Excerpts from a recent online chat with the food experts and writers of The Washington Post.

Q: I want to love my cast-iron skillet, but I think it might need to be re-seasoned. Even when I cook bacon or sausage, or something equally fatty, it seems that everything sticks and makes it hard to clean. What's the best way to re-season the pan?

A: Easy to fix. Place a quarter-cup or so of vegetable oil in the skillet and heat. Add a quarter-cup of kosher salt and scrub the pan over the heat; use oven mitts and paper towels or a scrubber with a handle. When cool, rinse out with water; then reheat with some oil, rub oil into the pan and you are good to go.

Q: How do you figure out which vegetables "go" with a particular meat? I mean, mushrooms and onions go with just about anything, right? What does celery go with? Broccoli? Cauliflower? You can eat them together no matter what, if you like both, but is there a way of deciding which vegetable and meat will truly enhance the experience of eating what you pair it with?

A: Experience can be your guide, plus seasonality and regionality. There's an old saying, "If it grows together, it goes together." Look at traditional dishes; they can often give you a good idea. And look through "The Flavor Bible" by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (as well as Karen's more recent "The Vegetarian Flavor Bible").


"Ethnic Cuisine" by Elizabeth Rozin tells you about the classic flavor combinations that make up international cuisines.