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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #61

Updated on February 2, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

Let's Have Some Fun

For those of you who are first-time visitors, let me explain how this series works. 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.

Before we get started I would like to share a bit of inspiration with you.

I'm Feeling Poetic

Several of my fellow Hubbers have been sharing their poetry. I love a challenge, and so here is my food-related offering.

How to Soften Butter for Baking

I wanted to bake some cookies and forgot to take the butter out of the refrigerator. It was hard as a rock, so I zapped it in the microwave. The cookies didn't hold their shape and spread all over the cookie sheet. Was the microwave the culprit?


I've been guilty of this. I want to bake cookies or a cake, but I forgot to take the butter out of the refrigerator (or worse yet, the freezer). It will take forever for it to warm to room temperature.

So, what do you do? Using the microwave is never a good option. The heating is inconsistent, with one side remaining solid while the other side is a molten pool of goo. Here are three methods for quickly softening that stick of oleo:

  • Cut the butter into pats (1/2-inch to 1-inch thick). They should be soft enough for baking in about 10 minutes.
  • Shred the amount of butter needed for your recipe on the largest holes of a cheese grater.
  • Find a drinking glass, coffee mug, or small bowl that will fit over the butter. Fill it with boiling water. After 2 minutes, dump out the water, wipe dry, and invert the glass/mug/bowl over the butter. The residual heat will soften the butter in minutes.

Boiling, Simmering, What's the Difference?

"What’s the difference between a boil, a rolling boil, and a simmer?"

This one's easy. Imagine that your pot of water is a hot tub and the bubbles are (scantily clad, highly attractive) people. A simmer is when the water is warm and the bubbles are just hanging out around the sides of the tub. A boil is when the water is so hot that people are just can't sit still. They keep moving around. A rolling boil is when the people are leaping out of the tub for fear of being scalded. (Sorry if that's too graphic).


Kielbasa and Cabbage Soup


  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded

  • 2 cups russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

  • 1 cup diced yellow onion

  • 1 cup diced carrot

  • 1 pound kielbasa or smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices

  • 12 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 14 teaspoon caraway seed

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

  • 4 cups beef broth

  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Place cabbage, potato, onion, carrot, kielbasa, and seasonings in crock pot. Pour broth over all. Add bay leaf. Cover and simmer on low 8-10 hours or on high 5-6 hours.

A Compilation

I have created a Table of Contents for this series. The link is here.

Are You Ready?


Christmas is less than a month away. Remember, Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice. Be nice and drop me a line. You can leave your questions below, or write to me at

See you next Monday!

© 2018 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, it's been a life-saver for me more than once. I'm happy to be able to help.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 years ago from Central Florida

      Great tips for softening butter, Linda. I'll definitely keep my grater handy the next time I forget to take the butter out before baking!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you, Eric, for your kind words, for giving me a smile, and for the questions. I will put them in the queue for next week.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      This is just great stuff. The poem I read 3 times. Gabe and I will laugh at it tonight as he helps me message our Kale.

      Microwaving butter is a catastrophe. I really like your ideas. But a cube of butter sits on a plate in my kitchen. (the horrible unhealthy kind - yum!)

      So I will toss these out there;

      Massaging v. Kneading.

      ACV v. other vinegar

      Is there a good, and healthy premade pie crust?

      We just had a scare about Romaine lettuce. But FDA, using "traceback" Says that ours from Yuma is just fine. How do you get that across to others?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, oh yes many hidden talents here, right? All I need from Santa is that my children are happy.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, I sense that I made you chuckle. Good one.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      The Diva writes poetry, too! Loved it, especially in that photo form. Any time I chop at the counter my cats line up, hoping it’s something they can taste. Unfortunately for them usually it’s just nuts or onions. The tip about butter should really help everyone who wants to make a batch of unplanned Christmas cookies. Hope Santa is good to you!

    • manatita44 profile image


      2 years ago from london

      What a lovely poem and lyrical too. Fantastic! Your ideas for butter melting are truly original or should I say, creative.

      I like your scantily clad, highly attractive people. Awesome! One for a 'sizzling' poem. Lol.

      In my experience, all great writers are poets. It shows even in their prose. That includes Bill and Linda C has just done one. Peace and love, my dear.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, it seems that the cold butter tip might be the winner this week. I'm glad you liked the soup recipe. However, my little heart is breaking because no one has commented on my poem. I slaved for minutes over it.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I like the tips for cold butter. The boiling descriptions was good abd the soup sounds good.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Mary, I will look into Swedish crispbread (and hope that my late Norwegian sister in law will forgive me). A link to the compilation is a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm adding it now.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      My husband used to live in Sweden and would love some Swedish crispbread. Have you got any secrets I can share with him about making it? When I have looked at properties in Sweden, they will often have it hanging on a horizontal pole in the kitchen.

      Also, is it possible to have a weekly link to your compilation list of Q & A's that you made?

      Hope you're having a great start to the week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I don't know if the remainder of my day will be brilliant. I think I've already used up my brain power for the day.

      Have a great week. Now, I'm going to hop over and catch your mailbag.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita, perhaps where you live (or the temperature of your room, to be more precise) is the reason that you haven't had a "butter problem." The soup is an easy one and doesn't take all day to make (I like that).

      Have a wonderful week and yes, see you next Monday.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That butter trick is so clever...and will definitely save me tons of cursing in the future. lol Seriously, why didn't I know that? Sigh!

      Wishing you a brilliant Monday, my friend.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 years ago

      Haha, funny way of explaining the different boils, loved it. The warm water vessel trick for melting butter sounds good. So far I have never forgotten to take it out of the fridge ahead of time, but you never know. Besides, if I want to bake something last minute this should be useful.

      This week the soup seems simple. Great!

      Thanks for sharing again, Linda. See you next week.


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