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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #119

Updated on January 12, 2020
Carb Diva profile image

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Everyone's An Expert

I love food blogs! There's something for everybody. Some of them are very basic, with a brief introduction and a simple recipe, reminding me very much of how I dipped my toe into the pond about a decade ago. Others are cleverly written, and some are studded with stunning photographs.

There is a cadre of about a dozen or so food blogs that I know I can rely on for well-tested recipes, but I'm always looking for new, imaginative sources. And I always read the comments. What a treasure trove!

But I've noticed a new trend in those comments. Where once they offered thumbs-ups for the concept, questions on technique, or praise for the finished dish, far too often they now seem to be written by snobby food elitists (who probably learned all they know from watching repeat episodes of Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef Junior). Everyone always has a "better idea" and instead of preparing the dish as written, they go into great detail to explain every item that they changed or substituted . . . and then complain that they didn't like the recipe.

That reminds me of a poem I saw many years ago.

OK, Let's Begin

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.

scrambled eggs
scrambled eggs | Source

How To Cook the Perfect Scrambled Egg

My first question came from an anonymous reader who left a question on my article about cooking eggs. He or she asked how to cook the perfect scrambled egg, and how much milk to use.

That's a great question, but there is no simple/easy answer. It’s almost like asking “Which is your favorite child?” Some people want the French-style of creamy eggs, some want a soft (but not custardy) egg and others want something firm and dry.

How much milk to add depends on how you want your eggs at the end of the story. Personally, I’m of the school that doesn’t introduce milk at all. The cooks at Bonappetit agree with my method. Here is how they do it.

But the cooks at Serious Eats recognize that there are different strokes for different folks. Here is a link to their recipes. Scroll down past the photo of the eggs and you will find links to “fluffy scrambled eggs,” “soft scrambled eggs,” and “French-style soft, spoonable.”

Why Does My Sandwich Bread Crack?

Rinita shared this question:

"I've been having a hard time properly cutting up sandwiches. Is there a specific knife or a particular technique that cuts sandwiches without breaking the bread? I'm talking about sandwiches made of thin bread slices with a lot of stuff in between the slices. I like to cut them up diagonally, but the bread always cracks. Any recommendation is appreciated."

Rinita, I think you get the award for stumping the Carb Diva. I'm honestly at a loss for what might be going wrong. My first thought was that you were using a flatbread, with a hard/firm exterior crust, but you assured me that it was simply sandwich bread. So, now I have fewer ideas. Very few. But here are a few thoughts:

  • If you are using homemade bread made with whole grains the problem might be that there is not enough gluten structure to hold the bread together. If that is the case, let me know, and I will help you improve the structure of your bread.
  • If you are using gluten-free bread, you will also encounter problems, again because of the lack of gluten which glues everything together. Let me know.

If your bread is not whole grain and/or gluten-free but is merely caving in when you cut the sandwich into sections, I can only suggest that you switch knives and technique. And maybe that is what you were asking all along.

  • First, use a bread knife (also known as a serrated knife).
  • Then, instead of pushing/slicing, place the knife on the bread where you want to make the first cut. Use your other hand to steady the bread (you will place the fingers of your non-dominant hand on one side, your thumb on the other side, and the back of the knife will be under your hand.)
  • Use a gentle sawing motion and a touch of patience.

I hope this helps.

White vs. Yellow Corn Meal

Shauna (Brave Warrior) asked me what type of cornmeal I use for my cornmeal (angel) biscuits. "Of course I use yellow." But, why?

Well, I think it's aesthetics. My family expects cornbread to be yellow but are they the same except that one is golden and the other is pasty Pacific NW pale like me? The owner of the local produce market tells me that in a blind taste test white corn on the cob was declared to be sweeter than yellow corn. Hmmm. I did some research (in other words poking around on the internet) and this is what I found.

  • Yellow cornmeal has a distinct flavor that is missing in white cornmeal (it tastes more "corny.")
  • White cornmeal has slightly less Vitamin A.

That's it. Really not much difference at all. Use whichever one you like or which one is more readily available in your area (I've heard that white is easier to find in the Southeast).

Best Measuring Cups and Spoons

Mary (Blond Logic) said:

"Can you suggest some measuring cups and spoons? I don't like the ones I have. They are white plastic with the numbers also in white. They are too difficult to see. I don't know what possessed me to buy them. They are also a pain to clean with all the little nooks and crannies."

Honestly, I'm having the same problem. All of my measuring utensils are old and worn; I find that on many of the spoons the label has worn off so I can't easily tell a 1/4 teaspoon from a 1/2 teaspoon. So I went on a shopping spree at Amazon and found two sets that fit the bill for both Mary and me:

  • They are sturdy
  • They are easy to read
  • They can be shipped overseas (Mary lives in Brazil)

So, which two are the winners?

The set above is made of heavy-duty stainless steel and, according to comments, will hold up to the rigors of a busy kitchen, even the work-a-day challenge of the Carb Diva.

This set matches the oil-rubbed bronze fixtures in my home. We live in a farmhouse tucked back into the forest. There is an expansive porch on the front, a warm fireplace in the living room, and a refurbished Carb Diva kitchen that is open to the family room. When I remodeled our kitchen about 10 years ago I chose the look of oil-rubbed bronze. I love the beauty, the warmth, and the escape from traditional/modern chrome fixtures.

I hope these recommendations help you, Mary. You mentioned that cleaning the "nooks and crannies" was a bother, but with utensils that are metal, perhaps that needed scrub won't be so difficult.

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: lindalum52@gmail.com.

And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.

© 2020 Linda Lum

Comments

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita, I'm happy to hear from you. I hope this helps.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 weeks ago

      Thanks Linda, that's exactly what I was asking, the technique and/or the knife. I think I use the right technique. So, it must be the knife. I'll change the knife and try.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, I have 4 inches of snow on the ground and more forecast for tonight/tomorrow (along with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour) so I'm not sure how "great" the week will be. But as long as a 100-foot tall Douglas fir doesn't crash down on my house, I guess I'll be OK.

      As for eggs, I too prefer my scramble more on the firm side, but I adore a runny egg yolk. Go figure.

      Thank you for the information on the speech by Roosevelt. I'll check into it, and you've reminded me I need to get back to TED talks on YouTube. I've been much too busy with a massive wedding gift.

      I'll work on a solution for you on the bread. My husband direly needs the same help (for bread, cheese, and just about anything that requires a vertical slice.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 weeks ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      I remember one time I was at my grandmothers and she made me runny scrambled eggs. I prefer them firmer (with milk). It's strange because I'll happily eat fried eggs with a runny yolk.

      Regarding bread that falls apart when cut, the same thing happens to me. I too prefer a diagonal cut and often end up with bits and pieces. While we are on the subject of bread, do you have any tips for cutting a slice off a loaf? I end up with something that looks like a wedge of cheese.

      Our cornmeal here in Brazil is yellow. It has a taste I remember from the States. I have creamy polenta (with milk and sugar), a few times a week for breakfast.

      I like the idea of those metal spoons and cups but understand the concerns of Miz Bejabbers.

      Regarding your opening. Oh my goodness, everyone's a critic. There are too many armchair "quarterbacks, cooks, carpenters etc". There is a brilliant speech by Teddy Roosevelt called "The Man in the Arena". The researcher Brene Brown mentions it in one of her TED talks.

      Have a great week up there.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Thanks John. I've used the same pic over and over--I'm trying to change it up this year. I know you're a kitty guy (just one of your many fine qualities).

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning MizB. Perhaps I should mail the rings from my measuring cups and spoons to you. I always remove them because having them bound together seems such a hassle to me. (What am I doing wrong?).

      I agree with you on the cornmeal (and I grew up in the south end of Tacoma, Washington).

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      All very good stuff, Linda. I always like the kitty pic at the end too.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 weeks ago from Beautiful South

      Linda, I get Mary’s frustration. I have the same with older worn measuring spoons. Back when the only spoons one could get were white plastic or soft aluminum, I frequently rubbed the numbers with red nail polish to get them to show up. I still do sometimes. Today we can buy some really nice embossed ones with numbers that show plainly. I love the looks of the Di Oro set you show in this article. My gripe though, is the rings or chains that hold them together (both the cups and the spoons) frequently break, and then the search goes on for something to replace the broken rings or chains. I use cheap key rings or key chains for those that aren’t too thick to take them. I have been known to use plastic tie wraps. LOL I’d rather do that than replace them every couple of months.

      BTW, I prefer yellow cornmeal, too. Just looks more southern for this southern gal.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 weeks ago from Central Florida

      I have to do the same. Text me when you're ready. No pressure, Sis.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh crap, now I have to clean hahaha. Yes, I'll do it.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 weeks ago from Central Florida

      May I suggest we email each other pictures of our kitchens?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, this is getting quite interesting. I too have a farmhouse goose-neck sink AND an under mount double granite composite sink. But I went for a more traditional look with composite countertops that look like Carrera marble. I must say, you have excellent taste!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Linda, I prefer soft scrambled eggs and I do add milk - whole milk. I also salt and pepper the eggs before scrambling. It was comforting to learn I'm not doing it wrong!

      Thanks for answering my cornmeal question. Personally, I keep yellow cornmeal on hand. The reason I posed the question with regard to your angel biscuits is due to texture and color. Yellow cornmeal is grainier that white. I also wondered about the color, as many chefs suggest using white pepper in light-colored dishes when you don't want the black specks to show.

      I also opted for rubbed-oil bronze when I remodeled my kitchen. I have a farmhouse goose-neck faucet that looks stunning against my under mount double sink, which is made of a granite composite. The sinks are matte black and offset the black spots in my earth tone based quartz countertops. Even the faucet in my bathroom and all interior door knobs are rubbed-oil bronze. I just love the tone. Very homey.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Kari, that's a great question. Masa harina and cornmeal are not the same. I'll delve into this next Monday.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 weeks ago from london

      I was intending to send my love to the cat. Forgot.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 weeks ago from london

      Why wait? I'm coming over. (Chuckle)

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      2 weeks ago from Ohio

      Linda, I don't think I have ever seen white corn meal. But pondering this makes me wonder what masa is made from. I think it is made of corn, but it doesn't taste like corn meal. I think the "5 Alarm Chili" package uses it to thicken the chili.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Bill. You are an expert in knowing what you like, and that's OK with me. Believe it or not we do NOT have any of that white stuff yet. It's teasing us.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, I don't cook eggs very often, but when I do they are sublime. Perhaps in Heaven I'll prepare one for you, OK?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      One thing I do not claim about food and that's being an expert. I'm about as novice as they come. Picky, yes, but expert, no way!

      Chilly and white this morning....stay warm my friend.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 weeks ago from london

      Good morning, my Dear.

      All great stuff. I'm glad you excluded the gluten-free because they do tend to break or crack-up, good knife or not.

      Now were you taking a dig at someone? I did like the poem though. Cool!

      Yes, this looks like a great scrambled egg. I think I see this only in special places. Most ordinary Cafe's do the 'looser' kind.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Flourish, I have no problem with altering recipes. I always say a recipe is a guideline, not the Ten Commandments. But, don't change what the author presented and then say it was lousy. You are right on all counts--amounts and timing matter.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 weeks ago from USA

      That poem was a real hoot and all too true. I often modify ingredients I know I won’t like or add more of ingredients I love and who knows how the recipe was supposed to taste. Cooking involves chemical reactions. The amounts you add matter. What you add matters. The order you add it can also matter. But some of us are more art than science.

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