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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, and Cooking, #66

Updated on February 20, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

Happy New Year!

I'm happy that you are here today. If you're an old friend, you already know how this works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to my kitchen.

Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything food-related has been covered here.

I'm sharing this past week's questions and my responses; it happens every Monday. Want to join in the fun? You can leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy.

Changing Clam Chowder to Corn Chowder

If I wanted to make a corn chowder (clams could be difficult to find), would I just replace the corn with the clams in your recipe?

Mary, I think 2 cups of corn in place of the clams would work just fine. Use fresh or frozen (canned is too salty). I like to saute mine for a few minutes so that some of the kernels get toasty. It adds another layer of flavor. By the way, for those of you who missed my recipe for clam chowder, I'm repeating it here:

(Recipe from Cooking Light magazine)


  • 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.

What Is the Difference Between Roast Pork and Baked Ham?

My husband and I were talking about ham. I saw a leg of pork at the store. If I want a roast ham, do I have to boil it first? What is the difference between roast pork and a baked ham?


Pork is an occasional guest at our house, not a weekly visitor so I had to do some research to come up with what I hope will be the answer you were looking for. The problem is that I'm not certain exactly what pork (or ham) products are available to you in Brazil.

This excerpt from the Cook's Illustrated Meat Book presents an illustration of each type of pork (ham) product, what part of the hog they come from, and how best to cook them. In the United States, we think of ham as a flavor more than as a specific cut. (You can make almost any piece of the pig taste like ham). That "hammy" flavor comes from salting and smoking the meat. So with that in mind:

  • Check the label on your ham to ascertain if pre-boiling before baking is recommended. It isn't required here in the U.S.
  • A pork roast will have wonderful porky flavor, but won't taste like ham. It will be closer in flavor to pork spareribs. Hams don't taste "hammy" because of where they come from. It's all about how they are cured/smoked/brined. A non-cured/smoked/brined hind leg will taste like pork, not ham.

So, who is the expert on roasting succulent meats, coaxing every last bit of unctuous fatty bliss out of that piggy leg? My first instinct was to visit Julia Child (actually her cookbook, not the dear lady herself as she is departed from this earth) I've no doubt that Julia could roast a pig's leg with the best of them, but she calls for 3 days of marinating before we even think about the roasting.


How to Cook a Pork Roast (Low and Slow is the Key)

I then perused dozens of recipes for roast legs of pork. Most of them were focused far too much (in my humble opinion) on the crackling skin and not on the juiciness and tenderness of the pork. All of them blasted the poor thing in a furnace (figuratively speaking) and then roasted "low" at 350 degrees.

That's still too hot people!

So, I went to my dear friend Kenji. He hasn't toyed with a pork leg, but roasted a shoulder (same animal, the same type of cut, just a different leg—front instead of back) and obtained amazing results. Here is his recipe for Ultra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder.


This is the way that my mom always made vegetable soup. Note that there are no green beans (we never ate them), and Heavens-sakes don't even think of putting corn in there (she was a farm girl and called the stuff "pig food").

Of course, mom never wrote down recipes. After all of these years, mine still doesn't taste exactly like my mom's, but it's pretty darned close.


  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • ½ head green cabbage
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can red (not kidney) beans, drained
  • ½ cup brown lentils
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1 ½ cups)


  1. Coat beef chunks with flour and season with the salt and pepper. (I find that the easiest way to do this is to place the flour and seasonings in a small paper bag, add the beef, seal the bag, and shake-shake-shake.)
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Shake any excess flour from the beef chunks and add to the pan in batches. Don’t crowd too much into the pan at one time. You want the beef to brown, not steam. Remove from pan and set aside (beef will not be cooked).
  3. In the same pan heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, and cabbage. Cook and stir until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bay leaf. Stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of pan. Return beef to the pan, cover and simmer over low until beef is fork-tender, about 2 hours.
  4. Remove bay leaf from pan. Stir in drained red beans and lentils. If the mixture seems thick, add some water. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in potatoes. Cover and continue to cook over low heat until lentils are done and potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes more. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

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.


I hope 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:

And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.

© 2019 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you have given me much food (for thought and otherwise). I will bow to your Michoacán Carnitas.

      If I need to cover something with that much butter and cheese to make it palatabe, well what's the point. Honestly I believe that beets are beyond redemption. They taste like a mouthful of mud to me no matter what you do with them.

      Yes, you are right I wrote about tartar and cocktail sauces but you will not find those in my Table of Contents. That only holds the keys to the Q&A series. Look for "Exploring Sauces" (white for the tartar sauce and red for the cocktail sauce).

      As for cooking shrimp you and I are on the same page. I did an article 3 months ago on "Exploring Shrimp Cocktail." Check it out.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Now Linda you know I am a member of the too much fun police brigade. You are on our radar. Your attitude is infectious and now is part of my kitchen.

      Sorry about your pork recipe as it does not hold a candle to our Michoacán Carnitas. The best restaurant of such being only 4 miles past our border. If you check for a recipe - forget about it. They are as well guarded as our Pho' soup recipes.

      Comments came up on beets - there has got to be a way to make them palatable, without losing their "superfood" ;-) status. I am starting to thing massive butter and cheese and grilling?

      Now I will search for Tartar Sauce and Cocktail sauce. Down here next to the Pacific and our half Vietnamese family fish is just life. But what say you about making these sauces at home.

      And the shrimp; I don't believe in the bland water for boiling thing I hit it hard with stuff and it always is good. What say thee about that?

      (oh well of to your organized "Contents".:-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm with you on the beet thing. All I think of is the pickled beets in a jar when I was growing up. I don't like picked food, except for pickles!

      I know beets are supposed to taste differently when you roast them, but I really have to desire to test the claims.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, I really don't know. I think we only ate what my mom was familiar with--lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, peas, radishes. That's it. I love green beans. In fact, the only thing I just can't abide is beets (not even the greens).

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 years ago from Central Florida

      Linda, why didn't your family eat green beans when you were growing up? I love green beans! Do you eat them now?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Riita, my family doesn't like the end (heel) part of the bread either, but we save them for other purposes. And, like you we don't deep-fry (hence no breading) but you can use leftover bread in strata or a bread pudding. We love ribolita soup, and bread can/should be used in meatloaf so that it is moist and not too dense. The hub to which you were referring is "Loving Leftovers: How to Use up Stale Bread." I'll post a few simple (quick) recipes next week.

      I don't know what a bitter gourd is, but I think there is something sold in the Asian markets with a similar name. I'll do some research and perhaps even buy one to test out any theories. Thanks for the great questions.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 years ago

      Hi Linda, Happy New Year! Mmm.. lots of pork this week, yum! I've had loads of cooking questions in my mind these last 2 weeks, but I am going to narrow down to 2.

      1. De-seeding bitter gourd: you probably don't see this vegetable a lot in the US as this is typically a tropical one, but I will still ask as you might have something similar. The seeds of this vegetable are quite hard, so I remove them before cooking. I have tried knives but they bring out quite a bit of flesh, which I don't want to lose. Do you know of a better de-seeding process that could help?

      2. Leftover ends of a bread loaf: I know you do a leftover series separately, so if you have already covered this would appreciate if you could share the link. The question is what would be good uses of the ends of a loaf of bread. My husband doesn't like having them as sandwich, and I am gluten free. I thought of making bread crumbs, but we hardly have fried items, so that would mostly go waste as well. If you have other easy suggestions, would be great.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh my goodness Flourish, asking me for my favorite coconut cake recipe is almost like asking who is my favorite child? I LOVE coconut in any way, shape, or form, and have many cake favorites. I'll share one with you next week, and maybe even turn this into another article. Thanks so much.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      My daughter and husband would love that soup. I’m going to try it when I return from vacation! Do you have a good coconut cake recipe?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, like you I was raised to believe that undercooked pork will kill you. I'll look into it and get back to you next Monday. (I'm thinking that some people cook the tenderloin to less-than-done, but not sure). Stay tuned.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for answering those questions. That solves the Ham/pork debate. Before we leave the subject of pork, my husband says there is a move to eat 'pink pork', meaning not cooking it right through.

      I was raised to be wary of doing this because of Trichinosis. As kids we knew the word and that it was bad but didn't fully understand. Has the rearing of pork become so clean that this isn't a risk any longer?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Bill. Haha, actually it was Mary and her husband who were talking about ham, not me and my husband. We survived the wind storm (our town has underground utilities so we rarely have a power outage). I'm already ready for Springtime.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Pamela. "Alphabet Soup" is the name I've given the series in which each week I feature a soup. I began with the letter A (albondigas), then B (I think that might have been barley), and then C and so on. Obviously we're up to letter O now. Today I'll work on adding this to the Table of Contents--a listing of the soups and a link back to each one.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Happy New Year to you as well John. I'm a big believer in marinating when you have the time (i.e. if you remember to do so) and I'm sure those chops are succulent. Thanks for stopping by. I pray that all is well with you now.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You and Bill were talking about ham? What interesting conversations you have around your house! LOL

      Did you survive the windstorm all right? We lost power for eight hours, but all in all,not bad.

      Happy Monday my friend!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I am glad you made a Table of Contents. You never know when you want to get some tips for a particular food. I particularly love your Alphabet Soup recipe. It sounds perfect for those cool days.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Happy New Year Linda. Nice job this week. That vegetable beef soup sounds delicious. Pork is a regular in our home as we usually buy half a pig once a year off people we know who slaughter their own pigs. Yes the secret is cooking slow to retain the moisture. Sometimes my wife even marinades pork chops in milk to improve the tenderness. We also bake a ham once a year for Christmas, but is you say a ham is always cured...smoked and salted previously. Usually removing the skin and covering it in plum or Rosella jam/jelly before baking.


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