Friday, December 31, 2010

Cheater Potato Cheese soup

I have the "there's nothing to eat and I'm hungry" syndrome going on here. I want something quick. I want something hot. I want something creamy and smooth. I want potato soup. I want some BAKED potato soup. I do NOT want to have to cook raw potatoes. I do NOT want to fry bacon. Besides, I don't HAVE any bacon to fry. I don't have any sour cream. I do, however, have 2 packets of instant potatoes in the 4 Cheese flavor. I DO have grease saved from cooking bacon (hey, it's a Southern thing!) and I DO have cheese. Humm....I think I have an idea. Oh, nuts.

4 cups of water
1 package Idaho 4 Cheese instant potato buds
3/4 cup plain potato buds
1 Tbs bacon grease
4 oz medium sharp cheddar cheese (four 1/4" thick slices from the end of a brick of cheddar cheese)
1/4 cup feta cheese

Put the water into a microwave safe bowl and heat until it's "boiling" temp.

Add a packet of 4 cheese potatoes. Realize that what you thought was a second packet of potatoes is actually some yellow rice that will take 24 minutes forever to cook. Grab plain potato buds and dump in some - about 3/4 cup's worth, and bacon grease for flavor. Stir well. Let it sit for a few minutes to rehydrate. If it's too much like mashed potatoes and not soup, add some more water to it. If it's too watery, add some more buds.

Break up the cheddar into small pieces. Add it and the feta and stir again.

If the cheese doesn't melt, nuke the whole bowl for a minute or two. It will melt then.

Eat it. All of it. Because you haven't eaten today and it's 7pm. And you're HUNGRY.

"Why didn't you stop and fix something to eat EARLIER????"

"Because there's NOTHING to eat!"

"There are about 40 boxes that held 4 gallons of milk in EACH and they are now FILLED with FOOD! And the boxes are even LABELED with the category the food is in. What do you MEAN "there's nothing to eat?!?!"

"Ok, Ok. There's food to eat but I don't feel like cooking!"

"Since WHEN does flavored yogurt from the STORE have to be COOKED???? Since WHEN does milk and cereal have to be COOKED?? And green beans? It takes 30 seconds to walk to one of  at least SIX boxes marked "Veggies" and grab a can of veggies. 30 seconds to open the can and drain them and 3 minutes to heat them. You call THAT Cooking?? And it takes 2 minutes to grab a can of green beans, corn, tomatoes and a jar of the potatoes, one of the carrots and one of the chicken that you canned, pop the tops and toss the contents into a bowl, juices and all. Another 5 minutes or so to season it and nuke it. Garlic and onion powder, Adobo, a large pinch each of thyme, marjoram, basil and oregano. Gee, 7 WHOLE minutes 'cooking'. I'm sure it would have KILLED you to have SLAVED over that meal. AND you'd have had leftovers for tomorrow AND Sunday! Oh, and it would have taken you about 5 minutes to get the bread dough out of the fridge, shape it into two boules and let them sit for 90 minutes and then baked them for an hour. You would have had 2 or 3 days' worth of bread. You have pie crusts in the fridge. You could have eaten soup for 2 meals and then thickened the leftovers and made pot pie out of them and had another 4 meals from that! Another 5 whole minutes of 'cooking'."

Sigh. I hate it when I get all logical with me.

Hanging Laundry to Dry Indoors For Dummies

(Like ME!)

When I moved to my one-bedroom duplex from a four-bedroom house this summer, I had to downsize. A LOT! Some of the things that didn't make the mile trip to the new place was a lot of my homeschool books (still need to sell them), my freezer and my dryer. There is simply NO ROOM to have them in this house. Life is all about choices, and these things were not as important to me as what I kept here with me. DK's let me keep some of my stuff in the basement of the house they're renting. Except the dryer. That's upstairs and they're using it. And since both work full-time and my daughter's pregnant, I figure the dryer is of more importance to them than it is to me. I'm not drying work clothing for two. Most of what I dry is what I kick around the house in and a few towels.

Which means, I've had to figure out how to get my clothing dry on some kind of line. I'm thankful that where I live has a nice clothes line in the back yard. I'm also glad for all the times as a child BD (before dryers), that I had to hang the family wash on the line.

But how to apply this to indoor drying. And WHY indoors. Well, I live in the SOUTH. The south is VERY GREEN. Lots of kudzu. Lots of trees. Lots of vegetation. And did I mention, LOTS of kudzu? But do you know WHY the south is green??? Because it RAINS. All. The. Time. At least where I do it rains all the time. Now, I'm thankful for the rain because I LIKE things green. If I wanted brown, I'd move out west. They have some pretty deserts. Brown deserts. That's nice to visit, but I LIKE green. So I deal with rain on a frequent basis. And you can NOT hang clothing to dry outside if it's raining. Or Snowing, Or..freezing.

So here's what I figured out to do.
Wash a load of clothing normally. If you MUST, wash it by hand. But my washing machine DID make the cut of "important" items to be kept. lol

I wash my clothes in homemade laundry detergent and rinse it in vinegar. I like the homemade soap better than commercial. It doesn't stink and I don't break out in a rash from left-over soap. Before I switched to homemade soap, I had cut back on how much detergent I was putting in the washer, but I still would have problems. My laundry detergent how-to is here. And for the record, you can make a batch of this up at one time. Sometimes, I'm just lazy and don't feel like spending the time grinding soap for a whole batch. And you could make liquid soap out of it, but takes more room to store it that way and I've never had any problems with the soap not dissolving in the washer, but then I do grate it rather finely by using my smallest grating wheel.

So, the laundry powder goes into the washer just like you would regular detergent. I put the vinegar into the little holder that you'd normally put your name-brand-add-it-to-the-washer dryer stuff. And turn the machine on and let it work. It works, I go post on my blog. lol

Now you have clean clothing. And NOW it's raining AGAIN and you really don't want to let it hang on the line 3 days until it decides to stop raining. I mean, no one around here would EVER be guilty of ANYTHING like that. Oh, hey, at least the clothes were well rinsed!

So, what to do? Well, hey, I have some hangers and I have a shower curtain rod. Hummmm. So, I simply hung the clothes on the hanger and then put the hanger on the shower curtain rod to dry. I've not had any problem with the clothes dripping because my washer does a good job of removing the water on the spin cycle. But it's been raining off and on for weeks here and after 24 hrs, my clothes were NOT dry. It's winter. The heater is on. If you count it being set to 66 degrees as "on". (That's what sweaters, sweatpants/shirt and socks are for. That's why the old folks used to wear HATS. Go put on more clothes!) So why didn't the clothes dry?? Well, it's cold enough to close up the house and put the heater on, but my brick house is warm enough that the heater isn't cycling as much as the a/c was blowing with it set to 78. (Go put on a light-weight cotton shirt, go barefooted. That's why the old folks used to wear cotton. Take some clothes OFF! Only don't answer the door that way, please!)

What to do? Cue the....FAN. Yes, my little fan that blew in the house to circulate the air so that the a/c wasn't running as much was placed on the bathroom floor and turned on. It then took about 3 hrs for the clothes to dry. (Cotton underthings and socks on hangers set about 1 1/2 inches apart.) Today, we have towels. Heavy towels, drying. I just hung them up about 30 minutes ago, and they're already about 1/3 dry.

Some suggestions for using indoor drying methods:

When you go to hang up an item, give it a good "snap" or two. Shaking it out helps get wrinkles out.

Use "spring"-type clothespins. The "peg" type won't work on a hanger. At least, I've never tried them on hangers because they work by putting tension on the fabric by "jamming" it in place. Fabric gets caught between the peg and whatever you're hanging the clothing on. Common sense tells me that a small diameter hanger isn't going to "jam" enough fabric for the peg to hold the fabric in place.

Hang your clothing on a plastic hanger or plastic coated hanger. You can use wood, but they're more expensive. I sometimes use metal, but you're risking getting rust on clothes if you do that too much. Unless you have a coating on the metal hangers.

I hang shirts up like I would hang them in the closet. I use clothespins on hangers to hang everything else.

I use either those special pants/skirt clothes hangers or clothespins and regular hangers. I hang pants by the waistband. I open the pants out flat and put the hanger behind the waistband and clip it in two spots. I do not stretch the waist out with elastic waists, but do put them straight across the top part of the hanger. I end up with portions of the waistband not on the hanger, but the portion that is on the hanger is enough to let the pants dry.

I hang underwear by twos. I lay one pair flat, put down the hanger so that the "BOTTOM rung" of the hanger is where I'm going to put the clothespins. I then lay the second one on top of the bottom part of the hanger hanger and clip them together, one clothespin on the left side of the item, one on the right side. I then take and clip a pair of socks to the "upper rung", one on each side of the hook. I fold the sock over the edge of the hanger and clip it in the middle of the sock. One pin to each sock.

And for Christmas, I was sent a Wally-world gift card and bought myself - a second shower curtain rod. One that is tension mounted. And I put it so that it ran parallel to the regular shower curtain rod, but in the middle of the bathtub, and above the shower head. Tensioned that bad boy in place and then washed a 3 of loads of laundry.  I hung the heavier pants and shirts I had on the screwed in shower curtain rod and hung the lighter underclothing, socks, and smaller towels on the tensioned rod. Worked GREAT!

And when the clothes are dried, there's only a few things that need folding. The rest get taken straight from the shower curtain rods to the closet and hung up. Woo wee! No more laundry piles. Well, at least CLEAN laundry piles. Now if I'd only DO the laundry more than once every two weeks, I wouldn't HAVE 4 loads that need doing. Oh, well. Baby steps, baby steps.

Fire retardant in furniture and green living

I received an email a while back asking me about washing upholstered furniture and curtains with soap to remove fire-retardant from them. (Soap as opposed to detergent. Detergent is what all of the stuff you buy in the store to clean yourself, your kids, your dishes, clothing, etc. is. Soap will remove fire-retardant, detergent will not.)

About the fire-retardant. That's a toughy. I was a paramedic and I know that most people that die in a fire die from smoke inhalation, not burns. In other words, they die from breathing in toxic fumes rather than the fire touching them. The offending fire-retardant chemicals are what keeps petroleum products from going up like charcoal lighter when the fabric is exposed to a flame. It is supposed to slow down ignition of the fabric. And since the FEMA website states that a house fire can become dangerously involved in only TWO minutes, and that a house can easily become fully involved in FIVE minutes, you want as much time as possible to get your family and yourself out of the house.

You probably can remove the retardant by washing the item in soap. You're going to either have to take the pillows to a commercial laundromat with a large-item front loading washer or do them one by one in the bathtub. You could also simply remove the covers, wash them, hang to dry and then put the pillows back into them - assuming they have a zipper construction in the back/side of them.

I would simply cover the offending pieces of furniture with a 100% cotton sheet. It will keep the "toxins" off of you, but yet, if some how they are exposed to flame, they won't go up like charcoal soaked in gas.

In fact, if you're worried about/allergic to the chemicals, instead of washing it out of all your furniture/curtains/clothing, I would be replacing my stuff with 100% natural materials. Natural materials are not as quick to ignite and they don't burn with a toxic smoke - though the carbon monoxide/dioxide will still kill you. Until I could afford to replace my belongings, I would simply cover my things with natural materials.

Do a YouTube search of house fires and see how quickly man-made items ignite. From the time of ignition on a house, you can have a house fully involved in less than 5 minutes. A house trailer can be up in 7 SECONDS. It's because of all the petro products used in them and they way buildings are constructed. This is why fire-retardation formulas were invented - to slow down the ignition and give people more time to get OUT of a burning house.

You can make your own fire-retardant. It's near the bottom of the linked post. 

Truth be told, you're probably going to have more problems from the materials that furniture is made from than the fire-retardant. If I recall correctly, foam has formaldehyde amongst other things in it. And formaldehyde is in carpet, furniture and other items. The borax and boric acid are at least naturally occurring minerals -as opposed to the myriad of petro-chemicals found in most of the items we have in our homes and there isn't a lot of it used to flame-retard clothing, bedding and upholstery.

All-in-all, if it were me, I wouldn't remove the fire-retardant, I would use cotton sheets or make cotton slip covers and use those to cover my furniture. (How to do that is available on the 'net.) The extra minute or two that the flame-retardant provides can be the difference between getting yourself and family out of a burning house or dying in it or suffering permanent lung and/or brain damage from toxic smoke.


Cake in a mug (or bowl)

OH, my stars! Do you REALLY want me to teach you this trick???

Ok, here goes.  There's 2 ways of making cakes in a cup/mug/bowl. One requires a boxed cake mix and a small  box of instant pudding. The other is completely homemade.


5 Minute Cake in a Mug
Large Mug; or small bowl (Make sure it will hold 1 1/2 cups liquid because if it's too small it will spill out.)
4 Tbs flour (that's plain flour, not self-rising
4 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs baking cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbs milk
3 Tbs oil (cut to 1 or 2 tbs)
3 Tbs chocolate chips(optional)
1/s tsp vanilla extract

Spray PAM in mug. Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix  well.
Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk, oil and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and  mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. It's ok if the cake rises over the top of the mug.
EAT! (This can serve 2)

To make a vanilla cake: Add 2 Tbs more flour and don't add the cocoa. (can add any flavor extract)

To make lemon cake: Add 2 Tbs more flour and leave out the cocoa. Add 1 tsp lemon extract. instead of vanilla extract.

Here’s a more brownie-like, simpler/faster recipe:
4 Tbs flour
4 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs cocoa
2 Tbs oil
2 Tbs water
Cook for 1 minute. A little longer if your  microwave is old.

Jello 5-Minute Cake
4 Tbs all-purpose flour
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp sugar-free jello powder, any flavor
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 Egg white
3 Tbs milk (or soy milk)
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Heaping tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Microwave-safe bowl or mug

Mix flour, sugar, Jello and baking powder
Mix in egg white
Pour in milk, oil, applesauce and vanilla, and mix  well
Put in microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 minutes (add 30 sec if necessary) on maximum power
Cake is done when it looks "dry" on top and just starts to pull away from bowl. When you touch the center top, it springs back, but doesn't leave any "goo" on your finger pad.

Peach cobbler in a mug
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Measure all into a small Ziploc bag, seal and shake to  combine.
1  (4oz) container (snack size) peaches

Place the peaches cup in a mug lined with tissue paper, add  the cobbler mix on top.

Attach Tag:
Melt 1 T. margarine in mug;
when melted, add mix and 2 T. Milk. Stir well. Add peaches on top of the batter and cook 2 minutes.

Gingerbread Cake In A Mug

Microwavable/Oven Safe Mug (must hold at least 1 1/2 cups)
4 Tbs Flour
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
Round Tag
Snack or Sandwich size Zipper bags

Piece of Homespun (opt.)

Place these instructions on tag:
To make Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake Mix

2 Tbs Molasses
1 egg, small one is good

2 Tbs Warm water

In a small zipper bag, place all ingredients, zip bag and shake them together, and tie off with a piece of homespun (opt.). Place into mug for later use. On  Round tag write, "Gingerbread Cake Mix"
Attach a nice gift tag to the mug handle or tuck a small  card inside your mug with the following directions:

To Make Gingerbread Cake
In a small bowl, place Gingerbread Cake Mix from small bag. Add  molasses, egg and warm water and blend together with fork until thoroughly  mixed, about 1 minute. Pour mixture into a lightly greased mug. Place in  microwave for 1 1/2 - 5 minutes on High. Since times can vary for each microwave, I recommend  checking every 30 seconds after 1 1/2 minutes to see if it's done. Enjoy!!!

Cakes from a boxed mix:

Birthday cake in a mug (this will make 8-9 individual cakes)
Place mix in a pretty mug, lined with tissue paper, add a  couple little birthday candles and a book of matches (if the recipient is old  enough to light them! Great Birthday idea for College students, Elderly who  may only want a "little" sweets, etc.)

cake mix any flavor
4 serving size(small box) instant pudding mix , any flavor
Blend ingredients well until completely mixed.
Measure 1/2 cup dry mix into sandwich bags. (Makes 8-9 bags worth)Tie it closed using ribbon or use sandwich, snack or quart-size zipper bags

Yellow cake mix - vanilla pudding - chocolate glaze
Yellow cake mix - lemon pudding - raspberry glaze
Lemon cake mix - lemon pudding - lemon glaze
Devils food cake mix- chocolate pudding - Hazelnut glaze
Pineapple cake mix- coconut pudding - cherry glaze
Butter flavor cake mix - butterscotch or cheesecake pudding - strawberry

Glaze mix:
(only makes one bag, so if you're giving away these mixes/want them made in advance, you'll have to make 8 or 9 of these bags.)

In a separate snack or sandwich-size zipper bag combine the  following ingredients:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp dry flavoring - you can use Koolaid, lemonade mix, breakfast drinks (Tang), cocoa, Coffee-mate flavors (powdered), or extracts. Extracts will have to be added by the cake maker, unless you have powdered extracts.

In a large coffee mug place a Cake Mix; a glaze mix and  attach a tag with the
instructions for cooking.:
Grease or spray coffee mug/bowl with cooking spray.
Empty Cake  Mix into mug
1 egg white
1 T. Oil
1 T water.
Blend with fork  until smooth.
Place in microwave and cook on high for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.

While cake is cooking add 1 ½ tsp water to glaze mix in zipper bag. Close and gently rub bag until glaze is smooth. When cake is done, remove from microwave, cut a small hole in the corner of glaze packet and apply glaze to your mug cake.

Eat while warm!

You can add a couple teaspoons of either Just Whites egg replacement powder or Powdered Eggs to each individual  packet of Cake "mix". On directions tag, you will need to add an additional 1 T water (so it says to add 2 T instead of 1) to recipe and remove reference to adding an egg white from instruction card.

Brownies in a mug

4 Tbs instant brownie mix
1 Tbs mini m & m's
1 Tbs Chopped Walnuts
1 Tbs Chopped Pecans
1 Tbs Dried Chopped Cherries

Measure all small Ziploc baggie, seal.
Place in a Mug lined with Tissue paper, attach pretty  tag.
Attach Tag:
Pour mix into mug
2 Tbsp water; mix well.
Microwave for 1 minute.

Cinnamon Honey Bun cake

Measure the following into a zipper bag and seal.
1/3 cup yellow cake mix

Add the following into a separate zipper bag, seal and label as Topping Mix:
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp finely chopped pecans
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Attach Tag:
Empty Cake mix into mug.
2 tsp Oil
1 T. Water
1 Egg White
Mix this together well.
Sprinkle topping packet on top.
Cook on high in microwave for 2 minutes.

OPTIONAL OVEN METHOD: Mix everything just as described  above. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place Mug in oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!!

 I forgo the cup in favor of a cereal  bowl that came in my dish set. It's not the very smallest bowl, (old-fashion finger bowl size) but the next size up (cereal bowl size) - it holds about 2 cups. I don't have to clean up any  overflow and before, they sometimes would overflow the cups.But then, I  don't have any really large mugs. I only have the regular-sized ones  that come with Cornelle dishes.

I have an old microwave and I only cook my cakes for about 1 min, 30 seconds to 1 min, 45  seconds or they are overcooked. Some of these times seem awfully long for newer microwaves.

The cake is done when it springs back  when you touch it, but doesn't leave any cake on your finger. It will  also just begin to pull away from the edge of the bowl. If you leave it  in too long, and 15 seconds longer than 1:45 for my oven is too long,  and the cake will begin to get hard on you. It's still edible, just not  as good. so keep an eye on the cooking until you know what works in your  oven. Oh, and my oven is an older, lower-powdered oven, so newer ones  may cook these cakes even faster.

I also use a whole large egg. Sometimes people give me "yard" eggs. I  use what I have. I got tired of throwing away the egg yolk. The yolk is  where the nutrition is. Of course, it's also where some fat, calories  and cholesterol are too. So use common sense. If your Dr. says no egg  yolk, don't use it, just separate the egg or use egg beaters-type  product. Otherwise....toss the whole thing in and save yourself a minute  in separating it.

I have found that I like to mix the oil, water and egg up together  in my greased bowl and then add the dry cake mix part. I then just cook it in the bowl. Wash the fork off and use it to mix the icing and  then use it to eat the finished cake straight from the bowl. Nice  serving of cake, one bowl, one fork and a cup to mix the icing in is all  that you've messed up in the kitchen. Clean up time, 45 seconds! lol  And nobody will be any the wiser!

I've added everything into my cakes - nuts, choco chips, a spoon of  jelly, candy. You name it, it can go in. About 2-3 Tbs is about right  amount of total add-ins. I stir things like nuts into the mix on top of  the oil/water/egg mixture so it gets a little coating on it so it  doesn't sink as badly. Things like jelly, I just plop around the top of  the mixed up, but uncooked cake and then nuke it. (Chocolate devil's  food cake with chocolate fudge pudding and raspberry jelly on top to  sink into it. OH! YEAH!) covered in just plain powdered sugar or  chocolate frosting. Uh hum, Oh YEAH!)

For the frosting/icing/glaze, I have used just plain powdered sugar over the top. I've used powdered sugar and extracts with some added  water to make a paste/frosting/icing or glaze (how thick it is is whether it's a paste/etc. or glaze). I've added some softened butter in,  I've left it out. I've added cocoa powder to it. You can add Jello to  it - sugar free (ok, so we're making cake and we're going to save 30  calories or less? ) or regular. You can add different  "Coffee-mate" coffee flavorings to it. (if you use liquid instead of  powdered, make sure you add that BEFORE you add ANY water. 

And I'd mix  the powders together and then add the liquids to it. Some things like  cocoa don't like to mix in just plain water. But mixed with the other  powders and it doesn't give you any grief. I've also used lemon juice in  the icing with a yellow cake mix/lemon pudding mix. Same rule with  adding liquid extracts. Add those FIRST because it counts as part of the liquid that liquefies the powdered sugar and then add any more water.  But when I've messed up, I just add more powdered sugar. lol You can  even use regular sugar and heat it on the stove adding everything you want to add but the extract . Add the extract after it's off the heat so the flavor  doesn't disappear on you. I prefer icing over a glaze, so I  don't add as much liquid to my powdered sugar.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Darlene's Christmas simmering potpourri

Darlene's Christmas simmering potpourri

6 springs from Christmas tree (Frazer Fir is what I had)
1 orange skin in pieces. I had taken the skins off in about quarters.
1 grapefruit skin. I had taken the skins off in about 6 pieces.
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
1/2 tsp all spice, ground
1/2 ginger, ground
6 whole cloves
1/2 mace, ground
1 Tbs cinnamon, ground
water to nearly fill the pan
Put in large saucepan. Bring to near boil. Turn down, let simmer for as long as you'd like to smell it. Check every hour or so and replenish the water as it evaporates.

This is as free form as you want to make it. Have whole spices instead of ground ones, use them. Conversely, only have ground spices - use those instead. Add the smells that you like. Don't use those spices. Only have dried fruit skins or zest - use that instead.

Just WATCH the water level. I have been using a 2 quart sauce pan and have had to refill the water about every 2-3 hrs. I'm so ADHD that I have to set a time to remember to check the pan!

Next time I make this, I'm going to put the tree sprigs on a paper plate and cover it with another one and use a hammer to beat the pieces to release the oil in them. I think I'll have more of a "Christmas tree" smell if I do.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The tale of the pumpkin pie

One time about 25 years ago, my sister, her husband, my youngest sister and myself all got in the car in north Florida and drove to my parents house in northern Pennsylvania. It was about an 18 hr drive. We had a nice drive, arrived late and after greeting the family, went to our various assigned rooms and fell asleep.

It was Christmas time and so, there was snow on the ground - fun for FL kids. There was food to be cooked and presents to be set out and there was some last minute shopping to be done.

So we commenced the cooking. While some of the food was cooking, I happened to go out onto an enclosed porch to look around. (This was not the home we grew up in. It was the parsonage for the church they had at the time and we hadn't been there before.) My dad came in from outside and I asked him about the corn on the cob that was sitting out in the rafters and that had been chewed on. He said he was saving the seeds for next year. He also had some other seeds that I noticed had been chewed on and asked him what was eating his seed supply. He replied that it was some clever chipmunks that figured out how to get in and out and that he couldn't stop them. (Cue "Chip and Dale" intro). He had tried a variety of ways to stop them, but nothing was working. He didn't really want to hurt them, just stop them from eating his seed supply.

Well, the cooking was finally done and mom was ready to go shopping. Before we left, mom decided that the pies would be cooled quicker if she placed them on the enclosed porch.


"mom, won't the chipmunks get into them?"

"Nah, they've never bothered the pies before. They don't care for pumpkin pie."

"Oh. ok."

And off we go for a couple of hours.

And we come back.

And mom goes out onto the back porch to get her pies.

And we hear hysterical laughing going on.

So...we go check.

There on the top of one of the pies, in a corner, are little chippymunk footprints! And TEETH prints!

Yes, Virginia the chipmunks DID like pumpkin pie. And YES, they DID get into pies on the porch!

So, mom cut the wedge off where they had nibbled it, put it on the porch and wished the little beggars a Merry Christmas.

And we ate the rest of the pie for Christmas. Yes. We. Did.

And it was GOOD!

Spaghetti Soup

SOUP??? Spaghetti?? Yeah, that's right. Soup. Spaghetti soup.

Why soup? Well....I have a cold. The monster cold of all colds. It's gone down into my chest - like it always does. Triggers the asthma - like it always does. Now it's turned into bronchitis, hasn't done that in years.

It's 3pm. I'm just now eating "breakfast". (No, I did not just get up. Actually, I've been up since early am.) It's that now I'm hungry enough that it's worth enough to me to move and start the coughing. So I went and cooked something.

Why don't you have TURKEY LEFTOVERS, you ask? BLEEEEECCCHHHH. I eat turkey 2 times a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's it! I eat left-over turkey for 2 days afterwards. And. Then. I'm. DONE!!

I've never been very fond of turkey anyway and the older I get, the less fond of it I've become. Actually, I once broke out in hives from eating too much turkey. I quit the turkey and the hives went away. (long story, short. I lived alone, fixed a turkey and proceeded to eat it for 3 meals a day for a week - I wasn't throwing out food.) I'd say I'm allergic to it because after 2 days of turkey, I start having a sick stomach. So NO turkey!

Anyway, I left the left-overs at my DD and DSIL's house. They LIKE turkey. They both work FULL-TIME. DD is pregnant. THEY did a happy dance to have the extra food. Especially food that didn't require cooking or dirtying dishes. lol

And I'm HUNGRY. So....what's in the fridge? What don't I have to cook? Yogurt? Blech. Not today. Salad? Double blech! Not today.

Some ground buffalo that a friend picked up that was on sale. (Thanks Kathleen!) Ok. What do I want? Hamburger? Nahhh. I know, I'll fry up half of it and wing it. (proceeds to turn on eye under cast iron skillet and dumps in 2 tbs of rendered fat from some fatback. Hey, I don't want to hear that. It doesn't MATTER that I "could" DIE from heart disease because this cold is gonna KILL ME FIRST! I'm pretty sure this is my last meal! EVER!)

And step back from MY cast iron skillet. It's well seasoned. It's the heir to my fortune (sorry kids) and if you step back now, you'll live to tell the tale! Touch it and you DIE. IMMEDIATELY!

Oh, back to the food. Whoa, here's 1/2 an onion from T'day wrapped in foil and it's still good. (Chop, chop, chop. Toss, Sizzle, sizzle.)

Hummm. Probably need to add a little salt and garlic powder to this. This is a normal amount. A sane amount. Not I can taste crazy amount. I eye balled it like I normally do when I fry meat & onions.

Looking about done. What do I want to do with this? sigh Hash? Naahhh. sigh

Oh, here's some left-over cooked spaghetti - must be 2 cups of it in the bag. (Dump. Sizzle, sizzle.)

Humm....what kind of tomato products can I find?'s a can of diced tomatoes and here's a can of tomato paste. (Opens can of diced tomatoes and dumps them in. Adds about 1/4 can of water.)

And now for the paste. Oh. Interesting. I don't believe the can should be shooting tomato plasma out of it when you puncture it. Must of been in food storage too long. Why haven't you bothered to DATE any of your stuff?? sigh (dumps the can of Tomato paste and washes can opener).

Man, that's some watery sauce. Ok, lets go looking for some more tomato products in a different BOX because there's still 9,005 boxes not unpacked yet. There's no place to PUT the stuff. It's in boxes with labels. Fruit, Veggie, Milk, etc. So...(dig, dig, dig) Oh, look there's some tomato sauce! SCORE! (Opens can and dumps it in, rinses out the can and used about 1/4 can water to do so.) (Looks at pan and goes; "Oh, crap! Man, that's watery!)

Hum...something missing. Oh, yeah, better season it. salt, garlic powder, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, fresh basil - ok, it's drying out on the plant. but since the plant is not yet dead, it's still "fresh", Italian seasoning, brown sugar.

Still missing something.'s some Feta cheese.

Yeah, that looks good.

Does it taste good? Did you NOT READ the first paragraph? HOW THE (mystery word) DO I KNOW?? I have a COLD! The only thing I can "taste" is the salt in the feta and the large pieces of the rosemary - which I failed to think about needing cutting UP so it didn't overwhelm my mouth.

So here's the "recipe". Note of caution. You probably do NOT want to use the amounts of herbs that I put in here. Hello, I have a COLD!

Spaghetti soup that wasn't

1/2 pound of ground something - beef, chicken, turkey, pork, buffalo - not kid, it would not taste good! (You'll have to find another way to dispose of unruly children.)

2 Tbs of fat if you're using a lean meat like buffalo. Olive oil, shortening. Whatever ya got.

1/2 lg onion

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

2 cups left-over spaghetti (COOKED)

14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes + 1/4 can water (rinse out can with it and dump contents in pan)

15 oz can tomato sauce + 1/4 can water (rinse out can with it and dump contents in pan)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp Italian seasonings

(Crazy amounts of the following. If I could taste, I probably would only use about 1/2 of these amounts!)

5 semi-dried out fresh basil leaves or about 2 tsp dried basil

1 TBS fresh rosemary (chop 'em up folks or they're STRONG!) or about 1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp fresh oregano. This one might be ok as is. Normally, I would used about 1/2 tsp dried oregano in something like this, so 1 tsp fresh is probably spot on.

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


Get the skillet hot, add the fat, then the ground meat. Cook over med-low heat until done. While it's cooking, chop an onion and toss it in there. Season it with the salt and garlic powder (or use 2 cloves of fresh garlic and don't use the second amount of garlic for the sauce.

When the meat is no longer pink and the onions done, add the spaghetti and let it "fry" while you find the tomato products and deal with disaster.

Make the sauce:
Add the tomato products and the water. Mix it around. Turn up heat because it looks like it's gonna be really soupy.

Add spices. Turn down heat as you realize that 1.) it's spattering all over and 2.) it's not as bad as you thought it was and you don't want it too thick. (Did I just imply that spaghetti sauce can be TOO thick?? NEVER!)

Heat until it's all hot. Don't wait for the flavors to "marry" because YOU CAN'T TASTE ANYTHING, ANYWAY!

Add feta and serve.

Eat a bowlful and write a useful blog entry.

Go back for seconds. Realize that as it's sat, it has thickened and it tastes better. Or is that because I have more feta in the second serving and THAT'S what I'm tasting?

And for the experienced, adventurous, broke cook:

1/4-1/2 lb meat, ground, shredded, cubed. Cooked or raw

an onion

garlic if ya got it.

fat to cook above so it doesn't stick to pan

some cooked pasta, egg noodles, rice, chow mein, or rice noodles

some kind of tomato product or spaghetti sauce, watered down a bit for "broth" or whatever kind of sauce floats yer boat or cranks yer tractor.

seasonings for the meat/onion mix and more to sauce - unless you're using spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce.

Cheese, what kind? I don't know, look in YOUR fridge!

black olives, mushrooms, more/different kinds of cheese, etc

Cook/heat meat with onion and garlic. If meat is already cooked, you may want to start the onion cooking first and then add garlic and then meat. Remember to not brown your garlic as it makes it bitter. (I thought only humans got bitter. humm...wonder if it was a divorced garlic that was tested?)

When the meat is hot, onions cooked, add the pasta and let it cook for a few.

Add the sauce. Whatever kind would work. Water it down a little bit so as to make it more soupy. You want soupy. Make a white sauce if you want to instead of tomato based "soup". Add some Parmesan to the white sauce and call it "Alfredo" which is what Alfredo sauce IS! lol Season it as ya need to.

Add cheese. Add black olives. Add mushrooms, whatever's in the fridge that needs usin'. Eat it as is, or put it in a casserole and sprinkle it with cheese. Put it under a broiler or in a 350 oven until the cheese is golden.

I know there's no black pepper in this recipe. I don't LIKE black pepper, so I don't USE it. Knock yourself out. Use it if ya wanna.

And then when you're done eating. Decide that the bathroom floor can just not STAND another day without being swept. And washed.

And then get side-tracked by remembering it's trash day (at 4:30 AM!), as you collect the trash and are in the process of emptying it, notice that there are MOTHS coming from a storage box of FLOURS and RICE. OH! NO! PANTRY MOTHS.

And will someone PLEASE answer my ears? They're ringing.

Yah know, tomorrow has GOT to be better! If it's not, I'm thinking I'm gonna have to just curl up in the fetal position for a while. Maybe pull the covers up over my head. You know- HIDE. Sort of like the hog-nose snake that the minute you touch it, it plays dead. Then when you walk away, it comes back to "life" and crawls off. Wonder, if I play dead will stop beating up on me? Nah, I don't think so either, was worth a thought. Ah, the fairy tales we write for ourselves. lol

Oh, my one ear just popped. YEAH! It's stopped ringing. Oh, fun. Now it sounds like the ocean. Hey, I grew up in St. Pete. I LIKE the beach. And hearing the sound of surf on the shore sure does beat the ringing! Now if only the other ear will pop, clear and perhaps I'll have the ocean in stereo. Or be able to HEAR again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sledding in North Georgia

I have a tale to tell.

Background: I WAS born in Philadelphia, PA. Only we left when I was 6.5 years old. Went to St. Petersburg, FL.

The second year we were here in North Georgia, we had a really good snow. In fact, the next day, there was still snow all over the ground, though the roads were clear. (Even then, there still wasn't anything to write about for traffic, everyone was staying home because of "the SNOW".

The kids and I got dressed, grabbed the sled and went crunch, crunch, crunch, through the snow to the park downtown. We had a really fun time on the short hump that went down to the Railroad tracks. Mommy and kids pushed each other in the sled. Ok, the kids were 1 1/2, 3 and 7. Mommy did most of the pushing and pulling - there and back! oy!

Well, we were done and I pulled them all home. Got home and crunch, crunch, crunched through the snow back up the hill. Then MOMMY got the BRIGHT idea of putting the kids on the sled at the top of the hill and telling them to staying put until I got to the bottom of the hill. Did I tell you that it drops the car out of gear into a lower one when I go up that hill? No? Well, it does.

I told them I'd catch them at the bottom because I didn't want them to go into the street as there was a LITTLE bit of traffic. And if, for some reason I don't catch you, just roll sideways off into the snow. So I get to the bottom of the hill and call up to my oldest telling her to push off. OH, YES. I. DID. (ok, look guys cut me some slack I WAS RAISED IN FLORIDA!)

They came ROARING down that FROZEN, SLICK hill like a bat from you know where. I went to grab them and the sled hit me so hard it was like getting sacked by Reggie White. Oldest managed to roll off the sled, but the 3 year old froze. I tried to grab the sled. Well I STARTED OUT on the left side of the sled. Got hit by it, the force flipped me completely OVER the sled, my foot hit my son's mouth and give him a bloody lip, but I managed to get him off the sled before it slid out into the street. But I was on the ground on the RIGHT side of the sled - that's how force the sled had.

So...lessons learned:
1.)There is a science called PHYSICS.
2.) Lack of knowledge of it does NOT suspend the CONSEQUENCES of ignoring it.
3.) If the snow CRUNCHES, that means there's a layer of ICE on it.
4.) Ice is SLICK.
5.) HILLS that make a car shift gears are STEEP! It's NOT just that I'm fat and out of shape!
6.) Son FREEZES in an emergency.
7.) As much as I wanted to play football, I am NOT 17 any more. The calendar does NOT LIE about how old I am.
8.) I didn't know my body could still MOVE in those directions.
9.) Getting sacked HURTS!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Some of you may not know that I am a veteran. I was in the US Air Force for about 2 3/4 years and then in first the Utah Air National guard and then the Van Nuys Air National Guard for about another 2 3/4 years total guard service.

A friend sent this link to me. Made me cry. Hope you guys enjoy it.

http: com="" v="KTb6qdPu8JE"

I also want to give a special thank you to all of you who served "in country" during times of war. My sweet little butt was safely stationed in Japan while some of you were having your tails shot at, watching your friends die, and eating C-rations in the heat of Viet Nam.

And more special thank you's to:

2 of my birth brothers who served in the AF.

Several cousins and an uncle who served in Viet Nam

My birth father, a Navy Korean war vet.

My uncle, a Navy and Air Force vet who served in WWII as a 16 year old seaman, a Korean war airman and a Seabee for two tours in Viet Nam.

My Grandfather, one of two men to survive his battalion being mustard gassed in Germany during WWI. He spent the rest of his life with service-connected disabilities and no compensation, but he didn't complain. Not even when he was then beaten up during WWII for being "a German", though he was a US citizen.

And two great-uncles who are buried at Gettysburg.

They are part of why I'm free today.

Happy Veterans' Day to all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Negativity and Loss of strength

It seems we live in a day and age where people have either forgotten about or have not learned how, to be positive. We have been given more than any other people at any other time in history. Yet we seem to be the most unhappy people ever created. In this country, we don't have to deal with heat/cold. Most of us (even those of us that are "poor") have heat and a/c in our house to mitigate the outside temp. We have so many choices of "tasty" foods to choose from, that making healthy choices is becoming difficult. We can choose whom we will be, with whom we associate, where we will go, where we will live and what we will do with our lives. Yet, for all this, we only seem to be able to see what is wrong, not all that is right.

What set this rant off is that I've had a day where I received one too many negative emails and I wondered if you are as tired of negativity in general and specifically negative emails as I am? I just sent this out to my friends in hope that they will take it to heart. Thought some of you want to send something in a similar vein to those whom are negative in your life.

"Dear Friends,

As most of you know, right now my life is in shambles. The last of my kids has moved out, ending child support. My job is ending the last of Aug. which means I will have no more income at that time. I just got word that they will have to move me to a one bedroom apt (from the 4 bedroom house I'm in) - most probably NEXT WEEK. (just found out 2 days ago about the probable change in address). The economy is in the cesspool and jobs are scarce. Add to that, I can not stand all day at a checkout line or fast food place, so finding a job in this tourist town is going to be problematic. What few jobs are available, go to family and I have no extended family to rely on. I'm also fighting to keep from becoming depressed at these unwanted changes in my life. Trying to keep a positive attitude in the face of this much opposition can be challenging, but depression doesn't solve anything. It only stops progress and can debilitate you. It's one of Satan's tools. So, I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude.

I'm looking at many different avenues of income, but nothing is going to be a "quick fix". I am, however, working on my future by attending employment workshops, self-employment workshops and webinars sponsored both by my church (LDS) and other people to learn what I need to know to advance my business knowledge. I have people who have offered to help with some of the missing knowledge I need in exchange for using the skills they've taught me to teach others. I'm doing the research I need to do to create my business. I'm looking at a variety of opportunities to work from home (ones that aren't scams.) And I'm looking at selling off many of my possessions to raise money to pay for the business start-up - or at least downsize my stuff so it fits into a shoe box one-bedroom apt. And I have less than a month to get ALL of this done. Yeah, it's scary and I do NOT like "change" - especially changes forced upon me.

Dealing with the emotions that are generated by all of this, plus finding the energy to DEAL with all of this is becoming a real challenge. Truth is, I'd rather just stick my head under the covers and cower. However, that's not an option. Well, not a HEALTHY option because at the end of Aug, my situation would be worse for having ignored it. The choice of handling it now when it's medium-sized or waiting until it's a giant, is one I have to make. Now is better than later, so upward and onward!

However, the last thing I need is more negativity in my life and here is where YOU come in:

In the last 4 hrs, I've received 8 negative emails about this or that problem in the US/world. The day is not over yet, and am sure I will receive more of these email.
For the record:
I agree, the government is in the pits.
I agree that Pres. Obama should never have been elected, that he is a Muslim & Socialist.
I agree that we are being sold out - and that is an optimistic outlook.
In general, I agree the country is going to heck in a hand-basket. BUT THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT. OR YOU, FOR THAT MATTER!!! (except VOTE them OUT if you don't like them. However, they're not up for election.)
I agree there's a HUGE problem with immigration.
I agree people are tampering with the vaccines.
In fact, I probably agree with 99% of the positions you favor.

HOWEVER, the endless passing around of petitions and negative emails do not DO ANY GOOD. Nobody that CAN change things is READING the "petition" you've signed. Why NOT? Because you can not verify the petition signatures, so that is WHY no one is paying any attention to them! (How do they know if someone has signed the petition 3 times instead of once? How do they know if the "signatures are from "live" people or dead/made-up people?) If passing these things around WORKED, the problem(s) would have been solved by now and certainly, I would pass them on. If passing them on MADE A DIFFERENCE in even ONE life, I'd pass them on. But they DON'T! These types of emails simply make US more unhappy because of the negativity in them.

Now, if you want to pass negative stuff to your other friends and they don't mind receiving it (or do they and they've just not said anything to you?), then keep passing it on to THEM. However, the truth of it is that when you send it on to your friends, you're "preaching to the choir"! The people to whom you send this stuff believe as you do or you wouldn't be sending it to them! I have friends who think the sun rises and sets in the current administration. Do I pass ANYTHING that is contrary to that opinion on to them? NO, they would be offended. I know this, so why would I do it. Why would YOU do it. don't. See what I mean?

I'm begging each of you to Cease and Desist with the negativity. As the 13th Article of Faith states:
"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

It seems to me that the people who pass on the negative things, tend to be people whom are unhappy with their own lives. All negativity does is make us MORE unhappy with our lot in life. It does NOT change a thing! It does not BUILD people UP (us or others), especially those that get a steady dose of it. Instead, it makes us feel aggressive, powerless, frustrated and downright angry. Good feelings for making the Spirit go bye-bye. And then how can we make a righteous decision without the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives? We can not!

I LOVE FUNNY emails. I need to laugh, we all do. I like CLEAN jokes. I even get a chuckle over clean political jokes. My problem is only with the "pass them on" emails; the "President (congressman, government, etc)is ____, doing___" send this on to your entire email lists, type emails. I've gotten to the point of just deleting them all and I'm about to get to the point of blocking certain people again.

I would also like you to take under consideration that if you've got problems/trials/heartache of your own, you request YOUR friends/family to quit sending YOU the negative stuff. What does it help? NOTHING! What does it DO? It pulls you down and saps both the energy you need and the Spirit, from your own life and the life of people who have to filter out the negative stuff you send. In other words, it DOES not improve ANYONE'S happiness. It does NOT LIFT anyone up. Not the people whom sent it to you, not you, nor the ones you pass it on too. It DESTROYS happiness, contentment and positive energy. And, hummmm....what is one of Satan's titles? Oh, yeah, DESTROYER! So when we pass on negativity, in any of it's forms, for whom are we actually working? Yep, Satan. Do you REALLY want to be associated with HIS team? I know I don't! So do you REALLY want to keep sending those on? Do you REALLY even want them sent to YOU?

So again, if you're reading this, please stop with the NEGATIVE emails. Funny ones, inspirational one are GREAT! I LOVE those, I NEED those. They BUILD me up. They make me SMILE. They CALM my troubled heart and mind. They give me HOPE. They remind me I'm not alone in the world and that our Father in Heaven is the one who is REALLY in control - though I do have to do my part in my personal "plan of salvation" to be doing what He would have ME be doing, where He would have ME to be. That's where the "study it out in your mind, pray over it, burning/uneasiness in bosom comes in. Only to feel the Spirit, you have to be CALM. You can't be calm when reading negative things.

Thank you for your love and friendship."

So now my blog friends, our assignment for today is: BE POSITIVE. BE THANKFUL for what you DO have. DON'T WORRY about/FOCUS on, what you DON'T have. NO ONE had EVERYTHING they want, because there's always something more to "want". But most of us DO have WHAT WE NEED. Focus on how grateful we are that there's plenty of food to eat, that we can afford a home - no matter how humble it may be. That we have drinkable water, mostly safe streets and mostly good neighbors. That we live in a country that is still free.

I'm not suggesting we ignore problems. It's one thing to learn about problems and then figure out possible solutions. But there are some problems we CAN NOT SOLVE at our level. So make wise choices at election times - or run for office yourself. Then leave it ALONE. If you've DONE what you CAN do, then THERE'S NOTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO! So leave it in the hands of a loving Father in Heaven.

Remember the "Serenity Prayer":

God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel Your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

Proverbs 3 (KJV):
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cook once, four meals: Chili, chili salad, bean burritos, and enchiladas

For those days when you need something quick, I have a tasty recipe that lets you cook once and then making three or four different meals out of it. And you can make it in the crockpot if you wanted to cook it while you're gone/busy. (That how-to follows the first recipe)

First a disclaimer. ANY chili recipe would work for these recipes. I just don't have a chili recipe that I love. At least not one that doesn't require a can of "Chili Magic". I know it's only about 69 cents a can. True, I'd rather make my own. It just that none of the recipes I've tried tastes like I'd like it too. Spicy, but not too hot as the kids wouldn't have eaten it. And perhaps the "old" recipe that I concocted years ago would fill the bill, but I quit using that recipe because it had "chunks" in it and none of my kids likes "chunks" (read: chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic or mushrooms) in their food. I guess I need to go dig that recipe out and try it again.

Second: Beans are beans. In whatever form you have them, whatever kind you have. I've made this with all types of beans - canned from store, canned from home, frozen and straight from dried beans. I've used all kinds of beans - pinto, black, navy and kidney beans. Shoot, one time I even put in a can of lima beans and another time I added in a can of PORK & BEANS - cause that was all I had and I wasn't making a trip to the store to BUY the "right" kind of beans. The only beans I don't really much care for are Kidney beans. That's because to me, they are a "tough" bean. It seems like no matter how carefully you prepare them (as in Do NOT boil beans, it MAKES them tough and breaks the skins on them), the skins of kidney beans seems tough to me. Just my taste buds/texture issues. YMMV

On to the Chili: The can of "Chili Magic" says to just add tomatoes and meat. I "doctor" it so that it goes farther. When I was feeding kids, I've added as much as 2 quarts of cooked dried beans. I've added as much as 28oz can of tomato puree. Obviously, the more you add to the little can of Chili, the more diluted the taste of the canned "Chili Magic". So then we'd add more cumin and chili powder to the batch or add a second can of "Chili Magic". Since it's now just me, I add less beans and tomatoes to the little can. Add more or less "extras" as suits your family.

You can freeze leftovers or can them in a pressure CANNER. (not a pressure COOKER!)

Chili (meal one): (this recipe can be doubled or more. Just use one can of "Chili Magic" for each additional recipe you're making) . This is just how I made it yesterday. It will change tomorrow as I add what I have/leave out what I don't have.

It should take less than 30 mins to grab the ingredients, chop the onion and cook it with the meat, toss in the rest of the ingredients then let it simmer on the stove.

One can of "Chili Magic" (found near the chili and baked beans or by the canned veggies in my local marts)

4 cups of cooked beans, any type

1 1/2 cups (14 oz can) of tomatoes (diced, paste, sauce, puree, home canned..whatever ya got)

1 diced onion

1/4 lb of hamburger (opt. Sometimes I use meat, sometimes I don't)

1 tsp adobo

1 tsp garlic powder (or a clove of minced garlic)

1 tsp ground cumin (opt)

Shredded cheese, tortilla chips or Fritos or popped pop corn, sour cream, guacuamole (opt)

Brown meat and onion in pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the spices over the hamburger and onions while they are browning. It's done when the meat is cooked and the onions translucent ("see through" instead of white.) and soft. I don't drain the meat - I use a low fat hamburger that I've had ground from lean meat that I bought on sale, so there's not much fat in it.

Add the can of Chili Magic, beans and tomatoes. (ok, you DO know to OPEN the cans first?!? Right? Just thought I'd ask in case Amelia Bedelia is reading this.) Stir together can contents with cooked meat/onion mixture. Over med. heat, bring chili almost to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. STIR FREQUENTLY! Any food containing beans and tomatoes likes to stick to the bottom of the pot, so stir it every 5 mins or so to make sure the food isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot so you're not burning the food on the bottom of the pan. (been there, done that; tastes bad; can't be fixed!).

Let it simmer for at least 10 minutes - again STIRRING frequently. (The longer is simmers, the more chili taste the beans will pick up. That's why things like chili taste better the second day. The flavors have had time to "marry".)

Serve plain or with opt ingredients


This should only take about 7 minutes to gather the ingredients, chop the onion and put it in the crockpot.

You can put this in the crockpot and let it cook for about 4 hrs on high or 8 on low. Then you don't have to worry about browning meat/onions or stuff sticking to the bottom of the pot. Just dump it all in, stir it around, put the lid on it and walk away. I can double this size recipe and it fits into a VERY full crockpot. I think mine is 4 qts.

Chili salad (meal two):
This recipe came about because I only had about 1/2 cup of chili left, a little bit of ranch dressing left, a half head of lettuce sitting there and I was hungry, didn't feel like cooking nor did I want to toss the little bit of leftover chili nor the 2 Tbs of ranch dressing that was left in the bottle. As you can see, I made a nice meal out of what others would have just thrown away!

This should take about 5 minutes to make.

Lettuce in bite size pieces
chili, cold (I didn't drain the "juice" off of it.)
ranch dressing
red wine vinegar

There are no amounts. This is according to how much you want to eat or how many people you need to feed. Today when I made it the second time, I used about 1/2 of a head of lettuce, 1 cup of chili and enough ranch to cover the lettuce (normal amount I would put on my salad) and then a couple of "chugs" of vinegar - probably about 1 tbs, on top of it all. That made one lunch/dinner for me.

You can also use this salad "recipe" from the burritos with the "doctored" chili. Either way, it makes for a tasty salad topping!

Chili burritos (meal three):

This should take about 7 mins to gather ingredients, pop tops on cans and heat it up, unless you're cooking meat, onions or mushrooms.

1-2 cups chili, any recipe. If the one you're using doesn't have meat & onions, you may want to add some to it before adding rest of ingredients.

1 can black olives, sliced or broken up into pieces

1 can mushrooms (or fresh ones you've sliced and fried up)

1-2 cups shredded cheese - any kind you like

Flour Tortillas

Opt: sour cream, guacamole

Heat the ingredients, minus the cheese and opt ingredients, together. Heat tortillas briefly in microwave or hot skillet. Fill with mixture, top with opt items if you're using them and then sprinkle cheese on top. Roll up and eat.

Yesterday evening, I made a batch of chili using the above recipe. I fed my daughter and son-in-love for dinner (I had already eaten earlier, but made more chili for them.) I made a salad for me today and have enough left to make a second salad for me and still have 2 cups left over to make the burritos for another day. This should easily make about 8+ burritos. I haven't made burritos this way in a long time and forget how many burritos I could make. But since you only use about 1/8 - 1/4 of a cup of filling, I seem to remember that this made a LOT of burritos! And if I remember correctly, 1/4 cup of filling was too much in a "Burrito size" tortilla, it escaped the burrito and made a mess.

Make your burritos all up at once, flash freeze what you don't eat, then roll up in plastic or whatever you use instead of plastic. Place individually wrapped burritos into a plastic container/bag (0r whatever you use instead of plastic) and place in freezer. Instant snack/dinner. Just take however many you want from the freezer, unwrap from plastic, wrap in napkin, paper towel, etc and nuke for 1 minute on high. Do each one individually. Just like the store bought burritos.


Enchiladas (meal four):

This should take about 8 minutes to gather gather ingredients, unwrap burritos and put into oven. It will take about 45 mins - 1 hr to bake, but you can be doing other things while it bakes.

Take frozen burritos, unwrap, place in a baking pan, cover with enchilada sauce and top with shredded cheese. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 mins - 1 hr at 350 until insides are hot and cheese is melted. Test with thermometer to make sure insides are at least 160 degrees.

You can also do this with individual burritos in the microwave. Take a frozen burrito, unwrap, place on plate and cover with sauce and cheese. Nuke for a minute. Only thing is, microwaved burritos are "chewy" from the tortilla being overheated.

Still have some leftover chili? Make Chili dip!

Chili dip:
This takes less than 5 minutes to gather ingredients and heat it up.

Chili, heated until it's warm (if cold/frozen). Don't have to preheat if from a can.

Shredded cheese or 1" cubes of Velveta

Mix together well, chili and shredded/cubed cheese in a microwavable bowl. Nuke for 1 minute and stir well. Serve with tortilla chips, Fritos, Dorritos, pita chips or veggies.

A tip to avoid complaints. Don't feed your family (or YOURSELF!) this 3, 4, 5, 6 meals in a row!

Have the chili one day. Divide whatever is left over into two parts. One part for the salad and one part for the Burritos. Freeze one part and put the other part in the fridge. Several days later, have the next meal with the chili in it. (Unless you need something for your lunch - then save some "salad"fixings out for you.) Then several days after that, make the next meal. That way they don't "burn out" on chili and refuse to eat it or complain about how often they're eating it.

Starting anew

Well, life has come full circle. The last of the at-home kids has flown the coop. He had the audacity to make Eagle Scout, turn 18 and move to dad's all in a matter of a few weeks. No more of my babies are at home. It sure is quiet around here now. YES!!!! lol

Things I miss:
I miss the hub-bub of having children in my home.

I miss totin' 'em to activities. I miss the miles we drove and the talks we've had in the car going to/from homeschool events, scout meetings and Church activities.

I miss not knowing what's going on in their day to day lives.

I miss "Mom, take us to the park." (When did they last ask THAT??? When was the last time we did that? Did I realize at that time that it would be "the last time"? Nope. It just never happened again. And I guess that question wasn't needed any more as they could walk or ride their bikes to the park themselves. Yeah, it's been a few years. In fact, quite a few of them.

I miss "snow days". If you homeschool and have a "snow day", you go play in above park. You drag 3 kidlets in the plastic sled to the park a mile away and take turns riding it down the slopes to the railroad tracks below. And then you load them all up again and hike back up the hill to your house with them in tow. And then you make "Snow Ice Cream". That too has been a few years ago. And the last time, well, I never knew it would be the "last time".

I miss all day reading sessions, where a good book was read aloud to them. We'd spend the day, the WHOLE day reading. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Boxcar Children, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and many, many others. We never got around to diagramming sentences, but my kids have a huge vocabulary and speak standard English very well. I think it was all of the reading we did. A lot of the books were "Classics". When was the last time someone asked; "Mom, read to me?" Another "tradition" that faded quietly away, never to return.

I miss being able to ask; "sweetheart, will you get me ___?" and having it appear. Now I have to stop what I'm doing, get up and get my own darn stuff. Phooey!

I miss those long philosophical discussions on life. But only if the discussion wasn't about why they shouldn't be in trouble for some infraction of house rules. lol

I miss being the center of a little one's world. Of being the go-to person in case of hurt or happiness. I miss skinned knees and new discoveries.

I even miss "mom, we have NOTHING to eat" in a house that has about 1000 lbs of wheat, 200 lbs of rice and 200 lbs of beans as well as shelves of canned goods. That translates as "mom, there's nothing available to nuke and I don't want to actually FIX something."

I miss having someone to talk to all day long. And those all night long talks too.

Things I DON'T miss:
Putting something down and having it sprout legs and walk away. Nope, sorry, don't miss that a bit. I LIKE that I can put something down and it is still there when I come back for it. Most notably: pens, paper, books, food, my knife sharpener, etc. Of course, my glasses STILL seem to walk around on their own. I think Great-grandpa Adams has moved in with me. I know for a fact that it was he who moved stuff in my Nana's house! Aunt Karalee TOLD me so!

I don't miss filling my jug with water and going to drink out of it and it being empty - 5 minutes after I filled it. Of course, now there's no one to make go fill it either.

The house now stays clean. Wow. I clean the bathrooms... and they're still clean four days later.

I straighten out the shelves and they stay straightened out.

I clean the fridge and there's no mustard or ketchup on the shelves.

I do the dishes and they're DONE. No more magically appear in the sink. Of course, now I have to do them ALL the time instead of just SOME of the time. But there's only a few to do. Unless I invite one or more to stay for dinner. Anyone want to come to dinner?

I don't miss the three "invisible foster children" I used to have. I'm sure if you have kids, these foster kids have spent some time at your house. You know their names or at least heard of them - Not Me, I Don't Know and I Didn't Do It. I say they are invisible because I've never actually SEEN them. But I know that they lived with me because my KIDS knew them! My own kids were great. They NEVER misbehaved, never got into stuff or made a mess! It was ALWAYS those rotten foster kids. My kids would SEE them do stuff. And were VERY willing to rat out such ROTTEN kids. Anytime anything happened, my kids would tattle on them.

"Who left the fridge door opened?

"Not Me!"
"I Don't Know!"
"I Didn't Do It!"

"Who left the candy wrapper on the FLOOR?"

"Not Me!"
"I Don't Know!"
"I Didn't Do It!"

But I do know WHY those poor children were in foster care. I've never actually MET their mother, but I've heard of her! You probably have too. Her name is "Everybody Else's Mother". I mean REALLY! Who ELSE would let their 10 year old get a TATOO? Or pierce their TONGUE? Or date a guy/gal that was 5 YEARS older than your teen??? Yep, only Everybody Else's Mother! THAT'S why her kids are in foster care. The rest of us have more SENSE than that woman!

So, all in all I miss them more than I'm glad they're gone. It's sad. When I finally removed all the reminders I have on my Mozilla Sunbird calendar, I HAD no reminders on my calendar. Well, I have "rent due", 'insurance due", "Phone bill due", and "Church" left on it along with family birthdays and anniversaries. Other than that, it's blank.

Wow, now I've got to get a life. It will be different than it's been for 21 years. Full of different things. Different opportunities, different trials, different hopes, different heartaches. But whether or not it's a happy life depends on me and my attitude. Will I choose to find the good in the new life or will I choose to excessively mourn the loss of the old life. Well that depends on whether or not I also choose to look at the happinesses and freedoms of the new life and remember the hardships and trials of the old life to go along with the nostalgia for things as they were. For the remembered past is colored in love and loss, but the unlived future is colored with uncharted territory and uncertain results.

And that's where adventure lies! So set you sails and "drink up me hardies! Yo ho!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Grinding your own flour

First some things you need to know. There are grains, "greasy" and "non-greasy" legumes; and "greasy" and "non-greasy" seeds that can be converted from their "seed" form to a flour or paste.

Grains are drier and only have a little oil in their germ. You can grind grains in any mill, grinder or whatnot. Grains include wheat, corn, rice, oat groats, barley, rye, etc.

Legumes and seeds are a different matter. Peas and most beans are not "greasy", that is, you can not extract oil from them very easily. However, soy beans ARE "greasy", meaning that if you try to mill or grind them in a regular mill or grinder, you will soon have a coating of oil on the grinding parts. Think Soy oil - oh, and peanut butter. Some seeds are also "greasy" - think sunflower, flax and sesame seeds. Sometimes you can get away with milling "greasy" - IF you only grind small amounts at a time and IF you grind at a coarse setting and IF you then run some hard red wheat right after milling to clean the mill head, blades or stones. NO! Strike that! Do NOT try to mill peanuts, soy or sesame seeds with stones! It will KILL the stones. And it's not too good for anything else, either. Use a blender or food processor with a strong motor!

I have about 5 different ways to grind grains, most beans and some seeds to a flour.

1.) I have a wheat grinder. I bought if off of a guy that was moving and didn't want it. Paid $50 for a K-Tec mill. Such a deal! And after I talked about what I was going to grind with it and how to use it, he only half-jokingly wanted it back. No dice! This mill will grind all non-oily seeds, nuts, beans and grains. (Don't want to go making Peanut butter in the grain mill, it would kill it.)

When you mill, the grains/legumes/seeds must be CLEAN and FREE of debris or it will burn out your mill. Even LITTLE, TINY-TINY pieces of dirt/rocks will damage an impact mill. This is also a noisy machine and I mill OUTSIDE with it so I don't get flour dust in my house. It's a lot easier to just sweep off the porch than wipe up flour, mop the floor and clean off the wall like needs to be done when I mill in the house. This mill makes a very find flour - even on the coarsest setting, it's a pretty fine flour. And you can NOT make cracked wheat with this.

There are mills out there that don't make a mess. I just have one that DOES, but for $50, I'll just mill outside. My friend has a mill that is quiet and self-contained. It has one piece that the grain goes into and another piece that the milled flour goes into. The pieces are connected by an enclosed tube "shoot". Both of the pieces have tight-fitting lids on them, so there is no dust - EVER. Of course, she paid about $350 for hers. I'm too poor to afford that. lol And she can't make cracked wheat with hers either.

2a.) I have a "Back to Basics" mill. I bought it recently and I paid $50 for it. It turns easily. I can grind 2 cups of wheat in it in 1-2 minutes. It's not quite as fine a grind as my electric mill, but it works in a pinch or if you can't afford an electric mill. I use it to make a corn meal from popcorn that is a little more coarsely ground than my K-Tec makes - which is what I want for corn meal. I like it and wish I had bought it years ago instead of 2b. I can mill grains, seeds and legumes in it and I can also make cracked wheat with it.

2b.) I have 2 different hand mills. One is a "Little Ark". Paid WAY too much (about $175.00 nine or so years ago) for a very poor preforming mill. It does have both a set of stone grinding wheels and a set of metal burrs. Problem is, you either have to be a gorilla, have access to a gorilla or buy the parts and motorize it. And in case of power outage, you'd use it how??? It was supposed to be an "easy turning" model and it is NOT! I don't think it grinds all that well either. When I tried to get the pattern that was supposed to be included (so that the flour didn't go all over the place instead of into a bowl or pan), the company appeared to be out of business. I tried for years to get a contact for them to no avail. I can grind non-greasy grains, seeds and legumes in it, but it is VERY DIFFICULT to turn the handle. I can crack wheat in it, but again, it's VERY hard to do.

3.) Food processors will grind grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. It takes a lot longer to do with a food processor than in any of the mills. You don't want to try and grind too much at one time, but it has to be "enough" to grind. Usually about 1/3 to just under 1/2 of your processor bowl full is about right. It won't be as fine a grind as if it were in a mill. You can use a sifter to sift out the larger particles and regrind them, but it is time consuming. I used this method when I didn't have a mill. You can make cracked wheat as well as flour with this method. CAUTION: You can burn your motor out if you don't pay attention to what you're doing and let the motor rest when it starts to smell "hot"!

4.) Blenders will also grind grains on a high speed. My blender needs to have a 1 pint regular mouth mason jar attached to it instead of the regular blender jar. Most blenders will thread a 1 pint mason jar on their attachment ring so that you can use it to make smaller portions or to grind with it. Depending on the power of your blender, you can even make peanut and nut butters, but it takes a stronger motor or adding some oil to do it. Only fill the jar 1/2 full of grains/legumes to grind and know that it won't be as fine a grind as in a mill. You can use a sifter to sift out the larger particles and regrind them, but it is time consuming. I also used this method when I didn't have a mill. You can make cracked wheat as well as flour with this method. CAUTION: You can burn your motor out if you don't pay attention to what you're doing and let the motor rest when it starts to smell "hot"!

You can grind oatmeal in a blender very easily. Oatmeal has already been either flattened (rolled) or chopped (steel-cut) into smaller pieces, so the blender can handle it more easily. When my kids had chicken pox, I bought a package of that expensive stuff to put into the bath water. Then I read the ingredients and looked at what I was pouring into the water. I paid SIX BUCKS for 4 packets of ground oatmeal. That's what's IN those little packets. I know this, because I went in and ground my regular old oatmeal and it looked JUST LIKE the stuff from the packets! It WORKED just like the stuff in the packets. And with 3 little ones with Chicken pox, I went through the 4 packets in a couple of hours. Needless to say, I didn't buy any more of the packets! At the time, oatmeal was about $1.50 for the LARGE container that was a couple of pounds of oatmeal. Worth my 30 seconds of grinding to grind my own.

5.) Wallyworld has coffee grinders for about $10. They won't stand up to heavy duty usage, but you can grind spices and non-greasy legumes and seeds in them. You can also grind small amounts of wheat, but I think you'd probably burn out your motor if you tried to grind enough to make bread with it. It will grind beans enough for a couple of tablespoons to make bean flour with it, but I wouldn't try mill a cup or so of beans to a flour at one time. CAUTION: You can burn your motor out if you don't pay attention to what you're doing and let the motor rest when it starts to smell "hot"!

There is one other option for using wheat without a mill.

Blender pancakes

1 cup
Whole Wheat Berries
1 1/4 cups
3 Tbs
dry powdered milk (non-instant; if you use instant it would be 1/3 C.)*
2 tsp
Baking Powder
1- 1/2 tsp
2 Tbs
2 tbs

In blender, add 1-1/4 C. water and wheat kernels Blend on highest speed for 4 or 5 minutes (don’t worry it won’t hurt your blender, promise!) or until batter is smooth. Add dry ingredients, eggs and 2 T. oil Blend on low. Pour out batter into pancakes from the actual blender jar (only one thing to wash!) on to a hot greased or Pam prepared griddle or large frying pan. Cook; flipping pancakes when bubbles pop and create holes.

One other tip. I double or triple pancake and waffle recipes, then freeze the extras. Nuke or put in toaster/toaster oven to reheat. And I use MORE THAN ONE PAN to cook them in. I have two waffle irons I use and 4 cast iron skillets for the pancakes. Makes it go SO much faster than doing one or two freaking pancakes at a time!

*Non-instant is a finer grind than "Instant". Non-instant is not found in most grocery stores. You have to get it from Food Storage places or in Utah at a regular store. Most grocery stores carry "Instant non-fat dry milk" in either store brands or name brands. Since the "non-instant" is a smaller powder than the "instant" it takes less of it to cook with. To use instant as "non-instant", either make the change in amount OR grind it in your blender or food processor until it's a powder instead of small "pebbles".

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Soaps versus Detergents

Laundry detergent, bath soap, baby soap, shampoo, baby shampoo, spray window cleaners, spray tub and tile cleaners, "general purpose" cleaners, dish washing liquid, dish washer detergent, the list goes on.

The idea that we need different soaps for different things was a marketing ploy to sell.... DETERGENTS and cleaning solutions.

Until the Chemical companies came on the scene with "better" soaps (which are really detergents made from petroleum products and phosphates), everyone used the same bar of soap for all their cleaning. Truth is, detergents and cleaners do sometimes clean better or rather, do a faster job of cleaning. But what's in them? Uhm...chemicals that many don't really want on their bodies or in their environment.

A bar of homemade soap is good for all things washing! Dishes to hair, clothing to bodies, it's all the same. So find some homemade soap or better yet, just MAKE some homemade soap (not hard to do).

You could also use some Castile Soap. Dr. Bonner's is one brand that is a liquid. There are other brands out there, just Google "Castile Soap". There is also Kirk's soap, which is a bar Castile soap. Burt's Bees also has "natural" soaps. Most stores now carry a line or two of "natural" products.

Sometimes you need to go online to find the local distributor of a product. Simply Google the product. For example: "Kirk's Castile soap" then go to the maker's website and click on "retail stores". You may have to enter your zip code to see a local store. Take a good look at who is selling it. Sometimes, there is only one retailer - so you're going to either pay their price or order it on-line. By the time you've paid shipping, it's probably cheaper to just pay the local price.

However, sometimes you will have multiple places you could purchase the product. In that case, do your homework and think about what the prices in that store are like. I KNOW that something I buy at Cracker Barrel is going to cost more than say at an IGA. How do I know this? Because I've eaten at Cracker Barrel and they are rather expensive - at least to me. I've also shopped at the local IGA and know that they tend to have rock-bottom prices. Sometimes, you have to look and see who has the better price - Publix or Kroger. Both are upper-end grocery stores - at least in this area of the world. I alread know that I will pay higher prices at Cracker Barrel, a lesser price at Publix or Kroger and the least of all price at an IGA. UNLESS, a chain-type store is having a sale on the item or I have a coupon. (I don't know if many of the "natural" soaps go on sale or have a coupon. Though, while I haven't seen a sale or a coupon on them, it doesn't mean a sale doesn't happen or that coupons aren't available.)

So how do you tell a "natural soap" from a detergent soap? You're going to have to read the ingredient list AND know what is a "chemical" and what is a vitamin description.

Soap is made up of 3 things: Lye (Either Sodium hydroxide or Potassium hydroxide) , fat(s) such as lard, olive oil, etc. and water. With fragrances or other little "niceties" thrown in. Those niceties are such things as milk, flower parts, oatmeal. Stuff that you can recognize what it is.

Now I will note here: Potassium hydroxide used to be obtained from soaking hardwood ash in water and letting the lye leach out. Sodium Hydroxide is made from regular salt that has been subjected to electrolysis to separate out the sodium. Both are "natural" in that the substances are found in nature and processed with water or other minerals to form the lye component. They are subjected to heat or electrolysis to precipitate the resulting minerals into a usable form. They have had no petroleum used in the formula and in theory, are something that could be made at home.

Kirk's Original Coco Castile lists the following ingredients on the wrapper (I'm looking at the wrapper as I type.) Coconut soap, water, vegetable glycerine, coconut oil, natural fragrance. That's it. All of the ingredients are "natural" meaning, found in nature not manufactured using petroleum or chemicals.

I also have here an ointment from Burt's Bees called Res-Q Ointment. ON THE TIN it STATES that it is 95.70% natural. Humm...Burt's is normally 100% natural, so what gives. The 4.30% "unnatural" is??? Here's the label: Sweet Almond oil, olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, wheat germ oil, tocopheryl acetate & tocopherol (vitamin E), lavender oil, comfrey leaf & root extracts. So what is "unnatural"??? And how bad is it for you? Well, I'm sorry to say that Tocopheryl acetate can be from a petroleum product, though it can also be obtained from nature in the form of vinegars. HOWEVER, both tocopheryl acetate & tocopherol (which can also be from a petroleum product) are what MOST vitamin E compounds are made of. Burt's Bees are simply acknowledging this. And the fact that they are not trying to "hide" it tells me they are a reputable company.

However, BE AWARE that companies change hands. What was once an all natural company may be sold and the NEW OWNERS may then change the ingredients on the box WITHOUT saying a word about it. The ONLY way most people find out is when they reread the label and find out that the product is not LONGER ALL NATURAL!

Case in point: Tom's Toothpaste. When I first started buying it, I read the label. There were no SLS, fluorides, etc in it. Several years later - after their 2006 sale to Colgate-Palmolive, I reread the label. Low and behold, now it not only has SODIUM FLUORIDE in it, (From a Wikipedia on fluoride: Fluorides are toxic to humans, however CaF2 is considered relatively harmless due to its extreme insolubility. ) it also has SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (shown to cause mouth ulcers aka "canker sores" and other problems with contact on the skin) and a bunch of other CHEMICALS in it. But the box STILL READS "NATURAL" on it!!! They claim the sources are "natural". Uhm...yeah, but how many chemical processes does it take to get it from a rock to sodium fluoride? And it's imported from CHINA? Oh, now I feel safe. I mean, we KNOW how well the supervise ALL chemical processes there! Or not.

If you've ever read the list on a package of regular soap it gets even better. MORE unpronounceable names than you can shake a stick at. If you do a Google on the ingredients, you will back track to petroleum products being used.

Moral to the story, read the label. If you start seeing polysyllabic words, know it's probably had chemical magic preformed on it somewhere along the way. Know that the fewer ingredients on the list or the simpler the items are, the least processing has been done on it.
It sounds intimidating, but make yourself a cheat sheet.

Lye = sodium hydroxide or Potassium hydroxide.

Tocopheryl acetate &/or tocophero = synthetic Vitamin E (I don't know where to get non-synthetic Vitamin E).

SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (aka SLS) = a surfactant (it makes bubbles) bad stuff to me. Can cause mouth ulcers and skin rashes. Found in everything from toothpaste to hair products & soaps.

Sodium Carbonate = washing soda (can be found in the Pool or Water softener section) more pure than A&H Washing soda, which has extenders in it.

Calcium Hydroxide = slake lime, pickling lime. Used in making mortar, plaster and whitewash but ALSO used to make pickles, hominy and nixtamal. And as an additive to baby formula to provide calcium.

Calcium carbonate = aka, limestone, chalk, marble. cheap antacid, blackboard chalk and used to balance the ph in a pool. It's also used as an abrasive as in toothpastes.

Ok, this list should get you started.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Emergency Preparedness Giveaway

Over on "Totally Ready" blog, they're having a giveaway for some neat preparedness items. You may be interested in some Ebooks on preparedness or the new version of "Making the Best of Basics". I have the first edition of that book and over the years, have used it a lot! It has some really good recipes in it as well as tips on making due with what you have and things you can store ahead of time so that riding out a disaster isn't as hard as it otherwise would be if you didn't have these items.