Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #117
The Halls Are Still Decked
As write this article the skirt under our "main" Christmas tree is bare. The few packages that rested there for several weeks have been opened and distributed and treasured.
The Christ child was the star of the show, and in second place was the love in our home. But would it be sacrilege for me to say that third billing went to the roast turkey? It was magnificent if I do say so myself (along with the garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, winter squash casserole, green bean casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts, cornmeal angel biscuits, cranberry sauce, and that beautiful pear/ginger cake baked by my younger daughter).
Life is good. Love abounds. And the diet begins in a week.
Are You Ready?
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 comes from Denise (Paintdrips) who says . . .
Thoughts About Homemade Vegetarian Bouillon
I've been looking at homemade vegetable bouillons and some call for them to just be mixed in a food processor with lots of salt and then kept in the freezer while others suggest drying all the ingredients in the oven for 4 hours and then grinding them to powder. Do you think the dried version looses any nutrients? Is one better than the other? I know I could buy vegan bouillon but I would rather know what's in it for myself. Thanks.
Denise, I'm a big believer in make your own, start from scratch, home cooking but honestly had never considered making my own bouillon. You are my inspiration!
OK, so I really took to heart your question about the pros and cons of preparing a dried shelf-stable powder vs. a fresh concoction stabilized by salt and stored in the freezer. I'll give the links for each, provide a brief review, and then give my recommendations.
This recipe was created by Elena (Easy As Apple Pie blog). She didn't like the thought of caramel color, fats, preservatives, and MSG in her bouillon powder, so she found a way to make her own. It's a lengthy process, taking almost 4 hours, but much of that time is the vegetables roasting in the oven. The ratio of vegetables to salt needs to be precise, so having a food scale is a must for this recipe.
The recipe for this soup started is from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook" by Pam Corbin. I would recommend a food scale for this recipe too. It creates a vegetable paste that is stored in a sealed container in the freezer. The high concentration of salt prevents it from freezing solid. You can remove exactly what you need and return the remainder to the freezer.
OK, so here are my thoughts. The dried powder should be shelf-stable for up to 3 months because the salt acts as a preservative. The paste stored in the freezer is spoonable, again because of the presence of salt. My personal preference would be to make the paste and omit the salt entirely. I would measure out teaspoon-sized "plops" onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and freeze them until firm. Then I'd store those little teaspoon-sized gems in the freezer.
Are Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil the Same?
Is there really a difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil or is the EVO just label a way to get us to pay more?
This isn’t just a slick marketing scheme; there truly is a difference between extra virgin, virgin, and just mere olive oil. The quality of olive oil is based on its color and flavor. Some of the world’s finest olive oils come from Tuscany where olives have been cultivated since the 7th century B.C. The cool climate allows olive to ripen and mature more slowly, creating more aromatic and intensely-flavored olive oils.
When olives are 6 to 8 months old they are at their peak of maturity and have the maximum amount of oil in the pulp (up to 30 percent). They are washed, crushed pit and all ground into a paste.
The paste is pressed to extract the oil. This first pressing releases a green-gold aromatic oil. This is the extra virgin oil, the best of the best. Consider the difference between bottled orange juice and juice that was squeezed just one minute ago. The paste is then heated and pressed again. This second pressing releases more oil, but of lesser quality—virgin olive oil.
The grading of olive oil isn’t subjective--olive oil production is regulated and to garner the label “extra virgin” or “virgin” the oil must pass specific standards for amounts of fatty acids.
Extra virgin olive oil isn’t for cooking—this is the expensive stuff and needs to be used where the flavor and richness will shine through. Toss it with hot pasta, swirl into soup, or use as a dip for Tuscan bread. Virgin olive oil is a good choice for sautéing.
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