My Mom, The Magic of Vinegar and Chocolate Cake

by Georgia Hubley
Originally Published: 
Three bottles of apple cider vinegar

Mom taught me that vinegar was Mother Nature’s cure-all for everything. I still marvel at how right she was, because her remedies and methods for doing things still work today. However, in today’s society, it’s considered the “green” thing to do. She was truly a trailblazer.

If I had a sore throat, it was apple cider vinegar to the rescue. She had me gargle with two tablespoons added to a glass of warm water, and I repeated the process as needed.

Growing up on a farm in the Midwest, there were mosquitoes galore in the summer time and I seemed to be the only mosquito magnet in the family. Mom saturated cotton balls straight from the bottle of apple cider vinegar and dabbed my bites to relieve the itching. This worked for sunburn too. Even though I was grateful the applications of vinegar soothed my skin, I’d grumble I smelled like a salad. But my complaints fell on deaf ears.

Each year we planted a garden that produced a bounty of: tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, green peppers, radishes, carrots, beets, sweet corn, leaf lettuce and an array of annual flowers. Mom taught me how to clean the dirt and debris from the fresh picked vegetables, by soaking or gently washing them in one-part apple cider or white distilled vinegar to 3 parts of warm water for several minutes, followed by a cold water rinse and patting them dry. Afterwards, she’d cut a mixed bouquet of flowers to adorn the dinner table, fill a vase with tepid water; add 2 tablespoons of any vinegar and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar to prolong the life of the flowers.

Mom abhorred dirty windows. Again, it was vinegar and water that saved the day. A spray bottle filled with 2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar and 4 cups of water was kept handy for cleaning our windows. Her secret for shiny, streak-free windows was drying them with sheets of crumpled newspaper.

I’ve saved Mom’s best use for vinegar for last. It’s the secret ingredient for the tastiest chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted or made. I’ve always called it my recipe for Magic Chocolate Cake. This recipe has been passed down through many generations and may the tradition continue.

Magic Chocolate Cake

Sift the following ingredients together:

1 3/4 cup sifted flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Add the rest of the ingredients and beat well:

1/3 cup soft shortening

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. vinegar (white or cider)

1 cup cold water

Pour batter into greased 8-in.-square pan that has been dusted lightly with cocoa. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven in the center rack for 30-45 minutes or until done. Note: Don’t over bake. To check if cake is done, insert a toothpick in the center; it should come out slightly moist.

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