Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Cooking, & Recipes #77
One hundred thirteen years ago today, my dad was born to a Canadian cabinetmaker and an English-Irish Salvation Army officer, a part of the first generation of his family in the United States.
My earliest memory of my dad is of the two of us walking hand-in-hand at the Zoo. I was probably two or three years old, toddling along on short little legs at my dad’s left side. And, in that image I see another holding his right hand—a chimpanzee. Did this really happen? I have no idea. Perhaps it was just a dream, but it seems very real to me, and it testifies to the loving person who was my daddy. Ever patient; ever kind; ever loving—that was my Daddy.
To everyone else, he was known as Roy, the third of four surviving children of Frederick and Elizabeth. The family of six might have been a family of ten if not for the high mortality rates of that time. Daddy told the story of his birth in this way:
"In 1906 babies were usually born at home, and my birth was no exception. Mum was a tiny woman, less than 5 feet tall and I was a large baby. It was a difficult birth, and I emerged limp and lifeless. The doctor placed me on a table and covered me with a sheet. As he turned to attend to my mother, the next door neighbor arrived. 'Where is the baby?' she inquired. 'Sadly, the baby did not survive' replied the doctor. The neighbor lifted the sheet, touched the little body and felt movement. 'That baby’s alive you damned fool!' With that, she wrapped me in a blanket and tucked me next to Mum where I was warmed and loved back to life.”
Why am telling you this? My dad was given two chances at living, and I believe that imbued in him his devotion to God and his zest for living life to the fullest. He was and continues to be a major influence in my life. When confronted with a challenge or a disappointment, I ask myself "what would Daddy do?" And then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and life goes on.
Let's Do This Together
I'm happy that you are here today. If you're an old friend, you already know how this works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to my kitchen.
Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything food-related has been covered here.
I'm sharing this past week's questions and my responses and it happens every Monday. 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.
Pineapples: How to Ripen Them, and Using the WHOLE Thing
Linda, can you tackle the question of pineapples? They seem to get sweet and ripe at the bottom and are sour at the top. What is your pineapple hack? How can I evenly ripen a pineapple? Also, I tend to eat the center but most don't. For canned pineapple what do they do with all those cores, there is still a lot of juice in them.
First, let me begin by saying that I am blessed to have some amazing, supportive friends. Shauna (Brave Warrior) saw Mary's question and provided some valuable information (and saved me the task of doing some research).
I can answer part of Mary's question. As far as ripening them: leave them on the plant until they're mostly yellow. To distribute the sugars: lay them on their side in a window sill for a day or two and rotate. This allows the sugars to evenly distribute throughout the flesh (rather than fall to the bottom of the fruit). I don't know if you remember, but I grow pineapples in my yard. The core questions you'll have to research. I don't use them but would be curious to see what you come up with.
Mary, you probably know a great deal of what I’m going to present, but many other readers might not have your background, so allow me to present a Pineapple 101.
- The pineapple is a bromeliad—yes, just like the flowering houseplant. What distinguishes bromeliads from other plants is that the leaves are arranged in a rosette shape which forms a central cup. It is that cup that collects rainwater, and that is how the plant is fed and nourished.
- The pineapple is a non-climacteric fruit. That’s a high-fallutin way of saying that once you pick it, the pineapple won’t ripen any further (as Shauna indicated above). This is important because the harvesters need to pay keen attention to the fruit size and color to make a judgment of the suitability of the fruit for picking.
- Pineapples mature from the bottom to the top; as they ripen the bottoms becomes flatter.
- In a phone conversation, Shauna also shared that the pineapple is a fruit that will try one's patience. From its first emergence from the soil to harvest, a pineapple can take 12 to 15 months.
- However, they are extremely easy to propagate. Simply twist off the top, leaving a bit of the flesh intact, and push it back into the ground. Shauna doesn't even have to dig a hole.
Now, about that core—is it edible? Yes, and no. The core is very fibrous (chewy) but it is still usable:
- Slice it very thinly.
- It is possible to turn it into a pulp if one has a powerful food processor/blender (such as a Vitamix).
- Freeze the core and use it as “ice” in your punch bowl.
- The core is not as sweet as pineapple fruit so can (in theory) be added to your stock pot or marinade. I can envision tossing a pineapple core into the crockpot with a pork shoulder (for pulled pork), or in chicken simmered for Asian soup stock, pho, etc.
By the way, the pineapple is more than just a sweet tropical fruit. Here's some good news:
- Pineapple is loaded with Vitamin C and is helpful in reducing LDL cholesterol
- It's high in fiber
- Pineapple contains bromelain, a substance that has been shown to be effective in decreasing inflammation and the pain of arthritis.
A few words of caution about bromelain:
- It can cause nausea, diarrhea, or increased menstrual bleeding
- It is contraindicated for those who are using anticoagulants (warfarin, for example).
- And, it can increase the effect of sedatives and antidepressants
And, if I have piqued your curiosity, there is a research paper from the Kerala Agricultural University on the topic of harvesting and post-production practices for pineapples. The free link is here.
Our final soup in this series is truly a bowl of peasant food at its simplest and best. According to legend, this dish was invented in the aftermath of the 1525 Battle of Pavia. Tired and wounded, King Francis I of France found refuge in a local farmhouse after his defeat. The lady of the house improvised a meal for her royal guest from what she had on hand, making a humble, yet delicious soup that is truly fit for a king.
Ingredients (for 4 servings)
- 4 large slices of artisanal bread
- 4 whole eggs
- 4 and 1/4 cups rich chicken stock
- grated Parmesan cheese
- Lightly toast the bread and place one slice in the bottom of each bowl.
- Meanwhile, poach the eggs and place one cooked egg on the top of each slice of toast.
- Cover the egg with a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese.
- Place a ladle-full of broth in each bowl.
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.
Here's a link to that Table of Contents.
If you like this series, you'll love this! Consider it my gift to you.
I hope 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: email@example.com.
And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.
© 2019 Linda Lum