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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #143

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


What Were We Talking About One Year Ago?

Just for fun (and to stop the talk about economy/politics/unrest/pandemic for just a few minutes), I thought it would be fun to look back at the introduction to the articles I wrote one year ago. Here's what I found:

Last week I was looking for a particular cookbook in my pantry. Please don't ask how many I own (I haven't counted) but suffice it to say that it's 3 digits worth. Anyhow, in my quest I rediscovered a book I have not paged through for a very long time. It was the 1998 annual recipe compilation by Sunset Magazine. (Those of you in the Midwest or East coast, or perhaps outside of the United States might not recognize the name. Sunset is a lifestyle periodical, published monthly, focusing primarily on homes, cooking, gardening, and travel in the Western United States.)

As I turned the pages I was surprised to see how much our tastes and methods for the preparation of foods have changed in 20 years. Margarine was a perfectly acceptable substitute for "unhealthy" butter, meats still held a high position in our evening meals, we were urged to "rinse our chicken", and produce that is now common was still considered exotic (chicory and persimmons for example).

Presentation of the meals (styling and photography) was amazingly dreadful in comparison to today. Perhaps it's because of digital photography, but even food blogs on the internet have much clearer, brighter colors than the Sunset pics of 1998.

Oh dear! The color, the plating. It's just so unappetizing.

Oh dear! The color, the plating. It's just so unappetizing.

What a difference 20 years makes

What a difference 20 years makes

Hmmm, so I began to wonder. If I'm still around 20 years from now (and I certainly intend to be), how different will our meals be from what they are now? I hope that animal-based proteins will be relegated to garnish status. I believe that white carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice) will be a thing of the past. What are your ideas? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

So with that as an introduction, to get you thinking about foods, let's get started with today's mailbox. 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.

Biscuits vs. Cookies

"I'm just curious: how did we get from biscuit in England to cookie in the U.S.? That seems like such a language leap, you know? What genius in the U.S. decided to completely change the name of such a staple?"

Tray of cookies (or are they biscuits?)

Tray of cookies (or are they biscuits?)

Two weeks ago it was the flapjack—for Americans they are pancakes, for the Brits they are an oaty granola-bar.

Bill, I love ya guy, and you are the only person for whom I would endure this torture yet again. As soon as I read your question, my left temple began to throb. OK, here's what I can tell you about the Cookie Wars.

I need to think carefully when I talk with my dear friends and relatives (yes, I still have some cousins on the "other side of the pond") about biscuits. In my American mind (and heart) a biscuit is a quick bread (bread that rises from the use of baking powder and/or baking soda rather than yeast). We eat them for breakfast (with lots of jam and butter please). We serve them with beef stew, and they always appear on my Thanksgiving Day table to help sop up all of that yummy turkey gravy that escapes from the mound of mashed potatoes. But my U.K'ers say "biscuit" when they are talking of a crisp sweet to be dunked into the 4 o'clock tea.

How and why did this schism occur?

Well, perhaps we should ask the question "who's on first?" Who was the first to claim the name for the tea-time treat? Of course, it was our forebears in the United Kingdom. They were there first, and we've only been about for 244 years.

The word biscuit is from the Latin "bis" (twice) and "coctus" (cooked). If you've ever enjoyed Italian biscotti, perhaps you get the connection. English biscuits are "twice-baked" which means that they keep almost forever, but soften just right in a hot cuppa. They were also a practical bit of food to take on a long journey, say across the Atlantic Ocean. If you're not familiar with ship biscuits you might recognize them by their other name, hardtack.

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Meanwhile, the Dutch were also hard at work in the kitchen, creating the koekje, meaning “little cake.” The difference between that little cake and the biscuit is that the former contains a leavening agent (something to make it rise or puff up) to make it lighter and not so tooth-breaking.

There was no problem with all of these treats with various names until the War of Independence. That minor tiff created a backlash against anything British, and so the old words for this and that were replaced with a new vocabulary.

If you'd like a rundown on what is what, I've compiled a short glossary for you:

  • British biscuit = American cookie (crunchy and hard sweet treat)
  • American biscuit = a British scone (a quick bread breakfast treat)
  • American cookie = A British cookie, and also a British biscuit



Can I Make Non-Dairy Yogurt?

"I have a small electric yogurt maker that makes the most wonderful yogurt, but unfortunately, I'm dairy challenged, and when I eat our home made yogurt, my body hurts all over. I wonder if we might successfully use almond milk (or some other vegetable milk) in it. I don't like the flavor of coconut milk or I would try it. What do you think? Thank you, my friend."


Thank you, Doris (MizBejabbers) for such a great question. I'm sure you aren't the only person wanting a non-dairy yogurt. A quick internet search found hundreds, yea verily thousands of recipes for non-dairy yogurt. But, all of them included thickeners (cornstarch, agar-agar, etc.)

Except for this one for Greek-style cultured soy yogurt. The Gentle Chef has a recipe that ticks off every item on your wish list:

  • It's made with soy milk, not coconut milk
  • Natural ingredients
  • No added thickeners
  • Relies on a yogurt maker (which provides a more reliable, consistent temperature which equals yogurt-making success)

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.

© 2020 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 05, 2020:

Hi Genna, it's so good to hear from you. Yes you're right--butter was made from animal fat and was evil, so of course the correct choice is trans-fat hydrogenated oils.

We had a wonderful day (but a bit noisy) and are looking forward to a great rest of the weekend. But, we're retired so every day is about the same.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 05, 2020:

Hi Linda. Interesting article. And you are so right about how things have changed over the years. I remember how margarine was the health mandate over butter. I loved the part about the distinctions between biscuits and cookies. They are so different in the American mind...why would anyone want to dunk a biscuit into tea? :-) Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 03, 2020:

Well Wesman, good day to you too. I wish you would be more forthcoming about your feelings--stop beating around the bush LOL. But seriously, I was expressing my opinion and you are free to express yours as well. Live and let live.

I'm sorry if you felt I was being preachy. I'm just stating my thoughts, and hey I'd be glad to let you have my share of the beef. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I always enjoy hearing from you (even when we disagree).

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on July 02, 2020:

Oh I completely reject every single left wing ideology, and I started on that path by discovering veganism, and rejecting that straight away.

I used to just not enjoy food the way I do now. I'm 46 years old. I don't really understand how it was that I used to just kind of think of eating as something one had to do, but that was how I was.

Of course I had favorite meals, but I still didn't think of food as something which was supposed to be pleasurable.

These days food is one of my top pleasures in life, and though I am not on any sort of keto or carnivore diet, the exposure to vegans online has caused me to enjoy meat ten thousand times more than I used to.

It just makes me happy those crying little hippies don't like that I'm eating meat. So I'm going to eat more of it.

I've done experiments. I've gone 5 days on nothing but vegetables and fruit, and I felt like crap.

I've gone 5 days eating nothing but meat and a bit of A1 sauce, or Tapatio, and I felt fantastic, I only sort of craved some beans, or some onions or something.

I'm completely rejecting all left wing things. Men and women in my family often live past 90 years, and they all ate meat at nearly every single meal, and it was not just a side piece, it was generally the major item.

I don't even want to live to be 90. I'm in good physical health, but this world is pretty freaking hostile. I'm going to eat meat, drink beer, and do it until I die.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 02, 2020:

Mary, the dreaded black hole. We've met many times. Your faux pas with biscuits and gravy doesn't sound any worse than Shirley Temple's "Animal Crackers in My Soup."

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

Yes. I remember what Soylent Green was. Just the thought made me want to go back and rent the movie to watch again. You know those far-fetched sci-fi scenarios are becoming less and less far-fetched, aren't they?



Mary Wickison from USA on July 02, 2020:

Darn, my first attempt at commenting fell into a black hole when I clicked on the link about soy yogurt.

I've lived in the UK so I know the confusion with biscuits and cookies. I had looks of horror when I told them I like biscuits and gravy. I wasn't aware of the history though. Thanks.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Manatita, please don't speak to me of leaving this Earth so soon. My hope is for 100. I had my children late in life and want to see them reach their "place." There probably will not be grandchildren, and that is a sadness for very much.

Do you, dear sir, have grand offspring?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Doris, I sincerely hope that the yogurt recipe can work for you.

As for our mastery of the English language, goodness knows? I had 3 years of Spanish and can barely remember "dos Cervezas por favor." But, amazingly, when I was in Italy I could not speak the language, but I could understand enough of the written word to get by (or at least not be terribly embarrassed or disappointed).

The kitty pic is from a free web service (Pixabay) but, like you, I think she looks very much like my baby girl who left us 6 years ago. {{Sigh}}.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 29, 2020:

Thank you, Linda, for the link to a non-dairy yogurt recipe. I'll dig out ye ole yogurt maker and hope it's still working. I laughed until I hurt at Denise's comment. English, especially American English, really is a mixed up language. I don't understand how I was talented enough in English to make it a career (30 years as a legal editor and 3 years newspaper copyeditor) yet I have no talent at learning a foreign language. Love the little kitty. She looks like my baby Katrina who crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2012 at nearly 20 years of age.

manatita44 from london on June 29, 2020:

Cookies and biscuits, what can I say? Each has its own merits, I suppose. We don't automatically call our drink beverages as 'sodas.'

Ioannis used to have a lantern photo on his Hub, whenever he did my interviews. You cat just reminded me.

I'll see you for a few more years, God's willing. Mom left at 77 and I'm getting a little tired. Anyway, who knows the Will of Heaven? Much Peace.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Denise, you've got me laughing out loud. All that you've shared makes sense in a twisted sort of way; I hadn't thought about it (and kinda glad I didn't). Thank you for that great addition to this article. (BTW do you know what Soylent Green was really about? It's not vegan).

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 29, 2020:

I think you are right about the future. Either we will be eating more vegan means with the slightest meat garnish on the side or they will go completely soylent green on us. I appreciate the word history lesson. I often wondered about biscuits/cookies myself. Things like calling a trunk of a car a boot make sense to me but not cookies. Did you know that back in the 12th century in England the ruling Normans brought over their French cooks, but used the Saxon surfs to grow the food and tend the farms. That is why when it is on the hoof, its a cow but when it's on the plate, it's beef (French boeuf) and when it's scratching around it's a chicken, but when it's on the plate it's poultry (French poulet) and when it's wallowing in the mud it's a pig but when it's on the plate it's pork (French porc). I'd say English is a mixed-up language for sure.



Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Me too sis. I haven't had breakfast yet. When are you going to make them?

I'm not a dunker either. Gosh, another thing we have in common.

Yeah, that little guy is adorbs, isn't he? I couldn't resist posting that photo. Have a great day.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Eric, good morning, and I think you memory is spot-on. Doing our own yogurt and sourdough bread was a very hippy/yuppy thing (giving a new meaning to the name culture club?).

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Thank you Pamela. I'm sorry that you have a problem with dairy. Is it the lactose? Have a safe week. I'll have another article for everyone tomorrow.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Bill, put those guilt feelings aside. I'm good as gold. And, thanks for the brownie points--I need all the help I can get.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2020:

Flourish, that is very kind of you. These typically take about 4 to 6 hours of work--this one was double that. But I love what I do and I'm always happy to help.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 29, 2020:

God I hope I didn't give you a massive headache. I would feel guilty about that for, oh, say five minutes at least. lol

Thanks for answering my annoying question. You gained brownie points for sure.

Happy Monday my friend! Get out there and enjoy that garden of yours.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 29, 2020:

There sure is a difference in the two pictures. I am dairy challenged also but I like coconut milk. I am allergic to almonds too, so the milk choices are a little slim foe me.

The biscuit and biscuit history is interesting. I always enjoy your informative articles. Have a very good week, Linda.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 29, 2020:

So cool. Only an excellent writer and chef could have explained the differences so well. My wife learned ESL Aussie style and of course has her native tongue we call all these treats, whatever we feel like in the moment.

We are into store bought non-dairy Greek yogurt. I seem to recall back int the '70's we had culture for our yogurt that came from decades before and the same for some bread. Is that just a slip of memory?

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 29, 2020:

Today's kitty looks so alert and focused, Linda. What a cutie!

Interesting information about biscuit versus cookie. I'll always think of a biscuit as something light, fluffy and meant for butter and honey or gravy. I also prefer soft, chewy cookies over the crunchy kind. Probably because I'm not a dunker. Anyway, I almost chuckled over America creating a new culinary vocabulary out of rebellion.

I sure could go for a nice flaky biscuit right about now!

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 28, 2020:

I was impressed with your answers to both Bill and Doris. Lots or research and detail.

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