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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #113

Updated on December 1, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

Welcome to My Kitchen

The holiday season is in full swing. In the United States, we've just finished up with Thanksgiving Day, followed by Black Friday when we go crazy shopping to sweep up (at bargain prices) even more things for which to be thankful.

I prefer a less intense approach. Perhaps some of my "restraint" comes from not having wee little ones in my house. My girls are adults and there are no grandbabies to over-indulge. The packages under the tree will be few, but the love in the house will be immense. I am happily looking forward to the month of December. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or (in the words of Frank Costanza a 'Festivus for the Rest of Us') I hope the next few weeks for you can be heavy on joy and light on stress.

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.

The first question today comes from Rinita.

The Best Blondie

Hi Linda, happy Monday. Do you have a tried and tested blondie recipe? I made this:, followed it exactly, but the blondies came out harder and chewier than the blondies you get at bakeries. Thanks in advance. I want it to be something in between a cookie and a cake. Is that hard to achieve? Mine became more cookie-like. The last time I made brownies they were more cake-like. Help!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dinner at the Zoo BlondiesPear Tree Kitchen Blondies
Dinner at the Zoo Blondies
Dinner at the Zoo Blondies | Source
Pear Tree Kitchen Blondies
Pear Tree Kitchen Blondies | Source

Hi Rinita, I'm happy to help you with this one. First, for those uninitiated, a blondie is a pale, golden vanilla bar cookie. But it's not merely a brownie minus the chocolate, and it's not a chocolate chip cookie dough smooshed into a baking pan.

A real, honest-to-goodness blondie will be invitingly blonde and buttery, not hard and dense, but soft and chewy. You can add (on a whim) chocolate chunks or nuts, or white chocolate chips, or whatever your little heart pleases.

I poked around the internet for the "perfect blondie." Everyone thinks their's is the best, but there are several things you should look for (demand) in your blondie:

  • Butter. Lots of butter, but melted, not creamed into the sugar (as is standard practice for most cookie doughs).
  • Brown sugar. I prefer light brown, but you could use dark brown but recognize that it will impart a smokier rich flavor.
  • Pure vanilla extract and more than you think is reasonable.
  • Eggs. Don't be shy. They help form that tender crumb of your desires.

Not to toss anyone under the bus, but I did a comparison of the recipe you mentioned versus two others, a side-by-side view of ingredients and proportions, and here's what I found.

SugarSpun (Rinita's recipe from the internet)
Dinner at the Zoo recipe (my pick)
Pear Tree Kitchen
Butter, melted
1 cup, unsalted
1 1/2 cups, unsalted
1 cup salted
Brown sugar
1 1/4 cups
1 1/2 cups
2 cups
White sugar
1/2 cup
2 large + 1 yolk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon
All-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups
1 1/2 cups
2 cups
2 teaspoons
Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon
Oven temp.
350 degrees F.
350 degrees F.
375 degrees F.
Size of pan
13x9-inch, lined with parchment paper
9- or 10-inch square
13x9-inch, lined with parchment paper
Baking time
25-30 minutes
20-25 minutes
20-25 minutes

You can obtain the recipes by clicking on the links on the photographs.

Can I Make Rich Sauces Without Butter?

"I was wondering what I should use in place of butter in recipes or do I need to forgo all rich sauces? I'm asking for my cholesterol."

Kari, it's hard to resist the luxurious mouth-feel of a sauce loaded with creamy butter, right? (Darn those French chefs!) But one minute on the lips is 10 years on the hips, and can certainly be a subtract a few years on our heart health.

What to do?


Well, part of the solution is that there is not just one solution. It kinda depends on what type of sauce you are making.

  • If you are making pasta, and want a "thicker" feel to the end-result red sauce, first toss out all that you know or think you know about cooking pasta. Despite what you've read or your mom taught you, use less water. Yes, you will need to be more diligent in stirring (and stirring, and stirring) your pasta, but you will be left with pasta water that is more starchy. Cook your sauce (I'm thinking a simmer of tomatoes and herbs with or without meat), plop in the al dente pasta and allow it to finish cooking in the sauce. Then add a few spoonfuls of that starch-rich water to loosen the sauce and make it creamy.
  • Craving a creamy sauce? Here's a secret that vegans have known for years—nuts can make an amazing faux cream sauce. This cashew cream sauce takes only 5 minutes.
  • Avocado can make a thick, rich dressing for salads, as a veggie dip, or drizzle on top of a bowl of soup or chili. Use extra virgin olive oil and you have zero cholesterol. Blend together 1 1/4 cups EVO, 2 avocados, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3/4 cup water, a dash of garlic powder and salt to taste. Makes 2 cups.

Want more ideas? Follow this link to find dozens of low-cholesterol sauce and condiment recipes.

How Much is "One Clove of Garlic" and a Recipe for Sriracha

The next question is from Mary (Blond Logic).

"Ian wanted me to ask you a question about garlic. Is there a standard size with regards to recipes? We get garlic that has what I would consider a normal-sized clove and then some much smaller. He is wanting to make his own Sriracha sauce as close to the original (Thai)? as possible."

Mary, this is really two questions in one. First, is there a standard size for garlic cloves? No; next question. OK, seriously it's frustrating to read (almost every) recipe and find that they call for "one clove of garlic." Like Ian, I've found cloves that are a mere sliver and others that are the size of a walnut. That's why, when it really matters, I specify the amount (in teaspoons or tablespoons) of minced/slived/sliced garlic needed.

According to's kitchen dictionary, 1 clove of garlic should yield 1 teaspoon chopped garlic. If finely minced, it's 1/2 teaspoon.

Now, for a sriracha recipe—I included this one in my article on "Exploring Asian Condiments." It calls for 9 cloves of garlic and delivers a hefty punch.

Natural Remedies for an Upset Stomach

"My tummy has been playing up for about three days. It's not heartburn, more like something just didn't agree with me. So here's the question, what kind of foods and medicines (Natural) do you feel is useful for upset tummy?"

Manatita, I'm sorry you are feeling under the weather. There are plenty of things you can add to (and subtract from) your diet to help your stomach feel better.

  • Peppermint tea
  • Tea steeped with fresh ginger root
  • A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water
  • Fennel contains an ingredient that helps with nausea
  • Make sure you stay hydrated
  • Bananas - you might be low on potassium, and bananas are high in it AND are easy to digest
  • Bland foods--my girls' pediatrician told us to rely on the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). Bland foods, not rich or spicy
  • Broth - when my stomach is upset I like a hot broth. I know you are vegetarian, so make a hot broth with miso
  • Chamomile tea

Stay away from acidic foods, spicy, greasy, caffeine, dairy, raw veggies. You are vegetarian, but those who are not should, when dealing with a queasy tummy, should not eat meat until they are feeling better. Look for foods that are easy to digest.

Help with Gluten Free

And, finally here's a question from Ruby Jean Richert that was posted on one of Eric Dierker's articles.

"I'm sitting at my desk, eating gluten-free ham and cheese, green beans, and a half banana. Since I found out I was gluten intolerant, my diet has changed drastically. Maybe she knows a good recipe with no gluten."

Ruby, I could try to bluff my way through a section on gluten-free baking and cooking, but I don't have any first-hand experience with that type of recipe. You deserve the best, and for that, I direct you to a fellow hubber Doris James (aka Miz Bejabbers). She is a talented writer, someone who performs miracles in the kitchen to make yummy food without gluten, and she's an all-around nice person too.

Here's a link to her profile page so that you can contact her.

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.


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.

© 2019 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, I wasn't the one proposing butter in a pasta sauce. You and I are on the same page--low and slow is the way to go to rich red pasta sauce. Thanks for stopping by.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Butter in pasta sauce? Yes I have heard of it, but Pasta sauce is meant to be healthy!

      The way we thicken the sauce is simply to simmer it for longer, and a little cornflour!

      Enjoyed the hub though.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

      Two weeks is fine, Linda. Thanks!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh Audrey, what fun that would be! I'm certain that you and I could get into lots of mischief together. I do hope that the blondies work out for you. May I suggest white chocolate chips (or chunks) and macadamia nuts?

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      11 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Oh, yummy! I'm on my way to the grocery store to stock up on these ingredients and try my hand for making blondies. Love your pictures.

      What do I do to get an invitation for dinner and dessert at your place?

    • manatita44 profile image


      11 months ago from london

      Said they were busy and gave me an appt with a nurse. I didn't want that

      Seeing doc on Friday

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, I love rice and I'm pretty sure that I can find some quick fixes for you. May I share them in two weeks? If you need an answer sooner than that, let me know and I'll email you.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, I have a question regarding flavorful rice side dishes. I always keep brown rice and basmati rice on hand but don't know what to do with it, so I end up buying Near East rice mixes. As a from-scratch cook, what are your go-to recipes for delicious (but uncomplicated) rice sides?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Doris, I'm referring to a really old post. Will share it again on Monday.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      I dont eat lamb but will put on my big girl boots and tackle this for you

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      11 months ago from Beautiful South

      Thanks, Linda. I saw about the garlic sizes, but not about the new flavors I don't like. Did I miss something? l hope we can find some info on that.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      11 months ago from London

      Yes, lamb barbeque on a gas grill, would be great my dear. Specifically, lamb shoulder. Would love to read one from you next Monday.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Doris thank you so much for the advice on how to use non-gluten flours. Yes, I'm sure that the whites in the eggs are a good substitute for the "glue" of gluten that holds our breads and batters together.

      I did share with you information on garlic varieties and why they no longer taste like they did "in the good old days" but will be happy to repost that for you next week.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      12 months ago from Beautiful South

      Linda, thank you for the compliment, and I would be very glad to help Ruby or anyone else, for that matter, if I can. Ham, cheese, green beans and bananas, as mentioned, should be all gluten free, but boring (Just no traditional green bean casserole, which has glutens in the condensed mushroom soup and batter on the French fried onions.) I have about 6 or 7 years experimenting with gluten-free flours and other ingredients. But I will tell them one secret: When baking with gluten-free flours, do NOT SPARE the eggs (unless you are allergic, of course). Eggs give the bread, cake, etc. an elasticity that is usually found in glutens. Some people use guar gum or xanthan gum, but I just love pouring in more eggs! In fact, I've never used either of the gums as a gluten replacement. Perhaps because a friend of mine found that she was sensitive to them.

      Thanks for clarifying the size of a garlic clove so I can say "see, I told you so" to my husband. He tried to tell me that a clove was the whole garlic bulb. In the last few years, we have noticed a change, and not for the better, in garlics. We would raise our own if we could get back to the original garlic of yesteryear. Do you know how we could find out what "breed" it is? The new garlics are more bitter or are too mild, and each are less "garlicky." Thanks for your help.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Kari, the pasta water is an old Italian nonna trick.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      12 months ago from Ohio

      Linda, thank you for answering my question. I love the pasta cooking hint, and i really need to try the cashew cream sauce. The avocado recipe looks delicious. Thanks again!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Ian must be feeling better if he is out in the garden. That's good to hear. I wish you a wonderful week as well.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      12 months ago from Brazil

      Thank you for the information on garlic and that recipe. I will pass it on to Ian. He is growing chilies so needs to find uses for them.

      Have a great week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, I am sorry to hear that you are still having problems with your stomach. Mr. Carb tends to suffer from heartburn around this time of year, but I KNOW for a fact it has nothing to do with my cooking (which doesn't change). It's all the other goodies and overindulgences here and there that are the culprit. However, I'm certain that is not the reason for your woes. Perhaps you are working on an ulcer? I hope not, but this too can be dealt with.

      Please write again and let me know what the doctor says. I care about you.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela it is my pleasure. This is the best job I've ever had.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita, kids will eat anything as long as it's sweets. "Healthy" foods might be a totally different answer. (Of course, if you're dealing with teenagers, yes they WILL eat anything and everything).

      Sometimes we are our harshest critics. I will admit that I prefer cooking over baking. Baking requires such precision whereas making a soup or stew is very forgiving.

      I hope you have a wonderful week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, my older daughter and I made the blondies just a few weeks ago and they were sinfully good. We tossed in a few butter brickle chips (like the Heath bars). Mmmm.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Nikki (it's 7 a.m. as I write this). I'm certain that I have quite a few barbecue recipes tucked away. Can you be more specific on what you would like? What type of protein? Or vegetarian? Cooking over open fame or a gas grill or charcoal briquettes?

      I appreciate your kind words. This column is only as good as the questions I receive. You are helping to write the next one!

    • manatita44 profile image


      12 months ago from london

      Well, I didn't know that Miz had this secret. May help me too. Not too good with bread.

      A blondie? By golly! What next? Looks like a lot of carbohydrates and sugar to me. Ah well, Rinita is slim so she should not worry.

      Tried to see the doc today re my stomach. Problem is still there but they are busy. called me outside the appointed telephone time and I missed it. Will try again tomorrow, God's willing. Using the peppermint and ginger and added Enos salts. Gratitude.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sign me up for about a dozen blondies. :) That should be enough for a sugar-induced coma, don't you think? LOL Happy Monday my friend.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      12 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Happy Monday, Linda! You covered a nice variety of topics today that were very interesting. I like knowing the drinks that help when you have an upset stomach. I knew a couple of those, but not all of them. Thanks for answering our questions, Linda.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      12 months ago

      Thanks a lot for the comparison table. Looks like loads of butter would do the trick. Guess what? Even though I was disappointed with the blondies I made because to me they weren't soft enough, the kids gulped them down ravenously. Looks like I am the one who's too finicky. Kids will eat anything. LOL. Nevertheless, I will try your preferred recipe the next time. Have a great week!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      12 months ago from USA

      This was chock full of great questions and answers. I really liked the Blondie recipe idea. Sounds like a plan ma’am!

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      12 months ago from London

      Some great recipes Linda, I really appreciate your effort of finding some great cooking tips for us every week around. I love cooking and exploring new recipes each time I do grill.

      Would be great if your share some barbecue recipe next week as we are heading to the great festive period by the end of December.

      Blessings till then my dear!


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