My Best Tips


good-- but not my best tips

Urgency Day 59

500 Things Item 437: Cake Decorating Kit

  • History: Before cupcakes, there were cakes
  • Value: $39.99 (in 1996 dollars)
  • Parting pain: None
  • Un-possessing: I hope my young friend Tony wants it. He’s just starting his culinary adventures.

A long time ago, my college roommate called me Suzy- there’s-a-product-for-that.

She observed my utter conviction that, if there was a need:

  • Teeth to be whitened
  • Clothes to be brightened
  • Hair to be heightened

American chemists could R and D a solution, and American commerce would offer it up for my convenience at some price ending in 99.

What surprises leap out here? That I, The Downsizing Crusader, was once such an enthusiastic consumer? That the enthusiastic consumer has gone on a downsizing crusade? Or that I was once a girl called Suzy? Flip a coin, should you have a three-sided one. It all shocks the h-e-double-toothpicks out of me.

Life’s a hoot, ain’t it?

Many many people are doing more with less these days, either out of necessity or conscience or both. I love, for example, using plain old—and best of all, cheap! — white vinegar to clean and degrease my kitchen. It works better than any chemically spray, and did I mention it’s cheap? On the days I can’t leave the windows open to clear the vinegary fumes, I bake something yummy smelling.

I suspect my boys are supportive of my downsized cleaning efforts.

Interestingly, baking is one area of my life that has gotten more complicated not less. As a gluten-free baker, I now require a pantry full of intriguing little bags of flours and starches to concoct delicious treats, where I used to need only plain old—and best of all, cheap!—all-purpose flour. Sure, I had a few other dusty bags around such as whole wheat flour or the occasional box of cake flour, but mostly all I needed was AP flour to turn out yummy smelling treats.

TIPS:  Did you know you can make an excellent substitute for cake flour using cornstarch? Just add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch plus enough AP flour to measure 1 cup and whisk. I adore handy substitutes! I also add 1 tablespoon of plain white vinegar to 1 cup of milk to make buttermilk.

A very streamlined life: Brought to you by plain white vinegar.

But I say, out with unnecessary complications! And since my baking has gotten more complicated by dietary necessity, I want to eliminate all the fuss and falderal around it I am able.

So, I am downsizing this under-used Martha Stewart cake decorating kit, complete with tips, and pips and detailed instructions for making my cake-baking life really complicated. I did use the pretty paste food colors it came with, well some of them. I remember they gave the frosting  kind of an off-flavor. Something not correctable with a bit of plain white vinegar.

And when you search “white vinegar” on Miss Martha’s site? One thousand fifty-four results.

Plain white vinegar: At the heart of many a happy kitchen.

And it makes a great baking soda volcano, too.


2 Responses to “My Best Tips”

  1. melanie Says:

    Are you saying that White Vinegar is the Control Z of the kitchen?

    More importantly, in your downsizing efforts in the kitchen, heed this advice: Do NOT part with a garlic peeler or an offset spatula. They can change your life.

  2. Megan DeAngelis Says:

    Tony is very excited by the way, he will tell you.

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