Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #109
It's All Good!
A few times a month (I'm not counting) I receive an email from a high school classmates' website. You've probably seen the ads for them—a database that works like Facebook for your high school graduating class. Post photos, let everyone know what you've been up to, comment on each others' posts, brag about your kids (or grandkids), etc.
Of course, like just about anything else, all that information comes with a price tag. There are little hints as to what lurks inside, but I can't see the photos or post a comment because I'm not paying the subscription. Oh, they want me; they tantalize me with "What's Joe Smith been up to?" "Where did Karen Jones vacation?" "Who's Cathy Questionable-Morals married to now?"
Nope, I don't care (that much). I won't tell you how long it's been since I donned that cap and gown (because I know you're smart enough to do the math). But, truth be told, I just don't have that much in common with the kids from high school other than that we once sat next to each other in study hall or Trig III.
I did, however, find this quote from an old boyfriend rather interesting, not because of who he was, but for his perspective on how he faces each new day:
"Every day above ground is a good day, and every day vertical is a fantastic day. So when I walk into the bathroom in the morning, and see me looking back in the mirror I know that I made it through another night."
Can't argue with that logic. And, knowing that he's survived fractured limbs, broken ribs, and a triple bypass, he probably IS grateful to be upright and mobile.
And I'm grateful to begin this day with all of you. 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.
How to Get Really Good (Not Soggy) Toast
"Re toast, oh my goodness. I hate soggy toast. Is there a way to have warm morning toast that is crisp? I find if I use a toast rack to let the steam out, it doesn't stay warm."
Mary (Blond Logic), it seems that you and Eric Dierker are in two entirely different camps. He's all about the wealth of toppings and you just want perfectly buttery crisp toast that isn't cold. Oh dear!
Well, for the answer I went to my friend/food scientist Kenji of Serious Eats. He started out with a discourse on dehydration, and then riffed on the Maillard reaction, chemical reactions, aromatic compounds, and "textural contrast between crunchy exterior and moist center."
To really achieve great toast, you need to forgo the toaster. According to Kenji:
“For the very best toast, do it the way they do it in the very best diners: on a griddle or pan, in butter. Slowly frying bread in a buttered skillet will give you deeper, more even browning and less internal moisture loss because conduction (as opposed to dry heat convection, in a toaster) is such an effective means of heat transfer. It also builds that moist, buttery flavor right into the bread—sort of like a grilled cheese but without the cheese."
How to Use Papaya
"Papaya is plentiful and reasonably priced here. Other than just eating it as it is, do you have any recipes I can use it in. One papaya will last me 4 servings so it's getting a bit manky by the 4th day."
Mary (again, and thank you so much for the questions) I have a few suggestions for using up those papayas. If the ones you have are anything like what I've seen in my local supermarket, I can understand why it takes your four days to eat one—they're HUGE! So, instead of eating just out of hand you could:
- Use them in a facial: Papayas are chock full of vitamins and antioxidants and some people swear on their ability to cleanse, tighten, and brighten one's complexion. Here's a link to give you a dozen options.
- Make sherbet: Here's a recipe for a creamy sherbet made with fresh pineapple, papaya, and coconut milk (I know that, in Brazil) you have all three.
- Muffins: Papaya and banana get cozy together in these moist full-of-flavor muffins
- Smoothie: There are lots of papaya smoothie recipes on the internet, but I'm sharing this one because it includes turmeric. You know how good that is for you!
- Green papaya relish: When they aren't ripe yet.
- Salsa: Hot, sweet, tangy, yummy
Waffles vs. Pancakes
"Question: waffle or pancake? Which do you prefer and why? And you can toss in some history if you feel like it. Who dreamed up that funny looking waffle?"
Good morning Bill Holland. Waffle or pancakes? Honestly, neither one unless you're talking about potato pancakes (latkes) and then I could eat them until I pop. But that's another story for another day. Pancakes were once batter on a hot rock. Waffles were that same batter but "fancified," or so it seems. Here's a (very) brief history:
- In the beginning, coarse slurries of grain and water were “baked” on hot rocks.
- With the Iron Age (800 B.C.), tools and flat griddle-like plates came into being. Centuries later, (about 1,100 B.C.) the ancient but innovative Greeks were cooking grain wafers (which they called obleios) between two hot metal plates. By the Middle Ages (400 to 1,000 A.D.), those obleios had become so popular that smart salespeople (they called themselves obloyeurs) were selling them from street vending carts (I will take the high road and refrain from saying that these wafers were selling like hot cakes).
- However, wafers (or obleios) were not simply the food of the Greeks; what happens in Greece doesn’t stay in Greece. The rise of the Roman Empire, the increase of merchant trade routes, and probably even the spread of Christianity were all part of expanding the popularity of wafers throughout the Middle East and Europe.
- In Medieval Europe, communion wafers (eucharist) were commonly manufactured by nuns; they were used not only for the celebration of Mass but also as a “fasting food” since they contain no animal products (eggs, lard, milk, butter). However, members of the nobility had the ability to supplement the tastes and texture of these “humble” wafers with the inclusion of expensive flavorings such as sugar, spices, and orange blossom water (pleasure in self-denial?). By the 13th century, wafers were a common part of royal cuisine. But, these still were not “waffles.”
- Finally, in the 13th century, someone had the brilliant idea of embellishing the wafers by cooking them on patterned iron plates. This might have begun with the inscription of communion wafers (eucharist) with the cross of Christ. The most common secular pattern was the honeycomb of course. And guess what? The Dutch word for honeycomb is “wafel”. Finally, the waffle is born.
So, there you have it. And I'm off to make a batch of potato pancakes (latkes) for myself. You've made me hungry.
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