baking soda

photo by blair christensen

DEAR SARA: I melted a plastic spoon onto a hard, anodized fry pan. Before I noticed it was melted, I kind of swirled it around the pan, leaving several streaks of it on the bottom. Is there a way to clean it off, or should I just toss it? It's a Calphalon, and it was my nicest pan. -- Jessica C., Washington

DEAR JESSICA: You can try freezing the pan. The plastic will become more brittle and easier to separate from the pan. If that doesn't work, add enough water to cover the melted plastic and baking soda or cream of tartar to the pan and simmer. Use another spatula to scrape the plastic off.

DEAR SARA: I purchased inexpensive swim goggles a while back ($10). They're still in great shape, except now they keep fogging up. Is there a safe way to keep them fog-free that won't run into my eyes? Looking for a frugal way to do this if possible. Also heard the anti-fog sprays don't work. -- Libby, Canada

DEAR LIBBY: As a kid, I used to rub toothpaste on my diving mask to prevent fogging. Apply regular toothpaste (not gel) to the goggles, and rinse them. This will sound gross, but rubbing saliva onto them worked well, too. Give it a light rinse afterward. Also, you can fill a squirt bottle with a mixture of one part baby shampoo and two parts water. Apply it to the goggles, and lightly rinse.

DEAR SARA: Do you do anything frugal that might surprise me? -- Laura S., New York

DEAR LAURA: I'm not sure that I do anything surprising. I split sticks of gum in half. It's a habit. But I'm sure that many other people do the same. Sometimes I forget that some of my frugal ways might not be as common as I think they are. Maybe this isn't as common. If you have young kids like I do, often they won't finish an entire apple or they don't like bread heels/ends. You can save the ends in the freezer. I use leftover French bread, too. You can make apple bread pudding. My apple bread pudding is strangely similar to my baked French-toast recipe, but with a twist: I bake it in a muffin tin, add apples, and use glaze on top instead of syrup.

Apple Bread Pudding

2 medium apples, diced (I prefer Gala or Granny Smith)
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of raisins
3 eggs
1 cup milk (can use egg nog at holiday time)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of ground nutmeg
8 slices bread, cubed

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray. In a skillet, add the apples and butter. Mix in cinnamon, brown sugar and white sugar, and cook until soft. Fold in raisins. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Gently fold in the bread cubes until coated. Add apple mixture. Scoop the bread pudding, and evenly fill muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Meanwhile, whisk confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over bread pudding. Serve warm.