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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #131

Updated on April 5, 2020
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Let's Lean on Each Other

He was the youngest of six children, the son of a West Virginia coal miner. William Harrison Withers, Jr. was born on Independence Day 1938 in the town of Slab Fork, population 200. At the age of 13, his father died from black lung disease; four years later William Jr. would enlist in the U.S. Navy. This was his golden ticket to escape the poverty of his birthplace and perhaps find a new life.

After nine years of service, William (Bill) knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. In 1967 he moved to the Los Angeles area. During the day he worked as a mechanic for an airplane manufacturer, but at night he wrote music and recorded demos and sang with a band. Five years later, the young man who had been an unknown won a Grammy for Best R&B Song, "Ain't No Sunshine." And that was just the beginning.

Bill Wither's discography includes 8 studio albums, 1 live album, 10 compilation albums, and 34 singles.

His single, "Lean on Me" was released in April 1972; it was his first and only number-one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100. It was ranked number 208 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

I think we need these words today.

Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show.

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on

If ever we need to lean on each other, it is now.

Withers died March 30, 2020, in Los Angeles.

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.

Can Fried Foods Be Healthy?

Question: is there any scenario where a deep-fried food would be good for you???

french fries
french fries | Source

Bill Holland, two weeks ago when you posed this question I thought you were kidding. Well, you brought it up again; obviously you're serious. Can fried foods be healthy? It depends. If you're speaking of the deep-fried Twinkies at the State Fair, I'd have to say "no." A steady daily diet of deep-fried anything would not be a wise choice. But once in a while, you can certainly indulge.

Fat isn't evil—in fact, we need a certain amount of fat in our diet. Of course, not all fats are created equal. Trans-fats (those lab-created oils) have been banned in the United States but coconut, avocado, and olive oil are all good choices for deep frying. I personally favor olive oil (because it's less expensive). You can re-use the oil several times as long as you strain out any solids before storing in the refrigerator.

The goal of frying is to quickly cook the exterior so that the oil is sealed out; meanwhile, the moisture inside cooks the interior (close your eyes and imagine crispy golden fries with a soft, creamy interior). A few rules from Carb Diva for healthy deep-fried foods:

  • So, use a thermometer so that you maintain the perfect temperature (350 to 375°F)
  • Skip the donuts or battered chicken. Go with plant-based foods such as potatoes, tempura vegetables, or falafel

Can deep-frying be healthy? Well, perhaps if it gets you to eat more veggies, it's almost a good thing.


Should You Clean Rice Before Cooking It?

"My rice had a stone in it; how common is this and should I wash or sift rice before cooking because that's sick and could crack my tooth."

Beener, this is not uncommon. Rice and beans are harvested by machines and are not washed before packaging. It's always best to measure out the amount you need for your recipe and then spread it out on a cloth for a thorough inspection. Then rinse with water and proceed. I'm glad you found it and didn't break a tooth.

When Brand Names Become Generic Names

"I was thinking this morning about everyday items we use that we still call by the brands we grew up with. For instance, the tissues you blow your nose with are called kleenex (at least that's what I call them). The powdery stuff you scrub a sink with is called Ajax, and that pesky plastic wrap is not-so-lovingly referred to as Saran wrap.

Funny, the things that pop into your mind when you have too much time to yourself, huh?"

Shauna, you've got too much time on your hands! There's actually a term for this—when a brand name or trademark becomes the name by which a product is known, this is genericization, generic trademark, or proprietary eponym. Let's see how many we can come up with (and they vary depending on which side of The Pond you live).

  • Allen wrench: the hex-shaped tool (you get one with every box of furniture from Ikea)
  • Aspirin: this was trademarked by the Bayer company
  • AstroTurf: artificial grass
  • Band-Aid: adhesive bandage
  • Bobcat:
  • Chapstick: lip balm
  • Clorox: bleach
  • Coke: a carbonated cola beverage
  • Crockpot: an electric slow cooker
  • Cuisinart: food processor
  • Dumpster: trademarked by the Dempster Brothers, it's a portmanteau of dump and their name
  • Formica: plastic laminate material
  • Jacuzzi: hot tub
  • Jell-O: gelatin dessert
  • Kleenex: facial tissues (you mentioned this one)
  • Post-It: sticky note
  • Q-tips: cotton swabs (cotton buds in the UK)
  • Scotch tape: clear adhesive tape
  • Sharpie: permanent marker
  • Styrofoam: polystyrene foam
  • Thermos: vacuum-insulated flask
  • Tylenol: acetaminophen
  • Tupperware: plastic storage containers
  • Vaseline: petroleum jelly (petrolatum to my UK friends)
  • Xerox: photocopier

Can you think of others?

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.

© 2020 Linda Lum


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