Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #41
Once a week I prepare this article. I also write one additional article on Hub Pages (usually about one specific food or ingredient), and I also have a weekly blog (which covers a wide range of topics, mood-dependent).
I have a secret to share with you (please don't tell anyone; it's just between you and me, OK?) Other than this Monday musing (which relies on input from YOU), I write the other articles well ahead of time (on those days when I do nothing else but write because the weather is unforgiving—no gardening).
I have, at this moment, six articles that I could publish RIGHT NOW, but I parse them out, one per week, so that I don't have to worry about a deadline.
I'm a planner, an organizer. a self-proclaimed worry-wart. I write menu plans for the entire week. I buy birthday cards 6 months before I need to mail them. I already have five Christmas 2018 gifts hidden away in my closet.
So why am I telling you this? There is one article, one topic, that I have been wrestling with like Jacob and the Angel. I've been at it for 3 weeks and am still not at the finish line. At this point I am not sure that it will ever see the light of day. But I keep at it. Why? Because after writing for 7 years on Hub Pages, I'm confident that I have found my voice, my niche, the area in which I want to focus my attention, the style I want to use, and the way I want to convey my message.
So, stay tuned. Someday you might actually see "that" article. (And when you think you've spotted it, leave me a note in the comments. I'll let you know if you have found it).
But, in the meantime, we need to look at what flew into the mailbox this week. Let's get started.
Can I Make Coconut Milk from Fresh Coconuts?
This question is from Mary - With regards to the coconuts, mine would be straight off the tree. It is quite labor intensive to get the coconut out, I use a tool that looks like a spoon with spikes. They also have the same type of thing but with a flat piece of wood you sit on and then move the cut coconut half back and forth. I have also had one that had spikes and is turned with a handle after attaching it to a table.
Shockingly although coconut milk is widely available here, coconut creme isn't. I have tried removing the coconut meat from the coconut and then using my grating blade on my food processor. That wasn't very successful as my processor isn't robust enough.
Mary, I did a lot (a LOT) of looking on the internet for this one. I don't know if you have a blender or, if you do, how sturdy it is. But, here is a link which describes using chunks of coconut meat, added the liquid from the coconut PLUS one cup of water, and then blending (and blending, and blending). Maybe 5 to 10 minutes worth of blending.
Then squeeze, and squeeze, and squeeze some more to extract every last drop from the resulting slurry. The resulting coconut milk looks creamy, much better than anything I've bought at the store.
Each week in this part of the article I will share with you the name of one product, gadget, or piece of equipment that I absolutely cannot function without. I promise that it won't be expensive or difficult to source.
Today I must confess that I have an obsession. Parchment paper. I use it pretty much every day. In fact, two years ago my daughter gave me a Costco-sized roll of the stuff (that's 164 linear feet, in case you were wondering) as a Christmas gift. Before the next Christmas, I had to purchase another roll. Yes, I use it that much.
By the way, in case you were wondering, parchment paper is not the stuff on which the Dead Sea Scrolls were scribed, and it's not the same as waxed paper. Although waxed paper does have its uses, it is not heat-tolerant and so cannot be used to line baking sheets. Parchment, on the other hand, is safe for oven temperatures up to about 425°F.
Want some examples of how I use it?
- line cookie baking sheets
- roll out pastry dough on it
- form biscuits on it
- dust the surface with flour and knead dough on it
- dredge chicken
- line baking pans for cake, bread, or meatloaf
- sift dry ingredients on parchment and then form the paper into a funnel to decant into a mixing bowl
Of course, you don't need to purchase the largest roll known to mankind, but once you try it, you just might get hooked like me. It's addictive.
Coating Fruit with Flour So It Won't Sink
When I made a cherry cake using glace cherries, the recipe told me to coat the cherries in a bit of flour. Why would they suggest this? As I recall they said to keep them from sinking but I can't see how that makes them stay dispersed in the batter.
Habits handed down from generation to generation—are they factual, or folklore—such as the age-old advice that berries should be tossed in flour before they're folded into a batter. The logic is that flour allows fruit to magically hover above the pan, to defy gravity thanks to...what? It reminds me of the baked ham joke:
A mother was teaching her daughter the family recipe for whole baked ham. It was the very best ham recipe so they always followed it carefully.
They prepared the marinade, scored the skin, put in the cloves, and then came a step the daughter didn't understand.
"Why do we cut off the ends of the ham?" she said. "Doesn't that make it dry out?"
"I don't know.That's just the way grandma taught me. We should call her."
So they called grandma. "Why do we cut off the ends of the ham? Is it to let the marinade in, or what?"
"To be honest, I cut the ends off because that's how my mother taught me. I added the marinade step because I was worried about the ham drying out. Let's call great grandma and ask her."
So they called great-grandma.
"Oh, for land sakes! I cut off the ends off because I didn't have a pan big enough for a whole ham!"
Mary, as you assumed, no amount of flour will resist the forces of gravity. It's not as though the flour granules turn into grappling hooks. I have two suggestions to offer if you happen to make that recipe again:
- Cut the cherries into smaller (lighter in weight) pieces.
- Spoon some of the "un-fruited" batter onto the bottom of your prepared pan before folding in the cherries.
Well, the postman must have taken a well-deserved vacation this past week. The questions were few, but they were fun (for me).
OK, so here's how this works. If you have a question about "just about anything" that relates to food, recipes, cooking techniques or equipment -- just ask me. The worst that could happen would that I'd say "I have absolutely no idea".
I've not been (totally) stumped yet. Perhaps that's your challenge. See if you can stump me. Questions can be posed in the comments below, or you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2018 Linda Lum