Free Range on Food: Flatbreads for the summer, community canneries, boozy milkshakes, and more.

Aug 22, 2018

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

Greetings, and welcome to today's chat! 

Hope you're enjoying what we've been up to lately, including:

Jane Black's look at one of the last of a dying breed: a public cannery in Virginia.

Kristen Hartke's ode to summer baking -- flatbreads on the stovetop.

Cathy Barrow's peach jalapeno salsa.

Emily Horton's piece about classic Southern red rice using fresh tomatoes.

Carrie Allan's look at the best way to make ice cream cocktails.

So much more, including our Voraciously how-tos, recipes, trending pieces and ... let's get to this!

Bonnie is on vacation, but we have Kristen and Cathy and Carrie joining us for extra firepower, so you're in good hands.

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR7656 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at 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.

We'll have a giveaway book for our favorite chatter today: It'll be ... drumroll... "The Washington Post Cookbook"! 

Let's do this.

I made the coconut turmeric cake last week, and it was an absolute hit. I loved how not-sweet it was -- it was perfect with coffee for breakfast. One question, though: I didn't find that coating the pan with tahini worked very well. For one thing, it was reaaaallllly hard to get the tahini to stick to the pan evenly -- it clumped up a lot and wouldn't spread. And then when I took the cake out of the pan, most of the tahini remained behind. Any thoughts on what I might've done wrong?

Coconut Turmeric Sweet Bread

ARTICLE: Coconut turmeric cake looks like a sunset and tastes like tropical paradise

Glad you made it and liked it! I'm wondering if your tahini was thicker than mine. The Whole Foods brand we had in the lab was very runny, which made rubbing it onto the pan very easy. What was the consistency of yours? I wonder if briefly microwaving at reduced heat would help thin it out, or even mixing it with a tiny bit of oil.

Never had a problem getting my cake out in one slab. Were you using a nonstick pan? Maybe I should add something like that to the recipe. Also I could see the tahini sticking a bit more of it got slightly overbaked, but again it could all go back to the consistency of your tahini.

I'm new to lentils--after discovering and enjoying them from a restaurant, I purchased a bag (Whole Foods store brand red lentils) to add variety to my salads. The first time I cooked them, I followed the instructions on the bag precisely. They boiled over and turned to mush, so I threw them out. The second time I cooked them, I followed the instructions on a WaPo recipe. While they didn't boil over this time, they too turned to mush. What am I doing wrong? Should I purchase a different type of lentil? Should I cook them in a much larger pan than the sauce pan I'm using? I want to be able to cook them but at this rate will never buy again!

Red lentils ... turn to mush! A beautiful, wonderful mush. That's pretty much the idea with them. If you want lentils that don't, you should get brown, green or black ones. Here's a primer I wrote a few years ago on the diff types.

And for a recipe that really showcases how glorious that mush can be, you've gotta try this:

RECIPE: Golden Lentils With Soft, Sweet Onions

AND ... more recipe ideas in this piece.

Joe - awhile ago i asked if you guys had suggestion for a dessert that featured black beans or chickpeas and you said you did have a recipe you were working on for a forthcoming book but weren't ready to reveal it yet. Are you ready now? When's your book coming out and .. what's the recipe?? :D

I'm working on a book about beans for Ten Speed Press that will be out in January 2020. I've been playing around with a few great desserts (IMHO), but not sharing just yet cause ... publishers and contracts and all that. ;-)

holiday gifts. All sorts of things. From apple sauce to pear butter to pickled stuff of all kinds. What do I do with the jars after I eat the goodies. Should I be bringing it back to them? Recycling? I'm pretty sure you can't reuse the lids (right?) but what about the jars?

You can reuse both jars and lids, but you can't reuse the lids for actual canning. You can reuse them as just lids, though, of course -- and you can reuse the jars as storage containers for all sorts of things, but they're especially good for salad dressings, IMO. And if you do can, you can reuse the jars for that -- with new lids.

Having said that, if the guys do a lot of canning, they probably would appreciate having the jars back, for future projects. And yes, you can recycle them.

If you have the freezer space, make LOT of eggplant parm slices, as if you were going to layer them in a recipe, and freeze them between wax paper. It's worked well for me, and then in winter you can just pull out the slices, layer the dish, and bake (with a bit of extra time)!

I love this idea! Do you cook them at all, or just slice and stack?

I read the review of the Chik-Fil-A meal kit, which mentions at the end that it's very high in saturated fat and sodium. I don't plan to buy any of those, but what is the calorie count?

It's 720 calories per serving, with 280 of those from fat. There are two servings in a kit. 

Want to make some sandwiches that we could take on a flight in a couple of days. Would like to avoid meat. Ideas? Should we consider a different savory snack instead of sandwiches? (no oven involved please!)

One of my go-to traveling sandwiches is just a bunch of mixed roasted veggies (oil, garlic, salt, pepper) -- in the summer I use squash and eggplant -- combined with goat cheese, herbs and whatever other condiments you like. Simple, holds pretty well.

Other ideas from our database:

Beet, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

RECIPE: Beet, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

RECIPE: Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Pressed Veggie Sandwich

RECIPE: Pressed Veggie Sandwich

I'm a decent cook but a total novice at breadmaking. I tried to make your english muffin recipe over the weekend and it was a sticky mess. At one point, in a fit of kneading frustration, I knocked a bunch of corn kernels into the dough that were sitting nearby for another recipe. Grrr small DC kitchens. Baking disaster! The remaining dough turned out okay but I still completely lack confidence. Do you have any super easy (i.e. not overly sticky) but rewarding recipes that you recommend for someone who wants to get into real bread making (i.e. with yeast, no quick breads) but is a bit timid? I don't have a stand mixer, FWIW. Thanks!

I'm so sorry to hear about your struggle with that English muffin recipe — I will say that it is actually meant to be a sticky dough and when you don't have a stand mixer, then the trick is to add at least 10 minutes of kneading time, so as to help the dough come together into that nice supple texture and allow the gluten to really develop. All it really takes is patience and muscle, but the result is so worth the effort. That being said, bread making in DC in the summer can be tricky, because of the humidity, so you can always add more flour, a tablespoon or so at a time, to help combat an overly sticky dough. In the meantime, start off with these Stovetop Shotis, which are super easy to make and will help you get that baking mojo! 

My brother passed away a few days ago on the west coast. My husband and I are flying out on Friday to sort through the house. Friends of my brother have already hauled out trash, cleaned the fridge, freezer and cupboards and I am deeply grateful (there was a lot of very old and outdated stuff). We would like to cook them a thank you dinner on the night before we leave but can't focus on what might work and we don't know the pot and pan situation and what we buy we probably can't bring back. Do you or any of the readers have a suggestion on what we can do for 10 to 12 people?

I am so sorry for your loss. I totally understand your impulse to cook as a thank you, but I am going to suggest you just consider getting in some takeout or catering. Given that you don't know the situation and you're probably under enough stress as it is, I think that makes the most sense.

Either that, or do something very, very basic that doesn't require a ton of equipment. A nice sandwich spread or pasta or even a big pot of soup with some good bread.

We're headed to Wolf Trap this weekend and I'd like to take grilled veggies for our picnic. The problem is, I have no idea how to grill veggies! Do I marinate them first? Marinate them after they're grilled? How do I keep them from getting soggy between the time they're cooked and then served a couple hours later? Thanks for any advice for this grill novice!

Here are a few recipes to get you started! They should answer your questions.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

RECIPE: Grilled Vegetable Salad

Grilled Antipasti

I got talked into a "Philly steak" by my farmer's market meat guy because I wanted to make steak salad. They recommended freezing the meat, slicing thin, and slow cooking into fajitas. I hate fajitas. Is there anything else I can make with this cut that doesn't require so much time and goes well with summer vegetables?

Don't despair! Make bulgogi. It's a delicious Korean style wrap. 

Do you have a recipe for bread and butter pickles? I searched your database but came up empty.

I moved six years ago and there are several boxes of pasta that moved with me and remain unopened. I'm among friends on this chat - does pasta expire? Is it safe to eat? Will it still taste OK? Thanks for your guidance.

Dried pasta can keep for a looooooong time -- it has no water content, so I wouldn't be overly concerned about it myself. If it looks or smells funny -- and, again, I can't imagine why -- then pitch it, but, otherwise, I suspect that it's fine.

Hiya, Frangers, How do I adapt your muffin recipe for mini-muffins? My guess is, just cut the time in half? Whatever the answer is - does it apply to turning cupcakes into mini-cupcakes? So many thanks!

All-Purpose Muffins

ARTICLE: The best kind of muffin is warm, fluffy and made by you

King Arthur Flour suggests reducing the bake time by about a third, meaning this recipe would be 13 minutes. Not sure 10 minutes would be enough, but no harm in checking. Your timing may vary depending on your oven, tin, add-ins, etc.

That other newspaper of record has a column today re: whether coconut oil is good for you or not. I love coconut oil and mostly use it in baking. I also have borderline high cholesterol (though my "good" type is also very high). Any thoughts on whether I should cut back? Maybe return to canola in my banana bread? What a bummer.

Hype about coconut oil has been going for awhile, and yet nutritionists have been sounding a more cautionary/reasonable note about it for years, too. Here's what the wonderful Ellie Krieger writes. Good advice.

I found a wonderful honeydew melon gazpacho at a farmers' market in FL while on vacation earlier this year. I tried to contact the vendor, but the container doesn't have any contact information. I've looked for recipes, but haven't come up with anything that looks right. (The one I had did not have tomatoes -- the key ingredients were melon, cucumber, and avocado, along with mint, spices, vinegar, etc.) Do you have a recipe that I can try? Thanks.

This one sort of gets you there, but you can start tweaking it a bit by adding cucumber and even vinegar to bring it more into gazpacho territory.

RECIPE: Chilled Avocado and Melon Soup With Spicy Crab-Corn Salad

Hi, do you have any suggestions for the 2 bunches of celery I picked from my garden? It is a stronger flavor, skinnier stalks, and lots of leaves... thanks!

Lucky you! Emily Horton wrote a great piece on celery a few years back; check that out here.

In her piece, you'll find links to a few celery-forward recipes that I think would be even better with your extra flavorful stuff:

Emmer, Lentil and Celery Salad With Lemon-Cumin Dressing

RECIPE: Emmer, Lentil and Celery Salad With Lemon-Cumin Dressing

Tarragon-Roasted Celery

RECIPE: Tarragon-Roasted Celery

Celery Leaf, Parsley and Pistachio Pesto

RECIPE: Celery Leaf, Parsley and Pistachio Pesto

Also take a look at these:

Wok-Fried Black Pepper Beef and Celery

RECIPE: Wok-Fried Black Pepper Beef and Celery

Scrambled Eggs With Celery Leaves

RECIPE: Scrambled Eggs With Celery Leaves

I have beautiful celery in my garden. What is the best way to save it for Thanksgiving stuffing? Should I dice, then freeze, or freeze the whole stalks? If diced, how best to dry it before freezing?

Celery, because it's mostly water, doesn't like the freezer. Once the diced or whole stalks emerge from the freezer, the water is released and you're left with (very aromatic) limp bits of celery. If using the celery for soup or to scent stock, it will be useful, but if you hope for that crunch in your stuffing, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.

I made this and we loved it. I brought some in to work and offered a piece to a coworker. I said, "It's turmeric and coconut. Would you like to try it?" She was immediately repelled and said, "No!" I then asked if she'd ever had turmeric. The answer: No. I guess I embarrassed her because she kind of melted and mumbled something about it looking like cornbread. What is wrong with people? And, what's wrong with cornbread? smh.

Thrilled to hear you liked it! I mean, hey, we're all entitled to our own food aversions and tastes (dealing with that on my potato salad recipe that just went up). But if your co-worker was turned off by the cake, more for everyone else. :)

Yes, there were a good number of people thinking this was like cornbread, for better or worse!

My husband and I each replaced the usual quart of half-&-half in our fridge at the same time. It's from a local farm, so doesn't keep as well as the usual store-bought (which is one reason we like it). How can I use up that extra quart before it turns?

I love using it for French toast!

I bought what I thought was a pint of shishito peppers at the farmers market, but now I'm thinking they're either VERY hot shishitos or birds eyes. I've thrown a few into my meals throughout the week, but thought I'd see what folks in here would do with a big batch of very hot peppers.

Probably the first thing I would do is to freeze some of them, because, much as I love hot peppers, a big batch probably won't get used up that quickly. Just spread the whole peppers on a cookie sheet and they'll freeze solid, then you can pop them into a freezer-safe container and defrost and cook with them at will during the winter. You can also pickle them using this easy recipe from the marvelous Cathy Barrow:

RECIPE: Whole Pickled Snacking Peppers

You were hesitant to look to Atkins as a resource since the people seem a little over enthused. Well, I never "did" Atkins (I have never counted the net carb), but I have used their website and books as resources. You need to say good bye to some old friends. There just isn't room for rice, wheat, other grains or starchy vegetables like potatoes at that level. You have a few new best friends: lettuce, celery, broccoli, and a few other low carb vegetables. The Atkins books have a list. I think they call them foundation vegetables. Don't worry if you don't like celery or something else. Your taste changes after a while on low carb. I didn't believe it would happen when I read it, but it did. I can't even drink diet soda anymore. I'll drink it diluted sometimes, but without dilution, it tastes like syrup. Apples are probably out too. Stick to blueberries and a few other berries for fruit. Almonds are the lowest carb nuts. Ground flax seed (golden if you want a neutral taste) work as a sub for bread crumbs. You can make a microwave "muffin" with ground flaxseed or almond flour. Google for the recipe. And you can do food prep on weekends just like Joe recommends, but not rice or beans or whatever. Roast or sauté veggies. You can put pasta sauces over sautéed mushrooms or roasted broccoli or roasted zucchini. Here is the trick. You have to figure out the net carbs in the batch before you cook them, because cooking them changes the weight in an unpredictable way. You will know the net carbs in all of the raw zucchini, but once it is roasted with olive oil, you only know because it is the same as when you started. Then if you use 20% of what you started with, you can use that number. You might find a number of net carbs per ounce for roasted zukes on-line, but it will only be accurate if everything about your batch is the same as the tester's batch. So, I say, go ahead and look at the books and the website and just ignore the true believers if you want to. I lost some weight. My blood pressure is better. My triglycerides are fantastic. Inflammation markers are low. Oh, and my dental hygienist is thrilled with my teeth. Seriously, I have crummy genes for carbohydrate metabolism. Diabetes is rampant in my family. This is just healthier for me.

Do you know of a source for stone ground grits locally? I relocated from the south, but cannot find them in D.C. Instant grits are not an option.

Maybe I'm missing something in your question, but there are plenty of stone-ground grit brands you might find in the supermarket: Bob's Red Mill, Hodgson Mill, etc.  For something local, Woodson's Mill in Virginia is a good source.

I'm excited to be headed to Rare Tavern this weekend, but ... I was looking at their menu and, do you have any idea what a bottleneck steak is? Google didn't help, nor did a large list of cuts and their alternate names, nor did a life-long restaurant-working pal. Tangentially, why can't the same cuts of meat all be called the same thing in the east, west, and middle U.S.? And could people just stop making up random names? A London broil is one thing, but it's also another thing that's also called a flank steak. And there are Philadelphia, Denver, and California steaks that are for some reason used in place of their much more common, known official names (skirt steak, pot roast, and chuck roast, respectively). Whatever bottleneck is remains a mystery. It's almost enough to make you go vegetarian. (Almost.)

In his review, Tom Sietsema wrote this:

The $27 bottleneck, taken from the center of the rib loin, is nine ounces of simple, dry-aged pleasure served with a loose row of thin-cut sauteed potatoes, onions and kale.

Out of curiosity, after how many successful executions and documentations of WaPo Food recipes can I become an official volunteer recipe tester? I probably make at least one a week.

It takes more than that, but you should wait until Bonnie's back and re-ask this question, or send a note to her at, and when she gets back she can consider your "application." 

I didn't actually have any trouble getting the cake out of the pan -- it's just that a lot of the tahini stayed behind, so the cake didn't get that extra burst of flavor. I used a glass baking dish; maybe I'll try nonstick next time. I also left the cake in the pan and cut pieces out as we ate it -- maybe I should unmold the whole thing right after baking. Also, my tahini was indeed very thick; it was the bottom of the jar, so maybe all of the oil was gone already. Thanks for the feedback!

Okay, that all makes sense then! I have found that baking in glass tends to lead to things getting browner faster. And I bet you might have had an easier time unmolding when it was still a bit warm. Plus, that bottom of the jar tahini is like cement, lol. 

OK, so I know it's the dog days and the equinox is still a month away, but I am starting to look forward to the change of season and menu - soups, stews, casseroles...mmmmmm. Leftovers, too. Anything in particular that you are looking forward to (especially that are both fun to prepare and to eat)?

Fall is definitely on my mind. I've been thinking about long cooked pasta sauce -- Sunday sauce -- and how much I look forward to having a spaghetti Sunday again. Also, cassoulet, which I make every fall, but only once.

I've had my eyes on a few carb-heavy things that I'm waiting for cooler temps to try. (Dense rye breads, steamed German sweet buns, conchas). Mostly looking forward to the steady increase of apples, though. And Italian plums, so I can make another batch of Cathy's slivovitz

If you like tomatoes - make this pie! It appeared in the Post in 2011 (I think). It's fast, easy and delicious. The challenge is not to eat the entire pie. I have been asked for this recipe many, many times, so if you haven't made, do! It's a great use of summer tomatoes. Thanks WaPo

You mean this one?

Tomato Pie

RECIPE: Tomato Pie

I also just resurfaced this one in a recipe roundup and already heard from several readers who made and loved it.

Rustic Tomato and Basil Pie With Garlic Mayo

RECIPE: Rustic Tomato and Basil Pie With Garlic Mayo

Baby-cut carrots are the only vegetable that I buy that comes in a sealed plastic bag. But there is always a tablespoon (or more) of water inside the bag. I have to drain them and spread the carrots on paper towels to dry, or they get slimy with black spots on them. Where is this water coming from? The bag is sealed, so I assume it's not from the water misters that some grocery stores have to spray the produce.

They must have been moist when they went in.

I loved this article. We don't have anything like this in my state so it was all news to me. I would totally use a public cannery, if it were available. I guess it's not unlike some places where they use community ovens to bake their bread. No heating up the kitchen and you get to meet people.

Part of me thinks that a modern take on such a place would do really well in urban areas where young people are getting more into DIY stuff...

I made a pureed sauce last night for dinner and had lots of leftover, so I decided to freeze it. However, I'm not actually sure if it's a sauce that can be frozen and then thawed to its original glory. It's basically made of pureed jalapenos, mayonnaise, sour cream, a bit of lime juice, and olive oil. I'm concerned because of the sour cream (and maybe mayonnaise?) Should I be OK, or should I just go ahead and toss it out?

Neither mayonnaise nor sour cream are good candidates for the freezer. A sauce made with both would keep in the refrigerator for two or three days, surely, but if you have already frozen it, I'm afraid it will need to be tossed. 

If the town where your late brother lived is not large enough to support a catering company, call a local restaurant to arrange for takeout or delivery in catering proportions. We were lucky enough to have a friend who ran a catering company volunteer this when my father died unexpectedly and family and friends flooded in, and it was an absolute godsend.

I've got to give you a strike for suggesting a curry sandwich for an airplane. Food you bring on should be as odorless as possible--ie, no curry or tuna or stinky cheese. Just because other people do it, doesn't mean you should. (And they usually bring burgers or common-smelling foods, not things like curry, which LOTS of people hate the smell of.) Plane travel is miserable for every other sense; at least let smell have a reprieve.

Trade in stereotypes much? I really have issues with the whole "curry is smelly" thing (ditto kimchi, etc.), which also ends up with cultural implications, too. And, frankly, I'd much rather smell a curry than a "common" greasy burger.

Plus, anyway, the recipe calls for curry powder! It's mixed into a sandwich filling of chickpeas. No one is going to be smelling that.

Couldn't have said it better. We're giving you many strikes in return. Foul indeed.

Joe (I think it was Joe) recommended adding so much more tahini for the hummus. I made it last week -- and it was so good! I make my own tahini (so I don't have to keep it, I just keep sesame seeds in the house) -- and it was so so so good. So I tried your trick for when I made the babaganoush (over tahini) and it was so good. I don't get why no one else likes it, but I do, so I get to eat more of it!

It was Joy Manning, who wrote a great piece on hummus for us, but I second her option: tahini rules, and using more rather than less in hummus is a winning move.

It sure is. I've found that Krinos brand is the creamiest, or perhaps thinnest, is the word I want, but I still scrape it all out of the jar when I first open it, and mix it thoroughly with the KitchenAid before putting it back in the jar. A potato masher works equally well and will give your arm a workout...

Yes, and if you store it in the refrigerator after blending, it slows down the separation. I used to buy a brand whose jar opening was big enough for me to get my immersion blender into, which was perfect. Now I'm a huge fan of Mighty Sesame brand, which is in a squeeze bottle -- and can easily be shaken to help emulsify!

Taking advantage of the presece of several expert bakers to ask, is there a rule or a website that explains how to adjustil cooking time if you use the wrong size pan? Say the recipe calls for a 9×12 but you only find an 8×12. But other size differences too. I have lots of pans but seemingly never the right size.

I generally default to King Arthur Flour's website for these issues, and they also have an awesome baker's hotline (by phone or online chat) where they will answer seemingly any baking question under the sun!

This is a very good chart from Joy the Baker. I think it might help. The most important thing is to try to get as close to the right volume you can.

I think I understand OP's plight - Bob's Red Mill yellow corn grits aren't *exactly* like the white corn coarse stone-ground grits most Southerners think of. The former can double as polenta and is pretty uniform while the later is... well, GRITS. It's hard to articulate. I found Luquire Family Foods White Stone Ground Grits at Harris Teeter which I think are closer to what OP is asking for!

OK, thank you for the additional insight!

For the southerner: You may actually be looking in the wrong place. Instant grits or stone-ground from large companies are usually in the cereal aisle. The good ones in my grocery store are in the organic aisle. (Seriously.) Or you could order online. I love wheat berries, but my store didn't have them and I didn't feel like going to the Whole Foods because I just hate their crowds and lines. So I ordered them from Amazon, and they turned out to be really high-quality. Now I don't have to bother with Whole Foods' stale bulk bins again!

My Italian-American in-laws had a massive tomato canning day every August at their backyard in NoVa. They would stop by their favorite farm in New Jersey on the way back from the dhor and fill the entire trunk of whatever 70's or 80's behemouth they drove with dead ripe Romas and a canning variety developed for Campbells. The first cooking of the cracked open fruit took place over an open fire in a large enamel basin, stirred with a paddle that my father-in-law carved himself. Then the results went through an electrified commercial grade food mill to remove the skins and seed. The puree was then boiled down further in a 20 gallon pot on an old gas stove installed in the basement, mostly for that purpose, before being ladled into canning jars fresh from the dishwasher and topped with lids. The jars sealed as the puree cooled and any that did not went into a big pot of "gravy" the next night. Each year they made a couple hundred jars, some of which they shared with us. After my father-in-law died, Mother gave up the tradition. When she moved to a retirement village. DH's brother took the food mill and we got the basin, paddle and 20 gallon pot. I still miss going to my pantry for a jar or two of those utterly delicious tomatoes for pasta and beans or pizza sauce.


We just picked 50lbs of peaches yesterday, yay! Along with canning and freezing quarts of them, I'm making cobbler. I just want variety in the dough. I usually make just a cream scone recipe for on top, but I want to make this all-peach cobbler taste similarly to a gingerbread peach pie recipe I have from a Southern Heritage cookbook. Adding a dose of dried and fresh ginger is easy. Adding molasses instead of sugar will just make it very, very moist, but the cream in my scone recipe is providing the fat in place of eggs and butter. Any thoughts?

I think the molasses will be fine, I'd just whisk it in really well with the cream before mixing it into the dry ingredients.

The cannery was actually putting stuff in glass jars? I'm a city kid and never heard of canneries other than in Steinbeck. So the stuff being "canned" was not going into aluminum cans? Why didn't the author give more explanation?

"Canning" has long been used to refer to the process of preserving things not just in cans, but in jars. (Why don't we call it "jarring"? Maybe that would be too jarring!)

The photos that accompany the piece show both glass jars and metal cans being used at Glade Hill -- there is equipment for both. (A picture is worth ... you know.)


Public canneries help food lovers save the season. So why are they disappearing?


It's consumed cold, unlike the pervasive hot-grease smell of an airport concession burger and fries. If someone were carting along hot vindaloo, that'd be another thing.

Would it though?

When I open a bag of baby carrots I just put the bag and its remaining contents inside of a reusable lidded plastic container and store in the cooler part of the fridge - no issue with spoilage. Reading the comments about "smelly" airline food brought back memories of a long-ago flight in the 80's where an adjacent passenger had brought on a cooler of frozen uncooked chitlins, which unfortunately defrosted enroute. The owner was very apologetic for the ensuring "aroma" and we all had a good laugh.

You can freeze half & half in ziplock freezer bags. Pour 1/2 cup amounts in baggies, squeeze out air,close. Lay filled baggies flat on pan to freeze. Once frozen you can’t stack the bags easily in freezer for future use. Might need to shake it once you defrost but works great for adding to coffee.

I, too, made the turmeric coconut cake and LOVED IT. I am hesitant to bring it to work since I have not very open minded co-workers so more for me. I cut and froze it and that works perfectly. Love you guys.

Love you, too, thanks. :) That was a recipe that I spotted and immediately thought it could take off, and it certainly has!

I have 20 lbs of pears - with at least another 20 lbs ready to be picked from a tree that has NEVER produced more than 1 or 2 fruits. My husband is super proud of them (he's been babying the tree along for the last 5 years). Any recommendations for what the heck to do with them - neither of us have the energy to can them as pears are just a bit too involved.


These make great snacks: 

Pear Crisps

RECIPE: Pear Crisps

And this is super versatile and so easy to put together: 

Roasted Gingery Pears

RECIPE: Roasted Gingery Pears

We also have lotsa pear recipes in the Recipe Finder. And I'm sure Cathy can weigh in with some preserving ideas!

I am a huge fan of canned pears, which I make with a star anise and pink peppercorn scented simple syrup. Yes, there's some effort in peeling, coring, and simmering those pear halves, but the pay off is huge. Also, pear butter finished with bittersweet chocolate melted into the smooth butter is spectacular. And here is an old recipe from my blog archives for caramel pear preserves.

Pears can make for a glorious drink ingredient, too -- a little lemon, a little cardamom and cinnamon, a base spirit. Even better if you roast the pears with spices and then shake them up in a drink.

Make a giant batch of the amazing Eggplant with Adobo-Black Bean sauce and stick it in the freezer. 

Spicy Chipotle Eggplant With Black Beans

I cook the eggplant slices just as if I'm going through the whole recipe, sliced, egged, floured, fried. Once they're cool enough, I layer them into some of those very shallow freezer containers (mine are Tupperware) in recipe or double recipe amounts. Then it's just pulling them out of the freezer, thawing enough to separate, and continuing on with the parmigiana recipe. All the painful work of pan frying the eggplant is done in large batches!

OP, just Google "masoor dal" and prepare to be WOW-ed. This was my gateway recipe (it has minimal unfamiliar Indian spices).

You can re-use the rings, but you need new gaskets. Yes - give them back and maybe ask if your uncle wants the rings too. You could even fill it with - oh perhaps red lentils!

Right, yes!

Along with Bob's Red Mill, you can find Goya's brand at some stores too, inexpensive to boot. They might be labeled polenta but they're grits all the same.

And in the UK it's called "bottling." Maybe because they call cans "tins," and "tinning" means something else.

Wow me with some easy dessert recipes that combine both. They're two of our favorite flavors, and I'd like to combine them, instead of featuring just one or the other.

Ask and you shall receive! Also -- I make scones pretty much at least once a week with a blend of all-purpose flour and almond flour and a healthy dose of lemon zest, plus some sugared sliced almonds on top — delicious! 

RECIPE: Amazing Lemon Cannellini Cake

RECIPE: Sicilian Almond Cookies

RECIPE: Pistachio Cakes With Lemon Cream (replace the pistachios with almonds, obviously)

RECIPE: Lemon Strawberry Parfait With Almond Tuiles


Sure it makes eggplant parm come together much faster - that's why I love this chat - learn something new every week!

Look for Chana Dal in an Indian grocery. They're not just yellow split peas even though that's what they look like. They're guaranteed not to turn to mush.

Yes, split chickpeas!

I saute celery ( and separately mushrooms and onions) in LOTS of butter, with sage and other herbs and then freeze it for my stuffing. It works perfectly and does not get mushy or watery

Hi there. I'm new to mushrooms on burgers but wonder about what kind of sauce to put on it. I usually like ketchup and mustard, but it seems overpowering with the mushrooms. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

An herbed mayonnaise is a perfect sauce to go with mushrooms -- just whisk some diced fresh tarragon and lemon zest into mayonnaise. Barbecue sauce is also a great match!

Not that I don't appreciate the suggestion. Can I adapt a cream biscuit recipe to use the half-&-half, and freeze the biscuits?

Sure! I bet even my British scones recipe would be a-ok with half-and-half.

British Scones

RECIPE: British Scones

I'm definitely in the category of "old" and live in an area with limited restaurant and takeout options. I bought one of those fancy countertop ovens, in our case the June, hoping this would convince my husband to do at least some of the cooking. I'm very impressed - every thing we've cooked in it comes out darn near perfect. I made my usual one egg chocolate cake and for the first time had a bake (if not the cake) that would earn Mary Berry's approval - no darker edges, no hump in the center. I don't know if manufacturers will be able to scale up this technology to full-sized ovens, but for a young couple or retirees such as ourselves, this oven does an amazingly good job although with a rather large footprint.

Ah, June! We quite enjoyed our time with June when she was in the Food Lab. Glad to hear the oven is working out for you.

ARTICLE: Can smart kitchen devices actually make you a better cook?

Going to stay at a cottage in New England. Thinking of taking some meat that is frozen. If i pack it in a cooler with ice will it be ok. The trip can be between 8 - 12 hours. One i get there plan on putting it in refrigerator and eating in next couple of days.

Yep, it should be fine, if it starts out frozen and stays in that ice-packed cooler. It'll be like thawing it in the fridge.

As a vegetarian, I'd MUCH rather enjoy the smell of vindaloo than a greasy burger. I don't even like the smell of those Beyond Burgers, because they're too authentic.

This is all subjective, isn't it? Thank you!

Yep, that is the recipe - in the Recipe Finder as "Tomato Pie." Now I'll try the other one - if my tomatoes ever get red - anyone else finding tomatoes are late this year?

My tomatoes haven't been late but they have been splitting from all the heavy rain saturating the ground this summer! #rainraingoaway

I made them this weekend as peach-blueberry muffins, and they were delicious.

That sounds delicious! Thanks for reporting back.

Just wanted to know if it's me or the system. It won't log me in and says I'm not a subscriber (I am).

Hmm, not sure -- anybody else having trouble?

Since I love pear and Gorgonzola together, I made them into a quiche a couple months ago! Chopped the pear in a large dice and roasted them, the threw into the pie shell with a mix of the Gorgonzola and some mozzarella, and the usual milk/egg custard. It was delicious!

Best thing is to return them to your uncles. But, don't recycle them, donate them to Goodwill or other thrift stores for other canners to find.

Good thought, thanks!

We had a bake-off at work a week ago. I didn't want to go with a basic chocolate item, and I know banana bread is easy. I found the Coffee-spiked banana bread. It was really good. But it wasn't easy. I did get complements on it, even if I didn't win the contest. Earlier this summer I made the peach muffins and they were pretty good, too.

No such thing! I heartily support the roasted pears recipe! And canning! You'll love those pears later. But I'll add that freezing chunks of pears to be used in cakes and muffins for later is very nice, as well. And there is a recipe I adore from David Lebovitz's Eggs on Sunday, Very Spicy Caramel Pears, that I make at least once every year despite my family's dislike!

Oh, that David L recipe is GREAT. Thanks for the reminder.

I live in Arlington, and have wondered about planting fruit trees on my property. How can I ensure that the fruit is safe to eat?

If you are concerned about contaminants in the soil, you can get that tested (check with Arlington County, they might provide that service at a low or no cost). If you're concerned about other environmental factors, like pollution, etc., then that may be harder to control, but you could talk with a local horticulturalist or fruit farmer to learn more. I live in DC and have neighbors with fig trees that produce beautiful fruit, so fingers crossed that it's safe to eat (too late now)!

You recently recommended using figs on ice cream. Would that also work for the fig balsamic I bought on a whim? How else is it good?

Sounds lovely to me! Would also drizzle it over fruit (such as pears!), cheese, cheesecake, and salad greens, for starters.

I love fig balsamic! It's amazing on ice cream, drizzled over pound cake, and especially on strawberries!

Hi - I've been invited to a Labor Day potluck, but will be away for the whole weekend beforehand. Do you have any side suggestions that can be made on Friday or Saturday and enjoyed (key word - enjoyed!) on Monday? Thanks!

Lots, probably! Did you see my new potato salad recipe that just went up today? Holds up very well.

Mustard and Dill Potato Salad

ARTICLE: You don’t need a single drop of mayo to make your best potato salad

If there's something specific you're interested in, just search our Recipe Finder and include the words "make ahead."

Any tips for peeling? I am not very dexterous with those kinds of tasks, and the appearance of my pears suffers. How I wish I could can them with the peels on! (I know the texture would not be appealing). But for the poster, canning pear halves is not too onerous, and having them in winter is divine!

This may sound silly, but get a new vegetable peeler. Most of us have the same one we bought when we first outfitted a kitchen. A sharp peeler makes all the difference. 

Where can you buy a good prepared bone broth? Thank you for all of these great chats!

Are you in the D.C. area? Two local brands are Prescription Chicken and Brainy Belly, which you can get delivered or in some local markets.

For the lucky person with too many pears, make puree and freeze it. Same basic idea as apple sauce but with pears. If you have and use a food mill you don't have to peel or core before cooking. You can then use it in cakes muffins or just eat it as is over some yogurt or icecream

I have some suggestions for last week's commenter who was looking for very low-carb recipes to eat during a 30-day clinical trial. I was also in a clinical trial 1.5 years ago that required very accurate carb counts. Before I get into the recipes, I'll highly suggest that the commenter buys a digital kitchen scale! It increases the accuracy of your carb counts by leaps and bounds. I weigh all of my raw ingredients before cooking, tally up their carb counts, and then divide the total carb count by the cooked weight in grams to get an accurate carb/100 g measure. It's a pain at first but over time makes things so much easier. For recipes: I recommend Cooking Light's Beef Kebabs with Cucumber Mint Salad (8 carbs/serving). Add raw cauliflower florets to the salad to add bulk, and DON'T skimp on the full-fat yogurt sauce! Sheet pan dinners are also your friend. Put 1 lb chicken thighs, 1 bunch asparagus, & 1 lb mushrooms, and one sliced lemon (or Meyer lemon!) on a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil & fresh garlic; bake at 400F until veggies are roasted and chicken is done (20-30 minutes). Serve with a chunky lemon-herb sauce (puree a whole seeded lemon, oil, and LOTS of fresh basil; season to taste). Frittatas of all types are also your friend--though watch out for extra carbs tucked into prepacked sausages and cooked hams! I recommend ham, asparagus, gouda, and spinach frittata (lots of recipes available online). Hope these help!

I would recommend dry ice, myself. I've packed ice chests solid with regular ice, and after a three-hour drive, the meat is no longer frozen solid. It's very cold, but there is some "give" to the meat. Dry ice will keep your frozen things FROZEN.

Sure, but they don't need to keep it frozen if it's going right in the fridge and then they're going to eat it within a couple of days... Would be helpful to thaw, actually.

If you blanch them whole in boiling water for a minute, you can just slide the peels off with your hands after they're cool.

That takes me not quite as far back as the Pink Squirrel, but as a bartender at TGIF's in the mid-09s, I sure made a lot of Mudslides. I always wondered if people who had 2 or 3 ice cream cocktails realized they had just had 4 to 6 scoops of ice cream (we were still making them with real ice cream, even at Friday's).

Four to six scoops! That's barely a serving ;)

Cathy, I used to be a cassoulet purist, which meant I hardly ever made it (assume that's the reason for your "only once"). But quick cassoulet, while not as good as real cassoulet, is still pretty good, and you'll make it more often. Jacques Pepin has a recipe, or you could just wing it.

I do cheat on the classic recipe, and that Pepin version is great! But there's nothing like the one that takes a week or two to create! Homemade sausage and homemade confit make a difference.

Just looked at the comments on the potato salad recipe. Yeesh! I assumed the jerks only hung around the politics articles! Folks, if you don't want to try a recipe, don't try a recipe. "Gross" is not a helpful comment, and it only serves to remind me that there are some really unkind, judgy people out there. And in this day and age, I don't really need that reminder. Thank you for the recipe, Becky! It doesn't look like it's to my taste, but I bet a lot of people will like it!

Thank you for this. I have been really kind of shocked at some of the vitriol that has appeared on a couple of my recipe posts. RECIPES! I don't get it.

I like to dehydrate pears. It's tedious, for sure, to peel them and prepare them but it's worth it. I use them in the Gingerbread Pear S'Mores. My nephew calls them banana cookies. Kids ...

that way madness lies.

Except we are supposed to! Even amid the nastiness, there are often legitimate questions and useful, even friendly, comments.

Hi all! I'm making buddha bowls tonight with sweet potatoes, squash, and some chard with a maple tahini glaze overtop. I've got some tempeh laying around in the fridge that I'd thought I'd add to the bowls... but the only marinades I seem to find for it are all asian-themed. Would it not go well with a maple tahini flavor? Should I reconsider? Do you have a marinade that might work? Thanks!

Why do Chef's feel spicy food is good food. Watch any cooking show hosted by a famous Chef and they will always opt for the hottest spice profile they can make.

The beautiful thing about cooking with spices is that you can use as much or as little as you like, according to your preference. For instance, harissa (spicy red pepper paste with garlic and coriander) has become very popular with a lot of chefs, and it's easy to keep a tube in the refrigerator, but it's a lot of heat. I tend to add a little less to recipes than is always called for, but my husband will dump in a ton of it. Everybody's taste buds are different but it's nice to try new flavors, even if it's in moderation!

Well, you've covered us loosely with a clean dish towel until ready to serve, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the q's today, and thanks to Cathy, Kristen and Carrie for helping with the a's.

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who asked about reusing/regifting/recycling canning jars and lids will get "The Washington Post Cookbook." Send your info to, and she'll get you a copy!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post'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
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Kristen Hartke
Kristen Hartke is a Washington-based food writer and editor.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Maura Judkis
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.
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