Free Range on Food: The Pig to Table Project, quinoa, Vietnamese jerky and more

Oct 17, 2012

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions.
This week Tamar Haspel joins us to talk about her pig-raising endeavors. We also take a look at Vietnamese and Lebanese cuisine. Past Free Range on Food chats

Greetings! We are chewing, chewing, chewing. So many Asian jerkys at hand, thanks to the perspicacity of Tim Carman and his Immigrant's Table column. Also joining us for the hour: Pig to Table Project author Tamar Haspel with her second installment; hard reading for some, yet thought-provoking for all;  Wendy Polisi of; maybe Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin;  definitely staffers Jane Touzalin and Becky Krystal.

Chat prizes to give away:  "The Lebanese Kitchen, " reviewed so ably by Jane Touzalin, and "Grain Mains," by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.  Two winners announced at the end of the session. Ready, set, ask.

Pictured below: Stephanie Sedgwick's healthful Potato, Leek and Chard Chowder. We loved it.

I was wondering what the nutritional difference is between corn tortillas and wheat tortillas. I'm not sure which would be better for me.

Here are the numbers from our nutritional database:

Flour tortilla (6 inches)
97 cal
2 g fat
1 g sat fat
o mg cholesterol
191 mg sodium
15 g carbs
1 g fiber
1 g sugar
2 g protein

Corn tortilla (6 inches)
41 calories
1 g fat
0 g sat fat
9 g sodium
8 g carbs
1 g fiber
0 g sugar
1 g protein

This is exactly why farmers, real farmers, do not 'develop relationships' with their stock. They cannot be pseudo pets, then serve as dinner. It is mostly unfair to the animal, as they also develop "relationships" with people, then face the ultimate betrayal. What a sad article.

So, if you're going to kill an animal and eat it, better to withhold affection the animal seems to enjoy, thereby diminishing its quality of life?  Can't go there with you.

The idea that animals we're going to eat are a special class, and deserve different (read: worse) treatment is at the root of factory farming.

I never see the red ones anymore. Are they still around? Are they ever naturally red? Do they taste the same as the ones with beige shells?

According to this story on Serious Eats (worth a visit daily, BTW), pistachios used to be dyed red to hide imperfections. Apparently machines do a better job at harvesting pistachios and the dyes are now unneeded.

Is the "film" I see on red or black grapes safe to eat, or is it a residue from chemical spraying? It's difficult to wash off, and comes off only with rubbing each grape. Tough to do and still keep them on the vine Thanks!

Robert Schueller, our pal at Melissa's World Variety Produce, says it's a natural bloom on just about all grape varieties (as well as pears, apples and plums).  The darker the grapes, the stronger the bloom. This coating protects against the weather and hot sun. It's not harmful; no need to make it go away -- unless it's the aesthetics you're after.

Chatters, what are some of your favorite recipes that call for grapes? I'll go first (and I'm not going to even link to Chocolate Grapes): Farfalle With Red Grapes and WatercressHoney-Tarragon Turkey and Grape Salad; Nothing But Red Gazpacho.

I was recently gifted a doughnut pan, and am looking around for reliable recipes for the baked version. I plan to make the lemon ones you featured recently, but do you have any other sources? How could I adapt a cake or muffin recipe to work as doughnuts, or is that a no-go?

I tested a great Barefoot Contessa recipe from her new book: Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts. You'll want to make those (in the section in a few weeks, when she comes to town!. The batter only used baking powder as a leavener, and the batter also struck me as being lighter than a cake batter.  If you don't mind us doing a little research and checking back next week, we'll do that.  And of course we'll open it up to the knowledgeable chatters today!

I greatly enjoyed Joe's piece about quinoa this morning. I feel similarly about the grain and have cooked with it just a few times. I have a friend who really loves it though, and I'm thinking of using it in a dish for Thanksgiving with roasted parsnips, dried cranberries, pistacchios and a lemon-shallot dressing. You mentioned toasting the quinoa, which is an interesting idea. Did you try doing that first before boiling it? Sounded like the toasted quinoa was used as-is. I'm curious what toasting and boiling together might be like--sort of like toasting rice first before making risotto.

You can toast quinoa prior to cooking it.  It only takes a few minutes and it does a great job of bringing the nutty flavor out.  You would do this in exactly the same way that you would toast rice prior to making risotto.

OK, I am not a vegetarian or vegan but to name my pig and then eat him/her and refer to the meat as "Spot chops" or in the case of poultry "Barbara's breast" is enough to make me want to be a vegetarian. As it is I go weeks without having meat or poultry or fish. Glad they are able to do it but I could not and to each his own.

Part of the point of the pig project is to close the distance between us and our meat.  You're certainly not alone in finding the idea of eating an animal you know unpalatable.  But I think that, if we're going to eat meat, we need to remember that it was once an animal.  And, if I'm going to eat an animal, I would prefer it was an animal that someone (not necessarily me) took good care of, and maybe even named.

Even though we wake up 2 hours before we have to run out the door for school drop-offs, we rarely have more time than to pour a bowl of cereal. Now that it's getting colder, cereal is not comforting. Tater tots are my usual throw in the oven then grab a shower breakfast for the kids. Eggs usually are not possible because I have to stand at the stove when I should be packing lunches and pulling sweaters over heads. Do you have any ideas for a breakfast I could prepare the night before and just throw in the oven in the morning? I would prefer something filling and not too sugary as the kids need to sit still during their lessons.

How long do you have to cook? You can assemble this Baked Apple, Smoked Turkey and Cheddar Strata the night before and then cook for 40-50 minutes. You could also make your own waffles to just be reheated in the toaster oven.

Waffles of Many Flours and Meals

Thanks for the story about quinoa today. I didn't realize it was a complete protein -- great to know for this vegetarian though! Since it's soup time of the year, can I simply put quinoa in all soups in place of or in addition to pasta/orzo perhaps?

Yes.  Quinoa is great in soups!  I actually love doing a combination of quinoa and pasta/orzo.  Assuming you are going to be cooking the soup for at least 30 minutes, you can put the dry rinsed quinoa right into your soup.

Enjoyed the article. I love the stuff but my preferred way of cooking it is with less liquid -- about two to three tablespoons less per cup of liquid. The quinoa comes out fluffier and it has a wonderful chewy "poppy" texture. Question about cooking it longer than the package says: would it zap the nutritional benefits like cooking veggies to death does?

No, because when you cook quinoa longer you are also cooking it at a much lower temperature. 

I have to admit I'm not a big fan of the quinoa texture. I love couscous and bulgur wheat, but quinoa is just rougher and larger and frankly more difficult to swallow. And it has a funny aftertaste, too.

If you are getting an aftertaste it is because your quinoa hasn't been rinsed properly prior to cooking.  Often even pre-rinsed quinoa is still coated in saponin which makes it bitter.  To rinse it, place it in a fine metal strainer over a bowl and rinse until the water runs clear.  The texture of properly cooked quinoa shouldn't be rough at all but it can take some getting used to.  I suggest trying to mix it with other things if the texture bothers you but you want to include it in your diet for health reasons.

Any way to meet her while she's in town? I see her DC appearance is sold out :(

Sold out, at Sixth and I, you bet. Even on Halloween! But she's signing books in Annapolis from 3-7 earlier in the day.  Prepare to stand in a long line.

I heart Philly steak sandwiches, but I am clueless at making them. I can never seem to get the meat thin enough, and the meat I've picked in the past is usually too chewy. Do you guys have a good go-to recipe and/or tips? Thanks!

We have a recipe for Mini Steak 'n' Cheeses that says, "Use beef tenderloin for this preparation, rather than an inexpensive cut such as flank or skirt steak, so the meat will be tender and gristle-free." Maybe that's the way to go. Other thoughts, friends?

Mini Steak 'n' Cheeses

Any thoughts on quinoa flour?

Quinoa flour is a great protein rich flour, but like most gluten free flours it is best when mixed with other flours.  Generally speaking, you want to replace no more than 30% of your flour with quinoa flour.  It can smell quite earthy and the strong odor can bother some people.  An easy solution for this is to toast the flour on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet at 220 degrees for 90 minutes.  This brings out the nutty flavor.  You can then store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

I hope the next one is about meat science. A discussion of humane slaughter and then a variety of recipes for things such as scrapple, sausage, blood sausage, cured meats, etc. Bravo to the author for wading into the comments on her article.

There will be blood, I'm afraid, in the third story -- and meat science, too.  We will try to use everything we can.

Thanks for the moral support on the comments front!

I love whole oat cereal (not rolled or steel cut oats). I simmer 1 cup whole oats in 5 cups water for 2 hours the night before and then turn off the heat and let it sit overnight. In the morning, it just needs to be heated up (on the stove or microwave). I love it with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds but I could also do maple syrup!

A good number of breakfast ideas now coming in.

I have a potluck dinner/cocktail party to attend Friday night. I have plans Thursday night and will not have time to cook between the time I get home from work Friday and when I leave for the party. Of course I can always pick something up but I hate to do that (I normally looove to cook homemade meals). Any ideas for something that I can toss together in a few minutes that does not require cooking? Or is there anything I can make Wednesday night that I can simply pop in the oven while I am getting ready to leave Friday (30-45min cooking time but no prep) that will still be good? I'm at a loss.

My first instinct is to point you in a dessert direction, such as a pie, which can be made well in advance and heated right before you want to serve it (or not heated at all, depending on the pie). Something like this Banana-Peanut Butter S'mores Icebox Pie or Heather's Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie (pictured above).


If you want something savory and easy (and still want to look like you've put work into the dish), you could try these Chicken Tikka Masala Turnovers.

Greetings from steamy Baton Rouge! I hit upon a wet heat-dry heat way to reheat leftover pizza that had very good results, so I wanted to share. I had a piece of 3-day-old pizza that I wanted for dinner, but the crust was pretty dry. I thought about how commercial bakers use steam and heat to bake bread and decided to try an experiment. I put about 1/4 cup of water in a hot electric skillet, rolled some foil into five little balls as the water heated up, then placed those in the pan to serve as a base to keep the pizza out of the water. I steamed the pizza (with the lid on) for 4 minutes or so, then dumped out the water, dried the bottom of the pan, let it reheat for 30 seconds and put the pizza back in for another 3 or so minutes. Got a nice chewy-crispy crust. Not quite perfect, but a whole lot closer than any other method I have tried. I'm sure this could work on a stovetop, but I don't have one available right now. Thanks for these chats! I have learned so much from them over the years!

And now we've learned something. Not sure I would have thought of the foil-ball approach! Was this a fairly thick crust?

I recently traveled to Montreal and France and in both places I had a dish with butternut squash puree, poached egg, and foam. As I speak little French, they translated the ingredients, but I would like to try to make a version at home but have no idea how to find a recipe. Do you or the chatters know of one?

Check out our recipe for Squash and Apple Puree.

Squash and Apple Puree

The rest I'm not so sure about, but you could look at our poached egg story from the other week for pointers on how to do that.

Maybe the chatters know what this dish is?

In light of the info coming out about rice a few weeks ago, I decided to give up a rice for a week and am currently on day 3. I am gluten-free so knew that I ate a fair amount of rice, but really had no idea how much rice I actually eat. I am having rice withdrawals! It doesn't help that I have a sweet tooth and most gluten-free baked goods are made with rice flour. Any suggestions for sweet things that are wheat/rice/ gluten-free and not chocolate either unfortunately?

I have one word for you: macarons! Like this tasty Strawberry Macarons recipe from our database.

Awesome series. I think more people need to understand the relationship with what they're eating. Factory meat certainly isn't the same, in many ways, and has created too much space between our stomachs and heads. Glad to see that the author is sharing the story.

Thank you for that. Lots of commentary from the other camp. When Tamar pitched us the story, we knew it would be a difficult read -- especially come next month. But worth doing, we thought.

If the previous poster is talking real Philly cheesesteaks, you want to use thinly sliced ribeye. Probably need it custom cut by a butcher.

My fiance and I will be by ourselves for Christmas day, but flying to Jamaica the next day for a wedding bright and early. I'd really like to make a nice Christmas meal (yes, I'm planning ahead, but I'm excited) and start our own traditions as well. We figure any food we have in excess of two people we can bring to a shelter, but we're not looking to make a whole ham. I was thinking of doing a cornish hen for him and making a whole fish with some good sides, but can you think of anything else "fun"? Unfortunately my fiance has nixed homemade mozarella and pasta, but since we'll have the whole night before and the whole day, I'd love to have a "project" from scratch.

Well, who doesn't like a good gratin dish during the holidays? Try these Upper Crust Potatoes. Or how about this fun Yukon and Yam Croquetttes recipe?

I noticed on my label of Cabot Hunter's Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese that it contains "0g of lactose per serving". Does this mean lactose intolerant persons would not have an issue eating this cheese?

I'd say yes, that's what it means. Have you tried to call the company, just to be sure?

But always worry that I'm going to need specialty ingredients, does the cookbook provide alternatives if you can't easily find something.

As Jane says in her review, she found that lots of the recipes did not call for a trip to the Middle Eastern market.

I figured you'd want to know about this brief item from last week's New England Journal of Medicine, given that "The principal finding "is a surprisingly powerful correlation between chocolate intake per capita and the number of Nobel laureates in various countries."

The study on "Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates" looked at "Data on per capita yearly chocolate consumption in 22 countries" and found "There was a close, significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons." Study author Franz H. Messerli, M.D. acknowledges that "Of course, a correlation between X and Y does not prove causation [...] However, since chocolate consumption has been documented to improve cognitive function, it seems most likely that in a dose-dependent way, chocolate intake provides the abundant fertile ground needed for the sprouting of Nobel laureates." Personally, I think more study is needed, and I volunteer!

Thanks for sharing. I'm thinking the people at the Theo Chocolate factory I toured the other week in Seattle (a must if you're out that way) are probably all geniuses then.

I'm headed to the vending machine now.

Aren't cookbooks supposed to be edited? There's really no excuse for printing inaccurate measurements just because someone didn't know that a pint has two cups or 16 ounces. Or is this a cookbook more like a coffee table book, with a very high price, impractical pages and poor editing? If quantities are not really important, then the recipe should say something like "use a cup to a cup and a half" of an ingredient. (End of rant, but inaccurate measurements really bug me).

Oh dear. As someone who's in the middle phase of producing a cookbook (The Post's! due spring 2013!), I can understand the slips, at least:  the span of 500 recipes, and considering possible translation/metric glitches.  Even long-established and excellent cookbook authors (Dorie Greenspan comes to mind) end up with the occasional error or two. The GOOD thing to know is: Jane Touzalin, in reviewing this book thoroughly, found mistakes and alerted you. If  that kind of stuff sours the pudding, as it were, you'll know not to buy the book.

I loved today's article on quinoa, something I want to like more than I do. I want to try the patty recipe but wonder--how do you serve these? As a side dish? As a snack? With a dipping sauce?

They are actually good in all three ways that you mention.  I love serving them with a dipping sauce, but they are also pretty tasty straight from the refrigerator as a snack.

This week, I need to thank Joe for two things. First, the quinoa. Man, I've felt the exact same way, and I'm so glad for the new ideas. In fact, I've been wondering if I have something in the pantry that could give some body to a soup I want to make this weekend, and that's clearly it! Second, I finally got Serve Yourself (I'm a little slow on the uptake). I haven't had a chance to cook from it much, but your suggestion to toast sandwich bread just on one side is genius. Genius! That way the bread holds up but doesn't squish out all the fillings when you bite into it. Joe, you are my hero.

We shall pass that along to Joe, who's on the road today. I think he picked up that toast one side trick from Tom Colicchio's Craft.

Speaking of corn tortillas, are they an acquired taste or what? I find them their taste overpowers everything else in tacos, even if it's a loaded taco. Maybe I just can't stand the taste :( I really want to like them.

Hey, don't be ashamed. Sometimes you just don't like something. I will say that it took me a while to come all the way around to corn tortillas, but now I vastly prefer them to flour.

Where have you been eating tacos?

I would like to eat more quinoa, but I'm at a loss for how to rinse it without losing half of the seeds in the colander. I have a fine mesh colander, but the still get through. Any tips besides putting a paper towel over it? They always stick to it and they end up everywhere when brushing them into the pot!

One option is to by pre-rinsed quinoa.  It is slightly more expensive, but if rinsing it is a problem this can be a good solution.  You do need a very fine colander, and even then, I always rinse over a big pot so that anything that gets through isn't wasted.

I think the pig-raising story is really brilliant and am looking forward to the final chapter. I think the writer's willingness to get the know the animals and write about it honestly is really brave. I think many people are content to buy pre-slaughtered packaged cuts of meet at the store because they "don't have to think about it." It's so divorced from a living being at the point. But I think thinking about food is important. We should know where our food comes from--good, bad and the ugly--and accept it or make changes in what we eat. Purposeful ignorance strikes me as a poor defense for eating omnivoriously. As a meat eater who lives in the city and has never spent time on a farm, I find it very engaging to learn about the background if what I eat.

Thanks.  After hearing from so many people who really hate what we're doing, it's nice to hear from the other side.

I think the author is off slightly. It is one thing to humanely raise animals and allow the animls to live a relatively natural life, such as in grass fed beef which may only have minimal human to animal interaction but is no where near factory farming.

I don't understand why minimal interaction is a plus.  If the animal is engaged by it, and seems to enjoy it (and every pig owner I know says they do), how can interaction be anything but positive?

I've been reading the comments to the pig farming articles, and the comments from the vegetarians and vegans has been, predictably, scathing. As a vegetarian, I applaud the series. It remind people that eating meat involves killing a living being. I'm not militant...I respect your decision to eat meat and farm your own...but I think a lot of people will read the articles and start questioning their own diet.

Just want to say I was soooo excited to see part 2 today. I am an animal lover who aspires to be self sufficient one day, farming and raising small livestock. I am inspired by your journey and sense of humor. I can't wait for part 3, though it may be sad. Have you decided who you will keep for yourself? And have you thought about how you will deal with your feelings when the time comes to actually eat the meat? I'm not sure how I would do it, except maybe think of the good times and be grateful that they had happy lives? I am a sap, though... your thoughts?

I'm a sap, too, so your question is apt!  When we've slaughtered birds, one of the surprising things we've found is that they go from being an animal to being meat pretty quickly.  Once they're dead, cleaned, and cut up, they don't evoke the animal they used to be.  Or at least the birds don't -- I'm hoping the same is true for pigs.


I'm also hoping that there will be some pleasure in knowing the meat I'm eating was raised right here, and the animal enjoyed its life.  We're not sure yet which pig will be ours.  As a hedge, we may not take the least personable one.

I've read articles that says since quinoa has become popular here (and for good reason!), it is in danger of becoming unaffordable for people in Boliva, Peru, and Ecuador who depend on it as a staple. In trying to eat sustainably but also ethically, how can we approach issues like this?

One way to approach this is to try to buy quinoa that is grown outside of these regions.  It is now grown in some portions of the United States and Canada.  Another option is to buy only Fair Trade quinoa.

I grew up on a livestock farm and have eaten many meals that came in part from named animals. Most of the animals had been tamed to being either halter broken or scratched. I take comfort in knowing the source of my meat.

Me, too. Thanks.

One you gave a method on how to get rid of these pests. Help for some reason my kitchen is full of them.

Keep a dish of cider vinegar with a few drops of dishsoap in it on the counter, and cover the garbage.  Flies go in the vingar instead, and drown. Should help.

Yes, those pesky fruit flies. The do love to hang around a tasty kitchen, don't they? The Bug Squad has a number of good tips on disposing of the pests naturally.

What about making breakfast sandwiches? If you have whole wheat muffins and some type of cheese. Then you can make little fritattas in a muffin pan at the beginning of the week and warm everything up in the oven with the broiler. Also, although I'm only cooking for one, sometimes I make a big bunch of slow cook oats one night a refrigerate it. You can slice individual portions and zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then the kids can add milk, sugar, honey, fruit...whatever they want.

You all are making my daily bowl of cereal look rather lame.

You all have been doing a lot better lately, it seems, of including photos (online) of made recipes, which I love. Is it something you strive to do for every recipe these days? Is it something you'd consider going back and doing for older recipes? The reason I ask is that I love to use Pinterest to keep track of recipes to try, but there has to be an image on the page in order to make the pin. Maybe if images of the recipe aren't always possible, the recipe pages could include some kind of placeholder image just to make it Pinterest-friendly? I realize this is kind of a specific and probably not an easy request, but I thought I'd throw it out there. I know I'm not the only one using Pinterest this way!

I hear you.  This is going to sound like horn-tooting (and I apologize for that in advance), but when I came to the section, taking photos of all the recipes was not a priority -- that could be because, in part, the section was bigger and we ran so many! We used a freelance photog and stylist (the fab team of Renee Comet and Lisa Cherkasky much of the time). Anyway, I've certainly made it a goal to shoot as much as we can.  We do much of it in-house now, and I wish we were better at the stylin'. We're working on it.  Oh were looking for an answer? If we had the time or more manpower, we would go back and shoot  old recipes that are in Recipe Finder. Perhaps we can fit a few in from time to time. Send us 3 favorites to and we'll see what we can do.

I've thought about this issue a lot, & agree food animals should be raised with Kindness. But that involves empathy, whichcan make killing, and even eating the animal psychologically harmful. Ideally I think one family should raise, & a different family humanely slaughter & eat the animal. At minimum, I think those who raise should not kill. But eating an animal you raised can, I think, be done with love & gratitude and be similar to the gratitude & respect felt by some indigenous people towards allthe animals they eat.

I've proposed something along the same lines.  If everyone had backyard pigs, we'd need a cross-slaughtering system -- I kill yours, you kill mine.  It would be easier for everyone.  

But humans evolved raising and killing their own animals, and there's no reason to think it's beyond our power to do it well.

Check out how to make a pavlova. Super easy and my go-to gluten free recipe.

Good thought. We have one for Berry Pavlova With Passion Fruit Sauce. Use some of those raspberries I'm seeing at the farmers market.

Berry Pavlova With Passion Fruit Sauce

I'm going to make homemade toaster pastries with whole wheat crust and a filling of butternut squash, caramalized onions, and sage. I'll freeze them and can pop them in the toaster oven or oven at 400 for about 30 minutes while we're showering/dressing. Ready to go before we're out the door.

Sounds tasty. Can you send us the recipe? I'd like to try it out at home. Please send to

As a single woman who raised four kids, I have to say there's a problem if you can't take 15 minutes to scramble some eggs. Get up earlier.


Nothing specific here, just happy to see my favorite MIddle Eastern cooking featured. Lebanese cooking is cleaner and sharper than some of the sibling cuisines. Anissa Helou has another really good book on it.

After taking a cooking class I switched from my usual iodized table salt to kosher salt in my cooking. However, I'm finding I have to now add extra salt after cooking because my food isn't as flavorful/salty. Is there a difference in saltiness between iodized salt and kosher?

There's a difference in volume.  You'll need somewhere between 1.5 and 2 times the volume of kosher salt (depending on the salt) to get the same weight and, therefore, the same saltiness.

Where can I find pre-made wonton wrappers? I struck out at Whole Foods. Do I need to go to an Asian supermarket or do any of the chain supermarkets carry them? Thanks!

Just about all major grocers carry them now. Check the refrigerated aisle, or sometimes in the produce section.

I suspect you know about making Impossible Pies from Bisquick mix. Here's a mini version of them from Betty Crocker. This is a huge convenience but using packaged mixes is not my style. Do you know how Impossible Pies can be made fresh from scratch? Many thanks!

Well, you could make your own biscuit mix, which is detailed in our recipe for Coca-Cola Biscuits (awesome, by the way). Does that work for you?

Grape and rosemary focaccia, hands down. Lots of recipes for it on the Interwebs. Some add goat cheese, which is just too much. Warm grapes on seasoned flatbread? Yummm.


I'm all for treating animals humanely, but I do think that people go too far sometimes in thinking animals are the same as humans. This can actually cause problems for the animal - for instance, a lot of people (myself included at one time) think that our dogs are just so happy to see us when they go crazy whenever we come home. But it's actually a sign that they have issues with the social order of the pack and are suffering from anxiety. The whole naming pigs thing - let's face it, that's purely for us. I'm pretty darn certain a pig doesn't care if we call it Susie or Pig 23. It's fine if you want to name it, but I'm going to focus on farmers that provide things pigs actually care about.

Our pigs don't know their names and, even if they did, they wouldn't care -- as you point out.  What happens, though, is that you end up spending a lot of time with pigs in the process of providing those things they DO care about -- elbow room, companionship, dirt for rooting, dry shelter, clean water, tasty food -- that you end up naming them.  

The idea that sugar gives kids too much "energy" or makes them hyper has been debunked over and over again in many different studies. There's no reason to feed your kids excess sugar if you can help it -- it's still linked with obesity, not to mention what it can do to their teeth -- but "so they sit still during their lessons" is irrelevant.

Slow-cooker oatmeal (add raisins, brown sugar, toasted pecans, apple bits, etc); egg whites in a ramekin, 30 seconds in the microwave, on an English muffin with Canadian bacon and a bit of cheddar; big batch of weekend pancakes, waffles, muffins - reheated in the toaster, toaster oven or microwave. Leftover pizza!

Thanks for the ideas. Since my husband refers to quinoa as "that stuff that tastes like grass," but I kind of like it, I'm happy for more ideas.

My kids used to eat sandwiches for breakfast, filled with tuna, leftover frittata, whatever we had for dinner last night.

Unfortunately the best philly cheese steak meat I have cooked has been purchased pre sliced extremely thin and is placed between wax paper. What I tried to do myself was to take an eye of round roast, place it in a freezer for about an hour to chill it almost to freezing and then slice it as thin as possible. I then took a big piece of plastic wrap, spritzed it with water for lubrication, put the meat into it and then pounded it thinner. That was the closest I could get doing it myself.

Your review of the Lebanese cookbook said she included several recipes for hummus. Can you say basically what the differences are?

Jane's almost here, so I'll answer for her: Different ingredients, basically. A red pepper hummus, one with fava beans, one with pumpkin and cilantro (like the sound of that!), one with beets.

I'm a big fan of making healthy muffins (or another bread-product) with lots of nuts and fruit in them, and storing in the freezer. Microwave for 2 minutes and you've got a hot, hand-held breakfast!

I've found that cream doesnt have much lactose at all. Milk seems to take all the sugars with it. I can have real ice cream or cheese, but not milk. Read the labels!

I read somewhere recently about drying herbs in the microwave. Do you know about doing it this way? I can't remember where I read it and of course have forgotten the details.

The reputable-looking sources online (I'm quoting the NC extension service here) says:

Lay a single layer of clean, dry leaves between dry paper towels and place them in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on high power. Drying will vary with the moisture content of the herb and the wattage of the microwave oven. Let the leaves cool. If they are not brittle, reheat for 30 seconds and retest. Repeat as needed. Thick leaved herbs may need to be air-dried for several days before microwaving. 


I recently started buying quinoa at Costco, and I like it as an alternative to rice, pasta, or couscous. I found it difficult to rinse in a colander (it goes right through the holes) so I just put it in a pot with a couple of inches of water and swish it around. Most of the quinoa sinks to the bottom, then I pour off the water. I cook it like rice (1 cup quinoa, 1 1/4 cups water) for 30 minutes. But I always add seasonings to the water - chicken boullion, or garam masala powder, cumin, or whatever. I usually mix it with steamed or stir-fried vegetables rather than eating it by itself.

I'm planning on making some pumpkin muffins this weekend. I like to cut the amount of oil the recipe calls for, because as long as you eat them fresh, it basically tastes the same. But they do go stale faster sans oil, and there's only two of us in the house so we don't eat that many muffins. I was wondering, if I make a batch of batter, could I only make a few muffins and store the batter, doling it out throughout the week? How long could I store it for? Could I/should I freeze it? Or could I replace some of the oil with raw pumpkin and get the same result?

I would not be so keen on leaving batter hanging around. Couldn't you just bake up all the muffins at once and reheat them? That's what I would do. The night before you want them, let them thaw in the refrigerator. To reheat, wrap them in foil and cook for 10-15 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Hi all, I'm going on a wine tour in VA this Saturday and need to think of some good finger foods for the bus/lunch picnic that pair well with wine. Can you or any of the chatters recommend some good pairings for me? I'm in Arlington, so hoping to get some good ideas and pick up supplies and Trader Joes or Whole Foods but open to other suggestions. Thanks!

Here's what Wine columnnist Dave McIntyre recommends: 

Olives are always wine-friendly, as are mild cheeses and anything herbal - herbs de provence and tarragon especially seem to bring out good flavors in wines. The only thing I'd discourage would be really spicy (hot) foods. I personally don't like anything with raw onions, which tend to stay with me, and some people don't like chocolate with wine. Take plenty of water.

I would like to roast and season batches of pumpkin seeds (Old Bay, curry, etc) for an upcoming party. I'd like to make them in advance but I'm not sure how long they will last and how they should be stored. Would they be ok if I roasted them a week ahead of time and left them at room temperature?

Sounds reasonable to me.

Come on, Tamar. Not being friends with your pigs isn't cruel or anything like factory farming. It just seems strange to love the pigs and let the pigs love you knowing how it's all going to end. I'm not going to make any disgusting analogies, but I could. I get that you think it's only fair that you really understand what it means to eat animals. However, why the additional level of cruelness, to yourself and the animals? It's striking people as bizarre and borderline twisted. Do you see how or are you truly not getting it?

I never said not being friends with your pigs was cruel -- I just don't understand how being friends (to the extent that you can be, with a pig) is cruel.  I'm also under no illusion that the pigs love us -- they love food, certainly, and we bring that.


I'll be the judge of whether being attached to the pigs is cruel to me (and I don't think it is), but I honesty, truly don't get how interacting with a pig is cruel to it.

I heard a passing reference to being able to eat for free at culinary schools. The context was, getting freebies (haircuts, etc) from trainees. Are these free meals available in DC to people who are not enrolled in a cooking class but just want to eat? Thanks for finding out, and please pass the gravy!

I called L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, and a spokeswoman says, yes, the school does offer free meals, about once a semester or four times a year. But you need to make reservations. The problem is, L'Academie de Cuisine doesn't put those dates online. You'll need to call the receptionist at L'Academie and work out the date and time. The number is 301-670-8670.

As a philly girl, I like my homemade cheesesteaks with Steak-Ums from the freezer section. It comes in already very thin slices. I like to have mine with caramelized onions and ketchup. Try to find a football roll or a small hoagie roll, I think those work the best.

My husband just asked last night if grapes would work baked into a cake. I have a recipe that originally called for plums, but I've used sour cherries, pears, apricots, etc. It's a really basic bundt cake recipe I've seen in a million variations (oil, sugar, flour, nuts, fruit, etc). What do you think? Should the grapes go in whole, or should I cut them in half, or even smash them? I told him I'd try it this weekend, since our farm box should have grapes in it--I don't know the name of the variety, but they're big, dark red, mostly seedless. Thanks!

I think either way would be fine, although they might be kind of heavy in the batter and fall to the bottom, if they are kept whole. Then again, Bundt-type batters are usually thicker, aren't they? Let us know, if you try it.

Here's a homemade bisquick mix - yields 7 cups, refrigerate for up to 4 months. 6 cups all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons baking powder 1 tablespoon salt 1 cup vegetable shortening Directions: 1 Sift flour, baking powder and salt three times into a large bowl. 2 Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs. 3 Store mixture in airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 months. 4 Use whenever your recipe calls for "Bisquick mix". Read more here.

whole wheat tortillas are a big thing in the market these days. How would those stand up to corn tortillas? I'm wondering if they would have more protein or fiber to make it more nutritious.

Mission makes a 6-inch "Carb Balance" whole wheat tortilla: 80 cal, 2 g fat, 1 g sat fat, o mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein.

I've been meaning to ask for a while, and was just reminded when reading Joe's stew recipe, where do you find no-salt added vegetarian broth? I've seen salt-free boullion cubes, but never cans or containers of broth. I know I can make my own easily, but storage space can be an issue...

Kitchen Basics makes a no-salt-added vegetable stock. I've gotten that at my regular ol' Safeway.

If so, I'll put some in a gift basket for a friend. And if it is gluten-free, can it be used as a flour substitute?

Quinoa is gluten free.  Quinoa flour may be used as a flour subsitute or the seeds can be rinsed, toasted and ground in a high speed blender or food processor to make flour.  Generally, you only want to subsitute 30% of the flour in a recipe for quinoa flour.  (But this is true for most all gluten free flours.)

The red ones were to indicate they'd been salted. Unsalted was left natural.

That's not what I'm reading. Can you forward some reporting that backs that up?

It may say on the label that it has "0g of lactose per serving" but I've found from experience that I still need to take a Lactaid supplement when I eat it, or suffer the consequences.

Really good to know. Thanks for sharing.

If you make them that far in advance, they'll lose their crunch completely. Re-toast them in a hot skillet before you serve them.

Love the tip.

For Thanksgivings/Christmases with just my Hubs and I we roast a duck. It's something special, much smaller and more manageable than a turkey, and very very good.

And here's our story from the other year on Thanksgiving for two. Some good recipes there.

We like quinoa at our house, but it's sometimes a little too slippery for my toddler, those patties will be a great side for dinner sometimes soon. Do you have any other recipe suggestions where quinoa is incorporated into something?

For toddlers, any type of patties or burgers are great.  If you eat meat, quinoa is fantastic in meatballs and meat loaf or as part of the breading for chicken nuggets.  It can also be used in wraps, which makes it easy for little fingers.  A huge hit at my house is quinoa cookies using quinoa in place of flour.

We started receiving our share of a CSA this fall and I'm having trouble keeping the vegetables fresh for more than 1-2 days. I thought that they would last longer since I know they're fresh, but that's just not the case! Everything that needs to be refrigerated is put away promptly. I've started saving produce sacks from the grocery store to use in the fridge and that seems to help a little, but how should greens, carrots, turnips, and other fall favorites be stored so that they'll last more than 1-3 days?

It's always a challenge, isn't it? Have you heard about FreshPaper, which Jane Black wrote about awhile back? It might help you extend the shelf life of your produce. You can order FreshPaper here.

I'm sorry to hear that there are many people who hate to hear what you're doing. For what it's worth, and noting that I've been a vegetarian for 15 years, this series of articles has been quite interesting to me. I have had more exposure than most I think to livestock over the years than most (family/relatives kept a pigeon coop and chicken coop in Italy), have visited many agricultural areas, and love all information on craft approaches to producing foods even if I don't eat those foods. Anyhow, knowing the process and hearing about the intellectual and emotional thoughts that go into producing your own food from livestock is fascinating to me. I look forward to the finale.

Why thank you.  I'm with you in believing that knowing about food and where it comes from is a good thing.  

Put a coffee filter, basket filter type, in your large fine mesh strainer. Place it over a bowl for the liquid to drain will take a bit of time to do this.

I made these Baked Pumpkin Pecan Doughnuts. They were great, but I'd cut the sugar next time. I am also clamoring for more baked recipes--and versatile recipes, as the pan makes 6, in my opinion the perfect amount!

So noted. Yeah, what's the six-doughnut pans, anyway! Seems like a half measure to me. #dozennatch

The pronunciation manual's entry for Quinoa is pretty hilarious.

Thanks for your response. It makes me think I may have been biased by my father's experience. As a child on a sheep farm his job was to bottle raise the orphan lambs. His father then made him slaughter them. It was part of a pattern of abuse, & who knowshow much of his problems came from that particular aspect. In any case, perhaps young children who bond strongly with particular animals should not have to kill those particular ones. I do applaud your project, and your willingness to share it with us.

Ever hear of the FFA, Future Farmers of America?? The kids compete with cows, pigs, chickens, etc at state and county fairs. And the animals are auctioned off for slaughter later. The teach the kids to raise animals without getting attached. What do you people thing they do with the animals that they raise keep them? Not many of us would survive an apocalypse if it happened because too many don't know how to raise food, be it animal or plant.

I have heard of the FFA, but I'd be surprised if they really could teach kids to raise animals without getting attached -- most of us don't have that kind of control over our emotions.   You get attached despite yourself.

What they can teach kids, is that raising an animal, and caring for it, is not incompatible with its being food, either for them or someone else.

My mom made this cake, my husband says he would bathe with it if he could

(LOL) Fruit Cocktail Cake

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (14 ounce) can fruit cocktail-juice

2 cups flour


3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 Grease a 13x9-inch pan.

3 In a mixing bowl lightly beat the eggs, then stir in the sugar, baking soda, salt and fruit cocktail with juice.

4 Stir in flour, blending well, then turn into the prepared pan.

5 Bake for 30- 35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

6 Leave cake in pan.

7 To make the icing-------------------->>>. 8 In a medium saucepan combine sugar, milk and butter and bring to a boil.

9 Boil for a minute.

10 Stir in vanilla.

11 Pour hot syrup over fork poked cake while it is still hot from the oven.

12 Serve from pan while still warm or cooled.

Read more here.


What about bringing something snack-y for the appetizer / cocktail part of the night? I'm a big fan of spiced nuts. For almonds, buy 1lb raw almonds, toast at 375 for about 12 minutes, transfer to a bowl, and then pour 1.5T soy sauce and a dash of cayenne on top and stir until dry. You can do the same thing with cashew, lemon juice and curry powder, but you'll want to use closer to 1t curry powder.

Good thinking. I was going to suggest these Maple-Bacon Spiced Nuts.

Maple-Bacon Spiced Nuts

how about meringue?

Yup, plenty of meringue recipes too.

My grandparents named a calf after me, and one after my cousin, when I was about 10, which were then eaten after they were raised and butchered. If chicken was on the menu for Sunday dinner we used to ask our grandmother, "who are we eating?" or "do we know this bird?" because we played with the chickens quite often and many of them had names. It didn't scar us for life, but then again, we were spared having to witness the slaughter, unlike the generation before us who were expected to attend and assist with it.

I think your experience is telling.  Your parents and grandparents raised and slaughtered their own animals, you were the next generation and witnessed it, and now there are very few opportunities for kids to do either.  I think that's the reason what we're doing is so strange to people.  

I'd love to try some Vietnamese jerky -- any suggestions for where to find some in Montgomery County?

You can find some at the underrated Ba Le Vietnamese Deli in Langley Park. Get a banh mi while you're there. They make the head cheese and pate in-house.

I love the series. While a kid we would go visit my grandparents in Hong Kong. I have memories of my tiny grandmother fishing around to examine the various chickens or other animals in cages to pick the one she wanted. After that the vendor would kill & do the butchering. With all the talk of local foods, I feel like this is part of it. You always read about Native Americans and thanking the animal for giving its life as a food source, it's part of understanding that if you're going to eat meat that it is a precious commodity not to be taken lightly or wasted.

That's exactly it, I think.  If you raise an animal, and eat it, you certainly don't take it lightly or waste it.  

I don't know you, but I can just picture your grandmother!

Any suggestions from you or the chatters? I'm prediabetic, so try to avoid most refined grains, and have been finding that most "budget" meals rely heavily on pasta and other grains to bulk out the meal.

Quinoa is actually a great subsitution for most all refined grains and is a great food for prediabetics or diabetics. 

Some people at first don't like the smell of fresh tortillas, and that gets in the way of appreciating the taste. But if you get past that, fresh corn tortillas are so good, you'll want to make your own if you can't buy them at the corner. However, un-fresh tortillas are as different from fresh as, say, instant coffee is from fresh-brewed coffee. And even in Mexico, there are certain dishes where wheat tortillas are preferred -- like deep-fried "flautas" ("flutes" with chicken or other filling) and also "sincronizadas," which are grilled ham-and-cheese.

For Tamar: Thanks for so articulately writing about treating farm animals (that you plan to eat) respect. It really jives with what my farmer-friends have been telling me for years. And I will say, for a city girl like me, knowing one's food is a little strange at first, but somehow feels more...respectful.

Thanks for the kind words.  And, if you'd told me five years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, that I'd be doing this, "strange" wouldn't have begun to describe what I thought about it.

You actually posted the person suggesting Steak-Ums and ketchup? Come on folks, I know we like a lively discussion, but can't you just throw some responses away before they see the light of day?

I've eaten worse.

AT least one company makes a quinoa flaked hot cereal. It's blander than oatmeal but perks right up with some salt and butter.

You can also buy plain quinoa flakes and make your own hot cereal.  I actually like them mixed with oatmeal because the texture is so light.  They are great for baking too!

I loved the look of the koftas with tomato sauce, but was wondering if you might have a vegetarian recipe for koftas. Is this where the quinoa might come in?

This isn't something I have done, but this is a great use for quinoa.  You would want to add in beans in addition to quinoa so that your meatballs hold together well.

I read that Rachael Ray freezes the crusts of her bread loves to use for stuffing. I usually give the crusts to the birds, so that's no problem. My question is wouldn't the crust be too thin to make stuffing? Do I need to cut into the bread to make proper cubes, or is the thickness of the crust enough to absorb the stock when making stuffing?

Perfectly fine for stuffing. Just cut into small bite-size pieces. You'll want to toast them, maybe.

Have you checked your fridge setting/temp? If you are putting those veg in plastic bags, in a drawer, they should be lasting much more than 3 days.

I really appreciated Joe's article. Although I don't share his tentative approach to quinoa, I have really enjoyed bringing grains (and seeds, apparently) into my life. As a total carbaholic who knows well enough to not eat white pasta every day, these little alternatives allow me to get the satiated feeling I want with extra fiber, protein, texture and variety. Though I have to admit that bulgur is my favorite, as it gets cooler, I am definitely moving back into barley mode. Barley risotto is a life-saver. And also: these can all make for a great breakfast, as well.

I think the Food staff are amazing and am impressed with your knowledge. I'd like to throw out a challenge. For the next six months, only published recipes which use whole grains. (Perhaps have an exception for desserts.) I think our country would benefit from eating more whole grains and that there are two big impediments to this: inertia and lack of knowledge about how to use whole grains. I'd love it if seeing simple carbs in your recipes was the exception and not the norm. (I'm not criticizing your choices, they are natural given the average American diet, but I think changing Food's focus to whole grains would make you cutting edge.) What do you think of this challenge?

Okay, we're going to think about this, seriously. In the meantime, did you happen to catch the month of whole-grain Dinner in Minutes recipes that Lorna Sass did for us?All in the Recipe Finder.

Soft Chicken Tacos With Smoked Paprika Sour Cream

Mediterranean Quinoa (Ding Ding Ding!) With Broccoli

Curried Bulgur Pilaf With Ground Lamb and Beets (my fave)

Millet Timbales With Black Bean Salsa

This isn't exactly a cake, but I do like the tuscan bread called Schiacciata. Google should help you find recipes (search for "Grape Schiacciata").

Can this chatter share more details about the Thanksgiving dish with quinoa, roasted parsnips, dried cranberries, pistacchios and a lemon-shallot dressing? That sounds amazing and a nice alternative to the usual. Thanks!

Chatter, can you send along? If we close out before you can answer today, maybe next week?

I just got a Middle Eastern cookbook that calls for sumac in a lot of recipes. I've never had it, so researched it and discovered it resembles lemon. But then a lot of those same recipes call for lemon zest and juice. Isn't this overkill? Can I just substitute some lemon zest and/or juice for sumac? I hate buying herbs I don't use a lot because they always lose their flavor before I can use all of them.

Maybe just me, but i don't think sumac is super lemony. If you've got a whole book and you're planning to cook a lot from it, why not just get the sumac? It'll be an authentic note and you'll be getting the taste that the recipe writer had in mind.

Lentils would work I think. Or potatoes, I think Me Jama makes a veggie kofta.

Is there less arsenic in brown rice? And there should be none in wild rice because it is not really rice, right?

Bad news, unfortunately: According to this September analysis from the FDA, there is arsenic in all these rices.

I was wondering why the chowder is a chowder, and not a soup? Is it because there are lots of chunky things in it? Also, it seems to me that it could be vegetarian without the bacon and substituting vegetable stock. What would work as a substitute flavor for the bacon? Cumin?

According to the Etymology Dictionary, the word "chowder" apparently comes from the name of the pot it used to be prepared in.


As for a bacon substitute, you could try the so-called vegetarian bacon. You're looking for a good smoky flavor, I'd imagine. I wonder if some liquid smoke might do the trick? (I think Jim Shahin just passed out as I offered that suggestion!)

The recipe calls for soaking the bulgur for ten minutes; is there a major downside to soaking it longer than that?

I left mine on the counter for maybe 20 minutes and it was fine. It's possible that if you left it longer, the bulgur would absorb too much liquid and throw off the balance in the recipe. In the final kibbe, the barley has some chew, and it gives a lot of texture, which is nice.

I tried making my own from a carol Field recipe. Came out thick and more crusty than chewy. Tips for chewier crust?

So much of the crust's texture depends on the flour.  If you use a high-protein flour, you'll get a chewier texture.  My favorite is King Arthur's Sir Lancelot, but you have to order that from their store.  Check the stock at your local market.  If you can't find flour that's labelled "high-gluten" or "high-protein," go with bread flour -- it's higher in protein than all-purpose.

Be friends with pigs, eat meat, don't eat meat, you're a bad mother because you won't scramble eggs on a weekday... Come on folks! (Especially the judgment of the mom--you don't know her life, her commute, her income, her help, her other obligations (ailing parent), her own health. I find the judger the most flawed one in the group.

Like the poster, we are looking for options other than cereal for the kids and we found the best thing to do is prepare things on Sunday. My 3 year old gets involved and we'll make extra of what we're having for sunday morning breakfast plus something else and it lasts us through the week. We've done scrambled eggs, french toast, pancakes, pumpkin and zuchinni bread.

I am so much happier on a Monday morning when I have leftover weekend breakfast food. I need to do it more often.

Is there a recipe for DIY shawarma in your book? It's one of my favorites, but of course I have no spit.

There are several shawarma recipes in the book (three with chicken, one with lamb), and the two I looked at are done on the stove top, so no spit is needed.

Earned my way through college working at Morrow's Nut House. The salted ones were dyed so we could easily tell them apart from the unsalted ones. No date, just years of roasting, buttering, salting, selling nuts.

Thanks for passing along your experience.

Is there any iodized kosher salt? Don't we need the iodine?

We do need iodine, but very little. If you eat any restaurant or processed food, you're probably getting plenty, so I wouldn't worry about your salt.  If it's kosher, it's not iodized (unless there's a new development I don't know about).

My internet connection often crashes during these chats because you post links to so many great-sounding and great-looking recipes that I just "have to" click on a bunch of them, and my system gets overburdened! Tsk-tsk!

Yes, that is a 53 percenter kind of problem.  But you wouldn't want us to NOT link, right?

Depending upon how often the farm delivers, some of the produce may have been picked 7 days ago. It depends on the farm. Some farms also do not have refrigeration to store picked vegetables. Thus maybe the commetner should just consider a different CSA next year.

My daughter made baked doughnuts last summer from Fannie Farmer's most recent edition. We'd leave out the nutmeg next time. Now I have a question about thickening sauces cooked in the oven. I have a great recipe from my grandmother for sweet and sour sauce. You mix it together (vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, ketchup, garlic) and cook your meat in it for an hour in the oven. But I want the sauce to be thicker at the end. I tried putting cornstarch in for the last 15 minutes (you add pineapple chunks at this point). Didn't work

Since we still have a couple of weeks until Thanksgiving, I would like to ask that you help me brainstorm so vegetarian main options. You don't have to answer now, but my veggie lasagna was a goupy and embarressing mess in front of the in-laws last year. Maybe I should have let it sit for awhile before serving it, rather than pulling it from the oven and placing it on the table. So please think of some suggestions for when you do your Thanksgiving chat. Many thanks in advance!!

To get you started, here's one meatless Thanksgiving main we have in our system: Vegetarian Roasted Mushroom Lasagna.

Have to be at a meeting so am posting question early. I have DIY sourdough starter frozen since last spring ( I couldn't throw it out, because I was so pleased that it worked but stoped making bread in warm weather) - I got attached. How do I resart it, or should I toss it and just start the whole process all over again? Also, in keeping with the Lebanese theme, can pita be made with sourdough, and if yes, how?

I've never done it myself, but try defrosting it on the countertop and, when it's completely thawed, do the same kind of replacement/feeding that you would do for regular maintenance, and within 5 days or so, it should be back in business. Then let us know how it worked!

That seems a bit extreme. I'm not really in the mood for quinoa guacamole. No offense to the quinoa crowd.

We're thinking about it. When editors say "thinking," that often involves amending the original.

It's cheap and pretty easy to find - any middle eastern or kosher store has it. We keep some on the table to sprinkle on rice and steamed vegetables for a taste pickup.

A friend was raising animals for meat when his kids were little. One day they got told what the animals were for. The children then asked if we were going to eat the dog, too. That took some real explaining.

ohhhkay. I already used KA bread flour, so I'll try Sir L next. thanks.

I actually bought a container of sumac from the Kosher mart in Rockvile a year ago, but it's just sat in my cupboard because I hadn't the faintest idea what to do with it. It just looked cool.

Yes, you can do it. Maggie Glezer's book of Jewish bread (can't remember tile) has a recipe that works beautifully.

I was kidding! I love the links, the chat, the whole section!

And the recipe is on page 256.

So kind of you to check.  Ladies and germs, that's what we have: full-service chatters.

Sirloin, frozen (or thawed) just until it gives to the touch. It's really easy to slice thin at that stage.

my understanding is that chowder is made with milk and potatoes. (a bisque is made with shells, and as such, there is no such thing as tomato bisque)

As a seriously lactose intolerant person my whole life, I know this. I think the reason poster may be able to tolerate it is in the way it is eaten. After a big meal, I seem to be able to tolerate a few bites of ice cream or a few sips of milk, but only if I've eat a lot prior. For cheese, well-aged cheese as in cheddar, parmesan, romano, swiss--no problems for me (usually).

The sweet potato kibbeh recipe calls for "bulgur," but my (admittedly vague) understanding is that there are several grades of bulgur, based on size. Can one of you discuss, and give us some advice on whether one of them is the common or default grade?

To tell you the truth I just went to the bulgur bin at Whole Foods and bought a few scoops of the only kind they had. It wasn't particularly fine-grained, so I do know it wasn't instant bulgur. I expect that most stores sell a medium-grade kind.

Lots of q's, so that's why we prolonged the fun for a bit. Thanks to Wendy Polisi and Tamar Haspel for their expert hand, as well as an especially helpful group of chatters today. Remember, if your query didn't make it through today, it might be fodder for Jane's Chat Leftovers next week!

Speaking of...the chatter who tipped about Pumpkin Seeds storage wins the "Grain Mains"; the chatter who shared with us how she makes breakfast sandwiches for her kids wins "The Lebanese Cookbook." Send your mailing address to so Becky can get those books right out to you. Till next week, happy cooking and eating!

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. Guests: Wendy Polisi, who blogs at; Tamar Haspel, author of the Food section series, Pig to Table Project.
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