Monday, April 21, 2014

Vinegar- even us lazy people can use it.

So I haven't posted in a few days, because all I have been doing is taking photos of my food as I cook it, but I really didn't want this to be a food blog, I wanted to be a little more broad and encompassing--so I am saving those posts for later.

Let's talk vinegar. It's CHEAP, and wonderful with all of it's eleventybillion uses. I bought it in a gallon (this is a gallon, right?) from Target. (I don't even remember how much it was, but it's inexpensive. I'm sure there are other places to get it, that may be a better price--but like I've  mentioned..sometimes convenience is key.) So vinegar has a lot of great multifunctional uses (see 60 ways here or 101 ways here), however, I don't like to go by these lists because I haven't actually tried it and verified that it does a good job.

Here are 7 easy uses for vinegar, that I have tested and prove to work!

1) Fabric freshener - I have a spray bottle that is about 25% vinegar, 75% water. I used it on an old mattress that my daughter slept on, and during potty training, we had a LOT of accidents (and..uh..let's face it, we are back to diapers now). After we decided to switch out beds (I never liked it anyways, it was my husband's bed before we got married), I misted the entire mattress and let it sit in the sun (from the windows, I wasn't going to move it outside). I did this once a day for three days..and now, you would never know the bed was used- at all. I also use the spray inside my shoes (I have smelly feet).

2) Deodorizer (is this the same as above?) - I use it in my laundry. I cloth diaper my kids, and I make my own detergent.. and occasionally, I'll get a stink build up. Vinegar neutralizes that. Approximately once a month, I'll do a deep clean/stripping of my diapers, and that includes using vinegar in the rinse cycle. Stink goes away, voila.

3) Color Preserver - I don't know how this works, and I'm not very scientific, and I'm also very lazy to look it up, but I was told to do this. I used it to wash my jeans when they were brand new. I bought a new pair of jeans, and I wanted to wear white with it and *not* end up with blue shoes. I was told to wash my jeans, and use 1/4 cup in the rinse cycle, and then do an extra rinse. I did this (used vinegar) twice, just in case. I don't know how, or why, but it worked. I wore white, It didn't ruin the rest of my outfit.

4) Rinse-Aid - So I tried making my own dishwashing (machine) detergent......don't. I heard every recipe out there doesn't work too well, but I found one that several people (online) swore by, so I tried it. I ended up with so much hard-water buildup I was grossed out picking my dishes from the dishwasher. I added a little vinegar to the rinse-aid (where you would normally stick jet-dry or similar), put a little cup right-side-up filled to the brim with vinegar, and ran the wash again. They came out sparkling.

5) Wash strawberries (and probably other berries) - You know how when you let strawberries sit for anytime longer than a few days, they start to mold? Try washing them in vinegar first to kill any existing bacteria, then give it a good rinse and refrigerate. My non-scientific experiment says it lasts at least a few days longer.

6) Hard wood floor cleaner - I use about 2 or 3 cups of vinegar in a large bucket of hot water. I swear it makes my floors shine like they were new.

7) General Cleaner - I have a 50/50 water/vinegar spray that I use for a lot of things - cleaning kids toys, wiping down counters, cleaning my microwave, refrigerator,

and I'm trying this one right now, not sure yet if it works

8) Weed killer, use as 100% concentration, 5% acidity (5% is what is normally sold in stores). Supposedly works well in sunny climates, which I do not live in! Testing to see if it works in cloudy environments as well.

What are some of your favorite uses for vinegar?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Soup - Blended

So I got a fancy new toy last week, a fancy new blender! I've been wanting it forever, and have consumed my weight in samples from the Costco demonstrator for it. One of it's tricks is to make HOT soup, with cold ingredients, so here's one of the first soups I tried. I used this recipe ( and this recipe (Vitamix, official) as inspiration.

I started with 6 red bell peppers. Wash thoroughly and slice in half. I roasted these for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees.
I don't know about your family, but I sneak vegetables into dinner. Whatever is left over in your fridge, chop them up! I used a small wedge of cabbage, a medium onion, and 3.5 carrots.
Heat oil in a pan (in my case, a wok) and saute the vegetables until they're golden and tender starting with the thicker vegetables first (carrots) and adding the others in throughout. I then added 2 scoops of minced garlic for good measure and let them cook a few minutes longer.

(Sorry, I'm technology inclined, and I can't figure out how to get this photo to rotate!)

I used some shredded cheese I had and spread it on a silicone baking sheet. Two of the piles are dairy & soy-free Daiya cheese, because my toddler daughter has MPI and my son (who is breastfed) has MSPI and we cannot have cow's milk/cheese.
Then add to the oven with the roasting peppers for about 15 minutes (don't worry, my oven is not always that clean, this is a fluke). Watch the cheese carefully, it will bubble, and the oil will come out, and you want to pull it out right as it starts to turn brown.

Layer all the cooked ingredients, minus the cheese, some chicken broth (I used two pint glasses of water and a scoop of chicken bouillon powder), salt, and pepper. I also added a couple scoops of chia seeds, because they are SO GOOD for you. (Do you know all the benefits of chia seeds?) BLEND! Here is the Before and After.

Add a scoop of heavy cream (I scooped from a can of refrigerated coconut cream), add some parsley to make it pretty, put cheese crisps on top, and serve with a sandwich. Instant yum.

Summary of ingredients:
Roasted bell peppers
Randomly sautteed vegetables (cabbage, carrots, onion)
Minced garlic
Chicken broth (or use Vegetable broth, for vegan)
Salt and pepper
Chia seeds
Shredded cheese
Parsley (for decoration)

This soup was super easy, delicious, and I'm happy with how I was able to turn it into a beautiful presentation with practical garnish! Let me know if you try it out, and what kind of variations you do!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I don't have a niche

I'm starting a blog, and I'm going to keep up with it.

They say if you want to write a blog that people actually read, you need a niche- and there's my problem. I'm really not extreme in any one which way or another, which seems to be what most other bloggers have..I always feel so inadequate when reading these susie-homemaker blogs, so here's my niche-- I'm going to be more relatable. Here's what I will write about:

  • I like to cook, but I'm too lazy to buy all the ingredients, do lots of subbing, and I hate measuring cups
  • I want to eat healthy and clean and really try, but damn, organic is expensive and fastfood tastes too good
  • I am a "crunchy" person, but I still shop for convenience and don't make everything myself
  • I practice attachment parenting, but I work outside of the home, so I have to enforce some schedules
  • I have lots of hobbies, but I don't excel at any of them, and frankly don't have much time
  • I am Chinese-American, which means I have to pick and choose my traditions
  • I enjoy deal-shopping, but impulse buying is fun!

Does this work as a niche? You tell me.

(p.s. Did you know "relatable" is not a word? I'm getting a red squiggle)