I bought my first piece of kitchen equipment when I was 18 years old. It was a hand-hammered wok. Since then, I’ve taught myself to make dumplings, fried rice, wontons, and, more recently, egg rolls. There was just one missing piece in the puzzle to reclaim my Chinese takeout ritual from childhood: duck sauce.
Like Julia Child before me, I enjoy cooking with wine, and find that it works just as well as a companion as it does an ingredient. But every once in awhile I’ll find the wine rack empty. This is unfortunate, but there are a couple of great substitutes already in your pantry perfect for deglazing.
Pet rats are wonderful. They’re smart, playful, affectionate, and often hilarious. I think it’s important to distinguish between the kind you willingly keep your home, and the wild kind (especially the huge city-dwellers).
The fruit fly one is interesting. …Not that I have a need for it… 😉
How/why does this work? What does the vinegar do?
Vinegar is about 90% water, and about 5-10% acetic acid. Most scented molecules contain a functional group like an amine (putrescine, for example, one of the rotting smells), a thiol (ethanethiol, i.e. skunk smell), or other non-carbon molecules. Acetic acid can bind these to form molecules that your nose can not detect, thus eliminating the odor. Even if it’s not forming an actual chemical bond, it can still coordinate (i.e. form hydrogen bonds, which are pretty strong themselves. It’s analogous to dissolving.) thus removing the scented molecules from the air, woodwork, carpet, etc.
Has this ever happened to you? You stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, only to find that a few days later your produce is mottled with bruises, brown spots, and wrinkly skin. The odds are good that this premature rotting has nothing to do with the quality of your produce — it is most likely the result of improper storage
If you’ve never had a shrub before, it’s just about the most refreshing thing you can think to drink—especially in the summer. It starts with a syrup that’s a combination of vinegar, fruit, and sugar. The fruit tastes like its truest self and the vinegar cuts right through it. Add it to a glass, then bubbles to make it bright. The alcohol is optional, but awfully good.
There are times when seasoning more with more salt, pepper and herbs just isn’t the answer. For those times, a dash of acid usually rounds things out perfectly. Adding an acid (like lemon juice, vinegar or tomatoes) punches up a dish, often completely changing or rounding out the flavors and creating more balance. I cook a lot with grains at home, and if I throw together a ho-hum grain bowl or pasta dish, it’s often a little lemon zest and juice that wakes things up and makes it truly tasty. Citrus also cuts through fat nicely, making heavy bland sauces more delicious.
Ask me what I’d do with nearly any summer vegetable, and the answer is almost always the same: “Pickle it.” Yellow squash, pickle it. Green beans, pickle them. Cherries, pickle those too. It’s hard to beat the sharp tang and crisp snap of a good quick pickle, a fast and easy process that leaves them tasting of summer.
If vinegar is a liquid, why are most salt and vinegar potato chips covered in a powder? Here’s a little food science to help you understand your weekend snacks.
When you fry potato chips at home (and who doesn’t?), you make salt and vinegar potato chips by soaking the raw potatoes in a mixture of vinegar and water before cooking them up. That’s not always an option for making the chips on an industrial scale, and the flavor isn’t as sharp as many people prefer. The best way to make salt and vinegar flavored potato chips is the best way to make any kind of potato chips: flavor powder.
It’s been a long time since I ate potato chips/crisps, but I remember that they rivaled Fruit Loops for the ability to cut the roof of my mouth. I preferred “All Dressed” because I liked the tang, rather than sharp bitterness of salt and vinegar.