The Washington Post

With a crop of beets coming in, what’s the best way to make the most of them?

- AARON HUTCHERSON AND BECKY KRYSTAL

Each Wednesday at noon, Aaron Hutcherson and Becky Krystal answer questions and provide practical cooking advice in a chat with readers at live.washington­post.com. Aaron and Becky write and test recipes for Voraciousl­y, The Post’s team dedicated to helping you cook with confidence. Here are edited excerpts from a recent chat.

Q: I finally managed to grow beets — the pretty tie-dye swirly kind: chioggia. Guess what — they’re not sufficient­ly beety for me. They’re so pretty but don’t seem to have much flavor. And I learned they don’t tinge things pink — a blessing and a curse. Any thoughts on what to make with them to help them serve their best selves?

A: Yay for growing beets! One day I hope to have a small garden.

Roasting is my preferred method as it heightens the sweetness of the beets and is incredibly simple: rub them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, wrap individual­ly with foil or seal in a roasting pan with a tightfitti­ng lid, and roast in a moderate oven (400 degrees or so) until you can easily pierce the beets with a paring knife.

— Aaron Hutcherson A: If you want to preserve the pretty color, try them raw! Thinly shaved in a salad with some other bold or interestin­g ingredient­s, they’ll be great.

— Becky Krystal

Q: I’ve come across several recipes for breading chicken or pork chops that call for crushed cornflakes, but can’t find a brand that doesn’t taste “sweet” even when mixed with seasonings. Any tips?

A: Corn tends to be naturally sweet, so there’s going to be level of sweetness no matter what brand you use. If you want to use a different cereal, you could try puffed rice, such as Rice Krispies (though I can’t remember how sweet those are). Or you could just use breadcrumb­s/panko instead of the crushed cereal. Or use crushed pretzels.

— A.H.

Q: Is there a way to store spring mix lettuces in the refrigerat­or to avoid it deteriorat­ing into a slimy science project?

A: The best way to store lettuce leaves is to layer them with cloth or paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

— A.H.

Q: I made a crisp to use up some blueberrie­s I had frozen. The recipe directed me to cook them with tapioca and a little bit of water until they were “slightly thickened.” They never thickened and the blueberrie­s disintegra­ted into juice. I was so disappoint­ed. How do I use frozen blueberrie­s or strawberri­es so they keep their shape and don’t liquefy?

A: I think this is not at all unusual, as berries tend to go to mush when baked, and in a crisp, I think of it as very scoopable and soft without a lot of shape to the fruit. So you may not have done anything wrong, and I don’t know that there’s a way to fix it. I assume you baked them from frozen? I don’t know if that would actually make much of a difference, but just thinking. As far as thickening, maybe you needed a bit more tapioca, or the crisp needed to get a bit hotter.

— B.K.

Q: Do you have any tips for baking away; literally, away? We’ll be at an Airbnb in a small town for a month, and I don’t want to bring my whole kitchen with me, but it’d be nice to bake one or two things without buying five pounds of flour. I also don’t know what kind of tools will be available.

A: One tip is to contact the host to see what ingredient­s/ equipment they stock. If there’s anything in particular that you absolutely need, then just bring it with you. In general, I think it’s mostly a matter of sticking to simpler baking recipes that don’t require a lot. For instance, my go-to is always a fruit crisp/crumble since you only need a handful of ingredient­s and no special equipment. Cookies are another good option because even without a mixer, you can just stir everything together with a wooden spoon. ( Though it might be a good idea to bring your own leavener.)

— A.H.

Q: I have been making cookies for years but don’t really know about spacing instructio­ns, which sometimes leads to mash-ups on the cookie sheet. When the recipe says, say, 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, is that from edge to edge or center to center?

A: Edge to edge is how I interpret that and intend it in recipes. If a recipe doesn’t specify, you can always bake a few test ones at first to check to see how much they spread.

 ?? STACY ZARIN GOLDBERG FOR THE WASHINGTON POST Food STYLING by Lisa CHERKASKY FOR THE WASHINGTON POST ?? Summer Fruit Crumble is a recipe you might be able to make at a vacation rental. Find the recipe at washington­post.com/recipes.
STACY ZARIN GOLDBERG FOR THE WASHINGTON POST Food STYLING by Lisa CHERKASKY FOR THE WASHINGTON POST Summer Fruit Crumble is a recipe you might be able to make at a vacation rental. Find the recipe at washington­post.com/recipes.

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