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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #59

Updated on November 18, 2018
Carb Diva profile image

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

Taking the Chill Off

As I write this there is a 19-pound turkey residing in my refrigerator. This is Day Number 4 of his respite from the frosty walls of the full-size freezer. On Tuesday evening Mr. Tom will find himself upside down in a roasting pan for a low and slow sacrifice for the Carb Diva family.

My modus operandi is that I cook the turkey the day before Thanksgiving which

  • Allows me a stress- and pressure-free roasting experience.
  • Frees up the oven for other duties on T-Day.
  • Gives me ample time to let the turkey rest so that those precious juices redistribute. (If you slice too soon you are guaranteed to have a dry turkey).
  • I can totally de-fat the pan drippings for gravy.
  • I have time to simmer the turkey carcass and make wonderful, flavorful, rich turkey stock which can be used in the main meal and stored in the freezer for future soups and stews.

Yum.

I'll try to remember to take a few photos for you.

But in the meantime, let's take a look at what popped into the mailbox this week.

Does Anyone Else Have Problems with Glass Cook-tops?

Linda, I have a question regarding cook-tops. I know you have one, as does my mom. I have an electric stove/oven with raised burners and have no trouble keeping my cookware in place while stirring, mixing, etc.

I recently spent a few days with my folks and made them my Best Damn Philly Cheesesteak (recipe posted on Delishibly). It requires a cast iron skillet. At least that's what I use when I make them. The skillet was sliding all over the cook-top while I was breaking apart the meat. My mom had to hold it in place for me while I worked my magic. She mentioned that she has special cookware made specifically for cook-tops. Although I don't have one, I've cooked at other people's houses who do. How do you keep your cookware from sliding all over the place? Because of this nuance (annoyance) I'm not a fan of the sleek, aesthetically pleasing cook-tops.

Any advice?

Shauna, last week I mentioned to you that I have a glass cooktop, but it also has grates because it is gas, not electric. So, it's the best and worst of both worlds. I'm sorry that I (unintentionally) mislead you on cooking in my kitchen. From my perspective, these are the ins and outs of cooktops:

Glass cooktop

  • Pros - easy to keep clean
  • Cons - scratch easily (especially with cast iron); may require special cookware

Cooktop with grates

  • Pros - can accommodate any type of cookware
  • Cons - grates can become greasy and difficult to clean

I'm not sure why your cast iron pan posed such a problem. I wonder if perhaps it is not perfectly flat? I read through some FAQ's on websites that pertain to smooth-top cooking surfaces and this comment caught my attention:

I also have some problems with my Calphalon anodized aluminum skillets, as these don't sit flat once heated, and tend to "spin" around on the burners much too easily.

I'm sorry that I can't be of more help. My younger daughter has a glass (but not induction) cooktop. The next time I have occasion to cook in her kitchen, I will take my cast iron Dutch oven with me and see if I have the same problem that you encountered.

(By the way, I just read your recipe and am dying for one of your sandwiches).

Do You Have a Non-Alcohol Eggnog Recipe?

With the holiday season fast approaching, do you have a non-alcoholic eggnog recipe? It is one of the things I miss about the festive season in the US.

Mary, I thought this would be an easy task, but . . . not so much.

  • Most homemade eggnog recipes include a bit of booze because the alcohol eliminates the worries of using raw eggs.
  • Unless you have a source for pasteurized eggs, a non-alcohol nog might pose problems for you.

So I finally found a recipe that uses no alcohol and begins with raw eggs, but they are tempered with hot milk and then simmered in a saucepan. Think of it is a thin custard. Here's the link from the blog LivingOnADime.

P.S. - After writing this, I received in the mail my final issue of Cooking Light magazine. One of their featured recipes was a vegan eggnog which sounds really yummy.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken and stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (such as Thai kitchen)
  • 6 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Place cashew milk, coconut milk, and dates in a blender; let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla bean paste and nutmeg to blender. Process on high until smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
  3. Pour mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer into a pitcher; discard solids. Chill at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

How to Present a Good Food Blog

There's one question I have for you. It's not exactly food related but about writing on food. Do you have any beginner's tips on how to write a good food blog? I plan to start a very niche recipe blog that will cater to a narrow audience. Not sure if I will do it on HP or somewhere else, but if you have any tips on how to make it most appealing so readers would return for future parts of the blog, would be great if you can share. If you want to take this offline instead of including in your next hub, please let me know and I can email you. Thanks in advance.

Rinita, first may I say that I am happy but humbled that you would ask me this question. I'm not sure that what I do here on Hub Pages can qualify as a "blog." The people of HP have done much of the heavy-lifting for me. They provide the design and the platform, they have a team of editors, and they embed the advertising. But you are asking more about content than structure.

So, how does one create a page that people will want to visit and revisit again and again? What works for me might not work for you because although we both love food, our tastes and experiences are probably as different as can be.

I'll present for you my thoughts on what works for me, and what I have seen on other blogs that impresses (and inspires) me, and what I have seen that I dislike. Here goes:

How You Say It

  • Give some strong thought about your unique "voice". What is your style? To come across as authentic, I believe that you should write much the same way that you speak with friends. Anything else will sound stuffy, pompous, or just simply bland.
  • I am somewhat quiet. I'm not the one who stands out in a crowd. I would rather stand back and listen. But, I'm not a wallflower. I am friendly and I want everyone who enters my home to feel welcome. That's how I approach my writing.
  • I write to you with the same voice that I use with my next door neighbor. However, I also have a rather dry wit. If you have read any of my food history articles, you will see a bit of biting humor, a pinch of sarcasm (my daughters call it snarky). Too much and you will come across as flippant or silly. It's a fine line. But, if this is who you are it will sound true.

Photographs

  • You have probably noticed that I do not include a lot of photographs in my writing. Although "one picture is worth a thousand words," ask yourself if you are a writer or a photographer.
  • A few really great photos are a necessary part of any writing on the internet but don't allow photos to be a crutch, to take the place of solid descriptions. In truth, when I read other blogs I become impatient when I have to scroll through photo, after photo, after photo.

Your "Niche"

  • You mentioned that your writing might be narrow in scope and/or enjoyed by a specific audience. Give some thought to your introduction, not just your author bio and introduction on the home page. Each time someone clicks on an article, it might be the first time that they have "found you." If you can, state your purpose in the first sentence (or two) of each post.

In 1995 Marjorie Druker was finally able to live a long-sought dream and opened the first "New England Soup Factory" in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was so successful that three years later she and her husband opened a second establishment in nearby Newton. Since then they have served thousands of customers and have been recognized in Restaurants & Institutions magazine, Nation's Restaurant News, Restaurant & Business magazine, and even Newsweek.

In 2007 she shared her passion, and her recipes, in the New England Soup Factory Cookbook. This recipe is from her book.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 12 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 medium summer squash, diced
  • 1/3 cup uncooked white rice
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ bunch fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, stock, tomato juice, chickpeas, kidney beans, and bay leaves.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the zucchini, summer squash, and rice. Return to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer an additional 25 minutes. Add the peas, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and cook until thoroughly heated. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

An Omega-3 Diet for Vegetarians

For two decades I have had problems with sleep disorder, anxiety, and depression. I recently switched general practitioners and am now seeing a naturopath. She has suggested that it might not be a coincidence that my mental problems began at about the same time that I changed my diet to vegetarian.

I am going to (reluctantly) try fish-oil supplements, but can you suggest any menu plans that would offer me the Omega-3 rich diet I need without eating fish or taking fish oil capsules?

fish oil capsules
fish oil capsules

There is research that confirms your naturopath's theory. In March 2016 a journal article by a team of Dutch scientists was published by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Their clinical studies concluded that depressive symptoms were improved by those who took fish oil supplements. The positive results were comparable to those of patients who took antidepressants. And, the most significant results were recognized in those who took fish-oil supplements in concert with antidepressants, in particular, supplements that contain high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The Netherlands researchers theorized that EPA could affect serotonin levels and serotonin receptors in the brain.

So, what does this mean in simple layman terms? We know that sleep disorders and emotional health are not character flaws or a weakness. They are physical ailments which stem from a chemical imbalance. Our bodies and brains need certain specific nutrients; when those are lacking or not at optimum levels, our brains and bodies suffer.

The good news is that there are numerous vegetarian foods that supply Omega-3's. But Omega-3's are a set of several types of fatty acids. The particular fatty acid that affects brain chemistry is EPA. The bad news is that EPA is found in fish only, not plant foods. The best food source of EPA is cold water fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and tuna. So, look for fish-oil caplets that are derived from those types of fish. It's also important to check the purity rating of the caplets (wild coldwater fish live in a polluted environment).

My administrative assistant, Miss Kitt,y has returned from her vacation and, as you can see, she is well rested and refreshed. She especially appreciated the question about fish-oil supplements.

If you have a question please write to me in the comments below, or email lindalum52@gmail.com. I hope you have a wonderful week. If you are celebrating Thanksgiving Day, may your turkey be moist and your mashed potatoes fluffy.


© 2018 Linda Lum

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      No Eric, I might inspire, but God is the source of all gifts. Blessings to you and your family this day and always.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Food abounds in our home. The Joy of Cooking it, reminds me with each dish to give Thanks to Linda.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Flourish for your kind words. You are a dear friend and are certainly one of the many blessings in my life. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with friends and family.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 weeks ago from USA

      Your answer regarding the food blog was so thorough and thoughtful. It had good points that could be extended to any type of series or blog. I liked your answer on the fish capsules. My mom takes them and cannot leave them sitting out on the counter because her cat bites into them. I can understand why Miss Kitty likes that question! Happy Thanksgiving, dear sweet Diva!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, another wonderful message from you. This is my lucky day. You say that I am methodical. For me it is self-preservation. I do not like disorder. Remember my article on mise en place? Time is a gift that is not to be wasted.

      Omega-3's are indeed a super food. There are so many sources there is no reason to not include them in your daily diet.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 weeks ago from london

      What beautiful advice to Rinita! I loved it! Omega 3's seem to help me a lot and they are anti-inflamatory amongst other essential benefits.

      Your turkey prep shows you as being extremely methodical. What a gift! Higher blessings.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Brian, that's a really interesting idea that I had not considered. Yes, if you remove starchy foods from a vegetarian diet, you're eliminating a protein source that so many rely on although I don't know where tofu fits in the scheme of things. I'll look into that and will perhaps add this tidbit to next week's episode where I will talk at length about the keto diet.

      Thank you so much for your comment. You always provide such helpful insight and thoughtful input.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      2 weeks ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      After reading in your article, Linda, about food and depression, out of curiosity I googled to see if depressed persons are helped by a keto diet. (My wife is enthused about hers, and I've been leaning that way.) Numerous articles do say that a keto diet reduces depression.

      One article examined a study that claimed to show that a high fat diet causes depression. Turns out the food fed to the high fat diet mice was even higher in sugar and other carbs than in fat compared with the low fat diet. It definitely was not a keto diet.

      A vegetarian keto diet is difficult but possible to achieve.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, that's a good idea. I will share my tip for reheating that turkey. Perhaps I should have Mr. Carb Diva guest post for an honest assessment.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 weeks ago from Brazil

      Thanks for answering my egg nog question. I'll give the first one a whirl. Interesting info about the fish oil, and Shauna's friend who did the cycling trip. I think I need to add more fish to my diet.

      Your soup sounds tasty but as you say, enough for an army.

      In your opening, when you will cook your turkey before the big day, how are you rewarming it without drying it out? That can be a question for next week if you like.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am not happy when the pan is not flat and even but now you gave me the explanation. I have to know my stove better.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Yes just kidding but I guy can dream - Can't he.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you are so funny (...you are kidding, right?)

      Hey, I'll tackle any and all questions regarding food. If I can write about liver (bleh!), roast guinea pig, or pig nipples, I can certainly take on your query about an intermediate fast. I had not heard of this and that's what I like about this gig so much. I research and we all learn together.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda as always - yummy in my tummy. I like all of these. I am a meat eater but like to do that vegetarian stuff.

      Linda I have been reading up on an intermediate fasting. The kind where you only eat during a 8 hour period of the day. As a cooking expert would you just do breakfast and dinner one day and mix it up?

      my question is about getting the most enjoyment per day in this fashion. maybe not a question for here

      I am driving 16 hours to get a taste of your Turkey so set a place!.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Wow, Shauna, if that isn't a testament to the importance of fish in our diets, I don't know what is. Thanks for sharing that story and I will pass it along. I hope you have a great week my friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Linda, first off, thanks for tackling my question and setting me straight about your cooktop.

      I'd like to make a comment about the Omega-3 question posed by a vegetarian. I have a dear friend who has been a vegetarian most of his life. One year he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle. In addition to mobility issues, his brain was affected. He couldn't remember things, short term or long term. He had trouble speaking, balance was affected and a whole slew of ailments that resulted from the accident.

      He read that fish is brain food, so he started eating fish. Today, he's completely back to normal and riding his bike again. In fact, this past September he rode from Maine to Florida on his bike. He's 76 and still going strong, all because he added fish to his vegetarian diet.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, your words mean a lot to me and I thank you. I hope you enjoy your turkey, and most of all, time with family and friends. Love to you and Bev.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, I always look forward to hearing from you as well. As you can imagine, the soup makes a HUGE batch so unless you are cooking for a regiment, you might want to halve the recipe.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita, thank you for your comments. I look forward to seeing your blog. And thank you for the link. I will share the information.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Great advice on the food blog...first rate as a matter of fact...but I would expect nothing less from a first rate writer.

      Wishing you a spectacular Thanksgiving filled with love, my friend.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      I always look forward to the Carb Diva Monday article. There were interesting questions and answers, plus I appreciate the soup recipe. It sounds delicious.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 weeks ago

      Thanks a ton Linda, for the detailed advice. Real helpful points that I can use. Appreciate you taking the time to note each point. I'll share my blog link when I complete it.

      The soup sounds delicious, but oh, too many ingredients!

      About omega 3s, yes, whoever asked the question, here's my recommendation: https://www.nordicnaturals.com/consumers/ultimate-... based on what I've been taking over the last 2 years, prescribed by my natural healthcare practioner. They use wildcaught fish, and their purity is 3rd party tested. I have benefited from it. I suggest my vegetarian friends to take it as medicine instead of food supplement, they say that has helped them with their conscience.

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