On the shelf

Neat alternative to eating meat

Pecans and garbanzos are the primary ingredients in meat-replacement mixes from Neat. Its Original, Mexican, Italian and Breakfast versions also include whole grains (oats, cornmeal) and spices. The Original was tasty in sloppy joes; mildly seasoned Mexican got a flavor boost when we stirred in salsa per package suggestion. Neat can be shaped into balls or patties. They turned out fine, but you won’t mistake the texture for a medium-rare beef burger. Suggested retail price: $4.99 for a 5.5 ounce package (4 to 6 servings). For a store locater or to buy: eatneat.com.

Beyond Granny Smith

Bored with Granny Smith and Red Delicious? Dig into Rowan Jacobsen’s “Apples of Uncommon Character: 123 Heirlooms, Modern Classics & Little-Known Wonders” (Bloomsbury, $35). You’ll find oldies, say, Calville Blanc (France, 1598), and newcomers like SweeTango (Minnesota, 2006), the ubiquitous Honeycrisp and less common Pitmaston Pineapple. Jacobsen cites origin, appearance, texture, flavor, use, season and growing region for each. He also offers recipes (duck and apple risotto, grilled apples with smoked trout, desserts) and resources for apple eaters, growers and cider sippers. At bookstores nationwide.

Gravy mix gone gluten-free

Need gluten-free gravy this holiday season? McCormick’s new Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix and Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy Mix should help. Both use cornstarch for thickening power and are easily prepared with water, on the stove or in the microwave. Each had its requisite beef or poultry flavor, though both were a bit salty for our taste. Packages suggest twists on the basic mixes; cooks may want to go beyond those with their own enhancements (fresh herbs, spices, sauteed onions or mushrooms, etc.). Suggested retail price: 99 cents for beef; $1.29 for turkey. At supermarkets nationwide.