Posts Tagged ‘baking soda’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder

August 1, 2017

They are both white powders whose roles are to help your baked goods rise. They are often in similar packaging, and although they look the same, and have similar end uses, they are very different. I’m talking about baking powder, and baking soda.

Trust me, I have tossed multiple batches of scones because I grabbed the wrong container. While they looked ok, albiet a little more bronzed than usual, the taste of two tablespoons of baking soda is not the same as the required two tablespoons of baking powder.

Baking soda, is a base mineral, which when combined with acids produces carbon dioxide, and in turn, bubbles. Remember those grade school volcanos, where you mixed baking soda and vinegar to create an eruption?
In baking, it is usually something a bit less overtly acidic, like brown sugar, yogurt, buttermilk, lemon, or even pumpkin, that creates the more subtle reaction. The acid also interacts with the gasses to counteract that bitter, almost metallic taste that my scones had. Things baked with soda are usually crisper and more browned that those made with powder.

Baking powder, on the other hand, consists of baking soda, cream of tarter ( or another dry acid), and cornstarch. Most commercial baking powders are double acting. This means that the leavening is activated the first time it comes in contact with liquid, and the second action is heat activated. This allows it to be used without other acidic ingredients, without the nasty aftertaste.

Recipes sometimes call for a mixture of both products. This is usually the case where you don’t want to neutralize all the acidic flavor, such as when making buttermilk pancakes, but don’t want the bitter soapy flavor that comes with it. The delicate balance between the two, create the rise, keep the tang, and reduce the bitterness.

Remember that both of these products have a shelf life. Be sure to check dates to insure that the leavener of choice still has the power to lift your baked goods. To tell if baking powder is still fresh, you can place a 1/2 teaspoon in a bowl and add 1/4 cup boiling water. If it bubbles up, it is still good.  To check the freshness of baking soda, place a spoonful into a bowl, and add a little lemon juice, or vinegar. It should produce bubbles if it is active.

Also note,that batters relying on baking soda should be baked as soon as possible, where baking powder based batters and doughs can usually wait to be baked, as some of the “poof power” is heat activated.

Confused? We hope not, but just in case, the most important take aways here, are that these items are not interchangeable, and must be fresh to do their jobs. Oh, and if you are like me, to always look twice to make sure that you have the right cylander in your hand before you scoop!

 

 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Rusty Pans

July 12, 2016

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I noticed that some of my older metal tart pans were getting a layer of rust spots on them. The pans are perfectly good, but nobody wants to eat rusty crusts.
The solution: baking soda to the rescue!

Dampen the pan, and shake baking soda on the rusty areas. The soda should stick and act like a paste on the pan. Make sure the rusty areas are fully covered, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Use steel wool or a brush to remove the rust, and rinse well to make sure the baking soda is also removed, and fully dry it with a towel. Lightly oil the pan to prevent the rust from returning.

Some swear by using a raw potato to scour away the rust. Cut a potato in half, and use the cut end and either dish soap or baking soda to scrub away at the rust. If the potato starts to get a bit slimy, simply slice off a little add more soap |soda.

To keep pans from rusting, do not put them in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand, and towel dry them thouroughly before storing.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cleaning a Reusable Water Bottle

September 2, 2014

bottles, water, glassTo avoid plastic bottles, I tote a reusable water bottle to the gym. Mine is stainless steel, and sports the logo of my favorite charity, Cycle for Survival on the outside. Using a metal or glass bottle is better for the environment, and for your health. That is, if it’s kept clean.

Although I wash it out every night, sometimes it needs a little more love to keep it germ free.

Before leaving for a short vacation, I left it filled with water and baking soda to disinfect it. When I went to rinse it out, the water inside the bottle was the color of tea. Yuck! To completely clean your bottle and kill the germs that might be harboring in the bottom, try a few of these simple tips:

Soap and Water: Of course, good old soap and water is always a safe bet. Add a few drops of dish soap and let it soak.

If you ever use the bottle with flavored water, or other drinks, it might need one of the other methods to remove the taste and coloring left in the bottom of the bottle.

Baking Soda: As mentioned above, baking soda and water are a great way to clean the bottle. Add a nice amount of baking soda and fill the bottle with water. Give it a few shakes and let it sit.

Vinegar: A vinegar and water mixture is also an effective way to disinfect your bottle. If you are really adventurous, add a little baking soda for some fizzing action. ( Be sure to use white vinegar!)

Denture cleaning tablets: Drop one denture cleaning tablet into a full bottle of water and let it do it’s magic.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to thoroughly rinse the bottle to get any residue out, and to avoid having an unpleasant flavor when you add water. Pour out any excess and allow it to air dry completely.

Don’t forget to wash the cap and outside of the bottle as well.

photo:Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Banana Bread

December 2, 2013

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We eat a lot of bananas in our house, but inevitably, there is always a few that get too ripe, despite the techniques we have employed to avoid it.

No worries, banana bread is so easy to make, that we are happy to have an excuse to whip some up!

Banana Bread

Mash up 3 or 4 over ripe bananas in a mixing bowl. Add 1/3 cup melted butter and mix. Stir in 1 egg,  3/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt over the mixture add 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix well and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan, slice and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 12, 2013

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Sometimes simple things are best.  Every time I make Toll House chocolate chip cookies, they get gobbled up. The recipe has been around forever, and it never disappoints. The rich buttery dough with almost melted chocolate chips is so easy to make, that there really isn’t a good reason to buy packaged cookies. The dough actually improves if left in the refrigerator for a few hours, or even overnight. It can also be frozen in a log, and a few cookies can be sliced off and baked so that you can have a fresh out of the oven experience at a moment’s notice.

Trust me, these are so easy, you can make them with one hand. I did!

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Toll House Cookies

Beat together 2 sticks of butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar and ¾ cup brown sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Add 2 eggs and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl mix 2 ¼ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. With the mixer running, slowly add it to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Stir in 12 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips. **

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Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, using a tablespoon* and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes, until they are golden brown. Allow them to sit for a minute or two in the pan before transferring them to a rack to cool. Enjoy!

* I use a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the pan. It is so much neater, and the cookies tend to be more uniform in size.

** If you want to experiment with variations, try using white chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips in place of the chocolate chips, or use a combination.

Replace the chips with M&M’s for a fun look. If you like nuts, add a cup of the chopped nuts of your choice to the batter.

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Hot Tips Tuesday: Natural Whiteners

April 9, 2013

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There are lots of natural ways to whiten dingy fabrics, without using bleach.

Try some of these green ideas for your next load of laundry:

Add ½ cup of baking soda to your wash to whiten. (is there anything this powdered powerhouse won’t do?!)

Try a lemon and warm water pre-soak, before washing.

Distilled white vinegar will brighten up those whites, when ½ cup is added to the wash cycle.

Spring is just around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to “lighten up!”

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How To Tell If Baking Powder/Soda Is Still Good

April 2, 2013

4093602237It seems that no matter how much I bake, I never seem to use up the baking soda or baking powder in my pantry. These products do have a shelf life, and lose their effectiveness over a period of time.

Baking soda has an expiration date on the box, often 3 or 4 years from the date of purchase! Baking powder has a shorter lifespan of about 9-12 months.

If you are uncertain that they still have the power to “poof your pastries”, here is how to test them:

For baking soda, add a little vinegar to ½ cup of very hot water and add a little of the soda. If it fizzes, you are good to go. No bubbles mean you are not likely to get a rise out of your baked goods. Get a fresh box, and save the old stuff for cleaning projects.

Baking power can simply be stirred into hot water, (sans vinegar) as above. If it bubbles, it’s still good. If not, it needs to be replaced.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Non-Toxic Oven Cleaner

March 12, 2013

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My self cleaning oven has stopped cleaning itself. There is no worse household chore that I can think of than scrubbing the oven. The fumes, the waiting, and the endless wiping, rinsing and wiping again makes for a miserable experience. And did I mention how toxic oven cleaner is?

A quick survey of the web has turned up an easy, natural way to clean the oven using household ingredients. I also tried it on the burners of my stove and it did the trick.

Make a paste of baking soda and water, and spread it in a thick layer on the bottom of the oven. Let it sit for several hours or overnight. If you can, spray it regularly with water to keep it moist.

When ready to clean it off, spray the dried soda mixture with white vinegar, which will not only rehydrate it, but it will also cause a chemical reaction that will cut right through that greasy grime.
Wipe it off with a damp sponge and enjoy your sparkling, clean oven!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Natural Relief

April 26, 2012

I was shopping at my local drugstore this week, and asked the pharmacist where the Maalox was. She replied that it had been voluntarily pulled from the shelves over a month ago. The most similar product, Mylanta, had also been recalled. Since different companies make the products, it couldn’t have been a manufacturing glitch.  This caused me to seriously question the safety of an over the counter drug that I have been using regularly for many years.

Armed with a bottle of Tums, I sat down to research natural remedies for stomach acid.  Surprisingly, most of them can be found in your kitchen cabinets.

Apple Cider Vinegar has been found to prevent and relieve heartburn.

Sipping a mixture of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 4 ounces of water before meals, is thought to prevent the over production of stomach acid.

Drinking a couple of tablespoons of the vinegar has been known to neutralize stomach acid and relieve the burning sensation.

Gum: Chewing gum increases the production of saliva, which helps to neutralize the stomach acids and prevent reflux.

Bananas and apples are thought to have natural antacid effects.

Sipping chamomile tea, or ginger tea may also relieve heartburn symptoms. Ginger root capsules, or eating candied ginger are also effective.

Baking soda, mixed with water is another natural way to deal with stomach acid. Just mix ½ – 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, and drink it down. Be prepared to burp as the solution works it’s magic!

Health food stores carry papaya enzymes in pill form, which is a natural digestive aid. Papaya enzymes are also an anti-coagulant, and are not recommended for anyone with risk of stomach bleeding.

Always remember that even holistic remedies can have health risks if they are not right for you.  Consulting a doctor before taking any kind of supplement, is highly recommended.

photo: Glasshouse Images


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