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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #108

Updated on October 27, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Where Do We Begin Today?

I have a dear friend here on Hub Pages. His name is Bill Holland (many of you know him as billybuc). If you follow him, you know why I adore him so. If by chance, you do not know who he is, I sincerely hope that after you read this article you will seek him out. Each Monday he posts "The Writer's Mailbag." I think he's up to #280, so he has a lot of miles on me (and I'll never catch up).

Bill is a well-respected multi-published author but nevertheless takes the time to share his instruction and guidance with us each week. He always introduces his Monday Mailbag with a bit of wisdom, insight, philosophy. Oh, how I wish that I could be Bill when I grow up! I want to share something profound with all of you to begin the week, but alas you're stuck with just little me.

So, Here We Are

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.

The first question is from Denise McGill (you know her as Paintdrips).

Do You Have Ideas on How to Use Chickpeas?

I have quite a few cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans. What can I do with them without just tossing them onto my salads or in soup? Is there a vegan recipe or two I use these up with? Just wondering what you may have in the archives.


Denise, I hope you won't mind, but I think this is such an important question that it's worth more than a brief answer here. I'm in the midst of writing an article on chickpeas. It will be published tomorrow.

Perfect Toast

Now Mrs. Diva, I am it a bit of a jam here and If I do not hurry I will be toast. Oh yes that is why I write here as time has put me in a pickle. So about this toast deal. I love my toast with all kinds of ecrutriments, What is the science/art around making perfect toast? That deal with a fried egg is marbaladish.


Eric, perfect toast? Well, there's a topic I haven't addressed. You have reminded me of Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days." Didn't Phinneas Fogg require that his toast be at a precise temperature?

There's nothing wrong with cold (or at least room temperature toast). In Italy it's called crostini—a small slice of bread toasted, adorned with sweet and/or savory toppings and served either warm or at room temperature.

I say, the more the better and you really can't do it wrong. The only limit is your imagination. I adore whole grain toast with hummus. My favorite breakfast toast topper is fat free cottage cheese with a swirl of basil pesto.

Remember a few weeks ago when you asked for the perfect sandwich? I think just about any of those ideas could be placed on top of a piece of toast. Want a few more suggestions?

1st Layer
Middle Layer
fresh diced tomatoes with onion, herbs
drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt
mashed avocado
minced chives
marscapone cheese
smoked salmon
marinara sauce
goat cheese
apricot jam
salted pistachios
feta cheese
kalamata olives
sauteed mushrooms
sliced strawberries
sea salt
apple slices
sauteed spinach
poached egg
cheddar cheese
green onions
tuna salad
diced tomato
chicken salad
dried cranberries
chopped walnuts
cranberry sauce
roast turkey

So you see, there's (almost) no wrong way of doing toast. Have fun with it. Just don't fall down the "Alice and the Rabbit Hole" I found myself in 35+ years ago when I had a crying infant and found myself smearing leftover baby food on a cold slice of white toast.


How to Use Gluten-Free Flour

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.


Denise, thanks for another great question. First, let me do a little Cooking 101 for the readers. Gluten is a protein; it's the "glue" that provides structure for our baking. Gluten puts the crust in crusty pizza, the crisp in crackers, and the flaky in pastry. Without it, the things that you bake simply won't hold together.

So, how do you use a sack of non-gluten flour? Here are a few suggestions for recipes that don't have to be adjusted:

  • Use gluten-free flour as the coating for fried foods
  • Thicken gravies and sauces
  • Make tempura batter

Non-gluten flours can be used in baking, but how to do that depends on the type of flour you have.

  • If your gift is labeled as "all-purpose gluten-free flour" then it can be used in place of regular all-purpose flour, at a ratio of 1:1.
  • Rice flour needs the addition of starch and "sticky stuff" to mimic the gluten that is missing. Mix this up and store in a canister for future use: For every 3 cups of rice flour add 2 cups of potato starch, 1 cup of tapioca flour, and 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum.
  • When baking cookies, sometimes all that needs to be done is doubling the amount of baking powder (not baking soda) used.

Here's a link that will provide more information. I hope these tips help you.

Kid-Friendly Marmalade Recipe

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.


Rinita, making marmalade is easy. But, as you know, making marmalade that kids will love is another thing. The biggest turnoff is bitterness. I found a recipe that takes the time to remove that bitter pith (the white part between the flesh of the orange and the rind). This orange marmalade recipe by Mon Petit Four is beautiful, full of vibrant orange flavor, and easy to make. It's slightly less firm than store-bought preserves because it doesn't rely on the addition of pectin and an overload of sugar.

I hope this helps.

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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