ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #99

Updated on August 25, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

Think what a better world it would be if we all–the whole world–had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.

— Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Let's Get (Just a Little Bit) Excited

Today we begin with that quote because, in my little corner of the world, a new school year has begun. The excitement is almost tangible. Do you remember? You were happy and sad and excited and nervous—just a bundle of emotions up and down.

You were happy to be seeing old classmates once again and making new friends. Where would your classroom be, and what subjects would you have? Did you already know your teacher?

All of your senses were stimulated—the sight of new displays on the bulletin boards, the feel of new textbooks, the sound of excited chatter in the hallways, the smell of a new box of crayons.

Is there anything about today that is even one-tenth that exciting? No, not even close, and why is that? More often than not, being an adult just isn't fun. We plod through the days, day after predictable day, doing the same thing, seeing the same people, driving the same route to work each day, drinking from the same coffee cup, and on and on and on.

I'm determined, just for a few minutes (depending on how many words per minute you read) to put just a smidgen of "something new" in your day.

Ta Da!

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.

Is There Meat in Mincemeat?

"I never tried my hand at a traditional English minced meat pie, so I looked up the recipe. Call me dumb, but I didn't know till now that there is actually no meat in minced meat pie! I was looking forward to adding some meat, though. Is there a recipe where that's possible? Also, how different would it taste if I used any animal fat instead of sticking to suet (it is not widely available where I live.) Thanks a bunch!"


Rinita, actually long ago mincemeat did include meat. The first recipe in print was on a scroll. In 1390 "A Forme of Cury" instructed the home cook to make "tartes of flesh" by combining ground pork, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, spices, saffron, and sugar. (Sounds dreadful, doesn't it?)

The recipe in Markham's "The English Huswife" (1615) included " entire leg of mutton, three pounds of suet, salt, cloves, mace, currants, raisins, prunes, dates, and orange peel."

There is no mention made in either of those recipes of alcohol, but at some point in time, these meaty treats were associated with the Christmas holiday and became slightly boozy. During Prohibition in the 1920's the amount of alcohol in canned mincemeat filling went up to more than 14 percent. Merry Christmas indeed.

Most recipes today use dried fruits only but if you want to be authentic, you'll want to include minced beef and suet along with dried fruits. Food-grade suet is difficult to find, so I looked for a recipe that doesn't rely on solid beef fat as one of the ingredients. This old-fashioned mincemeat by Lori Elliott is a perfect balance of dried fruits, apple cider vinegar, and warm ground spices. She uses butter or coconut oil in place of the suet.

Soggy Cookies

"This week I bought some oat-type cookies and when we opened the pack they were soft (normally these are crisp). Is there a way to make them crispy again?"


Mary (Blond Logic) since you live in a humid climate, I'm not surprised that you have a problem with crisp things going limp. They just grab onto that damp air and soak up the moisture like a sponge. The best way I know of re-crisping is to use your oven. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet, set the cookies on top of the rack, and heat for a few minutes in a 300°F oven. Storing the cookies in a sealed container with a slice of bread should also help keep them staying crisp.

Can I Make My Own Buttermilk?

"I want to make homemade buttermilk. Is that crazy?"

Eric, that's not crazy at all. If you are using it for baking, a substitute is to add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to every 1 cup of whole milk. But you wouldn't want to drink that and I'm assuming that is what you want.

Yes, you can make your own buttermilk; it might be a little expensive, but I'm certain that the end result will taste amazing. Buttermilk is the byproduct of making butter, and here's how to do it.

  • If you want a small amount (just a serving or two) pour some heavy cream into a jar with a screw-on lid. (A canning jar would be great for this). Shake like crazy. At first, it will just thicken (whipped cream?) and you'll be ready to give up. But be patient and eventually, it will "break" leaving you with solid butter and buttermilk.
  • If you want a larger quantity, place the heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until it forms whipped cream, and then beat some more. Eventually, it will separate (as described above) into butter and buttermilk.
  • Don't throw that butter away! Rinse it with cold water (to get rid of any lingering buttermilk) and then add a pinch of salt.
  • Use the fresh buttermilk and butter in a few days—with no preservatives, it will spoil quickly, but it will taste so good that perhaps leftovers will not be a problem. Make sure to have on hand a loaf of really good-quality bread, or some hot-from-the-oven scones. You'll be in Heaven.

vegan sushi
vegan sushi | Source

More Vegan Options

In episode #96 of this series, I provided Denise McGill (Paintdrips) some vegan recipes. I recently stumbled upon an article on the Serious Eats website that can provide Denise and all of my vegan friends with additional ideas for adding umami flavor to your meals without using animal products—seaweed. No, not the slimy stuff that washes up on the beach. I'm referring to nori (the sushi wrap) and kombu (dashi), for example.

A link to the Serious Eats seaweed primer is here.

I received "a little help from my friends" (thanks for the line Ringo) this week. Eric Dierker asked, "are onion skins bad for disposals too?"

Onion skins

He asks this question because for the past several weeks I have been writing about things that you should not do in your kitchen. I scolded about eggshells (don't put them in your garbage disposal), and so he wondered about onions as well.

Eric, your instincts are correct, although the papery skins are actually not the culprit; what lies just beneath is the problem. There is a thin membrane which can adhere to the inside of your drain pipe. When enough of those add up you'll have a blockage and, as (I hope) you know, Drano and other caustic drain cleaners are a no-no in the garbage disposal. So, clogs usually mean an expensive housecall by your friendly plumber person.

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.

© 2019 Linda Lum


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)