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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Cooking, & Recipes #73

Updated on September 20, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

The Silence

Have you ever noticed the "sound" of a snowfall?" No, I'm not speaking of the noise made by snowflakes (they're silent, of course), but there is a quiet that descends upon the landscape when all is blanketed in white. Traffic sounds cease, conversations move indoors, and all of nature stops and holds its breath. It's a special beauty, the sounds of silence.

We live on the edge of a forest; I've always assumed that we have nocturnal visitors, but I had no idea how many until I looked out the morning after the snowfall.


Let's Warm Up by the Stove

If you're an old friend, you already know how this column works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to the rest of the group. Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything goes.

Want to join in the fun? You can leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy. Let's get started with a question from Bill Holland (aka billybuc).

A Good Brown Rice Casserole Recipe Please

I love rice; not so much quiche. I'm just a brown rice kind of guy, I guess...throw in a baked potato....casseroles.....if you would like to share a rice casserole recipe I'm all ears. :)

Bill, I've had this one in my card file (yes, being old-school I still have one of those) for decades and have no idea of its origin. This is a savory, hearty side dish, really good with roast chicken.

Mixed-Grain Pilaf


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup barley (not instant)
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1/3 cup bulgur wheat (or if you don't like bulgur wheat use 1/2 cup each barley and brown rice)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan of medium heat. Add the nuts and stir until lightly toasted; lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the onion, carrot, garlic, and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots and onions begin to become limp. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Fluff with a fork and garnish with the toasted nuts.

Makes 6 servings

And, another question about rice, this one from Mary (Blond Logic).

Arborio Rice Pudding

I have a question for an upcoming Q & A. My husband wants rice pudding. He refuses to eat tapioca even though I bought a small type. Too many bad memories of school dinner.

Can I use arborio rice instead of a pudding rice? Are they basically the same?

rice pudding with berries
rice pudding with berries | Source

Mary, arborio rice is actually quite different from regular medium- or long-grain rice and that's what makes it so special. Arborio is starchier and it's the starchiness that creates the creamy texture that we love in risotto, and in rice pudding.

Can arborio rice be used for dessert? Absolutely, but you will not be able to use your traditional rice pudding recipes. Since the rices are different, the techniques used to cook them are different also. David Lieberman made a vanilla arborio pudding in which he precooked the rice grains in water and then finished the still-quite-al dente rice in simmering milk and sugar. If you use his recipe, here are a few suggestions:

  • Increase the butter from 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon.
  • Don't be concerned if the finished product looks thin; it will thicken after it chills a while in the refrigerator.
  • David doesn't mention this in his instructions, but several commenters said that when cooking the rice in water, the pot should be covered with a lid.


I originally shared this recipe in my article on risotto (who knew you could make chocolate risotto??!!). It is rich, luxurious, and decadent. I've been a fan of Michael Chiarello for years; his foods are a blend of old-world Italian with a local California flare. If your husband loves chocolate half as much as I do, you might want to give this a try.

Home Made Sausage and/or Hot Dogs

We have a bit of a problem Linda. We just love our hot dogs but we never eat them because of the yuk stuff. I can do the chili and sauerkraut ok and get cool bread. But I just can't cotton that meat stuff. Gabe and I need to make our own sausages/hot dogs. I can cook a wallet to taste like a Porterhouse, but the ground stuff still baffles me. Lean me (get it?) in the right direction.


Eric, I think you deserve some sort of prize, an award for stumping the chef. Last year there was a tie (Mary for asking about cooking slab bacon with teets and Flourish for her query about roast guinea pig).

I have NEVER in my life made my own sausage. The hot dog is another story within a story. Once, years ago when I was flying from Menlo Park to SeaTac the movie du jour was entitled something like "The Life of the Hot Dog." Ever since witnessing exactly how hot dogs are made (and being trapped in that tin can 35,000 feet in the air there was NO escape) I have never, and I mean NEVER consumed another hot dog.

Sausage? I could possibly do that if I took the time to source imitation casings (I'm sorry, I can't do the real thing—I know where it comes from and that mental image cannot be erased).

But, enough about me. You wanted a recipe for making your own sausage. I've not seen your kitchen, but I will assume that you do NOT own a sausage-stuffer. With that in mind, plus my own emotional issues when it comes to "natural" casings, let's look for a recipe that creates a skinless sausage. I found one at the website Foodie Baker. Jasline relied on my friend Kenji for her recipe and methodology. She takes us step-by-step through the process and provides suggestions on how to adapt the ingredients to come up with the flavors you want.


This soup recipe is a departure from my usual "the soup is the meal" offering. This is a light dish, to be served as an introduction, an appetizer perhaps, to the main course. I created this several years ago for our wedding anniversary, so when my husband sees this on the table, he knows that a larger, decadent meal is waiting in the wings.


  • 1 small lemon
  • 3 cups good quality chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish—2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and white pepper to taste


  1. Cut two 2-inch strips of lemon peel from the lemon. (Use the zest only—not the white pith which is bitter). Place those lemon strips in a medium saucepan. Don't toss out the lemon; we'll be using that at the end of the recipe.
  2. Add broth to the saucepan. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 20 minutes. Remove lemon strips.
  3. In a second saucepan heat the butter over low heat; when the foam subsides, stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes; gradually add warm stock and cream, whisking constantly, until soup is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Squeeze one teaspoon of lemon juice from the lemon; stir into the soup.
  5. Add garnish and salt and pepper to taste.

We're Organized

Did you know that there is a Table of Contents for this series? I have created an article that provides a detailed listing of each question I've received. It's broken down by category, and within each category, the questions are listed alphabetically. Each question is actually a hotlink back to the original post.

The alphabetical soups are listed there as well.

Here's a link to that Table of Contents.

If you like this series, you'll love this! Consider it my gift to you.


My hope is that we can continue share in this food journey together. If you have questions about foods, cooking techniques, or nutrition you can ask them here. If you are in search of an old recipe or need ideas on how to improve an existing one I can help you. If you want to learn more, let's do it together. Present your questions, your ideas, your comments below. Or, you can write to me personally at this email address:

And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.

© 2019 Linda Lum


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