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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #157

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


We Can Do This

Although this weekly column is not a political platform by any stretch of the imagination, I feel that I can't simply turn a blind eye to the sorrow that exists in our world. Storms and floods, wildfires and chaos, pandemic and death, and each of us have our own set of burdens. I found these words to be of comfort:

"He said, 'In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm. I realized, through it all, that in the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger—something better, pushing right back'."

—Albert Camus (French philosopher, author, and journalist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44 in 1957, the second-youngest recipient in history.)

My place of tranquility and peace

My place of tranquility and peace

Let's Begin

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.

What Do Those Cooking Terms Mean?

"This is a vocabulary type question. I think I was whisking eggs for Gabe this morning, of course following your answers to making eggs, but it struck me that I may have been stirring them or beating them. I bet I do more than just this. What does it all mean all the way to kneading?"

Eric, that's a great question, and is one of the reasons I enjoy writing this column so much. If you've ever taught a class or conducted a workshop, sometimes you find that you learn, or re-learn right along with your students. In preparing, you recognize that so much of what you do in your given field is driven out of habit; you've done it "this way" for 101 years, and why change? But in stopping to examine the process, many times you find that you start looking at it with a new, fresh set of eyes.

And that is exactly what your son is encouraging (forcing?) you to do. Things you (and I) took for granted we are now re-evaluating, re-examining. What you need is a lexicon, and perhaps a few videos. Let's see how much we can get accomplished today. If the list grows too long (I'm making this up as I go along) we might need to break this into several installments. Are you ready?

Lexicon of Cooking Tasks, Part 1

Aerate – To add air to an ingredient or “fluff it up” to make it lighter. A good example is the sifting of flour. Whipping butter is another. Place a stick of room temperature butter in the bowl of a mixer. Whip it and it will increase in volume. And then, consider eggs. The whites of eggs can increase 4 times their original volume when whipped to stiff peaks.

Baste - To spoon, brush, or squirt a liquid (meat drippings, stock, barbecue sauce, melted butter, etc.) on food while it cooks to prevent drying out and to add flavor.

Beat - To mix rapidly in order to make a mixture smooth and light. (I'll jump in here because you asked about whisking.) Whisking is a step above beating—when you whisk you also incorporate air. Think of "whisking egg whites until they are cloud-like and ethereal.

Blanch - To immerse in rapidly boiling water and cook ever so slightly, just moments and then plunge into an ice water bath to quickly remove the heat. This is often done with green vegetables (such as asparagus or broccoli) to remove the raw quality but not totally cook. Notice how brightly green and pretty a piece of blanched broccoli looks compared to its raw counterpart.

Blend - To incorporate two or more ingredients thoroughly.

Boil - To heat a liquid until bubbles break continually on the surface. This isn’t a mere simmer. We’re talking full-on bubbles jumping and leaping.

Braise - A cooking method where meat or vegetables are first browned in butter and/or oil, then cooked in a covered pot in a small amount of cooking liquid at low heat for a long period of time. This slow cooking process both tenderizes the food by breaking down the fibers and creates a full-flavored dish. This is how we typically prepare a stew.

Bread – To coat the surface of a food with a mixture of flour or breadcrumbs before cooking or frying to achieve a crunchy coating.

Broil – To cook close to a direct heat source. (The difference between broil and grill, by the way, is this—when you broil the heat comes from above, when you grill the heat is below the food).

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Char - To seal in the flavor and juices of food (such as meat) by blackening its surface in a skillet, over an open flame, or under a broiler.

Chiffonade - The French term for a particular knife cut where herbs and leafy greens are cut into very thin strips, like ribbons. The easiest way to achieve this is to stack up the leaves then roll them (like a cigar). Then, take your sharpest knife and cut very thin slices.

Cream - To beat an ingredient or ingredients with a spoon or beaters until light and fluffy or of a "creamy" consistency. Most often used in reference to butter or shortening, with or without sugar, in baking recipes.

Cube - To cut food into smaller pieces, roughly the size of dice. This is somewhat ironic because dicing food produces smaller pieces.

Cut in - When a solid fat such as butter or shortening is mixed with a dry ingredients like flour until they form small particles. You can use a food processor fitted with a metal blade and just pulse it, or a pastry blender, or your own trusty fingers.

Defat (or degrease) - To remove fat from the surface of stews, soups, or stock. The best method is to cool in the refrigerator so that fat hardens and is easily removed. If strapped for time, or working with poultry (for which the fat never completely solidifies) I highly recommend a fat separator. (They are available at BedBathandBeyond and on Amazon).

Deglaze – After cooking (fry, sauté, or roast) foods in a pan there will be juices and little brown bits left in the bottom of the pan. Add liquid and stir and scrape over high heat to melt those bits and turn all of it into a savory liquid that can be added to your sauce, or turned into gravy.

Dice - To cut food into small cubes of uniform size and shape, about ¼-inch.

Dredge - When you lightly coat food to be pan-fried or sautéed. Typical coatings are flour, cornmeal, or breadcrumbs.

OK, let's pause for now. There are many more "action verb" terms in cooking that we need to understand. More next week.


Can You Make Your Own Aquafaba?

Aquafaba, the liquid in canned garbanzo or white beans, is one of the greatest inventions for the vegan cook. Three tablespoons of the stuff can take the place of an egg in baking. And, believe it or not, it can be whipped to glorious heights to create:

  • meringue
  • mousse
  • ice cream
  • buttercream frosting
  • marshmallow fluff
  • macaroons
  • mayonnaise
  • butter
  • aioli
  • and even vegan mozzarella cheese

Here's a link to 20 amazing recipes. But, do you have to rely on canned beans? Although I keep a few cans of beans in the pantry, I usually cook my own beans—it takes longer but is so inexpensive!

Here's how to make your own aquafaba (and end up with some cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans too).


  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 4 cups water


  1. Place the chickpeas in a large pot; cover with the water and let them sit overnight.
  2. The next day, check the water level on the chickpeas. If they aren't completely covered with water, add just enough to get them totally submerged.
  3. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling reduce the heat to low so that the beans are merely simmering. Cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the beans are tender.
  4. When the beans are done, use a strainer to separate the cooking liquid from the beans. Let it cool. You should have about 3/4 cup to 1 cup. If there is more than that, place the liquid in a small saucepan and boil down. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes.

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.

My Gift to You

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 October 07, 2020:

Thank you for your kind words Miss Dora. I will have a few more terms to share in the next few weeks (A thru Z).

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 07, 2020:

Thanks especially for the vocabulary lesson. I like chickpeas as a protein source, so thanks also for the recipe. Your opening quote is a keeper. Thanks for everything.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 06, 2020:

Mary, I'll have an answer for you on those cooked beans next Monday and will have a fresh set of terms for you to exercise your gray matter.

Mary Wickison from USA on October 06, 2020:

Can you believe it, just yesterday I threw the white bean liquid down the drain. I considered putting it in my soup but it taste like there was vinegar in it. I didn't read the label though so I'm not sure.

Because I am cooking for one, cooking beans seems to leave me with way too many if I cook a whole pot. Can I freeze cooked beans?

Your lexicon of terms is interesting. I think we can always learn new ways of doing things. Plus it keeps the gray matter functioning.

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

Denise, I'm glad that you found this. In addition to comments (or lack thereof in the niche sites). I awoke this morning to find that the notifications are not working. I hope this is simply a glitch and not another "improvement."

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 05, 2020:

Awesome. Thanks for the aquafaba recipes. I've made my own vegan mayo with the aquafaba and I really like it. I'm ready to check out some more recipes using it.



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

Pamela, the notification thing appears to be broken today. I don't know why. I'll complain to HP (I haven't yelled at anyone there for a week and they're probably concerned about my health).

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

Eric, as always I look forward to hearing from you.

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

Good morning Shauna. I didn't get notification of Bill Holland's weekly post either, so it isn't simply retaliation (you conspiracy theorist hahaha) but another glitch that they'd better fix pretty darned quick.

I'm glad you enjoyed the kitties. I could watch them over and over again. The tabby on the left reminds me of my Kyla who died 6 years ago. Very smart and funny.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 05, 2020:

This was a different and an unusual article. We think we know all these things then we real the real definition and find out we are not so smart. I appreciated reading all this terms and learned a couple of things, Linda.

I did not get an email for this article of for any since yesterday so I came to look for it as you are consistent with your articles. I have no ideas as to why. Have a great week!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 05, 2020:

Thank you. I sure am learning a whole lot. I will be back to digest more.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 05, 2020:

The ding-a-ling kitties gave me such giggles, Linda. Thank you!

As many cakes as I've baked in my lifetime, I never knew you're to fluff the butter before adding the sugar. I've always added them to the mixing bowl at the same time. I never had a cake fail, but now I know!

On a side note, I didn't receive notification of this post, Sis. Only after having an email conversation with you did I know to go to your page to find this article. Bummer.

Have a great week, my dear friend. Love your serenity garden. I'd love to walk it with you!

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