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

Updated on August 11, 2019
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Exploring 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

Comments

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Denise, thank you for confirming my advice about the egg shells. That seems to strike a chord with every plumber (or their offspring).

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      5 days ago from Fresno CA

      Great information. I loved the eggshells info. My father was a plumber and he would freak out if we tried certain things... like eggshells down the garbage disposal. That whole myth about "blades" being in a garbage disposal was perpetuated by horror movies. Thanks for sharing.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      So sorry to comment too much. But I was so touched by your account of Ms. Chloe Anthony “Toni” Morrison. I am sad I did not "know" her during her time with us walking around folk.

      Been researching her since. She reminds me to get back to what I do not know. It brought up the songs of "Amen" and "Oh Freedom". Thanks forever.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Let us rock into tomorrow. She deserves no less. The tomato I just ate had billybuc all over it. We are spreading the one topping I know well. Love.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you've brought me to tears. Even my husband of 38 years has never written poetry for me. I love doing this so much and I have made so many friends here. You are definitely at the top of the list. I hope all of your days ahead are filled with yellow sunshine and you continue to be surrounded with love.

      Thank you my dear friend.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 days ago from Washington State, USA

      MizBejabbers, I'm glad you stopped by for a visit. If your hubby doesn't believe you, tell him "Linda said it!"

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Lori, I have a disposal, but don't use it much. The dishwasher and I are best buds--I don't know what I'd do without it. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Sha - Questions come from the most interesting sources. Believe it or not, that one (regarding glass jars) came from Mr. Carb.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      7 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Now look over there. Really look over there. Because I am in love. I am love with a poet of food. She makes me lighten up and just go all happy.

      When there is a lack of feeling

      She knows with what I am dealing

      When I am not on the food train

      she brings me back and happy again

      I am often one very sick fellow

      But she turns a dark day yellow

      Missy Linda changes my mood into good

      And she does it with our favorite food

      I do declare that there have been days of despair

      And my wonderful Carb Diva has helped me back to care

      She is a grant of love through food

      She nothing less than a saviors hood

      Let us bow on one need to thank our Master

      But let us bow and pray another faster

      She has brought food into our home

      And in us we will never be alone

      Thanks Linda for the love you bring into our home

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      7 days ago from Beautiful South

      Linda, I'm sorry to say that I wasn't familiar with Toni Morrison until after her death. She really did have something to say to all of us.

      Glass jars: I had a coworker who discarded all her plastics and used her jars as containers for leftover food. An advantage to that is they don't take up as much space in the fridge as most bowls. I found this to be true. But I also found that with concrete and tile floors in my house, they don't last very long around our clumsy kitchen. LOL

      Good advice about the eggshells. We're on a septic system, and my hubby gets yelled at if he lets any pieces escape down the disposal.

      Good article today, Linda.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      7 days ago from Pacific Northwest

      I don't have a garbage disposal nor a dishwasher so I don't have to worry about such matters. I appreciate the tribute to Toni Morrison. RIP Toni.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      7 days ago from Central Florida

      Linda, I have always known egg shells are bad for the disposal for the very reasons your posted here.

      Nice intro about Toni Morrison. I read about her death in the paper. I've never read any of her work. I'll have to look into that.

      Great information on reusing glass jars. I don't can but I know many folks do. You may have saved a life (or an eye) with your warning!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 days ago from Washington State, USA

      You're welcome, Mary. I have found that many of the jars are compatible with the Ball canning lids and rings. That might solve your rusty lid problem.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      7 days ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for answering my question about the salami.

      I didn't realize that about those jars. I have reused some in the fridge but the tops seem to go rusty after a bit.

      Your intro was interesting, and like John, I recognized some of the quotes but didn't realize she had said them.

      Have a wonderful week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, this is gardening weather for sure. But it's also time to start working on Christmas gifts. What's a girl to do?

      I hope you have a great week my friend.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Pamela. I'll start working on those today.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning John. I am always looking for new inspiration and so with Eric's question and your encouragement, it looks like I have a fresh batch of topics. Stay tuned.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Eggs shells used as grit for chickens is very beneficiary to them. We never recycle ours thanks to the chickens. Grind them up first, of course.

      Lovin' the cooler weather, as I know you are. Have a stupendous week, Linda!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 days ago from Sunny Florida

      I loved hearing the history of Toni Morrison, it is so interesting. I have cooked just a bit with white wine, but not with any other spirits. You provided a good list for reference. Great Monday article as usual. Have a great week Linda.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      7 days ago from Queensland Australia

      Linda, thank you for sharing about “Toni” Morrison. What wonderful quotes, I even recognised a couple but didn’t know who said them. I am sure she will be greatly missed but has left a lasting legacy.

      Eric’s question about cooking with alcohol and your suggested recipes were very interesting too. I look forward to reading when you write more about this. Have a great week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish I will email you asap about the tomatoes and will have a chicken recipe here for you next Monday.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 days ago from USA

      Don’t put eggshells in the dish drain — got it. I loved that intro on Toni Morrison. She gives wonderful advice on writing. As for a question, my family loves pollo loco. Is there a recipe you can suggest so I can make it for them at home? Second question — What should I do with too many grape tomatoes? They are running out of my ears. Can I cook them and use them in a recipe?

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