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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #24

Updated on February 19, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

It's Springtime!!

So happy, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and I'm busier than a cranberry merchant at Thanksgiving. Spring has finally arrived. I'm sorry for my friends who live on the East coast and are still struggling with wintery weather. I promise that it will get better.


But enough about my problems. It's time to start talking about food (that's why you're here, right?) The way this works is that you ask a question, any question about food. It could be how to use a specific ingredient or kitchen tool. Perhaps you recall a recipe from your childhood that you'd like to recreate. Or maybe you need recipes that are gluten-free, or vegan, or take less than 30 minutes to fix.

I can help. And, if I can't, I will direct you to the person/place/website that can.

Please note that this isn't a tutorial; each week I will be responding to questions from readers like you, so please feel free to jump in at any time. Leave your questions in the comments below, or email me (go to the end of this article for my address).

Can You Explain the Yolk-to-White Ratio of Eggs?

I was able to buy fresh duck eggs while I lived in California. They (like quail eggs) also have a higher yolk to white ratio and increased vitamins. Could it be that we have bred this out of chickens to increase the speed of egg production, or do you think chickens were always less?

Source

Kari, in researching this topic one thing became quite apparent—not all chicken eggs are created equal. Some of this stems from nature, but some of it is nurture.

Nature

  • When the hens are younger, the eggs they lay have a smaller proportion of yolk to white (and a chart in a 1997 research paper from the University of Iowa confirms that younger chickens lay eggs that have 10% less yolk to white).
  • The trend for buying larger eggs has led to there being less yolk to white. This is because of the preference for bigger eggs now compared with 30 years ago. The size of the yolk remains the same in a large egg as in a medium one, with larger eggs simply containing more white.

Nurture

  • When compared to a grocery store egg, an organic egg has a much thicker shell. The yolk of an organic egg is also much more robust orange color when compared to the sickly yellow of a factory farm egg.
  • Mass produced caged chickens that are fed a diet of bone meal and other additives produce eggs of inferior nutritional value when compared to free range organic eggs.
  • A free-range chicken consumes a much more natural diet, therefore, producing eggs with superior Omega level-3 and nutrient content while mega farm eggs have less of the good stuff and more Omega level-6 fatty acids.

So I guess the moral of the story is if you want nutritious fresh eggs, find someone who raises chickens and make him or her your best friend forever.

Lexicon of Cooking Terms

Source

We're continuing with the series that started in Issue #10. Past the half-way mark now. What will we do after we get to the end of the alphabet?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Quick bread - Bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time. Quick breads rise with the aid of baking soda and/or baking powder.

Ramekins - Individual ovenproof baking dishes made of ceramic, porcelain or glass and used in the preparation of custards and other miniature sweet or savory dishes. A ramekin is typically shaped like a soufflé dish and measures from 3 to 6 inches in diameter.

Reduce - To boil a liquid until a portion of it has evaporated. Reducing intensifies the flavor and results in a thicker liquid.

Resting - Removing meat or poultry from heat before reaching ideal internal temperatures to allow the redistribution of juices in the meat. Typical resting time is 20 to 30 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil. This helps keep the meat retain its juices, evens out temperature and doneness and makes it easier to carve.

Roast - A dry-heat cooking method. To cook uncovered in hot air. Meat usually is roasted in an oven or over coals, ceramic briquettes, gas flame, or electric coils. The term also applies to foods such as corn or potatoes cooked in hot ashes, under coals, or on heated stones or metal. No liquid (such as water or wine) comes into contact with the food.

How To Stock a Pantry For Last-Minute Meals

Recently I had a 'lack of preparation moment' when dinner time rolled around and I had nothing other than a pot of beans on the stove. In the end, I cobbled together bean soup and had enough flour to make a 1/4 recipe of tortillas. I kept thinking, "What would Linda do?"

What do you consider staples that you always have on hand so you can throw a basic meal together?

Source

Mary, I'm humbled that you had a WWLD moment. About three years ago I wrote an article entitled "How to Stock a Pantry for Every Skill Level, Novice to Pro." It's featured, so you should be able to access it with the search option or from my profile page.

However, I think what you're asking for is not how to completely stock a pantry, but what items you should have on hand for those times when things simply do not go as planned and you have NO time to cook or unexpected guests pop in.

Canned or Jarred Goods

  • Pasta sauce
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Tomatoes
  • Stock (beef, chicken, vegetable)
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Salsa

Dry Goods

  • Pasta (spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and several other shapes)
  • Couscous
  • Orzo
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (long-grain white, brown, arborio)
  • Nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts) (Note: I keep mine in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator to keep them from becoming rancid)
  • Lentils

Refrigerator

  • Cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Lemons
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Bacon

Freezer

  • Spinach
  • Shrimp
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Pantry/Root Cellar

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Bell peppers
  • Garlic

Herbs and Seasonings

  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried basil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, turmeric

Miscellaneous

  • Soy sauce
  • Oil (canola, olive)
  • Vinegar (rice wine, white wine, Sherry, balsamic)
  • Mustards (Dijon, grainy, yellow)
  • Honey
  • Mayonnaise

With these types of ingredients, you can assemble a simple pasta dish, a soup, appetizers, a humble casserole, or even (my favorite) breakfast for dinner. Remember, your family and/or visitors are there to enjoy the pleasure of your company. The food is secondary. Relax and enjoy life and love.

Is There a Substitute For Cream Cheese?

I hate cream cheese. It’s yucky no matter what I pair it with. There are so many recipes that call for it though. Is there anything I can substitute for it? It's the taste that turns me off.

Source

This question came from my dear friend Shandy. Part of the problem I faced in finding a solution to this problem is that cream cheese has so many different uses. It can be part of a frosting, a spread or dip, used in baking, or incorporated in a savory casserole. And each of those requires a different substitute ingredient.

For frosting

  • You want an ingredient that provides a bit of sweetness. In place of cream cheese use mascarpone. It doesn't have the "tangy" flavor of cream cheese. If you have ever eaten tiramisu, you've had mascarpone.

As a spread or dip

  • Hummus has the same creamy consistency, and although it doesn't taste anything like cream cheese, well maybe that's the point, and there are many different types of hummus.

In baking and savory cooking

  • Whirl an equal amount of ricotta cheese in the blender or food processor to replace cream cheese in baked goods.

Update - On August 11, 2018, I found a recipe for making a cream cheese substitute from canned coconut milk. The link is here.

Time to stop for today. As always I enjoy receiving your questions and researching the answers for you. New questions can be placed in the comments below, on my Facebook page, or you can email me at lindalum52@gmail.com.

© 2018 Linda Lum

Comments

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, it sounds like you have a good system going there. I tend to agree with the "30 minutes or less" rule, but there are some days that I really enjoy playing in the kitchen.

      As for the cream cheese substitutes, my friend said that she didn't like the taste. I assumed that sour cream or clotted cream would have the same or similar "tang" but they are worth mentioning.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Linda

      You've done a great job explaining why free range eggs just taste better than caged chicken eggs, the inferior nutrition just shows through with the colour of the Yolk!

      To avoid those 'No clue what to do' moments we use a recipe plan, We'll take five minutes over breakfast on a Sunday (My only day off) when we write down every meal for the week, there's one rule with it, they can't take more than 30 minutes to prepare, no matter who's cooking!

      That way, whoever gets home first, no matter whom it is, can prepare the meal. It works for us.

      Oh and the substitute for 'Cream Cheese' Why not try sour cream or clotted cream?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Kari, thank you so much. I have fun putting them together, although some are more of a challenge than others (and that's a GOOD thing).

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      15 months ago from Ohio

      I love these "Ask Carb Diva"s! I always learn something. Thanks for answering the egg question. That was very interesting to me. I also am glad that my pantry staples are very similar to your's. :)

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I have never heard of (nor tasted) green chili. I am leaping to the conclusion that it gets the green color from tomatillo. If so, I'm on it. If not...I'll work on it. Thanks for the "add" to my Q&A for next week.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I just love this Q and A and the dictionary.

      I really want to make green chili. The soupy kind, with ground beef. What say you.

      (and thank you for deleting my mistakes)

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, I can answer that, and I will next week. Stay tuned.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      Fascinating information about eggs and yolks. When you have a recipe that calls for egg whites or yolks only what do you do with the other part (other than toss it)?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Mary, I don't think I have ever encountered a problem with cookies going flabby because of high humidity. I have friends who live in the South and will ask them if they have this problem and if they have found a solution. (If it were me, I'd simply eat the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven).

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      15 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Maybe Linda.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      15 months ago from Brazil

      Thanks for answering my question, it looks like I will be stocking up then.

      I do have another question for you that others may also have a problem with. When I make cookies, they go soft before I can put them in an airtight container. I take them out of the oven and put them on a cooling rack but because of the high humidity, they don't seem to stay firm. As soon as they are cool, I transfer them to a plastic box but they end up quite limp.

      Now I don't mind a cookie that is a soft chewy sort, but even the bottom is droopy.

      Any thoughts other than eating them all straight away?

      I didn't realize about the differences in yolk size, how interesting.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Eric. I hope you have a wonderful week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Kristen - Pun intended?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thanks Bill. I consider you an expert on the topic, and it's encouraging to know that you agree with my findings. Have a great week.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      15 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great mailbag of interesting cooking tidbits Linda. Very useful information and plenty for good food for thought.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Nice job handling the chicken yoke question. I have learned so much about eggs over the last four years of raising birds. I find it fascinating, actually...anyway, good responses as always. Happy Monday my friend.

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