Archives for posts with tag: Vinegar

A few years ago I discovered a cool little book called Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning written by The Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante.  I was intrigued by this book because it outlined traditional techniques using salt, oil, sugar, alcohol, vinegar, drying, cold storage and lactic fermentation.  These types of food preservation were basically unheard of in my family.  By the time I came around in the 70’s, nobody was preserving food with these methods. Where I grew up, there were two ways to keep food (lots of vinegar or lots of sugar) and both involved subjecting foods to plenty of heat. So, for me, this type of book is controversial.  It goes against the advice and intelligence of my first community.  I feel though, that this intelligence was under the influence of a particularly recent trend.  My grandparents parents likely knew some of these methods.

Many of the recipes outlined in this book would make perfect gifts; dried fruits, sun dried tomatoes, homemade vegetable bouillon powder, harissa, herbs in oil, marinated rosehip jam, fruit syrups, chutneys, and fruits in alcohol.  The recipes for crocks of lactofermented fruits and vegetables look delicious to me, but… these might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect gift.  I will try to stick to the recipes that I know will be a hit, like steeped fruits.

I once made two varieties of the most delicious steeped fruits; plums and cardamom and pears with vanilla and black pepper.  I picked out perfect fresh fruits (this is important) and a little spice, filled two clean canning jars with them, added one cup of sugar to each and filled the jar with alcohol.  I let it steep a couple months before I opened the jars.  If my grandma knew how easy it was to “can” something, she might be shocked.  It is extremely easy to make fruits in alcohol and it makes a very decadent gift.

Right now you will likely not find any perfect fresh fruits.  But you can make this with dried fruits.  It is not exactly the same, but it is still a very special treat.  A very small quantity (like a tablespoon) of this with a little cake or ice cream is a nice occasional treat.  You can also use these little fruits in baking such as butter-tarts and cakes.

Today I am steeping fruits for Christmas cake and pudding. Over the years, we have actually developed a taste for these foods.

Here are some combinations that I have heard of:

  • dried apricots, vanilla, brandy and a little sugar
  • raisins and currants in Pedro Ximénez sherry
  • prunes, red wine, brandy and a little linden tea
  • golden raisins in Grand Marnier
  • raisin with rum or raisins with gin.
  • sun cooked cherries, brandy, a little sugar

An easy gift that does not involve alcohol is the “Compote Bonne Maman Ceries – Cherry.”

Make it DIY by decorating the jar!

This is a lovely gift!

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

Did you know that you could actually clean most anything using insanely common items such as baking soda, soap and vinegar? Way back in the day, yes, all the way back in 2005, I went to a “make your own cleaning products” workshop at La Co-op La Maison Verte .  At this very workshop my hunch was confirmed; it is possible to make cleaning products with simple and cheap ingredients.  For many of my clients, it is important to avoid using harsh chemical cleaners in their homes.  You too might enjoy seeing how easy it is to make your own green products.

Bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

Image via Wikipedia

Scrub Paste.  (It’s excellent!) In a tight fitting jar, mix together in the following order:

1 2/3 cups baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap (dish-soap, Dr. Bronner’s, etc.), 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree essential oil.

(If there is a little residue from the baking soda, just spray with a wee bit of vinegar and wipe)

Uses: any greasy, grimy job, like tubs, sinks, garbage cans, counter tops, super dirty floors, toilet bowls, it works!

All-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaner

In a 16 oz. spray bottle:

Put 3 tablespoons liquid soap or 1 tablespoon of liquid hand-dishwashing detergent and 30 drops tea tree essential oil in bottle and fill with purified water.

Uses:  Kitchen and bathroom floors, toys, doorknobs, phones, toilet seat and rim, garbage cans, dirty windows, baseboards, floors, walls

Chrome/Glass Cleaner

Fill any spray bottle with club soda.

Other uses for club soda: clean plants, stains like wine, juice, tomato sauce.

Scented Baking Soda

In a glass sugar container with a perforated top, fill with:

Baking Soda and your favorite essential oil

Uses: any stainless steel surface, like the kitchen sink, removes odours (carpet, cat box, garbage can), scuff marks and smudges

Scented Vinegar

In any size spray bottle, fill with:

Cats help with so many things in this life, just not the cleaning!

White distilled vinegar and your favorite essential oil.

Uses: to prevent soap build-up in the bathroom spray shower a couple times a week, removes baking soda residue, removes odours, any stainless steel surface, also can be used as a fabric softener.

Oven Cleaner

Spray water on bottom of the oven, sprinkle 1/4 cup salt mixed with 3/4 cup baking soda, spray again with water and let sit overnight.  Next day scrape with a putty knife/steel wool/ pumice stone.  Rinse with scented vinegar.  Prevention: Use oven liners which are pure aluminum, so you can recycle them when you are done.

Cutting Board Cleaner

Spray cutting board with water, then work salt or the cut side of half a lemon into the surface.  Let sit, then rinse with water and dry.

Lemon

Image via Wikipedia

Furniture Polish – love it! In a 16 oz. spray bottle:

2 teaspoons olive oil, 20 drops pure lemon essential oil, 1/4 cup white vinegar and fill with purified water. Shake well before using.

The vinegar and lemon oil dissolves dirt and smudges, while the olive oil shines and protects the wood.

Uses: wooden surfaces such as cabinets, picture frames, wood paneling, varnished wood floors, dusting furniture and dust mopping floors.

A few additional tips:

1) Replenish these products on a regular basis.  If the oil goes off in the bottle, throw the old stuff out and make new stuff.

2) If you are concerned about using petroleum based products, remember, if the soap is made from synthetic ingredients it is likely a petroleum based soap.  There are many good brands out there that use vegetable oils so be sure to read labels!  Castille soap is an amazing option.

3) Also, most distilled vinegars are made from petroleum.  Heinz is a grain-based vinegar, so look for that.  Do not use any vinegar on any stone or marble.

4) If you do not like the scent of tee tree essential oil, try pure lavender essential oil or pure lemon essential oil.  These oils are also disinfecting oils.

Happy Cleaning!

Many of these recipes are found in “Clean House, Clean Planet” by Karen Logan

This info was compiled by Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

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