Conundrum: Milk Scum
Solution: Cream sauces, custards, and other cooked-milk mixtures nearly always adhere to pans. To fix this problem, fill the pot with warm water and add several tablespoons of baking soda or a powdered cleanser like Bon Ami ($11 for a pack of six canisters, bonami.com). Bring to a boil and let boil until the scorched milk loosens and floats to the surface.
Conundrum: Burned-on Sugar
Solution: The best thing about sugar is that it dissolves. Pour in some boiling water, stir to loosen, and pour out. Repeat until all the sugar disappears.