Posts Tagged ‘vinegar’

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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Stave Off The Stench

August 4, 2014

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When I saw this post from Men’s Health entitled “How to Cure Stinky Feet,” I was intrigued. Not to name names of course, but I do know someone whose feet could knock you over when they remove their shoes at the end of the day.

So as a public service to this anonymouos person, and those that they love, here are a few ways to tame the stench…

Salt tends to pull the moisture from your skin, thus reducing the bacteria that survives there. It is suggested that soaking feet for 20 minutes a day in a solution of coarse kosher salt and warm water over a period of two weeks could have a positive effect.

Or, you could try to dry out the bacteria by soaking in one part vinegar and two parts water for 30 minutes each day for a week.

If turning your feet into a salad isn’t appealing, perhaps this is more your cup of tea. Brew some strong, black tea, and add cool water. Soak away the smellies for 3o minutes a day and let the acid in the tea act as an antiboitic to kill that nasty bacteria. Munching on a scone while you soak is optional.

In the meantime, stick to cotton socks, which allow your feet to breathe. As a courtesy to others, consider changing them mid day.

Spray your shoes with a disinfectant like Lysol. Saturate a pair of socks with it and stuff them into the shoes to marinate over night and help eliminate odors. Personally, I prefer Fabreze, but it doesn’t have the antibacterial punch of good ‘ole Lysol. It does however smell nicer, which is the end game here, isn’t it?

Sprinkle a little baby powder or plain old corn starch into your shoes to absorb sweat and odor. They will also soak up the stink during the day.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Cutting The Mustard

February 12, 2014

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Athletes often use sports drinks and energy gels to refuel and prevent muscle cramps during strenuous activities. These costly and high sugar aids can easily be replaced by a simple fast food staple: mustard packets.

Muscle cramps are often caused by a deficiency in  acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that simulates the muscles during work. When consumed, mustard triggers the body to produce more  acetylcholine, due to it’s high acetic acid content.

Turmeric, which gives mustard it’s rich yellow hue, is thought to have beneficial properties as well. Often touted as an anti-inflammatory and a natural arthritis aid, turmeric is thought to reduce muscle stiffness and joint swelling.

Vinegar, found in prepared mustard, is another home remedy which is effective in  relieving muscle cramps. Just one packet of mustard contains the same amount of sodium as 8 oz. of Gatorade Endurance. The combination of vinegar, sodium and turmeric packs a big punch in supporting athlete’s quick nutritional needs.

If your artificially flavored sports gels and drinks aren’t cutting the mustard anymore, it might be time to try the real deal.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Burn Treatments

June 11, 2013

As a continuation of my series of “Unfortunate Events”, I spent a few days last week in the Cornell Burn Unit at New York Hospital.  I know what you are thinking: Yes, I did just finish physical therapy on a fractured knee. Mmmhmm, I did hurt my foot after a triumphant return to the gym and taking my mileage from the recommended “walk a minute/ run a minute” to running 3 miles straight in the course of a week.
All of that is better now thank you, but last week I did a doozy of a job burning my hand. I will spare you the gory details, and trust me they are quite gory, but after a few days of pretending it was all fine, I ended up at the doctor, the emergency room and yet another emergency room, before finally being admitted to the hospital.

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I burn myself a lot. As anyone who cooks like I do will tell you, burns are a part of the process. I inevitably have a couple of little marks on my arms as reminders of great meals past.

This one however, was more serious.

The moral of the story, is that if you have an injury that is large, extreme and doesn’t stop hurting/bleeding/swelling/oozing, do as I say, not as I do, and head to the doctor immediately. Many ERs now have a fast track area that deals with these non-life threatening emergencies that require treatment that often can’t be provided by your local doctor. (IV antibiotics, X-rays and MRI’s, wound treatment and stitches: you get the idea!) The first visit had me in and out in 45 minutes, a world record for a New York City ER.  If you think it might be serious, go see a doctor!!

Today’s kitchen tips are for those little pesky burns that don’t require either hospitalization or shots of morphine just to take a shower and get them bandaged (for reals!).  These are quick remedies often found in the kitchen to soothe those mildly singed areas and help prevent scarring or infection.

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A teabag can act as a soothing compress, and the tannic acid present in black tea helps to draw the heat from the burn. Soaking a teabag in cool water and applying it directly to the area should provide some relief. Some advocate using the tea leaves as a poultice, and dabbing them directly on the burn before covering the area with gauze.

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When honey is applied to a burn, it draws out fluids from the affected area, and acts as a disinfectant. It also keeps the skin soft, and supple as it heals.
Apply honey to the wound, and cover it with a gauze bandage. Change the bandage several times throughout the day.

Vinegar has antiseptic properties that can cleanse the burn and help dull the pain. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, and use it clean the area. Placing a cloth soaked in the mixture directly on the wound is said to help ease the pain.

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Rubbing a raw potato over a burn is said to reduce pain and prevent blisters. Apply the cut side to the burn immediately, for optimum effects.

Milk is another food with soothing properties.  Soaking the affected area in milk or plain yogurt is recommended to take the burn out of the wound. Repeat every few hours, being sure to use fresh dairy products each time.

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Freshly cut onions are also thought to be a good treatment, as the quercetin and sulphur compounds help to relieve the pain, and prevent blistering. Work quickly, as the onion loses its medicinal properties soon after it is cut. You may not smell very good, but people swear by the results!

Remember to keep the burn clean, and moist at all times. The doctors at the Burn Unit I was in are big fans of Bacitracin, which keeps the wound clean, infection free, and moist while it heals. And hopefully, mine will!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Perfect Salad Dressing

April 16, 2013

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Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make, and so much better than the store bought variety. A simple vinaigrette can be made with oil, and anything acidic, such as vinegar, or citrus juice.
As a baseline, dressing should be 3 parts oil, to one part acid. Depending on the ingredients, and what the dressing is being used on, that might need to be tweaked a bit. Personally, I tend to  err on the side of extra acid, preferring a little more tang to the dressing.

To make the perfect salad dressing, start out with a good quality oil. Olive oil is the most common base for a vinaigrette, but other clean, flavorful oils such as walnut can also be used.  Vinegar, or citrus juice can provide the acid.

There are lots of types of vinegars on the market. Balsamic vinegars can range from tart, to syrupy and sweet, depending on how long it has been aged. There is even a white balsamic, that has a milder taste. Red wine vinegar is a bit more tart, and half wine vinegar and 1/2 balsamic can be a nice blend. There are also flavored vinegars which add an extra element.  Lemon juice is a nice alternative to vinegar, as is lime or even grapefruit juice.

Whisking, or shaking the mixture will cause it to emulsify, thickening it slightly.
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Once you have the basic recipe, it is fun to experiment with fresh herbs or other condiments.

One of my favorite tricks is to make the dressing in a dijon mustard jar that is almost empty. Just pour the oil and vinegar or lemon juice into the jar, and shake it vigorously. The mustard left on the sides of the jar will mix in and add another level of flavor to the mix.

Once you start making your own dressings, you will never want to go back to bottled versions, which are laden with preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients.

Enjoy!

Photos:Glasshouse Images

Natural Easter Egg Dyes

March 28, 2013

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This Sunday is Easter, a sacred Christian holiday that has somehow become synonymous with bunnies, chocolate, and colored eggs. Like Christmas, the commercialized aspects of the day have turned it into Everyman’s celebration of spring.  The drugstores, grocery stores and toy stores are filled with bunnies; some stuffed, some chocolate, and some made out of a nasty colored, chemical laden marshmallow mixture. The colored eggs, when not formed from plastic and designed to hold some of the above, are made at home.

There are many ways to dye Easter eggs. Some hard-boil them; some poke a hole and blow the contents out, leaving a hollow egg to embellish. They can be painted, drawn on, covered in fabric, yarn or colorful tapes. There are decals and decorating kits, produced just for this purpose.

I prefer to create eggs that can be eaten. And I sure don’t want to eat something that has been dipped in possibly toxic dyes and vinegar.

Why not consider making naturals dyes, derived from real foods?
Here are a few ideas for creating edible dyes in beautiful hues to enhance your Easter basket:

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Blue:

Boil 2 cups of chopped red cabbage in a quart of water. Add ¼ cup white vinegar. Strain before using.

Alternatively, cook blueberries in water and vinegar for a purple-blue cast.

Lavender:

Mix 1 cup of Concord grape juice with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.

Pinks and reds:
Simmer 2 chopped beets with ¼ cup vinegar and 3 cups water. Strain before using.

Cranberries can also be used instead, to create another red hue.

Yellow:

Mix 3 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of white vinegar. Bring to a boil and add 2 teaspoons of turmeric. Allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes before using.

Green:

Mix the yellow dye and the blue dye together to create a new color.

Orange:

Mix 2 tablespoons of paprika with 3 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of vinegar and allowing it to steep before using.

Alternatively, mix the red and yellow dyes together to obtain the perfect color.

Allow the dyes to cool before using. The longer the dyes are allowed to steep, the deeper the hue will be. The dye should look darker than the desired shade before using. The longer the eggs are soaked, the deeper the color. Experiment with other colorful foods to create beautiful, edible eggs.

Happy Spring!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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

Quick Tip

October 15, 2012

Want to clean your garbage disposal? Here is a great tip tweeted by Food.com:

Freeze lemon slices with vinegar in an ice cube tray. Drop 1 into the disposal and it will clean the blades and eliminate odors.

How easy is that?

photo: Glasshouse Images


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