Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #148
The Final Words of a Noble Man
John Lewis was an American politician and civil-rights leader. The son of Alabama sharecroppers, he attended segregated schools and was encouraged by his parents not to challenge the inequities of the Jim Crow South. As a teenager, however, he was inspired by the courageous defiance of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lewis was one of the "Big Six" leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington. In 1965, Lewis led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In an incident that became known as Bloody Sunday, state troopers and police then attacked the marchers, including Lewis. He fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.
Mr. Lewis served 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
On December 29, 2019, he announced to his colleagues that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.
"I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now."— John Lewis
On July 17, 2020, Mr. Lewis died at the age of 80 and was laid to rest on July 30. My friends in the United States are probably aware of these facts; I repeat them here for my readers in other parts of the world.
Former President George Bush eulogized Lewis with these words:
"John Lewis always looked outward, not inward. He always thought of others. He always believed in preaching the gospel, in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope. John Lewis believed in the Lord. He believed in humanity, and he believed in America."
Mr. Lewis' final act was this essay that he wrote shortly before his death; he asked that it be published on the day of his funeral. It was published by the New York Times.
I know that you are here to learn about food and cooking, but you, my friends, you who visit my kitchen every Monday, know that this is a place of love and acceptance. The words of John Lewis are important for all of us, and that is why I have shared them with you today.
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 Use Up All Those Eggs
"How about some egg recipes out of the norm? We have just acquired chickens and we have a lot of eggs. I don't want to give away too many but they accumulate as our lovely ladies produce really well! Basic omelets, scrambled eggs, and boiled eggs, egg-fried rice are dishes we have fairly often—any ideas for something else?"
Ann, my first thought was "what about homemade noodles?" As the Carb Diva, you know that I love pasta. Sure, I purchase spaghetti and macaroni, penne and rotini, but I make my own lasagne noodles, ravioli, and noodles for soup and casseroles. Here's my go-to recipe for egg noodles.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I don't have advice on where gluten-free flour will work)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (not Kosher)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Place flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in another bowl (I use a large mixing cup for liquid measurements). Pour the wet mixture into the flour and stir with a fork until flour is completely moistened.
- Scoop the dough onto a sheet of food wrap (plastic wrap); cover and set aside for 30 minutes. This will allow the flour to hydrate and the gluten strands to relax. Relaxed gluten is easier to roll out.
- Dust your work surface with flour. Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into strips about 1/4-inch wide. I like to use a pizza cutter for this—easy peasy.
- Allow to dry for about an hour (or two).
- Cook in boiling salted water for about 5-8 minutes (start testing at 5 minutes). Stir occasionally to keep noodles from sticking together.
You can freeze your noodles (freeze before cooking). Allow to dry completely overnight.
Here are two more recipes to try out:
- This recipe tastes just like the soup at your local Chinese restaurant; who knew it could be so easy to make? This uses 3 eggs.
- This is a huge casserole; it makes 12 servings (unless, of course, you're feeding teenage boys). It uses up one dozen eggs.
If all else fails and you need to salvage those eggs, it's possible to freeze them. I hope you have an ice cube tray; that's the perfect way to freeze eggs. Crack one into each cup, freeze, and then store in a freezer-safe container. You can also freeze yolks or whites separately; that comes in handy if you are making a recipe that requires just yolks or just whites. If you're like me you simply can't bear to toss the other halves away. This link from MOMables tells you egg-xactly how to do it.
How To Freeze Berries and Vegetables
"How about a quick review on freezing berries and blanching veggies? Inquiring minds want to know."
Bill, I'm glad you asked. It seems this will be a bumper crop year for berries; the raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are weighing down the branches and even the wild salmonberries and blackberries are bursting out everywhere.
To preserve your berries, first place them in a colander and rinse with cool water. Place on paper towels to dry them, then in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Put in the freezer and freeze until firm. (Line the pan with parchment paper and it will be easier to remove the berries). When hardened, they can be placed in freezer bags or plastic containers labeled with the date. Frozen berries will last for about three months.
Blanching is the process of scalding vegetables before storing them in the freezer. It might sound like a fussy, needless step, but trust me, it's really important. That hot water process (boiling or steaming) stops the enzyme action that continues even after produce has been harvested. If you don't halt the action, your food will continue to "mature" and eventually spoil, yes, even in the freezer.
Blanching also cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. But as in most things, timing is everything. If you don't blanch enough that enzyme action will continue; but blanch too much and you'll lose texture, color, and vitamins.
Wouldn't you know—there is no "one size fits all" in the world of blanching veggies. Each type has different requirements. But, don't worry. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a chart and instructions to thoroughly explain blanching, shocking (quickly cooling to stop the heat), and packaging here.
How Long Will Fresh Ground Beef Last?
Here's another one from Bill:
"I usually buy ground beef on Sundays, then put it in the fridge, and cook it up when I think about it. Stop laughing now, please. I'm wondering how long it can sit in the fridge before it goes bad? So far three days has been fine, but I don't know how long I can push my luck."
Bill, you're scaring me. Have you forgotten those Health and Hygiene classes in the 1960s that told us the dangers of food poisoning? I recall one on the topic of salmonella that showed more vomiting than the pie-eating contest in "Stand By Me."
Two days—that's really the absolute limit. Anything longer than that and you're dancing with the devil. My HomeEc teacher Mrs. Halsey was very strict about this, and the USDA backs her up (they wouldn't dare cross Mrs. Halsey).
- Refrigerate or freeze ground beef as soon as possible after purchase. This preserves freshness and slows the growth of bacteria.
- If refrigerated, keep at 40 °F or below and use within 1 or 2 days.
- For longer freezer storage, wrap in heavy-duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer paper, or plastic bags made for freezing. Ground beef is safe indefinitely if kept frozen, but will lose quality over time. It is best if used within 4 months. Mark your packages with the date they were placed in the freezer so you can keep track of storage times.
- The best way to safely thaw ground beef is in the refrigerator. Keeping meat cold while it is defrosting is essential to prevent the growth of bacteria. Cook or refreeze within 1 or 2 days.
- Never leave ground beef or any perishable food out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour at 90 °F and above).
- The bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the "Danger Zone," the temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 and 60 °C)?
- To destroy harmful bacteria, cook ground beef to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
Fats vs. Sugar and Their Effect On Our Bodies
"Here's a question/topic for you: yesterday I was watching Symon's Dinners. He made the comment that it's not fats we need to avoid (the right fats are necessary to our body's performance), it's sugar. Can you expound on that?"
Shauna, I'm a Michael Symon fan but hadn't heard of this show. So, when I started researching it I found the reason behind Michael's passionate thoughts about sugar in our diet.
Michael Symon is an American chef and restaurateur. He received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America. In his 30-year (and counting) career he has owned and operated numerous restaurants; at this moment he has Lola, Lolita, Mabel's BBQ, and BSpot in Cleveland. He's an Iron Chef, the author of six cookbooks, a popular and prolific television personality. And, he has rheumatoid arthritis.
He suspected that the foods he was eating (and not eating) could be the cause of the inflammation plaguing his body. So Michael committed to a food "reset" (no red meat, white flour, dairy, alcohol, or sugar) and discovered dramatic results. Once he removed the trigger foods from his diet, the inflammation vanished.
Michael's most recent book "Fix it With Food" talks about his food journey, and provides 125 recipes that are satisfying without aggravating inflammatory conditions.
And, Michael is correct about fat—we actually need fat in our diets for our bodies to operate at their peak, but the type of fat is the key. Bad fats raise your cholesterol levels, clog your arteries, and can lead to diabetes. Good fats (you've heard of Omega-3's, right?) protect our heart, fight fatigue, and help you control your weight.
I wrote on this subject 4 years ago. Click here for my article "A Healthy Guide to Fats in Your Diet: The Good, Bad & the Ugly."
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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Linda Lum