Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, and Cooking, #85
Earlier this week I received a sweet note from our friend Eric Dierker:
God sends angels my way. I have not got a clue how that works. But I can spot an angel 1.3 million miles away. Don't know what air you have flowing up there. But the love flows all the way down our Mexico border way.
Maybe as a master Chef of love you can answer this one. Believe me I have no clue where it came out weeding my garden and thinking of you.
Bountiful. Maybe Cornucopia? Where does that come from? Our foods here are so plentiful.
Yes, once again I'm allowing Eric to provide the introduction because he's talking of what my objective in writing this weekly column has always been—I love food history and I love to tell stories; I love cooking and sharing my 50+ years of knowledge with you; I love helping anyone and everyone to achieve, to grow, to learn. You are my friends and I gather you into my kitchen. Let's have a cup of coffee (or tea) together, share stories, and help one another.
So, getting back to Eric's question about the cornucopia—it's an odd-sounding word, usually associated with Thanksgiving Day, a woven basket with apples, pears, clusters of grapes, nuts, gourds, and other assorted produce items spilling out. The word Latin “cornu” means horn, and “copia” means plenty. But how did this concept begin?
The website Atlas Obscura provides a beautifully-worded explanation:
According to the ancient Greeks, the horn of plenty, as the cornucopia was originally known, was broken off the head of an enchanted she-goat by Zeus himself. As the myth goes, the infant Zeus was hidden away from his father, the titan Cronos, in a cave on the isle of Crete. While in hiding, the baby Zeus was fed and cared for by Amalthea, a figure alternately depicted as a naiad (water nymph) or she-goat. Whether Amalthea was the goat herself, or just its caretaker, most of the myths agree that Zeus, while suckling at the teat of a magic goat, broke off its horn, which began to pour forth a never-ending supply of nourishment. Thus the symbol of the horn of plenty was born.
Thanks, Eric for asking the question. I learn each time I do research for this column, and all of you gain a bit more wisdom, some useful, some obscure, but always interesting and entertaining. And, it's free.
Let's get started with the questions that came to the mailbox this past week.
Cooking With Aluminum Pans
I have a question about aluminum pans. My husband was making a custard and the recipe said not to make it in an aluminum pan, why would that be?
Mary the problem here is the eggs in the custard. They don't play nicely with aluminum.
Aluminum is a great heat conductor (second only to copper) and it's lightweight so easy to handle. That's the good news. The down-side of aluminum is that it is a "reactive" metal. In the words of Martin Luther "what does this mean?" A reactive metal interacts with foods that are acidic, alkaline, or sulfurous. That reaction will alter the flavor and appearance (color) of the food being cooked.
Aluminum is reactive, so are cast iron and copper. So, don't use them if you are cooking acid foods (containing coffee, vinegar, fruit), alkaline foods (most vegetables, grains, and beans), or sulfurous foods (eggs).
Do Old Eggs Really Float?
Speaking of eggs, the next question is from "anonymous" who wondered if there is any science behind the claim that fresh eggs sink and old eggs float, or is this just an old wives tale?
I can tell you that this absolutely is true, and this is why it works.
- You've probably noticed that there is a membrane between the egg white and the shell.
- And, if you've ever shelled a hard-cooked egg, you have probably also seen a slight indentation in the rounded end of the egg (not the pointy end, the other one). This is because there is a very small air pocket there.
- Egg shells are porous and as time passes, they absorb air. When enough air enters the shell, the air pocket at the rounded end enlarges to make the egg buoyant.
And, while we're on the topic of eggs...
Each week we learn about a food item that you probably toss into the trash bin without a thought or a care—until today that is. Let's find out which discards can be re-used and re-purposed. Last week I gave a few suggestions on how to use discarded eggshells.
- Repel slugs and snails
- Plant with tomatoes to prevent blossom-end rot
- Use for potting up seedlings. Just as good as pulp pots and they're free.
Several friends pointed out that there is at least one more way to use them that I had not considered. You can grind them up in a clean spice grinder and add to your dogs' food as a calcium supplement, about 1/2 teaspoon to a serving of kibble.
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: email@example.com.
And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.
© 2019 Linda Lum