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Shoofly Pies, African Violets & Vinegar: Surprising Way Vinegar Makes Your Life Sweeter by Alison Blasko


You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

We’ve all heard this little ditty. Probably out of the mouth of a parent or a grandparent.

And yep, you will attract more people and good fortune into your life if you embrace the platitudes of kindness, compassion, good manners and good graces than with an acidic personality or tongue.

But don’t discount vinegar just yet. It’s sweeter than you think.

Aside from the many culinary uses, this weak acetic acid is one of nature’s best wonder cures for a variety of troublesome situations. It is environmentally friendly to boot, always a plus for today’s world.

I first learned about vinegar’s sweet and invaluable contributions at the age of five.

I was banging pots and pans with wooden spoons on the kitchen floor making a horrendous racket and solidifying the analysis that I would NOT make my future career as a musician. Elsewhere in the kitchen, my great aunt, Mary Yoder Baum, baked her famous shoofly pies and apple dumplings.

She was baking them for the local bazaar, where a fundraiser for a church charity was being held. Known merely as Auntie to those whom knew and loved her, she was famed for her prize-winning African violets, sporting the most vibrant purple, blue, and pink hues, and her delish shoofly pies and apple dumplings, which no one could duplicate.

I asked her why shoofly pies were called just that as she placed the freshly-out-of-the-oven pies on the window sill to cool.

She replied that the pies were so sweet you had to shoo away the flies, hence the name. That was also when I first heard the adage, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Or in that instance molasses. Followed by a quick, “But don’t discount vinegar as it has its sweet rewards too.”

And she knew this well as ask her the secret ingredient behind her famed shoofly pies, apple dumplings and gold- ribbon winning African violets, she would coyly smile and say, “Why, vinegar of course.”

She added two teaspoons of white vinegar and one teaspoon for her pie crust and pastry crust, respectively. The trick for those luscious plentiful blooms on her African violets was to add a few drops as part of her fertilizer. Additionally, she cleaned the foliage with a solution of ½ teaspoon white vinegar, four drops of dish detergent mixed into a cup of warm water. Just spray it on the leaves afterwhich be sure to pat the leaves dry with a clean cloth. African violets do not like wet leaves.

That was her secret. That was how she managed to sweeten her life and the lives of others with the bitter weak acetic acid we all call vinegar.

  Some of Aunties Other Useful Vinegar Tips:

  1. Clean fish tank outer glass and ornaments (1:1 ratio with warm water)
  2. Clean windows and mirrors (vinegar and water solution; wipe with newspapers)
  3. Clear clogged drains (pour vinegar down drain; let it sit for 10 minutes; flush with warm water)
  4. Clean bathroom and  kitchen counters and appliances (replace those toxic chemicals with vinegar and water solution)
  5. Sets color dyes when used in washing machine (pour 1/4 cup into machine)
  6. Apple cider vinegar removes warts
  7. Apple cider vinegar is a great digestive tonic
  8. Makes a great air freshener and drain deodorizer
  9. Use a water and vinegar solution to clean crusty and smear-smudged piano keys
  10. Remove water spots and rings from furniture

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