Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tip Tuesday is Back!

It’s been a while since the last tip posting, and I thought I’d do a bit of a follow-up on a previous one. A reader recommended that I do one all about vinegar, so here it is!

I’m sure you’ve seen all the various types of vinegars on the grocery store shelves, and have probably tried a few. Apple cider vinegar is probably the most versatile and well-known, made from apples and processed to typically 5% acidity. Balsamic vinegar is a syrupy, flavorful vinegar, great for cooking and salads. It is made from the juice of sweet white grapes, and the true balsamic vinegar is aged for at least 12 years; however, there is a quicker version that is aged at least 3 years with a 6% acidity level. White distilled vinegar is the perfect solution for pickling and cooking. It is usually 5% acidity, and is possibly the least expensive of the vinegars. There are also cane vinegar, coconut vinegar, red or white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, sherry vinegar and the favorite for fish and chips – malt vinegar. It is made from grains, primarily barley, and is 5% acidity.

There are many uses for vinegar – cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc. Here are a few uses:

HEALTH:

1) Researchers have found that 2 to 3 tablespoons of vinegar (any kind) can help control blood sugar. Simply sprinkle on salads or main dishes. Or stir a bit into water to drink.

2) Use on cuts and scrapes as an antiseptic.

3) Spray a sunburn with cold white vinegar to soothe the burn.

4) White vinegar can ease the itch of bug bites and stings.

5) To soothe a sore throat, mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a bit of honey and a cup of warm water. Sip or gargle.

CLEANING:

1) To open a clogged drain pour in 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1 cup vinegar. Flush with hot water after the foaming stops. Wait a few minutes then flush with cold water. To clear a slow drain pour 1/2 cup salt in drain, then 2 cups boiling vinegar. Flush well.

2) Remove stickers and decals by soaking them with vinegar then scraping off. Wipe with clean cloth.

3) Remove water rings from furniture with equal parts vinegar and olive oil.  Wipe with clean cloth.

4) Clean the microwave oven by placing a cup containing 1 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar inside. Heat on high for 5 minutes, then wipe out loosened food residue with a sponge dipped in the warm liquid.

5) Run white vinegar through your coffeepot once a month or so to remove lime and mineral deposits. Follow with clear water.

COOKING:

1) Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to water for poached eggs – will help them keep their shape.

2) Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in a vinegar wash made of 1 gallon water and 4 tablespoons vinegar.

3) When making stews and dishes with meat add a tablespoon of white vinegar to help tenderize the meat.

4) If you’ve over-salted or over-spiced your dinner add vinegar, a teaspoon at a time, to counteract the salt or spice.

5) To freshen wilted vegetables soak them in a mixture of 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon vinegar.

These tips are just a tiny bit of the wealth of vinegar information and uses available. I hope you’ll try some of these tips and experiment with some new vinegars.

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Family Reunions

It’s time for my mother’s family reunion again, and I’ve been going through a bunch of recipes trying to decide what to take. She’s been gone for 18 years, but the reunions go on because she made my uncle promise to keep them going. So they’re always the same day, same place, same time.

She always cooked for days in preparation for the gathering, and would end up taking a main dish, side dish, salad, dessert – and sometimes more than one of each, possibly thinking there wouldn’t be enough food for everyone. That is never an issue, though, because there are many great cooks in the family and plenty of food with leftovers!

This year I won’t have a lot of time to cook as we’ll be attending a funeral out of town on the day before, but I think I’ve decided what to prepare. Since there are always many meats and main dishes, I’ll do a couple of sides, a salad, and a couple of easy pies. At this point I’m thinking baked beans, corn pudding, coleslaw and peanut butter and apple pies.

The peanut butter pie is a favorite, and is very easy to make. I’ve made it dozens of times, and am often lucky to get a piece for myself!

PEANUT BUTTER PIE

1 9” unbaked pie shell

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 well-beaten eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In the large bowl, combine peanut butter and vanilla at low speed of mixer. Combine sugar and salt; gradually add and cream after each addition. Increase mixer speed to medium and gradually add eggs. Reduce speed to low, add milk and beat until smooth.

Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until filling is set in center and a knife stuck into filling comes out clean.

(Adapted from a recipe in “McCall’s Book of Cakes and Pies” published in 1965.)

Give this one a try – you’ll love it! The original recipe calls for creamy peanut butter, but we like the crunch of the peanuts. Also, I’ve made it with artificial sweeteners, and it turned out just fine.

Have a wonderful week and weekend. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks for reading.