Windows 10

Brenda Nolen

For the first time in I don’t know how long, every computer in the house is current!  We are all Windows 10 users!  I wanted to share this with everyone here, in case you do decide to take the plunge.

  1. There is a rumor going around that Microsoft will begin charging a monthly fee.  I’ve looked and the only monthly fee I have seen is regarding the professional versions of Office.  If I’m wrong, let me know before my 30 days are up and I can switch back to Windows 8.1.
  2. As I just mentioned, once you upgrade, you have 30 days to roll back your computer to your previous version of Windows (as long as it was Windows 7 and newer).
  3. Microsoft is spying on you.  Yes, they are.  I’m thankful they got rid of the “swipe on the right of the screen” feature they had in Windows 8…

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Pre-Made Gluten Free Products – First List

I’ve been sitting here, keeping a list of the gluten-free items we have tried, their ingredients, and whether we liked them or not. My goal is to come up with a list of ingredients (and a percentage of each ingredient) so I can create my own gluten-free baking mix that we will enjoy. Then, I’ll basically use other people’s recipes (like Gluten Free On A Shoestring).

I originally was planning one long post on our findings (please keep in mind that these are just our opinions) but I keep finding new products to try. So, this will be my first post, reviewing what we’ve tried and whether we liked them or not.  I have added all the foods we liked (and would buy again) in my Amazon store (at the top of the page) but all the photos on this page link back to the companies websites.

I know that not only will tastes differ between nationalities but within regions of the United States. Let me preface this to say: I’m basically a displaced Okie (I just felt my Grandma smack me upside the head for using that term). Both sides of my family moved to California from Oklahoma. So, that is the family background on food. My immediate background revolves around being born and raised in California. My favorite types of food lean toward Mexican and/or Chinese. My husband is basically the same way (with more of an emphasis on Mexican food). His mother did more cooking with vegetables than anyone in my family has ever done but deep down, we are both “Meat and Potato” people, with a little bread on the side (oh, if we could find some San Francisco style sourdough bread that was gluten-free, we’d truly be in heaven). So, that’s my disclaimer. Keep this in mind when I review the following items.

The first gluten free product we bought was this:

Udi’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust at Papa Murphy’s:

At first, it was great (not “Oh, this is just like pizza crust” great but edible). Then, the pizza started cooling of and it took on the texture of a flour tortilla that had been heated, then left uncovered (tough). So, as long as you eat the pizza really fast, it’s great.

Then:

Three Baker’s Gluten Free Bread

This bread was crumbly, dry, and tasted like binder paper. Now, to give them the benefit of the doubt, the freezer this was being stored in was bad. The loaf had ice crystals all over it, so that could account for the texture. The taste, however, was not of freezer-burned bread (yes, I have eaten such). The flavor was as if they forgot to add any salt.

The next one we tried was this:

Udi’s White Bread

This tasted just like plain old white bread (though the sliced are just so small). We loved it! One thing to note: the size of these loaves makes them extremely cost prohibitive to purchase for a family to eat. I still have not figured out how a gluten-free family could afford to survive financially on these pre-made foods.

Udi’s Whole Grain Bread

This was alright. The texture was great but the bread itself was a little sweet. If that’s what you like, this is the bread for you!

Next, our ultimate favorite thing yet:

Krusteaz Gluten Free Pancake Mix

OMG! This stuff right here is better than regular pancake mix! If I remember right, this is the only gluten free item (at this point in our tasting journey) that has sorghum flour in it. So, I’m thinking sorghum flour might be best reserved for sweeter mixes, like muffin and pancake (wow, I really want some more right now).

Next:

Food For Life Gluten Free English Muffins (Multi-Seed)

Yuck. These were not only bland but gummy. Have you ever tried making a yeast bread and something messed up and you ended up with something that resembled rubber? Well, that was these, even though they were toasted and drowned in butter.

Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzel Twists:

These are harder than Rold Gold pretzels but not as “break a tooth” hard as Snyder’s typical pretzels and they are good! You can tell they aren’t gluten pretzels but they are close enough to make us happy.

AND last for this list (though we just bought some more gluten-free snacks at Rite Aid Drug Store yesterday):

Breton Gluten Free Herb and Garlic Crackers

Have you ever had a water cracker? You know, those round almost bland crackers you typically eat with brie? Well, add some garlic to them and that’s what these taste like. They are good (if you like those kind of crackers). I bought hubby some deviled ham and that was really good spread on these crackers.

I hope this list helps a little in your search for gluten-free alternatives. I know the search is helping us and we have been pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of products out there that are gluten-free (I sure wish there was this wide of a variety for low carb foods).  Remember, I have added all the foods we liked (and would buy again) in my Amazon store (at the top of the page) but all the photos on this page link back to the companies websites.  This will make it much easier for me to remember what I have already posted about (and what products I still have to share with you).

Until next time,
Brenda

2 Articles to Share: One on Etsy and the Other About Social Media

This Teen Paid for College by Selling on Etsy. Here Are 5 Ways She Did It.

In three years, this teenager has used her artistry, marketing abilities and time-management skills to rake in $100,000 on Etsy selling handmade jewelry on her shop DesignedByLei. Think: dainty layered necklaces, statement pendants, knuckle rings and her latest obsession: wire jewelry. Not only does it provide a creative escape from schoolwork but also is a way for Secor to pay for college tuition.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247609

And this interview on Fresh Rag:

Improve your Social Awareness With Caitlin Bacher of Little Farm Media

With all the different social media choices out there, it can be really difficult to separate wheat from chaff, and decide where to spend our precious time online. Some might have you believe you need to be everywhere, but is that really the case when it’s possible that some of your people may not be in some platforms?

http://www.freshrag.com/improve-your-social-awareness-with-caitlin-bacher-of-little-farm-media/

Third (and Final) Amazon Store

Alright!  I have now setup my third (and hopefully final) Amazon store.  This one is woefully lacking in items listed.  This is my oldest blog and I have used so many various resources throughout the years to get to where I am today that I’ll be surprised if I remember them all.  I will continually add to the list as I remember (and scour my brain, computer, and bookshelves to jog my memory).

As of this moment, it has a list of all the store-bought gluten free items we have tried (and liked).  I have a list going of what we liked, what we hated, and the ingredients of each item.  My goal is to take all that information and figure out the right mix of gluten-free flours that we will like.  Right now, it seems as if there will be two (can’t remember if I’ve already typed that or not in my last post): one for quick breads/pancakes/muffins, etc. and another for bread like foods (you know, white bread).  I discovered that with each product link, I can add my own notes (so, of course, I did with all the products so far).

The other things I have listed are all the knitting and crochet books I have.  Those I also know are not complete lists but I’m pretty sure I’m only missing a few.  I have cookbooks listed and yes, that is not a complete list.  I will also include a list of books on gardening/homestead but my brain’s a bit fried right now so that list is empty.

The link to the store is to the right and along the top of the page (I figured doing a store like this would be easier than a links page, where we know web sites tend to disappear over time).

Also, here’s the link: My Amazon Store.  I won’t be posting an update every time I post something new to the store.  Just know that it’s there: a constant reference list of all the things I have enjoyed and learned from over the years.

I hope everyone is having a great Monday!

Brenda

Homemade Shampoo Recipes

When I first began my foray into online anything, I discovered a wonderful Yahoo group, whose primary focus was edible wild foods but we would stray onto just about any other topic you could imagine.  This list was one of those topics.  I have done my best to locate original sources for the information (and include links).

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Homemade Shampoo Recipes

I found this recipe here http://www.best-natural-cures-health-guide.com/natural-cures-shampoo-recipes.html. While it sound like a fantastic recipe, keep in mind that rosemary and lavender can darken hair.

First collect the following items:

  • 4 oz of liquid castile soap with any scent is that available – plain, peppermint, eucalyptus.

  • ½ oz of rosemary – stimulates the hair follicles and helps to prevent premature baldness

  • ½ oz of sage – has antioxidants and keeps things from spoiling and is antibacterial

  • ½ oz of nettles – acts as a blood purifier, blood stimulator, contains a large source of nutrients for hair growth

  • ½ of lavender – controls the production of sebaceous gland oil and reduces itchy and flaky scalp conditions

  • 2000 mg of MSM – provides organic sulfur to your scalp, which improves the health and strength of your hair. It also helps to drive herbal nutrient into the skin and follicles where they can do the most good.

  • one empty 8 oz plastic bottle, or any other empty shampoo or soap bottle.

Mix the herbs in a mason jar, which has a lid. Boil 2 cups of distilled water. Add 3 heaping tablespoons of the mixed herbs into the boiling water. Pull the boiling water and herbs off the stove. Let the herb mixture sit for 30 – 40 minutes. Put the 2000mg of MSM into the herb mixture after 30 minutes of cooling. After 40 minutes and the MSM is melted, strain the herbal mixture into a bowl.

Pour 2 to 2 1/2 oz of strained herbal tea into the 8 oz plastic bottle. Now, pour the 4 oz of castile soap into the 8 oz plastic bottle. Cap the bottle and shake to mix the ingredients.

The shampoo is now finished and ready for use. Use this as a base for all of the shampoos you make. You can add different herbs as you learn what these herbs do and how they help your hair. You can vary the ingredients according to your taste. But now you have a shampoo that has no additives that can harm you.

 


 

Organic Hair Shampoo

From http://naturalorganicshampoo.com/organic-hair-shampoo-recipes/  (Link Is No Longer Available)   For example, here is a popular home organic shampoo recipe:

  • 5 drops of essential oil (any type)

  • 1 tablespoon of glycerin

  • 2 cups of hot chamomile tea

  • 3 tablespoons of grated castile soap

Another recipe involves using ingredients according to your hair color or type. For example, tea of calendula is said to bring out the shine and highlights in red hair. Brunettes can benefit form using tea of sage or rosemary and those with gray hair will enjoy using betony which removes the yellow color.

Other possible ingredients in your organic shampoo can be lemon juice, coconut oil and even egg. You can mix the ingredients into a blender and use as normal shampoo.

 


 

 

Basic Shampoo

From: http://christianhomekeeper.org/sylvia/2009/03/17/homemade-shampoo-recipes/ (Link Is No Longer Available)

  • 1 bar basic soap, grated

  • 4 quarts rain water

  • 2 slightly beaten eggs

  • 1 tsp. powdered borax

  • 1 oz. bay rum

Dissolve soap in boiling water. Let cool. Add eggs, borax and bay rum. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Note:Bay Rum is a men’s cologne that can be found in drug stores and department stores. Caswell Massey makes a very nice Bay Rum.

 


 

Chamomile shampoo

From: http://christianhomekeeper.org/sylvia/2009/03/17/homemade-shampoo-recipes/ (Link Is No Longer Available)

    • 1 handful fresh or dried chamomile flowers

    • 1 3/4 cup boiling water

    • 3 tablespoons pure soap flake, OR save leftover pieces of soap.

    • 1 tablespoon glycerin

    • 5 drops yellow food coloring (optional)

You also will need:

  • 2 heat proof bowls

  • a sieve

  • a wooden spoon

  • a clean 14 ounce bottle with tight fitting cover

Place the flowers in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes, then strain into the other bowl.

Clean the first bowl. Combine the soap and hot infusion in it. Let stand until the soap softens – a few minutes. Beat in the glycerin and food coloring until well blended.

Pour the mixture into the bottle. Keep in a cool dark place.

 


 

Basic Shampoo for Normal Hair

From http://hubpages.com/hub/Shampoo My recipes include vegetable oil for natural moisture that stimulates hair growth without clogging the skin, and liquid Castile soap for convenience. Where each recipe calls for a light vegetable oil, use your favorite: jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, apricot kernal, or coconut oil!

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap

  • 1/2 tsp light vegetable oil

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Massage through wet hair and into scalp. Rinse well.

Scalp-Soothing Shampoo

  • 3 bags chamomile tea

  • 3 bags peppermint tea

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 Tbsp liquid Castile soap

  • 1 tsp light vegetable oil

Instructions:

Bring water to a boil. Steep all six tea bags for 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Remove tea bags and add liquid soap and vegetable oil to brewed tea and stir until well blended. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Massage generously into hair and scalp. Rinse well.

Moisturizing Shampoo for Dry or Damaged Hair

  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap

  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel

  • 1 tsp glycerin

  • 1/4 tsp light vegetable oil

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, and shake before every use. Apply liberally to wet hair and let sit a few minutes before rinsing well with cool water.

Lightening Shampoo for Natural Highlights (Blondes Only)

  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap

  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat 1-2 minutes until heated through but not boiling. Cool to room temperature and strain out lemon zest. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Shampoo hair as usual, rinse well.

Herbal Shampoo for Dandruff Relief

  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary

  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme

  • 2 Tbsp coconut flakes

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 Tbsp of liquid Castile soap

  • 1 tsp light vegetable oil

Instructions:

Bring water to a boil. Steep herbs and coconut flakes in boiling water for 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and strain solids from water. Add other ingredients and mix until well combined. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Apply amply to wet hair and massage into scalp before rinsing well with cool water.

 


 

 

Dry Shampoos

From http://beautifulwithbrains.com/2009/08/14/diy-beauty-3-homemade-dry-shampoo-recipes/ If you have oily hair or are on the go and don’t have time for a shower, dry shampoo is a great fix. It won’t clean your hair as well as normal shampoo, but it will make it look presentable and save you some time too!

I’ve tried several dry shampoos in the past, but I’ve never been satisfied with them, so I’ve decided to make my own. Here are a few of my favourite homemade dry shampoo recipes:

Cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch

Massage cornstarch to your scalp and let it absorb oil for a few minutes. Brush it out to remove it.

Almond and Cornmeal Dry Shampoo

    • 2 tablespoons of cornmeal

1 tablespoon of ground almonds

1 1/2 tablespoon of orris root

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl and massage just one teaspoon of the mixture into your scalp. Brush your hair to remove the mixture. If hair still feels greasy, repeat the steps again.

Oatmeal and Baking Soda Dry Shampoo

  • 1 cup of ground oatmeal

  • 1 cup of baking soda

Mix the ingredients together and massage the mixture into your hair. Let the powder absorb the oil and then brush your hair to remove it.

 


 

Dandruff Treatment

From: http://christianhomekeeper.org/sylvia/2009/03/17/homemade-shampoo-recipes/ (Link Is No Longer Available)

  • 3 teaspoons dried rosemary

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 2/3 cup boiling water

  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar

Place the herbs in the bowl. Pour in the boiling water. Cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Strain into the bottle, add the vinegar, and shake. Store in a cool dry place.

Shampoo and rinse the hair thoroughly; massage a small amount into the scalp. Between shampoos, massage in a small amount before going to bed. This can help eliminate dandruff.

 


 

Pre wash honey treatment

From: http://christianhomekeeper.org/sylvia/2009/03/17/homemade-shampoo-recipes/ (Link Is No Longer Available)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • 5 drops rosemary, lavender or geranium essential oil

In a cup sitting in hot water, warm the olive oil and the honey ( or you can use the microwave for heating – be careful) Stir in your choice of essential oil and mix well.

While the mixture is still warm, apply it all over your hair, massaging well into the scalp. Cover your hair with the shower cap (or large plastic bag) wrap the towel around your head and leave on for 10-15 minutes. For severely damaged hair, leave on up to 30 minutes.

Remove the towel and shower cap, and wash your hair with a mild shampoo or baby shampoo.

Makes enough for one application.

My Soap Making Page

When I originally wrote up this page (2006), I was in the mindset that my soap would not turn out right if I didn’t have this special ingredient or that special ingredient.  Now?  I would just make soap with three basic ingredients: Fat, Water, and Lye.  The recipe really isn’t as important as the ratios: X amount of fats to X amount of water with X amount of lye.  Anything extras, like types of fats or herbs or essential oils are just that: extras.  If you enjoy math as much as I do (not), the easiest place to do the math for you is here: MMS Lye Calculator (the best one out there).  You just type in how much (and what kind of) fats you have and it pretty much does all the math for you.

Now, for the reason I am posting this here.  I am completely re-designing my website.  It’s been ugly for way too long.  Since I do most of my “work” here (and on my 2 other blogs), I’m turning it into basically a placeholder for links to my blogs, You Tube pages PLUS adding that same information for some special women I know.  So, I am transferring the last bit of information I had stored there to this blog.  Now, without further ado, to present my original soap making web page, in its entirety.

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Soap Making

As daunting a task as soap making seems to be, it truly is a simple process. Once you get the basics down, the possibilities are endless! Here are some links to get you started:

The key to soap making is being prepared. You must have everything there, ready to be used, and the correct lye to fat ratio (see MMS Lye Calculator). You can try any recipe you see on-line, but be sure to check the lye calculator to ensure the proportions are correct. If the proportions are not correct, you can either end up with a soap too soft to use or so harsh it can burn your skin. Like I said, preparation is the key.

I make soap using what I have on-hand. I typically use anything you can eat. The only time I buy anything special is if I run out (I did not grow enough), or just really like it (like Coconut Oil). I keep soap making as simple (and natural) as possible. This allows me to make soap if I run out of Coconut Oil, or a particular essential oil. Purchasing as local as I can is also important to me. If I can’t find something close by, then I branch out. My Coconut Oil I purchased from a food supplier in Los Angeles, and essential oils from Arizona. If I find a supplier closer to me, then I will purchase from them. Do your best to purchase from organic sources that you (or someone you know) trust. We put enough chemicals into our bodies that we don’t need to add more.

This brings me to essential oils (referred to as EO in soaping circles). Not only do I use essential oils for their fragrance, but also their medicinal or aromatherapy qualities. The beauty of essential oils is their purity. When you get lavender essential oil, that’s all it is. There are no unknown scents or colors added. Unless I know the supplier is reputable, I am very weary of Fragrance Oils. I never know what kind of oils they used to make that particular scent. There are books out there that give formulas for mixing your own essential oils. Give those a try before purchasing a Fragrance Oil (usually referred to as FO).

There are some fantastic colors that can be added to your soaps. To me, it’s adding more expense to the soap unnecessarily and more chemicals (whether natural or man-made). My soaps are naturally colored, by the herb I am using or the soap making process itself. When I first began, I thought I needed everything under the sun in my soaps to make them better. For my kitchen soap, I added cornmeal and for my lavender I added the lavender buds. Over time, I realized those additions did not make me any cleaner and just left a mess in the tub. Now, simple soaps are the way to go.

Once you get to the point where you are ready to begin the process, you need to consider safety. Lye is extremely caustic. I always wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, glasses (any kind will do, as long as they protect your eyes from splashing lye), real shoes (not sandals), and rubber gloves. The only chemical that has burned me worse than lye is paint stripper. Also, you need to be in a well ventilated area. The first time I made soap, I did it in the garage (with the doors closed). As soon as the fumes reached my face I had an instant asthma attack.

The containers you do your mixing in are also important. They can be earthen ware, stainless steel, or plastic. No other metals can be used, since they will react with the lye. It is best to only use these items for soaping. You will need two containers, one for the lye solution and one for the oils. You also need something to stir the liquids with. I use wooden spoons. One thing to keep in mind is lye will weaken wooden spoons, so keep an eye on them and if they show any signs of weakening (splintering) then get a new one.

Now for molds. You can either spend up to hundreds of dollars on fancy molds, or go down to the lumber store and make your own. Some people use candle molds, which are fine as long as they are not tin. Mine? I took an old wooden T.V. tray and removed the legs. I flipped it upside down and made a frame with pine 1X4s. That’s it! I line the mold with freezer paper (not the kind with plastic on one side, but traditional freezer paper), pour the soup into the mold, then tamp it down to eliminate air pockets (I knock the mold against the table).

The following description of my method of making soap is called “Cold Process” (or CP). I have always liked this method because it is a slower process, and since sometimes I am not as organized as I should be, this gives me time to run and get whatever it is I forgot.

Melt all your oils, and keep them lukewarm. Mix the lye and water, ensuring the lye is completely dissolved. Once the lye water is the same temperature as your oils, SLOWLY pour the lye water into the oils, stirring constantly. Continue stirring for what seems like forever (or use a hand blender, like a Braun mixer). When it has the consistency of soft pudding, that is called trace. That is the time when you would add any essential oils or other additives you desire. Stir a little longer, then poor into molds.

Now, you need to choose how you want the soap to look. Do you want it solid (milky, looking like store-bought soap) or would you prefer a more translucent color (similar to glycerine). If you want your soap solid, you only need to place something thin (like paper towels) over the mold to prevent dust from getting on your soap. If you want it more like glycerine, wrap the mold with a heavy towel or blanket. It’s the temperature difference that changes the soap. Leave the soap in the mold for 12 to 24 hours (if you leave the soap in the mold longer than that, it will be virtually impossible to cut into bars).

Cutting the soap into bars can be tricky. If you are making soap to sell, you have to have bars that are consistent in weight. If you are not planning on selling your soap, just cut the bars so they can comfortably fit in your hand. Then you can finish off the edges of the soap using either a knife or vegetable peeler. They can be any shape you want. Use your imagination!

Place the bars on a shelf or rack that allows good air flow, and let them cure for at least 4 to 6 weeks. This allows the soap to dry and harden. You will know when it’s ready. If you can squeeze the soap, you have to wait. The amount of time needed depends on how humid your environment is. To protect your soap from dust, place cheesecloth over the top. Once your soap is ready, store it like you normally would any soap. I keep mine in separate cardboard boxes, separated by type. OH! One more thing. The longer your soap sits, the more any scent will dissipate.

About Milk Soaps

You can take any soap recipe and replace the liquid (water) with cow or goat milk. There are two things you need to do that are different. If you want a white soap (due to the high natural sugar content in milk, which caramelizes/burns at high heat) the milk has to be frozen (I froze mine in ice cube trays). I tossed my frozen goats milk in the bucket, poured the lye over the ice cubes, stirred until the milk was no longer frozen, then proceeded with the rest of the recipe. Otherwise, the color of the soap will end up being anywhere from light tan to dark brown. The other change is you do not insulate the soap (wrap it in a blanket or towel). I found this article (with video) that may help: http://www.marthastewart.com/article/making-goat-soap.

 


 

My Basic Recipes

This is my basic recipe, and one castille recipe for soap. With this, I can just change the amounts of the other ingredients if I am out of an item then run it through the lye calculator again.

Sustainable Home’s Basic Soap Recipe

  • 28 ounces of Olive Oil

  • 28 ounces of Coconut Oil

  • 44 ounces of Shortening

  • 7 ounces of Cocoa Butter

  • 14.9 ounces Lye

  • 40 ounces Water

  • 4 ounces Essential Oil (optional)

Castile Soap Recipe

  • 107 ounces of Olive Oil

  • 13.7 ounces of Lye

  • 30 ounces of Water

NOTE: For Liquid Castile Soap, place 1 cup grated Castile, 3 cups water in a large pot. Turn on low heat and stir constantly until soap has dissolved. Add 2 Tablespoons glycerin. Once dissolved, transfer to a jar and cover tightly.

As you can see from the Castile Soap recipe, soap can be as simple or as complex as you want. What I do to make each type of soap unique is firstly, decided what kind of soap I want. For my Lavender soap, I start a few days ahead of time. I heat up the water and oil (seperately, of course), then put lavender buds in the liquids and let them steep for at least 48 hours. Then, I strain and make my soap. This adds more of the lavender into the soap and colors the soap naturally. My lavender soap turns out a very pale lavender color. For my Kitchen Soap, I do the same with dried Calendula (Marigold) petals. I have even thought of doing this with coffee, since coffee is supposed help remove odors from your hands. For hand washing dishes, I grate some soap, mix it with water, and use that just like commercial detergent. Not only does it cut the grease, it does not dry your hands.

Here are pictures of some of the soaps I have made, when I thought I was going to do this as a business (I was going to post exact recipes but now that I am reading all the recipes I developed, I will hold onto them):

dirtdigger1

 

This is my Dirt Digger Soap. It has Calendula-infused water and oil, lemon essential oil, ground calendula petals and cornmeal for that extra scrub. This was made in 3-inch PVC pipe.

dirtdiggersoap

 

This is the same Dirt Digger Soap as above, with the sides cut and a cigar band label with raffia. The hand cream in the picture had some lemon essential oil in it but because I did not use a commercial preservative, I had bottles explode! LOL!

emulotionsoap

 

This soap was also made in the 3-inch PVC pipe and prepared for sale as above. I replaced some of the oils with Emu Oil.

lusciouslavender

 

This soap is my favorite, though I have run out (I swore I would not make any more until ALL my soap is gone). Lavender infused oil and water, lavender essential oil, and ground lavender buds. The color of all these soaps are natural, from the infused oils/water. This soap was made in a log mold, then cut with the crinkle cutter.

lavendersoap

 

All dressed up! 🙂 These soaps were named for dear online friends of mine. I have many more but that is why I decided not to publish the recipes.

 


 

Liquid Soap

There are three ways you can make liquid hand soap:

  1. Make bar soap, grate it, then mix boiling water with it to get the right consistency. This is good for making small batches at a time. Without adding a chemical preservative, this will go rancid and/or bacteria can grow if left sitting too long (more than two to three months or so in the summer and it needs to be discarded and a fresh batch made).

  2. Go to a good craft/hobby store, like Michaels, and purchase liquid soap base. It’s basically unscented liquid soap. Then you can add some essential oils to scent it or add natural anti-bacterial properties (lavender and rosemary are good for that, if you like the scent, tea tree oil is a great anti-bacterial though a little goes a long way and smells very medicinal).

  3. Make it from scratch.

Here are three basic recipes (liquid soap requires potassium hydroxide instead of sodium hydroxide, which is your Red Devil lye. This is basically the difference between hard soap and soft soap):

Basic Liquid Soap (you can use any oils you want as long as you adjust the amount of lye)

http://www.snowdriftfarm.com/form_liquidsoaprecipes.html (website is no longer online)

Measurements by weight

  • 45 oz. coconut 76 degree

  • 80 oz. sunflower seed oil

  • 48 fluid oz. Water

  • 26 oz. Potassium hydroxide (This is a 3% lye discount.)

  • 2 to 2.5 gallons Dilution Water

Liquid Soap (you can use any oils you want as long as you adjust the amount of lye)

http://www.thesage.com/recipes/recipes.php?.State=Display&id=102

Measurements by weight

  • 1 ounce weight Avocado Oil

  • 4 ounces weight Coconut Oil

  • 11 ounces weight Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (shortening)

  • 3.1 ounces weight KOH (potassium hydroxide)

  • 8 ounces water (and we all know that water is the same in ounces weight as it is in fluid ounces)

Instructions:

Mix as usual.

 

Phase 1

Allow the water and KOH to be mixed and then added to melted fats. Stir until trace (read use a handblender). Allow to sit for a few days until pH tests low. .

Phase 2

Then slowly stir (read use a spoon) in extra water to create a liquid soap.

Notes & Comments:

Heidi Feldman (list member) uses a gelled water, created from soaking irish moss in water, when adding the water during phase 2. Also, scenting is done is phase 2, not in phase 1. The reason? It sticks!

For a smaller batch, and step by step instructions (with pictures) you can try this recipe: http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/liquidsoap/ss/basicliquidsoap.htm

Suppliers

If you can’t find suppliers locally, here are a few I have purchased from and really like:

http://www.soapies-supplies.com/shop/

http://www.brambleberry.com/

There are tons of recipes on the web for making soaps and shampoos. As long as you verify the correct amount of lye with a good calculator MMS Lye Calculator you can’t really go wrong!

 


 

 

Laundry

There are many recipes online for laundry soap. I would suggest trying them until you find the one you like. I only tried one recipe but I ended up going back to Tide.

With my husband’s greasy work, and a 13 year old, I use a homemade spot treater. I got this recipe from The Frugal Shopper. I LOVE this stuff! It works so well I use it for cleaning everything! It especially works wonders on a greasy stove!

Stain Remover

  • 1/2 cup of Ammonia

  • 1/2 cup of Vinegar (great way to use that white vinegar)

  • 2 Tablespoons Liquid Laundry Detergent

  • 2 quarts water

I don’t add the Liquid Laundry Detergent, since mine is powdered. Pour ingredients in a 1 gallon bottle (used plastic vinegar bottles work perfect for this). Make sure the lid is on tight, and shake bottle to mix. Pour into a spray bottle, and spray away!

 


 

 

How Did A Newbie Do?

I get so excited when someone tries soap making for the first time, and that’s exactly what an online friend did after reading this page. Here is his experience:

“July 17, 2006: Well, I made my first attempt at making soap. Just basic plain lard based variety. Figure if I start simple and something goes wacky I may have a chance to figure out what went wrong since EO is subject to being converted also plus other variables would complicate that process. Learn first then get fancy. 😉 Anyway, 4 pounds of lard, 8.45 ounces of lye and 24 ounces of water later I have a batch in a computer keyboard box lined with plastic for a “mold”. Trace wasn’t happening worth mentioning after three hours of stirring. I think one thing affecting it was I used the maximum amout of water recommended. So I started using a regular blender at a lower speed (puree) and let it blend for about 4 minutes per load which brought it almost to trace then stirred all the “blended” loads together and started a second run through blender. The second blender run required a higher speed and after only a minute or so it was tracing big time, almost like warm buttercream frosting. After running it all through blender second time I stirred it all together again to even it out then poured into my “mold”.

I would highly recommend using a stick blender and won’t attempt this again until I have one since it was close to 90 minutes before the batch would stop separating almost immediately when stirring stopped which obviously is not good. I think this may be related also to the water issue. I did use one trick from Hershberger in the Walton link which is to use ice water and ice when mixing your lye. Keeps the fumes down a bunch and takes less time to wait for it to cool since it doesn’t get as hot. Eight ice cubes and ice water from a jug till it measured 24 ounces, then added the lye. Worked great.

At any rate I should end up with a little over 5 pounds of soap for a total cost of about $4.50 which is about 30 cents less than what half that much Ivory soap would cost me so its a good deal. I’ll try to remember to let you know what its like to use after its cured.” “August 08, 2006: Just a quick note to let you kow the soap works great. Somewhat drying but then I didn’t allow for a lot of excess fat. It doesn’t give lots of lather but then lard soap isn’t supposed to either. But, when you wash with it you can see the difference in ‘clean’ compared to ‘factory soap or detergent/deodorant bars’. Thanks for prompting me to do this.

Laughs at Hurricanes”

New You Tube Video – Drop Spindle and Plying Setup

So, I was stressed and felt like I couldn’t keep my head on straight, so what did I do?  Spliced together two previously private videos (made them for some friends on Facebook) and posted them to You Tube.  lol  Check out the warning!  Yes, I use foul language on a regular basis and I had originally made these videos for friends.  But, I wanted to show all of you how my brain works and didn’t want to shoot new videos, so here you go!  Consider yourself warned.

Quick Update and Changes

My focus, when it comes to posting recipes, will be changing.  I have tried to keep my low carbohydrate (Atkins/Keto) posts to my other blog but now something new has reared its head and I am not willing to start a new blog (or just ignore it and only share with my Facebook friends). As of right now, my husband either has a gluten sensitivity or full blown allergy. We won’t know for another week or two whether it’s celiac disease or not. So, I’m am on a new path when it comes to food and will be sharing my experiences. I want everyone to see my trial and errors, what we discover we like (and don’t like) so that if you ever find yourself in this situation, hopefully I’ve gone through some of the pain for you.

I am in the process of going through various links that I’ve either already known about or those given to me by friends. I am still of a mind to make my own mixes (and once I get a flour mill of some kind making my own flours as much as I can) but right now, there are so many varied options out there that I’m not willing to by a 25 pound bag of sorghum flour if we are going to hate it.

So, I am making lists, buying pre-made foods/gluten-free mixes, noting whether we like an item or not and writing down the ingredients so I know what blends we like/don’t like. Once we settle on a couple (seems like there would have to be two mixes: one for bread-like products and another for muffin/quick bread recipes but I’ll know more once we experiment), I will share all of our observations, trials and errors with all of you.

My point in making this post is, I will no longer be posting standard gluten recipes UNLESS you can substitute the regular flour for a gluten-free substitute without altering the recipe in any other way.

Building a wool picker

the Spider's Workshop

I have wanted to build a wool picker ever since I saw photos of them on the internet and learned what they did.  A wool picker is a machine that pulls wool apart to make it more open.  This helps clean the wool, and makes it easier to card, (or even spin).  It opens the wool with the aid of sharp, smooth nails that hold and pull the wool.  It is a very dangerous piece of equipment, with some having over 400 nails.

I have not been able to build one because I could not find nails that were smooth.  Normal nails would snag and tear the wool.  Well, a couple of weeks ago I found nails for a nail gun and they seemed perfect.  They may not be as sharp as the nails used in a wool picker, but I think that is okay.

Once I had the nails…

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Let’s step back in time

dancordray

In a previous post I said I would continue our travels….

So after finding the grave markers I have driven by many times right in front of the state park entrance, i decided to go to another familiar place.

The entrance to Fort Bonnesboro The entrance to Fort Bonnesboro

This is not going to be a lot of my narrative, I’ll let the pictures describe the life here.  So let’s begin…

The self guided fort tour begins with a video presentation describing the events in history that took place in the fort and surrounding areas. The self guided fort tour begins with a video presentation describing the events in history that took place in the fort and surrounding areas.

a view of the inside of the fort a view of the inside of the fort

a view of the inside of the fort a view of the inside of the fort

The fort has many “timeline cabins” that describe the lives and work of the people who came here.  There will be a slide of the cabin’s “timeline” card as we proceed inside.

In the first cabin we see life was not more than the barest of essentials. In the first cabin we see life was not more than the…

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Lawmakers want FDA to crack down on soap makers

simpleunhookedliving

People who are trying to do good for their families and the planet by living a simple life based on traditional skills are facing yet another assault. Artisanal soap makers say new regulations, proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), will put them out of business. Many soap makers are rural “kitchen table” operations that rely on the income to fund their simple living lifestyle.  Some use milk from goats they raise and ingredients they harvest from the land.

The Handmade Cosmetic Alliance posted this form on its website that can be used to reach out to elected representatives. 

Image result for handmade soap images The form includes a statement on behalf of handmade body care product makers that says, in part: “My products comply with FDA labeling requirements and the ingredients are commonly known (i.e, olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, coconut oil, etc).  My best customers are in my community. I cannot…

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Crochet and Knit Washcloths

So, I never said I’m the fastest crafter (any type of craft) but man!  I disappeared (as in didn’t even turn on the computer yesterday until after hubby got home from work) and this is what I have to show for it!  Well, I do get easily distracted and have been working on a creative something in my head (will post pictures once I figure out how to do it and get it done … have to devise some sort of frame) so that may explain the multiple attempts at the one (yes, just one) knitted wash cloth.  I kept dropping stitches and messing up the pattern.  That’s why I didn’t have the computer on at all yesterday.  That was the only way I could concentrate enough to finally get it done.

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The two green and one tan were crocheted using this pattern.  The tan one looks used, well, because it is.  I wanted to try it out in the shower.  See, I wanted something that would really scrub my skin, so that one is wool (don’t freak out … it’s not fancy wool.  I had barely half a skein of something labeled “Mothproof 100% Virgin Wool Knitting Worsted” from Kmart … the price tag says it cost $1.07 so that should tell you how old it is … got this one in the grab bag of yarn from the thrift store).  It worked well except my fingers kept poking through the holes in the pattern.  All the other yarn is acrylic.  Here’s a close-up:

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The burnt orange on is knitted with this pattern.  I love the way it turned out and would have been even better if I hadn’t lost track of which side I was on and got the pattern backwards.  Oh, well.  This is why I am not selling the fruits of my crochet and knit labors.  🙂

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Time to catch up on all my emails (and Facebook posts) that I’ve neglected.  Once I finish that, it’s onto something creative.  I really want to paint something but currently do not have the right paints (I need something for wood and/or metal).  I just haven’t gotten that far in the planning stages for those projects.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Jewelry Box Idea

I got this beautiful jewelry box from my sister (I love it when she cleans out her closets … it’s like Christmas).  I loved the wood but as you can see, there are spaces for pictures on top.  I don’t know about you but the idea of having to dust off pictures in tiny recesses (not to mention there was nothing to protect the pictures from dust and cleaning anyway) really disturbs me.

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So, this popped in my head.  Basically, pin cushions!

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I took a piece of thin cardboard (well, it was the bottom flap on an envelope for Avery address labels).  I cut it to the size of the photo area, then traced each hole with a pen.  I then cut bits of fabric, roughly one inch larger than the hole.

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I then used fabric glue (I’m sure someone could think of a less messy way to do this) to glue and gather the fabric pieces so they were just outside the traced shapes, leaving one end open so I could insert the stuffing.

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Let it dry, then fill.  I used some polyfill I’ve had for years.  I just left the open end open, inserted the cushions into the holes, then secured with the wood locking plate.  My initial idea was this would be great for lapel pins, hat pins, brooches, etc.  I looked for anything to use to display in the picture but I didn’t even have something ugly to stick in there!  I’m obviously not a brooch kind of person.  🙂

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Finished Full Apron

Well, I’ve been a bit busy.  I’m really enjoying sewing and can’t wait to move on up to something that can be worn out in public, though this is pretty dang close, even though it is an apron.   So, let’s start with the basics:

This is the pattern I used:

apron

I am not a girly girl in any way (my usual attire is a 3X White T-shirt and sweat pants, worn with Birkenstock shoes, of course).  Hair?  Makeup?  Twice a year, at the most.  So, to test myself, I chose apron E (center right) but decided to add the ruffle to the bottom.  For some reason, I felt the ruffles over the shoulder would be a bit much.  🙂

This pattern was much less confusing than the bath robe I made.  The only thing I had to learn, really, was machine gathering.  See, I could never understand what they were saying when I read about how to do gathers on a sewing machine, so I decided to just do them by hand.  Well, since these sewing projects are being done so I can learn how to make things properly, I decided to look again.  Once again, You Tube to the rescue!  Now, I had two comments on my Facebook wall about this.  Both said they learned to machine gather by sewing three (not two) lines of basting.   I will try that next time.

I did change one thing, though.  There is no way I’m going to button and unbutton (or try to slip this thing on) the straps.  So, I left them loose and just tied them around my neck (I still need to figure out how to make button holes on my machine, anyway).

And since I am not a girly girl, I decided to go all out and become one for the photos of this apron.  I love this thing!  The fabric I got from my hubby’s grandmother.  She was a spit-fire of a woman and we miss her dearly.  I think of her every day.

Apron2Apron3

Finished Apron

So, I shared the beginnings here.  This is how I finished it.  The velcro wasn’t working.  It wasn’t strong enough.  So, I sewed on a different waist band, making it longer so I could wrap it around and tie it in the front.  I’m happy with it!

Half Apron

100% Wool Army Blanket = Awesome Hunting Shirt

Survival Sherpa

by Todd Walker

I love wool! Here’s why:

  • Wool fiber absorbs up to 36% of its weight and gradually releases moisture through evaporation.
  • Wool has natural antibacterial properties that allow you wear it multiply days without stinking up camp. Not so with synthetics.
  • Wool wicks moisture, not as well as synthetics, but better than cotton.
  • Wool releases small amounts of heat as it absorbs moisture.
  • Wool contains thousands of natural air-trapping pockets for breathable insulation.

Years ago I saw Dave Canterbury make a hunting shirt from a wool blanket. Naturally, I had to make one myself. I ordered two 100% wool army blankets from Cheaper than Dirt for around 20 bucks each. Good luck finding them at that price now.

100% Wool Blanket = Awesome Hunting Shirt My original hunting shirt

I wore this while working on this fat lighter’d post. A few of our readers requested a tutorial on making one themselves. Hope you enjoy.

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Food Storage You Tube Playlist

I’ve been lost on You Tube for two days.  I’m such a huge video person and realized (when trying to write out some information about food storage) that my channel was pretty lacking.  So, here it is.  It doesn’t have the entire scope of all the options I think of when considering food storage but I think it’s a good primer.  I know me.  I will be adding to it (unless I actually force myself to get off my rear and get some projects started/completed).

OH!  And I fixed the link (to the side of this post) for my main You Tube channel.

The Steak Breakdown: Your ultimate guide to cuts of beef

My Atkins Journey

I’m not sure about you but there have been times when I either question the butcher’s sanity (for a price per pound for a cut of meat that used to be considered “poor people” food … the kinds we grew up on, like round stead which I recently saw for MORE PER POUND than Tri Tip) or you sit there, with your jaw dangling, trying to figure out if you should buy this cut or that cut and what the heck will you do with it once you get home. This page will help.

As I might have said before (I think it a lot, so never know what may have passed from brain to keyboard), I appreciate when people type/speak plainly. This article is one of those where the author shows humor while being informative and I appreciate it. “BRISKET Where it is: The lower breast, known on the…

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My Latest Focus: Sewing an Apron

Two years ago, I got on a tangent to learn how to properly crochet.  Last year, it was a little wood carving but mostly knitting (still is … I’m hoarding knitting patterns like the internet will shut down tomorrow).  This year?  Sewing.  I have been an avid hoarder of all things “sewing” for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been known to hold onto clothing I don’t like just because the fabric is a good quality.  When I am offered any kind of fabric, I gratefully accept it.  And patterns?  As soon as I get the schedule down, I will be, once again, buying as many sale patterns as I am allowed.  Most of my new patterns were purchased when they used to have rotating sales on McCall’s and Butterick (one week, McCall’s would be 99 cents each, the next week would be Butterick).  Since that time, fabric stores have closed down (or moved) and I have lost track of when those sales occur.

Having said all that, until this past Winter, I had only sewn one garment with a pattern.  That was when I was 16 years old and my friend’s mom was showing us how to not only sew from a pattern but to re-size and alter.  That’s it.  So, 29 years later, I decided to try my hand at another one (more about that in a future post).  In reality, this drive stemmed from me looking inward to find out who I am and what my focus in life should be.  I have so many varied interests (obvious from anyone who looks at all my blogs) I knew it would be difficult to narrow it down.  That’s when I (once again) remembered high school and a short one-semester class I took: Home Ec.  Bells started ringing, lights began to flash, and I jumped for joy!  That’s basically what I my interests have been all these years!

So, I went “a-Googling”.  I wanted to find out exactly where the subject of Home Economics stemmed, what was taught, and what is taught now (if anything).  More downloads later, and I began reading, “Elementary Home Economics – First Lessons In Sewing and Textiles, Foods and Cookery, and the Care of the House” by Mary Lockwood Matthews, B.S. (which is available free from Google Books).  As I began reading it, I realized just how uneducated I am.  I had to look up most of the terms, regarding types of fabric.  No matter how well they described some of them, I still had no idea what they were talking about (and seriously doubt most who work in the local fabric stores, which are now mostly large chain stores, would know).

The first project for these children was to make an apron.  This apron is designed for sewing, to keep your clothes clean and neat.  It called for a fabric called dimity. Even after looking it up, I cannot say I would know it if I saw it in the store.  So, I went through my fabric stash and found some that I thought would be a good substitute.  It turns out it wasn’t.  I think the fabric is too dense for the pattern.  See, the apron is basically one piece of fabric, that is gathered at the waist and the bottom is turned up to make pockets.  This is what I ended up with:

CAM00068

How do you like those pockets?  I also did not stitch this by hand.  My patience was not with me and I have a new sewing machine I need to get used to, so I used it.  I was supposed to make a button hole (I know I could do it by hand but I copped attitude) but I don’t know how to use my button hole attachment on this new machine.  It bunched and just made me mad.  🙂  So, I thought about this (and thought about this) and ended up just removing the gathers and sewed on some Velcro for the closure in the back.  The Velcro works but I think I’ll just extend the waist band so this can be tied.  I love the new version:

Apron After

It wraps almost all around my bum and that’s perfect, since I am messy when I cook, clean, sew, do anything crafty.  It reminds me of an apron that showed up on my Facebook feed for gathering eggs (made from a pillow case).  My next sewing post will be within the next week or so.  I have made two items from one pattern (pajama pants and a robe).  I’m about to lay out the pattern for the top, then I’ll make the shorts and post about those (my observations and musings about the experience).  My eventual goal is to get to the point where I can make something I feel comfortable wearing out in public (Lord knows I have plenty of patterns to choose from).  lol

Taaa daaa…… My New Cookbook is Now Available! :-)

VEGGIES, YARNS & TAILS

cover crop

The Groovy Green Kitchen (Volume II): Simply, Super, Supper Soups

is now available in Kindle and print book formats at: Amazon.com, .ca, UK….

I am SO happy to finally have this cookbook complete. 🙂 And I am pleased with the results too.

I hope you’ll check it out soon, over at Amazon and if you can, please spread the word too. 

In the meantime, I’ve got a ton of ideas on the go, for promoting this new book.

And then, it’s on to my next book project, that’s already in progress. 😉

Have a wonderful week!

Happy Cooking and Reading. G 

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Naan Bread (or How To Make Your Dog Hate You)

Let me begin this post with a disclaimer: I know nothing about real naan bread.  I’m pretty sure I’ve only had real Indian food once.  That was at a restaurant in London, with a friend standing next to me saying, “Try that, not that” as he steered me away from the really spicy foods (I couldn’t handle those at the time).  I really can’t recall if there was anything there that resembled a bread product.  So, why am I making naan?  My husband.  He bought some at Costco (La Brea Brand) and really loved them.  So, I thought, how hard could they be to make?

Well, they aren’t very difficult to make.  It’s really the cooking that is tricky.  I will explain that in a bit.  First, I tried two different recipes.

The first was this one: How to make the perfect naan bread. She basically took a few recipes apart and put a new one together, with hers calling for water as the liquid and yogurt. She said it’s the perfect one, right? Well, maybe it was the cooking method I used (which I read about on another web page) but I doubt it. I placed two rimmed baking sheets in the oven and turned on the broiler. Once the sheets were hot, I placed the naan on the baking sheets and watched them carefully as they cooked. These had a fantastic flavor but didn’t have … not sure how to describe it, but they weren’t as elastic as they should have been.

These were still warm.
These were still warm.

The second recipe I just finished is this one: How to Make Naan Bread {Step by Step Instructions and Pictures}. She used milk as the liquid with no yogurt. The texture was fantastic! They were elastic and the dough behaved wonderfully BUT there’s little flavor. So, this is where I thought I saw my dog pack a bag to leave me: I cooked these as described in the recipe. I placed those same rimmed baking sheets in the oven and set the temperature to 500 degrees F. Well, when I opened up the oven door, a lovely cloud of smoke engulfed me and spread like a lethal fog throughout the house. My dog, who hates being outside alone, actually went to the back door and would not leave it until I let him outside. Take a look at how these turned out compared to the first batch:

These were still warm also but look at the difference in texture/density.
These were still warm also but look at the difference in texture/density.

So, what is my conclusion? I think the next batch, I will just add 5 Tablespoons of plain yogurt (have a little bit left so I will be making some more) to the second recipe After really looking at both recipes, that won’t work.  So, after looking long and hard, this recipe has everything: milk, yogurt AND butter, so this is the recipe I’ll use: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/onion-naan AND possibly buy a couple of baking stones (or brand new baking sheets). I’m not sure my dog can handle another day like today. 🙂

I just did this recipe (February 27, 2015) and cooked the bread on the charcoal grill. FANTASTIC! The flavor was perfect and the texture was fantastic! We learned the hard way NOT to roll them too thin or immediately put them over the coals (we ended up with a giant burned cracker). Here’s a picture of how we cooked them, followed by the recipe.

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http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/onion-naan

Onion Naan

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface and hands
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
2 tablespoons melted ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil plus more

Challah

The first loaf of bread I ever made was challah.  I had to be … maybe 12 years old?  I don’t remember the exact age but do remember where we were living (so that narrows down the time frame a bit).  I also remember that beautiful loaf of bread.  It was gorgeous and HUGE!  I was so proud!  Well, until I cut into that dark golden crust to find raw dough (just about an inch of the dough had cooked … the rest was raw as can be).  That was also the last time I made bread until I was an adult.  I’ve made bread that resembled a chunk of concrete to bread that resembled a dried glob of glue but I was determined.  It’s taken me many years of trial and error to figure out exactly how long to knead and  how much flour/liquid to add to obtain the right consistency.   I’m very happy with my bread making skills (I’ve worked hard for them 🙂 ).

So, while trying to figure out a way to pay back my neighbor for finishing off the front yard that we started whacking on Valentine’s Day, I decided on challah.  I have been wanting to make it so long and this time (yes, this was the first time I had made it since that day too many years ago) it was beautiful (and edible)! I used a recipe I had written down and stuffed in my binder of recipes.  I have no idea when I wrote this down or who it was who originally shared it (may have been a friend who lives in Israel) BUT I discovered (while doing my favorite activity … searching the internet) a woman who pretty much uses the same recipe on You Tube!  The recipe she uses makes 4 huge loaves.  The recipe I have makes 6 standard loaves (so, just cut the dough into 6 pieces instead of 4 and you are good, unless you have a large family or are making this to take somewhere).

So, here is the playlist of her videos, plus a couple more.  The first video is an amazing demonstration of various ways to form/braid rolls and loaves.  I just sat there with my jaw open, in shock that there are so many different ways to manipulate the dough!  The second is a woman demonstrating the various braiding methods for loaves: from 3 strands up to 9 strands.

AND here’s my bread:

I cut the dough into 6 sections and made 4 loaves.
I cut the dough into 6 sections and made 4 loaves.

See that ugly loaf?  That’s what happens when you forget to grease your loaf pans!  Here’s a close-up:

The bottom of the loaf stuck like crazy to the pan.
The bottom of the loaf stuck like crazy to the pan.

So, those took care of four of the dough chunks and this is what I did with the other two.  I cut each of them into 6 sections and made sandwich rolls out of them.  Now, these look beautiful but I cooked them way too long.  That’s what happens when you turn the timer off (because they weren’t quite brown enough) and then proceed to talk to the neighbor about how her grandson is doing.

3 of these large rolls is the equivalent to one loaf.
3 of these large rolls is the equivalent to one loaf.

And here’s the recipe I used:

Challah

  • 3 Tablespoons Yeast
  • 4 cups warm Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt (reduce if you use salted butter instead of oil, like I did)
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil (I don’t use vegetable oil nor canola oil.  I used melted butter because my olive oil supply is currently limited and I forgot I had peanut oil)
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 12 cups Flour (approximate)

For Egg Wash:

  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Sesame Seeds (optional)

In a large bowl (remember, enough dough for 6 loaves of bread), pour in the warm water (How warm?  I test on my wrist: if it doesn’t make me flinch, it’s good.  For more specifics, check out this web page: Yeast Is Fussy About Temperature) and whisk in the yeast and sugar (I use Saf-Instant.  I don’t bake a lot  so once opened, I store it in the freezer.  I have had the most consistent results from this yeast even when it has expired).  Let sit in a warm spot until it looks like a layer of foam is across the top of the liquid.

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In a smaller bowl, break the eggs into it and whisk in the salt and oil.  Once the yeast is ready (proofed), whisk the egg mixture into the yeast until everything is well incorporated and you can’t see chunk of egg.  Now, for the fun part: adding the flour.

Using a large spoon, stir the flour (1 to 2 cups at a time) into the liquid.  Keep doing this until it feels like your arm is going to fall off (I tried making large batches of dough like this when I had a working Kitchen Aid mixer … it wasn’t pretty and is probably what lead to it dying).  Then, on a large surface (counter top, kitchen table, whatever will work as long as it is sturdy) sprinkle about 1/4 cup or so of flour and turn your dough out onto the floured surface.  Time to knead in more flour.

This is where I used to mess up.  When a recipe called for X-amount of flour, I used it all.  The amount of flour you use depends on so many factors from the humidity in your house to the size of the eggs you use to what kind of flour you are using that you need to pay attention to how the dough is behaving to determine how much flour you really use for a certain recipe.  I typically add (to the bowl) all but the last two or so cups, then add more flour while I knead.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

When the dough is ready place in an oiled bowl (I don’t have one large enough so I used my stock pot), cover with plastic wrap or a towel (I usually wet a towel with hot water, wring it out, and cover the bowl with it if I’m using a container that doesn’t like plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your house is).  Once it is risen, punch the dough down and place it onto a very lightly floured surface.  Knead just a bit so you can form a nice ball, then separate into sections to make loaves or rolls.

Now, get the egg wash ready.  In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and vanilla (if you are using it).

Each one of the loaves I did a 6-strand braid and the rolls were two strands each.  You can shape the dough however you want. Once shaped, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using).  Let the loaves rise until nearly doubled (1 or 2 hours).  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the loaves are a deep golden brown.  Each one of my loaves were baked for 25 to 30 minutes and, because I got distracted, the rolls probably went for about 40 minutes.

 

How to Grow Super Healthy Tomatoes in Containers: Using Organic Techniques

I have always used banana peels with my roses but never thought of using them for tomatoes! What she says about the egg shells, I have always done this. There have been times when it looks like it snowed around my tomato plants because of all the egg shells I’ve crushed up and worked into the soil.

Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

So, do you have canned carrots (or you could use older fresh carrots) that turned to mush and you don’t know what to do with them?  How about make a carrot cake!  I’m also thinking this may be good with canned pumpkin and/or canned sweet potato.

Update: I just made this (muffins instead of cake … baked for 15 to 20 minutes) and they are amazing!  They aren’t spike-your-blood-sugar sweet and so flavorful!  This recipe is a keeper.  I made some changes that I will note here:

  1. Replaced 1/2 cup of the flour with almond flour
  2. Replaced the remaining flour (1 cup) with 1/3 cup of wheat germ (Why?  Because I had some)
  3. Reduced the milk to 1/4 cup due to the excess liquid in my carrots
  4. Reduced the total added sweetener by half (so, 3/4 cup total), then replaced 1/4 cup of the brown sugar with Splenda
  5. Substituted all-spice for the nutmeg (Why?  Because I didn’t have any nutmeg)

Note: I had one quart of thickly cut home canned carrots and ended up with about 1 1/2 cups of mashed carrots.  I adjusted the recipe accordingly.

I may or may not make the frosting but if I do, it will be with mostly Splenda with a bit of powdered sugar (I have come to the conclusion that Splenda tends to get bitter if using a lot … mostly because I kept trying to slip some in hubby’s coffee and he immediately noticed).

http://www.daringgourmet.com/2014/02/18/old-fashioned-carrot-cake-with-cream-cheese-frosting/

For Cake:
½ cup walnuts
1 cup pureed carrots (boil just under a pound of carrots until soft; drain and cool, then puree in a food processor.)
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (be careful to avoid the white pith of the orange, it’s bitter)
½ cup raisins

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Nut Loaf Bread

I know this is a bit late (should have posted this around Thanksgiving when all the canned pumpkin was on sale) but this looks like the best Pumpkin Bread recipe out there (like on my mom’s friend used to make).

http://www.food.com/recipe/old-fashioned-pumpkin-nut-loaf-bread-184460

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Now, if you don’t have evaporated milk, here’s a substitute:

To produce 1 cup of evaporated milk, simmer 2 1/4 cups of regular milk down until it becomes 1 cup.

In many recipes, evaporated milk may also be replaced with a combination of whole milk and half-and-half. For 1 cup of evaporated milk, use 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup half-and-half.

And:

Mix 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk with 3/4 cup water.

Mushroom Barley Soup

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mushroom-Barley-Soup-993

Ingredients
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
    1 pound mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    2 large carrots, chopped
    2 large celery stalks, chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed

    2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    8 cups canned vegetable broth
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dillweed

Winter Three-Grain Soup

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/winter-three-grain-soup

3 medium leeks, white parts only, halved lengthwise and chopped
    2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 teaspoon thyme
    Fine sea salt
    One 14-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed, juices reserved
    6 cups cold water
    1 head of garlic, separated into peeled cloves
    1/3 cup brown rice
    1/3 cup dark green Puy lentils
    1/3 cup wheat berries
    Freshly ground pepper

Bean & Swiss Chard Soup

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Bean-and-Swiss-Chard-Soup-15608

Ingredients
    1/2 pound (225 g) Swiss chard or kale, trimmed
    1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
    2 flat anchovy fillets
    1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried
    1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
    2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
    1 cup (225 g) cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans
    4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock [or Garlic Broth for a meatless soup]
    freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1/2 cup (60 g) small shell macaroni
    freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Canned Sardine Fritters – Fritelle Sarde

Since my seafood allergy disappeared, I’ve been stocking up on canned fish again.  I never really thought of cooking with any of it.  lol

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/canned-sardine-fritters-fritelle-sarde-recipe.html

Ingredients

2 cans good-quality oil-packed sardines, chopped
2 large eggs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 bunch parsley leaves, finely chopped plus extra, for garnish
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped pepperonchini
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated caciocavallo cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil, to fill a deep pot no more than halfway
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon halves

Torta con Nutella e Nocci – Chocolate Nutella & Walnut Cake

This, right here, is the biggest benefit of having TWO blogs to post recipes on.  The other one, I post good for me recipes and this one?  Indulgent sweet-tooth enabling recipes.  🙂

4 eggs
125 g / 1/2 cup + 2 T sugar
125 g / 1 cup chopped walnuts
75 g / 4 T Nutella
75 g / 2.5 ounces dark chocolate
125 g / 1/2 cup + 1 T butter
75 g / 1/2 cup + 1 T flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Salt Cod with Tomatoes and Capers – Baccalà alla Vesuviana

I’ve never even seen salt cod (probably because I’m in central California) but I’m sure it’s out there and here’s a tasty looking dish that just happens to be low carb, too!

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Salt-Cod-with-Tomatoes-and-Capers-em-Baccala-alla-Vesuviana-em-350700

Ingredients
    2 pounds center-cut skinless boneless salt cod (baccalà), rinsed well
    2 tablespoons salt-packed capers*
    7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
    4 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
    1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice
    1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
    1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh mint, coarsely chopped

Haringsalade (Herring Salad)

If I would have seen this before I went low carb, I would have eaten tons!

http://www.thedutchtable.com/2011/03/haringsalade.html

1 small jar of herring in sour cream, 12oz
2 beets, boiled and peeled
1 large potato, boiled and peeled
1 large apple, crisp
6 tiny dill pickles
1 tablespoon of capers
1 small shallot or onion
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Four slices of white bread
Butter

Venison Goulash- Ozpörkölt

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Venison-Goulash

2 lbs. leg of venison, cut into 2″ chunks
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1⁄4 lb. smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1⁄2 tbsp. hot paprika, preferably Hungarian
1⁄4 tsp. dried ground thyme
1⁄4 tsp. dry mustard
4 whole allspice
4 juniper berries
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small tomato, cored and chopped
1⁄2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 cup red wine, preferably merlot
Salt
6 medium yukon gold potatoes (about 2 lbs.), peeled; cut lengthwise into wedges
1⁄4 cup butter, cubed
2 tsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
6–8 slices crusty white bread

Split Pea and Green Pea Soup with Fresh Dill

This is a rarity for me: a Vegan recipe!  I know, don’t faint.  🙂

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Split-Pea-and-Green-Pea-Soup-with-Fresh-Dill-236775

Ingredients

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
    1 bay leaf
    1 cup green split peas, rinsed
    5 3/4 cups vegetable broth, divided

    1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
    5 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided

Bread and Cheese “Meatballs”

Wow!  Meatballs without the meat and these actually sound (and look) good!

http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2013/06/bread-and-cheese-meatballs/

Ingredients:

Sauce:
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Small Onion, Peeled and Chopped

2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled and Minced

1 (26 Ounce Can Good Quality Chopped Tomatoes

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil

Sea Salt and Pepper

Red Hot Pepper Flakes (optional)


Bread And Cheese Balls:
8.5 Ounces Grated Hard Cheese (see note above)

7 Ounces Stale Bread, Crusts Removed

1 Garlic Clove, Peeled

5 Large Eggs

1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves

Pinch of Cracked Black Pepper

To Serve:
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese

Umbrian Bean & Squash Soup – Zuppa di Fagiole e Zucca

When I think of food storage, you can NEVER have too many bean recipes!  🙂

http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2009/01/zuppa-di-fagiole-e-zucca/

Ingredients:

4 Cups Cooked Cannellini Beans Or 2 (14 Ounce Cans)
2 Stalks Celery, Diced
2 Carrots, Peeled And Diced
1 Medium Onion, Peeled And Diced
3 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Minced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Cups Peeled And Diced Butternut Squash (Or Similar Variety)
1 Can (14 Ounce) Chopped Tomatoes
1 1/2 Liters Homemade Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
To Serve:
Slices Of Crusty Italian Bread, Toasted
Drizzle Of Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Grated Pecorino Cheese

Cheese Bread – Crescia

Mmmm … bread.  With cheese AND this recipe comes with a video!  🙂

http://www.ciaoitalia.com/seasons/12/1218/cheese-bread

1 3/4 cups warm water (110 F)
1 tablespoon active dried yeast
7 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup grated Pecorino cheese
7 to 8 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) diced mozzarella cheese
1 cup (5 ounces) diced Provolone cheese

Beer-Battered Smelts

I grew up eating smelts.  They USED TO BE the cheap fish.  The last time I saw a package of them, my jaw hit the floor.  And how did we eat them?  We just dredged them in seasoned flour and fried them until crispy (then dipped them in Ranch).  Well, here’s a different method for ya’!

http://www.jsonline.com/features/recipes/250224531.html

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
12 ounces beer, Pilsener style or one lighter in flavor
1 pound smelt (24 to 32 fish), cleaned if available
½ cup flour, for dusting fish
Lemon wedges and tartar sauce for serving

You and Etsy

I know virtually nothing about Etsy.  Whenever anyone mentioned it, I figured it was just some website for some people to sell doilies.  🙂  Then, I stumbled onto this article:

https://www.yahoo.com/diy/secrets-of-the-richest-seller-on-etsy-105472402320.html

This woman, Alicia Shaffer of Three Birds Nest is bringing in an average of $65,000 per month! That’s insane! So, I did a little searching and found this article about other Etsy shops:

15 Etsy Shops That are Killing it With Sales – Fresh Rag

This is the article that shocked me. I had no idea the varied items offered on Etsy! So, I wanted to learn more and it turns out Dave Conrey of Fresh Rag had a follow-up article:

Top Shop Selling Secrets of Three Bird Nest

He offers great tips for any sales website. I was hoping to find a podcast of his interview with Alicia Shaffer but had no luck. I did find other podcasts on his website that are fantastic.

My reason for this post is simple: You all are brilliantly creative. You can make money doing what you love (I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up). So, read these articles and check out Dave Conrey’s Fresh Rag website. Go forth and prosper. 🙂

Knitted Triangle Stitch

I have been teaching myself to knit. So far, I have knitted two hats (this way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hnGiE2tuts),  two cowls,

M4034S-4211

and then decided to add knitting to my patchwork afghan/blanket/whatever you want to call it (here are the crochet/tunisian crochet panels I did a few years ago … finally went back to this now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HevK-AQPdvU&list=UUJ6WgGiNiMDC34VxEMKRBSg). I will do another video on my progress (it’s easier for me to babble on video than to type it) but in the mean time, I will just tell you what knitting I am adding to this work in progress.

I did one strip of seed stitch (knit 1, purl 1), then attached it to one end using this method (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpRJzMBXjqY). It’s not as pretty as I would like, even though I did not pull it tight (even ripped that out and tried it again).

The second strip I did was a basket weave. I tried doing versions I found on You Tube (my favorite resource for learning anything new) but I did not like the way it looked. So, I found a book called, “Just Stitches: 54 Knitting Stitch Patterns” by Tara Cousins. Her basket weave pattern is simple and well defined. I really enjoy how simple the patterns are (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share one pattern of the 54 included in the book but I’m going to anyway).

Just Stitches 54 Knitting Stitch Patterns

The third panel I’m working on is for one of the longer edges.  This is why I’m writing this blog post.  I cannot find this exact stitch anywhere online.  I found this one in book “Knitting and Sewing: How to Make Seventy Useful Articles for Men in the Army and Navy” by Maud Churchill Nicoll, copyright 1918.  It’s called a Triangle Stitch.  In the book, it is a “fancy stitch for mufflers”.  I will give you the original pattern here but put my notes in parenthesis.  She suggest using “2 12-inch long bone needles with tips at one end, size 7 with 1-lb. 4-ply double knitting wool in khaki colour or navy blue.”  I am using worsted weight (4-ply) acrylic yarn on 5 mm needles.

For a muffler:

Cast on 72 stitches (Multiples of 9)

1st Row: Slip first stitch (knit wise), Knit until the end.

2nd Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 7, *Knit 1, Purl 8 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 1

3rd Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 1, *Knit 7, Purl 2 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 7

4th Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 5, *Knit 3, Purl 6 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 3

5th Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 3, *Knit 5, Purl 4 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 5

6th Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 3, *Knit 5, Purl 4 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 5

7th Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 5, *Knit 3, Purl 6 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 3

8th Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 1, *Knit 7, Purl 2 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 7

9th Row: Slip first stitch (purl wise), Purl 7, *Knit 1, Purl 8 and repeat from * to end of row, Knit 1

Repeat rows 2 through 9 until desired length.

Now, this is really simple (and that’s coming from a very new knitter) as long as you keep count.  I did not want this strip that wide (it no longer lies flat once you add more triangles per row), so I cast on 9 stitches and slipped the first stitch, did the purls and the first amount of knit stitches.  This is the result so far (I need this to be long and want to use the same yarn for both edges):

M4034S-4211