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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #153

Updated on September 6, 2020
Carb Diva profile image

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

Safety in the Kitchen

Several weeks ago, a friend on this website made me aware that with more people cooking at home (and perhaps not terribly adept) there are more reports of injuries.

"It surprises me the number of people I have read or heard say they had never used an oven until this Covid-19 pandemic started. I guess that is one good thing about it...But paramedics report a spate of burn injuries due to the same. That’s a worry. Maybe using an oven and common sense are related."

John, I agree that it's probably time to remind everyone about how to be safe in the kitchen. Sharp knives and hot burners can cause serious injury. I covered this topic several years ago, specifically about children in the kitchen, but the rules apply to all of us.

Staying Clean and Healthy

  • Wear an apron (or an old shirt) to keep your clothes clean. BUT, don’t wear anything big and baggy. Loose-fitting clothing can bump things on the floor, get caught in mixers, catch on fire, etc. Roll up your sleeves, tie back your hair, and don’t wear dangly jewelry (this goes for adults too).
  • Wash your hands. Wash before you do anything else. Then wash again if you touch raw meat or if you touch your face.
  • Don’t lick your fingers while you are cooking/preparing food.
  • Washing as you go is a good idea, but don’t ever put sharp knives into a sink full of soapy water.
  • Wipe up spills when they happen so that no one slips and falls.

Getting Ready

  • Get everything ready. Even professional chefs do this. They call it mise en place. Get your mixing spoons, bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and knives out. The same goes for your ingredients. Instead of running back and forth for stuff from the pantry and refrigerator, gather everything you’ll need ahead of time.
  • Read your recipe before you begin. That way you’ll know what happens first, what the next step will be, and so on. You’ll also know when to add things—they don’t always go in at the same time. I have a story to tell you—once my daughter decided to bake a cake, all by herself. She was able to read the list of ingredients and knew how to measure, and so she did just that. All of the flour, the sugar, eggs, butter, and baking powder went into the bowl at the same time. She mixed and mixed and dumped it in the pan. What came out tasted okay, but it sure didn’t look like a cake.
  • Keep things that would burn away from the cooktop—paper towels, dish towels, and potholders.

Staying Safe

  • Never put water in a pan that has hot oil in it.
  • Always turn the handles of pots and pans away from you. If they stick out and overhang the front of the cooktop, you could accidentally get bumped and spill on the floor, or on you!
  • Never grab a hot pan with a wet potholder.
  • Use a kitchen timer so that you don’t forget something in the oven or on the cooktop. Even the best of cooks can’t remember everything.
  • When stirring a pot on the stove, always hold onto one of its handles so that the pot doesn’t spin away from you.
  • Don’t point knives as anyone and always pick them up by the handle. Ask an adult to show you how. Never use a knife without supervision.

OK, Now I'm Ready to Get Started

With that off my chest, 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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thai cucumber saladCreamy German cucumber saladCreamy Italian cucumber saladGreek tomato cucumber saladWatermelon and cucumber salad
Thai cucumber salad
Thai cucumber salad | Source
Creamy German cucumber salad
Creamy German cucumber salad | Source
Creamy Italian cucumber salad
Creamy Italian cucumber salad | Source
Greek tomato cucumber salad
Greek tomato cucumber salad | Source
Watermelon and cucumber salad
Watermelon and cucumber salad | Source

A Good Cucumber/Sour Cream Salad Recipe

I think my friend Eric Dierker wants some help with finding a good/better recipe for cucumber salad.

"Of course the cucumber sour cream side helped, but I need help with that also."

Eric, my husband loves cucumbers; whenever we have a tossed salad (which is almost daily) he wants slices of cucumbers. They're cool, crispy, refreshing, and rather flavorless so they go with just about everything. I don't know what you are looking for in a cucumber/sour cream salad but here are some ideas:

  • Thai cucumber salad: The dressing is flavored with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and a pinch of red pepper flake.
  • Creamy German cucumber salad: Sweet and sour with sugar and yogurt and a hint of dill—actually I'd use a lot of dill. Dried dill weed is OK, but fresh elevates this to a whole new level of flavor. I love the taste and fragrance of dill (it reminds me of summer days spent making pickles with my mom).
  • Creamy Italian cucumber salad: Pops of flavor from minced garlic and Italian seasoning.
  • Greek tomato-cucumber salad: Tomato, cucumber, crispy chickpeas, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese—the list of ingredients says it all.
  • Watermelon and cucumber salad: Refreshing flavors of watermelon, cucumber, fresh lime juice, and fresh mint. I know, pairing watermelon and cucumber might seem like an odd friendship, but it really works. Use fresh mint, not dried, and make sure it's peppermint, not spearmint.

Scrambled eggs the way I like them
Scrambled eggs the way I like them | Source

Good/Better/Best Scrambled Eggs

Another one from Eric:

"Linda, I did eggs for breakfast today. Gabe likes them "omelet" style which he means as fluffed up with no ingredient save some milk. Now I am sure you have this covered in your index but please direct me."

Some people want the French-style of creamy scrambled eggs, some want a soft (but not custardy) egg, and others want something firm and dry.

How much milk to add depends on how you want your eggs at the end of the story. Personally, I’m of the school that doesn’t introduce milk at all. The cooks at Bonappetit agree with my method. Here is how they do it.

But the cooks at Serious Eats recognize that there are different strokes for different folks. Here is a link to their recipes. Scroll down past the photo of the eggs and you will find links to “fluffy scrambled eggs,” “soft scrambled eggs,” and “French-style soft, spoonable.”

How to Conquer Biscuits

This final one was from Bill Holland via Facebook:

"I just baked biscuits from scratch for the first time. It's hard to believe I could screw up biscuits that badly, but I did."

Is this a good or a bad biscuit?
Is this a good or a bad biscuit?

Bill, several years ago I wrote an article entitled "How to Make Perfect Biscuits." If you click on that phrase you will be magically transported to that page. I hope this helps.

What Kind of Fish Can I Use for Ceviche?

"When my daughter was on vacation (before the pandemic hit) they had ceviche. Is that something I can make with tilapia or is it saltwater fish"?

Tilapia ceviche
Tilapia ceviche | Source

Mary, just about any firm white fish can be used for ceviche, and tilapia certainly fits in that category. You want a firm fish because the marinade softens the texture of the fish—you don't want flabby ceviche. Second, you want a fish that is fairly mild in flavor so that the fish will absorb (not overpower) the flavor of the other ingredients.

Here's a good recipe for ceviche made from tilapia.

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.

Want To Do This Again?

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.


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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Denise, I think many of us have a story of unfortunate incidents in the kitchen, some more dire than others. It seems like common sense, but it's so easy to be distracted, or have a youthful sense of invincibility. What a tragedy for your friend. Thank you for sharing.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      10 months ago from Fresno CA

      I have had several friends ask me questions about bread, pie crust, cake, and other baking firsts for them. It is true that many who never spent much time in the kitchen are taking this pandemic opportunity to bake for the first time and they don't know what they are doing. I'm glad you posted some safety rules. Good for even the most experienced cook to remember. I had a friend who in her teens had worn a blousy big-sleeved shirt while cooking and caught it on fire. She had burn scars over 50% of her upper body. That's a tragedy to be avoided!



    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita, I've missed hearing from you. I pray you are well also. Stay safe.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      10 months ago

      Hi Linda. Always great advice. You'd think people would be aware of basic safety protocols in the kitchen, but it's shocking to know there are so many accidents. I had a friend at the University who would add oil and water together in a hot pan and then when things would splash on his face, he would consider it a normal part of cooking. I rolled on the floor laughing the first time I heard this. Of course, I don't know if he follows my advice of not doing that any more, but such people do exist!

      Anyway, just wanted to chit-chat and say hello. Hope all is well.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I'm glad that he's keeping you active. Read too much? I don't understand the concept.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      This is great. I probably spent way too much time on it. Gabe came into my office and asked what I was reading about and I told him "about cucumber, biscuits and gravy and new ways to make his eggs even more better" He just shook his head and said that I read too much, let's play catch.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      10 months ago from SW England

      Ha ha! I didn't realise there was an American-English dictionary!

      I have a convection oven and microwave combined - it's brilliant as you can use one or the other, or both at the same time! It took me a while to get used to it but I now use it more often than my conventional oven.


    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, since my husband and I are retired and our daughter is no longer working, all the days are about the same. I'll work in the garden this morning to avoid the summer heat. It's supposed to be a scorcher this week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Wow, Sis I have no idea. I don't have a convection oven and I'm not sure I'd know how to adapt to using one, but your question is a great one. I'll see what I can do. This might end up being a stand-alone article rather than a simple Question and Answer. Thank you.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh Bill, I'm not looking forward to this heat. As for you being a "normal" person in the kitchen, does that mean that my Carb Diva throne is not in danger?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, you're absolutely right. Perhaps I should modify my intro and include those. How horrible for that sweet baby.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you are so very welcome. Stay safe my friend. I don't like those triple-digit temperatures.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Ann, sometimes I wonder if we speak the same language LOL. On my first visit to London we had a tour guide who carried a pocket version of an American/English dictionary.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, let me know. I'd love to see photos.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 months ago from Sunny Florida

      You had some interesting topics again, Linda. I have been cooking since I was a teen and was taught to be safe by my mother.

      My mother use to make some type of cucumber salad, and it was good. I think she used onions and vinegar, but I don't remember much else. Thanks for adding some choices to our diet. Hope you are having a good holiday.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      10 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, today's kitties are gorgeous!

      I, too, love cucumbers. They're very refreshing. Sometimes I put cuke slices in a glass of water to give it some flavor. My mom often made cucumbers and onions in a vinegar bath as a side to fatty dishes. It makes for a nice contrast.

      Your 'getting ready' tips bring up a question. Yesterday, I made one of the recipes you featured in response to Bill's query regarding tilapia recipes. After ensuring I had all the ingredients, I read the 'how to' part. It was then I discovered the author gave instructions for a convection oven. I'd never come across that stumbling block before (I have a conventional oven). So before I began, I Googled conversion rates for temp and time. Here's my question: what is the difference between convection ovens and conventional ones? Is there an advantage to one over the other? And, finally, could you provide conversion rates from convection to conventional (and vice versa) with regard to temperature and cook time?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The only danger in our kitchen is simply me being in it trying to cook like normal people. lol

      Thanks for the article. I'll give it one more try and then move on to more important pursuits.

      Too much heat! Stay cool and pray for Fall.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      10 months ago from USA

      Eggs and biscuits? I am hungry now! Same for that watermelon and cake salad. Also keep those crockpots and fry daddies pushed back away from counter edges and with the cords out of reach so they cannot be pulled down accidentally. A distant relative had a two year old grandchild who pulled a hot crockpot down onto himself and suffered extensive second degree burns. I think she is still traumatized from it not to mention the child.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well I am just digesting this savory article. I need to come back for some more on the links. thanks much.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      10 months ago from SW England

      All interesting and yummy, as usual, Linda!

      I love fish and that last one looks wonderful. I've never heard of some of the ingredients or names of dishes you often mention but I look them up and there's usually an alternative name here - strange how language works, eh?!

      Thanks for the continued education!


    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      10 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for the link to the ceviche recipe. The next time I catch a tilapia, I'll try it. I was also interested in her mango adaptation. This is going to be a good year for mangoes.

      Like Eric I too needed more recipes for cucumber, so those were handy.

      Have a great week.


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