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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #57

Updated on February 2, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

The weather has been absolutely frightful this past week. Wind and rain are interrupted by brief periods of sunshine, and then the Heavens open again. 'Tis not good gardening weather so I have kept out of mischief by finishing up a quilting project that has spent far too much time on my work table.

There were only two questions this week, so this will be a quick read for you. Here's what appeared in the mailbox.

What is the Best Way to Clean Copper?

Do have any tips on how to wash copper utensils so that they sparkle like new, preferably a method that's simple? My mother taught me one - rub lemon juice on the utensil, and then rub some wet soil (I take it from my potted plants), and then wash thoroughly with water, no soap. The challenge with this one is you have to rub vigorously for the utensil to gain that new look, so calls for a lot of muscle power. Anything else you might know would be helpful. Thanks!


Rinita, acid and an abrasive are the keys to cleaning copper. Your mother's method of using lemon juice is effective, but there are a few other combinations that you might try that require less work:

  • Pour some salt onto the cut side of a lemon. The lemon is your "scrub brush" and the salt is the abrasive, maybe even grittier than soil.
  • Brush on ketchup and let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe clean.
  • Sprinkle salt over the object you want to clean, then thoroughly scrub it with a vinegar-soaked cloth.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of salt in 1 cup of white vinegar. Make a paste by adding flour gradually. Mix together well. Apply the paste to the copper and smear over tarnished areas. Leave for 15 minutes to one hour. Rinse with warm water

Can I Substitute Coconut Oil for Solid Shortening?

Last week I posted a Depression-Era applesauce cake recipe on my blog. In response, Shauna asked this question:

"I love Victorian architecture! I can almost smell the applesauce cake, Linda. What could be substituted for the shortening? Coconut oil?"


Coconut oil has a much lower melting point so it can't be used on a 1 to 1 basis to replace shortening. I poked around the internet and found this recommendation:

Use a combination 1/2 butter and 1/2 coconut oil. (Actually, the amount of coconut oil can be reduced by about 25%, so in a recipe calling for 1 cup of shortening I would use 1/2 cup butter and 3/8 cup of coconut oil. If you want to use all coconut oil 3/4 cup of coconut oil should work as a substitute for 1 cup of shortening.)

Source: CoconutOil-Online

By the way, here's the recipe that Audrey was referring to:

Applesauce Cake


  • 2 cups unsweetened hot applesauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine hot applesauce (it was hot because it was freshly made) in a large mixing bowl with sugar and shortening. Stir to combine.
  3. Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt, and spices. Gently fold into applesauce mixture.
  4. Stir in raisins
  5. Divide batter between two greased and floured 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pans.
  6. Bake 1 hour.


Gazpacho (for those who aren't familiar with the name) is a Spanish tomato-based chilled soup. You might even go so far as to call it a "liquid salad." It's a wonderfully flavorful, spicy, and refreshing appetizer or main course full of tomatoes, peppers, and fresh cucumber.

Abbey is a funny, punny food blogger who began her blog, TheButterHalf, "as a way to keep myself accountable in the kitchen, learning to cook delicious and approachable recipes for my family—I’ve coined my cooking style 'where gourmet meets every day.'”

Her recipe for Spanish gazpacho is authentic, easy, and oh, so good.

That's All for This Week

The mail was very light this week so Miss Kitty checked out early and went to the beach for a short vacation. She sends her regards.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful week. If you will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day, remember that it's a tad early this year (the 22nd of November). It's not too soon to start thinking about menus and selecting recipes. (I have lots of suggestions).

You can leave your questions in the comments section below, or email me at (and my blog and Facebook contact information is on my profile page if you prefer to contact me that way).

See you next Monday!

© 2018 Linda Lum


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