Ways to cope with winter’s chill: Stock up on pixie dust

Hang in there. It’ll be over soon. One more month or two to go.

In the meantime, in a word, this winter has been relentless. You know it’s bad when 20 degrees above zero — rather than below — is considered balmy.

I was born and raised here in Minnesota, and the only thing I have ever liked about winter is when it ends.

But rather than complain, waduyah say we just all try to cope?  As a gesture of good will I’d like to share with you my winter survival list.

And just like the month of February, it’s relatively short:

1) Vitamin D — any way you can get it. It’ll help make up for the lack of sunlight.

2) Cuddle duds — think of them as freezer wrap … for humans.

3) Distilled vinegar — it’s pixie dust.

Let me explain that last one.

Heloise and the wonders of vinegar
I remember an interview I once did, back when I was a TV talk-show host, with a woman with long locks of white hair. Her name was Heloise, and she went on and on about the magical qualities of vinegar. Seemed it could do just about anything except turn water into wine. But it will curdle milk. Hold that thought.

Anyway, it turns out vinegar is also great for removing salt stains from your shoes.

I tried it the other day on my favorite pair of black neoprene boots and … voila! After I went over the boots with a paper towel soaked with vinegar, the stains were gone. My very own before and after.

What followed was a short jaunt off to the land of Google, where vinegar tops the drop-down menu for all sorts of common chemicals with all sorts of uncommon household uses.

The magic of vodka
Did you know vodka is great for shining chrome and porcelain bathroom fixtures? Yes, vodka. But even as a non-drinker, I’m a bit puzzled as to why anyone would use the good stuff to clean. You can also use it to keep aphids off your houseplants if you’re so inclined.

And then there’s coke — as in cola. It moistens a baked ham, removes grease from clothing and cleans corroded battery terminals. Who knew? And then I got to thinking — if cola cleans corrosion off of metal, what does it do to your teeth?

But I digress. Getting back to our original discussion point, the Vinegar Institute (yes there is such a place) says distilled vinegar is also great for soothing the sting produced by a jellyfish bite. But I gotta warn ya, after seeing the movie “Seven Pounds” I highly recommend steering clear of any and all jellyfish.

Don’t tell Martha, but …
Now about that curdled milk, here’s the deal: During the winter months, I make Martha Stewart’s banana nut bread all the time (my husband’s office staff loves it). The recipe calls for buttermilk, and sometimes I don’t have buttermilk. So rather than risk life and limb by driving on ice through a blizzard to get to the grocery store, I just mix a little vinegar with regular milk and in a few minutes I have a universally accepted substitute for buttermilk.

Oh, yeah, baked goods are also on my winter survival list. (With each incremental drop on the thermometer, calories become less and less of a concern.)

Nothing like the smell of warm bread in the kitchen oven to ease winter’s chill. I’ve included a link to Martha’s bread recipe here. You oughta try it.

It’s delish.

Tastes nothin’ like vinegar.

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