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Auntie Christine’s Household Hints! #2 – Vinegar!

Alrighty friends and neighbors! Short and sweet today – we have another handy household hint from Auntie Christine’s Heinz’s vinegar books!  Aunt Chris bought me a series of these handy household hint books written by Christine Halvorson. They’re filled with great, practical ideas to use everyday pantry items (vinegar, salt, baking soda) in great ways around the house!

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Remember, this is your regular, run of the mill white vinegar that you buy at the grocery store!

Today’s hint is if you have an ink stain on a carpet, rug or piece of clothing, you should blot the ink spot immediately (of course).  THEN, spray the area with HAIR SPRAY! Yes.. that’s right, bust out your can of “Beautynet” or whatever kind you use, and go to town. The hair spray should dissolve the ink spot and once it’s completely gone, work a solution of half white vinegar and half water to completely remove any residual spray!

Aunt Christine’s Household Hints! – VINEGAR!

If anyone knows me personally, (and I know those who don’t, I do believe you’re missing out..), they would most likely know who my Aunt Christine is as well. I grew up in the country, a half mile away from her, and spent hours upon hours at her house  playing with my cousins when we were kids. Now, as an adult I still adore her (possibly more than when I was a child), and as anyone who knows her can attest, she’s one of the most generous people I know.

Now keep in mind, generous comes in many different ways with her.  For instance, every time I go south to the States she comes over and gives me some “funny money” (US Dollars) that she had just “hanging around”. When she comes across a great deal somewhere, instead of buying one, she’ll buy a few and end up giving me one of whatever it is. For my last birthday, she bought me a purple wig. Yep… I don’t know why either, but she’s great that way! I mean come on, who gets a purple wig AND a helium “Happy Birthday” balloon that sings the birthday song to you whenever you punch it???? I loved it!!

Ok, so moving on. At some point a year or so ago, she came over and gave me a super cool series of small books that she bought God knows where. They are basically 3 separate books on different uses for household vinegar, baking soda, and salt. Alright, obviously these hints aren’t exactly MY AUNTIE’S HINTS as the title of this blog post suggests, because the vinegar book is actually written by Christine Halvorson (NOT my Aunt Christine) but I kinda like the idea that she gave me the books, so it seems like they came from her…. like my logic?

Here’s the vinegar book:

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The books have a bit of a retro/vintage type of look to them, and are full of super cool little “hacks” or hints, to make life easier, and cost effective.The book suggests using Heinz’s brand name vinegar, however, I’m SURE any brand name of vinegar would work if not your not feeling fancy. Just be sure it’s the 5% acidity kind.

So, I thought when times are a bit slow around here (aka, I have nothing new to post), you, my dear readers, will get a handy dandy hint or two on how to use one of these household staples in ways that you may not have ever dreamed of! Well perhaps you may have heard of a few of these, but you can always pass the info (as well as this blog post..ahem) onto someone who might not be in the know. That way, you could be the hero for the day and be a smartypants ALL AT ONCE!

Win win!

So, we shall commence the schooling with the household vinegar tips. For the most part, these tips are referencing your run of the mill, white, grocery store bought, 5% acidity vinegar. A few tips will use apple cider, but that will of course, be prefaced.

Ok. Here’s two handy hints to get us started:

For cleaning your microwave:  If you microwave is dirty and greasy with old food particles and other grossness, microwave a glass container with one cup of water, and a 1/4 cup of vinegar for about 3 to 4 minutes. After the microwave is finished, leave it there for about 10 minutes without the opening the door. Then, open the door and simply wipe clean!

Laundry: If you add 2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle while washing cotton or wool blankets, it will remove any soapy residue and leave the blankets smelling clean (not of vinegar), soft and fluffy!

If you have any uses for vinegar, let me know and I’ll post them here!

If you’re interested in buying these books, here’s a place you can:
http://www.amazon.com/Heinz-Distilled-Vinegar-Helpful-Household/dp/141271365X

Fantastic Forkin’ Foccacia (foto filled!)

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Just LOOK at that amazing carby goodness.

It’s so good, it would bring you to tears, and you’d be crying, “whyyy.. WHYYY is this sooo damn good?”

It’s good because I made it. Listen, there’s no shame in my game when it comes to creations of the bready sort. (except for some hotdog buns I made the other day. CRUNCHY. Lots of shame there.)

However brothers and sisters,  the good news is, is that YOU can be a culinary carby wizard too.

Alright, ok ok. Truth be told, I’ve been making this bread recipe for about a year or so now. So I was pretty confident that it would be damn good. What, you expect me to use an untested recipe for my VERY FIRST COOKING TUTORIAL??

The head’s not just a hat~rack, friends.

Ok, here we go:

The recipe is SUPER damn easy. Trust me. A monkey can make it, and most likely probably has.

The recipe will be posted at the end of the tutorial. Until then, sit back, follow along and enjoy the thrills and spills of this pictorial instruction.  Btw, I forgot that I was actually doing a tutorial when I started making this bread, (yes. I know. It’s my first time ok??) and forgot to photograph the yeast in all it’s bloomy and foamy glory. Oh well. You guys are geniuses anyway and can figure that shit out. So, the pics begin at the whole magic of the mix~master part.

FIRST STEP: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in 2 cups of warm water. Then add 4 teaspoons of yeast. I used Fermipan regular yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes.

STEP TWO: Combine bloomed yeast and all other ingredients in bowl. Add herbs into the mixing dough at this point. I used rosemary because I LOVE rosemary, but you can use any italian type herb you’d like.

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STEP THREE: After removing from bowl, knead dough (like, 10 times maybe) into a ball. Lightly spray or grease the bowl so it doesn’t stick as it rises. Replace, and cover with a nice clean tea~towel (mine was all brand new and creased. I love new.).   Put in a warm cozy place so all those itty bitty bacterias can fart their butts off and make your dough rise. Time 30 minutes.

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Thirty magical minutes later:

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STEP FOUR: Punch down dough and divide in half.

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STEP FIVE: Take half the bread ball and roll into a rectangular shape to fit the baking pan………

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…………………that you lined and greased while the dough was rising. Oh, I didn’t include that step, you say? Well, I’m KINDA including it now, and remember, you’re all geniuses people, .. do I really NEED to?

Ok, I need to. Line and grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper. Sigh.

Put the said doughy rectangle into the pan.

Also:  With the other half of the bread, divide it into 8 pieces and roll them into balls. Score the top of the bun with a knife. I think they look like little bums in this photo.
Place on a different pan, lined with parchment paper.

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Cover both and let it rise again for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350, and go clean up your damn kitchen.

30 glorious minutes later:

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STEP SIX: Take thy fingers and starting from the top, poke some holes all the way down the top of the dough. Not too deep, but not too shallow either.

Here, like this:

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STEP SEVEN: Ok, so now is the yummy part. Lightly sprinkle some olive oil over the top. Top with any topping you’d like. I used sundried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, shredded asiago cheese, and black olives. I also sprinkled italian seasoning and coarse salt as well.  If you google foccacia toppings, you’ll see a cornucopia of ideas.

Looky:

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STEP EIGHT: Slide it into the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes or until nice and golden brown.

(Don’t forget to put the buns in the oven too!)

Like this:

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and like this:

baked bun

Wait ten minutes and you can take it out of the pan if you wish to cool further. I didn’t. I left the sucker in there. It was fine.

2~bite Review:

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Now, as for the foccacia, my initial thought was that I burned the sundried tomatos,

but my taste test reviewers said they didn’t think so and that they didn’t taste burnt. I’ll go with that opinion.

Ok, again, truth be known, I actually had a PIECE of this bread, not just two bites. But lemme tell ya friends and neighbors…. this foccacia literally made me say “OMG” out loud to no one but my dog. He looked at me like he wanted to try it too. (He did.)

Warm, soft and yummily bready on the inside. The top was a bit crunchier and with the taste of the cooked crunchy cheese, black olives and coarse salt combination, it REALLY made my day. The top was still soft-ish from the sprinkling of the olive oil so it wasn’t like, cracker crunchy if that’s what your thinking.

Oh but good gawd it was good!!

For Real.

Phew! I wanted to eat another 2 pieces but I refrained and brought it to a family bbq instead.
They loved it.

This recipe is really easy to do, and really versatile. You can leave out all the herbs and such and just make a regular loaf of bread, or roll it out and make pizza crusts. You can add another few tablespoon of sugar to the water, and it will result in a sweeter type of bread that you could roll out, spread cinnamon and sugar on, roll it up and cut into slice to make cinnamon rolls.  The possibilities are endless. ENDLESS!!

So, I’m going to give this bread recipe a 10/10 because it’s so tasty, easy, and versatile.

Go forth and BAKE BREAD lovelies! (Recipe below)

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Easy Basic Bread Recipe

5 cups of white flour
2 cups warm water
1tbs sugar
4 tsp Yeast
1/4c oil
1tsp salt

Dissolve sugar into warm water. Add yeast. Let proof for 10 minutes.
Add flour and the rest of the ingredients. Mix or knead until dough is elastic and smooth.
Spray/grease bowl and cover to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
After 30 minutes, punch down and shape into whatever application your using the dough for (ie, bread, pizza crust, buns, etc)
Cover and let rise another 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (usually) and/or golden brown.