Free Range on Food: Finding the right potato, tariffs in your food supply, this week's recipes and more!

Oct 09, 2019

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

Greetings, and welcome to today's chat! We're here to talk about any and everything, including:

Jane Black's piece about Appalachian apple-butter-making parties, with three fun recipes.

Emily's taste test of the high-tech vegan burgers now available for cooking at home: Impossible, Beyond, and more.

Becky's exploration of the reverse sear for cooking big hunks of meat (but NOT vegan burgers, I'd say).

Her look at how to pick the right potato for your cooking needs.

AND her (Becky is busy!) gorgeous and tasty sour cream maple cake!

Bonnie Benwick's last Dinner in Minutes -- we will be putting the column on hiatus until we hire a new recipes editor.

Ellie Krieger's chicken satay sandwiches.

My latest Weeknight Veg, for a kale/mushroom lasagna.

OK, let's get this going!

Years ago, I attempted to make mashed potatoes at home. I did not use Russet, but rather some kind of all-purpose potatoes - ordinary ones from the grocery store. After boiling them, I attempted to mash them, with milk and butter. The more I beat them with a mixer, the more glue-like they became. I ended up not using them because the texture was like paste. No amount of butter or flavoring would have saved them. What might have gone wrong?

The mixer is definitely your problem. The more you work mashed potatoes, the gluier they become because more starch is released. So work them minimally. The recipe I published the other year has you mash them gently with a rubber spatula or spoon. I know lots of people love using ricers, too.

Essential Mashed Potatoes

RECIPE: Essential Mashed Potatoes

As far as types, I think Russets and Yukon Gold are great.


ARTICLE: You can’t go wrong with potatoes, but here’s how to pick the right ones

I am the recipient of several large bags of fresh raisins. What can I make to use them up?

Just an FYI for those who like red onions in their french onion soup...adding the baking soda to the onions turns them green. I was surprised by it at first and then rolled with it. Just wanted to give the other chatters a head's up in case they do the same thing. I am the one eating it, so who cares what it looks like as long as is tastes great! :) What other foods will react like this and give you a result you were not anticipating? Off the top of my head, I am thinking about garlic turning blue.

Fast French Onion Soup

RECIPE: Fast French Onion Soup

Ha! The preference here is for yellow onions, but glad you kept on going and that it tastes great.

Can't think of any other color-changing tricks off the top of my head. Anyone?

You could totally pitch the green French onion to a kid as a spooky Halloween thing! 

Off the top of my head, I've seen a couple Instagram/YouTube posts where red cabbage turns bright blue when hit with some lemon. Oddly enough, have never tried it out for myself.

I was excited to be one of the winners of When Pies Fly, but never received the book.

Hey there! Could you email me at Thanks!

Enjoyed Becky's article on potatoes. They are quite a versatile and delicious vegetable. I especially liked the photo that accompanies the article. In a smaller size, like at the top of this chat, it's hard to tell if they are beads or beans or what. The larger photo with the article makes it clear that they are spuds. I guess that's another example of their versatility!

Thanks! The little guys are Pee Wee gold potatoes. Took 'em home and my husband used them in our go-to chickpea curry. Delicious!

Personally I'd love that many raisins on hand, but I know I'm not the norm. But they'll freeze, won't they?

I made this absolutely beautiful tomato galette with the last of my summer tomatoes (snow in Denver tomorrow!). Crispy, buttery crust, juicy, roasted tomatoes, salty cheese...just delicious. And then. I thought my husband had put it away for the evening and he didn't even notice it was still out, so I had to throw it away the next morning. There must be a word for this particular misery, right? So sad! :(

I...don't want to add to your misery, but...I feel like you could have still eaten that....

Technically, you were right to throw it out.

My local market had nothing but MASSIVE Honeycrisp apples (five weighed 4 pounds 5 ounces!). The recipe called for 6 apples at about 10 ounces each. I decided to cut each apple in half and bake them that way. Since the total weight was close to the original recipe, I only shortened the baking time by five minutes. I also used Penzey's Apple Pie Spice instead of straight cinnamon. The house smelled so wonderful as they were baking. The apples reheat in the micro well, and are delicious with salted caramel vanilla ice cream. Thanks for another great recipe!

That all sounds great! Love being able to offer a recipe people can riff on and enjoy.

Old-Fashioned Baked Apples

RECIPE: Think beyond pie with these 6 spectacular apple dessert recipes

I’m growing an heirloom pepper called Trinidad Perfume that has a unique floral flavor. It is also a beautiful pepper – bright yellow “lanterns” hanging on a pepper tree. I’ve been lightly sautéing the peppers whole for a simple side dish with grilled meats. I’d love more recipe ideas to showcase the floral flavor. I have a TON of the peppers to harvest in the next week, so the more ideas, the better!

Are they spicy or mild? If they're spicy, you could sub them into the sauce or the chicken in this Curry Chicken With Red Hot Pepper Sauce. If mild, perhaps you could use how you might use poblanos.

I'm wondering how best to substitute for cashew cream in a recipe. I'm not a vegetarian and don't have any problem with eating cashew cream, but I've never had good results when I make it at home. I would think I could probably sub 1:1 for the dairy of my choice. The problem is that recipes typically call for a cup of CASHEWS, which are then made into cashew cream of an unspecified volume. So would a recipe that calls for a cup of cashews need 1/2 cup of dairy? 1/4 cup? Also, for consistency, would it need to be cream? Half and half? Whole milk? Thanks! (I'm sure this would also help people with nut allergies!)

I'd have to look at the recipe (want to send an example or two), but you should look at how much liquid is included with 1 cup cashews. I'd sub cream -- or, depending on the preparation, Greek yogurt could work. Start with 1 cup, I'd say, if you're not sure.

Can they be portioned and frozen for future uses? (Plus, do I detect a little snarkiness amongst the editors? It's a valid question.)

Sure, definitely pop them in the freezer. 

And, yes, regular chatters here will know the Food team is divided with regard to raisins. Joe, among others, is an avowed skeptic.

I love them. :)

I made the turkey kebab recipe on Sunday afternoon. I used ground lamb (because I had some in the freezer) but followed the rest of the recipe exactly. The kebabs and tahini sauce were DELICOUS. But I strongly disagree with your 25 minute time span, unless you are moving at the speed of a "Chopped" contestant. Afterwards, the cleanup took an hour (sticky tahini, lots of grease on the grill pan). I will make this again but not on a weeknight.

Glad you liked them! Just curious: What did your prep clock in at? Hope you found it was worth it!

The best - your responses sound like gut-jerk reactions. Makes me laugh every time.

One person's snark is another person's humor! 

My gut-jerk reaction was "throw them away," but I really hate wasting food.

Good morning submitting early on my way to volunteer in DC public schools training. The only reason I would prefer Beyond Meat over even trying the Impossible Burger is because the latter has soy as one of its ingredients and for me that is a no way. I also like and enjoy the taste of the Beyond Meat.

I love real Parmesan and have been willing to pay the price before the tariffs, but I’m at my limit now. If the prices go up, what’s an edible domestic substitute (no who knows what pregrated “cheese” in a cardboard container please).

Try a domestic Parm (and not the pregrated "cheese" powder, of course): I like Bel Gioiso's.

I have limited storage space that is cool and dark. I’d love to keep both potatoes and onions there, but I remember reading or seeing somewhere that you shouldn’t store the two them in the same space for some reason. Is there any truth to that or am I just confused?

Truth! Onions can hasten sprouting in potatoes.

Hello! For Thanksgiving this year we're going down the turkey route which is not the norm for us. Can you suggest any good, local farms to contact to buy a heritage bird? Apologies in advance if you've already answered this recently.

I would check in with a few farmers markets near you. Some Whole Foods and Mom's and smaller shops will sell, too. We used to run a list, and here's what I put together in 2013, if you want to start somewhere, although obviously things have changed in 6 years.

They're my fave veggie and I've always wanted to know more about different types and what they're used for. I just picked up a couple of pounds of little fresh-out-of-the-ground ones and am wondering whether to roast or make salad.


Pickled raisins sound awesome! Recipe? Uses?

They are really good, even to this raisin skeptic. The recipe is part of this one that we posted earlier. Great on salads, grain bowls, pasta dishes, cheese trays -- lots of places!

Last night we had baked potatoes for dinner. I deliberately bought big ones so I'd have some leftover for lunch today. I didn't make that clear to my husband so when he did the dishes my potato went down the garbage disposer. The pain is still fresh.

Bummer. :-/

I've got a trick to remind me that there is still something to be taken care of at the end of the night before I go to bed. I leave the light on over the stove. Helps me to remember to put something into the fridge or to wash that soaking pan.

Yes! I do that too sometimes!

I always, but always, soak the tahini measuring container until after mealtime, and put it and the grill pan in the dishwasher on the Pots & Pans cycle with extra scrubbing time. But that's because I've got a great dishwasher. Otherwise, as you say, that's a lot of tedious hand-washing. The grill pan sometimes comes out with food still stuck on it but the grease is gone so a quick hand-wash cleans it perfectly.

Re: tahini, you should oil the container before measuring out the tahini. It'll slip right out.

Thank you so much for the apple article and recipes! I went to college in apple country down there and it was a treat. I'm learning so much about heirloom breeds now, too. But while I can't wait to make the masala chai cake recipe, may I ask why it calls for oil rather than butter? I like to use butter for cakes.

Oil in cakes makes them especially moist and tender. It also lends itself to a stir-together cake, which this is. Butter is often used when you want to aerate a cake by beating it with sugar. If you were absolutely set on butter, I guess you could use melted and cooled here.

Chai-Spiced Apple Butter Cake

RECIPE: Chai-Spiced Apple Butter Cake

You validated my own taste test, and I piled on condiments. But hey, maybe the food industry is getting an inkling of changing tastes? I prefer the BGR veg recipe that was in WaPo years ago - quite good

I love that one, too!

BGR Veggie Burgers

Reminds me of the old joke about the best way to make a martini with vermouth- swirl a splash around the glass then throw the glass away. But I do recognize that in these increasingly partisan times we need to find ways to unite not divide so raisin lovers I appreciate you even if I cannot understand you

Yes, those jokes made the rounds again when Carrie wrote about martinis!

How to make a martini your guests will love -- or at least love to argue about

Hello again. It is the chatter who had to dump her pickles from last week. Despite/since there was zero evidence of growth of anything to date, I dutifully dumped everything. I also soaked all the jars/lids/rings in a bleach solution (just in case). Am I free to try again (with new lids of course)?

Yes, you should be fine. FWIW, if you were to have issues with botulism, it can be hard to detect visually, etc. Better safe than sorry.

Boiling purple cabbage will turn the whole thing a horrible blue. I am sure you could dye a sweater in the water, though. I make a cabbage "stew" with cabbage sliced thin with onions and apples, and a little vinegar, either wine or apple, keeps and even enhances the color. 

There you go!

It's hardly the most-needed help in these crazy days, but it'll help me not ruin more meals -- When a recipe says to cover ingredients with plastic wrap and microwave, how do you keep the plastic wrap from melting onto the food? Is there some special kind of microwavable plastic wrap? Most recently, I wanted to cook [or maybe just heat?] some Trader Joe's shu mai, which come frozen. The directions say to rinse the dumplings, cover them in plastic wrap, and microwave for 1-2 minutes. On a second batch, I used a paper plate instead of plastic wrap and it worked fine. Should I just substitute a paper plate from now on?

There are microwave-save plastic wraps, but honestly you don't need them! Use a regular plate, a paper plate, a damp paper towel, etc, etc.

Seconded. I always just use a plate on top of a bowl for microwaving. Planet-friendly!

Hi, I make mincemeat (rum, brandy, dried fruit, etc.) and need to can it so that I can ship it to family. I have been using a reliable recipe (from the 70s) with the timing on a hot water bath for small jars, but I'd really like to be able to do pint jars or even a quart jar. I can't find a reliable source to help me figure out how long to process. I'm really hoping you can help me. Thanks

I don't think we'd feel comfortable guessing, but I've got two resources who might be able to help.

National Center for Home Food Preservation

Ball (as in jars) hotline

What's with avocados? I've tossed too many in the compost recently. They seem perfectly ripe - peel brown, a little soft, stem comes out easily. And it's rock hard inside. What's a cook to do? I've left them out to ripen, left them in the fridge. No luck either way. Help?

Hmm, not sure what's going on here. Have you talked to the produce folks at the store where you're buying them?

I have two totally unrelated questions that came up this weekend . First - what constitutes one shallot? Many recipes specify the number of shallots to use, but most of the ones I buy have 2 separate “ cloves”, like the cloves in a head of garlic. Would each of these be a shallot, or should I use the whole thing? ( I usually choose based on how big the cloves are, and how much I think the recipe is calling for.) Second question - I’ve never used a vanilla bean in baking before, just the liquid, but i’ve had two for several years, stored in a glass tube in the pantry. Do they go bad? I was making a recipe that called for cutting one open and scraping out the seeds, but when I did that, it was all mushy inside and didn’t smell particularly vanilla-y. I ended up using bottled vanilla instead.

Recipes aren't consistent on the shallot thing, are they? Especially as they've gotten so big over the years! I have been known to call for shallot "lobes," which I think is clearer. But you're right to do as you're doing, using your judgment. 

On vanilla beans, I've never seen them go bad, but if anything they get really hard and difficult to cut open/scrape. Soft inside seems good, but the lack of smell doesn't. That said, when you get good ones, they are a beautiful thing.

Hi! I need to make a lot of meatballs for a party. Because I have so much other stuff to do, I'd ideally like to be able to roll the meatballs the night before (maybe even do the browning the night before, or early in the morning?) and toss them in a dutch oven or slow cooker all day so that I can focus on the rest of the stuff I need to do before the party. I need at least 2 dozen meatballs. Any kind (Italian style, Swedish, Asian... any kind) will do as long is it id delicious and will impress. And I don't just want to dump frozen meatballs in. We also have an insta-pot, if that might work for something.

I don't see why you couldn't form and even brown them the night before/morning of, sure. Then heating them in a slow cooker -- in a sauce, yes? -- would be smart, too.

What a blast from the past. I haven't thought about apple butter in years but the article flooded me with memories of my Aunt Millie... She gifted jars of apple butter every year, and they often replaced the previous year's almost full jar in the fridge. My grandmother tried to regift her jar to those who weren't on Millie's list, but frankly it only took meeting her once to become a lifelong recipient and more than once a regifted.jar was recognized & got a "oh no you don't I already have two" reaction :). I'm honestly not sure if it was that her apple butter wasn't great, if people just didn't like apple butter, or if it was collective exhaustion from years/decades of a never ending parade of jars... my guess is the latter, given that many years we didn't even try the new batch. Regardless, the article made me wish I had a jar of hers in the fridge to try, especially since Millie's last batch was made at least 15yrs ago now, a few months before she died.

This is such a funny, sweet story! To quote the quotable Joni Mitchell, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone." Thanks for sharing.

I'm afraid the problem is that this area is too far from avocado-growing regions. We never actually plan to have avocados in a meal but when we find a reliable source, we change our menu for that night. Also, the peel shouldn't be brown.

Not sure where the poster is located, but the Falls Church Farmers Market and the Westover Farmers Market usually have vendors who take orders. Suggest ordering early.


The Amish market in Rockville will take your order. I am not sure if you can ask for a frozen turkey, I rather suspect not. I don´t know where the reader is, maybe there are Amish markets in other places as well. In the one I know the majority of the vendors come from Pennsylvania, and in Maryland they can also be found in Laurel and Hagerstown, as well as in West Virginia. Look it up in the web under Amish markets plus zipcode. Mary in Chevy Chase

Aha! I keep both masala chai and ghee on hand so I know what I'm making tonight

Happy baking!

What's wrong with a nice raisin scone or oatmeal raisin cookie??

Nothing that removal of the raisins can't fix!

Cut off the tips and stand them in a little bit of rum (my preference) or other liquor in a closed jar. They will suck up the booze and get soft and easy to use. And the booze that remains will taste of vanilla!

I bought the spicewalla chai masala recommended in the apple butter cake recipe, but, now I just want to sit and inhale the scent. It's amazing. By this weekend I may be convinced to use it for the cake recipe.

So good, isn't it?

Chai-Spiced Apple Butter Cake

Egads, I totally would NOT throw that galette away unless immuno-compromised people were present. But I know I'm a radical outlier in the germophobe wars. Anyway, I'm working at home so I made Joe's chickpea soup. Still simmering away. I like a soupy soup so I added broth from making dried lima beans that included a pasilla chile. It smells wonderful. Now that its FINALLY cool(ish), any more intriguing soups I should know about? Too easy to fall back on old soup habits.

Here's a whole list of awesome plant-based soups I put together a little while ago.

I, too, am thrilled about soup season and ready to get back on my soup game! I love avgolemono so I'll be making this herby version (Parsley Soup) this weekend. Made some pozole verde pretty recently that was delicious (here's our Chicken Pozole Verde, though mine didn't have chicken). 

Sometimes garlic sauteed with salt also turns a turquoise-blue shade. Must be something about the onion family reacting to salt.

Coat them in melted milk chocolate and they're suddenly delicious candy Raisinets. Or if you're unkind, you could dole them out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. I remember hating it as a child when people gave little boxes of raisins instead of candy. If it happened twice, I skipped that door the following year.

All this talk about apple butter reminds me of something I haven't eaten for years, cottage cheese with dollops of apple butter on it. Might have to have some. I remember years ago, before most restaurants added more vegetarian dishes to their menus, about the only thing we could get at the old Peter Pan Inn, aside from their corn fritters, was cottage cheese and apple butter.

Hit the Central American market in Mt Pleasant. They will give you perfect avocados for today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. And they are always right when they tell you when it will be ready.

Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote that a cucumber should be peeled, sliced, well dressed with vinegar and pepper, and thrown out as good for nothing. My husband feels that way about raisins and I love them.

Is there a good method for baking sweet potato fries that still gets a crispy result? Trying to avoid frying if possible, but baking often ends up with kinda mushy fries.

These Sumac Sweet Potato Fries get a coating of dried polenta which help them say crispy! 

Every time I look at your photo of rows of potatoes, I see them as a "beaded" curtain of the sort popularly hung in open doorways in mod/hippie times.

You know who is behind it, of course?

Sour cream raisin pie!

I've found the best way to brown meatballs and still keep them round is to deep fry them till they're brown then continue cooking them in your sauce.

My dad was a martini drinker. A very dry martini drinker. There was a bottle of Vermouth in the house, but it was never opened. When we moved, the Vermouth was left behind.

The Raisinet person should totally win today's cookbook prize if there is one. That is a terrific idea - off to google how to do it.

Since we're on the subject, I wanted to mention that vacuum-packed frozen fish should -never- be defrosted (even in the refrigerator) in its sealed packaging. Always remove the fish. Otherwise it's a "perfect storm" for botulism growth (1. it's packaged raw, not sterilized; and 2. the vacuum-packaging is an anaerobic atmosphere where botulism toxins can be produced). Even if you cook the fish at a high enough heat to kill the spores (which you probably won't, since it's fish) no amount of heat will kill the toxins that have already formed. Once the package is opened, you expose it to oxygen, so the spores won't form, but just slicing a hole might leave anaerobic pockets, so the fish should be removed. It's fine to seal it up again in a Ziplock for defrosting.

True! Bonnie included this in her piece about frozen fish last year.

I always soak it overnight - a doddle to do in the morning.

How would that maple cake (and icing) do as cupcakes? I need something for a potluck this weekend, and cupcakes always go over better with this group than cakes do. (Nobody wants to slice the cake, and it never gets finished. Cupcakes get hoovered up.)

Pretty sure it would work great!

Another use for raisins is an old-fashioned double crust (lattice) pie. Or tarts. And Food Crew, I love you, but now I feel like the other kids in the lunchroom just looked at my lunch and said "ewww."

Didn't mean to yuck on your yum! All I said at the outset was, "Pickle them!" Then more questions came, and, well...

Some of the boxes are still standing and every time I pass by one, I think, This would be a perfect "dispensary" where the Food staff could share what they've made in their kitchen. Like an automat.

I like it.

They were stored at too cold a temp. Similar to stone fruits that never ripen. The cold retards the ripening. But too cold prevents it all together. I too hate it when I pay upwards $5 for an avacado and have to toss it. Complain to the store. Bring it back and show them. Don't settle for poorly stored produce.

I bake my meatball ahead of time. I make a sauce separately. Then I heat both (meatballs in the microwave to take off the chill and then heat the sauce. I dump everything in the crockpot/slow cooker to stay warm and not to overcook into mush.

I also have limited storage space. For me, storing potatoes and onions on separate shelves in same (small) cupboard work well.

Good to know, thanks.

To avoid gluey mashed potatoes it also helps to dry them a bit in the pan after you drain them. And then add the milk/butter and mash.


I already make Turkey meatballs and meatloaf with roasted eggplant added in, but like the sound of the seasoning for these! Unfortunately, can't do zucchini, but I will modify and use eggplant instead. Can't wait to try them!

Years ago I got this recipe with my old CrockPot. It is very good and I make it for New Year's eve each year. Enjoy!

Swedish Meatballs

1 pound ground chuck

¼ pound ground veal

¼ pound ground pork

1 ½ cups bread crumbs

1 cup milk or cream

2 large eggs

1 medium onion, minced

1 ¾ teaspoons salt, optional

¾ teaspoon dill weed

¼ teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cardamom, optional

3 tablespoons butter

10 ½ ounces beef broth (1 can)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

½ cup light cream

Soak breadcrumbs in 1 cup milk or cream 5 minutes. Add ground meats, eggs, onion, salt (optional), 1/4 teaspoon dill, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom. Mix well and chill for at least 1 hour.

Shape into 1" balls and brown lightly in butter.

Put in crock-pot as they are browned. (May be done on broiler rack in 400 oven for 15 minutes.) Add beef broth, pepper, cream, pan dripping, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon dill. Cover and cook on low for 4 - 6 hours. (High: for 1 ½ - 2 ½ hours.)

May be doubled for 4 1/2 quart crock-pot.


I have too much enchilada sauce. Like, imagine an irresponsible amount of enchilada sauce, and now double that. What do I do?

Freeze it! Make chilaquiles! Give it away! Make enchiladas! Then give those enchiladas away!

Rhoda!!! xoxoxo and RIP Valerie Harper. Was Rhoda's a bead curtain, or a potato one?

Oh, I loved her so, too. RIP indeed.

Beads all the way, although I wonder if you could just shellack those potatoes...

Do you have any favorite spicy fall cocktails?

We just put together a whole list of fall-appropriate cocktails! Everyone really liked the Apple Brandy Sour up at the top of the list, though I'm not sure you could call it spicy.

And why I keep coming back - what blows up (in a good way). So interesting what people respond to/have opinions on. Thank you to Food Team and all chatters.

It's fun, isn't it? Thanks for joining!

Cashews are in the same family as mangoes and, sadly, poison ivy, and I get a terrible allergic reaction when I eat them, so it breaks my heart, as a vegetarian, to see all the wonderful veg recipes that rely on cashews. Suggested subs are always welcome!

Yes, I could see how that would break your heart! It's kinda magical what they do for creaminess, but you should play around with some other nuts that you're not allergic to. Sunflower seeds and macadamias come to top of mind.

Is anyone familiar with this "traditional German Christmas cookie?" Are they good? Would like to try to make it, but recipes seem complicated and would love any tips. Sorry, didn't search WaPo recipes yet.

These were great!

Chocolate-Pear Lebkuchen

My niece and nephew have asked for brownies and gingerbread respectively....all the recipes for gingerbread that i see are to involved. any good easy gingerbread recipes to help delight these little ones? ditto for a good fudgy (nut free) brownie. thanks advance!

OK; I just wanted to mention it because there was a Q/A in the September 4 chat that had me concerned (there was no indication that the frozen fish in that chat was vacuum-packed, though).

Some of the guests at our Thanksgiving meals grew up on them - no judge here. The people get what they want, with other options. Would love to hear of any other opinions from people interested in cooking and food.

Thank you all for your comments about raisins, no matter which side you are on. Thank you especially to those who gave constructive comments. I can't remember the last time a Food chat made me laugh so much.

So glad!

I am amazed my mother didn't poison me as a kid. She was a wonderful cook but had a dangerously cavalier attitude to food safety. She's Brit and would always say I was 'too American' about food safety. Then there was the time she was breading fish and after patting breadcrumbs on some of the fish stuck her hand right back in the container. When I pointed this out, even she admitted that was not a good idea, and mum is not good at admitting fault. Obviously I threw away the bread crumbs, but it makes me wonder what horrors I unwittingly encountered. Still - looking in on the bright side, I do have a pretty robust digestive system.

That brings me back. When I was a kid I wanted beaded curtains on my closet door and my mom said no. She said if I still wanted them when I got my own apartment, I could have them then. Alas, I never did.

It's not too late! I mean, macrame is back, so why not beaded curtains?

Don't give them out as home-portioned Halloween treats, plain or chocolate covered. Parents will just throw them out as from an unknown source.

I ended up not taking the fish in the cooler, it's still in my freezer. It actually is in plastic, and we were not informed about the risks of thawing in the plastic, and have probably put ourselves at risk numerous times. I will certainly be more careful from now on!

"That which does not kill us will make us stronger."

"With great power comes great responsibility."

Sorry, I don't know how that replies, I just like saying it.

I just wanted to say thanks for the article on quick pickles. We have a bumper crop of Aji Dulce peppers this year and now have 6 quarts in the fridge pickling. They are delicious.

We didn't have beaded curtains back in college. Had a friend who had a summer job with the highway department. So, we ended up with orange and blue plastic ribbon curtains.

Love it.

Sort of like those dried-pepper ristras I used to have in New Mexico.

Tell me you're kidding.

Why would I kid about something so serious?

Especially about something with which I have such a personal connection?

Not all they are cracked up to be. Noisy and zero privacy.

Oh, but the look!!!

When I was a kid, we'd just eat the homemade treats "on the go" during trick-or-treating, so our parents wouldn't see them and take them away. It's amazing I survived my childhood.

that sounds delightful---how is it unfrosted? can i think out some greek yogurt in place of the milk (i've got everything eles at home and too lazy to leave to go to the grocery store!)

It's good unfrosted, like a nice snacking cake. The yogurt gives me pause because it's more acidic than milk, which might change the rise and how it interacts with the leaveners. Maybe try 1 teaspoon baking soda to counteract, which is what the original recipe called for anyway -- we had just found it made the cake a little too airy and slightly metallic tasting. But the yogurt could balance it out.

Does food processor blade issues ring any bells?

As the weather cools off, I'm more willing to turn on the oven to roast vegetables, and just wanted to say that I love the tamari sauce from Tom's recipe (last year I think?) So flavorful with just 4 ingredients that I typically have on hand, and I use it in small batches w/carrots, squash, etc. and keep the rest of the marinade in the fridge.

That was mine, not Tom's. So glad you like it!

RECIPE: Tamari-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Thanks to an abundance of family and friends in New Mexico, I have way too many dried chiles and chile powder. Putting one at a time into a stock or with sauteed veggies just doesn't make a sufficient dent in the population. Any ideas about ways to use up bunches? There is no such thing as "too spicy" in my vocabulary.

Becky wrote a guide on dried chiles--if you scroll down at the bottom, she's got some suggestions on how to use them, though not in big batches. Re: batches, you could make a LOT of enchilada sauce? Like the one featured in these Red Shrimp Enchiladas maybe.

WF will start taking orders soon, not just for the small-farm, local turkeys, but other game birds. We got pheasants a couple years ago!

Once there were comments about the fast French onion soup, now they are gone!

Last I looked I still saw 130 comments on the story. Are you looking somewhere else?

The box of parchment paper I bought at the supermarket says the paper can be reused three times. In my experience, whatever surface area isn't directly covered by what I'm cooking singes to the point that it crumbles like the pages of an old paperback when touched. Should that not happen? So far, I've only used it for cookies and Bisquik drop-muffins

Wow, that sounds like... not very good parchment. What's the brand? Should definitely not be doing that at a regular oven temp -- what, like 350 or 400? At a higher temp, sure, but that is really odd.

At one neighborhood house, the man would hold out a tray of peanuts in the shell and say, "Take One".

I just returned from a visit to the LA county beach town I grew up in. Fab weather and while walking around, I saw a surprising number of beaded curtains hanging in exterior doors to permit the lovely ocean breezes without pesky flies. So, everything old is new again. I like saying that.

Your one liners have me laughing out loud. Thanks for the chuckles.

It must be the cold meds.

Not the kind you can cut with cookie cutters, but, this is my all time favorite gingerbread recipe, you can never have too much ginger, and this uses fresh, powdered, and crystalized.

I assumed the kiddos were asking for gingerbread cookies, but I could have been wrong. So here's a cake, too!

HOw about pickled a martini!?

I just finished Ruth Reichl's memoir Tender at the Bone, and the stories about her mother consistently serving rotten food are HARROWING. If anyone hasn't gotten enough from this chat!

One of my favorite food writers, the late Laurie Colwin, has a recipe for an easy chocolate cake. She says to use oil but then says "cheaters" can use melted butter. I've always wondered about that -- is there any discernible difference if you use oil versus melted butter?

Probably flavor might be a little different. And the fact that there's more saturated fat in butter might affect the texture some, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Well, you've cooled us on a wire rack, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today. Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who mentioned making Raisinets will get a copy of "The Washington Post Cookbook." Send your mailing info to, and she'll set you up.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables," "Serve Yourself" and the upcoming "Cool Beans." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Maura Judkis
Maura is a staff food writer at The Post.
Kari Sonde
Kari is the food editorial aide.
Emily Heil
Emily is a staff food writer at The Post.
Becky Krystal
Becky is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Tim Carman
Tim is a staff reporter for Food and writes a weekly column on casual dining for Weekend.
Olga Massov
Olga is a food editor at The Post.
Carrie Allan
Carrie is The Post's Spirits columnist.
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