What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

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Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, December 15, 2008; 12:00 PM

Calling all foodies! Join us for the final edition of What's Cooking, our live online culinary hour with Kim O'Donnel.

A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly known as Peter Kump's New York Cooking School), Kim spends much of her time in front of the stove or with her nose in a cookbook.

The transcript follows.

For daily dispatches from Kim's kitchen, check out her blog, A Mighty Appetite. You may catch up on previous transcripts with the What's Cooking archive page.

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Kim O'Donnel: It was the fall of 1998 when the late Vic Sussman and I kicked around the idea of a cooking discussion. After all, restaurant critic Phyllis Richman was doing it, Metro columnist Bob Levey and advice queen Carolyn Hax, too. Maybe, just maybe, readers would like to "chat" about cooking? We thought, what the heck, let's give it a try and see how the sauce simmers.

We launched "What's Cooking" in January 1999 as a biweekly live discussion, but interest was so great that within a few months, it became a weekly affair. You gave yourselves online monikers, such as FancyToast, OrganicGal, Sticks and Bethesda Mom (to name just a few), and you did this amazing thing -- you showed up every week, baring your souls, learning to cook and helping each other -- for a decade. You went with me to Italy, Uganda, Barbados, South Africa and Puerto Rico. We fixed Thanksgiving dinner together, and we embarked on a meatless journey once a month. In short, we became family.

This forum spawned more than 40 online cooking videos and ultimately, a blog, in May 2006. It is where things got started, and for that, I am immensely grateful. Today, as I put What's Cooking to bed, I am very proud of what we've accomplished in this space, and I'm proud of you, all of you.

Even though the chat is going away, my blog, A Mighty Appetite will continue, each and every day, as it has for nearly three years. I wish I had a firm bit of news to share today on a new chat home, but I'm still in discussion with a few interested parties. Meanwhile, you can join me at this time next week at What's Cooking in Limbo, my newly created Facebook Group page, where I will take your questions live for one hour. It won't be the same format, but we'll make the most of it while we wait for the new chat home, which should be just a few weeks away. You can also sign up for my weekly e-letter (as a freelancer, I write for other pubs) by sending me an e-mail: writingfood AT gmail.com; updates on the chat and other news will be available there.

Oh, nearly forgot to mention, my pal and Celebritologist Liz Kelly (and a former head of Live Online) is at the producer's helm today, for old times' sake.

Now, let's make a little history, shall we?


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Lothian, MD: Kim -- please, please, please -- I asked last week, but have to have an answer today -- how do I access A Mighty Appetite if not from the Post?

Kim O'Donnel: A Mighty Appetite is available here: here, Monday through Friday with fresh items, and any time you wanna just catch up on older stuff.

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Washington, DC: Hi, Kim,

So sorry you're signing off -- and glad the blog will continue.

Before you go, please tell: How did you come to refer to your hubby as "Mr. MA"? Are his initials MA?

I hope you're having a good St. Patty's day, and that it's a nice coincidence for you that it's also the day you close this discussion.

-A. Fan

Kim O'Donnel: Mister MA stands for Mister Mighty Appetite. His real initials are RW. I thought it best to give him an alias, as he's a journalist too. Ah yes, St. Pats -- and my wp.com colleague Michael Corones's birthday. Fitting all of it. I have nothing planned as yet. But I do have a green sweater on!

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Washington, DC: The dreary weather matches our mood knowing this is your last chat. Thanks for hosting them all this time.

I brined a brisket for a corned beef I made this weekend. My pantry now has jars of whole mustard and coriander seeds and allspice. Should I toast them before grinding them up for some sort of spice rub?

Kim O'Donnel: Toasting spices releases the natural oils, so it's a lovely idea before making a rub. this is a common practice in Indian cooking, and we all know how flavorful Indian cooking is...

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London, U.K.: No question, just a thanks for all the recipes, suggestion, and advice over the chat's lifetime! I'm going to miss the chat(even though I will be following along in other formats, it'll take me a little while to adjust, I'm sure...)

Kim O'Donnel: London, we've loved having you, and I hope you'll keep reading the other formats. Please follow links to blog at top of page and my newly created Facebook group page, What's Cooking in Limbo. We'll congregate there until a new chat home is determined.

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Eddie From Ob Fo!: Just wanted to say...you're the best and it's Wa Po's loss that they will no longer be hosting Le Chat. I joined the FB page, and will be very excited when your new chat gets going!

xxx Eddie

Kim O'Donnel: Eddie! As my father, a wise guy who left this planet much too soon, used to say, "nothing lasts forever." Change, as you on ObFo know very well, is good!

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San Luis Obispo, Calif.: I'll really miss these Tuesday chats. Thanks so much for looking for a new location for them. As a non-Facebooker, I do hope you'll tell us in your blog when you've got a new chat set up.

Kim O'Donnel: I will. You can also keep current in my weekly newsletter. Send me e-mail: writingfood AT gmail.com to sign up.

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Portland, OR: Hey Kim! I've bought a couple of (admittedly late season) butternut squash lately that looked fine on the outside but were spongey and dry inside. Any tips for avoiding that problem?

Kim O'Donnel: You kinda answered this question, Portland. It's late in the season, which means those squash have been stored up and well, they'll get a little dry inside. I had a similar experience last week, and turned it into soup, and it was okay. Once it gets some heat in the oven or on top of stove, it'll fix itself.

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Arlington, VA: Hi Kim, Do you know where I can get ground lamb? I don't see it in stores around here and am dying to make some greek burgers...speaking of which, have a good recipe for one? THANKS!

Kim O'Donnel: A Halal store would be my first choice; they can take lamb shoulder and grind it for you on the spot. You can also ask the butcher at your supermarket to do the same.

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washingtonpost.com: Hey Kimmy, I know you're not here to take comments from your colleagues, but I want to thank you for opening up a whole new world of cooking for me. My kitchen -- and diet -- was forever changed from the moment we collaborated on the first What's Cooking video back in 2001. I'm in awe of what you've accomplished over the last 10 years and look forward to the next decade of KOD. -- Liz

Kim O'Donnel: Dang, Liz, you're making cry.

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Out of the loop: Hi Kim,

For those of us that have been out of the loop, can you give us a quick update of what is going on (i.e. what are you/will you be doing now, why is the chat ending, will you be continuing this elsewhere, etc...)?

Kim O'Donnel: This chat, like a number of others, has fallen victim to budget cuts. I will keep writing my daily blog, and I am looking for a new chat home, which I hope to secure before the end of the month. Stay tuned!

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Takoma Park, MD: I work for a environmental organization trying to launch a food campaign encouraging individuals to try reducing their meat consumption by at least four meals a week. We're big fans of your Meatless Mondays concept. What are some of the challenges you've had in promoting this idea, and what methods have you found most successful in combatting some of the meat-eater prejudice? Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Takoma, trying to get meat eaters to wean themselves from meat four times a week is over ambitious. You gotta start gradually, ergo the once-weekly Meatless Monday concept. Baby steps!

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Fair Oaks: Kim - to me this is like the Series Finale of the Cosby Show, 90210, Family Ties, and in a few weeks ER. It is the end of an era and I will miss your chats...

My highlights from you are numerous - but my favorites were:

1. Veggie Timpano 2. Lulu's Cookies 3. Blueberry Buckle

Thanks for taking the time do this..Best of luck in your new adventures!

Kim O'Donnel: Aw man! Lulu's cookies, haven't made these in a good long while. And the buckle -- that's one of my faves too. Please come by and see me in the blog and at What's Cooking in Limbo FB Page. Link is at very top of the page.

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Seattle, Wash.: Hi Kim, Sorry to see your chat going. I've read it the last couple years and got lots of great tips from you and the chatters. Is there any possibility now that you will do some writing for our own local Seattle Times? I know that foodies out here could use your cooking wisdom :)

Kim O'Donnel: Hey there neighbor, I don't know. I have befriended Nancy Leson, who does a pretty great job in her blog, but as you know, Seattle journo jobs have shrunk even further today, with the end of the print edition of the P-I. Will keep you posted for sure.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Kim, thanks for everything! My Tuesdays were brightened up by these fun chats - and I learned a lot. (plus, as a vegetarian happily married to a carnivore, I loved your move to make it more mainstream with 'flexitarians' and meatless Mondays!) I found your chat as I was starting to learn more about cooking so I feel like I've really grown into my skills with this chat. Keep up the amazing work.

Kim O'Donnel: Silver Spring, in the new chat home, I will continue with a once-monthly chat, fyi, and of course the Meatless Monday features will continue in the blog space. Fyi, my agent and i trying to sell a book idea on the meat-less theme. Stay tuned.

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Arlington, Va.: Kim -- How sad to see this chat go silent, but I'm happy to know that the conversation won't come to an end. I look forward to attending when you find your new home. It's been a pleasure working with you as well. Your food tips, recipes, pics. and advice have always been a treat. Dan

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, Dan, the conversation will continue! Thank you for teaching me so much about shooting pictures.

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Washington, D.C.: Just wanted to join the chorus of disapproval at the WashPo for letting you go. I'll definitely be checking AMA for updates on where the new chat will be!

My question is if you have a good recipe for a chicken tikka/chicken makhani (either is fine) where I could make the sauce separately and use chicken for my boyfriend's dish and tofu for mine. Is that possible, or does that sort of dish require the meat/tofu to cook in the sauce the whole time?

Kim O'Donnel: Chicken tikka I do have somewhere on hand. Recipe comes from Food & Wine mag. Divide sauce and use for each, marinate separately; should be fine.

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Laurel guy: Kim--thanks for these chats all these years. Although I only recently starting using the name "Laurel guy", I've been lurking and reading for several years.

I just wanted to add my own personal EDF story. In the last two weeks, we've had four deaths and we miscarried our first child. We are living day-to-day and I was not really up to thinking enough about the EDF. But this weekend, I decided to do a little to take my mind off of things. So, I rousted out a leg of lamb that had been sitting in the freezer for 11 months. After thawing, not even freezer burn. I browned it, deglazed with onions, garlic and then carmelized with tomato paste. Add all to a crock pot with the potatos that had started to sprout, the carrots that were a little dried and cracked, spices, and a can of crushed tomatoes that we had bought with some other intent...and left it cook while we went out for the day. No shopping and we have meals for the week. One less thing to think about.

Mostly, I've enjoyed this chat through good times and bad and I'm sorry to see you go.

Kim O'Donnel: Laurel, I hardly know what to say. You're in my thoughts. Remember, food does heal. Stop by the blog and see me.

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Washington, D.C.: Your chat started practically the same day I sold out and took a job I hated. Reading (and occasionally writing) got me through some horrid afternoons. I quit last month to start my own business--so I might be able to make it without you; though I check the blog nearly every night.

Your fish tacos are something we have for dinner at least once a month!

So here's to both of us!! (Raising a Harp to you, my dear!)

Kim O'Donnel: You're a doll. I plan to have a big bourbon later, if anyone wants to join me.

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gansie @ endless simmer: the notorious K.O.D.!!!

so sad you'll leaving the WaPo chat list. but i do have a cooking Q for you in the middle of this sob fest.

i've been seriously obsessed with a cashew cream sauce from the new-ish himalayan heritage. any tips on how to make a creamy sauce from nuts, maybe even mixed nuts?

Kim O'Donnel: I was just looking at a recipe for a creamy nut sauce, Gansie. I don't have at my side, but can certainly get those details for you. You will need to pulverize, but not completely, you want some texture. I think it would be great with coconut milk...more on that soon.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: In the spirit of going meat-less once a week, I want to try bbq tofu. I had it at a local restaurant and the taste and surprisingly meaty texture were amazing -- how can I re-create at home?

Kim O'Donnel: Cap Hill, did you see yesterday's blog on BBQ tempeh? I find the texture terrific, less squishy than tofu. You could certainly try this recipe w/ tofu, but you'll want larger pieces, more like slabs.

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Ms. McG: Kim -- You are always and will continue to be an inspiration.

Last night as he was chopping vegetables, Mr. McG announced that he wanted to be a sous chef on a cooking show. So, when you're ready, he's ready...

Thanks for everything!

Kim O'Donnel: Tell him he's on! Thank you for your undying support.

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OpinionatedLiving (Seattle): I first started reading these chats almost five years ago, and while I only posted a few questions, the chats have been illuminating to say the least. While on the EDF challenge, I faced this -- two bunches of spring onions. What to do with them? Yesterday, my hubby and I finally sauteed them with tomatoes and some soaked lentils, garnished with fresh lemon juice and cilantro. It was really good, but I am looking for other things to do with. Any ideas? Thanks much for all the chats and most importantly the EDF challenge - the first online challenge I ever took part in!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Seattle, you have one more bunch of spring onions? Grill'em . Brush on some olive oil, a little salt and you'll be in heaven.

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Falls Church, VA: Hi Kim, I wanted to thank you for inspiration on the days I'm not feeling like cooking much. I will be forever grateful for the introduction to roasted broccoli (how did I ever live without it?), and will look forward to the chat's new home as well as following your blog.

Kim O'Donnel: Yay for roasted broccoli! Thanks for your support, Falls Church.

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Expat, Canada: Kim -

Did you invent the Cooking chat? If you didn't, you certainly perfected it!

Best wishes and thanks for the memories!

Kim O'Donnel: I don't know if I was the first, but I know I've been the longest running cooking chat (with one host) on the Web. Ten years is a long time in the digital age!

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Silver Spring, Md.: We made an easy, delicious sauteed root vegetable recipe from Ina Garten last night. Delicious, but full of butter. I think it called for half a stick! For the next time, is there a way to cut back the butter and still get that rich flavor? Would adding stock help?

Thanks, again for all the chats and kitchen help! I look forward to reading MA and continuing to chat.

Kim O'Donnel: Without seeing the recipe, I am unable to know for sure, but you most certainly can try reducing butter bit by bit until you're satisfied. You've got nothing to lose -- except some fat!

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Fairlington, Va.: Hey Kim. Loved the EDF challenge and am glad to finally be rid of that can of tomatillos. What's really overgrown in my pantry is the spice rack. Any thoughts on using old spice(s) or is it thyme to let them go?

BB

Kim O'Donnel: BB, so glad you enjoyed the EDF. We had a blast, too. Hoping to repeat the experience in June, so stay tuned. Re: spices: how old are they -- and how are they stored? If they've been in light, then they have likely oxidized. Talk to me.

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Washington, D.C.: KIm,

I still cut mangos the way you showed me. Can't wait to see what you do next!

Your ex-producer, -Meredith

Kim O'Donnel: MER! Blast from the past. Thanks for the luv, darlin'.

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Fairfax, Va.: Hey Kim -- One of your old former producers here. Just wanted to say it was a pleasure doing your show and finding out all about renewable sources and the environment, new ways to make old things interesting, alternative methods -- all a refreshing way to look at food -- and not something you'd find anywhere else. You're an original and I wish you well along the way and will follow you like a groupie (showing my age?). Thanks for your great contribution to the washingtonpost.com. And that red velvet cake ... Good God!

Kim O'Donnel: Shucks, Fairfax, I wish you included your name! Thanks for checking in !

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Deep in the archives: Kim, Dear,

Before you go ... (sob)

Will be be able to access these chat archives forever? Or do I need to copy all the recipes today?!?

Also ... Where are the "40 online cooking videos" ...?

I hope you enjoy "big Washington" ... We here in "little Washington" already miss you!!

Kim O'Donnel: I have been told that the chat archives will live on, so have no fear. video library.

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Spring onions: If you can get asparagus, grill them together with the spring onions. You will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's Spring.

Kim O'Donnel: Oh baby, that sounds heavenly. And a little lemon zest. Strawberries for dessert!

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Tempeh: Booo , this is my favorite chat of the week. I still have so many things to try like the Guinness cake and the bread... gasp.

A tempeh question for the BBQ tofu: do you buy the unflavored strip kind that comes all vaccuum packed? there are several options and I don't know which to go with (I do love the tempeh fakin bacon). Thanks, for EVERYTHING.

Kim O'Donnel: I really like Flax, but plain is fine, too. I have a preference for Lightlife brand.

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Thank you Kim for all of these chats: Dear Kim, What's cooking has seen me through hosting my first Thanksgiving and Turkey roasting, introduced me to new cooking techniques and resources, supplied endless ideas of creative cooking and eating and was the best part of tuesday afternoons. I'll miss your chat and look forward to following you wherever your chat may land.

Kim O'Donnel: That makes me smile, with a few tears mixed in. I'm so glad we were able to tackle Tgiving together, my dear. Now on to bigger and even more delicious endeavors!

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Faragut West: 2 things: A food question: I want to make Crab Cakes for Easter Brunch and am wondering if it is ok to buy fresh lump crab meat at the fish market on Friday or should I really do this on Saturday?

And Praise for What's Cooking: You and your chat will be missed! Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Farragut, best to buy Saturday, but if Friday you must, keep container on ice, okay?

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Seattle?: Hi Kim - Coming to Seattle on business in a couple of weeks and would love your expertise. Staying downtown and on an ever shrinking expense account. Where would you recommend for dinner? Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Tell me what your budget is, as there are tons of options. If we don't get to your question in the hour, be sure to e-mail me.

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Pot O Beans: I made a pot of pinto beans last week. I didn't season them because I was planning to use the in a couple different recipes. When they were ready the texture was great but they were BLAND. Even when I used them in the recipes their blandness stood out. How to you season a pot of beans that you plan to use in different ways?

Kim O'Donnel: Even if you want to use a pot of beans in different ways, it's a good idea to salt them after they've gotten tender. Cooking in stock also seasons plain ole beans.

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From chat to blog: What have you found to be the biggest differences between chatting/blogging? What do you like/dislike about each of these two formats?

Kim O'Donnel: Chatting is immediate and it's contained within the span of an hour. I know readers like it because they feel like they're getting one-on-one assists. blogging is storytelling, a short story if you will.

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Washington, DC: Swan Song? Say it isn't so!

When we met, I was "diet Coke guy" with no knife skills...remember upstairs at Whole Foods? Now, I'm a guy who mostly gave up the DC, has experimented with seitan (I'm dating a vegetarian), and actually baked cookies and chili last week -- both first-time events! They're still baby steps, but I'm having fun taking them and am making progress.

So, a heartfelt thanks from me -- and I'm sure from a whole lot of other people -- thanks for making cooking a little more fun and a lot more accessible.

dC

Kim O'Donnel: Oh my goodness. Blast from the past. I'm so glad you wrote in! Please stop by the FB Group page, dearie. I can't believe you're dating a veg! Much to discuss.

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Ground lamb: I have seen it frozen at MOMs and fresh at Whole Foods, both on a regular basis. Whole Foods can also grind it for you from whatever piece of meat you select. WF also has, often, already-prepared and -seasoned lamb burgers ready to cook.

Kim O'Donnel: Here's an update for the ground lamb seeker...

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Tofu texture: If, after marinading, you bake the tofu on a low light it gets great texture ... .

Kim O'Donnel: On a low light? What does that mean?

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Sleepless in Seattle...: ...until your chat finds a home! You have created such a community over the years--hoping you will find a way to keep it going. You have helped me overcome my kitchen angst and reminded me to have fun when cooking, even when I forget an ingredient or two! I have enjoyed your mix of recipes, personal stories and your take on how food impacts our lives and the livelihood of others. Keep the (burner) flame going!

Kim O'Donnel: We shall, Sleepless, and I'll need you all right by my side to do it...

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Alexandria, Va.: Kim, Irish cheddar -- good for mac and cheese or no?

Kim O'Donnel: Why the heck not? It's got good husky flavor, it'll be lovely.

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earlysun/Dawn (yep--the same): Hi Kim, I always salt my pot of beans when I first cook them, and they seem fine to me. What is the drawback of salting them early?

Kim O'Donnel: Only that you might forget that you've salted earlier...otherwise, nothing!

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Tears in D.C.: Kim, You have changed the way I cook. I found your chat when I moved to D.C. seven years ago after college, and I really have expanded my range. Thank you for teaching me how to experiment. My future family and I will forever be grateful.

On a different note... What I don't understand is if there really is such a severe budget crunch, how can The Post cut such long-running, popular chats like yours while bringing in brand new chats that replicate ones The Post already offers?? I'm specifically referring to the new Hax-wannabe woman they had on yesterday. We'd much rather keep around an old friend than try to adjust to a new copy!

Kim O'Donnel: Tears, I'm so glad you're cooking and taking good care of yourself. I don't even attempt to understand how big organizations weigh financial constraints versus customer loyalty. It's a good question.

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Fairlington, Va.: I keep small quantities in glass jars in the kitchen, so those definitely saw light and air. Anything larger is kept in the closet. They still have some flavor to them, but I'll be honest that they've faded. Maybe a little extra to add some flavor to a vegetable stock?

Your question gave me a thought. I know that some spices have been around "for awhile". Probably anywhere from 1 to 3 years. I need to start writing the date on a label when I buy a spice or fill a jar.

BB

Kim O'Donnel: 18 months is kinda the cut-off point. Yes, do start writing dates on those labels!

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Erin in Alexandria: What I've always appreciated about What's Cooking (which I've been reading for probably at least three years) is the sense of community you've managed to create here, Kim. Your starting assumption has always seemed to be that yes, we can do this (whatever the culinary "this" was) -- and that attitude spilled over to the rest of the chatters, who were then eager to pipe up with suggestions, experiences, and encouragement. Thanks for believing in us, Kim!

Kim O'Donnel: Erin, and that's because I really do believe that anyone can cook beautiful, nutritious food. It doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to be difficult. But you know that already.

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Questions in parting : Freezer burn: Can it be avoided? Can food that has it be eaten?

What is your favorite food and what can't you stand?

How did you choose Seattle? Did you know the chat would be axed so you left town?

Has this chat been a pleasure, a burden, a mixture?

Will you miss us?????

Kim O'Donnel: Freezer burn can be avoided if you eat the frozen food before a new decade has passed.
I cannot stand mayonnaise. I love mangoes and black beans and fried chicken.
My husband got a new gig in Seattle, ergo the move. The chat was axed just a few weeks ago, like several others.
The chat has been a total delight, every single time. And yes, I will miss you, but I hope you'll come and say hi in the blog and in my new chat home, when that gets settled. Love, Me.

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Plain beans: Even for plain beans I cook them with onion, garlic, parsley and kombu. Add salt at the end to ensure tenderness. They still seem plain but they've got a depth of flavor and the broth is tasty, too.

Kim O'Donnel: Good tips for bean cooker...

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Bland beans: Cook them until they're nearly done. Dedicate some to pasta. Finish cooking those with lots of herb-of-you-choice. Reserve a little of the cooking water.

Start pasta -- something like farfalle is good for this dish. Cook it until just before it's done.

Heat olive oil and add garlic and one or two sausages (I use veggie). Saute sausages for a few mins until just turning brown and add beans and reserved cooking water add s&p and anything else that comes to mind. Add a leafy green veg - kale is excellent here. Make sure you have the right amount of water (this should be enough to cook green veg and for pasta to soak up when it's added without makeing the pasta wet).

Cover pot, lower heat and cook until green veg is tender. Add pasta turn down light to lowest, stir and recover. Let sit for a min or two.

Add parmesan or romano. Dilish!

Kim O'Donnel: And more...

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Finding the archives: Great to hear the archives of this chat will live on. But assuming the chat no longer will be listed among the discussions, where will we be able to find the archives? Please post a URL.

Thank you for everything!

Kim O'Donnel: What's Cooking archives

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Pretzels, pizza dough and more: Hi! Last night I tried making soft pretzels and it called for adding yeast to water heated to 110 degrees. Another pizza dough recipe I'm looking at advises the temperature for the water. How do I measure the temperature of the water? Is there a tool? Or just by feel? Thanks!

I'll miss these chats!!

Kim O'Donnel: Get yourself an instant read thermometer, honey bunch. About five bucks.

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Midwest : Kim, I have been reading/lurking for years -- this has long been one of my very favorite chats on the Post site.

I started reading right after I graduated from college and was learning how to be an adult and cook for myself (and my husband, as I had just gotten married.) I'm known to frequently say "Well, Kim O'Donnel says..." when explaining how to make a particular dish to my husband!

Thanks so much for helping me learn how to cook. I'll keep watching the blog, as always. Take care!

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for your kind words, Midwest. And now you're really cooking with gas! Are you ready for the next adventure? Stay tuned.

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Low light: Sorry - too Brit! Don't bake it hot - keep it at say 350

Kim O'Donnel: Gotcha.

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Washington, D.C.: Kim, I'm so sad that this chat - in this format - is ending. More than other blogs, more than the food network, more than the newspaper food sections, these chats have had a huge impact on how I think about cooking and eating.

I used to think I didn't like vegetables! I had never been to a farmer's market! I was suspicious of all meat other than chicken!

More than anything else - I used to think that I wasn't a very creative person. Your guidance has allowed me to grow and become a confident cook, interested in learning about new ingredients and new ways to combine and prepare old ingredients. When I'm feeling low, or stressed, or overwhelmed, I know I just have to get myself into the kitchen, where I can create something that will make me proud. So for all of that - thank you.

Kim O'Donnel:Wow. Now I'm really tearing up. You know what? This is why I do what I do. Not for the money (trust me), not for the laurels, but for the impact it has on your view of cooking and eating. That you now think of yourself as a creative person is just so powerful! Please keep it up, please stop by the blog and please spread the wealth of your knowledge. This how we can become a nation of cooks again, folks, by passing on what we know and our passion for the table. On that note, I am signing off. Huge thanks to chat pioneers and comrades Liz, Rocci, Meredith, Eleanor, LT, Vic Sussman and many other washingtonpost.com colleagues for making the chats possible. It has been an amazing ride. But it will continue to be, just on a different bat channel. Stop by the blog: A Mighty Appetite and over at What's Cooking in Limbo over on Facebook. And well, what can I say? None of this would have been possible without you, the readers. Love to you all.

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