If you have a question about ingredients, recipes, or techniques, email Kirstin (email@example.com). Here are the questions she has answered so far:
* What is the difference between pure and virgin olive oil?
* Often when I make soup this gray stuff floats on top. Is there a way to avoid it?
* Can you recommend mild tasting fish?
* I need new cutting boards. Which are better, plastic or wood?
* Do you have a few favorite cookbooks you could recommend?
* I can’t figure out when my meat is cooked to the right temperature. How do I know?
* What is better, thick or thin asparagus?
* Can I freeze a whole ginger root?
* Baking recipes often call for “room temperature” eggs and butter, is that really necessary?
* I prefer milk chocolate but so many recipes call for dark or semisweet chocolate. Can I replace it?
*My kids and I do a lot of impromptu cookie baking, but we never have unsalted butter in my fridge. Can we use salted instead?
*What is buttermilk? It sounds so fattening, is it? And if I don’t have it, is there a substitute?
*Help! I am out of brown sugar. Can I substitute with white sugar for my cookies?
*What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
*How many teaspoons of yeast are in a package?
*How do I rescue an over-salted dish?
*What is the difference between chili powder and chile powder?
*My eggs don’t have expiration dates on them, how do I know they are still tasty?
*I am about to move into my own place, with my own kitchen! What should I stock my completely empty cupboards with?
* Do I really have to let the chocolate chip cookie dough “rest”?
* Is a clove of garlic the whole bulb, or just one of the segments?
* What is the difference between tamari and soy sauce?
* There are two kinds of eggplant in my grocery store now, a big fat one and a long skinny one. How do I know which one to use?
* I am having trouble with my stir-frys. I can’t get the wok to stay hot.
* How long does chicken stock last in the fridge?
* How do I cook green vegetables like sugar snap peas and green beans so they keep their bright colors?
* I am making your “Wheat Berry Salad” for a party, but I am using farro instead of wheat berries. The package says to soak for 8 hours, is that really necessary?
* My family is trying to stay away from cream for cholesterol reasons, but I miss making creamy soups. Any suggestions?
* I want to use brown rice more, but what is the difference between long and short rice? And is there a fool-proof way of cooking it?
* What are your top 3 favorite meals that are quick and kid friendly?
* I have a vegan recipe that calls for beets in a chocolate cake. How do I make beets less “earthy” tasting when used for baked goods?
* Can you give me a few ways to use quinoa?
* I am terrified of blending hot soup after it once exploded out of the blender, how do I avoid this disaster.
* Does an avocado pit keep my guacamole green?
* There are too many mozzarellas out there! When do I use the shredded ones, when do I use the sliced ones from the deli, and how about the soft expensive ones in water?
* I love garlic, but is there a way I can mellow it out a bit?
* What is the difference between stock and broth?
* How do I zest a lemon and what is zest?
* What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?
* What is the difference between an onion and a shallot, can I exchange one for the other in a recipe?
* Cornmeal, cornflour, corn starch, grits and polenta…are they all the same?
* How do I prepare oysters?
* Any ideas for substituting cheese in recipes?
* Why does everyone use a slow cooker versus cooking in the oven?
* How do I know when fruit is ripe?
* How do you know if your mussels are fresh? How do you clean them?
* What’s a good rule of thumb for how many chicken pieces you need to make broth?
* How do I roast beets?
* I hate chopping onions. Can I use frozen chopped onions instead?
* Sometimes I will defrost something, then change my mind and not need it. Is it alright to refreeze it?
* What’s the best way to rescue a bland soup?
* How do I know which seafood is sustainable and also low in mercury?
* I want to make chocolate chip cookies and my brown sugar is hard as a rock. What do I do?
* I like sautéing chicken pieces at high heat in a wok, getting a nice crust, but then the garlic burns! How do I avoid burnt garlic while still adding it to my wok chicken?
* What is “Asian fish sauce”?
* Recipes with mushrooms often call for “dry brushing them clean.” Why can’t I just wash them?
* When baking, can you double a recipe? Or do I need to make individual batches?
* How I should clean and store produce? Also, what is the best way to store herbs?
* I love scallops but they are always watery when I sear them. Is my heat too low?
* Sometimes when I cook dried beans or grains it seems to take forever, why is this?
* In your pasta recipes you often say cook the pasta in water as salty as the sea, what do you mean and why?
* In your Oven Grains Greens and Cheese Please recipe, you suggest Swiss chard and kale. Would it be O.K. if I used frozen spinach instead?
* When searing meat in a pan — what is the best way to keep it from sticking to the pan?
* Are brown eggs healthier than white ones?
Want to “Ask Kirstin” for help in the kitchen? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.