Roast chicken and root veggies, and a big pot roast, both of which I can cook in or on the wood stove if the power goes out!

Diana is 65 and her husband is 35? Nothing wrong with that...but all ya' single ladies....

     Vive la France! 

Submitting early, as I am in a meeting during the regular chat time :-( I am in need of a coffee maker that will only make a few cups of coffee at a time (for me only), so I don't need a huge gigantic 12-cup machine. I don't want something terribly difficult to use. This would be for using ground coffee, of course. Any suggestions? Thanks for any you can give!

I would buy this small Chemex pourover coffee maker. It requires a small amount of work, but nothing onerous. And it'll produce a far better cup than a cheap, tiny, plastic coffee maker.

I've been reading and hearing a lot lately re how starting French fries in cold oil causes the potatoes to absorb less fat. Is this equally true for, say, doughnuts and beignets?

Seems to date back to Joel Robuchon/CIA techniques that have been much discussed. Check out this Chowhound thread from 2008. From my brief scanning, not sure how it would apply to doughs, considering the different density and absorption rates.  Chatters, any experience?

I asked last week about websites or apps for organization recipes, and I just wanted to let chatters know that, after much research, I found a winner--it's called Copy Me That, and it's not only easy but free!

Thanks for following up!

Last week I read the article on pulses and within 24 hours I made the smoky black bean and sweet potato chili as well as the roasted chickpeas and power protein bites. All were excellent. I have been searching for some portable healthy snacks and the last two really fit that. But my husband and I loved the chili and devoured it. We are not vegetarians but I am trying to work more plant based recipes into my family's meals.

So glad to hear it! I had a lot of questions about those protein bites -- all of them along the lines of, "Are those actually good?" -- so I'm so glad to hear that you agree with me that the answer is yes! I've been taking a few of them with me on weekend hikes, and they really help extend my energy, more so than trail mix, actually.

But the chili, yes! It's SO GOOD, isn't it? (But, I have to say this yet again: Why don't I see any ratings/comments on it -- you must add your thoughts to help others make it!)

ARTICLE: Why a food you've never heard of could be key to feeding the world

RECIPE: Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

RECIPE: Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Chickpea Energy Balls

Healthy means conducive to health and, therefore, kale is healthy. But I suspect you knew that and you were just looking for a new and self-righteous way tell people that they're not as smart as you think you are and for ways to promote your books.

well, I do like to promote my books so that I can keep writing them. but the point of my article was to get people to think for themselves and recognize that "healthy" "fat-free" "all-natural" and other such terms are marketing devices, not information.

Just an FYI. Dr Pepper removed the period decades ago.

Thank you, marketing VP for Dr Pepper.

And that would be why you didn't see the period in Jim's piece on Paris BBQ. I'm a Texan, after all -- and a Pepper from way back.

so I think that I might unpack and repack the cabinets as a snowed in project. I'm pretty sure there is stuff I am buying new even though I have one or two of those items lost in the back of the big cabinet in the corner. ;)

This is so true. Carrie and I just recently moved. . .and discovered we had about 38 jars of pickles.

And approximately 3,000 spices.

My partner and I are looking forward to at least one day snowed in! We have mango chutney, saag paneer, and some other things we find always bring us closer together when sharing every night. Throw in a few ragda patties and silken black cod and it will be a memorable Snowmageddon 2016!

I feel for all you on the East Coast - stay warm and safe with this storm coming! We're going to have some rain of our own in San Diego this weekend, so I'm hoping to spend a lot of time in the kitchen - babka, English muffins perhaps with hollandaise, lentil soup, a cake with blood oranges. May get out to enjoy some of SD's 110-something breweries, too. Glad to see them included in your story - I definitely feel like there's a "bubble" here!

A while ago you had an article about getting ginger to grow from the ginger we buy in the grocery store. Do you have a link to that article? Do you think it will also work for turmeric?

Yep, here it is. As for turmeric, since it's also a rhizome, it seems like it would work, too. Give it a try and let us know!

CHAT LEFTOVERS: Ginger whenever you want it

Since the powers that be at the Washingtonian won't say what happened to Todd Kliman maybe you all know? Rumors are everything from currently in Mexican jail to treading water until he replaces Sietsema. Can you enlighten us? Starving minds want to know.

First of all, no one is looking to replace the esteemed Tom Sietsema.


Second, according to Andrew Beaujon, the senior editor at the Washingtonian, Todd Kliman is "taking some much-deserved time off, and I look forward to him restarting his column, reviews, and weekly chat when he returns."


If the FDA prohibits the use of growth hormones and antibiotics in chicken, why do some packages claim it and otbers don't?

for the same reason they put "fat free" on food that isn't supposed to have fat and "gluten free" on, well, just about anything, including the construction truck outside the house I'm in (see my instagram for proof)

I need to make spiced nuts for an event, but I'm trying to avoid the sugar/butter with spices that you typically see. Rather, I want them to be more like Nando's spiced nuts if you're familiar with those - toasted nuts with a semi-spicy spice mix that sticks. What do you suggest I do?

We have two takes on spicy cashews you might try.

RECIPE: Spicy Cashews

RECIPE: Hot Cashews

Someone recommended Virginia wines for the big storm. But whatever the vintage and whatever the origin, I need to know how much I can consume before shoveling my driveway. Also: red or white? Please advise.

can't answer quantity but i do know that a wine's first obligation is to be red.

Do you know off hand what breed of pig they are using? Are they using any local wood to smoke with? I'd be interested in knowing the fat to meat ratio in the french pigs and how the BBQ turns out.

      I don't know the specific breed of pig they used. Everyone I talked with, though, said that while they preferred American beef for barbecue, they wanted French pork. And let me say, the pork, whether ribs or pulled pork, was fabulous. Very flavorful. As for wood, mose used commercially available mesquite and hickory and other hardwoods. The Beast used French oak.

Not sure if Ruhlman and Joe, my virtual cooking gurus, are physically in the same space, but let's says the upcoming snowstorm forces them to share a well stocked pantry and well equipped kitchen....are there any new favorite recipes or techniques they would be sharing with each other?

happily, I am in key west, and joe is in a colder climate. but regarding the food, I'd point you to his article on legumes, linked to above, probably one of the best food groups you can eat. preferably with bacon

I have no doubt that if Ruhlman and I were in a kitchen during a snowstorm, eggs would also come into play! He knows his way around a carton or two, having written a whole book dedicated to the subject, and I love cooking them, too. Beans with eggs on top!

When I read this week of the death of actress Noreen Corcoran, who co-starred in the 1950s TV show "Bachelor Father" as a naive girl sharing a home with her bachelor uncle played by John Forsythe, I immediately remembered my favorite episode of the show: When she's around 13 to 15 years old, Corcoran and her best friend, in an effort to seem sophisticated and seductive, dab vanilla essence behind their ears in lieu of perfume. Forsythe then keeps asking if someone is baking cookies. :) :) I must confess, that aroma is seductive to me even today! ;) So, my thanks for the memory to the writers and cast, especially to Noreen Corcoran, who was 13 when she landed the role and who died last week at age 72 but will be remembered by me whenever I smell vanilla essence.

Sweet! The show is a little before my time, but I love the anecdote.

I have two paring knives with bent tips--one's a new Wusthoff, the other is older. How does this happen? How do I get it fixed?

take it to a professional wet-grind knife sharpener and they'll do their best

Sounds like they were dropped and landed on their tip! I know the folks at DC Sharp in Union Market can fix it -- they fixed a similar problem I had in one of my knives, very quickly and well.

To go to France and be stuck in Paris the whole time. Sad.

     Yes. Feel sorry for me.

I was in Dallas this past weekend and bought a hulking Texas cauliflower for four bucks.

You know what they say: Everything's bigger in Texas.

Just a Texan like Joe and former journalist who was taught to observe a product's preferred style. But if anyone from Dr Pepper is reading this and wants to reward me ....

But where did you see it WITH the period? I hope not in anything I edited, cause I pride myself on this knowledge!

When I bought a Lodge steel frying pan, I also ordered one of their pan scrapers. Wow. A gadget that works, and safely too. BTW, I've never used this vendor; I just found a good picture there.

I have a few little plastic scrapers -- and I love them, indeed. I've never used one that has teeth like that Lodge one, but even the smooth-edged ones are so great for getting food out of pans before you pick up the sponge.

I actually make a bamboo pot scraper great for cast iron, and getting foods such as baked-on cheese an eggs, which gum up sponges, off pots and pans. (Lodge wasn't interested, apparently.)

The link you posted lists one copy as already available, even though it's not being published until April. How is that possible? Do you already have a copy? Could I have it ?;)

I have an advance reading copy. And as certain gun advocates like to say, you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

PS Follow that Amazon link, and you'll see that that's for pre-order.

I was late chiming in last week so I couldn't respond but if you need something to keep meals warm on the go they sell mini crock pots that will plug into the cigarette lighter in your car. My uncle is an over the road driver and we bought him this for Christmas so he's not stuck eating fast food or cold sandwiches. Was the best thing he's received and he's used it several times already.

Fun idea! (How do they handle bumps? Maybe that's a good substitute for stirring!)

What cooking techniques is worth learning but still pretty much unknown to the normal homecook?

Well, I've got eggs on the brain from another question, so I'll go there. I'd say most home cooks don't really know how to make a beautifully fluffy omelet (rather than those thin/firm things that are more like eggy crepes to me). And it's such a good thing to know, because you can create something beautiful in just a few minutes with very few ingredients.

This recipe from Le Diplomate tells all:

PLATE LAB: Sunday Brunch Omelet

Last weekend, while enduring a cold, I watched Burned and One Hundred Foot Journey. Not a bad combo for a snow day! Made me want that east Indian Food, yum.

Fun! Did you see the piece we wrote about food in movies that included the latter? Interesting read, especially for someone who just watched it.

ARTICLE: Food in movies: These days, it's about more than just making you hungry

I've come to love nettles and parsnip roots, but recipes on hand are somewhat boring. Any tips on how to make them shine?

add crunch, per bonnie, and salt and acid and heat.

What are your favorite snowstorm/snowed in foods?

Mac 'n' cheese and whiskey. Not in the same pot.

beef short ribs on buttered egg noodles

Soup, soup, soup. With big squares of fried-in-oil croutons on top.

Anything that fills the house with wonderful aromas. Like braised meat dishes.

    Beef stew. Chili. Tortilla soup. Big plate of red sauce Italian pasta. 

Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of Greek cheeses. Can you suggest substitutes for feta and halvarti?

Hmm. I immediately wonder whether you've had excellent versions of these. There are so many really poor takes on feta out there -- a pale imitation of the real thing -- that if you haven't found good imported ones, I'd start there. If you're in the DC area, may I suggest you go to Mediterranean Way in Dupont Circle and try what they've got? 

Oh, and havarti isn't Greek by any means. Danish. Maybe you mean halloumi?

In any case, both feta and halloumi are VERY different from other cheeses out there, so good substitutes don't pop into my mind.

I'm cooking a fair amount of "cook once, eat twice" food these days--chicken curry, turkey meatloaf (WP recipe), pork and cider stew with sweet potatoes instead of white ones After Isabel and no power for a week, I learned that we could heat up prepared food from the freezer (and use it in order of thawing). but that preparing meant a need for a cook stove--to sear, to stew, to bloom spices.

...for cooking large beets quickly, especially if you want to use them to make borscht on a cold snowy day!

Good one. Yes!

What Asian countries have fried garlic in their cooking Arsenal, Bonnie? I spent a big chunk of my life living in Hongkong, Taiwan and PRC, and I've never encountered it. My Chinese friends add garlic to a cold pan and cold oil, heat it slowly, and discard it once the room smells royally of garlic and the oil is perfectly infused.

Exhibit A: This great recipe from Izakaya Seki.

RECIPE: Garlic Fried Rice (Chahan)

If the power stay s on I plan on making a butternut squash/kale white lasagna. I also plan on a root vegetable with sweet potato topping shepherds pie. (A lot of this uses vegetables grown in my garden) If power goes off I have a Sterno stove to heat things so Pacific soups and packaged per-cooked Indian meals. Bread cheese jelly and almond butter to accompany.

Recently required the up and around the corner scope. Dr's seem to know how to clean our colon but not how to revive it after. No advice for post reintroduction of food. And that's the gastroenterologist! Is it any wonder that fad diets and food rumors abound. Maybe could you find a writer that could explore the wonderful world of the intestinal track as a primer for us foodies?

as the doc i interviewed said, she didn't learn a thing about nutrition in med school.

I love, love, love Evernote! You can create notes from Web pages, photos, links to Web pages and of course, plain old text. You can tag recipes for easy searching, and it also will search text within your photos. It's free initially, although I have to admit I'm using it so much that I'll probably need to upgrade to the paid version. There's a bit of a learning curve, but once you get past that, it's fantastic.

I'll have to play around more with it -- I use it for just-plain notes, but obviously need to explore. Thanks!

I understand what the author was trying to say, but the article was nonetheless pompous and academic. More importantly, by its own logic, it wrong. Of course kale can be "healthy" or "unhealthy." Any living thing can. If the kale itself is unhealthy (e.g., has a horrible kale disease) it's probably not good for people to eat, either.

"Academic"? That's kind of harsh.

I know it!

Here's what I learned today about tea, after spending 45 years on this planet: I don't like English Breakfast Tea. I don't know why I ever thought I did like the stuff. I certainly never drank it, or rarely did. But today I decided to buy a cup, and I regretted it. It's swill. Back to green tea for me. Thanks for listening, and for caring.

Please post a link to your instagram. I believe you that a construction truck outside the house you're in claims to be gluten-free but it'd be fun to see and share the photo.

here's my instatgram link, gluten free is near the front tire

play a huge part in Burmese food, which is fantastic!


We are making shrimp pouches for dinner tonight (an Alton Brown recipe) and my husband picked up an octopus from the grocery store to throw in the pressure cooker.. HOW do we cook it? liquids, spices? I thought some white wine but I am lost. Help

either really fast or really slow

There is a French equivalent of the Kansas City Barbecue Society called "The French Federation of Outdoor Cuisine," which organizes a BBQ festival in Camarque.

       Good to know. Thanks. 

Talk about an American in Paris! I would nominate Aaron Franklin as ambassador to France. But all advancement - culinary or otherwise - is based on assimilation. So are any French chefs making Gallic interpretations of the American classic - just as American chefs have reinvented French dishes? (And I would recommend a really robust Cote du Rhone for brisket.)

    There is not the sort of experimentation with American barbecue going on Paris that you see in America, especially with Asian influences. If by Cote du Rhone for brisket, you mean sauce (as opposed to meat smoking), right now, most places have a house sauce (or sauces) that are independent of the whole regional sauce thing that you see in the States, but not what you would call French, either. They're just good versions of an American-style sauce, mostly (although Flesh had a smoked tomatillo sauce that was fabulous). I did not find a North Carolina-style vinegar-pepper sauce. If saucing your barbecue is a thing you like, then seems to me a Cote du Rhone for brisket is a fine idea. I should note that the French who made a ketchup-based sauce were very proud of the fact that they used specifically Heinz ketchup. 

I bought a salt-free spice mixture (I'll tell the brand name if you want) and am utterly perplexed by how well it works to bring out the taste of whatever I put it on. The named ingredients are ones that have never done that trick for me, even in combination. Is there a chance there's some unmentioned MSG?

Yes, please tell us the brand. Maybe this one is just, well, better? The proportion of the ingredients more effective than what you've used before? I certainly hope there's no unnamed MSG -- because I certainly hope there's no unnamed ANYTHING.

Don't know if this is true of newer models, but back in the '50s when I was a kid, pressure cooker instruction booklets warned not to cook lentils or make applesauce in them, as the food would block the vent hole. One time my mother tried making lentil soup in our pressure cooker anyway (as she did split pea soup), and she learned the hard way why the directions warned against lentils: the soup blew out through the blowhole in the lid, all over the kitchen ceiling, then dripped down onto the kitchen floor. My mother slipped in it, taking a header that slid her into the water heater (nasty goose-egg on her forehead), and the entire kitchen had to be scrubbed. That summer my dad repainted the kitchen, which eliminated the last traces of that disaster.

Q: Parisian BBQ Great to see the bbq story. I remember going to Blues B-B-Q years ago. It wasn't the best I've had but she was doing what she could with what she had for an audience not ready for it. A vanguard of the scene there. And she had Dr. Pepper! ARTICLE Move over, foie gras. The latest rage in Paris is . . . American barbecue A: Jim Shahin The Dr. Pepper was a great touch. So was the Frito pie. Oh, and something they don't really do in France: pitchers of beer!

Oh, you mean in Jim's chat answer? Have you not noticed that we are typing so quickly over here that things like proper punctuation, capitalization, AP style, etc. sometimes go out the window?

I thought you were supposed to throw them on Detroit Red Wings home ice... LOL!

Would you happen to have or be able to get the Trader Joe's recipe for chili-lime cashews?

The Spiced Cashews recipe I linked to earlier is pretty darn close. Better, even!

Chicken broth! Just put a small, whole chicken (minus the gizzards etc) in the pressure cooker, add water half-way up & a bay leaf & maybe some whole peppercorns (crunch factor) and voila, amazingly rich chicken broth plus lots of almost-shredded chicken meat in about 30 minutes!

What would you eat before going out and shoveling or snow blowing/throwing?

Lots of carbs.

Wallpaper paste commonly is derived from wheat. That's probably why they put that on the truck, although it's still silly.

Two fold question... Do these numbers also include the rise of new cider houses? Many are deemed wineries by law. Has there also been an increase of gypsy brewers in the US?

They do not, just brewpubs and craft breweries. The number of cideries is skyrocketing, though: A colleague and I set out to visit every cider maker in Maryland and Virginia for a Weekend Section feature last year (link below), and we found 16, more than double what it had been a few years earlier. That wasn't surprising, really, as cider sales were up 75 percent from 2013 to 2014. 

[Branching out: A guide to local craft cider]

As far as gypsy brewers, I haven't seen a good number on those. You still see a lot of contract brewing out there -- brewers who make their beer by renting space from a commercial facility instead of owning a brewery. Sometimes this works well -- D.C.'s own Handsome Beer Co makes a really nice brown ale and hoppy saison at Old Bust Head, and it's a good way for inventive brewers to get beer to market without the major capital investment that a brewery requires. Facilities like Beltway Brewing out in Sterling, which makes beers for everyone from Alabama's Back 40 to Leesburg's Crooked Run, has made contract brewing easier. But out-and-out gypsy brewers, who travel from brewery to brewery to collaborate, a la Brian Strumke of Stillwater or Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller, are more rare.

Okay, we need to stop here so we can hit the grocery stores before the marauding hordes buy everything!


The cookbook winners this week are:


1. The chatter who asked about what advice would you give someone who has never touched a pan or a cooking spoon.


2. The helpful chatter who passed along the research on the Copy Me That recipe organization app.


Please send your contact information to Kara Elder, editorial assistant for the Food section. Her email is


See you next week. Good luck with your storm cooking!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
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.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Michael Ruhlman
Michael Ruhlman is the author of many books, including "Ruhlman's How to Roast" and the recent collection of novellas "In Short Measure."
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