Monday, June 28, 2010

Lacto-Fermented Ketchup

I've wanted to try making homemade ketchup for ages so that I could can it. But I never have made it. My SIL tried some lacto-fermented ketchup last month and they liked it well enough. So I thought maybe I'd give that a try once we were running low on ketchup. Then I saw a post over at GNOWFGLINS. She was just raving about how fantastic this ketchup is. So I knew I wanted to try it. We are now running low on ketchup, so I gave it a go the other day. We tasted it for the first time tonight with dinner. Wow, is this good! Sweet with just enough of each of the different spices. Delicious! This is definitely a keeper!

Lacto-Fermented Ketchup

12 ounces organic tomato paste, no salt added
1/4 + 1/8 cup water
1/8 cup whey (or water) (I used whey)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/3 cup maple syrup

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Pour sauce into a storage container. (I used a pint mason jar.) Cover and leave at room temperature for two days. Move to the fridge after the two days have gone by.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

This is going to be a busy week. We have some fun stuff going on, though. This morning, we'll be going to the farmers markets. We'll be heading over to my in-laws' house this afternoon for a belated Father's Day celebration. Tuesday, I'm in Detroit for work. Wednesday, Kevin is going mountain biking with some buddies. Friday, we'll be going to the Silver Lake Ski Club Ski Show for the Fenton Freedom Festival with my BIL, SIL, niece, and nephews. On Saturday, Kevin is headed to Indianapolis for a boys' day with his dad, brother, and brother-in-law. My BFF Sara is flying in for the weekend, so Carson and I will be going out to Saranac in the afternoon to see her and her family. The Fenton fireworks are also on Saturday night, so if we're back in time, I'll take Carson out to the lake to see them. Lots going on, but all super fun stuff!

So I'm not really sure what I'll do in terms of extra stuff. Not sure I'll have much time for anything. If I do, I'd like to try some more lacto-fermentation. I was told there may be some local cabbage this week, so if there is, I'll pick some up to start a batch of sauerkraut. I'll also be freezing more raspberries as they ripen... at least if we continue to get more than we can eat fresh.

So here's the plan...

Sunday - farmers markets; family party at in-laws'
(start sauerkraut?)
B: scrambled eggs with swiss chard and garlic scapes
L: corn and spinach enchiladas in the crockpot
D: pizza at the in-laws'

Meatless Monday -
B: zucchini bread from freezer
L: leftover enchiladas
D: zucchini crab cakes; sauteed swiss chard and garlic scapes in EVOO; raspberries and strawberries

Tuesday - in Detroit for work
B: yogurt; raspberries; granola
L: leftovers or sandwiches
D: grilled chicken; corn on the cob from freezer; cauliflower from freezer; strawberries and raspberries

Wednesday - Kevin's mountain biking night with buddies
B: zucchini bread from freezer
L: salads with leftover grilled chicken, cucumbers, carrots, pineapple, home-dried cherries; poppyseed dressing
D: misc. leftovers or hot dogs and mac 'n cheese

Thursday -
B: biscuits from freezer; honey and/or apple butter
L: misc TBD
D: grilled steaks; broccoli from freezer; vanilla ice cream with black forest cherry sauce and cherries from the freezer

Friday - SLSC ski show
B: apples with almond butter
L: misc leftovers
D: TBD picnic dinner at the ski show

Saturday - Kevin in Indy for boys' day; Sara and Carson to Saranac to visit Sara and the Rosses; fireworks?
B: fried eggs; sourdough toast with jam
L: sandwiches; pickles; fruit
D: in Saranac

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jello Poke Cake

I made a jello poke cake back in May. I think it must have been for the Mother's Day family party with Kevin's family or maybe when we got together for Memorial Day. I can't remember now, but I know I made it in May for some family party with Kevin's family. :) This is a very simple and easy dessert to make and most people love it. I haven't made one in years. Due to time constraints, I actually ended up going to the store and picking up a cake mix. I had planned to make my own, using the recipe I used for the strawberry cake a few months ago. I used strawberry jello and covered the top with fresh strawberries. It was a hit at the party. Everyone loved it and some had seconds. Its a very moist cake and the jello gives it a good flavor. You can use any kind of jello and fruit that you want. I've made it many different ways in the past. Its very versatile.

Sorry, no picture. I must have forgotten to take one.

Jello Poke Cake

1 package white cake mix
Water, oil, and eggs (as specified on cake mix package)
12 oz Cool Whip (I used the organic and natural stuff from Whole Foods)
3 oz package jello (I used strawberry)
1 cup boiling water
fresh berries (optional)

Prepare the cake with the water, oil, and eggs, following the directions on the packet. Bake at 350 degrees in a 13 by 9 inch pan for 40 to 45 minutes and then cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Poke holes all over the cake with a fork.

Dissolve the jello in a cup of boiling water and pour the mixture carefully all over the cake. Chill for 4 hours or until the jello has completely set over the cake.

Decorate the cake with Cool Whip, add the fresh berries if you are using them, and store the cake in the refrigerator

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Water Kefir

I've not been shy in my struggles with pop. I don't know what it is (its not the caffeine), but I have such a hard time giving up pop. I've been looking for better, healthier alternatives. Yes, it'd be great if I could just swap pop for water, but I already drink a LOT of water each day, so that hasn't really worked for me. I started reading about water kefir and kombucha a few weeks back. Many people have said they've found them to be acceptable substitutes for their pop addictions. So I wanted to give it a try. I started with water kefir. I ordered some water kefir grains and started looking through recipes. Wow, there are so many ways of making water kefir! I had no idea. So I picked one to start with, just a very basic recipe. But first, I want to give you a little background about kefir.

There are two types of kefir - dairy kefir and water kefir. You need kefir grains to grow both, but dairy grains are different from water grains. Water kefir grains are more translucent and loose than dairy kefir grains. You can convert dairy grains to make water kefir, but it takes quite a bit of time and the grains will not continue to grow, as true water kefir grains do. Your body can also handle more water kefir in a given day than it can dairy kefir. You can safely drink up to 3 quarts of water kefir daily. And some sources say that water kefir's benefits and good bacteria and microorganisms are far superior to those found in dairy kefir. The typical composition of water kefir include: Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus , Lactobacillus alactosus, Lactobacillus casei casei, Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus lactis, Streptococcus cremeris, Leuconostoc mesenteroide, Saccharomyces florentinus, Saccharomyces pretoriensis, Kloeckera apiculata, Candida lambica, Candida valida. Water kefir is said to be beneficial for those with nervous disorders, ulcers, liver/gall bladder/kidney/stomach/intestinal problems, diarrhea and constipation, allergies, and many other issues. It is said to also help regulate blood pressure and helps with weight control.

Ok, so now back to my first water kefir experience. Like I said, I chose a very basic recipe for my first try. Again, I was quite hesitant to try it once it was done... but once I did, I really liked it! It tastes kind of like Sprite. Its fizzy and everything, though not quite as fizzy as pop is, but its fizzy enough for me. I am very excited to try out different water kefir recipes now and will be brewing up a couple different ones very soon, so watch for those posts in the coming weeks! I'm also on the hunt for a SCOBY to try making some kombucha soon, too!

Water Kefir

- 1 large broad opening glass container with lid - exact size depending on the amount of liquid per batch you want to make. If you make the basic recipe exactly as listed below, probably a 1.5 liter capacity container will suffice. If your glass container does not have a lid, you can simply cover it by placing a plate on top or with some plastic wrap or cloth tied with a rubber band around the opening. (I used a quart mason jar... just make sure whatever kind of container you are using, you only fill it 3/4 of the way full!)
- 1 strainer and/or pouch – depending on method used (I used a strainer this time, but will be making a pouch eventually)
- 1 spoon, non-metallic
- 1 glass jar

There are 2 known methods of dealing with the grains: the “loose grains” method and the pouch method. In the first one, you just toss the grains in the glass container along with all the other ingredients, so you will need to use a strainer for pouring each batch and washing the grains afterwards. The pouch method seems easier and better to keep your grains separate from other stuff you may want to add to the recipes and to manage the grains for washing purposes. You can easily make your own pouch with some porous cloth, like gauze or cheesecloth, folding and sewing the sides together, and using a string to tie up the top. Just make sure there’s more than enough room in it for the new grains to grow in there, as they multiply.

3 Tablespoons Water Kefir grains
1/4 cup brown sugar or 3 Tablespoons honey
1 or 2 dried figs – or any other dried fruit you prefer like dried prunes, apricots, dates, raisins, etc. (I used dates)
1/2 lemon
1 quart filtered water – only water without any chlorine should be used (it will kill your grains), so tap water is not suitable unless it’s filtered

Mix in the glass container and stir.

There are 3 different brews you can make: 24, 48, and 72 hour fermentations. 72 hours is the maximum a batch should be let to ferment. The longer it is allowed to ferment, the stronger it becomes. Note that the carbonic acid increases each day, so if your container is air-tight sealed, it could explode. (I only filled my jar up 3/4 of the way and did not tighten the lid all the way.) Covering prevent flies or bugs from getting into it. Keep out of direct sunlight and at room temperature.

It is said that 24-hour kefir acts as a laxative...

and that 48-hour kefir regulates and re-establishes intestinal function. So I did a 48-hour batch... actually it was more like 44-hours... but close enough. :)

Once the fermenting time has passed, strain the liquid, squeeze the juice of the half lemon used in it, and it’s ready to drink... although I chilled my first!

Wash the grains under running water. You can store them in a small jar of water in the fridge for about a week (add a small amount of sugar to feed them), or else you should dehydrate them. I'm planning to use mine regularly for awhile and I have so many different recipes and fruits to try, that I'm not sure when I'll have excess to actually dehydrate, but I'm guessing that will happen sooner than I think because those babies multiply like mad! My first batch nearly doubled! I was so surprised!

Whey and Labneh/Yogurt Cheese

A few weeks ago, I made whey and labneh/yogurt cheese. This is also out of Nourishing Traditions. The labneh is very similar to a whipped cream cheese that you buy at the store and can be used as such (and is how we're using ours). I needed to make this so that I would have some whey to use in some lacto-fermentation recipes that I've been wanting to try. So I gave it a go. This has to be about the easies thing I've ever done. All you do is drain the yogurt, then string it up to drip some more. It only takes a few hours and voila! You have whey and what you can use for cream cheese! Brilliant! :) I have made some spreads out of my labneh. I chopped up some chives and mixed them in. I also mixed in some chopped garlic scapes into another small amount of cheese. Both were delicious spread on crackers! I'm going to try mixing in some strawberries for some strawberry cream cheese this week. There are so many possibilities!

Whey and Labneh/Yogurt Cheese/Cream Cheese

Cheesecloth or towel for straining (I used a floursack towel)
Glass bowl
2 qts. piima milk, whole milk buttermilk, yogurt or raw milk (I used whole milk yogurt)

If you are using piima milk or buttermilk, let stand at room temp 1-2 days until the milk visibly separates into white curds and yellowish whey. If you are using yogurt no advance preparation is needed. If you are using raw milk, place the milk in a clean glass container and allow to stand at room temp 1-4 days, until it separates.

Line a large strainer set over a bowl with a clean dish towel. Pour in the yogurt or separated milk. Cover. Let stand a room temp for several hours. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer. Tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Let drain. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready.

Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in a covered glass container. Refrigerated, the labneh keeps for about 1 month and the whey for about 6 months.

Fermented Bean Paste

This was my second attempt at lacto-fermentation (the first being yogurt)... fermented bean paste. This comes from Nourishing Traditions - I've had the corner of the page turned down as a recipe to try some day since I bought the book... but I never made it. I had totally forgotten about it, actually. Until my SIL made some using pinto beans last month. I had to wait until I strained some yogurt to get whey first, though. I did that a couple of weeks ago... but just realized I haven't posted about that yet... oops! I'll post about that soon. Anyway, so once I had my whey, I was ready to give it a go. I'm glad I did. I made a half-recipe to start with. I was nervous to try it... I definitely had to build myself up for it... but I tried it. But you know what? It was quite good! I'd like to try it with other beans sometime. You can use this as a condiment and you can use it in place of refried beans (which is basically how I intend to use it mostly).

(This is a before picture. I'll try to remember to snap an after picture one of these days...)

Fermented Bean Paste

3 cups beans, cooked and drained
1 onion, peeled and coursely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp. sea salt
4 Tbsp. whey

Soak the beans for 24 hours. Stir in 2 Tablespoons whey or lemon juice when soaking black beans... if you use other beans, you just need water. Then cook your beans. I've found the easiest way is to use the crockpot. Just cover them by a couple of inches of water and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until they are done.

Place the onion and garlic in food processor and process until well chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Place in quart-sized wide-mouth jar, leaving 1 inch of space between the top of the beans and the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temp for about 3 days before transferring to the refrigerator. It might take less time if your house is hot or longer if it's cold. Serve as a dip with pita chips or tortilla chips.

Makes 1 quart.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

Oops, must have hit 'save draft' this morning instead of 'post.'....

I think this week is going to be pretty low key. We'll see. I'm really hoping I don't have to work late everyday like I did last week. That sure hinders my ability to get anything done. I did manage to get another 5 pounds of asparagus blanched and frozen as planned and made my first batch of water kefir (post to come another day), but didn't get much of anything else done. We picked up our almost half side of beef from my SIL's yesterday. We got it from the same source we did last year (my BIL's uncle) and it was fabulous beef then, so I'm sure it will be now, too! We'll definitely be trying it out this week! We are so spoiled having this great beef. Kevin and I can't even eat steaks at other people's houses or restaurants now. The taste of our beef is just so superior to the normal stuff. Even though we ate the normal stuff all our lives, it honestly just tastes gross to us now.

We'll be heading out to the lake today for a family party. Friday is my flex day. Other than that, the rest of the week is up in the air. I think its supposed to be pretty hot all week, so maybe we'll see if my SIL, niece, and nephews want to go to the splash pad at Bicentennial Park on Friday. We're trying to work out some plans to go to dinner at Mongolian BBQ with some of my cousins. That will be either Friday or Saturday. And we may be getting together with Kevin's family for a belated Father's Day celebration as we had been planning on either Saturday or Sunday, even though my SIL, BIL, and niece aren't coming now. We'll see how it plays out.

I'm hoping to have a productive week in the kitchen. Our raspberries are ripening! So I want to get some washed and frozen. I might try making a raspberry sorbet, as well. I plan to pick up another flat of strawberries (definitely organic and local... did you know that strawberries are the top fruit for pesticide use?) to freeze, dehydrate, and possibly make some syrup or sauce to can. I will also be experimenting with a little more lacto-fermentation. I really want to try making sauerkraut and kim chi, but I will wait for cabbage to be in season and on sale first. This week, I think I will try making pickled asparagus (if it is still only $1/pound at the farm stand down the road... its about the end of its season, so we'll see what they have) and pickled spicy carrots. I may try some fermented ketchup, as well. I'm going to try out another water kefir this week - a strawberry kefir, yum! I'll be making some chocolate pudding pops with Carson using some some carob powder I picked up about a month ago. And I am hoping I can make some sourdough english muffins since I didn't get a chance last week. I also need to bake another loaf of bread at some point... and get that recipe posted, too.... I am so behind. I will probably make another batch of yogurt on Friday, as well. And I know we'll be working outside a lot... doing some more seeding, weeding in the gardens, and cutting down a tree maybe.

So anyway, here's the plan.

Sunday ~ Happy Father's Day!! - family party at the lake
(roast veggies)
B: scrambled eggs with bell peppers, mushroom, ad spinach
L & D: family party at the lake... appetizers; grilled pork tenderloins; mashed potatoes; green beans; corn; strawberry shortcake; chocolate brownie trifle

Meatless Monday ~
(freeze raspberries or make raspberry sorbet; feed sd starter)
B: cantaloupe; watermelon; grapes
L: almond butter and raspberry jam sandwiches; sliced cheese; raw carrots and cukes; apple
D: whole wheat linguine with roasted asparagus, roasted carrots, spinach, spinach pesto, feta; apple slices and raspberries

Tuesday ~
(make rhubarb compote; freeze rhubarb; feed sd starter; make pickled spicy carrots; make pickled asparagus)
B: sourdough toast with cashew butter
L: leftover pasta
D: grilled porterhouse sirloin steak; grilled asparagus; corn on the cob from freezer; fresh raspberries

Wednesday ~ Allen Street farmers market
(make strawberry kefir; chop and freeze strawberries; slice and dehydrate strawberries; prep salads for Th lunch; prep meatloaf or burgers; feed sd starter)
B: fried eggs; sourdough toast
L: fermented bean dip; tortilla chips; cheese slices; raspberries and strawberries
D: salmon with rhubarb compote (didn't have it last week); broccoli from freezer we ate at my parents' house

Thursday ~
(make strawberry sauce or syrup; prep sd bread for rising overnight; feed sd starter)
B: yogurt with peanut butter banana
L: buttercrunch salads with leftover salmon; walnuts; raw milk parmesan cheese
D: meatloaf or burgers; beans and broccoli from freezer; fruit salmon with rhubarb compote (didn't have it last week); broccoli from freezer

Friday ~ flex day! Splash pad? dinner with cousins?
(make chocolate pudding pops with Carson; make sd english muffins; make sd bread; prep for sd fry bread; feed sd starter; make yogurt?)
B: omelets with veggies and cheese
L: misc. leftovers
D: navajo tacos with sourdough fry bread or Mongolian BBQ with cousins

Saturday ~ family party? dinner with cousins?
(work outside; feed sd starter; freeze more raspberries)
B: sourdough pancakes stuffed with homemade cream cheese and topped with fresh strawberries and bananas
L: leftovers or family party
D: navajo tacos with sourdough fry bread or Mongolian BBQ with my cousins or family party (we'll be getting together with the in-laws on Sunday instead... and we'll be finding another date for dinner at Mongo BBQ) so I think we'll have corn and spinach enchiladas in the crockpot instead

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sloppy Lentils

I tried a recipe from Passionate Homemaking on Monday for sloppy lentils. They are your typical sloppy joe, only meatless. And they are delicious! I liked them better than meaty sloppy joes, actually. Kevin and Carson loved them, too. Although, Kevin said he likes his meaty joes, too. :) I took some of the leftovers over to my MIL for a dinner for her and my BIL while my FIL was gone this week and they both really liked these, too.

These were fairly simple to make, as well. I actually cooked them on Sunday so we could just reheat them on Monday for dinner. My job is insane right now, so I'm finding I have to do more prep ahead than normal if we want to eat a decent dinner.

I'll update with a picture later on.

Sloppy Lentils

3 cups water
1 cup lentils, rinsed (I used brown)
salt to taste (optional)
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2-1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
3-5 tablespoons rapadura, molasses, or honey (I used honey)
1 Tbsp white vinegar
salt and ground black pepper to taste
4 hamburger buns, split

Soaking Step, optional (I did this): Allow lentils to soak overnight in warm filtered water with 2 Tablespoons acid medium (I used whey). Rinse and cook as described below.

Combine water and lentils in a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cook time may depend on the type of lentil you use, too... so keep that in mind so that you don't overcook them.

Meanwhile, cook the onions in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions have softened and are translucent. Add tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, ketchup, mustard powder, chili powder, sweetener, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes until thickened.

Drain lentils and reserve cooking liquid. Stir lentils into sauce mixture, adding cooking liquid or water as needed to obtain the desired "sloppy joe" consistency. Serve on buns.

(I cooked my lentils, then drained and used the same deep pan to make the sauce so I wasn't dirtying two different pans.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot

I made homemade yogurt a couple of weeks ago. I have been wanting to try making it for a really long time. I even had a yogurt maker on my Christmas list last year. I didn't get it, so I am trying out some different methods using appliances and other items I already have. I decided to try making yogurt in the crockpot first. It sounded very easy - too easy, really. So I gave it a go. I followed the recipe/method on A Year of Slow Cooking. It was as easy as it sounded. It is time consuming, but it involves very little active time. Unfortunately, my batch didn't turn out as thick as I'd like. I know homemade yogurt is often thinner than the store-bought stuff, but this was way too thin... it was thicker than milk, but much thinner than yogurt... it was like buttermilk. It had a good flavor, though, so I saved it (some in the fridge and froze some) and will be using it like buttermilk. After doing some reading after-the-fact, I think my heating/cooling/incubating was just off. I've since read that many people have found that turning the crock on low for 10 minutes or so every hour or two during the incubation time will help keep it warm enough so it thickens up better. Maybe I'll give that a try sometime. Anyway, I wanted to post this method, even though it was sort of a flop, for future reference if I ever do try it again.

We eat a lot of yogurt and the cost savings of making your own is just too huge for me not to try it again. A quart of homemade costs less than half of a quart of organic yogurt at the store. So I wanted to try again... so I decided to try the cooler method the day after I tried the crockpot method. I'll post again soon with my second attempt (which worked very well, by the way).

Yogurt in the Crockpot

8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk, pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized (I used pasteurized, non-homogenized milk)

1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (I used Stoneyfield Farms Organic Cream Top Plain)

frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring (optional)

thick bath towel

This takes a while. Make your yogurt on a weekend day when you are home to monitor. I used a 4 quart crockpot.

Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.

When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.

Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened---it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.

You can blend in batches with your favorite fruit. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.

Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Creamy Pesto Potato Salad

I had some red potatoes that I needed to use up. I also still have some garlic scape pesto in the freezer to use up. So I decided to make a creamy pesto potato salad over the weekend. I remembered seeing a good looking recipe on A Good Appetite last summer, so I went searching for that. I found it and had all the ingredients, so I made it up quickly over the weekend. This was very tasty! I thought it might seem a little bland, with so few ingredients, but it wasn't at all. The garlic scape pesto just gives it so much flavor.

Picture to come soon.

Creamy Pesto Potato Salad

2 lbs waxy potatoes, washed & cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 - 3 T Garlic Scape Pesto
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c mayonnaise
salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender about 7 - 10 minutes. Drain.

Mix the pesto, sour cream & mayonnaise together. Season with salt & a generous amount of pepper. Mix in with warm potatoes.

Serve warm or chilled.

Crockpot Quinoa and Chicken

I made this a week or two ago. This recipe comes from The Nourishing Gourmet. This is very quick and easy to just throw in the crockpot and its very healthy. And its so yummy, too! It is very versatile, as well. You can throw in whatever kind of veggies you like. I added some garlic and some cannellini beans to ours and was wishing I had some fresh mushrooms to throw in, too. Some spinach thrown in at the end would be really good, too!

Crockpot Chicken and Quinoa

1 cup quinoa (soaked overnight in water, than drained and rinsed in a strainer. If you don’t soak your grains still rinse to remove a bitter substance from the grain)
2 cups of chicken broth
1/2-3/4 cup of white wine (I skipped the wine and just added a little more broth)
2 cups of water
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon of salt
4-6 carrots, peeled and cubed
3 celery, sliced
1 onion, minced
2 chicken breasts or thighs
3 Tablespoons of butter (opt, for added richness and flavor)

Throw all the ingredients in your crockpot, cook on high, 4 hours or on low, 8. Shred the chicken when done, and stir into the stew and you are done!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sourdough Pancakes

I made my second sourdough product this morning (I baked bread this weekend, also... post to come). This recipe is from GNOWFGLINS. I thought these sounded pretty easy and didn't require any prep ahead the night before... I knew we'd be getting home late from the open houses, so I didn't want to have to deal with much prep last night. Anyway, these were super simple and taste great! A definite keeper recipe! I just did a half recipe this morning.

Oh-So-Fluffy Cast Iron Sourdough Pancakes

4 tablespoons melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil (not too hot)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons sweetener - honey, maple syrup, sucanat (I used honey)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla or vanilla/almond combo
a generous sprinkle of spice, see below for example blend (I just used cinnamon and nutmeg)
2 cups of sourdough starter, fed the night before
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water
fresh or frozen fruit (optional)
yogurt and maple syrup for serving (optional)

Begin by heating your cast iron skillet (I used stainless steel, a big one and a little one). You want your pan hot, but not too hot or the bottom of the pancake will burn. If you don’t get a perfect golden brown the first time you try this method, take note of what you did and make a change the next time. A golden fluffy-beyond-your-wildest-dreams pancake is worth every effort!

While the skillet is heating, take a medium size bowl and whisk together melted coconut oil/butter or olive oil, egg, salt, sweetener of choice, extract of choice, and spices of choice. Pour sourdough starter that has been fed the night before you want to make the pancakes. Stir well with whisk. Set aside.

In a small cup combine 1 tablespoon of water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Set aside.

Take a bit of butter or coconut oil and grease the bottom and sides of your hot skillet.

Pour the water/soda mixture into your waiting pancake batter. Quickly stir to incorporate.

Pour the batter into your waiting skillet, about 1/2 to 1 inch thick.

Do not let unused batter sit while you wait for your skillet pancake to finish. You might want to make one skillet pancake and finish the rest of the batter off as regular pancakes on a griddle.

Now, watch for bubbles, after about 4-5 minutes on the stove.

If you choose, now is the time to add fresh or frozen fruit. Give the fruit a little push to sink them down into the batter.

Toward the end of this initial cook time, turn on the broiler. Finish your pancake off by placing it in the oven. Do not use the very top shelf; the second or third shelf will work best. Remember, your pancake bottom will continue to cook while the top cooks and browns.

Remove from oven once tops are golden, and flip out onto a cooling rack. They are ready to dress, serve, and enjoy!

Mixed Spice Blend
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Crockpot Pizza Soup

I was going through some draft posts I'd saved a while back and realize I never posted this recipe. I made this back in April. Its from A Year of Slow Cooking and it is so good! It really does taste like pizza in a bowl. We all loved it! I'll update with my picture of it if I find it...

Crockpot Pizza Soup

1 jar (14 oz) of pizza sauce
3 empty jars full of water
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup baby tomatoes, cut in quarters (I used 1 can diced tomatoes)
2 already-cooked Italian sausage (I used 2 sweet Italian sausages (uncooked), cut/broken in chunks (casing removed))
1 cup sliced pepperoni, sliced in quarters
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1/2 Tbsp. dried)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 to 1/3 cup of dried pasta (I used organic whole wheat penne)
shredded mozzarella cheese (to add later)

Use a 5 or 6 quart crockpot for this recipe. Serves 4 hungry adults, or 2 hungry adults and 2 kids with enough leftovers to feed them all again.

Wash and prepare veggies. Dump them into the crockpot. Cut up the sausage into small pieces. Add to crockpot. Cut up the pepperoni, add it, too. Add basil and oregano. Pour in the pizza sauce, and follow with three empty jars of water.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours. Thirty minutes before serving, add the dry pasta, and turn to high. Garnish/top with shredded mozzarella cheese.


I found some remaining ground lamb in the freezer a couple of weeks back. I decided it'd be good to use to try making some jerky. Again, I've never really had a strong sense of need to make jerky in the past because I thought it was complicated or something. But Carson absolutely loves jerky and even though I always buy local stuff from some farmers nearby, I figured I should try making some at home. So, I decided to give it a try with this meat. So I went searching for a recipe. Recipes using ground meat are hard to come by! I finally found one on GNOWFGLINS. It sounded very simple and easy. So I gave it a go. It was very easy to make and didn't take much active time at all. I only used 2 pounds of meat and adjusted the recipe below accordingly for my quantities. But here is the recipe as posted on GNOWFGLINS.

I'll update with pictures and how it tastes later. I just turned the dehydrator off, so we'll try it later on today.

UPDATE: This tastes pretty good. Lamb, especially ground lamb, has a unique taste. If you like lamb, you'd like this. We like lamb, so we like it. Carson will chow this down at home, but he won't eat it when we send it to the sitter's... I haven't figured that one out yet...

Jerky (with ground meat)

3 pounds grass-fed ground beef, venison, lamb, or buffalo (I used lamb)
2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper... the original recipe calls for 8 times this amount, which is too peppery for me (I agreed...)
2 teaspoons garlic powder or granulated garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin (I used a little more)
pinch of cayenne pepper

Blend all the ingredients together in a big bowl. You may as well use clean hands. (I mixed my meat up the night before and let it sort of marinate together overnight in the fridge to fully absorb the flavors.)

Taking a portion at a time, press the meat mixture into about 1/8" thickness on a piece of natural parchment paper that is the same size as your dehydrator tray. Or use the ParaFlexx sheets that go with your dehydrator. You could also use a rolling pin to spread it out, or a jerky gun, or a cookie press with the proper tip. (I just used my hands to flatten it.)

When a sheet is full, square up the edges to your liking, using your fingers. Then use a butter knife (or a Baker's Edge) to score the meat into jerky-size pieces. Transfer the whole shebang to a dehydrator tray and put the tray in/on your dehydrator. Repeat until you've spread out all your meat mixture. This recipe fills 4 to 5 trays of a 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator, depending on the thickness achieved. (I filled 3 trays in my Nesco with 2 pounds of meat instead of 3 in this recipe.)

Set the dehydrator's temperature to 145 or 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on thickness, expect total drying time to be 12 to 18 hours. Flip over mid-way, which is usually when the jerky is curling up from the bottom and not sticking to the tray's liner any more.

You have to play with how much it "cooks" - and keep in mind that coming out of the dehydrator it is going to be much softer than it will be when it cools. Look for there to be no more pink and try to get it out of the dehydrator while it is still really soft. It is always surprising how much it hardens up once it is out.

Tear apart the pieces and put them in a bowl or tray to cool fully. Then store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Or in the refrigerator if not using up within two weeks.

Sourdough Starter

I've had sourdough bread many, many times in the past and I never really liked it. Until I had some good, homemade sourdough bread that a colleague brought into work a while back. I thought at that point that it might be fun to try making sometime, but I had no interest in the process with making a sourdough starter... it sounded too complicated. So I never tried it.

Recently, my SIL, Mary, gave it a try and said it wasn't too hard at all. So I decided to give it a try afterall. And guess what? Mary was right! It wasn't hard or complicated at all! You just have to switch to a clean, sterile bowl and add equal parts flour and water each day for a week. Just make sure you use non-plastic and non-metallic utensils and bowls. Then you can use it to make bread, muffins, pancakes, crepes, crackers, and so much more! A sourdough starter can last for generations if you keep it going, feeding it once a week.

So here's what I did... I basically followed the same method my SIL did... with one variation, noted below, based on the recipe and method in Nourishing Traditions.

Sourdough Starter

2 sterilized jars or bowls (not metal)
A non metallic spoon
A coffee filter or thin fabric (I used cheesecloth folded in half)
Rubber band
Whole wheat flour, spelt, rye (I used dark rye, which I've read will produce the best starter)
Water (if you have city water you must boil and let cool or aerate with a blender to rid it of chlorine)

The ratio of water to flour is 1:1 when starting a new sourdough starter. (I used 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to get started, then used only 1/2 cup of each for each feeding. I decided to do this based on the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, which starts with 2 cups and proceeds with 1 cup each day thereafter... but I didn't want to make that large of a starter.)

Day One
Place a 1:1 ratio of flour and water into a clean and sterilized jar (or bowl) and stir well. Cover with the filter or thin towel and set in an open area so it can start collecting natural yeast. (It is also recommended that you keep away from other lacto-fermenting or sprouting things.)

Day Two
Transfer the starter to a clean jar/bowl and feed your new pet another 1:1 ratio of flour and water in the same amount you used for day one (I used half the amount based on Nourishing Traditions' recipe). So if you used 1/2 cup for each, you'll use 1/2 cup again. Stir well, cover, and set back out.

Days Three Through Six
Again, each day you'll feed your starter a 1:1 ratio of flour and water (in a clean jar/bowl). It will start to get bubbly (and will start to smell like wine) and you'll also notice it separate a bit and get a watery layer. Don't worry, this is totally normal.

Day Seven
Your starter should now have gone through the bubbly stage and smell somewhat 'sour'. Transfer to a clean jar and feed it one more time.

At this point it is ready to use! You can now do one of 2 things.

1. Test out some new recipes! Just make sure you feed it again before you put it in the fridge to store.


2. Cover and pop it right in the fridge for use later.

Care and Feeding of your Starter:
Upkeep on a starter is very simple. If you do not use your starter for one week, transfer to a new jar or bowl, feed it a 1:1 ratio of flour and water, and set it back in the fridge. OR, after you use it for a recipe, feed it the same 1:1 ratio and let it sit out again for just a couple hours before storing in the fridge.

If your starter starts getting a bit to thin, go ahead and pour out the watery layer that settles at the top.

Meal plans and the week ahead

This will be a pretty tame week. Although, it could end up feeling more chaotic, like it did last week, if work gets crazy again. So we'll see how it goes.

Today, Jaime and Jeff fly back to Arizona. We won't be seeing them today, but we did get to see them a few times last week. It was so great! I miss Jaime so much, living out in Phoenix! She and I went to get pedicures on Monday, which was very nice! Then we saw them on Friday night at Lisa's house. And we saw them again at Jaime's brother's open house last night. Carson was so sweet, telling them he loves his Auntie Jaime and Uncle Jeff - so cute!

Anyway, back to the plans... We really don't have any plans until the weekend. I might meet up with a friend one night this week to do some biking, but its not definite yet. I have to go pick up another CSA order on Friday after work. This time I just ordered some braeburn and some gold rush apples; rhubarb; snow peas; pork tenderloin, spare ribs, and boneless chops. We may or may not head to Rochester Hills to our friends' house on Friday night. We'll see what time we get home from work and what Carson is feeling up to. Saturday we're heading to Grand Rapids. We're waiting on the weather and a couple other things before we finalize our plans for the day. We will possibly go out to Holland in the morning and then to Kevin's grandparents' farm in the afternoon. We'll also be swinging by my BIL's and SIL's house to pick up our half-side of grass-fed beef! It will be a fun day!

Since we don't have much going on during the week, we're hoping to get some more work done on the front yard. We were delayed again last week with rain, but we still made good progress. Our side yard is graded and seeded. Now we're working on the front yard. The rototiller broke, though, so that may delay us a little while Kevin fixes that.

I haven't entirely decided what extras I'm going to do this week. I know I want to make a fermented black bean paste. And I'm planning to pick up about 10 pounds of asparagus from the farm stand down the road to blanch and freeze most of it. I've decided to try making some new drinks - to see if I can find a healthy alternative to my pop. I ordered some water kefir grains last week. I might try making some water kefir this week once they arrive. I might also make some sourdough english muffins or sourdough berry muffins.

Sunday ~ farmers markets
(cook lentils that were soaked last night; cook black beans that were soaked yesterday and last night; make fermented black bean paste; slice veggies for snacks and lunches; work outside in the yard)
B: sourdough pancakes; strawberry syrup
L: buttercrunch salads with crispy pine nuts, cucumbers, carrots, tomato, and roasted asparagus
D: grilled pork chops; grilled potatoes; broccoli from freezer; fruit salad

Meatless Monday ~
(ferment bean paste; blanch and freeze asparagus; make rhubarb compote; clean kitchen and bathroom)
B: sourdough toast with almond butter; banana
L: jerky; raw milk colby cheese; crackers; strawberries
D: sloppy lentils; roasted asparagus; steamed snap peas; strawberries

Tuesday ~
(ferment bean paste; vacuum and dust entire house; work outside)
B: protein bars
L: leftover sloppy lentils, veggies, and strawberries
D: salmon with rhubarb compote; roasted asparagus; roasted cauliflower from freezer

Wednesday ~
(ferment bean paste; work outside)
B: apples with almond butter
L: leftover salmon, asparagus, and cauliflower over buttercrunch lettuce from our garden
D: grilled chicken breasts; beans and corn on the cob from freezer; fresh fruit

Thursday ~
(make water kefir?; make sourdough english muffins or berry muffins?; work outside)
B: sourdough toast with cream cheese and cashew butter
L: S - out for sushi for Lisa's birthday; K & C - misc.
D: chicken enchilada bake; fermented black bean paste; tortilla chips

Friday ~ CSA pickup; Rochester Hills?
(make water kefir?)
B: sourdough english muffin with cream cheese or sourdough berry muffin?
L: leftover enchiladas
D: Rochester Hills? or misc. or TBD

Saturday ~ Grand Rapids
B: scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms
L & D: in GR or on the road
Snacks for the car: sliced apples with almond butter; raw veggies

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rhubarb Banana Rosemary Muffins

I tried a new muffin recipe from Simply Fresh over the weekend. I had ordered some organic rhubarb from my online CSA and wanted to try some new things with it. So I thought these sounded great. And they were so good! They're pretty dense, but they are very good and filling.. a wonderful breakfast muffin! I made 12 rhubarb banana rosemary regular muffins, 24 strawberry rhubarb banana rosemary mini muffins, and 6 strawberry rhubarb banana rosemary regular muffins with this recipe.

Rhubarb Banana Rosemary Muffin

7 - 8 stalks of Rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP maple syrup
2 ripe bananas peeled and mashed
1 egg
1 TBSP baking powder
1 TSP baking soda
1/4 TSP salt
1 TBSP dried rosemary
3 cups whole grain flour
1 cup water

Wash and cut rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a small pot with sugar and 1/2 cup water. Boil until rhubarb has broken down into almost a jam like texture. Let cool.

In a large mixing bowl add the cooled rhubarb mixture to all other ingredients. Add the cup of water slowly until you reach your desired muffin batter consistency. Depending on the moisture level of the rhubarb mixture you may need to add more or less water at this stage.

Bake in a lined or oiled muffin tin at 350 for 25 minutes or until a fork inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Still trying to catch up on posts... though I think this is the last one for right now... more to come later!

This is another recipe from the Gluten Free Girlie. This is a super easy, simple, tasty summer side salad. We all really like it. Definitely a keeper and I've made it twice now!

Creamy Cucumber Salad

1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and keep chilled before and after serving.

Crockpot Breakfast Risotto

I made another recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking. This time for a breakfast risotto. This was pretty good. It was kind of strange eating rice for breakfast, but it was tasty, at least. We all liked it. I'll make it again sometime and I'd like to try out some other variations.

I forgot to take a picture.

Crockpot Breakfast Risotto

1/4 cup butter
3 little apples
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t cloves
1/4 t kosher salt
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 cups of liquid. I used a tiny can of apple juice, and half and half for the rest (I used non-homogenized whole milk)
(I added a splash of vanilla)

Turn your crock to high and add the butter so it can start melting. Wash and cut up your apples while it begins to melt. Add the rice to the butter, and stir it around to coat it nicely. If the butter isn't completely melted, don't worry. Add the apples, and spices. Stir in the juice/milk. Cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours, or on low for 6 or so.

Meal plans and the week ahead

This week will be another fun week. My BFF, Jaime, is going to be home from Phoenix!! I'm so excited to see her, so is Carson (she's his Godmother)! So we'll be seeing Jaime and Jeff a few times this week. Jaime and I are planning to get pedicures on Monday night and I have a hair appointment with my friend, Destiny. Tuesday, we may go to the Silver Lake Ski Club ski show. I might take the afternoon off on Thursday to hang out with Jaime, too. Friday is my flex day. I think Carson and I will make a trip down to Rochester Hills to do some Trader Joes and Whole Foods shopping since I didn't end up going last week. Then we'll be going over to Lisa's house for a BBQ with Jaime and Jeff and lots of friends. Saturday has to be the #1 most popular day for high school graduation open houses this year. We're invited to five of them on that same day... all over the state. I think we'll probably just end up going to my cousin Zachary's open house here in Swartz Creek... but we might make a trip out to Saranac to my other BFF Sara's brother's open house... I just wish she was here for it!! But it'd be so good to see her family, we're just not sure we can swing both with their start and end times yet.

Even with all the fun stuff going on this week, I'm hoping to get a few extras done, at least. On Friday night, I started making a sourdough starter, so I'll be feeding that every day this week and baking bread next weekend. Yesterday I made yogurt (post to come later). I'm planning to make a loaf of honey whole wheat bread this morning and will also be hulling, chopping, and freezing the flat of fresh, local strawberries that I picked up at the Lansing City Market (our big, indoor, year-round farmers market). I'll also be chopping and freezing some fresh, local organic rhubarb from my CSA order. Gotta re-stock the freezer with fresh, local berries! I'm planning to make whey and cream cheese this week (with my homemade yogurt) so that I have them for some recipes next week. We'll also be doing more work out in the yard, too. The rain last week set us back on our front yard grading, so we'll be working on that some more and getting more grass seed planted, hopefully.

Here's the plan...

Sunday ~
(feed starter - day 3; make bread; freeze strawberries; freeze rhubarb)
B: broccoli parmesan scramble
L: misc. leftovers
D: golabki from the freezer; green/yellow beans from freezer; strawberries

Meatless Monday ~ pedicure with Jaime; hair appt.
(feed starter - day 4)
B: yogurt with granola and strawberries
L: leftover golabki; raw veggies
D: buttercrunch salads with home dried cherries, walnuts, mandarin oranges, and raw mozzarella with vinegar/oil dressing; homemade bread

Tuesday ~ ski show?
(feed starter - day 5)
B: scrambled eggs with bell peppers, mushrooms, and local raw cheddar
L: misc... cheese/crackers; raw veggies; salad; apples with almond butter; strawberries
D: portable so we can do a picnic at the ski show if we go... cashew avocado chicken salad sandwiches; strawberries; carrots sticks; cucumber slices; bell pepper slices

Wednesday ~
(feed starter - day 6; clean kitchen and bathroom; work outside?)
B: rhubarb banana muffins
L: cashew avocado chicken salad sandwiches; raw veggies
D: zucchini tacos made with zucchini from the freezer; broccoli from freezer

Thursday ~
(feed starter - day 7; vacuum and dust entire house; work outside?)
B: smoothies (trying to use up lots of frozen fruit before it comes into season again!)
L: misc. leftovers
D: hot dogs on the grill; grilled asparagus; fresh strawberries

Friday ~ flex day; Trader Joes/Whole Foods?; BBQ
(make sourdough bread; make whey and cream cheese)
B: rhubarb banana muffins
L: zucchini crab cakes made with shredded zucchini from freezer
D: BBQ at Lisa's

Saturday ~ graduation open houses
(work outside in the morning)
B: tbd...
L & D: graduation open house(s)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Glass Cleaner

This is a new glass cleaner for me. I'd been using vinegar before, but this works much better! And its very simple - only one ingredient! This glass cleaner is great - its safe, healthy, and has no nasty ammonia smell!

Picture to come soon.

Club Clean Glass Cleaner

club soda
8 or 16 ounce spray bottle

Fill the bottle with plain club soda. Spray and wipe with a lint-free cloth.

If your windows are extra dirty, wet your rag with club soda, add a small sprinkle of baking soda or a small squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent, then wet your rag again.

All-Purpose Cleaner

I had been using a vinegar-based all-purpose cleaner that I do still use, but I do really like this one so far, too.

Dishy Wishy Washer All Purpose Cleaner

liquid hand-dishwashing detergent (recommended Palmolive in book... I used Meijer Naturals)
spray bottle

Use 1 teaspoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent for an 8-ounce spray bottle of water, or 1 Tablespoon of detergent for a 16-ounce bottle, or 2-3 squirts of detergent for a bucket of warm water.

Its important to dilute the liquid detergent properly. Making lots of suds means making lots of work rinsing. If you do end up with too much detergent, you can remove the residue with a scented vinegar rinse.

Cost comparison from book - $4.35 (Fantastik) vs. $0.35 (Dishy Wishy Washer). Savings of $4.00 per bottle

Antiseptic Spray

Disinfectants are designed to kill germs. They are also often toxic in nature do to this "killing" action. The first ingredient in many disinfectants (including Lysol) is actually a registered pesticide. I don't really use disinfectants much and have never really relied on them for killing viruses or other "sick" germs. I rely on hand washing and fresh air mostly. But I do like to have them on hand for using after I have been working with raw chicken, on the toilet seat, and on the fridge handle, phone, and door handles at times. So I decided to give this one a try.

Picture to come soon.

Merlin's Magic Antiseptic Soap Spray

liquid soap, vegetable-based Castile, unscented or eucalyptus scented (I used unscented)
purified water
tea tree oil
16oz squirt or spray bottle

Fill the bottle almost full with water and then add 3 Tablespoons of liquid soap to prevent the bottle from sudsing up as you fill. Because minerals inhibit the cleansing power of soap, it is best to use purified or distilled water. Add 20-30 drops or more of the tea tree oil for antiseptic power. Shake to mix.

Cost comparison from book - $2.99 (Lysol spray) vs. $1.10 (Merlin's Magic). Savings of $1.89.

Floor Cleaner

Next up is a floor cleaner from Clean House, Clean Planet. This works very well!

Momma's Earth Mop Floor Cleaner

white distilled vinegar
pure essential oil (I used lemon)
16-oz squirt bottle

Fill the bottle with equal amounts vinegar and water. Ad 15-20 drops essential oil. Shake to mix.

Squirt this refreshing cleaner directly onto the floor and wipe clean with a rag or mop. Use it for linoleum, tile, polyurethane and finished wood floors.

Vinegar is a natural acid that has quick cleaning power and helps to remove the film that typically builds up on floors. If you have an especially dirty, greasy floor, you may want to use a liquid dishwashing detergent (Palmolive, Dial, etc.) first.

If you want to use a full gallon of vinegar and water, mix in about 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon essential oil.

Scented vinegars are also great for removing odors left by pet stains, vomit, mildew, sour milk, and more. Vinegar is reputed to have some germ-killing action, as well.

For extra cleaning power for smudges and scuff marks, sprinkle on a little baking soda, rub, then squirt on the Momma's Earth Mop for a fast-action fizz that dissolves dirt quickly.

Cost comparison from book - $6.09 (Mop 'n Glo) vs. $0.73 (Momma's Earth Mop).

Air Freshener

I've had the book, Clean House Clean Planet, by Karen Logan, for more than a year now. I read through the first few chapters and even tried out some recipes when I first got it, but haven't touched it since. I came across it while cleaning the other week and gave it another read. I've since been making some new household products and I wanted to share some of them. First up, air freshener.

Do you know what is really in a commercial air freshener? PDCBs, naphthalamenes, formaldehyde, sodium bisulfate, glycol ethers, ethanol and other alcohols, propellants, and synthetic fragrances. We don't really know what this chemical cocktail really does to our bodies or what the health effects are. I don't want to take the risk anymore, but I really hate stinky smells. And I don't think I can go without some sort of air freshener, so I decided to make my own. Its incredibly simple!

Picture to come soon.

Nature Made Odor Absorber

white distilled vinegar
pure essential oil of your choice (I used lemon, but want to get some lavender to try next)
8oz fine-mist spray bottle

Fill your spray bottle with vinegar. Add 20-30 drops of your favorite pure essential oil. Shake before each use.

Spray to absorb the unpleasant odor. Great for bathroom and kitchen. Spray-mist area and leave the room. This is meant to absorb the odors, not to enjoy the sweet smell.

Cost comparison from book - $1.43 vs. $0.48... a savings of $0.95 each time you refill the bottle.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Crockpot Pulled Pork

I made this for dinner one night this week. Its from A Year of Slow Cooking. This was very good and very simple to throw together in the morning before work. Definitely a keeper recipe. We all really liked it a lot - Carson wanted a second sandwich, even!

I forgot to take any pictures.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 onion, sliced in rings
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon gluten free Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
(I also added a bit of honey)

Use a 6 quart crockpot. Trim meat, and place into your crockpot. Add sliced onion. Squeeze in 2 cups of ketchup, and then pour 1/2 cup warm water into the ketchup bottle and shake. (I skipped this and just added the water.) Pour the ketchup-y water into your crock. Add vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, Tabasco and salt.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork. Serve over rice, or make sandwiches on rolls or sliced bread.