Free Range on Food: Fermentation, "mastering the art" of cookbook titles and more

Cathy Barrow's Deli-Style Fermented Sour Pickles.
Jul 08, 2015

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

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat!

Hope you're enjoying our food coverage this week, including Annie Groer's piece about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the "clean-cooking congresswoman"; Cathy Barrow's take on easy fermented pickles; Becky's fun article about the proliferation of "Mastering the Art of" cookbook titles; new Beer columnist Fritz Hahn's defense of DC's "gray market" and more.

What's on YOUR mind? Ask away and we'll do our best to answer. 

For you PostPoints members, here's this week's code: FR 9773 . Record and enter into the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

And, as always, we'll have giveaway books for our favorite chatters today: Curtis Stone's "Good Food, Good Life," source of this week's Weeknight Vegetarian recipe; and Itamar Srulovich and Arit Packer's "Honey & Co.: The Cookbook," source of this week's DinMin recipe.

So ask away!

What could I substitute for kumquats? Not readily available in all markets and not a personal favorite.

Any other citrus that you like, I'd say: An easy swap would be half a small orange, or a whole small tangerine, cut up.

RECIPE: Grilled Chicken With Kumquat-Cherry Tomato Marinade.

Thanks for the chats, love them! I just got an ice cream maker, have tons of fresh fruit (peaches and all kinds of berries, specifically), and want to make some awesome ice cream. Any recipes you can share? I would particularly love a really good blackberry ice cream recipe, as we have some friends coming over whose young girls love blackberries (which we have in our yard), so I'm thinking we can pick berries and make ice cream with them. Thank you in advance!

We don't have a blackberry ice cream, but you could make a kind of roasted sauce with some sugar and lemon juice and then add it to some great vanilla ice cream in layers as you pack it in to the container.

Other possibilities:

Peach Ice Cream

RECIPE: Peach Ice Cream

Blueberry-Basil Ice Cream

RECIPE: Blueberry-Basil Ice Cream

Cherry Pit Ice Cream

RECIPE: Cherry Pit Ice Cream

 

I made the bounce (with Vodka) and its patiently sitting in a cool, dark cupboard but i'm interested in some recipe suggestions. It actually sounds as though it might go well as a boozy topping for the chevre and honey tart. I'd be interested in hearing any simple cocktail suggestions for it as well.

Cherry Bounce

RECIPE: Cherry Bounce

The Spirited Republic exhibit at the National Archives right now actually has an official cocktail called the General's Order (Derek Brown's concoction, I believe), and it includes cherry bounce. Specs below!

1 oz. aged rum

1/2 oz rye whiskey

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/4 cherry bounce

Shake and strain over ice.

(And for anyone who hasn't made cherry bounce yet, Brown advises you can sub Cherry Heering with a dash of Angostura bitters. Which seems to me license to drop your cherry bounce in other Cherry Heering cocktails like the Blood & Sand.)

I'm not sure how to snip herbs so that more leaves grow. Take the bottom leaves or the top? Snip just the leaves or the twig they're on? Does it matter if I just break them off with my hands instead of using scissors?

Clip herbs like thyme, rosemary, basil, mint, oregano and verbena using a scissors (they will continue to grow from a clean cut), cutting just about a leaf cluster. Parsley, cilantro and chives are clipped at the base, near the roots. New growth will come from the base. Clip off any brown leaves or stems and don't bother fertilizing herbs. They like lean soil without many nutrients.

Thank you for providing this recipe. I assume the salt/water ratio has a basis in the chemistry of the fermentation process. Therefore, since 1/4 cup of kosher salt may have a different weight than sea salt (e.g., I've seen coarse, medium, and fine grained sea salt) and will have a different weight than non-iodized salt, I was wondering if you know the weight of the salt in your recipe.

You're absolutely correct about different salts weighing differently. I use Diamond Crystal Salt in my recipes which weighs in at  5 oz. per cup. (For comparison, Morton's Kosher salt is more like 8 oz per cup.) 

Actually the answer given last week was NOT true. Oats have gluten in them. Unless you buy 'gluten free oats' which aren't too hard to find these days (you can even get them in Costco). Many people with celiac can't eat oats, even the gluten free form, but many can eat the gluten free form. Quinoa is not a grain -- it is a seed. Rice and corn are grains. It could be that your friends are going grain free. This is not unusual (and part of the paleo lifestyle). Many people are going grain free these days for many reasons... We went to a naturopath and one of the intolerances in our family is 'grain' -- not 'gluten.' Which means -- no grains, and the naturopath was quick to indicate that that includes corn and oats and teff, etc. If you look at 'gluten free ' pasta, much is made of corn, even the 'quinoa' pasta is made with grains, so it is not grain free.

The Mayo Clinic says this about oats and people with celiac:

Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. For this reason, doctors and dietitians generally recommend avoiding oats unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free.

So it's more of a contamination thing than they inherently have gluten. The OP last week specifically said gluten-free, not grain-free, so that's how I answered the question.

I've been getting pickles from Arlington and DC farmers markets for years and the vendors have come and gone. There was Oh Pickles at Eastern Market and another at the Columbia Pike market that had a connection to Nicaragua that sold coffee and pickles. Now it seems that market has been cornered by Number One Sons. Their pickles are very good, especially the half sours. However, my all time favorite half sour is from Rein's Deli, NW of Hartford on I-84. I wonder if other readers know of a local source close to Rein's excellence?

Anyone know enough to make a comparison? You may also want to check out Fresh Crunch, which attends the Fairlington market in Arlington, among others. I'm a fan of the pickles at DGS.

Or, as Cathy might say, make your own!

Deli-Style Fermented Sour Pickles

RECIPE: Deli-Style Fermented Sour Pickles

I bought a bottle of white vermouth for a recent cocktail, but now I have a big bottle of it I need to use up. Are there any particular cocktails it's good in? Unlike dry and sweet vermouths, it doesn't seem to come in a smaller bottle, so I'll probably need to get cracking on enjoying it. Thanks.

Try El Presidente, which we featured recently.

 

Or the Great Outdoors (you can try another bitter liqueur if you don't have Saler's). You can also do a simple vermouth and soda or tonic -- do about half of each over ice for a nice summer drink. I also made a pretty tasty martini variation using the blanc recently: 2 1/2 oz gin, 1/4 oz white vermouth, 1/4 dry vermouth, shot of grapefruit bitters, twist of lemon peel.

Are you doing the tomato recipe contest this year? I think you've usually announced it by now, but I haven't seen anything (I've also been out of town, so maybe just missed it).

Absolutely. We'll put the notice online next week. Got a good recipe to contribute? We have a terrific grand prize this year! Due to the weather this summer, we thought we'd do the tomato issue just a wee bit later -- by a week or two. 

I see the recommendation for the Jenni's Splendid Ice Cream recipes. I think I am doing something wrong. Everybody seems to like her recipes, but I always end up with a really gluey texture. Since you're familiar with her recipes, any thoughts on what the trick is?

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. I consistently get a really lovely texture on those recipes. Some thoughts. Are you boiling the base enough? When you add the cornstarch slurry and stir, does the base get smooth and thick? Is the base very cold when you add it to your ice cream maker? Are you churning the ice cream enough in the machine? (What kind of machine are you using?) Of all these things, I think the most likely culprit is somewhere in the churning phase -- perhaps not enough air is being incorporated to get the right texture. It's also important that you move quickly getting the frozen ice cream into the freezer so you maintain that structure.

Hi all! My husband asked me to save the brine from a jar of Claussen kosher dills so he could repurpose it for refrigerator-pickling garden cucumbers. Is this something I should indulge him in? Thanks for your advice as always!

There's nothing wrong with that methodology, but only repurpose that brine once, okay? And maybe check today's recipe for make-at-home Sour Pickles

Speaking of herbs, my basil was a vibrant green color when it first started growing, but now it's turning a light green bordering on yellow color. Any thoughts on what could be going on there?

It could not be getting enough sun, or you could be overwatering it -- and/or watering it from the top, on the leaves. Or it could not be getting enough nutrients. Some of the older and lower leaves will yellow naturally, but if this is happening all over, I suspect one of the problems I mentioned.

I want to pickle cucumbers however, can I use dried dill or do I need to use fresh?

Use dill seed, not dill weed, and you'll be fine. The rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon dill seed is equal to one fresh dill seedhead.

I heading to bbq this weekend and would like to bring a pitcher of yummy pregnant-friendly mocktails that can easily become cocktails with gin or vodka. I am looking for something that is not sweet and is good enough that you don't miss the alcohol. Any suggestions?

About 1-1/2 yrs ago, I made some peach schnapps, according to this recipe. http://www.danish-schnapps-recipes.com/peach.html The ingredients are peaches, vodka, and as the recipe suggests, I probably added some sugar after the final resting/straining period to turn it into more of a liqueur but do not remember. I made this in a qt mason jar. I then decanted the schnapps into a tall, clear glass, narrow-necked bottle with a wire bail closure and a rubber seal. It's been stored in a cupboard in my kitchen, mostly in the dark. However the pantry door might be left open for a couple hours at a time when I am cooking but 90% of the time it's in the dark. Last night I had an idea to use some, and went to pour an ounce or so into a bowl. It wouldn't pour! The liquid is still clear, a nearly transparent peachy color, but it seems very thick. When I tilt the bottle it's as if a jellyfish is blocking the neck of the bottle. I tried shaking or swirling it gently but that did not help. I am not sure if a skin has formed on the top, or if for some reason the liquid has jelled somewhat. So I have three questions - what do you think has happened, can I make it less thick, and is it safe to drink (eat?). I did not try it, but of course hate to throw out something so unusual. Have I discovered the method to make peach flubber?

That's very odd! The recipe is a very classic infusion and the ratios seem appropriate. Is it possible that the inside of that pantry gets warm? Can you reach the top of the "flubber" with a chopstick? Can you pierce it? There's nothing in the bottle that could have gone "bad", so it's surely still drinkable, if you can get it out of the bottle.

Some friends of mine recently told me about sotol, the "new thing" in Mexican spirits that is similar yet different from tequila or mezcal. I'm intrigued, but am not having any luck finding this. Does anyone in DC carry it? I'd love to try some.

You and me both -- very curious about the stuff. I haven't seen sotol in any of our local stores yet, but I may not have looked hard enough. Would suggest checking Ace and Schneider's. If they don't have it, my best is that Joe Riley, the excellent spirits guys at Ace, may be able to work some ordering magic. If that fails, it looks like you MAY be able to get it from this online retailer.

or is it just something from the book the Congresswoman read? I'm hearing the phrase around, but if it includes Skippy chocolate peanut butter, I don't think I know what it is.

The short definition, which we included in the piece, is: "a movement dedicated to eating whole, additive-free foods." The longer definition, from Alicia Rewega, editor in chief of Clean Eating magazine:

“Clean eating is eating real, whole foods that are free of additives and preservatives. It’s eating and cooking with fresh, delicious, unprocessed food and avoiding refined flour or white sugar. It’s food that’s as close to the source of production as possible.”

 

ARTICLE: Why a congresswoman started cooking -- and 'eating clean' -- at 47

Do you have any dessert suggestions that are homemade or semi-homemade that won't take more than 30 minutes (hands on time) tonight for a casual dinner tomorrow? It would be for kids & adults.

Lots you could try, but I'm thinking something in the way of brownies, bars or cookies would be just about right.

M&M Bars

RECIPE: M&M Bars

RECIPE: Man-Catcher Brownies

Pretzel Cowboy Cookies

RECIPE: Pretzel Cowboy Cookies

Classic Chocolate Chippers

RECIPE: Classic Chocolate Chippers

My child's allergies to fish, sesame and nuts make eating out at Asian restaurants, especially Thai, almost impossible. Are there any substitutions for fish sauce or sesame oil that I might use to make a few Asian themed dishes at home?

I recently had a fish sauce substitute from a vegan chef in Vermont that was tamari and pineapple juice, simmered and reduced down a bit. I haven't tried it, nor do I have real proportions to give you, but you could play around with that. I'd be tempted to think about a combination of miso and tamari, for all that umami. (I'm assuming your child isn't allergic to soy since you didn't mention.)

As for sesame oil, I think you'd have to just go with a more neutral oil like canola, since things like peanut oil would be off the table.

I made a vanilla custard which just barely didn't curdle. But it wasn't smooth. Now I have the leftover beans which I thought I could stick in brandy to make vanilla. What do you think about the beans and the curdling?

I don't think the curdling and the vanilla beans are connected. If you mean the custard was a little lumpy, that can be remedied by pressing the custard through a sieve before chilling. If it tasted curdled, perhaps the milk you used was a little sour? 

As for the vanilla beans, rinse them, then put them in brandy and go ahead with the plans for the best vanilla extract you've ever had.

Some recipes that call for parsley are explicit as to whether one should use just the leaf or also use the stem. But most don't say. When is it OK or desirable to include the stem? Other than as a garnish (leaf only, I think), I have no idea. An extra question, please: how does one choose between flat leaf and curly leaf parsley, and when does it not much matter?

You know, I've seen cilantro recipes cite stems, but less so for parsley. (Chatters, pls weigh in with what you like to do!) I'd think that if texture's not an issue and you're going for optimal parsley flavor, use the stems -- pesto, sauces, purees. The stems are good for making chicken or veg broth; even stems and an onion simmered in store-bought, no-salt-added chicken stock will pep it up considerably.  When you're using the parsley as a garnish or to add color to bread crumbs and manicotti fillings, etc, go for just the leaves.

 

I think flat-leaf parsley has more of that grassy green flavor than the curly kind -- and maybe I grew up with seeing the latter strewn across plates as a garnish one time too many. Also, the flat-leaf kind's easier to rinse free of grit. I prefer the flat-leaf in green salads and tabbouleh.

 

We often call for flat-leaf in Post recipes due to the flavor factor, but I'm sure it's rarely if ever a deal-breaker if you go with curly. 

Hi gang! I was given a bag of dried orzo that is multi-flavored (spinach, sun-dried tomato, etc) and I was hoping you might have an idea for a recipe that would highlight these flavors in an interesting way. Thanks!

With the exception of lemon and herb flavors, orzos of the rainbow often tend to look louder than they taste -- especially in a multicolored mix, you might not really get a strong sense of any of those flavors. So I'd go for a pasta salad to show them off, where the colors will cozy up next to fresh, crunchy vegetables.

Love the article about Debbie Wasserman Schultz. For me, the change in my eating habits came from joining a CSA. I have never eaten better in my life--both in terms of being healthy and also in that the food is so fresh and amazing. I love all the new things I get to try, it's such a fun way to get more veggies into my diet, which is great as a vegetarian!

Yep, a CSA  (community-supported agriculture, or a farm share/subscription) is a great way to force your creativity with vegetables!

MAP: Find a CSA in the Washington area.

What is an alternative for white sugar that supports eating clean?

The clean-eating folks would list honey, maple syrup, organic evaporated cane juice, date sugar, stevia.

Nice to see an article showing her and fellow members of Congress struggling with the same real-life challenges we all face. Thanks!

I need a kid-friendly recipe that serves about 10 people for a special gathering. I want it to be delicious and not ho-hum/everyday but at the same time not have the kids turn their noses up at it. I feel this may be an impossible task. No dietary restrictions, at least. Suggestions?

I have the same problem with the Jeni's Splendid recipes - they are always gloppy and gluey. Yes, I follow the directions, and I have an ice cream maker with its own freezer, iello, I think? Even the melted ice cream at the bottom of the bowl when you eat it is gross.

Bummer. I'm a bit stumped, I have to say. Folks, feel free to weigh in.

Will Food Section feature Ice Cream Recipes soon? I need a recipe for an eggless ice cream...I am happy to use fruit and nuts. Thanks as always.

Nothing planned at the moment. But check out our ice cream graphic from the other year.

Including

Penn State Eggless Ice Cream Base

RECIPE: Penn State Eggless Ice Cream Base

I bought some plain kefir that has become fizzy since I opened it as much as two weeks ago. Hooray, it's healthier than ever, or yuck, dump it?

Kefir should have some fizz to it, that's the active culture, the pro-biotic, at work. If it's gone bad, it will taste bitter. There should be an expiration date on the bottle - if it's past the date, it's probably passed its prime.

Sometime in relatively recent years, I clipped an article from the Post but unfortunately, the part before the jump has gotten lost so I don't have a date. The headline on the jump is "Take Care of your Cast Iron Pan" and it is under a little blurb on "Where to find Lodge Pans." And have you thought about adding a section on equipment? I did a search on the Post site using both "cast iron" and the headline--but nothing jumps out. Can advise me how to find that article on your site? Or any info the Post has published on caring for cast iron? Thanks Ruth

Thank YOU, Joe, for that area map of CSAs!

Interesting discussion. I make Jeni's Ice Cream recipes all the time, including adapting the technique for my own creations, and I've never had any problems. I like the texture a lot and the fact that you don't have to be as precise in hitting a specific temperature when cooking it like you do with a custard-based ice cream. I wonder if chatters with problems are maybe making ingredient substitutions? Like using Neufchatel (i.e. low-fat cream cheese) instead of regular cream cheese or using nonfat milk or half-n-half instead of whole milk and heavy cream. Isn't fat content pretty important for ice cream texture? I've tried making a non-Jeni ice cream recipe that called for half-n-half, and I did not like the texture, which was gooier and not velvety like ice cream should be.

Good thoughts. Thanks for chiming in!

I'm the lucky person who won Vegan with a Vengeance last week (thanks!). I confess, I was surprised at how much flour there was, rather than, say, almond meal, because I thought (not a vegan, here) that vegans would be looking for ways to get more protein into their diets. I've been trying really hard to stick with "a protein and a vegetable," and thought this cookbook would have more protein (if that even makes sense!). My actual question that springs from all of this pondering is: is there a cookbook you recommend for preparing tasty vegetables? I feel like I've got a grip on protein and I know how to bake-- it's the vegetables that always seem ho-hum to me. Thanks, folks!

There have been lots of great vegetable cookbooks in recent years: Take a look at "River Cottage Veg," "Vegetable Literacy," "A Girl and Her Greens," "Plenty," "Shroom," "The Heart of the Plate," "Brassicas" and, I can't resist, my own "Eat Your Vegetables."

Ottolenghi cookbooks for someone who doesn't eat bread, rice, white potatoes, or pasta, which one would you pick? Thanks so much for the help...

I think that someone would find a lot to like in "Plenty More," the veg-centric book.

ARTICLE: Weeknight Vegetarian: Yotam Ottolenghi on ‘Plenty More’

Squash With Chili Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce

I love Deborah Madison's classic "Greens" cookbook.

Next time this happens, try Google :-)

That doesn't always work -- jump headlines are not something that translate from print to online. Plus, the story is from 2003, and it can be hard to dig up stuff that old. I was able to find it through our internal archives.

Shame on me! Going to Amazon to order your book NOW, Joe!

No shaming intended!

We have been trying to master the art of Risotto for the past two months. Our first try was a saffron one and while it was OK, the rice never really got creamy. Our second attempt used asparagus and despite using almost twice the liquid called for the rice was chewy. Our third attempt was mushrooms and again the rice consistency wasn't right - this time too mushy and undercooked at the same time. Is the problem the rice - we got real Arborio rice in a vacuum sealed bag before we started trying this? Is the problem the pan -the first and third attempt used a Le Crueset, the second a 12 inch wide shallower pan? Is it the recipe - we've tried three different ones, one with constant stirring, one with occasional stirring and the cooks illustrated no fail one the was done mostly in the oven? My husband is ready to give up but I'm not because I think it would be a great way to have more vegetarian meals. Help folks, I'm getting very frustrated.

I understand. Hang in there. The rice you're using sounds fine.  You are sauteing it first, I assume? Is there wine involved, perhaps as a next step? You're adding warm broth, right? I think a shallow pan might cause some trouble -- the liquid has a greater opp for evaporating or cooking off before it can be absorbed by the rice. The stove top heat needs to be steady and not too fierce, because you want to give the rice a chance to take in all the liquid and flavor.

 

I'll pick up/describe my own process, which falls in the occasional stirring mode....once the rice has been sauteed and then had a chance to soak up the little bit of wine, I add a cup of warm broth. I stir; the heat is no higher than medium. After 5 minutes or so, I see the rice responding by plumping up just a bit. After another few minutes, it looks like the level of liquid has reduced a bit. I add another cup or ladleful of warm broth. I stir once, and repeat that process. I'm in the kitchen, clucking around doing other things, so I don't watch it that closely. But I am within range, to check the liquid level. After 14 minutes or so the rice should be at least halfway to creamy. From then on, I might add most of the remaining broth and stir a few times for the next 8 to 10 minutes; the rice gets creamier and I might add other flavorings or cheese. I finish with a last bit of broth and turn off the heat. The rice should be in full risotto mode by this time...I taste for salt and let that last bit of liquid sit on top. I stir it in just before serving. 

 

And just because I can't help myself, I'll include a few risottos from our Recipe Finder that I think are very nice:

Grapefruit Risotto With Seared Scallops

Charred Asparagus Risotto

Asiago and Corn Risotto

Thanks for finding the article on cast iron, and finding the Serious Eats article as well. I hope you will consider putting an equipment category on your web page--then I wouldn't have taken your time with this. Glad you were able to find it for me. Thank you again.

No problem, glad to help.

I didn't mean to say Google on the jump headline, but just pick a sentence from the remaining text itself and place it inside quote marks, then hit "Search."

OK, maybe! But we're here to be of service. It can be hard finding things on the Google. I know from experience.

I want to do some Persian and Persian-inspired cooking. Does anyone know where I can get kashk, preferably in Virginia?

Aphrodite Greek Imports in Falls Church (703-931-5055) carries a couple of brands.

I don't know about first poster, but no, I followed the instruction exactly. After the third failure on a third different recipe (I have the book), I gave up. It's sad though, as the flavors sound like they would be great.

They are! Jeni's is sold in area stores, though at typically eye-popping prices. (Full disclosure: the company has been working to deal with listeria issues at its production facility.) What other ice cream recipes do you like, or have found that worked?

Could be downy mildew. Check the underside of the leaves.

I am a recent vegetarian (over a year though) and my biggest problem is when travelling to NY to see family. I find that I hardly eat when I am there and really need some ideas as to what I can make and travel with on a 4 hour bus trip to NY that I can then eat while I am there. Needless to say I am also carrying clothes, etc.

Hmm. You have to take all your food for the whole trip? How frustrating? Any ability to cook there? Seems like the easiest thing to take are the makings of sandwiches, IMHO. Some good ones from our Recipe Finder (feel free to adjust the recipes to account for your ability at your family's house to cook, of course):

 

Veggie Flatbread Sandwich With Feta-Yogurt Spread

Ricotta, Zucchini and Radicchio Sandwich

Beet, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Sandwich

Chickpea Sandwich

I just now tried to Claim My Points and received the following automated response: "Voucher FR 9773 has expired or is invalid." How come? I am really enjoying today's Free Range on Food!

Hmm. No idea. Call the customer service hotline at 1-888-897-7876 or email info@postpointsrewards.com

I haven't read your links yet, but I heard a local chef on a call-in show say they don't season their pans anymore before putting them away. They season the pans before using them. I guess the pans must be totally dry before putting them away.

Interesting!

I've found that some ice cream recipes are better for eating the ice cream as soon as it's made; and others profit from some time in the freezer. This applies to ice cream makers as well: some are better for "fresh" ice cream and others for ice cream that's kept in the freezer before eating. I learned this when I first made a batch of ice cream that was pretty much inedible (gluey is the mot juste) directly from the ice cream maker. I was going to throw it out but decided to put it in the freezer in case of a dessert emergency at some later date. It was absolutely delicious after a week or so of storage.

Fascinating. Some freezer alchemy going on there!

I always like to try new spices, and I recently came across ISOT pepper in a Mediterranean market in Dupont, and I was curious to try it but was not sure how to use it. Could you recommend best uses for it?

You are my kind of Free Ranger! Sometimes it's labeled as urfa biber, or just urfa. Its taste is often described as smoky/raisin-y, and that could apply to its color as well. Try it with Med cheeses, stirred into a savory yogurt sauce, on grilled eggplant and peppers.

Panela might be a good idea. It's cane syrup that's been boiled down into a cake. Nice to scrape off and use.

I suspect that the thickness resulted from the pectin in peaches. I didn't realize that peaches had pectin but the Google says they do. A similar thing happened when I made hard (apple) cider. The taste was fine but the clotting was unappealing so I would strain the liquid before drinking. I understand there are chemicals cidermakers use to break the pectin down but it's probably not worth it for the schnapps.

Pectin could certainly do that!

Try it again but delete the space between the letters and the numbers.

For our 4th of July gathering, I made a butternut squash, mushroom and pinto bean enchilada with a tomatillo sauce. It was out of this world! I also made shredded chicken as a side, but I cheated and made it in the pressure cooker. Too easy! 

Hi! I will be having surgery soon and will be out of commission for a few weeks. I would love some suggestions for healthy vegetarian meal options that I can make ahead of time and freeze to easily heat up while I'm convalescing. Thanks!!!

       I find that soups freeze well. Minestrone, for example. Also, pastas, such as ravioli and tortellini. I freeze the sauce in a separate container (although I'm not at all sure that you'd have to). 

        Veggie burgers, of course, also freeze well. That should get you started. Good luck!

Recently, a poster asked about sweet and sour potato salad. You sent them to Dave Hagedorn's version which is very good, but perhaps not what the poster and I have been looking for. I crave the salad sold by a store too far away and which repackages it without a list of ingredients. It's not a German potato salad variant, just simply sweet and sour. I googled "sweet and sour" and the results seem to say 1 part vinegar, 2 parts sugar and 3 parts oil or cream. Do you think this would work as a dressing for potato salad?

Try 2 parts vinegar and water and oil, 1 part sugar. Might toss in a little powdered mustard.

Well, you've folded us over to form sandwiches, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for all the great q's today, and thanks to Carrie, Jim and Cathy for helping us answer them.

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked about ISOT will get "Honey & Co.: The Cookbook." The one who asked about finding that old cast-iron pan article will get "Good Food, Good Life." Send your mailing info to Kara.Elder@washpost.com, and she'll get you your book!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column.
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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