Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #106
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!
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.
- 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?
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.
© 2019 Linda Lum