Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Money saving bread making tip...

I like to use honey in my homemade bread.  I also like to use blackstrap molasses.  See that bread there?  It is kind of dark in color.  I used the blackstrap molasses this time.  It is delicious.  Honey costs over $40 a gallon.  Blackstrap molasses costs about $9 a gallon.  It is also very high in minerals.  If you make bread, you might want to give it a try.  It has a significantly lower glycemic index than sugar, and just a little lower than honey.  Since I use natural yeast now, almost exclusively, this makes it so my bread has a very low glycemic index.  This is all good news. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A scrappy quilt for my grandson's bed...

My 12-year-old grandson has a queen-size bed.  He didn't have a blanket big enough for the whole thing, so I told him I'd make one for him. I found THIS nice video on YouTube and so I followed her instructions for making the quilt top from strips of scraps. 

I made my strips a little wider than she suggested - 3 1/2 inches, so with 1/4 inch seams, I ended up with 3 inch wide strips in the quilt.  I just randomly stacked the strips for sewing together.  I started out with 66 yards of sewn-together strips, and after finishing, the quilt is 90 inches x 100 inches, which is a nice size for his bed.  I put a layer of batting between the top and the backing, which I made out of bright orange fleece fabric... his favorite color.  After it was all together, I pinned it with safety pins and then took it to the sewing machine and "stitched in the ditch" between each 3rd strip.  That's all there was to it!  Of course it took some time, but it was very simple and relatively quick to make.

He loves it.  He says he sleeps better now with it on his bed.  :)

FYI - I laid it out on the gym floor at our Church.  I don't have enough floor space here, without all sorts of gymnastic moves on my part.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Yogurt in my Wonder(ful) Cooking Bag!

My friend, Juvonda from Hoosier Heartland Alpacas, shared her yogurt recipe with me.  She incubates hers in her oven, and it works perfectly.  My oven won't let me set it at such a low temperature, so I wanted to figure out another way.  After much thought, I settled on trying to do it in my "Wonder(ful) Cooking Bag." It worked perfectly! Here is what it looked like when I opened it all up this morning:

And here is Juvonda's recipe:

Homemade Yogurt

1 gallon whole milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt with live cultures

Over medium-low heat, heat the milk in a stainless steel kettle to 185 degrees F (85 C)
Remove from heat and allow to cool to 115 F (46 C)
Whisk in 1/2 cut plain yogurt, thoroughly.
Cover with lid and either put it in your oven at 115 F (46 C) overnight, OR, into a cooking bag like above or wrap it up a lot with fluffy quilts in a basket or box.
Let it sit at least overnight.  Longer is fine.
Pour into glass jars or a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate.
That's it!  Easy Peasy.

Be sure to save 1/2 cup yogurt for your next batch.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tiny tip - Pesky Parchment Paper...

When I was a girl, there was "Wax Paper" (there still is, of course) but that was long before there were any plastic bags, and certainly, we didn't have parchment paper to use in the kitchen.  I am not sure when that became available.  It is very nice stuff, but if you buy it in a normal store, it's pretty expensive, too.  I was able to get a large box of it at Sam's Club at a very reasonable price, and since I rarely have a need for it, this box will last me a long time.  Since I have Silpat sheets, I don't use it under cookies and things like that in baking.  For dinner today, I am making a meat loaf (recipe below).  I decided it will be much easier to safely remove the loaf from the baking pan if I could line it with parchment paper.  I ran across this tip on Mrs. Volfie's YouTube video.  It's brilliant!  What she does is crumble up the piece of parchment under running water.  Then it is Very Easy to line your baking pan! 


Meat loaf recipe

2 pounds ground meat (I used 1 pound beef and 1 pound venison)
2 eggs
2 slices bread, broken into little pieces
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
fresh or dried basil leaves, as much as you like (I didn't measure it)

Mix all of that together thoroughly,  pack it into a lined or greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350F, until the internal temperature is at least 160F ( I check with a thermometer.)

Friday, December 18, 2015

A sewing tip - for those who sew...

My mother used to make her own hot pads.  She would take two circles of fabric and between them put layers of circles of old towels and sew it all together with bias tape around the circumference.  Then, she'd sew a little plastic circle to the edge to hang it up with.

Through the years, I have made many hot pads the same way.  They really are wonderful and last for years.  It has always been a challenge, though, because no matter how hard I try, the pieces will scootch around and it will get sort of buggered up.... until today!

In our Church, each woman ("sister" we call them) is visited, once a month by two other sisters.  We have a short lesson (it is called "Visiting Teaching") and visit for a while to see how she and her family are doing and assess any needs that there may be.  It's a wonderful program.  We like to give a little something to the sisters we visit for Christmas.  I decided to make some hot pads. I used THIS tutorial. I was up against the same problem of holding things together while I sewed.  Suddenly, it came to me!  Here is what I did:

I held the edges together with small bull clips.  It worked very well.  Of course, I took them out as I sewed.  It made it so much easier (sew much easier?) After putting it together like that, I sewed all around the edge and then applied  the seam binding and added a loop.

I made 8 of them, 2 for each sister.  I think this idea might be applicable to other sewing projects as well.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2 Tiny Tips - Cabbage and Flexibility...

You know how it is... you buy a cabbage, take it home and keep it in your refrigerator.  Then, you cut off a piece to use in soup or stir-fry.  That's fine, but if you don't get back to use more pretty soon, the cut surface starts to oxidize and look icky.  So, then you slice off a little slice and put it in the compost - an utter waste, really.  Here is what I do: I take leaves off the outside of the head of cabbage and cut those up for whatever I am cooking, then put the cabbage head back in the refrigerator.  This is much nicer.

Now, about the flexibility...  Since we've moved into our trailer, and it is considerably smaller than our old house, I've noticed I have to be more pro-active about getting physical activity.  I do walk in the woods, most days, and in the gardening season I work quite hard.  I hang up laundry when it's warm enough outside, and I clean house, knead bread, etc... but recently I've started doing something else.  For years, when I need to get into a bottom cupboard or shelf, I squat all the way down, and that has made my knees very happy.  I started doing that 16 years ago when my knees started acting up.  Now, when I need to lean over, or reach out or anything (hard to describe) I lean as far as possible and stretch my muscles.  If you think about it as you go about your daily activities, you can work in quite a bit of stretching and your flexibility will improve.  All those little things add up.  I am happy with the results.  Now it's easier for me to do things, and also easier to get up from the floor. Think about the things you do throughout the day.  Make them just a little bit more difficult.  You'll be amazed, after a while.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A warm December = nice produce from the garden!

The weather has been nice and "warm" lately with plenty of rain.  Today I brought in some wonderful oyster mushrooms as well as carrots, a beet, Swiss chard and kale from the garden!  Supper will be good tonight!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas from 60 years ago...

60 years ago I was in First Grade.  I made this Santa Claus on "tag board" at school and colored it with Crayola crayons.  My Mommie always tacked it to the trunk of our Christmas tree.  I still have it.  That is a picture of her there.  Merry Christmas Mommie!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pressure cooking - Chapter 10

I got home rather late in the day and had planned to make vegetable soup.  So... I went ahead and made it - in the pressure saucepan!  It only takes a few minutes to cook and tastes as if it had been simmered for hours.

I will tell you how I made it, but please don't think you have to have just what I put in it.  This is more of a method than an exact recipe.. ok?

Today's Vegetable - Bacon Soup

1/2 pint home canned bacon ends and pieces (you could use bacon from the store.)
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 big handful of mushrooms, chopped (I have some of those oyster mushrooms left.)
1 large carrot, diced
1 pint canned corn
1 quart green beans, drained
2 cups loosely packed chopped collards
1 quart tomato juice
1 cup chicken bone broth
Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a 6 quart pressure saucepan, start the bacon cooking.  Add the onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.

Add all the other ingredients except the salt and pepper.  Put on the lid and the petcock.  Bring up to pressure.  Allow to cook for 5  minutes with the petcock rocking gently.  Remove from heat.  Let the pressure come down by itself.

Open the cooker, salt and pepper to taste and serve!  I had mine with some nice homemade bread and butter.

This is so quick and easy.... my version of convenience food!  :)
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