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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #155

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

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It's All a Matter of Perspective

"Imagine you were born in 1900. Many would think that that was a pretty simple time of life. On your 14th birthday, World War I starts; it ends when you are 18. Twenty-two million people perish in that war, including many of your friends who volunteered to defend freedom in Europe.

Later in that year, a Spanish Flu pandemic hits the planet; it runs until your 20th birthday. Fifty million people die from it in those two years—yes, 50 million. Then when you are only 29 years of age, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops by 27%. This continues until you are 38 years old. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. If you were lucky, you had a job that paid $300 a year—a dollar a day.

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet, but don’t try to catch your breath. If you lived in London, England, or most of continental Europe, the bombing of your neighborhood or invasion of your country by foreign soldiers along with their tanks and artillery was a daily event. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

When you're 50, the Korean War begins. Five million perish. At 55, the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. Four million people die in that conflict. On your 62nd birthday, there is the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could have ended. Sensible leaders prevented that from happening.

In 2020, we have the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the globe almost 1 million have died; it feels pretty dangerous, and it is. Now think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you think they survived all of the above?

When you were a kid in 1965, you didn’t think your 65-year-old grandparents understood how hard school was, and how mean that kid in your class is. Yet they survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art. Refined as time goes on, and very enlightening. So, let’s try and keep things in perspective. Let’s be smart; we are all in this together. Let’s help each other out, and we will get through all of this." —Author Unknown.

I'm Ready, Are You?

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.

Healthy Cookies for Hamsters (and Humans?)

"This was Gabe’s first real foray into baking. We decided to make cakes for Yetti the hamster. Really more like mini-cookies. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Flour and oats. Not a tough task which yielded 28 dishes to do ;-) . He had a blast with ingredients and blending and whisking. We did not have tiny cookie cutters. So we just baked them at 360 degrees after he flattened the “dough out”. They were a smash for Yetti, but we agreed only 1 or 2 biscuits a day. I went on upon my business and came back and nearly half of it was gone. I freaked out.

Turns out the boy loved them. What is a dad to do with that boy? Gabe simply said, “make more”.

Now I think I get baking soda and salt. But I really do not have a clue on this leavening deal. Next, should we make it into a batch of cookies also? What the heck is the difference? Biscuits, crackers and chips, and bread. Hmmph.

Anyhow, I thought you might like that funny story.

Eric, what fun you must have had! I can just imagine the two of you mixing this and that—and I'm not at all surprised that Gabe ate half of them. (He's a growing boy).

Anyhow, what you were concocting sounds very much like what I call a "breakfast cookie." But before we get started, I checked online to find out if there are foods that hamsters should and should not have in their diets:

  • Grains are great, so the oatmeal was a good choice. Limit nuts because they are "fatty" and can lead to obesity. (We don't want a porky hamster).
  • Fruits are also good—apples, pears, strawberries, and bananas all get high marks. Keep these in mind because of the next item.
  • Sugar is a no-no.

So, if we (you) bake cookies for Yetti, you need to consider using fresh fruits with natural sugars for the sweetening—no added processed sugar. Here are several recipes for you:

  • Banana breakfast cookies: Omit the cinnamon, chocolate chips, and salt and reduce the peanut butter to 2 tablespoons. The consistency won't be quite the same as what Gabe would like, and might seem a little bland, but you have to keep Yetti's slim figure in mind. Also, this recipe makes 1 dozen cookies. I don't know how big Yetti is (or should be), but just a portion of one cookie is probably more than enough for a little rodent.
  • Blackberry breakfast cookies: This one might be pretty close to what you and Gabe were working on. Omit the salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and reduce the honey to 3 tablespoons (that's half the amount suggested in the recipe).

Rabbit Stew

Eric (Dierker), somewhere in time you asked me about the cooking of rabbit, specifically hasenpfeffer, a dish that your mom used to make. Rabbit shows up not only in the German dish of your memories but is well-known in other cuisines as well.

Let's get honest—I've never eaten rabbit, never cooked it, and never will. That's just me. But if in this column I can research how to cook guinea pig or cow hump, I can certainly do this. Let's get started.

German hasenpfeffer: This rich, flavorful begins with marinating rabbit in a mixture of vinegar and warm spices for 2 or 3 days (yes, that's the tradition). Then it's braised in that same marinade with fresh herbs.

Rabbit Stew (Great Britain): The Brits take a simpler approach to cooking rabbit--perhaps because they are using meat purchased at the market and not wild game. They use just the legs, salt and pepper them, dredge with flour, and then cook with onions and celery, much as one might cook chicken or turkey legs. It's a much simpler method that takes about 2 hours.

Coniglio alla cacciatora: This is actually a Sicilian dish flavored with briny green olives, capers, raisins, and white wine. Chicken can, of course, be substituted for the rabbit. By the way, one kilogram of rabbit is about 2 1/4 pounds.

Lapin à la moutarde en cocotte: I'll make this one with chicken. The meat is seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed in butter, then braised with shallots, thyme, mustard, and white wine. Yum.

Homemade Flavored Coffee Creamer

I have a question for an upcoming Q&A. When I was in the States my sisters had a flavored Coffee-Mate liquid. Is this something I can make at home? I think they had vanilla and hazelnut. It made a nice (occasional) change from milk or cream in my coffee.

Coffee and cream

Coffee and cream

Mary, this was an amazingly easy one to answer. I don't use coffee creamer, so can't really testify to how good any of these are; I hope you find something here that is to your liking.

Over 20 Flavors: This recipe relies on a base of cream (or half and half) plus sweetened condensed milk. The flavors available (with the addition of extracts and spices) are:

  • French vanilla, vanilla caramel, cinnamon vanilla, honey vanilla
  • Chocolate, chocolate almond, chocolate raspberry, chocolate orange, chocolate hazelnut
  • Strudel, cinnamon cake, Samoa (like the Girl Scout cookies)
  • Irish cream, sweet cream, eggnog
  • Peppermint patty, Almond Joy
  • Pumpkin spice
  • Salted caramel
  • Toasted almond, hazelnut, coconut

Coconut Milk Non-Dairy Creamer: This vanilla-flavored coffee creamer is dairy free, vegan, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, no processed sugar, no preservatives, healthy fats from whole foods, free from trans-fats, and (most important) super tasty

Instant Coffee Creamer Mix: Powdered milk is the base for this creamer; the advantage of this recipe is that it will keep for a long time on your pantry shelf.

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 September 22, 2020:

Shauna, I'm sorry for the downer intro, but it's all about putting things into perspective. There has always been something going on in this world--wars and illness. The people of Europe in the 15th century were probably assuming that they were in end-times because "how could is get any worse?"

I think Eric and his son have way too much fun (not possible; I'm joking).

I'll never cook rabbit, but if you substitute chicken I think some of those recipes could be quite tasty. As for the creamer, I take mine black, but coconut does sound kinda good, doesn't it?

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 22, 2020:

Linda, the intro is very powerful (and a bit depressing, honestly). To think a person's life can be measured by the wars that span a lifetime is sad. Where's the flip side of the coin?

I found Eric's question about baking for a hamster very whimsical and amusing. I don't think I would have thought of baking for a hamster. I certainly don't think about baking for my cats. Anyway, what you came up with is very interesting.

I'm with you regarding rabbit. No thank you.

Mary's question about homemade coffee creamer was a good one. The recipe you provide for coconut milk creamer is easy and sounds very tasty. I might have to give that a try.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 21, 2020:

Mary, two hours seems pushing it to the limit. I'll do my typical "super sleuthing" and get back to you next week. Thanks for a timely question.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on September 21, 2020:

Such a powerful opening. Let's hope history isn't going to repeat itself.

Thanks for answering my question. I didn't realize how simple they would be to make. A special treat for the weekend I think.

I was recently watching a video where Jamie Oliver was preparing a Christmas dinner. He said the turkey should set for two hours after cooking. The guest said, (as I would have) how will it still be hot. Jamie, didn't show that so I thought I'd ask you. He pulled foil away and it was hot but two hours seems a long time. Will foil over a turkey keep it hot enough for two hours?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 21, 2020:

Abby, the comments on Corona aren't mine, but I did tweek them a bit to improve the grammar and readability. I don't know who originally wrote them. Thanks.

I hope the index is useful to you; it's getting quite lengthy. If you have any suggestions on improving it, please let me know. Have a great week.

Abby Slutsky from America on September 21, 2020:

I loved your Corona comments. The pics were great. I will have to check out your index.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 21, 2020:

Bill, they're not gonna get this old gal down, that's for sure.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 21, 2020:

Eric, I'm glad you liked the recipes. I try each week to have something for everybody--even Mr. Bill.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 21, 2020:

Pamela, my mom and dad were born in 1908 and 1906, respectively. I wonder what stories their parents told them?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 21, 2020:

Flourish, I know--I just couldn't.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

Perspective for sure, my friend, and you pointed that out perfectly. We humans are made of tough stuff; we just have to tap into our DNA and we will be shown how to cope.

I have had rabbit, and it's delicious!

Happy Monday, my friend. Stay safe and stay tough!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 21, 2020:

I got you early on this one - last night. I think my dreams were changed a bit, all to the good. (lest one gets upset -- Rabbits in the range and gardens are very often very bad pests sometimes destroying whole crops of food and causing livestock and horse problems)

Those recipes sound and look so good.

What a great perspective on our history. Really puts things in a different light. The doom and gloom seems lifted a bit, thanks.

I am down with the powdered milk creamer idea. There were so many of us kids, milk was just too expensive so we lived on powdered milk.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 21, 2020:

Happy Monday, Linda!

This is an interestiing article as you reviewed all the horrible aspects of history and here we were told that was the best generation. My mother was born in 1924 and I thought here genertion was good partially because people were united during WWII. They had victory gardens and wonderful dances. Oh well, it is not something we can change.

My grandfather cooked rabbit in various ways and it was tasty, Some of it was on the outdoor grill. I could never kill a rabbit and I never saw him kill one either. The recipes you showed did look delicious. As for cream, I don't use it either. Have a great week.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 21, 2020:

Don’t eat dose wascally wabbits pwease!