Weekly Bits: Buffet Dining & a Sweet Ending

Ever felt overwhelmed at a buffet? Check out some of our readers' approaches to staying on track when faced with a feast. Plus, more love for homemade pudding and a nutrition question on brining a turkey.

"I have to make my own pudding because the boxed mixes and pre-made ones contain milk powder. The great thing about recipes like these that use cornstarch is they're very forgiving no matter what type of liquid you use: even light soy milk turns into something decadent. It's also more reliable than using eggs." --Tamara

"I used 2 cups whole milk plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch; 2 tablespoons cocoa (unsweetened) and 4 tablespoons sugar -- no butter or water in my recipe. As the milk warmed up, I used several tablespoons of the warm milk to create the paste of cornstarch-sugar-cocoa, and then added it to the milk that was being heated. Mix until bubbles show from the thick pudding, then lower the flame as the temperature rises, otherwise the bottom of the pot will form a crust, which is difficult to clean. Mix more vigorously toward the end to avoid higher temperatures at the bottom of the pot." --Henry (Toby's Dad)

The same method I utilize for big family dinners: I only give myself one trip, so I have to plan and make sure I get a little of everything I want on my plate. Fill half the plate with veggies (only if it's a small plate, otherwise half a small plate worth), salad or otherwise, and then take a little bit of everything else I want, staying away from the all out unhealthy stuff." --Julie, via Facebook

"I like to go to the salad bar first, that way I will not be so hungry for the unhealthy stuff." --Tracy, via Facebook

"I am a big fan of Alton's brine, both for turkey and whole chicken. I typically do a half-cup kosher salt and a half-cup white sugar for a five-pound chicken, and double that for a turkey. But I would really like to know: what does a brine like this do to the overall sodium and sugar content of the finished product?" --Charlotte

Dana's reply: "Great question! When using a brine, a percentage of the salt and sugar does permeate the meat which is why it helps tenderize, add flavor and keep the meat moist. Exactly how much depends on the particular recipe. For this roasted turkey, it only totals a few tablespoons of salt and teaspoons of sugar, which adds virtually no calories and a moderate amount of sodium per serving. "

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