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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #106

Updated on November 12, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Who Are the Heros?

A few weeks ago my family and I went on a one-week vacation to Oregon. Since our return, I have shared with you my thoughts about Crater Lake, a humorous 100-year old sign I found in a schoolhouse-turned museum, and the joy of traveling/being with family.

There's one more experience I want to share with you. We visited the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville. One building is dedicated to the science of flight; there are exhibits and artifacts explaining the history of flight, military aircraft (even the stealth Blackbird), a WWII aircraft area, and Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose!

The Spruce Goose
The Spruce Goose | Source

A second building (and the one that I most enjoyed) is dedicated to the space exploration program. The museum's space exhibit begins with the very beginning of man's curiosity about space exploration, looking at sketches by Da Vinci, the writings of Jules Verne, history of missile development and those first unmanned crafts. And then there is a lunar rover, a space capsule, and the Titan II Missile. WOW!!

As I looked at the exhibit on the U.S. space program I wondered—who are the heroes for today's children—actors from action movies, pro athletes, rappers? For my generation, it was the Mercury 7, America's first astronauts. They boldly went "where no man has gone before," allowing themselves to be strapped into miniscule containers perched atop a "bomb" and jettisoned into weightless, airless infinity. How fitting it is that inscribed on the west wall of the space building was this quotation:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those words spoke volumes to me. It might be too late for me to "make my trail" on this earth, but you still can.

While we're being philosophical, here are a few more quotes by Emerson (American philosopher, lecturer, and poet of the 19th century).

On living your life

  • Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.

On looking beyond yourself

  • All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.

On how we impact the lives of others

  • The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

On achieving

  • Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.
  • Every artist was first an amateur.
  • Let us be silent, that we may hear the whisper of God.

And this one is for our dear friend Bill Holland:

  • Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much.

Let's Open the Mailbox

Our dear billybuc shares his wit and wisdom with us several times each week; on Mondays, he has a weekly mailbag with questions and answers about writing, and on Wednesdays he and his sweet girl dog Maggie allow us to walk with them, enjoying the sights and sounds (and smells) of nature and life.

I'd like to think that after that walk, all of you (Bill and Maggie included) will join me in my kitchen for a cup of coffee and if you're lucky, a fresh batch of cookies.

Let's get started with today's mailbox. 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; 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.

Is It True What I Heard About Pumpkin Guts?

It's jack-o-lantern time of year, and I seem to remember hearing that you aren't supposed to flush the innards of the pumpkin down the garbage disposal. Is that true?


When we carve pumpkins (or prepare squash for baking/eating) I like to separate out the seeds. Remove the strings, wash and dry the seeds, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees. Stir every 5 minutes. Depending on the size of the seeds this will take from 15 to 25 minutes. A great snack.

But, what about the rest, the stringy, nasty looking gunk? I know it's tempting to just do away with it by running it down the garbage disposal, but please don't. That stringy stuff is not suddenly going to behave itself. It makes a mess on your hands and it will make a tangled mess in the disposal as well. Pumpkin also tends to harden into something like modge-podge (the decoupage goop from the 60s). Can you imagine what it would take to chisel that out of your pipes?

Just don't.

How to Use Spelt Flour

I picked up some organic sprouted spelt flour. What do I bake with it? Is it more like whole wheat (it says 'whole grain') or can it pass for a sort of unbleached white flour?

Cynthia, spelt is an ancient grain; it offers many of the same nutrients as wheat, coming in slightly higher in zinc and protein. Botanically it's related to wheat so it should not be used by anyone who is gluten sensitive. But it doesn't perform the same as wheat, and here's the difference. Gluten is made of two types of protein—glutenin and gliadin.

higher in gliaden
higher in glutenin
breaks down with kneading
respond well to kneading
requires more yeast (or the addition of baking powder) for good rising
baked goods (bread for example) rise high
more water soluble--recipes might require less liquid
performs better when baked in a pan with sides
breads can be baked in a rimmed sheet

You can use spelt flour in any recipe that calls for wheat flour but don't use 100 percent spelt in place of wheat; 25 percent is acceptable. Depending on the recipe you might be able to go up to a 50-percent substitution, but not more than that.

Here's a link to All Recipes that provides over 40 recipes using spelt. Good luck!

Can I Cook/Bake With Mealy Apples?

This next question is actually from my younger daughter:

I picked some of the apples from the tree in my backyard. They're small but pretty, no scabs. I sliced one open and it looked good (no worm holes). The taste was good too, juicy and sweet, but the texture was off--it felt dry and mealy. Is there any way to improve them? If I baked them in a pie would they make a good pie or would I be wasting my time and ingredients?


Almost 25 percent of an apple's volume is air (because of open spaces between the cell walls). So, when apples age (they have hung on the tree for too long, or have been in cold storage) the cell walls soften and the interiors dry out and you have in your hands a mealy-tasting apple.

Don't despair, they can still be used for cooking and baking because heat simply contributes to the breakdown of those cells. Some apples are better than others. Delicious apples tend to break down easily while Granny Smith and pippins stay firmer longer.

So go ahead and bake that pie or make that apple crisp. If you're still uncertain, simply peel and dice the apples, and place in a saute pan with a pat (or two) of butter. Simmer for a few minutes over medium heat. As soon as the apple flesh begins to break down (get soft), stir in some brown sugar and cinnamon. A teaspoon of lemon juice will help brighten the flavors. Now you have chunky applesauce or a good topping for pancakes or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it only took about 5 minutes.

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.

Here's a link to that Table of Contents.

I have also cataloged all of my personal recipes that I have shared with you in this weekly Q&A series and in all of my other articles as well. The link to that Index is here. There are hotlinks to each recipe and this will be updated as new recipes are shared.


Let's do this again next week. 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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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      20 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, I absolutely agree with you regarding those who care for our loved ones. They are part hero and part angel on earth. Our first-responders are heroes as well--they run toward danger when everyone else is running away.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      20 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      The visit to the aerospace museum would have been amazing, especially seeing the 'spruce goose' and the Titan!

      As for Heroes, we have many today, but seldom mention them, right now I'm sat in a Hospital canteen, my daughter is back here due to an infection from an operation she had last week, and every one of the people here are heroes (most are a damn site younger than me) in my book.

      Firefighters who run into burning buildings when everything in nature is telling you to run out,they're heroes, and we should be showing that we think they are.

      I get what you're saying, but our kids and Grandkids pick up on what we do.

      On the lighter side, the Apple pie sounds delicious.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda, not to be rude but your man is like my little man. You can fake out the taste buds. hihihi Are we having foody fun yet?

      I have decided that you do two things and not one which makes you one of the best food writers around. Of course "recipes" but you do "concepts" also. A difference like "having a garden" and being "part of the garden". Walking "through nature" or being "in nature".

      In short I love you and your passions of writing and cooking.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Denise, I can do this (I think). You are correct that gluten free will give you a significantly different result because, in baking, gluten is the "glue." Look for the answer in #108.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Hey, I have a question. I recently was given a bag of gluten-free flour. I assumed it could be used the same as flour but the texture wasn't the same in the cookies or bread. So is there a percentage I need to mix with other flour to keep an even texture? I'm not sensitive to gluten so I didn't NEED gluten-free flour in the first place. Now I don't know how to use it. Do you have a clue? Thanks.



    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric thank you for giving that dear little apple a purpose in life. Simmer it in maple syrup and palm sugar--how can you go wrong?

      Mr. Carb is not a big fan of pumpkin flavor, but I try to slip it in when I can. Funny thing, if I call it butternut squash he gobbles it up.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita, I've missed see you on Hub Pages. I pray you are well.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, I had not read anything by Emmerson until I saw that quotation on the wall. Yes, he was very philosophical. Maybe Bill is his reincarnation?

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hmm. I think I could comment on every single line here. (take a chill pill, or Chamomile tea Eric;-)

      Pumpkins. Do some people not carve several for Halloween? Do some people not roast the seeds? Do some people not hold some seeds back and not plant them? Do some folk really not make some kind of pumpkin pie? Well, some people.

      A buddy dropped by, I was cutting off the brown parts of apples a neighbor gave. I was then slicing them up and tossing them into a maple syrup and brown palm sugar mix heating in a pan. Candy or onto oats or a rice pudding. "Please Lord, give me one slice of heaven a day"

      Anyhow my friend said "Dierker only you would pick to eat the rotten apple out of the barrel". //sorry for my length here//

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      21 months ago

      Dropped by to say hi. I missed a few of the last instalments. As usual informative article. I had never heard of spelt flour. Anyway hope all is well and you are having a good start of the week.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      21 months ago from Central Florida

      Short but sweet Q & A this week, Linda. I loved the quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He apparently was a deep thinker.

      It seems your family vacation was packed with interesting things to see and do. Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Chitrangada it is good to hear from you. Have a wonderful week my friend.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, it was my pleasure. Just come to the backdoor. As for the rain, I will be chained to my sewing machine. I have a MAJOR project ahead of me.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      I agree Pamela about eating apples. They need to be crisp. I find that when making a pie the best (tasting) results come from using more than one kind of apple. Sweet honeycrisp and Granny Smith work well together to make a pie with lots of apple-y flavor.

      I hope you have a good week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Mary. Interesting about pumpkins--I'm pretty sure that we have squash year-round (acorn, butternut, etc.) but not pumpkins. They're all related. I wonder why we don't have pumpkins all year???

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, when I was growing up garbage disposals were a new thing. When we finally had one installed in our kitchen, mom really put it to the test--and poor Daddy had to fix it time and time again.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Cynthia I am so glad that my work was helpful to you. I hope you have a wonderful week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you John. It's always nice to hear from you. This will be a busy week for sure.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      21 months ago from New Delhi, India

      An interesting series, with some wonderful tips related to food and cooking.

      I also use the pumpkin seeds the same way, as you have mentioned above. They are nutritious and delicious as a snack.

      Thanks for sharing the words of wisdom, in the beginning of your article. Every quote is inspiring.

      Thank you and good day to you.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That was lovely of you to share a word or two about me.Thank you dear friend and of course Maggie and I would love to stop by and have a cookie. Sounds like a wonderful plan to me. :)

      Happy Monday, Linda! The rain is approaching rapidly so bundle up and stay dry.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      21 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Happy Monday Linda! I like your plan for those apples. I only get citrus fruits in the pack yard around Christmas. I am particular about which apples to buy for pies or even eating as I like them to be crisp.

      The Emerson quotes were excellent. Have a good week, Linda.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      21 months ago from Brazil

      Good morning Linda,

      Pumpkins are for sale here, year round. There are often smaller ones or the supermarket will cut one in half or quarter it for their customers. I enjoy eating the seeds.

      I like your idea about using those mealy apples. It seems to be hit and miss here if I get a good one for eating.

      Have a wonderful week.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      21 months ago from USA

      I can’t imagine why people are putting all this kitchen garbage down their drain instead of in the trash or compost. Seems like folks need a back to basics primer. People do that with the toilet too, emptying food and stuff down there. Oh why oh why.

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      21 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Wow, Linda, you certainly covered a lot of territory in your latest Q & A-- was interested in your excursion and what you learned, or reflected on. And thank you very much for answering my question about spelt flour in such a nice organized way-- I really do need to know what to do and what not to do these days. I appreciate your looking at spelt re its differences from regular wheat, and because I have done some recent research about the proteins glutenin and gliaden, I actually tracked quite well. Thank you so much! Have a great week!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      21 months ago from Gondwana Land

      I enjoyed this, Linda. Thank you for sharing your visit to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum and the wise quotes of Ralph Waldo Emerson. You have a wonderful week.


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