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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, and Cooking, #58

Updated on February 2, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

One Century Ago

One hundred years ago, in the Forest of Compiegne, France there was a railroad car owned by Marshal Ferdinand Foch. At that place, an armistice was signed to temporarily cease the hostilities of The Great War. The armistice went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. November 11th, 1918 at 11 a.m. is the original recognition of the end of "The Great War".

The Great War. The war to end all wars.

It was known as that until the war we would name World War II.

Since then, there are been almost countless conflicts on almost every continent (Antarctica is still conflict-free). However, today we are not counting the number of wars, but reflect on the number of men and women who have sacrificed family, life, and limb to preserve freedom and safety for us all.

My husband served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam war. I have great nephews who serve now in the National Guard and in the Amy special ops. I admire them. I thank them. And, I love them.

Let's Talk About the Mailbox

Thank you for allowing me to share my feelings about this holiday. However, I know that you are actually here to talk about food, cooking, baking, and everything "kitchen." Let's take a look at what came into the mailbox this past week.

How to Find a Good Can Opener

I don't eat a lot of canned foods, mainly because a lot of food doesn't come in cans here, but I'd like your advice on a can opener. This past week I was opening a can and still had a connection in two places. I resorted to using a knife to wedge it open enough to extract the contents.

I have two can openers that I just hate. I never can figure out if it is the old type that cuts inside the rim or cuts below the rim on the outside. Also, some of the can's rims seem too short to get the can opener to bite into.

Is this the first sign of senility or have can manufactures been scrimping to save money?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source

Why do can openers skip? And why, oh why, do they skip twice, those flinty little bits of the lid holding onto the rim are equidistant, waving at one another, and preventing you from opening the can unless you apply brute force?

I don't know. I even asked my Mr. Carb Diva (aka Mr. Science) and all he could offer was a mere shrug of the shoulders and a slightly comforting "I understand your pain" eye roll.

Mary, I could probably write an entire article about can openers. With my arthritis, this is a big issue in my house and an ongoing challenge. Above there are two photos. I'm going to make a wild guess that the first one is similar to the beast you were wrestling with a few weeks ago. The second one is my constant companion in the kitchen. It was a gift from my younger daughter and has never let me down. I lovingly refer to it as my little slug. (Somehow the shape makes me think of a garden slug, not escargot). It is battery operated, starts and stops with the push of a button, and removes the top of the can, eliminating those dangerous sharp edges.

Look online; there are many manufacturers who produce a similar looking product. I don't know if the one that I have is superior to the others. I think what is most important is the design concept. I hope this helps.

Simple, Easy Lasagna Recipe

I need the simplest recipe for lasagna you can find....simple enough for me to not ruin it.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
5-ingredient lasagnaravioli lasagna
5-ingredient lasagna
5-ingredient lasagna | Source
ravioli lasagna
ravioli lasagna | Source

Oh Billybuc, you can do this. I have complete confidence in you, and I have two choices for you. The first recipe is from the blog SincerelyJean. Her recipe uses only five (yes, just 5!) ingredients. Essentially, if you can boil water and cook ground beef, you can do this.

The second recipe is so ridiculously easy and innovative, I'm having a big "why didn't I think of that" moment. What is ravioli other than layers of pasta and ricotta cheese? And that, my friend, is exactly what lasagna is as well. The creators of Taste of Home magazine presented the idea on their website. I have edited the instructions to make them more understandable.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 package (25 ounces) frozen sausage or cheese ravioli
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
  2. In a greased 2-1/2-quart baking dish (a 9-inch square baking dish is about this size), layer a third of the spaghetti sauce, half of the ravioli (yes, you can use it frozen), half of the cooked ground beef, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Note: the photo of this dish has a rather "rustic" look. Personally, I would take a few more minutes to carefully line up the ravioli on top of the sauce in one even layer.
  3. Ladle in 1/2 of the remaining sauce, the remainder of the ravioli, the remainder of the cooked ground beef and another 1/2 cup of the cheese.
  4. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 400° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through.

Source

I wish that I could share with you the origin of this recipe. It has been in my recipe card file for decades. I know that I tweaked it a bit from the original but no longer remember the source or what I (specifically) did to alter it. I can tell you that russet potatoes are not an option. They really are mandatory to make this recipe "work." Red or white (waxy) potatoes and/or Yukon gold potatoes are too firm. They hold their shape which, in this soup, is not a good thing. The beauty of russet (Idaho) potatoes is that they fall apart, creating a thickener for the base of the soup and serving to create a creamy base for the beefy chunks.

Use whatever type of noodles you wish. And, if you prefer a thicker soup (as the Carb Diva family does), you can amp up the amount of noodles to 1 cup.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 pounds of beef for stew, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ pound russet potatoes, pared and grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (Sweet Hungarian or smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ¾ pound russet potatoes, pared and diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup noodles (or more—see above), cooked according to package directions

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat; add about 1/3 of the beef to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until browned on all sides. Remove from pan and repeat with remaining beef. It is important to not crowd the pan. If the pieces of beef are too close together they will not brown properly—instead, they will simply steam. Add more oil to the pan as needed.
  2. To the same pan stir in the onions and cook until onions begin to brown. Return browned beef chunks to the pan. Stir in remaining ingredients except for diced potatoes and noodles. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and cover. Simmer 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Note that the grated potatoes will fall apart--they are intended to thicken the soup.
  3. Stir in diced potatoes and noodles and continue to cook until potatoes and noodles are cooked through.

Still on Vacation

Miss Kitty is still enjoying her vacation on the beach. This photo is from the western coast of Italy, in the town of Vernaza in the Cinque Terra. I've been there and wish that I could join her now.

But, I would miss hearing from all of you. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. You can also write to me at lindalum52@gmail.com, or contact me via by blog or Facebook (my contact information is on my profile page).

Have a great week! See you next Monday.

© 2018 Linda Lum

Comments

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Audrey, I want to give your question the attention (and room) that it deserves, so will dedicate most of Q&A #60 to your question.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      11 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks, I haven't really looked at the batteries. I should do that because I enjoyed using it.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, the one that I have has removable batteries. I hope you can find a replacement; I couldn't function without mine. Love to you.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      11 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the recommendation on can openers. I use your slug, too, after my sister-in-law told me about it. The battery is gone so I am looking at fixing it or replacing it. I enjoyed using it, too.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      11 months ago from london

      Lol. You chucked in a poetic ending too. Ha ha.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, if I had to resort to your hammer and knife method I would surely starve LOL. I would like to see your poem, although not your usual style I hope you will share it with us.

      Our weather is quite chilly, with temps dipping near freezing at night, but the sunsets are outstanding.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      11 months ago from london

      You guys have my sympathy about the can opener thing. I don't think I have bought one in years! I started life at work as a clerk at 15 and still use an old method we had then. I hammer a sharp knife into the can and then use it as a can opener to work my way around. Easy for me, but don't try this.

      We had our usual one or is to two minutes of silence at our Centre re your opening intro. I was even asked to write a poem on war and conflict, perhaps I'll put it up soon. Not my style, but the message or Light is still there.

      We had some beautiful weather earlier today and the sun was strikingly beautiful! Hope you are well and that life is good. Peace.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh Flourish you have brought back memories. My girls and I always did a gingerbread house in the years B.C. (before cats). Now there is no safe place to hide a house where our little monster will not get at it. I will resurrect those old recipes and get back to you. What a great and timely idea. Thank you so much.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Audrey, thank you for bringing me up to speed. Depending on how much information I am able to pull together I will either post here next Monday or turn it into a stand-alone article. Stay tuned.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      11 months ago from USA

      I’d love to see Bill report out his success with that easy lasagna. Miss Kitty must be enjoying her time away. Hope she returns soon? With Christmas approaching you have a good recipe for gingerbread that could be used for building a gingerbread house? And perhaps some icing that can actually glue it together so it’ll stick? I always have to hot glue mine!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      11 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Linda

      Ketogenic diet is very popular right now. It's very low carb, organic ingredients, lots of fat and vegetables. No sugar at all and only stevia to sweeten recipes. If you google "Keto Diet or Dr. Berg" you'll bring up a huge list. Folks are constantly searching for recipes for this diet so I thought it would go over big on HP. Thanks.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Audrey, I hope you will forgive my denseness, but I will need to go back to the internet to refresh my memory on what a Keto diet is. That done, I will certainly do my best to help you to find some good recipes. If you could send me another comment to help focus on what types of foods, ethnic flavors, etc. are your favorite that would be great.

      Thank you for your kind words and support. It means so much to me!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      11 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      For me, an electric can opener is the only way to go. But I do keep a regular opener like the one you have pictured above just in case the power goes out - which it does often here in the mountains.

      I was wondering. I'm on the keto diet and would really love a recipe or two that is keto friendly. Any chance you could feature one in an upcoming hub?

      Thanks so much, Linda. I so enjoy your articles.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mr. Ronzoni is probably a millionaire several times over. Although it's not the way an Italian grandma would have done it, I can certainly see the benefits. I think the "cooking of the pasta" step is the big hang-up for most people.

      Thanks for a wonderful suggestion. I hope Billybuc will heed your advice.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, the noodles I use aren't pre-cooked and there's no need to cut. They are the perfect size. They don't have the curly edges, but are a hard noodle (as all boxed noodles are) that you simply place on top of your layers. The oven does the rest. No need to dirty up another pot or peel apart stuck-together noodles. They're awesome and you'd never know the difference. Whoever came up with the idea (Ronzoni) is a genius!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      11 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I also have a problem with can openers and will sure look for the one you pictured. Thanks for th easy to make recipes.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, I have used the pre-cooked noodles, but quite often I build individual stacks (no cutting needed and portion control). I find that if you put the noodles in boiling water, turn off the heat, and let them sit for about 5 minutes they come out as though they are fresh. You do need to stir them a few times so that they don't stick together.

      I'll bet your lasagna is wonderful!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

      I love lasagna, Linda. I make my sauce from scratch before building the cassarole. I'm not a fan of meat sauce. I saute Italian sausage and let it cook in the sauce, then remove it before building the lasagna. The sauce is very flavorful and anyone who wants meat can have it on the side. One shortcut I take is I use lasagna noodles that don't have to be pre-cooked. Just layer them as you would cooked noodles and they're completely al dente by the time the lasagna is done.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Bill. We will be in your neck of the woods today having brunch with our younger daughter in Lacey.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita I would be so very pleased to address your question. I am happy and humbled that you asked me.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Mary. I missed you last week. I think I actually wrote an article all about eggnog. I'll look it up and will post a recipe (or two) for you here next week.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      This I can do! Thanks, Linda! Have a superlative holiday of remembrance!

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      11 months ago

      I made lasagne at home only once, with ground pork. Wasn't easy. Wish I had your ravioli recipe, that's another favorite. Maybe I'll try again another day.

      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.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      11 months ago from Brazil

      That is an interesting looking can opener, I've not seen one like that before.

      It has been far too long since I've made a lasagna, I too like a simple life in the kitchen.

      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.

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