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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #97

Updated on August 11, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Writing

This past week the world said goodbye to a supremely talented human being. Chloe Anthony “Toni” Morrison died in New York City at the age of 88 after a brief illness. Toni grew up in Lorain, Ohio, the 2nd of four children in a working-class family. It was her parents who gave her a sense of pride in her African-American heritage through folktales and song. An avid reader, she was on the high school debate team, yearbook staff, and drama club. She enrolled in Howard University (Washington, D.C.) majoring in English. Upon graduation, she began her career as an editor for Random House, and then returned to Howard as a member of the faculty. It was there that she joined an informal group of writers and poets who met routinely to discuss their ongoing projects. Her short story, about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes became Ms. Morrison’s first novel. “The Bluest Eye” was published in 1970. For her fifth novel, “Beloved” she was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

You might be wondering why I am taking the time to tell you about Toni Morrison. On the surface, it would appear that she and I had absolutely nothing in common, and perhaps that is so, but she wrote so clearly, so movingly, and with such raw emotion. She spoke not just about being black or being enslaved but of the human condition. To my friends who are writers, may I share a few of her quotations with you:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

“Make up a story... For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul.”

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

“Something that is loved is never lost.”

“What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.”

“People say to write about what you know. I'm here to tell you, no one wants to read that, cos you don't know anything. So write about something you don't know. And don't be scared, ever.”

“I didn't plan on either children or writing. Once I realized that writing satisfied me in some enormous way, I had to make adjustments. The writing was always marginal in terms of time when the children were small. But it was major in terms of my head. I always thought that women could do a lot of things. All the women I knew did nine or ten things at one time. I always understood that women worked, they went to church, they managed their houses, they managed somebody else's houses, they raised their children, they raised somebody else's children, they taught. I wouldn't say it's not hard, but why wouldn't it be? All important things are hard.”

I'm Ready

Wow. After reading that, my words seem so inadequate. But, it's time to 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 Mary (Blond Logic).

Can Salami Be Frozen?

I bought some salami and since Ian is only eating small amounts, I have about 1/2 of a long salami left. Can I freeze that?

Source

Mary, salami can absolutely be frozen. If you have a large portion to freeze, first slice it into serving-size portions. You can then freeze them, separated by waxed or parchment paper, or place in individual freezer-safe bags or containers. You can keep it in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Cooking with Alcohol

"Linda, Sometimes a food thought gets stuck in my mind like a jingle. Sherry, Brandy, wine and even beer in cooking of course down here Mezcal or Tequila. And I remember lighting something on dishes.

Food for thought and Sherry is where my head is at.

But what is your favorite dish with one of these?"

Good morning Eric. Each of those is worth an article. Believe it or not, I keep a list of all of the "I need to write about this" ideas, and using spirits in cooking is one of them.

To answer your question, I favor using sherry or white wine because they typically go in a light dish that is quick to fix and just that "splash" is what's needed to add a pop of flavor. It works wonders in risotto. Beer and brandy make an appearance in the long-simmered braises. I've never experimented with tequila but I'd give it a shot (pun intended).

Here is a list of the dishes you might create with each of the beverages you mentioned. (When I write those articles, I'll go in-depth on the history of the spirits, how they are made, and give recipes):

Sherry

  • Asian chicken lettuce wraps
  • French onion soup
  • mushroom stroganoff

Brandy

  • mushroom-brandy sauce (for beef)
  • brandied ham
  • brandied cinnamon apples

Red wine

  • beef stew
  • red wine braised shortribs
  • coq au vin (red wine braised chicken)

White wine

  • steamed mussels with white wine
  • pan-seared cod in white wine tomato sauce
  • skillet creamy French mustard chicken

Beer

  • Irish beef stew
  • beer brats
  • porter beer brownies

Mezcal

  • poached salmon
  • ceviche
  • grilled mezcal chicken fajitas

Tequila

  • grilled tequila lime shrimp
  • grilled salmon with tequila lime butter
  • margarita chicken skewers

I will tackle these in no particular order unless I hear from you (or other readers) that you have a preference. Simply ask, I'm listening.

Re-Using Glass Jars

I've noticed that some spaghetti sauce jars look like canning jars. Can they be used for canning (assuming, of course) that I buy new rings and lids?

"No." Next question? OK, allow me to explain. You might be safe in re-using them, however (and I write that word in bold flashing letters with sirens blasting) there is a risk that the glass could break. Not all glass jars are thick enough to withstand the boiling water and pressure sealing required to can sauces, fruits, or vegetables.

But, that doesn't mean that you need to throw those jars away or recycle them. They can safely be used to store dry goods in your pantry or freezer jam.

Egg Shells in the Garbage Disposal

A few weeks ago I extolled the virtues of saving (clean) eggshells. They can be ground up and used in pet food and chicken feed, and sprinkled around tender garden plants to protect them from slugs and snails. Since eggshells have rough(ish) edges, it seems logical that they would be good for sharpening the blades of your garbage disposal. That's what some people propose.

However, plumbers will give you a different story. First, garbage disposals don't actually have blades. They operate by employing a series of toothed rings that rotate and shred. Nevertheless, look closely at the inside of an eggshell. You'll find a micro-thin membrane and this, unfortunately, clings to the cutters making them less effective. And then, there's what happens to the bits that don't cling to the disposer. They build up inside the pipes.

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.

I want to leave you with one last quote by Toni Morrison:

“Teaching is about taking things apart; writing is about putting things together.”

© 2019 Linda Lum

working

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