Free Range on Food cooking Q&A: How to get your kids cooking

Oct 14, 2020

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your cooking questions. This week's chat is over, but you can submit questions for next week's chat here.
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Past Free Range on Food chats

Do you cook with kids -- your own, or anybody else's? If you're looking for inspiration, we have been offering it up all week, and collected it in our print section today, including these pieces:

Do you have any tips for fellow chatters on how you get your kids in the kitchen? Or questions on the same topic (or anything else cooking-related, of course)?

We are welcoming three guests today who are expert in this area (and so much more):

We'll have a prize for our favorite chatter this week: a code for a 30-day digital subscription to the Post!

Let's get started.

I’m overwhelmed by my on-line search! Are there any mats you would particularly recommend? Thanks!

Online shopping for anything these days can be overwhelming, I get it. I recommended comfort mats for kitchen work on last week's chat and it only made me love mine more. I bought it at Frontgate, an online retailer, years ago and probably paid too much for it but it's held up well. You can get them at industry-supply stores too, like ULine. The most important thing, I think, is buying one that is long enough so you don't have to shift it around depending on whether you're at the sink or stove. 

Everytime I try to bake eggs. They do not come out runny. For example, the Washington Post recipe for apples, onions and potato hash. What’s the secret?

I know that hash! Made it a ton during quarantine. I found actually with that recipe, it goes a bit faster. Really the key is to catch them at the right moment. Check often. The whites should be set, but the yolks jiggly. Also check out the shakshuka recipe I ran from Einat Admony. Runny yolks galore!

Root Vegetable and Apple Hash Baked With Eggs

RECIPE: Root Vegetable and Apple Hash Baked With Eggs

Spicy Red Shakshuka

RECIPE: Spicy Red Shakshuka

I'm not a huge celery fan, but it is a part of some of my favorite comfort foods. The problem is that stores rarely sell them by the stalk. I have a humungous bunch right now and was thinking to freeze it. Does celery freeze well? If so, why don't we see frozen celery for sale?! Maybe I should pre-make a mirepoix? Thanks for any suggestions.

Fresh celery will keep longer in the fridge if you wrap it in aluminum foil--the whole thing. Then, peel it down from the top, as you would with an ice cream cone wrapper, and chop as much as you need from the top. (Most people take off one stalk at a time and chop it--the chop-from-the-top method keeps celery fresher and means you can chop lots of bit of celery at once.)

Here's a great piece about produce storage that includes celery and more!

If you intend to cook celery and not eat it raw, then you can def chop and freeze (a chopped and frozen mirepoix sounds like a handy way to be one step ahead). I am not a celery fan either so I either leave it out of dishes or add in chopped fennel instead.

Pati, did you go to Xochimilco restaurant in Hmo? Did you try tripas and costillas?

Hi! Unfortunately, I did not,  must return sometime soon!

I received an Instant Pot last week as a birthday gift and used it this weekend to cook a split pea soup. It took me two hours and two rounds of pressure cooking for the peas to be soft enough, is it normal? If you have any recipe ideas for an instant pot rookie, I would love it.

Wow, that's surprising it took that long! Not normal, no. I mean, I haven't made exactly that, but knowing the timing for dried whole beans, I'd think you could them soft in a mere 15 or 20 minutes!

Here's a great Instant Pot recipe for a rookie:

Instant Pot Spaghetti!


My freezer is full of leftovers from cook a recipe for 6 to 8, eat two servings, freeze the rest. I can't face, nor do I have room for the leftovers from our typical Thanksgiving dinner. So not really a question, but a plea for your creative help for smaller sized, quarantine holiday dishes for the smaller scaled, skype and zoom holidays.

Last week in the chat, a bunch of us posted our plans for pared-down holidays this year. I'll add one other, which may be helpful to you if you're local to DC--Pam the Butcher at Wagshals will sell half a turkey. If you're not local to DC, ask a butcher at a small shop if they're willing to do the same!

We've got you covered with a Thanksgiving recipe plan that won't leave you swimming in leftovers, I swear. Stay tuned!

Hi! Just have to say first off, Pati, we love your show and your recipes - you're our go-to for Mexican cuisine. Thank you for brightening our Covid days with dreams of sunny Baja. My question - do you know of any good online retailers for dried chiles? We're having a hard time replenishing our stock. Thanks!

Hi hi hi! Thank you so much for tuning into my show and bringing my recipes into your kitchen. Oh so many choices online, I would try googling the kind of chile you are looking for, since there are so many options these days. 

I've been meaning to give this a try and your recipe will push me to a Friday baking session. I had been searching the internet for rugelach and notice some recipes add an egg yolk or sour cream for extra richness - did you try that? What about vanilla? Since you make four disks I think I will try the cherries and almonds but do something else too - either old fashioned cinnamon sugar or maybe craisins and walnuts. Wish me luck!

When testing the recipes, I worked with an amalgamation of Dorie's and Alex Levin's. I didn't try the others, but I know there are as many rugelach recipes out there as there are families making it. I think your suggested flavorings sound good. I also do an apricot/pistachio/orange blossom water one, poppy seed, raspberry and orange marmalade. An appetizing shop in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn had halvah rugelach, which were divine! Have the most fun making and eating!

I baked some blueberry muffins the other day (KAF’s department store recipe). The recipe said to use liners and lightly grease them. The only ones I have are foil, so that’s what I used. The muffins are delicious but are so moist I need a fork, which makes me think foil wasn’t the best for this. I’m wondering, could I cut up a parchment sheet and use that as liners? I have both plain (uncoated) and coated paper (the one KAF claims is reusable, although I haven’t been able to actually do that). Is that a good hack?

My guess is that it wasn't the liner, but possibly the recipe or the fact that you might want to bake the muffins a bit longer. (Though, fork muffins do sound pretty good.) Either way, would be good to experiment and you can definitely use parchment paper as a muffin liner hack. It won't look as great (parchment paper will need to be folded over, can bunch up a tiny bit, and will likely be taller than the muffin tin) but will give a nice rustic look. You'll just need something to help shape the paper into the muffin tins, like a jar or a can or a cup that can help mold it down. 

We had a flood and are reduced to only a small toaster oven which no longer displays temperatures, a low power microwave and a induction single burner "hotplate' instapot and a gas grill. Got loads of beets, huge cauliflower, kale and many many carrots, purple potatoes oh, and 3 butternut squash. Thoughts on how to create dinners would be very much appreciated.

Sorry about the flood! That is such a bummer. Lots of ways you can go with this, but a few ideas:

- Instant Pot soup all the way. Throw whatever combo you want in there (esp. the carrots, potatoes, cauliflower and squash) with some liquid, maybe after sauteing some aromatics. Pressure cook until everything is soft, puree, stir in cream if you want, boom. Easy fall meal.

- Wilted kale: Do on the hotplate or even in the IP. Or just raw salad! Massage it with oil and salt.

- Cauliflower: Grill as steaks. 

- Beets: Grill in foil packets or straight on the grates.

Foil-Roasted Beets and Vidalia Onions With Butter, Lime and Sea Salt

RECIPE: Foil-Roasted Beets and Vidalia Onions With Butter, Lime and Sea Salt

Grilled Baby Beets With Mustard Sauce

RECIPE: Grilled Baby Beets With Mustard Sauce

Does anyone have a great (eat-with-a-spoon), easy recipe for chocolate frosting? My problem is that I can taste "off" notes in frosting if it contains raw powdered sugar; the cornstarch taste is really powerful to me. Similarly, one that was just blended melted chocolate and condensed milk was easy, but tasted sort of funny from the condensed milk. I've had good luck, a few times, with melted chocolate and sour cream, but it's not reliable (it tends to "break" (curdle)). And ganache is delicious and relatively easy to make, but it's difficult to get to a good spreading consistency; it's either too cold to spread, or runny. I was thinking of experimenting with melted semisweet chocolate and softened cream cheese; can anyone point me in the right direction?

We have a super simple recipe for milk chocolate frosting over at America's Test Kitchen Kids—with milk chocolate chips, heavy cream, and butter.

How can I make cauliflower that my husband will eat? He doesn't like it steamed, boiled, riced, or sauteed. He can eat a piece raw (with lots of dip) and he can eat a piece or two roasted. Do I just have to eat the whole head that came in my last produce box by myself?

The first thing I thought of was, what if you treated cauliflower like a hearty meat and not a vegetable? And then I found these insanely good-looking sandwiches with charred cauliflower and halloumi from Joe's Weeknight Vegetarian column, and I think you may want to give them a try! Worst case, you'll have all that deliciousness to yourself :)

Agree with Olga, of course. And have to say: This is a great cauliflower sandwich, too. My husband's not vegetarian, and he has asked me to make these virtually every week since I first tested it.

Cauliflower Sandwiches With Smoked Gouda and Peppadews

Just a shout-out to thank Joe for the link to Kalustyan’s. I now have enough rice to last for several months at the least (had to buy enough to justify the shipping cost). How did we all manage before the internet???

So glad to hear this! I love that store.

To add to the list of great Wash Post recipes, these two are amazing: Brown sugar-ginger cake. I make this one regularly without the ginger and pepper and use it as a strawberry shortcake base, trifle base, and just general snacking.  I have also added chai-type spices to it and glazed it with a powdered sugar glaze.
Also, smokey-sweet glazed carrots 

Glad you enjoy these two. It's great to hear how versatile that cake is. Now, I want to try it.

Here are the recipes with photos, in case anyone else wants to try them:
Brown Sugar-Ginger Cake

Smoky Sweet Glazed Carrots


What's the correct way to store potatoes and how long should they last? The ones I bought at a farm market, brown and red, on the smaller side, sprouted and softened within a month. They were in a cool, dark place -- but not a root cellar, since I don't have one. I'd thought they were supposed to stay fresh through the winter.

Potatoes can be a bear. You buy some, don't think about them for a couple of weeks because you think it will all be ok and then, when you want a baked potato, you find them sprouting. Boo. This can happen with small or large potatoes, any color. One question: did they have enough ventilation? Stored potatoes need air circulation (if you put a potato in a plastic bag, you'll see moisture on the bag, which leads to spoilage). Try a mesh bag. Also--and I'm just trying to sleuth this here--how cool was the cool place? For good longterm storage, potatoes should be at a way cooler temperature than the average kitchen. 

Check out Becky's potato guide, storage instructions included: 

You can’t go wrong with potatoes, but here’s how to pick the right ones

I discovered 2013's Rustic Heirloom Tomato Crostata only this year and made it over and over again. I know that tomatoes are the star, but I've used the last ones from my garden. What else can I put on that perfect crust? I'd still like to use the goat cheese, and I have plenty of herbs.

You could use that gorgeous crust and take inspiration from this list of galettes! Off the top of my head though, I'm thinking beets might be nice with goat cheese and herbs.

These 5 galette recipes are ready for their Instagram moment

I have been eager to try your Dahi toast ever since it was published, and now for the first time, I find myself with all of the ingredients except... black mustard seed. Two grocery stores, no luck. I know I could order it online, but the fresh ingredients probably won't last that long, and this single cook probably isn't going to get a head of cabbage again any time soon. So I wanted to ask--knowing that the answer is likely and understandably "no"--is there any sub that could impart a similar flavor? I don't actually know what black mustard seed tastes like and am pretty sure that it's central to the recipe, but I thought I'd take a shot in the dark anyway because I'm really intrigued by what a hot yogurt sandwich tastes like! Thank you!

Those seeds add a little sharp bite, but can I be honest? You should just make the recipe anyway, and don't sweat this. It's a little accent, but the biggest flavor, truly, is coming from that filling!

Dahi Toast (Grilled Yogurt Sandwiches)

I recently moved into a new apartment and anything I've baked has been under-done after the designated recipe baking time. Is it better to increase the time or increase the temperature to try and ameliorate this?

I think the best solution here is to get an oven thermometer--they're fairly cheap, like $8-15--and check to see if your oven is accurately reflecting the temperature you're setting it to. 

Kari is 100 percent right! Given the choice, definitely keep the temp the same and increase the time. Otherwise you risk burning things at a higher temp or causing other problems.

Over the past year, I have saved the chicken fat I skimmed off stock and broth. I have more than a pound in my freezer. What can I use it for? I had thought of making a winter birdseed treat out of it. Any thoughts?

You can use it instead of any other cooking fat such as butter or oil! Oh but it has that much more flavor! And sub on a one to one ratio. It is absolutely delicious with soft scrambled eggs and a sprinkle of salt. Sear your potatoes or vegetables with it... use it as a base for browning vegetables for a. soup or stew or pasta sauce. I just wouldn't use if for sweets ; )

Missed the chat... Teva sandals. I usually wear orthotics and they have enough arch support by themselves to wear around the house

Feels like a post is in the works here! Personally, I have been wearing my LL Bean clog slippers. Really thick, supportive soles. And cozy, of course.

An apple quick bread recipe called for melted butter rather than softened. Other than that, the ingredients were normal for a quick bread and it was delicious. Can I substitute melted butter in other quick bread recipes? I store butter in the freezer so melting it would let me satisfy that sudden yen for a tasty bread.

It depends on the recipe (never a simple recipe!). A lot of my favorite quick breads—like for Zucchini or Banana—use melted butter, or sometimes vegetable oil. If the original recipe calls for softened butter that you cream with sugar, however, using melted butter instead might make for a denser final product (the creaming adds microscopic air bubbles to the batter, making for a lighter finished product). But can't hurt to try!

Look for recipes with mirepoix. They're usually onions, carrots and celery.

About the question on "cooking sober" Ann suggested extracts instead of booze, but most extracts are largely alcohol! Look at the label on your vanilla, rum, lemon extract. Please correct this for readers.

There are actually alcohol-free extracts/flavors. Frontier is one brand that offers them. But of course, read the labels. Also, flavored oils are another option but they're much more potent so a little goes a long way. Another nice way to incorporate flavor is to rub citrus zest or herbs into sugar. 

I've thought several times the past couple of years about making my own compendium cookbook as my kids are now teens and will leave home sooner. More a collection or recipes that we often eat so they have them later. Right now they are in cookbooks, online, and printed copies. Are there any issues with me taking these and (if I get up the energy to devote time to this) putting them all into one of those online sites that will print then out? I mean, these are all someone's recipes, unadapted but I will be taking them out of context, even if I can attribute them properly, and some I no longer can. Does this fall under fair use, even if it's printed?

With this being for personal use, and not being published for profit, you're in no danger of violating anything! Just so you know, you can't copyright the directions in a recipe anyhow, just the special wording (like the headnote), and of course any photos/etc.

Morning, all! Asking early - I'm pondering a lentil meatloaf for this evening, do you have any good recipes to recommend? Something easy? Something healthy? Something that uses limited pantry items because at this point we're going to have to make ketchup out of tomato paste? Gratzi!

Not sure if this is limited enough but...

Vegetarian Meatloaf

RECIPE: Vegetarian Meatloaf

I love this sandwich so much and i use other veg than cauliflower too. I've also used random pickles in a pinch ... .

The OP asked about making mire poix. I'd say yes. I do it all the time. I make a celery-carrot-onion version and one with peppers. Freeze whatever way works best for you -- by the tablespoon, ice-cube tray, or flat zip-top bag (easy to break off what you need). It not only deals with the availability of celery (or other ingredients) when I need them, it also saves me time. I do all my chopping at once, saute lightly (or blanch) and freeze.

I bought one of those "kitchen helper" towers on Facebook Marketplace in February -- it was expensive and I was worried it was a waste of money, but it's been HUGE during all of this at-home time! My toddler can stand safely at the counter to cook with us. She just turned two, and I have found that so far baked goods are great for her -- I get the ingredients out ahead of time, and she loves to measure, pour, and mix everything together. She also loves getting out and smelling all of the spices we have in our pantry. I'm hoping this will help set her up for a good relationship to food as she grows. Side note: she once brought a whisk with her to a doctor's appointment...he said he's seen kids bring a lot of things, but never a whisk.

Thank you for sharing this memory, I love your toddler! I had one of these for my now-12-year-old son, from the time he was 1 until he could reach the counter with his hands. It's still in our basement because he has such fond memories of it and doesn't want me to give it away. We also had a chalk board attachment, so he could practice writing recipes and amounts when he was older.

I love this so much. A whisk is a great companion! I have a kitchen helper tower for my 3 year old and I LOVE it, as does she. I think getting toddlers involved in the kitchen with sensory activities is such a wonderful way to introduce cooking and food culture to kids.

That's so wonderful! My oldest son did the same when he was a toddler, but around the time he turned 7, he "grew out of it." I was heartbroken! But then, when he turned 12, he suddenly got back into it. In fact, as I type this he's standing right next to me whisking a pot of marshmallows for a recipe I'm writing for my main gig at The Takeout! And he also helped conceive and write the conversion cake recipe that's in my piece this week. Everything is a journey, especially this parenthood thing.

Both my parents were good cooks. They believed in having me helping out in the kitchen from toddlerhood - I can remember standing on a step stool. washing veggies when I was about three. When I was, older, I have a vivid memory of mum teaching me what boiling water looked like! It went on from there. Getting children involved in the sensuousness of cooking makes such a difference. I love how this point is made in the film 'Mostly Martha'.

Couldn't agree with your parents more! When kids get involved in cooking super early—even if it's just helping to shop or garden or pick out a recipe—they are more invested in trying new foods. My daughter is 3 and ever since she could stand up at the counter she's been doing all the rolling and squishing and mixing (and, yes, mess making) she can. She loves it. And I love cooking with her.

As a fellow mom to a 3-year-old, agree on the messy part lol.

Funny story: I thought that if my kids helped me make food, they'd want to eat it. NOPE! They love cooking, but they reserve the right to be picky. They do come around to trying new things in due time, but it's not as instantaneous as I was expecting. Parenting keeps throwing me curveballs. Try as I might, the kids will always find a way to outfox me. 

I do a lot of cooking in a cast iron skillet instead of a non-stick. When I see the direction in a recipe to "remove from heat", I dutifully turn off my (gas) burner, but it still seems like I'm dumping a lot of heat into the dish. Any suggestions? Turn it off a minute or so before directed? Or just let it ride?

Let 'er ride. Unless you've experienced problems with this, doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

Hi, all! I wrote in a few weeks ago looking for a powdered drink "base" that I could send out to my virtual wedding guests as a "signature cocktail". Someone suggested using apple cider. Genius!! We added some tangerine juice powder, clove, and ginger and made it glitzy with an edible glitter I found online. (Google brew glitter.) I can't remember if it was one of the staff or a fellow Ranger who suggested it, but it was exactly the inspiration I was looking for. The personalized highball glasses are getting sent out with a container of the powdered mix and some instructions this week. You guys are the BEST!

This is so fantastic, thanks for reporting back! And mazel tov!


Find Indian recipes! I think the Post has a Tandoori cauliflower recipe that is heavily sauced & spiced. Maybe he won't be able to taste it.

Yes yes yes to Indian preps.

Tandoori Cauliflower

RECIPE: Tandoori Cauliflower

Also: Frying!

Cauliflower 65

RECIPE: Cauliflower 65

Have always wanted to try this buffalo cauliflower from Kenji at Serious Eats.

I love this sandwich - the mustard seeds add a nice note but are not essential. I might be tempted to switch up the seasonings a bit and make it with paprika and caraway seeds in an homage to my Hungarian father. In fact, I think I'll have to do that.

Do you have any suggestions for improving the flavor of canned soup? I sometimes will put lemon zest, thyme, and/or hot sauce in canned chicken noodle soup. I'm wondering what other ideas are out there.

You are on the right path. Adding fresh ingredients will give canned soups a fresher flavor. If you have fresh herbs on hand, toss them in. Try a bit of fresh minced garlic or  a dash of flavored olive oil. If it is a creamy soup, you could add dried seeds or a splash of fresh cream or a tiny pat of butter.

If they're creamy soups, you can take inspiration from this article about tadka (or tempering or chhonk). It's an Indian technique where you bloom spices in oil, then pour the whole thing into the dish. 

My go-tos are in the same vein: Grated ginger or garlic, scallions -- which I slice and keep in a baggie in the freezer for similar uses! -- chile oil, or the juice of a lemon.

A little fish sauce or soy sauce is great for getting some savory umami action in there.

I was going to suggest Buffalo cauliflower, but Becky beat me to it! I don't follow a recipe, just roast pieces until they are done, toss in sauce, roast a little more. Also, I will eat the whole head of roasted cauliflower with a tahini-lemon sauce. I would say you can try any flavor your husband likes -- cauliflower goes with everything!

I do love it, but it has its haters! (Like anything, I guess.)

As with broccoli, I think roasting it pretty far until it's quite dark in places and getting crispy is key.

The greatest delight of having a gas stovetop is not having to look for a place to put whatever you've Removed From Heat.


Cook it, puree it, drain it, and use in place of pumpkin.


Also aloo gobi -- Indian cauliflower and potato dish. "Dilutes" the cauli.

Pretty much the dish that helped me learn to love cauliflower!

Wait I also want to throw in this fried cauliflower recipe from The Korean Vegan, which my boyfriend made the other day--delicious.

Mind blown! I never thought to chop from all the stalks at once - will definitely use that method from now on!!

Costco has them in stores.

I enjoy following all things food on social media, like chefs, cooks, editors, magazines from platforms like WaPo Food, NYT Cooking, Food52, Bon Appetit, Ina, ATK, Cooks Illustrated, The Kitchn, etc. But those seem so obvious to me. What am I missing? I have recently discovered some lesser known folks like Gaby Dalkin and Lucas Sin. What else am I missing? Do you have any new favorites to expand my palate?

Yes! On YouTube, I've been enjoying Stump Sohla, which is a part of Binging With Babish

I've learned so much from Clarissa Wei on Goldthread.

When I'm feeling down I scroll over to Tabitha Brown on Instagram or TikTok for a dose of kindness and joy, plus fun food tips!

So many possibilities! For baking, some of my favorite folks to follow are Martin Philip from King Arthur, sourdough master Bryan Ford, and pastry chef/cookbook authors Erin McDowell and Zoe Francois. King Arthur's account posts a ton of educational stuff. Cookbook author Hetty McKinnon posts so many dishes I want to make RIGHT NOW. Joy "the Baker" Wilson, who wrote our baking basics newsletter, is great. Just to name a small few!

Seconding Sohla El-Waylly and Tabitha Brown! For publications, Whetstone, The Counter, Civil Eats, Mother Jones, The Takeout, LA Taco. You should also find your local Edible magazine! Or even your non-local Edible magazine, I got the best sourdough crepe recipe from Edible San Diego. Check out newsletters too, like Alicia Kennedy's, Vittles, Bite Curious, etc.

Also, follow Molly, Pati and Allison. 

Agree so much on Tabitha! "That's your business!" Love her.

Love Sohla and so many others above; you can't go wrong with these suggestions!

Can I just agree with everything already said above? Also I second the food newsletter trend. I love Alicia Kennedy's and my friend Andrew Janjigian's, which is all about bread and bread baking. There are some great young chefs out there that I love to follow, too, like Rahanna Bisseret Martinez.

One dessert from a bakery, over the top chocolate cake Vs homemade baked goods Ribeye steaks and small fryer chicken to roast and dressing/gravy. Really for leftovers. Sweet potatoes and green salad. Oh yeah rolls from the bakery.

Great ideas.  You can pick and choose the items you want to make and supplement with store-bought or bakery items.
Thinking about a smaller, rosted chicken? Check out Becky's take on roasting a chicken: Roasting a chicken is as easy as putting a baking sheet in the oven.


I just bought a little box of it (they are about a TBLSP) at the Old Town Whole Foods. They have a ton of little boxes and jars of spices that are a great buy. One rack is over at the end of the aisle with flour in it, and the others are in the middle of the aisle with all the spices.

You can also find them at Indian stores like Aditi's in Vienna. 

I'm printing that Brown Sugar Ginger Cake recipe for someone who is crazy about ginger, especially lemon-ginger things. Can I just sub lemon extract for the vanilla?

Yes, extracts are ideal for switching around to get the flavor you want. I only wonder if an equal amount of lemon extract will be too potent. Maybe not if you love lemon but also worth considering dialing it back at least on a first go. Or doing some lemon, some vanilla would be nice.

Wouldn't plain old (yellow) mustard seeds work just as well?

They're not exactly the same, but they'd be good, yes!

I've made this one before. It's great, and it freezes well.

Take a look online at Duran Central Pharmacy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 505-247-4141. They ship. I got excellent and inexpensive dried epazote from them when I couldn't find it in DC and New Mexico is a great state for chilies of all sorts. I'm not including a link because my computer is having problems.

Wow, that place looks amazing! I have family in Albuquerque and now I definitely want to go there whenever we can visit.

What helped is my son had to watch videos on kids making various foods celebrating Hispanic Heritage month. He wanted to make the ham and cheese taco, just like in the video and normally he doesn't want anything besides cheese! He was into making homemade tortilla's and rolling them out. This weekend we went apple picking and he couldn't wait to make apple pie and applesauce. Well, I should note I did most of the cooking but at least he was there to help vs running off to play (he's 6).

Aw I remember making rotis when I was little with my mom! Although she rolled them, I just used cookie cutters to make little shapes out of the dough.

How long do dried chiles (Ancho/ Guajillo etc) last in pantry? You do you have rinse it before toasting it?

Take a look at my dried chile primer, for which I talked to Pati!


ARTICLE: A guide to dried chile peppers — your secret flavor weapon in the kitchen

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education." <-- Mark Twain. I happen to like both cauli & cabbage, myself.

If the meatloaf recipe doesn't work for your pantry, think about lentil sloppy joes. Even my omnivorous and not-terribly-lentil-friendly eaters like them. Easy to scale, easy to freeze, easy to serve over noodles or potatoes if you don't want to use rolls.

Every time I read a recommendation to massage kale or collards, I get a twinge of envy, because I can't get a massage while COVID is around and I need one as much as any fibrous leaf does. I'm just saying ...

Blanch those leaves instead! Why should they get a massage when you can't?

Any thoughts for how to make these little frozen balls palatable? I thought about roasting them, maybe, with some seasoning? Or?

Roasting would do it! Dress them with some oil, salt and pepper and let them roast until they soften to your liking.

I do this with the kale and spinach from my CSA. Cut out all the thick stems, blanch two minutes in boiling and two in ice water for kale, one minute in each for spinach. Then measure and freeze. My last spinach batch was enough for two spinach souffles!

I cook a few meals with scallops that typically involve searing them first and then keep them warm. Putting them in the oven on warm seems like a big wast of energy and wrapping them tightly or covering them causes them to keep cooking, primarily through steam. Any suggestions?

A low oven is the best way, unfortunately. I try to get everything else ready, any sauce or sides. Then, I sear them and serve them as quickly as possible. (If you have a toaster oven, you could try that.) Anyone else have ideas?

If you love scallops, you might like this recipe :-) Caramelized Scallops With Beurre Blanc

carcasses simmering in a pot of water and my whole apartment smells like chicken soup. But my sister-in-law swears by the instant pot for this, so is there any benefit of taking the whole lot and putting it in the instant pot for...20 minutes? 30 minutes? I guess I'm asking if using the pressure is going to get more stuff out of the bones or if that great smell is flavor evaporating into the air. Thanks.

I have done this and liked the results a lot. It's faster and I found the broth/stock more intensely flavored. I would cook it on HIGH for about 30 to 40 minutes and then allow the pressure to release naturally.
If you are looking for more guidance, Becky did a great primer: Homemade broth is the key ingredient your bowl of soup deserves


I made the Thai-Inspired Slow Cooker Tilapia a few weeks ago in my Breville multi-cooker, and it was overcooked, all the textures turning to mush and the flavors running together. I was puzzled since your recipes usually turn out as advertised, and did some reading and apparently current slow cookers run hotter than old ones. Have you all encountered this issue and do you have any advice? Bonus tip: winter squash are edible at any point, and my half-ripe butternuts that had to be harvested because the squirrels were nibbling on them were slightly sweet and used in a wide variety of summer squash applications to good effect.

I think it may also have to do with the fact that you used a multicooker slow-cooker function. I think those tend to run hotter than a traditional slow cooker, especially on the bottom.

My fave Madhur Jaffrey lentil recipe is very thick, and is wonderful served on top of a split baked potato. The flavors blend perfectly. Plain ol' green/brown lentils.

One of my college professors recommended reading books aimed at a grammar school audience in order to gain a basic understanding of history and other topics. Do you think non-cooking adults similarly could benefit from recipe books for children?

I think so! I wrote up this list of cookbooks for kids, and books like The Complete DIY or Kid in the Kitchen or How to Cook have a lot of great foundational stuff. How to Cook is something I might give to a newly cooking college student.

Cookie cutters are magic for getting kids into the kitchen. Use 'em for grilled sandwiches, even pancakes or toasted Eggos. Anything flat.

I had this recipe saved for years and we finally made it. It was so good, even more so b/c I had an 8" pan vs 9" so it was slightly underdone. Tasted just like a sugar cookie! I imagine if we mixed it with ice cream it would've been better than Ben and Jerry's!

Snickerdoodle Blondies

RECIPE: Snickerdoodle Blondies

My mother has kept a cookbook for years. She and my dad are in their 80s now, living with me, and she doesn't cook. I'm vegetarian and don't really cook. But, I use this family cookbook and, even though I can't taste what I'm making, they love and eat everything!

Sounds amazing - in the UK we put anything on top of a jacket potato. There are places specializing in them with reams and reams of toppings.

the pound cake translation into metric could be a history as well as a math lesson.

Olga and I were just discussing the origins of pound cake when looking at this recipe.

That recipe was actually conceived and developed by my 13-year-old son Atticus, so there were more lessons involved with it than you'd think! When you let your mind wander, you really become aware how many disciplines are connected in the kitchen. Another thing we've been doing that didn't make the final cut: we've been studying the "Internet of Things" and how smart appliances will affect our lives, and what it could mean for cooking in the future. They've been teaching themselves some of the coding languages used to program these things, too. Everything is an adventure!

Ok, that's a wrap on the hour! Thanks to our special guests and my fellow parents Pati, Molly and Allison for being here, as well as you all.

As far as the winner of the free 30-day code, that goes to the parent whose daughter brought a whisk to the doctor. That's my kind of kid! Please email Kari to claim the prize (you can share it with someone else if you already subscribe).

Until next week, happy cooking!

In This Chat
Ann Maloney
Ann Maloney is the Food team recipes editor.
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and author of "Cool Beans." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a staff reporter for Food and writes a weekly column on casual dining.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer at the Post.
Kari Sonde
Kari Sonde is the Food editorial aide.
Mary Beth Albright
Mary Beth Albright is the Host and Editor of Food Video at The Washington Post.
Daniela Galarza
Daniela is a Food staff writer.
Olga Massov
Massov is a Food team assignment editor.
Pati Jinich
Pati Jinich is a chef and cookbook author most recently of “Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). She hosts “Pati’s Mexican Table” seen nationally on public television.
Allison Robicelli
Allison Robicelli is an author, former chef, and current culinary dynamo at The Takeout. She has written for Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Serious Eats, Food Network and wrote about her perfect chocolate pie for The Washington Post. She resides in Baltimore.
Molly Birnbaum
Molly Birnbaum is Editor in Chief of America's Test Kitchen Kids. Molly is also host of Mystery Recipe, a podcast for kids and their grownups, exploring the fun, fascinating, and fantastical sides of different kitchen ingredients.
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