Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #43
I've written 43 of these columns and truthfully, the questions I dealt with this past week are the strangest I have ever seen. I wonder if my dear friends are pranking me, or challenging me to see how much I can truly handle?
The first two questions are fine, but after that, it gets strange.
How to Make a Good (or Even GREAT) Fruit Salad
I have a question about fruit salads. Is there a definitive idea about fruit salad? I ask because a friend of mine and I have differing views, hers is quite wet, and loose, and mine is the opposite, chunky with honey and a little juice. I'd love to hear your ideas about a good after dinner fruit salad.
This was the easy question. (Thank goodness!)
Mary, I don't think there is a right or wrong, it's more a case of personal preference. Yesterday I was watching a program on the cooking channel, and well-known chefs were showing their recipes for "perfect fried chicken." All of them looked wonderful and each was proclaimed to be the best, but no two were made the same.
The description of your friend's dish reminds me of the fruit salads served at too many church potlucks. Canned peaches and canned pears (or fruit cocktail) are combined with grapes and bananas. (Get really bold by adding a can of mandarin oranges). "Dry vanilla pudding mix is blended with reserved fruit juice to make a wonderful sauce". Really?
Pardon my lack of enthusiasm. Perhaps that isn't what your friend is doing, but let's think about what can turn a fruit salad from lackluster to luscious!
- Buy fresh - Please don't use canned fruit. It just never has the same bright flavor or crisp texture. Use what is in season.
- Mix it up - Just like planting a flower bed, strive for different colors and textures.
- But make it the same - Try to keep your pieces of fruit all about the same size (the obvious exception is if you are using fresh blueberries or huckleberries. You don't want to mince your other pieces of fruit that small).
- Don't play favorites - Use equal amounts of each fruit.
- Make it zesty - A little lemon or lime zest or a spritz of fresh juice. Ooh, la la!
- Go green - Mint isn't just for juleps. If you have access to fresh mint, use it. Or if you're feeling bold, add a small amount of fresh minced rosemary. Trust me.
Root Beer Ice Cream
Bev loves root beer ice cream, but it is next to impossible to find in stores. I wonder why that is??? Is there some chemical reason why root beer cannot be frozen? It seems like a natural for an ice cream flavor, but you cannot find it. Just wondering if you had any clue.
Bill, you have completely stumped me. No one (and I mean no one) manufactures root-beer flavored ice cream on a regular basis. Breyer's made "A&W Root Beer Float" and Dreyers/Edy's had a "Limited Edition Root Beer Float". Both were discontinued in 2009.
Umpqua Ice Cream has root beer float-flavored ice cream on a seasonal basis (May to October) but, I can't find it in your zip code.
For you, and everyone else in the world who would like to have root-beer flavored ice cream, I have a few suggestions to offer:
Ice Cream Bars
Lucerne ice cream makes them in root beer float flavor
Ice Cream Topping
Check out A&W Root Beer Float Dessert Topper, 12-Ounce
Torani Classic Root Beer Syrup
The manufacturers of Torani syrups has this recipe for a root beer shake:
Brown Velvet Shake
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) Torani Classic Root Beer Syrup
- 1/2 cup (4oz) whole milk
- 1 cup (8oz) premium vanilla ice cream
Combine all ingredients in a blender pitcher and blend until smooth
Homemade Ice Cream
I can see no reason why the manufacturers aren't making root beer-flavored ice cream other than that root beer itself has perhaps faded in popularity, hence a lower demand.
My Favorite Things
In the category of human beings, I'm closer to munchkin than mammoth. My hands are small and so gripping large jars has always been a challenge. Now that arthritis has crept into my life (actually it was more of a rampage), my jar wrench is indispensable.
There are many kinds on the market. Some are in a C-shape, the curve is wrapped around the back edge of the lid and the two ends are grasped tightly. That's probably fine for someone who still has good grip strength. But for me...not so much.
Some are mounted under the cabinet, and I can see the benefit. That frees up both hands to grasp the jar. So, buy one for yourself or your partner. You might not need it today, but someday you will. (It's a small thing, but a big deal if you're craving pickles).
Now then, the remainder of this ride is going to be bumpy, so tighten your seat belt.
As a guest have you ever been served something so truly terrible tasting or objectionable that you just couldn’t or wouldn’t eat it? If so, what would you recommend as options, especially if you want to try not to insult the cook? (The counterpart to this question might also be. (As the cook and host, how do you avoid this dilemma and keep the peace with guests?)
Flourish, I am relieved to be able to say that I've never encountered something so terribly disgusting that I could not move fork to mouth. Potlucks are probably the worst offenders and places where you might find that "eeww" moment. But with a potluck, it's easy to just keep moving on. (Of course, if the offending cook is hovering over her dish and encouraging you to try some, you can always take a sample portion with a smile, and then move on down the line knowing where that sample will end up.)
Maybe I just don't get out enough.
I'm going to assume that if there is a main course, there is also a side, or a salad, or perhaps an amazing dessert sitting on the sideline. Load up on the good things, take a tiny portion of the disgusting stuff and engage in lovely conversation until everyone else has finished eating.
As for hosting a dinner, I always ask if there are food allergies or if someone is a vegetarian or vegan. Actually, since my daughters are vegetarian (and one was vegan for a while) I tend to cook in that direction or have enough options available so that if someone doesn't want a meat protein they won't feel left out.
I have a dear friend who can't eat anything in the potato/tomato family, is gluten intolerant, and can't handle dairy. At first glance, you might think you're reduced to a gruel of rice but I prefer to take it on as a challenge, to explore new ways of making old standbys. It can be done. Do you think this is the springboard for another hub?
I was pretty confident in my response until I received a few more details from Flourish via email. She was in Peru where roasted guinea pig is considered a delicacy.
Yes, the whole thing, head, guts, paws and all.
But let's think about this for a moment. Guinea pigs are rodents, but so are rabbits which I'm sure you've heard "taste just like chicken." The guinea pigs consumed in Peru are not scurrying about wild like rats. They are raised on farms for one thing, and one thing only.
The presentation certainly leaves something to be desired, but I guess if an eager host was beaming at me, proud of his or her offering, I'd do as the young woman in the video, searching for some part without paws and not near the head or tail.
By the way, not that it was on my bucket list, but for SURE I'm not traveling to Peru. Ever!
Have I asked you about cow hump? It is popular here but I have unsuccessfully tried to cook it twice. Here it is called 'cupim'.
My husband says it looks like horse meat. I have had it at a restaurant that specialized in BBQ and it was really good, and would like to make it here. I know it can be roasted, barbecued, or even done in a pressure cooker but don't want to fail a third time. Any thoughts?
My initial response was this:
Mary, cow hump? That sounds like the punchline for a really bad joke. No, you hadn't asked me, but yes I will regretfully explore this topic. Wow, you never cease to amaze me.
Cow hump. I explored, and it turns out that #1 the cow isn't a cow, and #2 the hump is a bump, on the shoulders of a zebu.
Zebus originally came from India and are the primary beef animal throughout the tropical world. They are exceptionally tolerant of heat and drought. In fact, they constitute 80% of all the beef cattle raised in Brazil.
I could not find cooking instructions for zebu, but it seems to me that they look very similar to what is known as a Brahman (please let me know if this is incorrect). The meat is heavily marbelized (that means it contains LOTS of fat), but according to this article, the way to deal with the fat and obtain a fork-tender piece of meat is to cook very low and very slow—130 degrees for 10 hours.
And, it's a wrap. Another fun mailbox. Forty-three weeks. (Hmmm, I wonder how many keystrokes that is?) Remember, you can leave your questions below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next Monday!
© 2018 Linda Lum