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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #43

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


I've written 43 of these columns and truthfully, the questions I dealt with this past week are the strangest I have ever seen. I wonder if my dear friends are pranking me, or challenging me to see how much I can truly handle?

The first two questions are fine, but after that, it gets strange.

How to Make a Good (or Even GREAT) Fruit Salad

I have a question about fruit salads. Is there a definitive idea about fruit salad? I ask because a friend of mine and I have differing views, hers is quite wet, and loose, and mine is the opposite, chunky with honey and a little juice. I'd love to hear your ideas about a good after dinner fruit salad.


This was the easy question. (Thank goodness!)

Mary, I don't think there is a right or wrong, it's more a case of personal preference. Yesterday I was watching a program on the cooking channel, and well-known chefs were showing their recipes for "perfect fried chicken." All of them looked wonderful and each was proclaimed to be the best, but no two were made the same.

The description of your friend's dish reminds me of the fruit salads served at too many church potlucks. Canned peaches and canned pears (or fruit cocktail) are combined with grapes and bananas. (Get really bold by adding a can of mandarin oranges). "Dry vanilla pudding mix is blended with reserved fruit juice to make a wonderful sauce". Really?

Pardon my lack of enthusiasm. Perhaps that isn't what your friend is doing, but let's think about what can turn a fruit salad from lackluster to luscious!

  • Buy fresh - Please don't use canned fruit. It just never has the same bright flavor or crisp texture. Use what is in season.
  • Mix it up - Just like planting a flower bed, strive for different colors and textures.
  • But make it the same - Try to keep your pieces of fruit all about the same size (the obvious exception is if you are using fresh blueberries or huckleberries. You don't want to mince your other pieces of fruit that small).
  • Don't play favorites - Use equal amounts of each fruit.
  • Make it zesty - A little lemon or lime zest or a spritz of fresh juice. Ooh, la la!
  • Go green - Mint isn't just for juleps. If you have access to fresh mint, use it. Or if you're feeling bold, add a small amount of fresh minced rosemary. Trust me.

Root Beer Ice Cream

Bev loves root beer ice cream, but it is next to impossible to find in stores. I wonder why that is??? Is there some chemical reason why root beer cannot be frozen? It seems like a natural for an ice cream flavor, but you cannot find it. Just wondering if you had any clue.


Bill, you have completely stumped me. No one (and I mean no one) manufactures root-beer flavored ice cream on a regular basis. Breyer's made "A&W Root Beer Float" and Dreyers/Edy's had a "Limited Edition Root Beer Float". Both were discontinued in 2009.

Umpqua Ice Cream has root beer float-flavored ice cream on a seasonal basis (May to October) but, I can't find it in your zip code.

For you, and everyone else in the world who would like to have root-beer flavored ice cream, I have a few suggestions to offer:

Ice Cream Bars

Lucerne ice cream makes them in root beer float flavor

Ice Cream Topping

Scroll to Continue

Check out A&W Root Beer Float Dessert Topper, 12-Ounce

Torani Classic Root Beer Syrup

The manufacturers of Torani syrups has this recipe for a root beer shake:

Brown Velvet Shake

  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) Torani Classic Root Beer Syrup
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) whole milk
  • 1 cup (8oz) premium vanilla ice cream

Combine all ingredients in a blender pitcher and blend until smooth

Homemade Ice Cream

I found two recipes. One is easy-peasy (no-churn), and other other one is more traditional (make a custard, blend the ingredients, chill, process in an ice cream maker, and then freeze).

I can see no reason why the manufacturers aren't making root beer-flavored ice cream other than that root beer itself has perhaps faded in popularity, hence a lower demand.

My Favorite Things


In the category of human beings, I'm closer to munchkin than mammoth. My hands are small and so gripping large jars has always been a challenge. Now that arthritis has crept into my life (actually it was more of a rampage), my jar wrench is indispensable.

here's my favorite

here's my favorite

There are many kinds on the market. Some are in a C-shape, the curve is wrapped around the back edge of the lid and the two ends are grasped tightly. That's probably fine for someone who still has good grip strength. But for me...not so much.

Some are mounted under the cabinet, and I can see the benefit. That frees up both hands to grasp the jar. So, buy one for yourself or your partner. You might not need it today, but someday you will. (It's a small thing, but a big deal if you're craving pickles).

Now then, the remainder of this ride is going to be bumpy, so tighten your seat belt.

That's Disgusting!

As a guest have you ever been served something so truly terrible tasting or objectionable that you just couldn’t or wouldn’t eat it? If so, what would you recommend as options, especially if you want to try not to insult the cook? (The counterpart to this question might also be. (As the cook and host, how do you avoid this dilemma and keep the peace with guests?)


Part 1

Flourish, I am relieved to be able to say that I've never encountered something so terribly disgusting that I could not move fork to mouth. Potlucks are probably the worst offenders and places where you might find that "eeww" moment. But with a potluck, it's easy to just keep moving on. (Of course, if the offending cook is hovering over her dish and encouraging you to try some, you can always take a sample portion with a smile, and then move on down the line knowing where that sample will end up.)

Maybe I just don't get out enough.

I'm going to assume that if there is a main course, there is also a side, or a salad, or perhaps an amazing dessert sitting on the sideline. Load up on the good things, take a tiny portion of the disgusting stuff and engage in lovely conversation until everyone else has finished eating.

As for hosting a dinner, I always ask if there are food allergies or if someone is a vegetarian or vegan. Actually, since my daughters are vegetarian (and one was vegan for a while) I tend to cook in that direction or have enough options available so that if someone doesn't want a meat protein they won't feel left out.

I have a dear friend who can't eat anything in the potato/tomato family, is gluten intolerant, and can't handle dairy. At first glance, you might think you're reduced to a gruel of rice but I prefer to take it on as a challenge, to explore new ways of making old standbys. It can be done. Do you think this is the springboard for another hub?

Part 2

I was pretty confident in my response until I received a few more details from Flourish via email. She was in Peru where roasted guinea pig is considered a delicacy.

Yes, the whole thing, head, guts, paws and all.

But let's think about this for a moment. Guinea pigs are rodents, but so are rabbits which I'm sure you've heard "taste just like chicken." The guinea pigs consumed in Peru are not scurrying about wild like rats. They are raised on farms for one thing, and one thing only.

The presentation certainly leaves something to be desired, but I guess if an eager host was beaming at me, proud of his or her offering, I'd do as the young woman in the video, searching for some part without paws and not near the head or tail.

By the way, not that it was on my bucket list, but for SURE I'm not traveling to Peru. Ever!

Cow Hump?

Have I asked you about cow hump? It is popular here but I have unsuccessfully tried to cook it twice. Here it is called 'cupim'.

My husband says it looks like horse meat. I have had it at a restaurant that specialized in BBQ and it was really good, and would like to make it here. I know it can be roasted, barbecued, or even done in a pressure cooker but don't want to fail a third time. Any thoughts?


My initial response was this:

Mary, cow hump? That sounds like the punchline for a really bad joke. No, you hadn't asked me, but yes I will regretfully explore this topic. Wow, you never cease to amaze me.

Cow hump. I explored, and it turns out that #1 the cow isn't a cow, and #2 the hump is a bump, on the shoulders of a zebu.

Zebus originally came from India and are the primary beef animal throughout the tropical world. They are exceptionally tolerant of heat and drought. In fact, they constitute 80% of all the beef cattle raised in Brazil.

I could not find cooking instructions for zebu, but it seems to me that they look very similar to what is known as a Brahman (please let me know if this is incorrect). The meat is heavily marbelized (that means it contains LOTS of fat), but according to this article, the way to deal with the fat and obtain a fork-tender piece of meat is to cook very low and very slow—130 degrees for 10 hours.


And, it's a wrap. Another fun mailbox. Forty-three weeks. (Hmmm, I wonder how many keystrokes that is?) Remember, you can leave your questions below or email me at

See you next Monday!

© 2018 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on August 06, 2018:

Thank you for your kind words Ann. I feel that this one stretched me out a bit. I will look for that book that you recommended. Instead of focusing on what one can't eat, try to find the positive.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 06, 2018:

What a fascinating mix of questions this week!

I love doing fruit salad as it's so colourful and you can buy bags of frozen fruit for a stand-by.

As for intolerances, my younger daughter has wheat, gluten & dairy intolerance - at first, I found it difficult to cater well for her but after going into it all with her and looking around there are in fact quite a few things which are fine, including a few meats of course. It's meant that the menu is actually better for us all and she is looking so much brighter. Then the other week my older daughter found out she is lactose intolerant - at least I am now prepared! There is a brilliant book called 'Low Fod-Map Foods' which, though a little mind-blowing, is really useful.

Keep up the good work, despite the occasional weird question; your research knows no boundaries!


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 02, 2018:

Yes Linda Carbon Dioxide is on some labels I have seen lately. I think sodas - note I never buy them, but I still read the labels as a hobby. (I have got to get a life ;-)

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on August 02, 2018:

Eric, baking powder and baking soda both have their uses and are both involved in leavening (making things raise, like cakes, or biscuits). But, they aren't interchangeable. I'll explain on Monday. Carbon dioxide?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 02, 2018:

Ojos y sesos or Ojos y Cabezas in Spanglish. We had a favorite food cart in Rosarito. 3 of us were there. I ran across the street to get fresh shrimp and massive amounts of Carne Asada, tortillas and the like.

They ordered for me and my tacos were ready when I got back. My "friends" thought they were funny and got me eyes and brains. Tricked me but it was good. They had our regular carnitas. They both got Tourista. We still laugh about it.

This just made me remember.

In that I am a nutrition label reading freak, I would like to see it for the guinea pigs ;-)

Hey, what is your take on baking soda or baking powder. I am a bit confused. And what is up with that carbon dioxide?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on August 01, 2018:

Manatita, thank you for your kind words. I have not written on veganism; perhaps I should but I'm not sure if my heart would really be in it. My younger daughter tried it for a while--as long as I was doing the grocery shopping she was fine with it. Once she moved away from home (university) she discovered how difficult it truly is (this was 15 years ago). Now, she is a vegetarian, no meat, but she allows dairy, eggs, and honey into her diet.

Our mutual friend FlourishAnyway wrote an extensive article on the vegetarian diet. Look for "Vegan for a Month Challenge: My Experience and Outcomes."

manatita44 from london on August 01, 2018:

They are discussing veganism on LBC radio right now. More sportsmen are getting into it. Yes, you are getting senile? Did'nt I speak to you yesterday? Lol.

Have you done anything on veganism and its usefulness? You write so well! One of my favourite writers!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 31, 2018:

Chitrangada, this was a strange one for sure. Especially now that the weather is so very hot, a cold fruit salad is refreshing (and not heating up the kitchen with cooking it welcome as well).

Thank you for your kind words.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 31, 2018:

Rinita that is a great question. I will definitely add it to the mix for next week. Thank you so much.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 31, 2018:

Interesting questions and answers, and some strange ones too.

Fruit salad is my all time favourite. There are immense possibilities to make it, with variations in fruits, dressings etc. Always opting for the fresh ingredients is the key to making good fruit salad.

And you provide some very useful tips.

Thanks for sharing!

Rinita Sen on July 31, 2018:

Hi Linda, diverse mailbag this week for sure. I got an easier question for you (hopefully). I drink coconut milk daily, and the one I that I buy is UHT treated. Apparently it is a process to kill bacteria. Now if I want to make coconut milk at home, there is no way to do a UHT, or maybe there is, I don't know. In that case is it not advisable to make it at home? If you happen to know anything, that would be great. Thanks!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 30, 2018:

John doesn't this demonstrate what an amazing world in which we live? Root beer and ginger beer have similarities but are not derived from the same substances so vary in taste.

I can't in my wildest imagination see eating a plate of guinea pig.

However, your comment makes me think back to years (MANY years) ago when my city-slicker sister was living in a new home with her farmer husband. They had two little boys and were raising vegetables, chickens, and a couple of steers. One day instead of two steers there was only one. And then they sat down to eat a steak dinner. Somehow my little nephews put two and two together and recognized that they were eating Bucky!!

Many tears shed over that dinner.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 30, 2018:

What an interesting article this week Linda. I have never heard of root beer ice cream but then root beer is not big in Australia. Ginger beer is but I don't think I've ever seen ginger beer ice cream either.

I saw a video of a household in Peru and they had guinea pigs running around in the kitchen eating food scraps that fell off the table. If they had a special visitor for dinner they would just grab one of the guinea pigs in the kitchen and kill and cook it. I hope they don't give them names.

I didn't know you could eat cow hump either, but I guess they have shark fin soup so why not.

I enjoyed this.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 30, 2018:

Manatita, I am so very happy to hear from you. It seems it's been a while (perhaps I'm just getting senile).

As for that guinea pig--I'm not a huge fan of eating meat (my semi- and total-vegetarian daughters have led me in that direction), but if that was my only choice I would have to go meatless. The horror!

manatita44 from london on July 30, 2018:

Sweet! Some great questions and yes, a couple of unusual ones. That guinea pig looks scary! Each to his own, I suppose.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 30, 2018:

Mary thank you for stopping by and leaving your kind comment. By the way, I love you but I hope you don't ask for advice on how to prepare tripe.

Mary Wickison from USA on July 30, 2018:

This was a varied mailbag. Regarding the fruit salad, I haven't even seen a can of fruit since I got here, it's all fresh!

I had ordered tripe at a restaurant once. I ate some of it, but I didn't like it. I would try it again but perhaps prepared differently.

Funnily enough, my husband and I discussed raising guinea pigs for meat. The problem here would be making a market for them as they are most commonly seen as pets here as well. I'd eat it, although, I'd pull the innards out first.

Yes, it is a drought tolerant bovine, like the zebu although there are so many crossbreeds here, who knows their heritage!

It is heavily marbled just like the picture on the link. I tried it in my slow cooker and it was akin to canned corned beef. Not what I was after.

So low and slow, is key. That man on the link uses a wood barbecue which is interesting. If I left ours in our bbq, I'd have to stay up all night shooing the dogs away. LOL

I love root beer and it is one of the things I miss. I'd love root beer ice cream if they made it.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 30, 2018:

Shauna, thank you, and thanks for the baseball analogy. My Seattle Mariners are having a great season (....but we say that every year and then have our hearts broken).

Have a wonderful week and try to stay cool. We're expecting (dreading) 95 today.

Don't forget, on the 1st of the month I'll have a new "Loving Leftovers." I think this particular one is something that everyone needs.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 30, 2018:

Flourish, all I can say is I'm glad you survived. Blessings to you as you send your girl off to college. It's a bittersweet milestone.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 30, 2018:

Bill, I didn't consider yours to be a prank. (I looked in the stores too and there's everything BUT root beer. Did you read the remainder of the article? Now those LAST two were pretty out there, don't you think?

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 30, 2018:

You're right, Linda. This mailbag contains some odd questions. Now I understand why Flourish posed hers. Guinea pig??? The little pet we took turns taking care of in kindergarten??? Ewwww to the enth degree!

I've never heard of root beer ice cream but I sure do love the occasional root beer float!

You did a great job of once again stepping up to the plate, Linda!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2018:

No way was I pranking you. I do not understand why a popular flavor like root beer is shunned in the ice cream business. It looks like this might remain a mystery forever. Thanks for trying, Linda.

One more miserable day; stay cool!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 30, 2018:

They eat alpacas too! My daughter tried the alpaca (I was disgusted but insisted that if she order something she eat the whole thing because somebody died for that). The alpaca was tough. She was considering the guinea pig but our tour guide took us to a roadside stand where you get to select your animal and have it killed and cooked then served. She saw them and immediately could not do it which I was glad about. So disgusting. When I was planning the trip there was an option to eat with a family and help them prepare the meal. I feared that something yucky may appear on the table and I wouldn’t be able to gracefully get out of it so I turned down that option thank goodness.

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