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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #163

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


The Final Chapter

My dear friends, as I write this I am feeling sad, discouraged, frustrated, angry, and in a state of disbelief. (Yes, I think those are the stages of grief, aren't they?)

I want to continue this series, but because of changes made by The Maven Corporation that is simply not possible. Comments are disabled. Promises have been made to reinstate comments "at some time." I believe those promises were made with fingers crossed and that Maven has absolutely no interest in our community and our ability to share and interact with one another.

Maven is a business, driven by the bottom line, and will only support writing that drives page views and generates income. My silly little series is important to me and to a handful of you, but it isn't a revenue generator.

Without the ability to receive comments from any of you, this series simply cannot work.

OK, Let's Look at the Mailbox One Last Time

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 happened every Monday.

How to Quickly Infuse Chicken with Flavor

"I have a question for you. I was making a chicken dish with a sauce. Because I debone the chicken, it cooks fast and I don't want to be hanging around in the kitchen. My stove isn't great at simmering and I am forgetful.

"What I want to know, can I make a mixture of herbs that don't need much cooking time. If I soak, let's say oregano, basil, rosemary, and a bay leaf in some water and just pour the water into the sauce will I get the herb flavoring?"

Mary, I think you’re on the right track, but instead of water, I’d infuse the flavor of herbs in one of these ways:

Prepare a marinade: Your chicken will have flavor inside and out, and the meat will be moist and juicy. Here are several marinade ideas for chicken breasts:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons water


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Herb Oil: Make herb-infused oil for sauteing your chicken breasts.

Make an herb pesto and then turn that pesto into a sauce.

Tell Me Something About Potatoes

"How about a challenge for your next installment: give us all a recipe and a historical fact about the regal potato that you haven't given us before. This should be a piece of cake for our Diva!"

Bill, I don't know if I would call the potato "regal," but it certainly has been around for a long, long time. The plant that eventually became the potato originated in the area between Peru and Bolivia, and scientists say that it has evolved over a period of 350 million years. Perhaps venerable is a more apt title.

Did you know that potatoes share DNA with bell peppers, tomatoes, the tobacco plant, and even deadly nightshade? That's why we're cautioned to NEVER eat the leaves, stems, or sprouts. If you've grown both potatoes and tomatoes you've probably seen the similarity in their blossoms.

In the 1500s when the Spanish did their conquistador thing in the New World, they took samples of the potato home with them. It received less than glowing approval. Who could imagine a plant that is poisonous (except for the underground roots)? Peru's perfect potato plant was viewed by some as at least weird and by many as evil and responsible for almost every known ailment from leprosy and sterility to syphilis, sexual compulsion, and early death. (OK, so that last one was probably accurate if they ate more than the tubers).

You can thank a French botanist and chemist for recognizing the potato's true potential. He convinced Louis XVI, the King of France, that the plant was worth cultivating. Louis granted 100 acres of land to the scientist which were planted and then heavily guarded by the King's soldiers. That sparked everyone's attention, and ultimately the potato found favor with the populace.

Scroll to Continue

Now, you want a recipe that you've never seen before? How about a chocolate cake made with grated potato?

Chocolate potato cake

Chocolate potato cake

Cooking Terms

In the past few weeks, I've been providing an alphabetical listing of cooking terms—not all, just the action verbs, the things we do in the kitchen. Here's the final segment.

Temper: Technically, to moderate. In cooking, tempering most often refers to slightly warming beaten eggs, by rapidly stirring a little of the hot ingredients into them, before adding them to the hot mixture so that they will combine, stirring rapidly again, without solidifying (turning into scrambled eggs).

Thickening: The culinary process used to give body to a liquid. The French word for thickening is "liaison". There are several methods depending on the ingredients used.

  • starch (cornstarch, arrowroot, or ground rice)
  • egg yolk, blood, cream, or liver.
  • a roux.
  • a mixture of egg and flour.
  • whipped cream or butter just before serving.

Thin: To add a liquid to a preparation in order to make it less thick.

Tourage: The French term for a technique of making puff pastry dough by continually folding and rolling out the dough to make hundreds of dough layers that rise when baked.

Truss – To thread twine through the body of poultry for the purpose of holding the legs and sometimes the wings in place during cooking.

Turbiner – A French culinary term meaning to freeze ice creams and sorbets until solid.

Tureen – Any variety of deep, lidded dishes used in the service of hot liquids (soups, stews, etc.)

Turn: To shape vegetables into a specific shape with a knife.

Vandyke: To decoratively cut fruits or vegetables (usually oranges, tomatoes, or lemons) in a zig-zag pattern around the circumference. The food is usually used as a garnish to decorate a dish.

Vanner: A French term meaning to stir or whisk a mixture until it has cooled.

Venue: A French term for the assembly and preparation of confections or pastries.

Whip: To beat ingredients vigorously to incorporate air. This produces expansion, as in heavy cream or egg whites.

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 created.


I'd Love to Hear from You

If the ability to leave comments is reinstated I will resurrect this series. Nevertheless, you can write to me personally at this email address:

Take care my friends.

© 2020 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 17, 2020:

Thank you Flourish. Perhaps it was time for a break. I appreciate your support and treasure your friendship.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 17, 2020:

Keep your chin up, diva! We love you!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 17, 2020:

John, thanks for taking the time to find me. I've not made the cake, but the concept reminds me of a zucchini cake (which is delicious).

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 16, 2020:

Denise, a neutral oil is best. Canola is at the top of the list, olive oil is neutral if it is extra virgin (first press), and avocado falls somewhere in the middle.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 16, 2020:

I'm still able to comment by clicking on the HubPages name at the top of my page and that gives me the feed with a comment option. It doesn't seem convenient but at least I can comment.

I've often thought about herb-infused oil. Should I use only olive oil or would avocado or even canola oil work?

Thanks for keeping this up. I love reading other's comments and questions and your answers.



Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 16, 2020:

Hi Shauna. I will certainly give the kitty a hug (but you know how it goes with cats, gotta be on her terms). I can feel that hug. As I told Peggy Woods, I'll be pumping out a foodie article each Tuesday, but the Q&A just feels a little cumbersome right now.

And, while we're on the topic, why did just a handful of them go to Discover HP but the others did not?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 16, 2020:

Peggy, I am not going away, but for the near future, I will be concentrating on publishing (as I always have) a food-related article. This will happen each Tuesday and does not require input from others to make it happen. Any comments that occur before it gets whisked off to the niche site are, of course, welcome.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 16, 2020:

Hey, Linda! Here I come slithering through the back door. I just couldn't stand sitting in an empty room while I read this episode. Since we've learned the back door trick, will you consider continuing this series?

Give kitty a hug for me. She looks so sad. And give one to yourself. My arms are outstretched, but can't quite make it to you!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 16, 2020:

I am glad that you are going to keep writing on this site. I see others have already told you how we can still make comments. It takes a bit more effort to do so. I hope they make it easier for us as it was in the past.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 16, 2020:

Bill, I had to go through the back door (from my dashboard) to even find the comments that you and 3 others had made. Thanks for your support. I'm not going away.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

I found you on the feed, so here I am finally. As always, well-written and easy to understand. As always, an article deserving of a place in an anthology. :) Stay dry this week. It looks like a wet one.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 16, 2020:

This is another good Q and A article, and I am able to comment. I always learn things from your article. I would like to see something about fish as it is so expensive that making a choice of type isn't easy.

If you go onto your profile page and click on Hubpages you can make comments on most articles. Of course, you can answer comments on your stats page.

I would encourage you to stick around a little longer. This is a unique article that many of us look forward to each week, although I am not able to do much cooking these days. We never quit learning.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 16, 2020:

Aww, I can feel your frustration about commenting through the Internet, dear diva and am so sorry. Worse than the problem itself and delay in responsiveness is the lack of understanding and empathy about how important this feature is to Hubbers. After all, they did advertise HP as "Connect" as well as other things (in order to de-emphasize the money-making expectations among Hubbers.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 15, 2020:

I am sorry this is your last cooking Q and A for now Linda. I am contemplating ending Poems From the Porch too...I need comments so I can have prompts for my poetry. Anyway, I am almost ready to publish one. Let’s cross our fingers comments are reinstated soon.

A grated potato chocolate cake...really?

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