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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes & Cooking, #9

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


I hope all of my friends in the U.S. had a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. The Carb Diva family had to delay the celebration by a few days because our older daughter works in retail and was scheduled for the entire weekend (including Thursday).

We planned our dinner for Monday, but as you know, I always prepare the turkey the day before. Admittedly that means that I cannot present the Norman Rockwell type of turkey (golden crispy skin sitting upon a silver platter), but I find that the benefits of pre-roasting far outweigh the downside of not displaying a picture-perfect bird.

  • You don't have to fret about the turkey not being "ready in time".
  • The turkey has plenty of time to rest without fear of the remainder of the dinner overcooking
  • There is time to "defat" the gravy
  • The oven is free for heating and baking other items

By the way, if you still want to have the picture-perfect turkey, I suggest that you follow the advice of Anthony Bourdain. He suggests having two turkeys. Prepare one to carve and serve, and have another smaller cousin roasted and standing by for the Norman Rockwell presentation. The bird you carve up is the stunt double.

Now, let's get to the questions for this week.

Are "From Scratch" Pancakes Tastier?

I use Krusteaz for my pancakes. We like the taste and eat 'em right up. But I have this hunch that making them from scratch would be fun and yield even better results. What do you think? And where did pancakes come from anyway?


Eric, Krusteaz (a dry packaged pancake mix; just add water) is certainly easy, but I find the sodium levels a bit concerning. Two 4-inch pancakes (and do you really eat only two?) contain 530 milligrams of sodium; that's 22 percent of your recommended dietary intake for the day. Krusteaz also contains the food additive sodium stearoyl lactylate which can cause allergic reactions and/or digestive problems for those who are sensitive.

I prefer to make my own pancakes. I can control the amount of sodium going in and I know that there are no oddly-named additives. Yes, my recipe includes eggs, but keep in mind that cholesterol from egg yolks is no longer viewed as the culprit in high cholesterol readings. Here's my recipe, which makes 12 three-inch pancakes. (Assuming that 12 pancakes are 3 servings, the sodium level in my recipe is 605 mg; 3 of the Krusteaz pancakes will net 795 mg of sodium.)


  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.
  2. Separate the eggs; place the whites in a medium mixing bowl and the yolks in a large liquid measuring cup. Add the cooking oil, milk, and vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the milk/yolk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  4. Beat the egg whites at high speed with electric mixer (or with a wire whisk if you want some exercise) until they form stiff peaks.
  5. Gently fold the whites into the pancake batter. It's OK if a few streaks of white remain.
  6. Cook on a lightly greased skillet.

By the way, you have inspired me. I have started to research the life of pancakes. Stay tuned.

How to Clean a Burnt Pan

I'm into home remedies, so this question has to do with crusted pans....any home concoctions I can make which makes de-crusting those pans easier?


Bill, in my 60-plus years on this big blue marble I know I've produced a few pans that seemed well beyond redemption. However, I don't recall if I found a solution for bringing them back to life, or if they ended up in the landfill. It's been a long time.

So, I don't have a crusted up, burnt on pan on which to test these remedies. However, I do feel pretty confident in my ability to do research. The unknowns (for me) are:

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  1. What type of pan are we trying to resurrect? Is it Teflon, stainless steel, cast iron, or aluminum? And,
  2. What is stuck to the pan? Is there a build-up of grease, burned sugar, milk/dairy product, or "something else you can't remember" gone horribly wrong?

Let's examine a few of the possibilities.

Bill, if you were to ask 10 people for the perfect way to clean a burned up, crusted-on pan, I can almost guarantee that you would get 10 different answers. Here are the “natural” solutions I found on the internet. Perhaps one of these will work for you.

(1) Baking Soda

Sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the bottom of the pan (or if it’s a large pan, you might need a bit more. You want to cover the surface). Add water, about 1/2-inch deep. Simmer over low heat for 15 to 30 minutes. Those who advocate this method say the blackened bits will be loosened.

(2) Vinegar

So, begin as you did with the baking soda, but this time pour about 1/2-inch worth of vinegar in the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes. Scrub-a-dub.

(3) Hydrogen Peroxide

Same song, third verse. Simmer about 10 minutes on low heat, but for this one you should keep your vent fan running because it WILL get stinky.

(4) Cream of Tartar

Pour one cup of water into the bottom of pan. Add 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to sit until cool and then scrub.

(5) Ketchup

Cover the offending crud with ketchup. Let sit overnight. In theory the acid of the ketchup will cut through the burned-on food.

(6) Fabric Softener

This is a somewhat different approach. Put some water in the pan, bring to a boil, and drop in a fabric softener sheet. Turn off the heat, cover, and let soak all day or overnight.

(7) Dishwasher Tablets or Powder

Pour enough water into pan to cover surface. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Toss in a dishwater tablet or sprinkle in enough powder to cover. When cooled scrub. May need to repeat.

(8) Lemons

Chop up two lemons. Place in the pan, cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Let sit until cool. You may have to use a scrub brush to remove the grease and gunk, but it will be loosened.

(9) Coca-Cola

This one is scary…if you drink cola beverages. I’ve read that this stuff can be poured into your toilet to get rid of hard-water stains. But, cleaning grease from a burnt pan?! The author of this hint says to pour coca cola into the pan and let it sit for several hours. Use a scraper to remove as much of the gunk as possible, and then wash.

(10) SOS Pads

These are the steel wool pads saturated with soap. And, according to the test kitchen at Epicurious, this is the most reliable method of cleaning a damaged pot. Steel wool and elbow grease.

So, there you have it. Grandma’s method is still the best.

Copycat Recipe for Girl Scout Mint Cookies

I always loved the mint cookies from the Girl Scouts. Do you have a copycat recipe for those, for your Monday cooking Q & A?

Mary, for the answer to your quest I went to my friend Sue who has the blog TheViewFromGreatIsland. She didn't make a copycat. She has absolutely CLONED the Girl Scout Thin Mints cookie recipe. This, my friends, is perfect.


Ti vedrò la prossima settimana. (I will see you next week).


© 2017 Linda Lum


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 11, 2018:

Thanks Linda,

I kind of thought I was a bad dad for using it. But we use it as you say here.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 11, 2018:

Eric, I don't dislike microwaves. I have one and always will. I think they are great for reheating single-servings of leftovers, taking the chill off of a cup of coffee, or warming a tortilla. But don't ask a microwave to bake a cake or cook a steak. Just keep in mind what it can do (well), and what its limitations are.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 11, 2018:

Sorry to bug you yet again as I know you are "fixin" your garden for winter.

But my son said he did not like tortillas yesterday. I took his favorite cheese, spread it on a fresh corn tortilla and heated it in the microwave. Perfect and now he loves tortillas.

Why don't we like microwaves?

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 10, 2018:

Yes, we're fine here in Central Florida. Michael's going up the gulf coast. I feel for those folks. We were victims of Irma last year. I was without power for 5 days. Not fun!

Thanks for checking, my friend!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 10, 2018:

Shauna, yikes! I guess that's yet another good reason to not drink Coke. By the way, since you are writing on this particular article today I assume that (1) you still have power, (2) you are catching up on your reading, and (most importantly) (3) you are safe.

God keep you safe from Michael my friend.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 10, 2018:

Linda, I know many people who have poured Coke on rusted battery connections. The Coke eats the rust right off! If it can do that, imagine what it does to your innards! Glad I'm not a soda drinker.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 12, 2018:

Lawrence, sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer (Occam's Razor). Thanks for the suggestion.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 12, 2018:


I'll add another to your pan cleaning methods, and it doesn't cost.

Liquid soap (dishwashing) directly onto the pan.

Fill the sink with boiling water from your kettle. Then place the pan in and leave it a couple of hours, the combination of soap and hot water will loosen the gunk.

If it's still stuck on, then wash with a dishcloth and repeat, eventually it'll loosen enough to come totally clean.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 06, 2017:

Eric, I wrote an article on this topic about a year ago. Look for "How to Use Your Kitchen Tools." But it isn't a comprehensive list. I'll add this to my to-do's for next week.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 06, 2017:

Linda you are leading me to have fun in my kitchen again. thanks. But I have another question for you.

What are the essential "tools" I should get? Just your thoughts on it would be appreciated.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 05, 2017:


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 05, 2017:

Eric, I want to make sure that I understand your questions. You would like to have a good recipe for seafood bisque. And, you want to know what the difference is between bisque and soup.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 05, 2017:

Alright. Last night for my special occasion I got local fresh made Bisque. I added the crab.

Can you recipe me up on this. I like the seafood ones but am open. And what up with Bisque as opposed to soup.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 05, 2017:

Mary, that makes sense. I don't own a bottle of the stuff. I prefer to use "natural" products like baking soda, lemon and good old fashioned elbow grease.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on December 05, 2017:

Hi Linda,

Thanks for that Thin Mints link. Need to source some of the ingredients so will let you know how it goes.

Regarding the pancakes, I love American style pancakes which are fluffy so will be making some this morning. However, being married to a Brit, they call crepes pancakes and will often have them with lemon juice and sugar! It is an ongoing debate in our house.

Regarding the hydrogen peroxide, in the UK they sell it at Chemists (pharmacies). There are many products which are sold in the US and not sold to the general public in the UK. Part of this came into effect during the bombings of the IRA where anything that could be made into a bomb was regulated.

Another interesting mailbag, thanks.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 05, 2017:

Who would have imagined all of the ways to potentially clean those pans? The cola possibility is scary. Think what it's doing to your teeth! I love that there is a recipe for Girl Scout cookies, too.

manatita44 from london on December 04, 2017:

Well, we have ninja's and super-ninja's at Poetry Cafe. You and I will be tortoise and super-tortoise. (chuckle). However, we both have childlike Hearts. Isn't this wonderful?

Good you came back to explain. Useful for other readers. Love ya!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 04, 2017:

Manatita, your question is a good one. Hydrogen peroxide in the strength sold for household use (3 to 9 percent solution) can be mildly irritating but is commonly used as a disinfectant. Of course, it shouldn't be ingested. Of course, if one uses dishwasher powder or tablets, the surface cleaned should be thoroughly rinsed. All of the other recommendations are natural and harmless except for the Coca-Cola. That one still scares me LOL.

And, I suspect that I have a few years on you. If you are ancient I don't know what that makes me!!

manatita44 from london on December 04, 2017:

Isn't some of these cleaning things toxic? I hope Bill uses the right amount. All nice ideas though and an interesting pan. Looks pretty ancient --like me. Lol.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 04, 2017:

Kari, the wait is almost over.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on December 04, 2017:

Linda, Thanks for the pancake recipe. I have never tried it with the whites beaten. I bet it makes a big difference. I can't wait to learn more about pancakes. I have heard that Coca-Cola will take the paint off of cars. I don't drink soda, but that is a scary thought! :)

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 04, 2017:

Oh, Eric, that's so kind of you to say. Perhaps in a former life, I was a teacher. Will do. I'll do them alphabetically (so you'll have to wait a long time for zesting LOL).

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 04, 2017:

After watching it looked to me like he was just stirring it sideways.

No matter on folding I think I have it now, but that took some time.

I would, for me, like something as 1-5 a week right here. You just write explanations so well.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 04, 2017:

Good morning Eric. Linda cakes. That's funny.

"Fold" is explained in the video on how to whip egg whites. But preparing a lexicon of cooking terms sounds like a good idea. Do you think it should be in the Q&A series, or as a separate article?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 04, 2017:

Bill, this old gray mare will get an answer for you.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 04, 2017:

Really cool. Thanks - Sunday will see Linda Cakes.

So sometimes you baffle me with words I do not quite understand. I looked up "fold" today. Those definitions are all Latin to me.

Is there a good normal people dictionary out there? Or could you do a capsule on strange cooking names each week?

Like "saute'", best I can figure is that it means frying.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 04, 2017:

Thanks....I've been making pumpkin puree the past few days, using up the pumpkins, but I'm not terribly happy with the results. From the horses mouth, how do you make puree?

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