Jun 12, 2013

It’s Just Sour Grapes


Do you know this expression? It’s used to rationalize our inability to acquire something out of reach. The most common usage of sour grapes is vinegar which is, in fact, plentiful, available and easy to make at home.
Vinegar has been around since the beginning of time.  There was no need to invent vinegar as it invents itself. Any liquid that has sugar in it automatically turns to vinegar when exposed to air.  The Babylonians used it to preserve foods and as a seasoning for their food. History records Greeks using it to preserve foods and Roman soldiers made a beverage used as they traveled.  Not much has changed with our use of vinegar; we still use it to preserve foods and season with.
The name comes from the simple compounding of two French words—vin and aigre—literally, sour wine.  While food scientists speculate about cracks in wine barrels exposing the wine to bacteria in the air and souring the natural sugars, no one can accurately pinpoint the first usage of wine vinegar.
Vinegar is a totally natural food. There are no chemicals or preservatives in vinegar; actually, vinegar is a preservative itself. It is not just for salad dressing. There are also many medicinal tasks you can use it for. It naturally cleans and sanitizes better than anything on the market—use it to clean windows and crystal.  It’s also perfect for vinyl floors and woodwork.
Add some to your washing machine when washing towels to eliminate sour odors. Vinegar is a natural way to get rid of ants, other insects, and unwanted weeds. Keep some in a spray bottle and spritz corners and gardens regularly.
Throughout history vinegar has also been a good way to preserve foods. Aside from its obvious use in pickling, it kills unwanted bacteria such as E coli.
Vinegar has also been known to dissolve warts and prevent athlete’s foot by killing fungus.  Put cold vinegar on a burn to prevent blisters. Not to mention keeping nits and lice from your daughter’s hair.  The uses are endless!
You can make vinegar from anything that has sugar in it. You can even make vinegar from simple sugar water. Distilled or common white vinegar is made from grains.  Malt vinegar is made from sprouted barley, like a beer solution.  Rice wine vinegar is generally milder than other vinegars. It is made from rice wine. In many cultures and cuisines, vinegar is made from a variety of produce from kiwis to persimmons.
Balsamic vinegar is different in that it is made from grape juice that has been boiled down and concentrated rather than wine. In Italy, production of balsamic vinegar is controlled and carefully labeled. Production must follow many regulations including where the grapes where grown and how long it has been aged.
Red wine vinegars make good salad dressings and marinades for red meats because the taste can stand on its own without the addition of other strong flavorings.  
White wine vinegars, white rice vinegars, and corn vinegar work well with refrigerated pickles or salads. They also work well with fish and poultry. Flavored vinegars give an interesting twist to vinaigrettes.  Make your own by adding fresh or frozen fruit to a bottle of vinegar and allowing it to sit in a dark place for a week. 
Vinegar is used in an astounding range of recipes from appetizers to dessert.

This version is lighter and lower in calories than traditional mayonnaise-laden coleslaw.

1 tablespoon sesame seeds or mixed black and white sesame seeds
16 ounces thinly sliced red and green cabbage or 1 bag shredded cabbage
1 small carrot shredded
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, checked
3 red radishes, sliced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon oriental toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
If you are using raw sesame seeds place them in small dry skillet over medium heat and toast until light golden, about 3 minutes. Set aside.  If using our mixed sesame seeds, skip this step.
Combine cabbage, carrots, radishes  and scallions in large bowl. Add vinegar, oil, ginger, sesame oil, and sugar and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Prepare two hours ahead to allow flavors to meld. Cover and refrigerate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

A super-quick and elegant side dish


4 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt to taste

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add peas, tomatoes and onions.  Stir-fry until peas are bright green, about 3 minutes.  Remove from flame.  Sprinkle with vinegar.  Season with salt and toss to coat.   Serve hot.

Try this for supper tonight—your family will enjoy it as much as ours!

8 chicken parts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Clean chicken; pat dry and place in a large roasting pan. Combine olive oil, sherry wine vinegar, honey, cumin, and cinnamon in medium saucepan. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Remove glaze from heat. Brush some of glaze over chicken. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast about 55 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, basting every 20 minutes with more glaze. Serve hot.

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