Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mrs. Linklater Shares Her Secrets

The Old Farmer's Almanac just posted about eighty gazillion things you can do around your body and your house with vinegar. Just a heads up, you'll need at least a gallon. 
          Since Mrs. L is as old as an almanac, she thought it would be nice to reveal some -- okay TWO -- of her very own secret tips to help make your life as delightful as hers is rumored to be. And a little less like those people on Wife Swap.  
          These two secrets are so amazing, so money saving, so ridiculously simple that you're going to thank her with something more than just a gratuitous comment here on her blog.  
          The first secret she is going to reveal is how to keep brown sugar from turning into a huge rectangular hockey puck. Bet you didn't know that this was even possible. In fact, she's sure some of you had no idea this was even a problem. 
          But once you open the hermetically sealed plastic bag it comes in, anybody who has ever made chocolate chip cookies, blond brownies, gingerbread cake or sweet potatoes knows that NOTHING will keep brown sugar from becoming a petrified science project. 
          Why? Because it's been exposed to AIR. And once air gets into the bag, it will suck the moisture out of the brown sugar like a Hoover on steroids. And you're left with a rock in a hard place. 
          You can throw the rock out or put it in a pan over a medium flame on the stove, covered with enough water to help dissolve it. Then heat it slowly until it liquefies, add a tablespoon of maple flavoring, and pour the liquid into a Mrs. Butterworth's bottle when nobody's looking. Who's to know you didn't squeeze that maple-ly goodness right out of your backyard trees. 
          But, that's not either one of the TWO SECRETS Mrs. Linklater wants to share. That was another secret she just totally forgot about. Along with putting your kitchen sponges in the microwave for a minute each night to sanitize and deodorize them. 
          The secret to keeping the brown sugar soft and brown sugary is to empty the brown sugar out of its own plastic bag and into a new, resealable plastic bag with a PIECE OF FRESH BREAD. One piece is all you need. Squish the air out of the bag before you close it up. And voila, the next time you go to make those cookies, you've got brown sugar, not a dinosaur turd. The bread gets hard, not the brown sugar. If you don't bake very often, keep the brown sugar in the refrigerator so the bread doesn't get moldy. Or swap the old bread for a new piece every so often. Most bread has enough preservatives to last for years. 
          Mrs. Linklater's other secret tip comes in handy when you're roaming the cupboards, looking for anything to put on some buttered toast because there's no more jelly or Marshmallow Fluff. And nobody wants to use molasses. Unfortunately, all you can find is solidified honey. Because that's what happens to honey when it gets old. It crystallizes. And if you bought the giant, economy size, it is guaranteed to crystallize.
          The good news is that the honey hasn't gone bad, because it takes more than sitting around the cupboard in its jar to ruin it. Why? Because honey comes with its own antibiotics built in -- one of Mother Nature's great accomplishments. At least that's the story Mrs. L tells everybody. 
          So you've got this jar of honey you can't use. Simply put it in a pan with water [sound familiar?] about half way up the jar. Not too high or it will float. And SLOWLY heat it, stirring occasionally to encourage cooperation. Use a very low flame or you will melt the jar if it's plastic and it won't stand up straight anymore. Mrs. Linklater learned that the hard way. After a while you'll notice that the honey is starting to look like honey again. And it should be good for another six or seven years. 
          That old farmer guy's got nothing on Mrs. L.      


Donna said...

I always put the container of honey in the microwave and heat it up 15 seconds at a time until it's liquid again.

Mrs. L said...

I have done that with honey in glass containers. But I don't like to do it with honey that's in a plastic bottle/container, unless it's plastic that has been designated specifically for cooking. So I usually go old school.

Feather said...

I love to go to sleep laughing! Soooo true about the brown sugar. Thanks so much!

Anna said...

You had me at "dinosaur turd." LOL

Thanks for the hint. Nothing worse than stiff brown sugar...