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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, and Cooking, #14

Updated on February 19, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

The halls are un-decked, the trees (artificial) tucked back into their hiding places, and life goes on without twinkling lights. My cat is sad, and so am I.

I LOVE the decorations of Christmas. I had white lights everywhere in the house. They exude such a wonderful ambiance...but then my wise daughter said to me "if we had them all the time, they would lose their special." She's so right. So I wait again for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

And, in the meantime, I have you, my friends and your questions.

Is There An Advantage To Aging Beef?

Shouldn't beef be aged until purple -Butcher at large grocery store "manager's special"?


Eric, what a great question. (Let's see if I can live up to it with an equally great answer). All meat, even what you purchase on the cello tray with shrink-wrap covering is aged for 7-10 days. The process of hanging meat up in a controlled environment is actually slow-motion decomposition. (When you think of it that way, it sounds a bit nasty, doesn't it?)

Why is beef (or venison) allowed to "age?" It improves both the flavor and tenderness. However, the meat industry devotes the minimum amount of time to this endeavor because of economics. How is meat sold? Well, by the pound, of course, and the longer that meat languishes in the meat locker, the more moisture (and weight) that is lost.

If you really want to delve into the nitty-gritty of aging meat, here's a link that will tell you all you ever wanted to know...and much, much more.

You're probably wondering if you can dry age your beef (I'm not talking a side of beef here, just merely a steak for the grill) at home, in the refrigerator. My friend Kenji did some extensive testing of the theory in his Food Lab. Bottom line is that (1) it really doesn't work and (2) a steak aged in your home refrigerator can (and often does) pick up some funky flavors from other foods stored therein.

Isn't "Fresh" Fish Actually Frozen As Soon As It's Caught?

Why do people think that seafood caught at sea is still not frozen which it very well is on the boat on the way home to the market?


Eric, just like Toto in "The Wizard of Oz" you have pulled the curtain aside. You are absolutely correct when you say that freshly caught fish is flash-frozen aboard the fishing boat, keeping it nutritionally intact and “fresh” longer.

In fact, all wild-caught fish, by law, has to be frozen in order to kill parasites. In other words, unless you’re catching it yourself, there is no such thing as fresh, wild-caught fish.

Farm-raised is another story, often shipped without being frozen. But the consumption of farm-raised versus wild-caught is a controversy on its own. We get into discussions of environmental safety, sustainability, nutritional content, mercury, GMO-based fish meal feed, and the list goes on and on. Both sides have pros and cons, good and bad, yin and yang. Here's a link that will provide far more information than can be furnished here in this brief article.

Lexicon of Cooking Terms


Last week we finished up with the "B" words and tossed in one "C" to even up the list. (Would that make it a C minor?). Here are a few more definitions for your enlightenment.

Char - To seal in the flavor and juices of a food (such as meat) by blackening its surface in a skillet, over an open flame, or under a broiler.

Chiffonade - The French term for a particular knife cut where herbs and leafy greens are cut into very thin strips, like ribbons. The easiest way to achieve this is to stack up the leaves then roll them (like a cigar). Then, take your sharpest knife and cut very thin slices.

Clarified butter - The upper portion, clear, liquefied and oil-like, of butter when it has been allowed to melt slowly and stand without heat until the solids have precipitated (fallen to the bottom of the pot). In India, it is called ghee. Why bother? Removing those solids allows you to have the flavor of butter without as much risk of burning.

Compound butter – butter creamed with herbs, spices, garlic, wine, or whatever you wish. Perfect for finishing sauces or jazzing up just about any grilled or broiled foods. For example, softened butter mixed with fresh dill atop a grilled salmon filet. If you prefer beef a combination of finely minced garlic and rosemary (plus butter) would be the perfect finishing touch to your steak. Some people even place a pat of seasoned butter on top of a hamburger patty. Who are we to judge?

Cream - To beat an ingredient or ingredients with a spoon or beaters until light and fluffy or of a "creamy" consistency. Most often used in reference to butter or shortening, with or without sugar, in baking recipes.

Crimp - To create a decorative edge on a piecrust. On a double piecrust, this also seals the edges together.

That's It for Now

A brief list of questions this week, but I'll take quality over quantity any time. See you again same time, same place, next week.

© 2018 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      16 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I'm happy to help. Can you be more specific, i.e. what was "bad" about it? Was it the texture, flavor? Was it a large artichoke, or were you using the baby ones?

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Linda, my boiled Artichoke was not good. Help me out here.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      16 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, you are so kind. Thank you for stopping by.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      16 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Great stuff here. Thank you.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      17 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Linda, I never knew about aging the beef. I did know that they had to put the freshly caught fish in ice. A lot of information. Thanks for sharing it.

      Blessings to you.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Kari - Your timing is perfect. I'm working on #15 right this minute, so I'll add your question to the mix. Thanks.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      17 months ago from Ohio

      I learned a lot this week. I had often wondered if I should try to age my beef more in the fridge. I have a question. I have always been taught that once you freeze food and defrost it you cannot freeze it again. Is this still a rule of thumb? The fish part made me think of it, since it is frozen, then sold to you "fresh" can it be refrozen?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I can (I think) address the copper pan, but need a tad more info on knives. Are you wondering what types of knives you need (the basics) in a kitchen, or are you perhaps using one of the new Ginsu knives or ???

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Sorry to be a pest but knives and frying pans. I have a Faberware knife set and my favorite pan is called Red Copper pan.

      I get stuff like wooden chopping blocks and dutch ovens but this new technology -- not so much.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, if I am your food hero, you are soon becoming my question hero. This installment was totally based on your inquiries, and I love them. Keep them coming.

      OK, so what is the difference between broth, stock, bouillon? Let's toss in the "new" concept of "bone broth" while we're at it.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Once again you are my food hero. I just love this series. You are settling in and it makes reading just that much more cozy.

      I think I missed it. What is the difference between a bullion, stock and a broth. It is the main thing, the our Vietnamese soup chefs/owners argue about. I even handled a lawsuit over stealing a broth/soup - the stuff is all the same but that soupy part can break a restaurant if it is second class. And a lot of that comes from regions of Vietnam.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary - This is right up my alley. Yes, I do and may I include this in next week's column? If you need an quicker response let me know and I will IM you.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      17 months ago from Brazil

      I've never heard the word chiffonade, I love it!

      Our meat here in our area of Brazil isn't hung, sometimes, it's still warm. It does have flavor but it can be like chewing shoe leather. The sale of toothpicks and dental floss should be next to the meat counter.

      We used to farm tilapia and you're right, the commercial food pellets have genetically modified soy as an ingredient.

      Last night I made a 'Chinese stirfry'. I don't have a 5 spice powder so I improvised using coriander seeds and fennel seeds which I heated and then ground down. I also threw some ground cinnamon into the pan. Crushed garlic and ginger were also added with some pork and veg.

      I may have been too heavy handed with the cinnamon. Do you have a recipe or a suggestion for a combination of 'Chinese spices' that I could have premixed and ready to use?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, that's a great question. I don't think I've done an "exploring pumpkin pie" yet but I'll give you a quick answer next week, and then perhaps dive into the deep end of the pool with an entire article on the topic. Thanks for the inspiration, and stay tuned.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Kristen, I know it was a bit brief this week but at least you know I'm not making this stuff up. Ask and it will be answered. Have a great day.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, I know it sounds dreadful, doesn't it? My dad was never a hunter. (He didn't even go fishing) so exposure to this was a real eye opener for this gal.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, my husband spent a month in India (work-related). He really enjoyed the cuisine so I try to toss in a dish for him in our rotation every once in a while. And it is vegetarian so very good for us. Thank you for your kind comments. (

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I thought the aging beef question was about me at first. :)

      I've been making Bev pumpkin pies every week.She loves them. Any little trick I can do to give them a little more zest for a change of pace?

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great mailbag as always Linda. Short and sweet and to the point.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      17 months ago from USA

      Goodness, I don’t eat beef but that does sound really nasty. I’ve wondered by the time you eat certain animal products how long they’ve been dead, and this was a little longer than I figured. Manager’s special indeed! Very interesting installment.

    • manatita44 profile image


      17 months ago from london

      I see that you have a wonderful daughter. Great advice!

      I went fishing some 52 years ago and we sold the fish quite quickly once we got on land . Now we have huge freezers on shore and the fish goes straight there.

      Another great article. We have many Indians in London and ghee is quite common. It is also recommended in Ayuveda. Have a lovely day!!


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