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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #134

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

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Let's Hop Into the Way-Back Machine

Just for fun, I looked back at how I introduced this weekly column two years ago. Here's what I had to say in installment #29 of this series:

Spring has sprung, and so have the weeds. We are "blessed" with a lovely little gift called artillery weed. (It has several aliases. The ones I can repeat in polite company are rocket weed and shot weed).

Artillery-, rocket-, shot-weed, or *%$#@!!

Artillery-, rocket-, shot-weed, or *%$#@!!

See those pretty little white blossoms? Each one of those (of course) becomes a cluster of seeds. The "rocket" part is that when you touch the plant once the heads have formed, the seeds shoot off in all directions. We have almost 2 acres and at last glance, it appears that every square food contains at least one of these darlings.

Needless to say, I have job security. But one cannot spend an entire day on their hands and knees. When I feel the need to be more upright, I'm here writing. Thank you for rescuing my knees and back.

In two years there has been a slight change. Although those little "rockets" are still here, there aren't as many. It seems that a little bit of work up front pays off in the end. Hmmm, could that be like pre-preparing all of your ingredients (washing, dicing, measuring) before you start to cook a meal? (This is the mise en place of professional cooks). It works in the kitchen, it works in the garden, and I think it works pretty well in everything we do. Plan ahead.

Let's Get Started

Here's what came into the mailbox this past week.

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.

How to Clean Produce

Today I bought some lettuce, as I was missing not having salads. But when I got it home, I wasn't sure how to 'thoroughly clean it.' I dunked it in my bleach solution and then rinsed it in my salad spinner. Is that enough?

Although I have always rinsed the fruit and veg in water, I think with potential allergens around, I need to do more. Also, what about onions? I just couldn't fathom how to do that so I just left it closed in the bag.

Washing vegetables

Washing vegetables

I have a confession to make; I do not remember who asked this question. I think it was Mary (Blond Logic). I apologize to all of you. To answer this, I went to the website for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the environment and human health. It's their mission to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment and they have compiled two important lists—the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.

First, the Dirty Dozen; these are the fruits and vegetables most likely to harbor pesticide residues:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet bell peppers

Even after washing these fruits and vegetables, pesticide residues can remain. For that reason the Dirty Dozen should always be on your organic shopping list.

EWG also has a Clean Fifteen—the fruits and vegetables that will harbor the smallest amount of pesticide residues. Those are:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbages
  • Onions
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplants
  • Honeydew melons
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Cantaloupes
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
Scroll to Continue

Notice that most of these have a husk or thick rind that will protect the flesh within. Of course, as the person who asked the question hinted at, washing of the produce is also important. Here's what the experts say:

Most government agencies recommend simply washing with running water, scrubbing with a vegetable brush as needed rather than using special produce washes, which can add new deposits. A University of Maine study concluded that distilled water alone beat out three commercial ozone and chlorine washes for effective cleaning.

In most cases, cool water is a good choice when produce has been stored at most supermarkets’ typical temperatures of 50-ish degrees.

If a package of greens or baby carrots says “prewashed,” Bolton said, “we don’t typically recommend rewashing.” Equally important is the sanitation of the prep area and tools, from sinks to cutting boards. Don’t forget to clean and dry your vegetable brush between uses.

--Seattle Times, March 18, 2020

What Foods Created from Necessity Do We Still Eat Today?

"What famous foods were created due to necessity and lack of normal foods? For some reason, I think of Mole from Mexico and some bread with strange things going on—wood?"

Migrant mother

Migrant mother

Eric that's a really great question. Several years ago I wrote on the Great Depression that began 90 years ago. Here's an excerpt:

In New York City, the Mayor's Committee on Unemployment was formed to supply needy families with fuel, clothing, and food. Supplies were delivered to police precinct stations which were repurposed as distribution centers. Needy families were given 40 pounds of food (enough for a family of four for a week). A typical box would have contained:

  • 20 pounds of potatoes
  • 2 pounds each of of dried beans, rice, macaroni, onions, cabbage, and turnips
  • 4 pounds of carrots
  • 1 pound each of sugar, coffee, evaporated milk, and canned tomatoes

As you can see from the above list, meals were heavy with low-cost foodstuffs—carbohydrates and beans. Vegetables were almost non-existent. Meals were not healthy and balanced, and they weren't very appealing. They did, however, serve the purpose of satisfying gnawing hunger and providing much-needed calories for survival. A few meals that were common at the time were:

  • Creamed chipped beef
  • Hot dogs and baked beans
  • Warm stewed tomatoes with bread
  • Fried bologna sandwich
  • Mashed potato pancakes

Do you notice the lack of meat? (Chipped beef, hot dogs, and bologna can hardly be considered “meat.”)

I was born after the Great Depression, but my parents were young adults in the 1930s, raising families, and some of those make-do meals carried over even into the 1950s. We often had a meal dubbed "Hobo Hash," a clean-out-the-frig meal of fried potatoes, onions, and hot dogs.

We also had goulash (in some parts of the country it's called Chop Suey). This was a combination of potatoes, macaroni, tomato sauce, and a scant amount of ground beef.

Kraft macaroni and cheese made its debut in 1937 and it's still popular today. And then, there's the mock apple pie. You haven't heard of it? Here's how to make a dessert that incredibly tastes like apple pie without apples.

Bread and butter pickles are another carryover from the Great Depression-era that are still popular today.

And last but not least, there are Kraft singles American cheese. They're older than the Great Depression (invented by James L. Kraft in 1916) but significant because during the 1930s 40 percent of the cheese consumed in the United States was Kraft singles.

More On the Nutritional Value of Hot Dogs

Last week Bill Holland asked if there was any chance that hot dogs could have some redeeming qualities? Was it possible that they provided any nutritional value? In my answer, I provided a table showing the amounts of fat, calories, cholesterol, carbs, and vitamins/minerals. That prompted this question from Shauna (Brave Warrior).

"Linda, this weekend I had a hankering for hot dogs, so that's what I had for dinner Saturday night. I only buy Nathan's hot dogs. I wonder how their dogs fare in you chart?"

Shauna, here's the original chart, and I've added the value for Nathan's hot dogs in the last column.

Yummy hot dog (perhaps a Nathan's Beef frank?)

Yummy hot dog (perhaps a Nathan's Beef frank?)

 Ball Park Beef Hot DogHebrew National Beef Hot Dog 97% fat freeJennie-O Turkey FrankOscar Mayer Fat Free Hot DogNathan's Beef Franks

Calories

190

45

70

36.5

160

Total Fat

16.0 g

1.0 g

5.0 g

0.3 g

15 g

Cholesterol

35.0 mg

15.0 mg

25.0 mg

14.5 mg

30.0 mg

Sodium

550 mg

490 mg

370 mg

487 mg

550 mg

Potassium

300 mg

0 mg

0 mg

235.5 mg

0.0 mg

Total Carbohydrates

4 g

2 g

1 g

2.2 g

1 g

Iron

4%

4%

0%

2.6%

2%

Phosphorus

0%

0%

0%

8.1%

0%

Zinc

0%

0%

0%

4%

0%

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.

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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: lindalum52@gmail.com.

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

© 2020 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 01, 2020:

Lawrence I simply cannot imagine eat offal. Vegetarian for sure!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 01, 2020:

Linda

Reading this hub, and especially the stuff about the great Depression reminded me of what my Grandparents and parents used to tell us about the rationing during the war years and how they used to suppliment the rations.

Dad could never eat Rabbit because he'd eaten it so much during the war.

Another one was instead of getting meat people would get the offal and 'trotters' from the Butcher and cook them up!

While we've been creative during the lockdown I'm really glad we haven't had to go to those extremes!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2020:

Eric, there's a difference between milk that is intentionally curdled (i.e. making cheese) and milk that has spoiled because of the presence of unintended (and unwanted) bacteria. Milk that has gone bad cause food poisoning that may result in uncomfortable digestive symptoms, such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Just don't!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 28, 2020:

Now it came to pass that the milk I leave out so as not to be too cold for my coffee, was pushed aside and forgotten. Hmmm it curdled. Seemed just like a yogurt, cottage cheese and tofu. I nearly set it out to make it a dish. What is curdled milk good for? Low heat with lemon juice? but for what?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2020:

Thank you Kari. If it's successful (to my family) I will be sharing it next Monday to answer the question from Rinita Sen (see below).

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on April 28, 2020:

My grandfather worked in a hot dog factory in NYC when he first immigrated from Norway. He told me to never eat a hot dog, along with stories about what was actually in them. I didn't like to eat hotdogs after that, but I did, lol. I do eat Hebrew National because they are Kosher. Last time I checked rats were not Kosher.

Good Luck on the contest! Blessings to you.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 28, 2020:

Thanks, Linda!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2020:

I'm working on it right now. This aligns perfectly with a cooking contest that I'm entering--Bon Appetit magazine is sponsoring a "blended burger" contest. The first prize is $10,000 so wish me luck.

Rinita Sen on April 28, 2020:

Excellent. Look forward to it. Thanks a ton.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2020:

Rinita, I'll put together recipes for a cheeseburger and oven-baked french fries for you. How does that sound? The cheeseburger is totally an American invention. Fries baked in the oven instead of deep-fried are just as good and much healthier (we always make ours that way).

Rinita Sen on April 28, 2020:

Oh, I forgot. I can get potatoes no problem.

Rinita Sen on April 28, 2020:

Thanks Linda. I don't have ground beef but I can get ground chicken. Sliced Cheese is available. No salad dressings except olive oil. Among bread, I can only get sliced bread and probably burger buns. I guess I customized the list a lot. Let me know if you want to give me a whole new list :)

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2020:

Thank you Genna. I guess I'm really the old-timer here. Those "Depression Era" foods were a part of my growing up.

I can't remember the last time I ate a hot dog, but I know it was turkey. Years ago I was trapped watching a film on the history of the hot dog (I was at 35,000 feet flying over the polar icecap with no parachute). You NEVER want to see what goes into an all-beef frank, trust me.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 28, 2020:

I like your paragraph title, "Let's Hop Into the Way-Back Machine." Very clever. And the dirty dozen... Washing produce is so important...it's a very important step we can forget when preparing food. I never heard of mock apple pie before. I have to confess that I have a weakness for turkey hot dogs; they aren't good for us, but delicious with a little mustard and pickle. Excellent article. :-)

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2020:

Rinita, I'd be pleased to help you with your birthday surprise menu. I have a few questions about what foods you have available.

Do you have ground beef (mince)? Sliced (or sliceable) cheese. Potatoes? Mayonnaise (salad dressing)? Hot dogs (wieners, frankfurters)? Let me know if you have any or all of those.

If none are available, I'll give you another "shopping" list. I know we can do this.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2020:

Ann, I had to look up Victoria Sponge. Wow, very impressive. I'm proud of you. That AND writing a story that scared the bejabbers out of me--you've had quite a week.

Rinita Sen on April 28, 2020:

Hi Linda

Informative hub as always.

I have a question.

We're under a lockdown, hence getting groceries have been difficult except for essential items. My sister is staying with us during the lockdown and her birthday is in a couple of weeks. She's been in the US for several years and loves American food. Do you have any favorite recipes I can surprise her with that require few and common ingredients, but taste out of the world? I'll bake a cake, of course, so I'm looking for help mainly on main course items. Thanks in advance.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 28, 2020:

Great advice for washing fresh food before cooking. I do most of that but I must confess I wasn't sure if I was doing it correctly.

Never heard of mock-apple pie but it looks good. You've managed history, sociology and cookery all in one hub! But then I suppose that's what cookery is all about anyway.

I was very proud of myself this week; this 'non-cook' actually made a Victoria Sponge (with the butter cream and jam in the middle) and it was a success. Nothing like self-isolation to get us cooking!

Keep safe and well.

Ann

Mary Wickison from Brazil on April 27, 2020:

Hi Linda,

Yes, I was the one who asked the question about washing vegetables. That was interesting which ones hold more pesticide residue.

I have made (half-mock ) apple pie but used 1/2 chayote squash and 1/2 green apples because the apples are expensive.

Have a great week.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2020:

Sam Sifton (New York Times) wrote about that today. What a coincidence. I'll share his thoughts next week (and add my 2 cents worth)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 27, 2020:

Linda I am serious. The writing world spends so much time on the muse concept. Maybe some for canvas or other mediums. But sometimes I just feel like I am not inspired to cook.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2020:

Shauna, I haven't made one for years (decades), but now that I've scored 10 pounds of flour (finally!) I might just have to dust off that recipe and give it a try. Fresh (not stored for months and months) apples won't be available until July/August/September.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 27, 2020:

Well, it's a good thing my hot dog cravings are few and far between! Thanks for answering my question, Linda.

I've heard of mock apple pie but have never seen or eaten it. Ritz crackers? Who knew! I almost want to try it just to see if it really does taste like and have the texture of apple pie.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2020:

Eric, I'm the original "make it do" gal. Since I knew I didn't have flour I simply focused my attention on cooking things that didn't require that ingredient. But now, pies, and waffles, two loaves of crusty bread and all manner of baked goodies are flying around the Carb Diva kitchen.

If you are serious about that muse, I'll write about that next Monday.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2020:

Flourish, what a great comment. I've been working on and off on an article on sustainability. Perhaps I should move it to the top of the list and publish it.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2020:

John, one positive that has come of this is that I now wash all of my produce immediately, so once it's done, I know I can grab anything out of the refrigerator and it's good to go.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2020:

Bill, you are Mr. Controversial. Boy, is that a hot-button topic. I'll have the answer for you next Monday.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 27, 2020:

Linda this is great. How interesting about the depression. Spooky about the similarities with today. Which reminds me -- I hope you have all the flour you need. Which brings me to; What was your mindset with the setback of no flour. I assume chefs have muses.

How do I keep that kitchen muse keep me keeping on, especially in the heat?

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 27, 2020:

It sounds like we need to downshift as a country and reduce meat consumption and perhaps come up with some good tasting, nutritious but inexpensive meals. It’s back to old times with a new twist perhaps.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on April 26, 2020:

Interesting article, as always Linda. Gotta get into the habit to keep washing those fruit and vegies, especially now. have a great week.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 26, 2020:

Happy Two Year Anniversary!

Someone asked a question on Facebook yesterday. They were from a foreign country, and they said it was common to wash chickens after buying them from the store, and they were surprised that Americans don't do this. Is it advisable to do so? I've never washed a chicken in my life, mainly because it's hard to find a bathtub that small. lol

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 26, 2020:

Thank you Pamela. You and I grew up in the same generation. It saddens me that today so many families rely on fast food. It's so expensive. With a little you can get a meal on the table in as much time as it takes to pick up something on the run. But the schools don't teach HomeEc anymore.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 26, 2020:

I remember goulaah and chop suey for diners. I can also remember potatoes and beans with various meals as they are cheap and fill up little bellies. We weren't really poor yet certainly not rich. We lived on a budget but we never went hungry. i appreciate this article as it brings back good memories even though we lived on that budget. I enjoyed your article as per usual, Linda.

Stay safe and healthy!

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