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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #107

Updated on October 21, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

A Slight Departure

On a typical Monday, this is (I hope) your next stop after reading billybuc's mailbag. For two years I've opened my kitchen to you. We sit and share a cup of coffee, joke a bit, and you ask questions about food ingredients and cooking or baking terms. You want recipes, you bring me your concerns about nutrition. Just about anything food-related we talk about here.

This week's offering is a bit different. Just one simple question, but a good one. And, I found that I rambled on and on so much on this one topic that I filled an entire article with the response. (Denise, your questions will be addressed next Monday).

I hope you like today's offering. Next week, your question(s) could be the center of attention. All you need to do is leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy.


"Now this is a question about cooking but not recipes. I have this friend who has gotten me into the "Joy of Cooking". Now I do not follow her directions to the T. But I get inspired by her and she has brought good joy into my life. Who inspired you? And by the way that friend is you. (Julia Child reference intentional)"

Eric, I am humbled by your words, and so happy that I have turned you onto the joy of cooking. Actually the author of the original publication “The Joy of Cooking” is Irma Rombauer, not Julia Child, but I have cookbooks by both of them, and those two ladies live and breathe the love of making food for your family.

Your simple question of “who inspired me” comes with a complex answer. So, put your feet up, sit back in a comfy chair, and I’ll tell you a story.

As I’ve said in the past, my mother was a good cook. The meals that came from her kitchen were certainly dependable; nothing fancy or complicated, just simple home-cooking with easy-to-obtain, inexpensive ingredients. That was what I wanted to do when I grew up. And then . . .

Tomatoes on the Vine
Tomatoes on the Vine | Source

Not "Just Like Mom"

I was living my dream, working full-time at a career that I enjoyed. I was married, had two children just 21 months apart, and a lovely home. It seems that the local PBS (Public Broadcast System) channel was at that time the background music for our lives. My husband and I had a house to maintain and “This Old House” gave us the insight we needed for making those repairs. That house came with a large fenced backyard—the perfect place for a vegetable garden and a couple of apple trees. “The Victory Garden,” told us how to do it.

Julia Child
Julia Child

I had a family to feed so I watched cooking shows. Keep in mind that this was the early 1980’s—long before the Food Network, HGTV, or even cable television and its 1,000 channels.

Of course, there was Julia Child, the fearless commander of the kitchen. Julia gave me the courage to try things I had never done before. What I love about her is that she gave all of us permission to fail, revealing that unless the meal is reduced to cinders it can probably be salvaged and only you (the cook) will know that what you are presenting is Plan B (or C) and not the original.

I watched “The Frugal Gourmet,” a local chaplain (Jeff Smith) turned chef who shared his knowledge of the cuisine of faraway places. Under his guidance, the foods of Greece, South America, and Southeast Asia didn’t seem so far away. They were easy, and so my little girls and I would go to the library every Saturday to select picture books for me to read to them at night (and chapter books when they got older), and always one ethnic cookbook from which we would cook Sunday dinner. My children were never picky eaters, and I think this is why.

Mary Ann Esposito’s “Ciao Italia” is the longest-running cooking show on PBS. Until her program, my only knowledge of Italian food was mom’s spaghetti and meat sauce (and I recognize now that it bore no resemblance to the Bolognese I cook for my family). Mary Ann gave me a love for Italian food long before I ever traveled to Tuscany.

Martin Yan of “Yan Can Cook” was full to overflowing with that “joy of cooking.” He has an infectious grin, a great sense of humor, and wicked knife skills!

Graham Kerr at home
Graham Kerr at home | Source

And then there was Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. He, along with Julia, was one of the first TV food entertainers. Born and raised in London, he first stepped in front of the camera in New Zealand in 1960 with “Entertaining with Kerr.” In 1964 he moved to Sydney and became an overnight sensation. A lucrative offer from an American television company brought him to North America in 1969.

He was a "galloping" gourmet because, under the direction of his wife/producer Treena, he began every episode by leaping over the sofa (glass of wine in hand) into the kitchen. That isn't all that was memorable about his program. To say that his cooking was over the top is a gross understatement. Graham was once labeled “the high priest of hedonism” and awarded the Broken Spoon Award by Weight Watchers International for his displays of excess with heavy cream and clarified butter. In response, he quipped “Madam, you could go outside and get run over by a bus and just think what you would have missed!”

Treena always said that if you want to teach people anything, you must, first of all, entertain them. So I set out to be entertaining! The fact that people have such warm memories of The Galloping Gourmet program is really delightful to me, and I’m grateful for that. So I certainly don’t want to trash what we did – I think it was ‘en route’ to where God was taking us.

— Graham Kerr

Then overnight his and Treena's lives were changed. They were involved in a near-fatal auto accident (rear-ended by, of all things, a vegetable truck). Graham made a full recovery but his beloved Treena was never completely the same again. For years she battled pain pill addiction, then a heart attack and ultimately a debilitating stroke.

Shortly after the car accident, both of them became Christians. Graham made a culinary about-face. Full fat excess was abandoned for flavor-forward cooking which he dubbed “minimax”—minimum fat and cholesterol and maximum aroma, color, texture, and taste. Graham produced a new cooking show “The Graham Kerr Show” in Seattle, Washington. Along the way, he wrote 30 books.

He retired from television in 1995. Treena died just five days before their 60th wedding anniversary. Graham lives alone now. The home that he and Treena shared in the Skagit Valley was sold two years ago. He sold/garage-saled many of his belongings and relocated to a retirement community.

It’s so lovely here. I have my own small, private space, and it’s perfectly fine for me. I told the Lord that I really needed to be pruned. My tree is too big, and the fruit is too large and doesn’t taste as good as it should. So I told the Lord that if he could prune me and get some better fruit out of me, I would be very grateful.

— Graham Kerr

He fills his days cooking for friends, gardening (a new passion), doing volunteer work for his church, and occasionally gives talks at local meetings. He is in the midst of authoring one more book, this one on what it is like to live alone.

I’m still cooking and gardening, but now I cook for one. I don’t have Treena to look after anymore, but the ripple has widened. I want to see how I can serve others, here in this community and elsewhere.

— Graham Kerr

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 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Audrey. I didn't follow his original recipes either, but he was certainly entertaining.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      12 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I, also, watched the Galloping Gourmet once upon a time. I think I was more attracted to his whimsical personality than actual cooking ..I didn't appreciate his amazing recipes back then.

      As always, I thouroughly enjoyed your article. Thanks, Linda..

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      13 months ago from Fresno CA

      I used to watch the Galloping Gourmet with my mother every day after I got home from college. I thought he was funny but didn't try many of his recipes. I never knew the rest of the story so I have to really thank you for all the background info. Amazing. I'm really sorry he lost his wife.



    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning RInita. It's been a while since I've heard from you. I'm so happy to have you stop by. I'm almost certain that I can find a recipe your kids will like. The biggest turnoff (I'm guessing) is the bitterness of the pith in some marmalade. I'm on it!

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      13 months ago

      Hello Linda, hope you are having a great week. Do you have a tried and tested, authentic, out of the world marmalade recipe that kids will love? I know that's a lot of adjectives but I figured if anyone can provide this recipe, it's you. Thanks in advance.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Oh my Linda, cooking battles depression. You should see me (well maybe not) in my short drawers. Doing the short step while cooking away. The kitchen is not somewhere to do dishes anymore. It is party time in large part due to you. Gabe will concur. Too hot today, I am doing some Salsa Fresca.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I hope anyone reading your comment doesn't misconstrue that I have a set of recipes to battle depression. Love to you and Gabe.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Oh my goodness! Are we having fun? Thanks for reminding me of these greats. Irma and that great crazy man Galloping. Oh my. Mom would cajole me to hang out and watch episodes of these folks. Knee slapping and notes for the next day. Then as a 20+ she would set me on a stool and we would argue about how much spice.

      This article brought me more joy than an ancient man should have. I will set my boy on a stool tomorrow and go crazy with; I think maybe one of your depression recipes. I just looked over my shoulder to see if others were having so much fun.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Hello Cynthia, my dear friend to the north. I have written several articles about my times in Italy, a few are travel-ish but most are written from the foodie point of view.

      Hubs frowns on promoting in comments.

      I invite you to go to my homepage and look through my featured articles or, if you use email, you can contact me and I would be glad to share the links with you.

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      13 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada


      This was a very enjoyable article to read. It seems you and I had some parallel things going on in our lives. I was a big fan of the Galloping Gourmet at one point, or perhaps just watched him and knew him as popular. We have not had a TV for a few years and I sometimes wondered what had come of him. I loved Yan's show-- he was always so energetic. In Canada the show was called "Wok with Yan" and I loved to see how stuff just foamed up when he added it to his wok. And yes, I had a wok in those days. Thanks for bringing up the fond memories.

      You say that Ciao Italia turned you on to Italian food before you had traveled to Tuscany yourself. It would be interesting to me to read about how traveling to Tuscany impacted on your cooking. Tuscany is such a romantic concept ever since that other PBS show.

      All the best, Cynthia

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Doris, I think it would have been sad if he had continued with his uncontrolled lifestyle. I prefer to dwell on how close he and Treena became. After they healed from their injuries they took off two years with their two children to sail around the world.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      13 months ago from Beautiful South

      Linda, I am so glad you wrote this piece that brings back so many memories. I married the first time in the 1960s, and the Galloping Gourmet was my favorite cooking show in West Texas. I remember that Julia Child made an uncomplimentary remark about Graham Kerr, and I didn't like her after that. That was before cable channels, and when we moved back to Arkansas, we couldn't get him anymore. I didn't know the rest of his story. What a sad story. Thanks for the memories.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, thank you and I hope you have a wonderful week as well.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, thanks to your words I did an 11th-hour modification to this article and slipped in a video of Graham in action.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      13 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, this brought back memories. I remember watching The Frugal Gourmet and the Galloping Gormet when I was young. I wasn't old enough to have a family, but I watched them nevertheIess. My mom's a phenomenal cook. That's what drew me to cooking and wonderful flavors. I loved Graham Kerr and the "short slurp" that he'd take at commercial break.

      One of the first cookbooks my mom gave me is "The Joy of Cooking" by Irma Rombauer. It's still my go-to for certain recipes.

      This is an interesting post, Linda. I learned something more about you and things I didn't know about Graham Kerr. Thank you!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      13 months ago from Brazil

      Thanks for sharing this Linda, it has been many years since I've seen a clip of the Galloping Gourmet, but I remember enjoying it.

      I knew nothing of him, other than his time in front of the camera.

      I always enjoyed Julia Childs. I will check out the others you mention. A fascinating look into who inspired you, as you have inspired us.

      Have a wonderful week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, what you say is true. He was, shall we say, irascible? (Let's see how many people have to look that one up). Stay warm and dry my friend. I doubt I'll even venture out to get the mail at the end of the road. It can wait.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, thank you. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. A much different article will be posted tomorrow (or later today).

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, he truly followed the "in sickness and in health." Treena know that he loved her to the very end.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      John, I think Graham is proof that one really can change. He certainly is not the personality that he was years ago. Thanks for your kind words.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I lived a block away from Jeff Smith for awhile...and used to deliver wine to his shop in Old Town Tacoma....not the most pleasant of people in person. lol Great article this knowing origins of things.

      Get ready for the rain...more coming...oh joy!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      13 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This is an interesting article explaning the influences in your coooking life. I enjoyed it, Linda. Have a good week.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      13 months ago from USA

      I enjoyed reading what has inspired you. I find the story of Graham Kerr so sad. He’s making do though.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      13 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a delightful read, Linda. Thank you for sharing with usher your love of cooking originated and who inspired you, I remember Graham Kerr in particular. He was/is quite a larger than life personality.


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