Free Range on Food: What to make in stone fruit season, vegan fare at Equinox and more

Apricot Jam.
Jun 10, 2015

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

Good afternoon, chatters! Gotta say, this week's section makes me hungry. Did you check out Tom Sietsema's paen to Chicago in his third installment of America's Best Food Cities? It's killer, including the videos (and that Chicken Fried Chicken With Chorizo Gravy recipe, yowza). Maybe  you were too busy poring over Cathy Barrow's stone-fruit tutorial in her DIY column, or re-reading Elissa Altman's Feeding My Mother piece. Then again, Todd Gray's vegan challenge dishes might have piqued your interest. 

 

We're here to discuss all of it, plus anything culinary you've got on  your mind. Cathy here's, along with Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin and Carrie "Spirits" Allan, Tim and Becky. Editor Joe's away. 

 

We've got cookbooks to give away at the end of the hour, and before I forget Your Post Points code today is FR8437. So let's get to it! 

For those who enjoy adventuresome street food.... A good friend and former AU colleague from the Philippines, Jorge Garcia, is hosting a pop-up restaurant this weekend only, featuring Filipino street food.

Yes, I hope to visit the pop-up this weekend. As Maura Judkis noted in her preview, the chefs (Garcia and Santiago Cardenas) don't plan to shy away from the ingredients integral to Filipino cooking, including the fertilized duck eggs known as balut and pork blood.

 

If you're curious as to why Filipino food has become so popular, you might want to read my April feature on the cuisine.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. My mom made some every year and our family tradition was pulling it out of the bottom shelf of the china cabinet on Thanksgiving. And oh how those bourbon-soaked cherries improve a bowl of vanilla ice cream!

RECIPE Cherry Bounce

Thank you! The cherries are the most boozy wonderful things.

Your cherry bounce and related recipes looked delicious. I have to watch my sugar intake and have had success with low/no suguar jamming. Is it possible to substitute splenda/stevia for some or all of the sugar in the bounce recipes?

Cherry Bounce

RECIPE: Cherry Bounce

I've never tried it with stevia but in this case, the sugar is simply used as a sweetener, so give it a try!

After shelling and eating some lovely English peas, I made broth from the pods, and it's wonderful. Can you recommend a recipe (other than risotto) that will highlight this delicate flavor? Thanks.

I looked online, but there doesn't seem to be a consensus. I'm the only one in my household who drinks the stuff. Love your chats! I've gotten a lot of recipe ideas from them.

Well, that depends on what other possibly very fragrant things are in your icebox, and how clean/airtight your iced tea container is and how you brewed the tea. See these safety tips; I keep mine for about a week.

A friend has fallen in love with the Peruvian green sauce at King Pollo (locations throughout NoVa). She says: "It has a brightness and freshness that other, creamier variations don't have. All the recipes I've found call for mayo and/or sour cream. I don't think King Pollo's uses those, or at least I can't detect them." I told her, "this sounds like a question for the Free Range food chat!" Is anyone familiar with KP's green sauce and have a recipe that comes close to it?

It took a few phone calls (it's amazing how many restaurants don't have managers around when a reporter calls!), but I finally spoke to an extremely helpful manager at the Alexandria location of King Pollo. He said the green sauce (typically paired a creamy aji amarillo sauce) includes only five ingredients: jalapenos, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro  and salt. He wouldn't give amounts (which likely wouldn't help you anyway, because King Pollo's batches are huge). So you'll have to experiment and see if you can recreate it yourself.

I can never figure out how to best clean my zester after using - the holes stay clogged with little bits of rind. The best I've been able to come up with is using a toothpick to poke the bits out, but that's time-consuming and I can't (or, rather, won't) realistically do that every time I need some lemon zest! How can I make the job easier?

The Internet, of course, has ideas on how best to clean your zester. One swears by a heating and brushing method. Another swears by soap, water and a toothbrush.

 

Personally, I just tap the zester (or microplane or box grater) a few times on a hard surface and use a spray nozzle to go to town on whatever remains clinging to it. I rarely have a problem.

I love the weekly chat, thanks for your time and thoughtful responses! I have a giant beautiful fig tree (I live in the southwest) and every year I harvest the bottom third of the tree which gives me about 50 lbs. each summer. I need to use up a lot of older (but fine) jam and just made a pork tenderloin in the slow cooker with spices, peppers, onions, garlic, a couple cups of the jam and about a cup of red wine vinegar. It was delicious. Do you have other ideas for dishes that use large quantities of jam at once, particularly savory recipes? Thanks!

Try making focaccia or pizza, and spread some of that luscious jam across the dough, then cover with caramelized onions and cheese (I love blue cheese with figs. Gouda or fontina are less assertive.)

I have a handful or so of baby lemons (they're so cute!), and I'm not quite sure what to do with them. I used the zest of one or two lemons for a recipe, but I'm looking for something a little different (and maybe more health-conscious) than my usual too-many-lemon standard (lemon curd).

You could do salt-preserved lemons - an essential ingredient for Moroccan recipes (and a great addition to salads.) Or, for a sweet take, consider marmalade. 

Hello does anyone know where I can buy Watermelon radishes? I am at a loss. They are not at Whole Foods,Wegmans, Giant, or Safeway. Also farmers at farmers markets say they are a specialty crop. I have eaten them so often in restaurants and they make the plate look so pretty. I would like to serve them in my own home.

Just yesterday I picked some up at Harris Teeter in the District, and I have gotten them before at Central Farm Market in Rockville and at the Dupont FreshFarm Market. I'm surprised they're not at Wegmans; I bet if you asked, they'd get them in.

 

Speaking of w-radishes, try this Radicchio Salad With  Kiwi and Hazelnuts. Magic. Pretty food, indeed.

Hi there. Is there ever a time when I should NOT toast my walnuts, especially in baking? For example, my go-to recipe for banana bread doesn't say to, but would it be better if I did? Thanks!

Not as far as I'm concerned. When I'm all caught up and orderly in the kitchen, I just pop the walnuts I've just brought home (from Yekta in Rockville, they are the BEST) into the oven and toast them straight away. Cool and freeze/or refrigerate. Then you're ready to go with whatever recipe you've got.

 

Wait -- I thought of something. If you taste one, and it has an off flavor/is rancid, then don't bother! 

Do you ever do a Plate Lab for cocktails? I'm in love with the Nicolaki cocktail at the Iron Gate - it's gorgeously lemony, has wonderful tang from Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt! In a cocktail!), and stays amazingly foamy through to the end. Is there any way I could get my hands on this amazing recipe?

We do, we do. Remember this one?

We've already featured a dandy recipe from Iron Gate, and are trying at this point not to repeat restaurants. Perhaps we can get that recipe, though. Send us an email via food@washpost.com.

I grilled mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus and a variety of squashes this weekend for the first time. While they tasted good, all were overcooked. I deliberately left them on the grill too long because when cooked al dente, they hadn't been on long enough to absorb that delicious smoky flavor. I waited to put them on the grill until the coals were gray. Should I have cooked them at a hotter temperature? When I get grilled veggies at restaurants and grocery stories they are perfect, and blacked in places. Mine weren't blackened at all.

       You did the right thing, waiting until the charcoal was gray. You want a medium-hot fire. That means, holding your hand about 6 inches above the grate for roughly 7 seconds before feeling the need to whisk it away. 

        Different veggies take different time on the grill. Having too much on the grill at one time can divert your attention and cause you to react to each one rather. What you want is control. You can put more than one type of veggie on at a time, but be aware of your hot spots and how each one cooks.

      Make sure you cut your vegetables suitably. Eggplant, for example, does well at a 1/2-inch thickness. A grilled portobello is much thicker. A red bell pepper is a little thinner.  

      There's a saying, oil the grate or oil the vegetable. Some do both. I tend to be an oil-the-veggie kind of guy. But, lightly! Too much oil and you make your veggies soggy. You can also get flare ups. The oil just helps the veggie with a little fat for flavor while, of course, helping to make sure the item doesn't stick to the grill. 

       Finally, while experts will warn against lifting the veggie too soon, I think it is fine to lift-and-peek. Take your long-handled tongs and lift the side of one of your veggies and get a sense of how it is doing. If it is cooking fast, turn it over. Oh, and make sure you have an indirect fire, so you can move them to the cool side of the grill as they finish. 

I bought a small bottle of Frontier brand "gourmet" organic vanilla that I tightly recapped after use and kept in a dark, cool place. The bottle was mostly full after the last time I used it. But when I opened it recently after several months on the shelf (I'm not sure exactly how long), there was no liquid. Most important question, if it dried up, is there a way I can reconstitute it? If it evaporated, is that to be expected if you don't use the whole bottle within a certain period of time, like a few months? The three ingredients are listed as water, organic alcohol, organic vanilla bean extractives. I've had a bottle of CVS Gold Emblem "imitation vanilla flavor" for several years that's not spontaneously disappearing from its plastic jar. Its ingredients are water, propylene glycol, vanillin, caramel color, .01% sodium benzoate (added as a preservative), phosphoric acid, and ethyl vanillin. Maybe that .01% sodium benzoate makes all the difference --?

Stumper. Don't think I've ever heard of a bottle evaporating like that. How old was it? Did you contact Frontier, perchance? Our impressive Food assistant Kara Elder just called the company, and they said they've never heard of that, either. They mentioned the fact that sometimes a bottle on the line, being automatically filled, can get missed altogether. But they recommended your bringing the bottle back to where you bought it for a refund, or sending to it back to Frontier (HQ in Norway, Iowa; 800-669-3275).

 

Another thought: Are you the only person who uses vanilla in the house? 

Hello! I just picked up a bunch of fresh, shelled peas and I'm wondering what would be the best use for them. I did a shallot green, thyme and pea risotto last night, but I still have about 2 cups of peas left. I feel like I should do something special with them, but I'm not sure exactly what that should be. Advice?

I love a simple mash with fresh mint or tarragon or lemon: Cook them briefly in salted water, then transfer to a saute pan with hot melted butter, salt and pepper, a little extra-virgin olive oil. Mash, add the herbs, mash. Serve. Chatters, how 'bout you?

How about a pea pesto? It'd be perfect for this time of year.

For me, fresh peas mean carbonara. Just make your favorite spaghetti carbonara and toss in those fresh peas in the last couple of minutes of pasta cooking. I'm sure the peas (veggies!) offset the bacon and eggs, right?

couscous salad at LB is a wonderful assortment of cold vegetables, chickpeas and a dressing of sorts. Any similar recipes to help me recreate please?

two questions to Joe, 1. Why add soaked in water and squeezed bread to the nuts in the blender? What does it add besides extra calories? 2. I saw two of Matt Wilkinson's books at Costco, the Well-Dressed Salads and something lik Celebrate the Garden. I did not have time to really look at them, since you obviously looked at least at one of them, would you share your opinion? Do you recommend either? How are his books different from so many other salad and vegetable books.

Zucchini With Ajo Blanco Dressing and Spiced Nuts

RECIPE: Zucchini With Ajo Blanco Dressing and Spiced Nuts

Joe is not with us today! I'm guessing the bread went in the sauce to serve as a bit of a binder and thickener. You see that with some sauces such as romesco.

Afraid I can't weigh in on the second part of your question. Anyone have insight?

If you'd asked me to think of something that might taste as good as or better than bacon, I would have said <<'SHROOMS!>> So I can hardly wait to try Todd Gray's mushroom bacon. Blue cheese tofu, OTOH, sounds better than no bleu cheese, but not as good as blue cheese. Although the proof of the tofu blue cheese, of course, is in the eating.

Mushroom 'Bacon'

RECIPE: Mushroom 'Bacon'

Like that attitude. Report back!

I have recently found 2 maybe 3 bags of coarse ground cornmeal in my freezer and besides cornbread, I'm trying to find ways to use it up. Can I use this to make polenta? When I see "polenta" in a bag in the store it looks quite different than the bag I have (all hard pieces, no "flour"). The chat with all of the suggestions a few weeks ago was great by the way.

It should be fine for polenta. Finely ground cornmeal won't work for "Italian grits," but coarsely ground cornmeal should.

HOW DO YOU COOK IT? Do you form into patties and fry or what? Thanks

Very easy; see the recipe for the chicken-fried chicken. Just put it in a skillet and cook till all traces of raw meat are gone. It winds up being a bit crumbly but still kinda juicy. I was surprised that it really didn't have much fat to drain. The taste is crazy good; we're just shooting a photo of it in the studio today (raw and cooked) and will add that to the Recipe Finder recipe.

Do you have any go-to apricot recipes? Thanks!

The Pentagon City Costco used to sell packs of fresh udon noodles-delicious for tofu stirfries! Unfortunately, they seem to no longer be carrying them, and I did not see any fresh udon noodles in the local Harris Teeter or Giant. Are there any places in or near Pentagon City that carry them? Thanks!

I tried calling the Oriental Supermarket in Arlington, which is about five miles away. But no one answered. You may need to hit up an H Mart, alas. They have locations in Falls Church and Annandale.

The market at Bangkok 54 on Columbia Pike tells me they have frozen udon noodles. They also have fresh wide rice noodles, if you want to play with those.

WF has crazy hot jalepenos whereas the Safeway/Giant have tasteless variety. This is good and evil, so if your fingers are burning as your chopping, use less jalepenos or your dish may be impossible to digest.

I would be weary of such generalizations. Jalapeno heat can vary from plant to plant in the same garden.

 

If you want to tone down the heat of a jalapeno, just remove the seeds and the interior ribs.

I want to thank Cathy for advising me not to leave the prepared fruit out of the fridge overnight. She saved me from making a big mistake which now would be costly with the price of local strawberries this year ($6.50/qt.). I triaged the contents of my small fridge and chilled the prepared berries overnight. The preserves turned out very nice. We got 4 half-pint jars. Thanks again. This chat is great!

RECIPE Just Right Strawberry Preserves

Excellent news! I'm so glad you have the fresh taste of strawberries captured in the jar.

Thank you for answering my question about the Watermelon radishes and the recipe. I live in Herndon, VA and they are not to be had for love or money. I will take up your suggestion about asking Wegman's to order some. HT is a no go and let's not even talk about Giant or Safeway

What about Asian markets out your way? I'm thinking that could be your best bet, in fact.

I'm going a little sugar snap pea crazy this year. I just love them! I usually cook them lightly and then toss into grain bowls or pastas. I've also used them raw in salads. Any other good uses for them? What would they be like roasted?

Sounds like you're doing everything right. I'd maybe not go with roasting -- I think you'd lose the characteristic snap. (FWIW, "The New Food Lover's Companion" suggests serving them raw or only briefly cooked.)

I'm intrigued by this recipe.

Sugar Snap Peas With Peaches

RECIPE: Sugar Snap Peas With Peaches

I have a big porterhouse sitting in my freezer at a good 32 oz and 3 inches thick. It was a gift from a friend of mine who cut their own cow up and had an abundance of meat. I think that grilling it is an option but i was wondering about doing a smoke-grill combo. Because it's real thick i think cooking it like a normal steak doesn't make sense because i don't think it will cook right. Because of the bone I can't cut it thinner. At the same time, i'd like it to come out a good medium rare or medium. Just not raw in the middle.

     Sure, you can do a grill/smoke of that honker. These days, folks have come up with all sorts of ways to cook a steak. Some argue that the old seal-in-the-juices sear is hooey. Others swear by it. Some advise to only turn the steak once. Others argue that a steak should be constantly turned. 

       Here's what I do, and what I would do: Build an indirect fire (coals on one side). If you like char (I love it), use hardwood coals or wood embers to get a blazing hot fire. Cook the steak directly until it gets a serious char, 3-5 minutes. Flip over for another 3-4 minutes. Now, for the smoking. Add about a half-cup of unsoaked wood chips (hickory or oak or cherry or mesquite) to the coals. Move the steak to the cool side of the grill. Close the lid. Cook/smoke for about 4 minutes on one side, then 4 on the other. Hitting that perfect medium-rare can be tricky, unless you really know your cut of meat and your fire. So, I would strongly suggest using an instant-read meat thermometer.You'll want 130-135 degrees. Let it rest for 10 minutes. 

I read your article on the various canned fish and I am still flummoxed with the 30+ options at the grocery store. I just want something tasty to stick over lettuce. Chatters? What is your fav?

 

ARTICLE Why this tuna in a can instead of that one?

That's not good, remaining flummoxed after reading that #WeekendKitchen post. I continue to buy different brands; Wild Planet seems good. I like Cento for salads. 

What do I do with them? Cut out the lump in the middle and chop it into any recipe that calls for scallions or spring onions? And what is the difference between scallions and spring onions?

Garlic scapes make an assertive pesto that I toss with pasta, spread on a cheese sandwich or swipe across grilled chicken. They are a wonderful flavoring for pickles, and, in fact, can be pickled themselves to make a garnish for a cocktail or a condiment with charcuterie. 

Good morning. Question to Dave, whose articles I always read first : are there any low acidity wines? Please say yes and tell me what they are. All my life I've always had a glass of wine with dinner, now my doctor and Gerd allow me maximum 2 glasses a month. Me wonders, perhaps, with really low acidity wine I could have a glass with my Sunday dinner every Sunday. A nice meal without wine is like day without sunshine.

Dave says:

Great question! I may have to get back to you on that. (Thanks for the column idea!) When I mention a wine's acidity, I'm going by subjective perception rather than any chemical analysis. So I don't know if there's a particular cutoff level below which someone with GERD might be unaffected. 

 

That said, however, wines that taste lower in acid would be riper wines. Think California Cabernet rather than Bordeaux, or California Pinot noir instead of Burgundy. Aussie Shiraz is often jammy and sweet. Sweeter, aromatic whites like Muscat or the Greek Moschifilero might be worth a try. 

 

For wine descriptions, especially mine, look for words like jammy, sweet, or ripe rather than crisp. I suspect however that any real measurable difference in acidity would be in a narrow range. 

I adore a fig chutney with cheese ... on its own or as part of a cheese sandwich.

Ideas for baby shower food that doesn't require the food to be hot? Would like something different that just sandwiches. (it's a girl BTW, first grandchild and yes, we have to host -- no close friend for the M2B).

I made this recipe recently on a hot day. It was divine. 

I remember reading about unaged whiskey recently, but I can't exactly remember what it's called or what it's supposed to be like. I've really gotten into whiskey lately, and I thought it might be fun to try this in a summer drink. Like maybe a summery Manhattan made with white vermouth and orange bitters.

They're often called white dog whiskeys or just white whiskeys. Or sometimes white lightning or even moonshine, from companies that are shamelessly trying to play into the sexy lawless image (if you find it at the ABC store, it ain't really moonshine). There are some big brands doing white whiskeys now, but a lot of them crop up as a means for a new microdistillery to bring in some cash while it ages its product (bourbon and rye don't happen overnight, which is one of the big challenges of opening a distillery). Here are a couple of cocktail options to play with, including a white Manhattan you could try!

I usually think of fresh sage as a fall flavor, yet I have all this wonderful fresh sage in my herb garden right now. Is there a seasonally appropriate way to use the herb now?

I just had a desk salad composed of butter lettuce, freshly shelled peas, and blue cheese butter milk dressing. Divine. If the peas are really fresh, eat them raw!

Don't forget to grill some sweet potatoes. Slice them as thin as you can, then toss with olive oil and salt before grilling.They make a great side to grilled boneless chicken thighs.

This just in! Thanks, Jeff Faile. We plan to test:

 

1 1/2 ounces Vermont White Vodka (made with whey)

1 ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey and hot water stirred until the honey has dissolved)

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

1 bar spoon of Greek yogurt

10 to 15 rosemary needles

Ice

 

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Seal and shake vigorously, then double strain into a martini glass. 

 

I know this dates me, but wasn't there an episode of Family ties in which one of the Keaton relatives is an alcoholic and rummages through the pantry to drink all of their vanilla extract?

I haven't seen that episode, but it's true that vanilla contains a lot of alcohol, at least 35 percent by law, which puts it on the same level as some liquors.

 

So why isn't vanilla sold in liquor store? Vanilla manufacturers apparently convinced their legislators to exempt the extract from the pending Volstead Act, lest the alcohol ban wipe out their industry.

That jalapenos can vary a lot is the basis of a funny food moment involving my father-in-law. Knowing that I had an extremely mild one--like green bell pepper mild--I took a large bite out of one when we were at a Mexican restaurant without breaking a sweat and dared him to do the same with the jalapeno that garnished his plate. Not wanting to turn down the challenge, he took a similarly-sized bite. Probably the only time I've ever seen him in tears. It was a good lesson though they can be super tame or super hot!

Exhibit A on the wide heat variation of jalapeno peppers!

I like garlic scape pesto too; however, I find it essential to sauté the scapes first so they lost their raw garlic "bite." I once made raw garlic scape pesto and I was the walking garlic man for 2 days. Maybe scapes vary in intensity, but I felt like the living embodiment of a garlic plant after that.

We're about 100 miles north of NYC. Although we have red radishes and French breakfast radishes now, it won't don't see watermelon radishes till later in the season. Maybe you'll be seeing them soon?

I'm all over watermelon gazpacho right now. A couple million recipes out there on the 'net. I like cukes, tomatoes, peppers and melon for a sweet/spicy blend. Use shot glasses for a fun party vibe.

What happened to make lemons cost $2.50 a pound or as much as $1 a piece? And that's the non-organic! Are they out of season? I know there've been droughts and floods (and probably a plague of locusts somewhere) but the prices of other citrus, fruits and veggies haven't gone up nearly as much. To be clear, I mean lemons in supermarkets including Safeway, Giant and Whole Foods, even Rodmans, not at farmers markets where the smaller crops, fresher produce and so on usually mean understandably higher prices. Given the price, I've switched to limes for now. As the song says, more-or-less --- Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is now priced out of my reach.

I think you answered your own question. The ongoing drought in California is the cause, according to Bloomberg Business. The state apparently grows more than 90 percent of the lemons in the United States.

Mr. Shahin, a little help if you please. I was in Katz's deli in NYC a few weeks ago and could not get their pastrami out of my mind so I've found what seems to be a reliable - based on my research and comments - recipe that calls for a 3-week brine followed by a rub and smoking on the grill. This Friday marks the three weeks and now I am sort of petrified that I might be serving folks tainted beef. How would I know? Other than maybe a rancid smell which I haven't detected, what should we look for before we dig in. I'm really excited to try! Any expertise you'd care to share would be much appreciated.

      Ah, Katz's! Now, you've got its pastrami in my head like a song I won't be able to remove. And that's a good thing. Would be even better if I could have one right here to eat. 

     Meanwhile, your pastrami. This is one project I keep intending to do and maybe this question will finally get me over to the butcher shop. Which is to say, I have not made pastrami. I am familiar, though, with a lot of recipes (reading them is what I do to procrastinate making them, I suppose). Most call for a 2-4 day brine. Emeril Lagasse has a three-week brine and I trust he knows what he is doing. Plus, whether a dry or wet brine, meats can take a good, long bath.  I would say that, as long as you don't detect that rancid smell, if you have a recipe from a source you trust, you're fine. Chatters? Thoughts?

Recently I purchased a Weber smoker for my husband and we used it for the first time about 2 weeks ago. After using it, he stored it by covering it with the cover that came with the smoker and keeping it outside on our patio. When he went to use it yesterday, the inside developed some mold. He cleaned it out and successfully smoked some ribs yesterday. But in the future, what is the best way to clean and store a smoker when we are not using it? The instruction manual that came with it mostly details how to set the smoker up, but does not have care and storage instructions.

     After cooking, make sure you dump the water from the water pan, and dry it out with a rag. Also, clean the grates with a hard-bristle brush. If you want (though this isn't necessary), you can also take a lightly oiled rag and wipe down the insides. That'll do it!

I bought a tube of polenta from Trader Joe's and cooked it last night. I followed the instructions which said slice it and saute it in some olive oil. I sliced it about 1/4" thick, and it soaked up LOTS of oil, and never really browned or made a crunchy crust. I'm not sure how it's supposed to turn out. It was still tasty, but way too oily. Should I slice it thinner? Use a hotter frying pan?

Try slicing it thicker (about an inch) and lett the oil get good and hot before carefully placing the slices into the pan. Cook until crispy (when they release from the pan easily) andturn carefully and crisp the other side. 

It is full of kale and chard and some last of snap and snow peas What can I make that is quick and easy?

When I have a bouquet of greens and peas, I make a frittata!

Cathy, what say you about adding some zing to preserves with some fresh or dried herbs? I've got happy pots of mint, tarragon, lemon balm, oregano, basil, etc.

I love to add herbs to my preserves. If you use fresh, pull the herbs out before canning (they'll turn sort of gray-green and won't be appealing.) 

the page refreshed as I was typing so maybe you got part of my submission. I am very interested in Elissa Altman's pieces as I'm in a similar situation with my mother. She used to be an adventurous, hearty eater. She had an organic garden and we always had the best of food. Now, her diet consists mainly of coffee and convenience store donuts. She has little to no interest in eating anything else. It's a tough time. So, I appreciate reading Elissa's pieces. Thanks. 

 

ARTICLE My aging mother's least favorite food is just what the doctor ordered

Smitten Kitchen has an amazing recipe for olive oil and fig challah. Not exactly savory, but close...and terrific.

Sounds biblically divine.

What is the best way to store mixed greens/salad ("spring mix")? It seems like whenever I buy a pouch of blended greens, some leaves are going bad already by the next day. The purple leaves begin to rot particularly fast (excuse me, obviously I don't know enough about what I am buying to even be able to say what the purple ones are) and I have to pick through the package every time. I'd like to get three days of salad out of a package but the third day means basically going through what is left leaf by leaf to remove rot. I refrigerate in the package in which it came, closing it up first. Can I do better or is this just the nature of the greens?

Tender greens are usually ruined by moisture. Bring the greens home and spin them in a salad spinner or roll them up (gently) in a kitchen towel, then refrigerate. They'll last much longer.

Out of that pouch, definitely. Or at least open it up and gently stuff a paper towel in there with the greens.

Well, you've threaded us onto skewers, showered us with sugar and transferred us to the freezer, so you know what that means....we're peachsicle-y done! Thanks to Cathy, Jim and Carrie for joining us today, and to you, dear readers. 

 

Cookbooks: The grilled veggie tips chatter gets a copy of "Mr. Wilkinson's Well-Dressed Salads" (source of this week's Weeknight Vegetarian recipe), and the smoking steak chatter (hmm, a Shahin twofer!) gets "Feeding the Fire" by Joe Carroll and Nick Fauchald. 

 

Send  your mailing info to kara.elder@washpost.com and she'll get those right out to you. Until next week, happy cooking and eating! 

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew. ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is the Food section's Spirits columnist.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow's first cookbook is "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (W.W. Norton). She blogs at www.mrswheelbarrow.com.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff writer and former Food section editorial aide.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
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