Ready or Not #125: The Wonders of Baking Soda

My dad is brilliant.  Not just because he’s my dad, but because he really is brilliant.  Let me quantify this statement.  My dad called me the other day and posed these questions: “What do you use to take a bad smell out of plastic?”  Easy, I knew that one – baking soda.  He then asked me, “What do you bake oatmeal cookies with?”  Even easier (my favorite cookies), – again, baking soda.  He then told me  that he had made an incredible discovery – baking soda.

He said that as he was sitting at the kitchen table that morning, staring at a bowl of oatmeal that was too rancid to eat, and he was  frustrated.  Frustrated at the thought of feeding his stored oats to the neighbors horses, again, because the oats had gone a little  stale – again.  (I myself have a neighbor that has chickens that we help feed.)  That is when he started thinking about baking soda.  He  reasoned that if baking soda could take the bad smell out of plastic, but it was also something that you could safely eat, then maybe,  just maybe it would help his oats become fresh again.

That day, before leaving for work, he put a couple of cups of oats in a large pan with a lot of water (about three times as much) and then he added about a half teaspoon of baking soda and just let it sit while he was gone.  When he came back about six hours later he had a  gloppy mess on his hands.  Undaunted, he poured the oats into a strainer and rinsed them really well with fresh clean water.  It worked!  The oats tasted fresh and were completely edible.

Obviously he didn’t need to cook them because the oats were completely hydrated and so he put some in a bowl and warmed them up in the microwave and he and my mom ate oatmeal for dinner.  He said that the oatmeal tasted  wonderful and that he didn’t taste any baking soda flavor either.  He thinks that if you let the soda and oats sit for about an hour or so (versus 6 hours), that it would work just as well.

In all of the  uses for baking soda that I have ever heard about, and there is A LOT, this is something that I have never heard of.  A week after my dad called, I was going to make my Vegetables and Noodles dinner, but when I opened the spaghetti noodles, they smelled a  little bit old – and then I got thinking…what if?

I decided that it wouldn’t be prudent to soak the noodles and so I added the baking  soda to the boiling water just before I added the noodles.  I can’t believe that this particular use for this wonder element hasn’t been  discovered before!  After the noodles finished cooking I thoroughly rinsed them with water and then finished assembling the dinner.  (Basically, I just added the vegetables.)

After dinner was over I asked my unsuspecting family how dinner tasted, “Great!  How about some more?”  I should have just left it at  that, but I asked them how the noodles tasted and then they got suspicious.  They cautiously asked if the noodles were wheat (I do that sometimes – change out white for wheat).  When I told them what I had done and why, they said that they couldn’t tell the difference and that everything tasted good.

Since my dad’s initial discovery, he has been trying out his new-found wonder soda on everything.  He added a tiny amount to a glass of milk that hadn’t gone bad, but was less than fresh.  He said that it made it taste really good and even made it a tad bit sweeter.  He even used it to freshen up the taste of some meat.  He soaked some meat that was still good, but he thought smelled a little stale, with water and about a ½ teaspoon of baking soda.  He said that it freshened it right up and that it tasted wonderful.

Next time you have something that is still good, but you would like to “freshen it up”, just give this new idea a try.  I’m certainly impressed – and yes, my dad is a genius.  No more oats for the neighbor’s horses!

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