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Ask Carb Diva: Questions and Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #89

Updated on June 16, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Every Day is Special

I've been puzzling over how to introduce today's mailbox. As I write this, the temperature is mild (in the mid-60s) and the sky is overcast. An ordinary, ho-hum vanilla type of day. Surely, something of significance happened on this date, don't you think? After all, this date has occurred thousands of times (billions is you hold fast to scientific claims of the age of the planet).

So, I did a Google search and came up with an exhaustive list. I'll share a few of the highlights with you:

  • 1631 - The wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I died in childbirth; he then spent the next 20 years building her tomb, the Taj Mahal.
  • 1885 - The French gift to the United States to mark the Centennial of the American Declaration of Independence From Great Britain "The Statue of Liberty" arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere.
  • 1917 - The United States paid Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
  • 1960 - Ted Williams hit his 500th home run.
  • 1991 - South Africa abolished the last of its apartheid laws.

And that's just the historical notes. Today (and every day) about 353,000 babies will be born; 151,600 people will die. There will be weddings, graduations, new jobs, and new homes. Artists will write, paint, sculpt, and compose.

Every day is important to somebody. Let's each try to make this day special for someone. Call a friend, pull a few weeds for your neighbor, hold the door for someone, greet the cashier with a smile. Share a bit of yourself, share a little of your time, share a little love.

Let's Get Started

As I've said in past introductions, welcome to my kitchen. Let's talk about cooking. Are you a novice cook? Come here to ask questions on the basics. Are you a pro? Maybe you have hints to share with us. In the middle? That's where most of us are, and I would love to back-and-forth with you. Let's have fun.

Why Does My Bread Fall Apart?

This question comes from Anonymous and was posted on my article "How to Make a Perfect Loaf of Bread."

I love to bake and have tried adding eggs, sugar, and milk and baking at 375 for 35-40 minutes. I have used combinations of bread flour and white wheat. The bread breaks apart when cutting it into pieces. Why? Any suggestions?


I’m sorry that you’re having difficulties. Some bakers use milk in place of water to create a loaf that will have a longer shelf life. And the use of sugar in bread will increase browning. However, there are down-sides to using milk and sugar. Fat (in milk) and sugar slow gluten development and weaken it.

I suspect that the reason your bread is not holding together is because your dough did not form enough gluten and/or needed to be proofed (allowed to rise) for a longer period of time. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Knead your dough for 8-10 minutes and then test to see if it is done. If it holds a ball shape and springs back when you poke it, it’s ready.
  • Loaves that have proofed (risen) long enough will be doubled in size. Observe the size of the proofed dough and also use the "finger test." Gently prod with your finger in the side of the loaf. If the indentation remains, your bread is ready to go into the oven.
  • If your loaf is not proofed enough the heat of the oven will cause it to raise in one big burst of energy, but not have the elastic structure to hold it together.

Finally, find a recipe that you like and stick to it. Be precise with your measurements. While cooking is an “art” I feel that baking is more science. If you have other questions please feel free to write again. Good luck.

Where's The Pudding in Yorkshire?

You can toss this in your Mailbox series . . . so I'm watching the British baking show, and one of the challenges was to make Yorkshire pudding. Twelve people made twelve variations of what they called Yorkshire Pudding, but I swear, Linda, not one of them was pudding. What's up with that?


Bill, the definition of “pudding” can be confusing. Since the mid-1800s puddings have been thought of as sweet desserts. However, originally, pudding was a meat-based, sausage-like food in Britain; for example, black and white puddings.

So, Yorkshire pudding is not really a pudding at all, at least if you want dessert. This concoction of flour, eggs, and milk, baked in the drippings of a roast, was the invention of frugal cooks. Rather than allow those flavorful melted meat fats to plunge into the fire, they were absorbed by a pan of batter placed below.

The first recorded recipe for “dripping pudding” appeared in the book “The Whole Duty of a Woman.” This politically incorrect publication devoted its first 176 pages to "rules, direction, and observations (to the fair sex)…for their conduct and behavior” and covered such topics as modesty, vanity, pride, and “a wife’s behavior to a drunkard.” However, it’s apparent that tending to the feeding of the drunkard was of greater importance since the remaining pages (177 to 646) contain detailed recipes. On page 468 we find:

Make a good batter as for pancakes, put it in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little, then put the pan and batter under a shoulder of mutton instead of a dripping pan, keeping frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savory. When your mutton is enough, then turn it in a dish and serve it hot.

If you are interested in the history of this dish (or would like to see some more recipes other than what was broadcast on PBS) take a look at my article "Exploring Yorkshire Pudding."

Each week we learn about a food item that you probably toss into the trash bin without a thought or a care—until today that is. Let's find out which discards can be re-used and re-purposed.

Vegetable Peels

Imagine if you can that you are making a savory, satisfying comfort meal for your family. A beef stew with carrots and parsnips is slowly simmering on top of the stove, to be served on top of buttery whipped potatoes. Don’t toss away those vegetable and potato peels!

Here are some ideas on how to repurpose them:

  • I haven’t needed to test out this theory, but I’ve heard that cucumber peelings discourage ants. Find where they are coming in and leave cucumber peels there overnight. Apparently, they hate the smell of cucumber and will take residence elsewhere.
  • Do you have a problem with puffy eyes? According to Expert Home Tips, potatoes contain the enzyme catecholase which soothes the skin and can reduce dark circles.
  • Cucumber water is refreshing, especially now when the temperatures are soaring. You don’t need slices, the skins will do an admirable job of flavoring that cold glass of water, and they’re colorful as well.
  • Carrot peels can be chopped fine in your food processor and then added to your favorite meatloaf mixture.
  • OK, so this isn’t a vegetable skin but is still something that is commonly discarded—the stalks of broccoli. Remove the tough outer skin and then slice the stalk into coins. They can be stir-fried, tender in minutes, and are reminiscent of asparagus.
  • Canned vegetable broth tends to be murky in color and taste overly sweet. Guess what? You can make your own. Here’s a link for how to make vegetable peel stock from the produce scraps you typically toss away. You could also simmer this mixture on low in your slow cooker.
  • I saved the best for last. Potato peel crisps. If you like potato chips you will love these.

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.

I have also cataloged all of my personal recipes that I have shared with you in this weekly Q&A series and in all of my other articles as well. The link to that Index is here. There are hotlinks to each recipe and this will be updated as new recipes are shared.

Let's do this again next week. 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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