ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, and Cooking, #65

Updated on February 20, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

What Are Your Resolutions?

'Tis the end of the year; a time when we all become a bit nostalgic, looking back over the events of the year—the pluses and minuses, the happy occasions and the sad occurrences. I know that there is no point in dwelling on the past. However, I did write on this very topic about one year ago on my personal blog. I entitled it "Thoughts from My 60-Something Self to My 20-Something Self." The link is here, but allow me to share the highlights with you:

  • Travel - When you visit places other than home turf you meet new people, gain new perspectives, you discover, and you grow. If and when you can, travel.
  • Read - Read every day. Read out of your comfort zone. Read to learn and to grow.
  • Relationships - Trust everyone...once. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Most people you meet will be average, a few will be total disappointments, and a select few will be amazing.
  • Time - Don't waste your time, and don't waste the time of others. Respect the gift of time.
  • Failure - All of us fail at some point in our lives. Failing is stumbling and then trying again. Failure is stumbling and giving up.
  • Perspective - Do you remember the angst of your teens, how it seemed that there were so many insurmountable crises, how no one could possibly imagine the stress you were under? And then somehow you were in your 20's, your 30's and so on? You survived. Maybe it wasn't pretty, but you moved from one decade to the next. We do. We cope. We adjust.

Time changes everything. And that's the whole point of this section. Don't worry about the coulda/woulda/shoulda.

Be patient. Plan in decades. Think in years. Live in days.

Now, It's Time for Some Questions

The mailbox was full of interesting queries this week. The first one is from Mary who says:

Chai Tea

I've recently read a book about life in India and would like to know about making chai in my home.


Mary, in the United States chai is thought of as a particular flavor of tea. But in India, chai is tea, so when you say "chai tea" you are actually saying "tea tea." And if you visit someone's home in India, there is a 100 percent chance that chai will be served.

Chai culture in India developed out of British colonization. When the British East India Company was thriving tea from Assam, India was one of its biggest commodities. Tea consumption in India grew, and eventually, Indians took the British preparation of tea—black with milk and sugar—and put their own spin on it, with the addition of spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.

In most big cities, you'll find chaiwallas (vendors who specifically sell chai) on every corner, with enormous kettles full of simmering chai. There are regional variations but for the most part, the basic components of chai are the same: tea, milk, spices, and sweetener.

Here are the basic components:

  • Milk - always whole milk
  • Spice - Cardamom is the flavor that makes us sit up and take notice when we enjoy a cup of chai. It is unlike the other spices with which we are so well accustomed (cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, although those are used as well but in smaller quantities). Black pepper, coriander, and fennel have also been known to make a guest appearance.
  • Sweetener - Unrefined cane sugar is most common but difficult to source. White granulated sugar could be used to, but I prefer the sweet-bitter flavor of brown sugar.

Here's a basic recipe for you to try. Obviously, this makes quite a bit of tea; you can halve the amounts if needed.


  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 6 bags of black tea (preferably Darjeeling)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar


  1. Coarsely grind the 1st 5 ingredients with a mortar and pestle. Place ground spices, ginger, and pepper in a large saucepan with water; bring to boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pan, and simmer gently 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Add tea bags and steep 5 minutes. Discard tea. Add milk and sugar.
  4. Bring tea just to simmer over high heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Strain chai into a teapot and serve hot.

Of course, you can adjust the amounts of spices, tea, and brown sugar to suit your own particular tastes.

And, From the Christmas Brunch

We're Organized

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.

If you like this series, you'll love this! Consider it my gift to you.


For 31 years Cooking Light magazine taught us how to eat light, eat healthily, reduce fat and sodium . . . and not feel deprived. Their remakes of old standard dishes and innovative food and flavor combinations opened a new world to cooking (and eating) enthusiasts. Sadly the December 2018 publication was their final issue. I have been a subscriber since their infancy; they will be sorely missed by me and countless others.

But their legacy lives on thanks to the internet. This remake of the classic "New England Clam Chowder" has all of the briny flavor and creamy richness you would expect from a bowl of New England chowder, but with much, much less guilt.

I am working on an article on the perfect clam chowder and hope to have that available for you in the near future. But in the meantime, here is the Cooking Light version which, I promise, will not disappoint.


  • 4 pounds littleneck clams (about 4 dozen), scrubbed
  • 4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


  1. Bring clams and 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot over high. Cook until clams open, 8 to 10 minutes. (Discard any clams that do not open.) Using a large slotted spoon, transfer clams to a large baking sheet lined with paper towels; set cooking liquid aside. Let clams stand until cool enough to handle. Pull meat from shells; discard shells. Coarsely chop clam meat and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium. Add onion, celery, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add reserved clam cooking liquid, potatoes, miso, thyme, pepper, and bay leaf; cook until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. Transfer 2 cups of the chowder to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped, about 6 times. Stir mixture into remaining chowder.
  4. Whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture into chowder; bring to a boil over medium-high. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf. Stir in clam meat and half-and-half until combined. Divide chowder evenly among 6 bowls. Top with chives.

How Best to Cook Bacon

I forgot to ask you about bacon. I fry it but when I worked at a restaurant, they used to cook it in the oven. This was in the UK and it was what they call back bacon. I personally prefer, what is called 'streaky bacon' because it is similar to the US type. Is there a best way to cook bacon that will be consumed for example with a breakfast as a side to eggs?


Mary, step into any professional kitchen and you will find that all of them cook their bacon in the oven, not on the stovetop. It's expedient and frees up the cooking surface for other wonderful treats (such as fried eggs and hashbrowns. Yum).

My friend Kenji at the Serious Eats food lab swears by this method and gives us all the facts (he is very precise and methodical) right here. He played with various temperatures (from 325 to 475 degrees F) to find the sweet spot for perfect taste and texture. Kenji also tested four methods of cooking:

  • Directly on a baking sheet,
  • on a wire rack (on top of a baking sheet),
  • on a crimped piece of foil, and even
  • between two baking sheets.

Now, I don't mean to contradict Mr. Lopez-Alt, but in the 'almost-final' issue of the aforementioned cooking magazine (Cooking Light) they were striving to achieve the healthiest baked bacon (adding one more element). So, they lowered the temperature a bit and found that a cold-start technique (they placed the bacon in a cold oven rather than a pre-heated oven) rendered 55 percent more fat! Their perfect baking temperature for this method was 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.

Thank You

I want to thank each and every one of you for being here. Without your questions (and encouragement) this series would not be.

  • I am happy to do the research on topics of which I know (barely more than) nothing and I enjoy learning with you.
  • I am passionate about food history and sharing that knowledge with others.
  • I believe in the "community" of eating. Food is how we connect with others. At a shared table, families unite—events of the day are exchanged, children learn, relationships are nurtured, and dreams blossom.

Eating is the common denominator of mankind, the one activity in which we share a mutual bond.

We may be separated by culture and continent, but food is the language that unites. Food is a part of who we are and what we have been; it is our history. Food has a story to tell.

I hope is that we can continue share in this food journey together. 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:

© 2018 Linda Lum


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)