Ask Kim: For Old Times' Sake


As some of you may already know, this is my final week in the AMA ‘hood. But before this blog was born, I had another baby called What’s Cooking, the longest-running cooking chat on the Web until she was put to rest in March.


KOD on a very important call.

Since I’ve met so many of you the Q&A way, it seems appropriate to have one last dance together in the kitchen, a chance to reminisce, talk to me or to one another. I will entertain both the practical and philosophical, the elementary and the advanced -- and of course, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Consider the kitchen door open at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT), and we’ll have coffee and crumpets in the comments area. I’ll check in every 30 minutes or so until just before suppertime here on the West Coast (say, around 4 p.m. PT).

The final installment of AMA is Friday, July 10. For details on where to find me next week and beyond, e-mail me.


By Kim ODonnel |  July 9, 2009; 7:00 AM ET Ask Kim
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Good Morning, Kim!

I know that I won't be the only person to express how wonderful of a ride it has been, these past 10 (count 'em!) years. Web chats were barely popular back then (up here in the centre of nowhere they were unheard of), and yours was the first that I ever participated in, logged in to the internet (over a phone modem, no less) during my lunch hours.

Your ebullient personality spilled off of the screen as you replied to posts, encouraging some, sharing in others' successes, plainly asking for more information when a kitchen mystery presented itself and/or turning it over to the peanut gallery for other thoughts or advice. Best of all, you were there for the novice cooks, constantly letting us know that no question was too basic or silly. You gave us much more than just answers to questions or recipes with odd ingredients we'd picked up on a whim or by mistake. You provided us with confidence in our own abilities, and connected to us with wit, wisdom, and palpable warmth.

I am very sad to see the end of the chat and the blog on WaPo, but I am very very happy to know that you will be present in other places on the web. After 10 years, to lose you completely would be to lose a very good friend. Thank you so very much for sharing and caring about your audience; I am much better in the kitchen for it!

Yours,
Erin Hare (aka Centre of Nowhere)
Centre Hall, PA

P.S. Okay, so I have a quart of sour cherries from the farmers' market, picked up on a whim. I have no pitter, and they're starting to wrinkle in the 'fridge. Ideas? A big crisp? a pie? Seed-spitting contest from the front stoop? Hmmm?

Posted by: CentreofNowhere | July 9, 2009 8:02 AM

We'll miss you Kim!

Okay - here is a question I am sure everyone has had at some point. Friends or family drops by. This is a welcome visit - you are happy to see them. But the dinner you had planned only feeds your immediate family. You could go out or get pizza delivered, but you'd rather make a home-cooked meal and share the love. You've got a pantry full of staples, some veggies and meat in the fridge but not a lot of those. We only buy what we can use that week. Assume no freezer full of yummy casserole that you can just whip out and reheat. (That was Mom's solution, but alas I only have a very small freezer). What to make for dinner to feed a crowd, from what you have on hand, and that won't take you away from the visit? Think of this as advanced EDF.

My solution has been chili or other hearty soup/stew, if the visit starts early enough to dump it in the crockpot and let it cook. Pair it with bread or salad and that's a meal. But when I don't have hours to let the crockpot do it's thing? I'm stumped!

Posted by: DCCubefarm | July 9, 2009 8:32 AM

Posted by: egengle | July 9, 2009 8:54 AM

CentreofNowhere - eloquently and perfectly said; I agree 100%.

Posted by: Lizka | July 9, 2009 9:31 AM

Good morning from NM.
Looking forward to finding Kim elsewhere.

Hey, DCCubefarm - I have two potential solutions for you.

First, nachos. I use Guiltless Gourmet Baked Blue Corn Tortilla Chips as a base, topped with canned beans, shredded cheese, jalapenos if you like them. Nuke in microwave for a minute and a half. Pull out when cheese is melted, top with sour cream, salsa, guacamole if you like it.

Second, couscous. A staple I keep always, my favorite adds are carrots, cucumber, raisins, onions, celery, and peas. I chop the veggies finely while the water is boiling. Couscous only takes five minutes to fluff up in the water, to which I have added a little butter and a little olive oil. If I don't have fresh peas, I use frozen, adding them to the hot couscous so they thaw and are still crisp. Serve with your favorite salad dressing. You can also top this with sunflower seeds or cashews for extra crunch. Hearty, flavorful, and FAST.

Happy trails, L

Posted by: lsgc | July 9, 2009 9:35 AM

Hi Kim,
I too want to add my thoughts on how wonderful it has been to have your voice here on wapo, both with the chats and the more recent blog. I am so happy that you will still be accessible in other formats elsewhere but sad to see you go from here. You have been there for me through many life events and food challenges. I fondly recall getting great advice from you and fellow chatters on how to survive early stages of my pregnancy cravings, to how to feed my toddlers ( my oldest is now 9), to baking my brother's wedding cake, to comforting my family with food after my mother's untimely death. You have always come through for me! It has also been a joy to learn more about eating locally, trying new things and hearing about your adventures in food.

Thanks for everything! And if I could one final question ( at least on this blog). My daughter ( the one who is 9) has turned in to a bit of a picky eater and struggles to eat the balanced meals we provide. On the other side my son (age 7) is going through major growth spurts and we fear he is not getting enough to eat ( he sometimes doesn't eat much of his breakfast or lunch. What worries me the most about this is that they sometimes will admit that they are worried about eating things that will cause them to be less healthy. Ironically my daughter's favorite food group she will tell you is sugar. Both kids are in great physical health, very athletic and the doctors have no concerns but I want to make sure that at this tender age I don't cause problems with eating for either of them. Do you have any good book recommendations on good nutrition aimed at kids their age and are there ways to get them more interested in eating well balanced meals. We involve our kids in cooking with us, planning meals, packing lunches and planting and harvesting veggies. This works somewhat, but their initial reaction to "new"/healthy foods is always no and even if we get them to try it it's still an issue the following time.

Thanks!
Montgomery Village MD. Mom

Posted by: soleil2000 | July 9, 2009 10:36 AM

You will be missed in this forum. AMA is often the first Post blog I read. Many of my go-to recipes came from here (broccoli soup and chickpea curry come to mind). Will the recipe archive remain on the Post web site, or should I start cutting and pasting now? Many thanks for sharing your knowledge all these years.

Posted by: lgdc | July 9, 2009 10:41 AM

C'mon, now, everyone, you're going to make me cry!

Kim, I don't know that I can say anything but "thank you." I know you're not going far, and very much appreciate your efforts to keep this community connected off-"Post." Would follow you to the food moon - and plan on doing so.

For Centre of Nowhere: Monday night I compoted my last sour cherry of the season - I think hubby and I pitted nearly 10lbs of the suckers to yield compote, chicken with sour cherry sauce, classic cherry pie with lattice crust, sour cherry mascarpone cake (in freezer), apricot sour cherry crisp, sour cherry muffins, and an Austrian cheesecake to "support" the compote (also did buttermilk pancakes for the first batch - heaven!). Most recipes I found online: compote, pie, sauce > epicurious; mascarpone cake > npr (seriously); muffins, pancakes > joy of cooking; crisp > culinate; Austrian cheesecake > Austrian host mother. Recommend them ALL. Easiest: crisp or compote.

So...one last question:

Kim, my "Topfenkuchen" (a quark cheesecake) was amazing. One little teensy issue: I felt like I could "feel" the flour (not taste, but texture) in the cheesecake part (confectioners sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, flour, lemon juice & zest whisked, then folded with eggwhites beaten with granulated sugar and cornstarch - or maybe the cornstarch was in the other bit?). The only thing I can think of is that the Austrian flours are different than ours. The recipe actually called for "glattes Mehl," which research showed is one of two types of flour used in Austria: "smooth" and a coarser (which I'm guessing is more along the lines of whole wheat). The way they were described, it seemed clear that "glattes Mehl" is their "all-purpose," and the coarser a country-style thing. Could the glattes Mehl be ground finer than our all-purpose? What else could be causing? Or maybe this was just a wierd thing I tasted - hubby didn't. Would sifting help? Kinda think not, but...

Thanks again, and see you in webland!

Posted by: alisoncsmith | July 9, 2009 11:05 AM

oh, and forgot that i converted kim's rhubarb buckle to a sour cherry buckle. it was good, but rhubarb was better!

terp in the kitchen

Posted by: alisoncsmith | July 9, 2009 11:08 AM

Erin! I didn't know I was going to need my tissues! I am so grateful this ride, too. You have no idea.
As for those sour cherries -- get those rug rats involved and have a pitting party. If you need to buy some time, you can freeze pitted cherries until ready to use. Did you ever make a clafouti? It's a cross between a pudding, waffle and pie. Make it in a cast iron skillet. Let me know if you need details. I'll also peek in Cory Schreiber's new book, "Rustic Desserts."

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 11:08 AM

Oh I'm so sad that you are leaving. I've learned so much from you over the years. Thank you for everything you've given us!

On another note - I made the oreos and oatemal creme pies from a few weeks ago. The oreos turned out great - I posted them on my Culinate page. Neither filling was exactly right, but then I couldn't quite make myself use crisco and used butter instead.

We have something labeled "Pork Shoulder Steak" from our meat csa - last time I tried braising it but it was still kind of tough. I was thinking about rubbing it with some bbq spices and then letting it sit in the crock pot on low in an attempt to get something like pulled pork. Any ideas?

Posted by: mmauk | July 9, 2009 11:11 AM

Kim,
I never commented much but I read your blog daily and always read the 'What's Cooking' Chats after the fact (unfortunately never could tune in live). My family is going to suffer by you not being part of WaPo anymore; I get some of my best recipes and inspiration from you! I will have to email to find out where I can catch up with you.
And now for my questions- we joined a CSA this year and love it. I have two problems which my delivery though that I think you can help me with. First we get spring onions every week- I don't use them that much and now I have a lot of spring onions (luckily they keep remarkably well!). Any recipe suggestions that are heavy on the spring onions? They have beautiful bulbs (unlike the grocery store ones that have a tiny bulb) so I have been using the bulb as a substitute for any kind of onion. The second question/problem is that we get lettuce which usually would be great but first-trimester pregnancy has made me very anti salad- what else could we use lettuce for? I’d hate for these beauties to spoil. Is the grilled Caesar Salad you made for your mum warm when served? I was thinking that may make it seem un-salad like and get me past my apparent salad problem.
And finally- something I discovered this last weekend, the Rhubarb Buckle- I love it, my family and all our friends love it! We had the same problem with the crumble sinking the first time, the second time I made it I let the bottom bake for a little bit then added the crumble (from the freezer) when the base started to brown on top-worked like a charm it was lovely!
Thank you again for all the inspiration over the years- I am so disappointed that WaPo will no longer be hosting this blog. I even complained about stopping the What’s Cooking chat in a survey they called me for!

Posted by: CapitolHillLB | July 9, 2009 11:14 AM

Alison, flours are indeed different around the world. In fact, in Italy, they have certain kinds of flour for making pasta -- "00," I think it's called. Sifting the flour will not hurt -- worth a shot. I'm also wondering if using pastry flour would be of help here -- as it's lower in protein content, results in 'finer' crumb with cakes, etc.
Thank you for your kind words.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 11:16 AM

Only discovered AMA a few years ago, but have thoroughly enjoyed your posts, as well as the many delicious recipes that have been posted. I look forward to following you elsewhere and am glad that the meatless options will be continued - as a vegetarian for nearly 30 years there are only now becoming more diverse options for proteins. One of my go to for what to do when more arrive than you have food to feed is to include quinoa, as it can be served warm or cold and can be paired with many different vegetables and dressed in so many ways. Cukes, grape tomatoes, and a bit of lime juice or greek salad dressing complement nicely.

Posted by: gypsy420 | July 9, 2009 11:23 AM

CapitolHillLB, Have you ever grilled spring onions? Brush a little olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and they transform into magic sweetness. I also use spring onions as garnish, for rice, bulgur and other grains.
As for lettuce -- I wonder if lettuce wraps, Asian style -- would work for you? You could make a peanut dipping sauce, do a ground turkey, shrimp or all veg/tofu mix and use lettuce as a wrapper, dip in the sauce. Nice and cool supper for this time of year.
So glad you discovered the buckle!
Send me a note, and I'll put you on my mailing list to receive my week e-letter for news and updates. There's a lot of exciting stuff about to happen.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 11:24 AM

Lgdc, the recipe index is completely up to date. I can say with a fair degree of certainty it will live for a while, for how long I have no idea. I hope you'll stay in touch to get news and updates about what's next. All best.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 11:27 AM

Just wanted to second CentreofNowhere's comments. Your presence at the Washington Post will be sorely missed. You've given me the courage to do more experimenting in the kitchen, and for that I (and my family) are truly grateful.

Amy in Upstate, NY

Posted by: AmyH3 | July 9, 2009 11:38 AM

Montgomery Village Mom: Check out "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair. I love the spirit of this book. Have you taken them to the farm market? That could be fun -- open your daughter's eyes to how beautiful (and tasty) fruit is, maybe she'll let go of the sugar reins just a bit? A cooking class might be a good idea, too. Empowering.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 11:40 AM

Kim - Can you post the recipe for clafouti? It sounds awesome! Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Lizka | July 9, 2009 11:41 AM

Amy, please send me an email to get on my mailing list. The journey is far from over, I promise.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 11:42 AM

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 11:44 AM

Thank you Kim, for the many years of inspiration. I have copied and pasted many of your recipes into my blackberry and I still give you credit for getting me to try chard. I hope to follow your future endeavors. Sorry that the WaPo didn't continue the support of your chat.

Posted by: chiquita2 | July 9, 2009 11:49 AM

Kim,

I'm a recent recruit to the AMA clan and will miss the blog immensely. Meatless Mondays have introduced me to a lot of great ideas. My mother-in-law stayed with us for a few weeks recently and commented that we don't eat much meat. I've made an effort to have a few meatless meals a week (and use more seafood for the remainder). MMs and the EDF challenges have made a positive impact on the Blade household.

Now for 20 questions. Well, just one. I have some star anise. I purchased it to make a spice blend (probably Chinese 5 spice). So, I've got a barely used jar of whole star anise and would love to get a little more use out of it. Any suggestions?

Cheers,

Paul (aka The Fairlington Blade)

P.S. Many thanks for having time to get together when I was visiting Seattle. The meal at Serafina was fabulous.

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 9, 2009 12:02 PM

Kim, will you be posting info on your Facebook pages about what's next and where to find you?

Thanks for the great job you did here at WaPo.

Posted by: pmf1852 | July 9, 2009 12:05 PM

DCCubefarm, I'm a big fan of making quesadillas at the drop of a hat. You can do with or without a can of seasoned, warmed up black beans (draining liquid), spinach, chard or beet greens that are cooked with onions and garlic and whip up a salsa, even with a can of tomatoes. It's a lot quicker than making pizza dough, but that is a GREAT thing to have on hand in the freezer. A disk of pizza dough can thaw out in about an hour.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 12:06 PM

Kim,
Thanks for all your delicious work for many years. It's a real loss for The Post.
Still, I look forward to reading your tasty stories on a new site. What's the name of it again?

Posted by: LeslieKelly | July 9, 2009 12:12 PM

Kim,

Thanks for all the inspiration, great recipes, and gentle nudges to push us out of our food comfort zones. I've cooked many an inspired meal based on ideas from A Mighty Appetite.

As a vegetarian for 17 years, I always appreciate that you have some many wonderful innovative recipes that are veg-friendly. Some of my favorites: zucchini crab cakes, roasted kale, and home made english muffins!

I'm sure to follow you to the next big thing, but I'm disappointed that Wash Post has made this decision.

Best of luck!

Posted by: CookinB-more | July 9, 2009 12:27 PM

CookinB-more, thanks so much for your note. To be clear, this was my decision. I've got a ton of stuff in the works, and needed to make some changes as a result. E-mail me and I'll your name to the mailing list for news/updates, or you can stay current at kimodonnel.com
Cheers!

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 12:34 PM

Kim, we'll miss you!

For your Blueberry Buckle recipe, can I use frozen berries? (They were fresh-picked, then frozen.) If so, how do you recommend I prep/defrost them? Also, would frozen blackberries work?

Posted by: yumdonuts | July 9, 2009 12:46 PM

Kim, yours is a household name in my home, and so many of your recipies have found a permanent home in my kitchen. Thank you for all the encouragement you give your audience, and for the humor, and for the absolutely transparent passion you have for good food and good cooking. Your explorations have become ours, and I feel very lucky to have had you for my fearless leader; thank you!

See you at culinate.com.......


Posted by: redweather | July 9, 2009 12:47 PM

Thanks LeslieKelly! My work is moving to True/Slant next week. You can get updates at http://www.kimodonnel.com.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009 12:57 PM

Hi Kim ... I will really miss this blog .... but will follow you on your other sites ... good luck with getting your book published ... can't wait to see it ...

This note is also directed to Erin Hare .. I am a native of Centre Hall .. and my mother still lives there. And, Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere ... but it does have Grange Fair and then the Mt. Nittany Inn ...

Posted by: patpod | July 9, 2009 1:30 PM

Hi Kim, my neighbor graciously has given me permission to pick all of the sour cherries I want from their tree. I've never used them, so I have no idea what to do with them--although they do make pie, right? If I can't cook with them right now, can I freeze them? Any hints?
Thanks, can't way to see you on your other sites...

Posted by: chrishpl | July 9, 2009 2:14 PM

As for the 'drop of the hat' cooking issue, I do stir fry and fried rice (had DD show up with five hungry friends one night!).

Frozen chicken breast, almost thawed, sliced very thin. Frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, onions, peppers, carrots, all staples in my freezer) and some good hoisin sauce (I buy large bottles at the asian market to keep on hand). Throw the chicken in a pan, with a little oil, cook until almost done, then throw in still frozen veggies, top with hoisin sauce to coat lightly. Cook until everything's as done as you like it.

Cook as much rice as you think you'll need, plus a little, in the rice cooker or on stove. Spread in large casserole dish and cool as much as possible (I throw in the freezer!). Take stir fry out of pan, let it rest a bit while you throw rice, 1 egg per pound of rice, and a little soy sauce in the pan. cook until egg is done (mix it in well).

Feeds a small army, with no advance notice. Takes me 30 minutes, start to finish, and most of that is cooking and cooling the rice.

Posted by: RebeccaMinAR | July 9, 2009 2:16 PM

HaHa...Kim--just noticed that Erin from Centre Hall, PA also asked re. cherries...sorry, I hadn't read the posts yet before I asked my question. Makes sense she would have the same questions, since I'm in State College (right next to Centre Hall)...Hi Erin!
PS, Kim, anything that would work well for a toddler would be even better, although I can't imagine cherries and toddlers wouldn't mix!...

Posted by: chrishpl | July 9, 2009 2:18 PM

chrishpl, my near-two-year-old ate all of the cherry recipes i mentioned earlier. none of them is difficult, and all are delicious!

Posted by: alisoncsmith | July 9, 2009 2:38 PM

sorry - am tired - keep forgetting the end of my posts. the compote on top of pancakes or waffles (toaster works just fine, thank you) was a huge hit

Posted by: alisoncsmith | July 9, 2009 2:40 PM

DCCubefarm - 3 words: spaghetti and meatballs. It's quick, it's easy. If there are people that don't eat meat you can serve them on the side and everyone's happy. If someone doesn't eat red sauce you make them a serving with olive oil, spices, and grated cheese. A little boring? Maybe...but what do you expect if you drop by unannounced?

Posted by: dr_klahn | July 9, 2009 3:33 PM

@Cube - A couple of ideas. Pasta with a quick tomato sauce can feed a clan. You can make the sauce while the pasta heats. If you keep a little canned tuna around, tuna and capers add a nice kick to a standard sauce.

Since you've got mixings for salad around, how about a Spanish tortilla? The basics are egg and potatoes and it's terrific with a tossed salad.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 9, 2009 9:17 PM

Do you think the english muffins would hold up to being frozen?

Posted by: mmauk | July 9, 2009 10:18 PM

Thank you for everything Kim! I've been a fan of "What's Cooking" and AMA from the beginning and have learned so much from you. My mom now requests my sugar-free version of your Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti every time I visit her.

I'm going to miss having you at the WaPo as we've missed seeing you at the Court House farmers market since you moved to the West Coast. Best of luck on your future projects!!! Can't wait to see what comes next.

Posted by: scubahoya | July 10, 2009 11:08 AM

@mmauk - They do.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 10, 2009 4:01 PM

Thanks for the great ideas, people! And thank you, Kim, for hosting this great blog.

Posted by: DCCubefarm | July 10, 2009 8:37 PM

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