The Washington Post

Edited excerpts from an online chat with The Washington Post's food writers and experts.

Q. My family is trying to eat more fresh vegetables, but I can't make it to the store very often. What are some vegetables that will last a while in the fridge?

A. Carrots, green beans, snow peas, parsnips, turnips, and bok choy and other cabbages have good refrigerator staying power. Think about serving them raw in salads as well as cooked, roasted or grilled.

Q. I'm looking to make a punch for a party, but I don't want to have to buy a bunch of different bottles and then use only an ounce or two. Any ideas for a simple spring punch?

A. I don't know how many people you're serving, but I'd try making a good, strong lemonade and adding gin and thinly sliced cucumbers. Go for a ratio of about 3:1 lemonade to gin, float the cukes on top, and let it sit for a while so the flavors will combine. Serve it in cups over cracked ice. You could also float some fresh mint in the bowl, but it might be more effective as an aroma if you add a sprig to each drink: Slap it between your palms before you tuck it into each glass.

Q. I have a bag of pitted dates in the fridge and would love some ideas for how to use them.

A. Here's a divine snack or appetizer: Stuff each date with a whole almond or a little goat cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil and roast at 425 degrees for five to seven minutes.


Top with crunchy sea salt, and serve warm.

Q. I found some new blue Ball jars that match the color of the old canning jars from the 1800s, of which I am fortunate to have two. Do these new blue jars offer superior preservation, or are they just more expensive because they look more interesting?

A. The blue jars are pretty, but they don't offer anything special in terms of preservation. It's my understanding that the blue and green jars are aimed at crafters. That makes sense, because a lot of foods -- peaches, for instance -- look green and not very appealing behind blue glass.

Q. I want to start using tofu more. I've tried sauteing it, but my partner hates the texture: too "slimy," he says. I'm intrigued by the idea of roasting it. Does that make for a (pardon the term) meatier texture?

A. Indeed, roasting tofu dries it out somewhat; it's anything but slimy. I use the technique a lot.