Free Range on Food: This week's recipes, Warrior Retreat at Bull Run, food deserts and obesity, and more.

Aug 29, 2018

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 all our stuff of late, including:

Our announcement of our next Voraciously newsletter, a sure-to-be-fun take from Tanya Sichynsky we're calling Meal Plan of Action. Sign up HERE. (And trust me, you want to.)

Becky's primer on fried chicken and her mayo-free potato salad (both just in time for Labor Day cooking)

Tamar's column on how food deserts (NOT DESSERTS, PEOPLE) don't cause obesity -- but that doesn't mean access to supermarkets isn't important anyway.

Joy Manning on how to cook quinoa that you actually want to eat

Jim Shahin on the importance of smoke to good baba ghanouj

Tim Carman on a program that gives wounded soldiers the VIP treatment as part of their recovery

Jim Webster's entertaining read on overcoming his fear of huitlacoche

So much more!

As always, we'll have a giveaway book for our favorite chatter today, and again, we'll make it "The Washington Post Cookbook"! So make your q's good.

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR7106 . 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.


I got to last week's chat too late to ask if turmeric is supposed to be bitter? The turmeric I have is the color of the baked bread. In the photo of the ingredients, it looks more like paprika - at least more orange/red than yellow. Everything I add turmeric to (because it's supposed to be healthy) tastes bitter to me. I don't think mine is very old- but who knows how long it was on the shelf. I don't like beer (because it's bitter). All the rave reviews make me want to try the recipe- but a whole tablespoon of turmeric sounds like a lot. Is it just my taste buds? If you said a tablespoon of cinnamon, I wouldn't hesitate. Thanks for your help with this!

Coconut Turmeric Sweet Bread

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

Sure, your perception could definitely be because of your taste buds. Hard to account for taste, but I am actually kind of in your camp -- at least when it's thrown into random things to make it "healthy," I do think it can just lend a bitter edge. In the right combination, though, I find it's earthier more than anything else. The coconut two ways and sugar in this recipe do balance out the more bitter tendencies, though.

As I mentioned in the blog, the red spots in the cake result when the turmeric interacts with the baking powder. The overall golden color is of course the same as the color of the powder.

If yours is very old, definitely a good start would be getting a new jar.

is a slow cooker the same as a crockpot, or can they be used in the same manner? Thinking of Ellie's curried chicken and summer vegs in today's paper.

Yep, Crock Pot is to slow cooker as Kleenex is to facial tissue.

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Curried Chicken and Summer Vegetables

Hi there! After a major kitchen renovation, I feel compelled to get new cookware. We don't cook much (empty nesters) but when we do, we appreciate high-quality, long-lasting pots. My neighbor, who is a big cook, swears by All-Clad. What do you think? Can spend up to $1000 on a good basic set. Thank you!

I pretty much answered this exact question the other week! 

Generally I like to pick and choose between brands and lines to build my own set.

That being said, I swear by All-Clad. Over the years, I have -- with sales, coupons, etc. -- built up a collection that covers almost all my needs. I really like the three-layer stainless steel. In fact, I am using it more and more these days as opposed to a nonstick. It cleans up well, cooks evenly and should last a lifetime (keep it looking great with Bar Keepers Friend). Well worth the investment. Oven-safe, too.

Right now I have the 10- and 12-inch covered fry pans (the sales currently online on the All-Clad site are pretty good), in addition to 2- and 4-quart saucepans.

I am really happy with the nonstick All-Clad 12-inch skillet we have in the lab, if you want that option, too.

Other must-haves: a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, such as Lodge. A 10-inch is nice as well. Also an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, at least 5 or 6 quarts. Le Creuset is the big name, but other brands are available, of course.

Hope that helps!

Raw and cooked(?) honeys definitely taste different from each other. Any advice on how to choose which to use? Most recipes don't indicate so maybe it doesn't matter?

I'd say if the honey is showcased and remains raw, you might want to go with one whose subtleties you can pick out and that you really like, such as a raw wildflower honey. If it isn't, and especially if it's baked into something, feel free to use a honey that's cheaper.

My company keeps snacks for the staff, and yesterday I grabbed a hummus snack from the refrigerator. I didn't eat the whole thing, and put it away in my insulated lunch bag, which I always put ice packs in. But I forgot to take it out when I got home, and it wasn't exactly still ice cold in the lunch bag. Any reason I shouldn't eat the rest of it today, and yes, it's now refrigerated. Thanks for the help.

Ehhhh, I tend to be cautious about these things, and for a little hummus, I definitely wouldn't risk it. Especially if you've already partially eaten/dipped into it already.

I, on the other hand, would eat it (especially if it's the packaged kind that has preservatives). But you do you!

Hi. Over the years I've bought many brands of cookware, including Calphalon, Cuisinart, Martha Stewart, and Tramontina,but of course, eventually they have all worn out, and once and for all, I'd like to get cookware that will last at least 20 years (I'm in my 60's). Yesterday, I was reading glowing reviews of the Belgian-made Demeyere skillets, but $170 for an 8-inch skillet?! My husband and I cook every night, so the cookware would get a lot of use. Do all of you have high-quality cookware in your own homes? Not sure if you are able to make a specific recommendation, but if you are, I'd appreciate some advice. Thanks very much.

Becky already gave an excellent cookware tutorial, but I'll chime in here. I have different philosophies for non-stick and full-stick cookware. Non-stick always always always wears out, so I don't spend a fortune and buy middle-of-the road. My other stuff - non non-stick - is top-notch (mostly All-Clad) because it literally does last a lifetime. I also have a bunch of cast-iron - super-cheap and terrific.

My peaches from the farmers market won't soften. Yes, I've got them in a brown paper bag. My question: will stone fruit that refuses to soften still work in something like a crumble?

For sure, I would totally use them in baking. Or how about the blockbuster cobbler from Virginia Willis we published this summer?

Any-Fruit Cobbler

ARTICLE: This cozy cobbler can be made to suit almost any fruit — or mood

They would also be just fine in a refrigerator jam, where cooking will soften them and sugar sweeten them.

refrigerator jam

ARTICLE: How to make a good jam without the hassle of canning

The front burners on my stove are slanted, so any cooking oil/butter or other liquid moves towards one side. Can you think of a way I can even out the burners or compensate for the angle when cooking, so I can use my hands for more than one dish at a time? The back burners are too much of a stretch to use for anything except dishes that cook with lids, like rice and stew.

Most stoves have adjustable feet. Upside: you can fix this! Downside: you have to come face-to-face with what's under your stove.

It is too hot to cook! So after a few tries at grilled bread and pan bread (thanks for those recipes, BTW), I am game to try grilled pizza. I've made my dough from a grilled pizza recipe, but the issue is that I wanted to make the Top Tomato 2009 Rustic Tomato and Basil Pie- just not in the oven for 45 minutes! Any thoughts on adapting that to the grill? I now realize it really is a pie instead of a pizza, even with the pizza crust, but... it's just layers of tomato and basil, so as long as the crust is baked, it should taste good (I hope). Maybe fewer layers of tomato? Any Freerangers with experience on this?

Ooh, good question. I haven't even attempted that on this recipe. I do wonder if the fat in the crust would scorch in the hot grill. I guess use a thermometer to keep an eye on things so you can roughly get the grill the same temp as the oven. I still suspect it might go faster, so stay on top of it. Not sure you need to reduce tomatoes or anything.

Can you talk about the tahini used in the baba g recipe? Do you use it straight from jar/can? Do you prepare it with water/lemon juice before adding to recipe?

   Because tahini separates in the jar, I always stir it vigorously to make it smooth before using. Sometimes I'll go so far as to remove the entire contents to a food processor and give it a whir for a a minute or so. But usually I just mix it up by hand when I use it. Either way, I add it straight to the recipe. It thins out when you add lemon juice and incorporates well into the mashed eggplant.

RECIPE: Classic Baba Ghanouj

I read the recipe for the mayo-free potato salad and it's very similar to another one I have from a well-known food page. It's a very good recipe and I don't know why people feel the need to troll. School's starting so maybe we'll see less trolling for a while.

I remember that there's a track to peeling peaches easily, but I forgot how.

Yup! Boil briefly for 30 seconds and then dunk in an ice bath. Here's a primer from King Arthur Flour.

If you do a lot of it, I'd suggest checking out a serrated peeler -- I don't have one, but I've used one, and it's a pretty speedy way to peel just one or two at a time.

We received a ton of Anaheim peppers from our Hungry Harvest delivery (HIGHLY recommend to everyone, Hungry Harvest is the best!). Never having had one, I tried one and found it to be less mild than a green bell pepper. A few days later, I was dicing one up to add to a veggie chowder and, lo and behold, it was super spicy (my poor eye)! So apparently Anaheim peppers are spicy... Other than taking a nibble of each one in my fridge, is there any way to judge how spicy a pepper is? I have a 3 and 6yo so I kind of need to know spiciness levels before committing to cooking them into a meal that they'll share. Thanks!

I've seen a lot of folklore about how to tell, but honestly short of tasting the only thing you can do is use your nose, but this still requires cutting into one and giving it a sniff. 

Now, are you scraping out the seeds -- and the ribs? That helps tame some of the heat. And you can always hold them out so if you want to add more heat later, you can sprinkle some/all back in.

I bought a jar of green pepper jelly at the farmer's market, and now I have no idea what to do with it. It's not too sweet. What goes well with this?

I like spreads like that in a grilled cheese or on a cheese board. You could also use it in a vinaigrette or meat glaze or marinade.

Hi there, I have family coming into town this coming holiday weekend, and the group includes one vegetarian (but no other real restrictions, although fish is not a favorite). Can you suggest some easy-to-cook-for-summer main dishes that would be appealing to both groups? Thanks much!

Bonnie's had a couple really great DinMins lately that I think would fit the bill:

Corn and Spinach Pancakes

Lemon Basil Noodles With Cannellini Beans

There's also the taco-party idea! You could start with these eggplant tacos, and then grill some chicken thighs, and let everyone build their own.

Eggplant Tacos With Pico de Gallo

But the ones that I have that don't ripen, don't develop much flavor, either. Who wants a blah peach pie?

Well, if that's how you feel, then I'm not sure anything I would suggest will work!

That's why I suggested stuff like jam and cobbler, where the preparation softens them and the sugar gives flavor.

Thanks for bringing "Feast" to my attention. I ordered it on Amazon right after the chat, and have been enjoying reading through it, what a beautiful book. In college I had a Palestinian friend whose mother made the best baklava in the world. I may give it a shot with the recipe in this book.

You sound like a supertaster to me. It's an actual thing, and there are test strips you can touch to your tongue to determine your sensitivity to bitter tastes. Unfortunately there's no, well, "cure" -- you might just have to give up on turmeric. Although buying some fresh might help, your beer sensitivity seems to confirm your supertasting.

It's a thought!

Hi Rangers! I planted a San Marzano tomato plant in hopes of making some killer sauce this summer. It's doing pretty well, but the tomatoes seem to be ripening at different times--I'm ending up with only one or two ripe at a time. They'll get all sad and wrinkly before the others catch up. Eating them raw doesn't do it for me (the texture is not ideal for, say, a sandwich), so I just don't know what to do when I have only one or two. Help!

This is probably sacrilegious or something but when I'm overwhelmed with tomatoes I put them whole in the freezer and then make sauce with them later. (Texture's not an issue because you're cooking it down anyway, also as the tomatoes thaw the skin slips off easily so you don't have to boil water to peel them first.) You could try that with enough to make sauce and see what you think. 

I have a package of chicken breasts that are tough. What's a good way to cook these to make them more tender.

I'd say poaching or braising are the ways to go. Lots of liquid involved in both preparations.

You might like this one:

Peruvian Chicken Soup

ARTICLE: It’s easy being green with this vivid and spicy chicken soup

Found this web site ( that also says " the Anaheim normally at least eight times milder than the average jalapeño. But there’s a catch. Anaheim peppers can really vary in heat based on where they were grown. For instance a California Anaheim pepper is typically much milder than those grown in New Mexico. Those New Mexico varieties can actually spike in heat and become just as hot (and rarely even hotter) than a jalapeño."

Thanks! But even on the same plant sometimes...

A family friend is known for her pepper jelly. We always dolloped it on crackers that had been smeared with cream cheese. Makes for a great snack (or, you know, meal. I'm on Team Snacks for Dinner)

Same to both.

serve on Ritz crackers with a dollop of Philadelphia cream cheese at your next picnic (or just whenever 'cause it's delicious). It's impossible to go to a Southern church social without seeing some version of this! Y'all enjoy now!


I dislike the taste of dill but it seems like just putting in any random fresh herb isn't the answer either. What would you recommend in the usual potato salad or yogurt or cucumber concoction? Basil is my favorite fresh herb but it's a strong flavor. Tarragon, maybe?

I think it probably depends on the recipe. And, hey, if you like basil, go for it. I could see tarragon working in, say, the potato salad. Mint is nice in a yogurt/cuke setting. Parsley is pretty all-purpose, too.

Also lots of basil can be a great thing. This recipe (with 1 cup of packed basil leaves!!) made me realize that I under-basil. 

Chopped String Beans With Basil and Pine Nuts

RECIPE: Chopped String Beans With Basil and Pine Nuts

I made the aforementioned Summer Quinoa Pilaf last night (which was excellent, by the way...I was happy that the quinoa came out fluffy and not as a giant wet pile of mush) and was faced with directions I've seen many times: preheat the broiler. My stove is a pretty standard electric with digital controls, so when it comes to preheating for baking, no problem - enter the desired value and it'll let you know when you've reached that temperature. However, I know the whole point of broiling is to focus a lot of direct heat to the top of what you're cooking, not to enclose the entire food in even heating. My broiler, like most, essentially gives me "Low" and "High." So, what do you do? I normally turn the broiler on a few minutes ahead of time and make sure the door's cracked as to not essentially turn it into a de facto oven, but I'm not sure if I'm missing out on something more obvious.

Ovens differ quite a bit, but all of them take a LITTLE time to preheat that broiler, and you should give it 5 or 10 minutes. It can be as quick as the flame igniting if you have a gas oven that uses a bottom-drawer broiler, which I really miss, I must say. 

I don't think you need to crack the oven door.

I have died and gone to heaven (like my poor basil plant). Thank you!

Next summer, two basil plants will be necessary. :)

Nothing's worse than dry or tough grilled chicken. Try marinating raw boneless chicken breasts, sliced into large chunks, in buttermilk with a generous teaspoon or two of honey Aleppo pepper for 1 hour, then grill or bake, with marinade juices, in foil pack. Chicken becomes super-tender and is great hot or cold.

A Middle Eastern restaurant near me serves a heavenly dip called Mirza Ghasemi, which seems to be smoked eggplant and smoked tomato and olive oil. Do you have a good recipe? It's just addictive, especially on their freshly made pita bread (or, as I found last weekend, as a sauce for an omelet).

Sorry, I don't know it. Sounds great, though. I'm going to have to learn more about it. 

My mom used to grow anaheims and the spiciness would vary from pepper to pepper on the same plant. I wonder how restaurants know what they're getting? It's a mystery to me.

From years of experience, I know that chefs have some, but not complete, control over pepper heat variability: They can, for example, remove the stems and seeds from a pepper that's deemed too hot. This will decrease the heat significantly.


But they have no control over the heat of the pepper that arrives straight from the supplier. The best they can do, I think, is source from farmers who grow peppers of the same species. Why? Because peppers easily crossbreed. A jalapeno planted next to a ghost pepper could end up super hot.

Can I win my way back into your good graces by asking for a peach chutney recipe, where the hardness and lack of flavor won't matter so much?

This dates back to the 80's or so, but one of my favorite simple appetizers is to pour pepper jelly over a block of softened cream cheese, served with crackers. At the holidays I would buy a jar of red and a jar of green and serve on the same platter. Not highbrow but delicious.

Would eat!

So, I thought I was planting relatively mild, fruity peppers. I tested a tiny slice of one, and my mouth burned for 10 minutes. I have a nice crop, so what's the best way to salvage them? Dry them? Pickling? Roasting? Thanks for any help.

Turn them into hot sauce!

Slash them, stuff them into jars and cover with vinegar, and let age and use kinda like Tabasco, or make this:

Peach and Jalapeno Salsa


A friend gifted us a bottle of Kahlua. Other than White Russian, which we really don't drink, what can we do with this?

It's very nice drizzled over ice cream (any ice cream you'd enjoy paired with something coffee-flavored).

I want to liven up my normal trail mix of mixed nuts and cranberries/raisins. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks!

Yogurt-covered pretzels? Spiced chickpeas or lentils like you get at an Indian market? Always loved dried papaya in my trail mix when I was a kid. Chex cereal? And, uh, chocolate!

I am on a tight budget, a really tight budget. Looking for anyone's suggestions on how to buy affordable Parmesan cheese. Yes I could splurge every now and again and 1/16 of a pound of the real stuff, but looking or any trips or tricks (online? best domestic alternative?)

Bon Appetit tackled this very question recently. The magazine said the best (and cheaper) alternatives are piave, grana padano and pecorino Romano. 


Here's the article.

My family does this with jalapeno jelly and we've discovered that the best crackers for it are triscuits. Accept no substitutes.

Thank you, Joe, for recognizing registered trademarks. Another registered trademark I frequently see misused in an attempt to make any frozen ice treat generic is Popsicle by lower-casing the first letter to read "popsicle." Even the WP comments' spell check underlines it in red as wrong when I wrote it that way.

Marinating in yogurt does wonders for chicken (and other things!). We are having grilled chicken tonight and will marinate it in yogurt - plain or add any seasonings you like. Indian spices are great but so is just a little lemon, any herbs you around, some garlic, etc.

Love this article Tamar and how you always dig deeply and discuss things in such a nuanced way.

Why thank you! (And I can't tell you how careful I had to be to spell 'desert' right in that piece ... )

Is the common mint one finds around here in gardens spearmint or peppermint? (I'm embarrassed to admit I can't just taste and figure out)

I think both are common.

Even after diligently following the bread recipe using yeast my breads come out very hard. Is the yeast to be blamed? The yeast was bought not so long ago!

Like dense? Or crunchy? I think we might need a little more info about your recipes before we can try to diagnose.

what can I do with half a red cabbage (other than coleslaw that my husband is completely "over" for the time being)? Could I pickle it? I'm not a huge fan of cooked cabbage so looking for something on the fresher side!

Grill it! (Or broil it.) It keeps it crunchy while adding a lovely nuttiness.

I actually use this instead of vanilla in baking. It works for me!!! Recently I gave a relative banana bread using liquor instead of vanilla -- they told me how much better it tasted.

Love this idea!

My mom made a trip to Puerto Rico in the early 1970s and came back with a recipe for the cream cheese/pepper jelly appetizer. I think she about cornered the market on Ritz crackers and cream cheese. Man, she loved that pepper jelly on cream cheese. Funny.

Is there anything special other than adding crushed red pepper flakes to a jam in order to make it spicy? Or is it more complicated than that?

I had plenty of fears about making this jam back in 2012. Would it be too hot to eat? Would anyone even want to try it? Would it just come against as one of those YouTube dares in which bros (it's always bros, it seems) who try to eat a super hot pepper straight? (And almost always go straight into convulsions.) 


But, I have to admit, this recipe turned out well. So well that one reader said she made this jam for friends on her Christmas list. 


RECIPE: Ghost Pepper-Pear Jam

Thanks so much for giving us an easy fried chicken recipe. My family doesn't have allergies, so what do y'all think about using peanut oil instead of vegetable or canola? Will it make a difference as far as flavor goes?

I think that would be delicious. Peanut oil has a higher smoke point than canola/vegetable oil so you don't have to worry about it burning anything.

Peanut oil is a frying champ!

Put them in a crockpot, if you have one. I made this a couple of weeks ago, and the chicken was easy to pull apart, as the recipe promised.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken

Gold star for you!

Some varieties of peaches and nectarines are firm when ripe. They're still wonderful and juicy, just not soft.


Try adding a smidgen to coffee granita recipe mixture. Or even a bit to tiramisu coffee mixture for dipping the lady fingers...

If you wanted to freeze a lentil-walnut loaf, would you do it before or after baking?

Hmm. Good question! I think after!

I was taught in Home Ec classes to keep the oven door cracked open, otherwise the heating element would cycle off and on. Cracking the door open ensures the element stays on throughout the broiling process.

Right, I've heard this, but I'm not sure it's true with newer stoves, is it?


Many recipes are out there for Kahlua Brownies and cheesecake, and I also recall seeing it used in the 70's as a marinade component for what we'd now call pulled pork. Retro vibe today :-)

Not with our 2015 gas range. Cracking the door open means an annoying little tune plays constantly, which is a real nuisance when you're trying to watch what you're broiling.

I'm hosting a friend for dinner, and she can't have dairy or soy. I've got ideas for the main and sides, but am struggling with dessert. Most of the dairy-free desserts I've seen have chocolate, and she doesn't care for chocolate. Can you suggest something? Thanks!

My aforementioned coconut turmeric bread is vegan and soy-free if you use a nondairy milk such as almond or coconut.

It's been decades since I made Biscuit Tortoni, but suddenly I have a hankering for it, so I looked up my recipe. A 2-quart batch includes 7 egg whites beaten stiff, then folded into the mixture before churning. If I want to reduce the risk of food poisoning from raw egg white, how would I proceed for this recipe. it doesn't include water (nor much sugar) from which to make a syrup to whisk in.

Could you use pasteurized egg whites?

I'm the lucky recipient of a boatload of zucchini, but I can make only so many breads and boats. Can the zucchini be grated for future use, then stored and/or frozen?

Perhaps someone else can chime in about the freezing, but if you're looking for more recipes to use it in, here ya go.

ARTICLE: It’s peak summer squash season. These simple recipes will help you make the most of it.

I made the most fantastic frittata from the new Ottolenghi cookbook with grated zucchini this weekend. Email me and I'll send you the recipe.

You can freeze it after grating -- the National Center for Home Preservation suggests you steam-blanch it first, I believe because of an enzyme that causes deterioration after several months.

Saw the article recently about age appropriate tasks for kids in the kitchen. My 4 and 8 year old love helping. My 8 year old is getting into it, wanting to cook dinner sometimes - Mexican night with tacos, quesadillas and salad is his current specialty. Any resources for kids cooking classes? I bet he'd even love classes as a Christmas gift this year. Thanks!

I know Sur La Table does kids classes. So does Cookology. Ditto Culinaria. That's just a start.

I have an All Clad 12in Saute pan that is 26 years old and is great shape. I buy pieces rather than sets. My 12inch All Clad frying pan is 12 years old and in good shape and its not non stick. I find most non stick frying pans even All Clad die after about 3 years. i have a 4qt 10 yo All Clad sauce pan thats is great shape. I have a 12in Lodge cast iron skillet that will probably still be around in year 3000.

Good to know!

I had a hairbrained idea the other day about making my homemade pizza crust but wanted to consult the experts. I have a great pizza stone that I've had success with but I apartment oven is... not the best. I'm scared to set it above 475 degree and my pizzas never get as crispy as I want. I thought about heating up my pizza stone for a while and then as soon as I put the crust on it, switching to the broiler setting. Would that help give my pizza the blast of heat I'm looking for (as long as I don't scorch the top!)?

I have been in your shoes, and while I can't tell you whether your broiler strategy will work I can tell you that under no circumstances should you try to harness the high heat of the self-cleaning cycle to make your pizza. Don't ask me how I know.

The broiler strategy works!

This time of year, why not fresh fruit from the farmers' market?

Date, feta and red cabbage salad is amazing!

I never took home ec, but my parents taught me the same. My oven is 30 years old, so I'm not changing. On the other hand, I also have a counter top convection over which the instructions said DO NOT leave the door open when you broil.

I signed up! I'm super excited! I'm also a vegetarian (womp womp). I'm hoping that there are still enough good ideas in it for me/things I can adapt/etc. I thrive on lists and plans of action, so I am really looking forward to this either way. Thanks!!

I just wanted to say thanks for the article on Quinoa. I am a vegetarian, I love quinoa and eat a lot of it, and just cooking it with less water, and skipping the rinse for a quick toast, made all the difference in the texture!


I can top that! Mine's over 40 years old, and still going strong after heavy use all these decades.

Try the bulk section of a health food store (I like Glut in Riverdale Park), where they're likely to have a wider variety of fruit and nuts than the grocery store as well as lots of mix-ins to suit different tastes -- wasabi peas, crackers in various flavors, etc etc.

Yes, it is full of great recipes, but it is also beautiful. The photos are fantastic and I love all the white space on the pages. Makes it feel gracious like a home you enjoy visiting. (Not a plant. Just a fan.)

Thanks so much -- Bonnie will be thrilled to read this!

Today’s slow-cooker recipe looks great. I’m not a huge eggplant fan, though. Anything you would recommend adding to it instead? Thank you!

I think red bell peppers would be nice!

Pie or crisp! You can make streusel topping with canola oil instead of butter.

First Hill Country messed up your brisket order, and now they've moved to a no-cash system, pushing out customers who don't carry plastic. Tim, are you going to have to find a new favorite?

Well, Hill Country did get bumped from the top of my list this year, due to the inconsistency of its barbecue. (As Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly noted in his recent evisceration of the DC scene.) Texas Jack's is the new No. 1 on the list.


But I recently visited a place that, so far, blows them all away. Look for the review in September.


The $20 Diner: The 11 best barbecue joints in the D.C. area in 2018

Bread come out dense! How can I make it softer? Thanks for replying to a question not pertaining to today's topics!

Okay that helps some, but just guessing since I don't know exactly what you've been trying to make. Sounds like your breads may not be proofing enough, which is why they are dense. Can you tell if they are rising sufficiently? Bread likes to rise in warmish places free of drafts. Also make sure you are kneading sufficiently, so that there is enough gluten formation to let the dough rise and hold the structure. Google the window pane test for dough, that might help.

Another possibility is that you are proofing them too much. When that happens, the dough rises a lot but then it doesn't have the structure it needs to stay put and then it collapses in the oven.

Not very conveniently. We just did our weekly grocery marketing this morning.

Could you ... wait a week?

I discovered that all-natural peanut butter can be easily blended by a few minutes in a stone polisher machine. I'm guessing it will also work with tahini and other nut butters. I've used the machine for blending peanut butter far more than I used it for polishing stones. True story.

Well, all righty then.

I just realized that my set is 22 years old...and still looks and performs like new. It was certainly a splurge at the time, but no regrets!

Personally, I think you should have a couple of really good copper pieces - I swear by Falk, a Belgian made line that is distributed in the US. I suggest at least a 10" (or even better, 12") fry pan (or saute pan, but then you'll want to spring for the lid too) and a 20 cm saucier (or sauce pan - either way, get the lid). You will swear by these the rest of your life and you will still have money left for All-Clad (by the way, I gave my 12" top of the line All-Clad to my nephew and replaced it with Falk).

This no bake fruit pie is always a hit when I serve it to guests. 

That is assuming the pastry is dairy-free!

That seems odd. I'm currently using the aluminum cookwear and cast iron skillets my mother was using in the 1950s (or earlier for all I know). Not a problem with them at all.

but haven't received it yet? Do I need to email again with my address?

Yes please, just in case!

Love this idea and would like to sign up. However, I'm a vegetarian. Worth it? Or will the plan feature protein swaps and options, etc.? Thank you!

Here's what newsletter author Tanya Sichynsky says:

While some weeks will focus on a protein (like chicken thighs, for example), many installments will have at least one vegetarian recipe or several dishes that are easily adaptable to fit your needs.

Well, you've transferred us to a clean wire rack, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and many thanks to Jim and Tamar for helping with the a's.

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who first asked about pots and pans will get "The Washington Post Cookbook." Send your info to, and she'll send you your book!

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.
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.
Tamar Haspel
Tamar Haspel, who farms oysters on Cape Cod and writes about food and science, is author of the monthly Unearthed column, winner of a James Beard Award.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
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