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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #132

Updated on April 12, 2020
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

How Will Covid Change Us?

Social distancing, sheltering in place, and six-foot spacing in the grocery line checkout have now become a normal part of our lives. Even fist-bumps in lieu of handshakes have now been replaced with a mere nod of the head. I wonder if we will ever return to the way it used to be?

Although these changes may be temporal, I've noticed a few positives. I've a friend whose wife normally holds two jobs; a definite workaholic is now a stay-at-home mom learning to interact with her family once again. My husband and I are driving less, walking more, spending less, and enjoying a more relaxed pace.

And a dear friend recently pondered on how not just COVID-19 but all of the major events of the past century have affected gender roles in society. Unable to find an article that adequately addressed that topic, she did the research and wrote one of her own. A link to her thoughts is here. Please read what Cait had to say. I hope she's right.

Are You Ready for Some Mail?

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.

Lemon as a Disinfectant

"Now my sister told me that lemon was found to be as good of a disinfectant regarding viruses as alcohol. Vitamin C is one thing but lemons have the whole thing. So I have a lot of lemons. What do you do with a squeezed lemon? Zest? Pulp?"


Eric, before I answer your question about the merits of lemon as a disinfectant, let's examine its components (kinda like doing a science experiment, so you might want Gabe to join in).

Lemons, in addition to being tasty, can be broken down into these four basic parts:

  • Citric acid kills bacteria, mold, and mildew. It's also great for cutting through soap scum, calcium deposits, lime, rust, and hard-water stains.
  • Limonene comes from the skin of citrus fruits; it works as a solvent but is typically found in cleaning supplies because it smells wonderful.
  • Ascorbic acid is the Vitamin C component of our citrus fruits. It's important for bones, connective, and muscle tissues and helps our bodies absorb iron. But at a cleaner, I've only seen it referenced as being used to remove stains in swimming pools.
  • Lemon oil helps break down sticky adhesives (stickers and labels beware!). Other than that, it smells nice but doesn't disinfect.

Now, down to the real problem—there is a difference between cleaning and disinefecting. Cleaning will take care of goo and gunk, odors and bacteria, but when it comes to actual disinfecting (which means removing viruses and pathogens) lemons don't cut it (pun intended).

I could babble on and on but why not simply take you to the source. Here's a really good article by the Water and Health Org that explains it all in layman terms.


Are Chile Powder and Chili Powder the Same Thing?

"I'm confused. Some recipes list chile powder, and some say chili powder. Is it just a variation in spelling or is there a difference?"

Anon, that's a really good question. Let's start with an understanding of what these two ingredients are made from:

  • Chile powder is ground chiles, period. No additives. Unless specified, the chiles are most likely ground anchos/poblanos which have a fruity, smoky flavor. But there are several other types of chile powder. Chipotle comes from dried jalapeños and is higher on the Scoville scale of tongue-burning. Cayenne is even bolder (tear-inducing if you ask me).
  • Chili powder is a totally different (and much tamer) beast. Chili powder is a blend of seasonings; yes there will be some heat from one of the aforementioned chile powders, but also paprika, pepper, cumin, oregano, salt, and perhaps some onion or garlic powder.

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.

© 2020 Linda Lum


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