Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Laundry Detergent...why buy when you can DIY???

Why buy when you can DIY???  I am home today from work and realized that I have a lot of dirty laundry and am almost out of my detergent.  Believe it or not but at the time of this blog post, I have not bought any prepared laundry detergent in the past 9 months.  I had found instructions for homemade gel/liquid laundry detergent and have made some modifications.  The original instructions produced a very thick clumpy product that worked fine but would occasionally leave a white residue on my laundry.  Through trial and error, I have come up with a concoction that works great for me.  It leaves my clothes very fresh smelling and clean!  It is low sudsing and should work well in HE machines as it does not leave any residue behind.  It will have some separation in the finished product but just give it a good shake and it is just fine.  To make 6.21 L or 210oz follow the instructions below.  Adjust amounts for other size bottles.

See my pretty flowers from my sweetheart for Valentine's Day?

What you will need:

1 empty repurposed large liquid laundry detergent plastic container (Mine is a see through plastic and holds 6.21 L or 210 oz.)

1/3 of a 5 ½ bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap (in the laundry isle)

1/3 cup Borax Laundry Booster

1/3 cup Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda!!)

6.21 Liters of very hot water

A grater that you will designate just for shredding up the bar soap

A funnel is nice and will make the job much easier but not necessary

This is how you do it….

  1. Grate 1/3 of the bar of Fels-Naptha bar soap into a large sauce pan.
  2. Add approx. 6 cups of hot water to the pan and heat and stir until all of the soap is dissolved.
  3. While the water is heating up you can remove the easy pour insert in the neck of the laundry bottle by sticking your finger into the opening and hooking under the lip with your finger pull straight up.  It is a tight fit but you should be able to pull the insert out.  It will get easier each time.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the Super Washing Soda and mix until dissolved.
  5. Add 1/3 cup of the Borax Laundry Booster and mix until dissolved.

  6. Pour the mixture into the laundry bottle.  Push the insert back into the opening of the bottle making sure you line it up in the right direction and fill the bottle with the hot tap water up to the top.
  7. Replace the cap and shake up the bottle. 

You can use the detergent right away while it is still hot but it will be very liquidy.  Once the detergent has cooled (usually 6-12 hours) it will thicken up.  Make sure the shake the bottle well before each use.  You only need one capful of detergent for each load of laundry.  It will not suds up but does not need to in order to clean your clothes.  I add about 20 drops of Patchouli Essential Oil to the hot mixture and mix well.  However, the scent of the Fels-Naptha soap is so clean and fresh it is great without any additional fragrance.

I store my supplies for making my detergent in an emplty cat litter container.  I am still using the first box of borax and washing soap that I bought 8 months ago.   

Sunday, February 12, 2012

They dogs will play when the humas are away!

The dogs will play when the humans are away.  So, let me set this up a little.  Our house is a rather small dwelling.  It houses two of my three adult children, my husband and myself.  It also is home to two cats and three dogs.  I love all that live under this roof.  The children are not home much.  The two cats keep to themselves.  The dogs on the other hand are a different story.  Gordy (he is really my son’s but has lived in this house since he came to be part of our family) is a 120 lb. 3 ½ year old yellow lab.  Sami is about 45 lbs. and is a 7 year old chocolate lab/Chesapeake Bay retriever and Polly is a 10 lb. 1yr old Teddy Bear doggie.  All three dogs are very loving and make a great pack.  They are best friends and I believe that they conspire against us when we are not home.  Here is the story of today as I believe it unfolded when nobody was home…..

Polly:  Hey guys, they just left the house.

Sami:  Yeah, I just saw the car turn the corner, they are gone for a while.  I heard them saying they were going out to dinner for Grandma Hazel’s 86 birthday.

Gordy:  Dah…I can see some food up on the counter towards the back.

Polly:  What is it?  I love to eat and chew anything.

Sami:  You both know how upset mom got yesterday when you ate mom’s chocolate baking bar!

Gordy:  I bet she will not even notice if we eat just a little.  I will knock the cocoa powder off the counter and we can go nuts!!!

Polly:  Do it Gordy!


Gordy:  I get it first I knocked it down.

Sami:  Polly, do you really think mom won’t notice that your white beard is now brown!

Polly:  I am so cute she will love me anyways.

Sami:  How are we going to clean all the chocolate mess off the light colored carpet?

Gordy:  I will just lick it up!

Polly:  I will help and I will try to chew up the container so there is no evidence left.

Sami:  Hey Gordy, did you notice that when you lick the powder on the carpet it makes it darker and grinds it into the carpet further?

Polly:  They are home, let’s just love them up when they walk in the door and they will never see the terrible mess we made! 

So, that is what happened I think.  I am hoping that the carpet shampooer will take care of the big chocolate stains in the carpet.  What a mess!

Gotta love my big and little fur babies!  Brian says he is tired of the pets but I know he still loves them.  And…Polly needs a good face washing now.  I noticed the chocolate face the minute the door opened before I even got to the real mess.  J  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Martinis, Tomato soup and Almost Guiltless, flourless, low sugar Chocolate Cake!!!

I strained out the milk solids from my Milk Liqueur on Wednesday night.  Boy was that a project!  I had three of my funnels out and lined them with the tapered coffee filters that I have had up in my cabinet for several years.  I placed the funnels on top of my quart canning jars and very slowly clear pale yellow liquid dripped into the jars.  I found that the milk solids were quick to clog the filters up and I had to change out the paper filters often.  Therefore, I would suggest that if you are going to try this project at home only put 2 tablespoons of the liquid into the filters at a time.  It took over an hour of managing the three jars and I was still only about 2/3 of the way through what needed to be strained.  So, I set the jars and filters up in a corner of my kitchen, filled up the funnels and left them overnight.  In the morning it had all managed to filter through.  I got just over a pint of finished product.  It is very sweet and lemony.  I am thinking that it would be good in a lemon drop martini!  Maybe I will try Lemony Mango martini while I move on to my next project…..I just got to remember that that the alcohol content is the same as the vodka that I started with. 
That is the Milk Liqueur in the jar on the left and my Lemony Mango martini in the middle.  Got the glass at Sea World, FL

I was very fortunate to receive a gently used stove/convection oven from a friend of ours that upgraded.  It is full of some really neat features that I just cannot wait to try.   However, the projects today will not require any special features. 

Yummy Tomato Soup
Oops, my drink ended up in the picture!

1 quart of canned tomatoes
1 can of tomato soup
½ yellow onion chopped
½ green bell pepper
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tbs. of oil oil 

1.        Sauté your onions, garlic and green peppers in 1 tbs. of olive oil

2.       Add the canned tomatoes and basil leaves

3.       Puree with a hand blender in the pan

4.       Mix in the can of tomato soup

5.       Simmer until ready to eat.  I put it in the martini glass because I thought it was fun!  Anything is fun in a martini glass!!! 

Flourless low sugar Chocolate Cake

4 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz. of semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz of of very strong coffee (works great with a French coffee press)
There is my drink again but the contents are a little lower!
¾ cup of splenda
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup heavy cream
Berries for garnish
Powdered sugar for garnish
Nonstick butter spray
Parchment paper
Ice bath

1.        Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

2.       Spray an 8-inch round pie or cake pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper

3.       Put the bittersweet chocolate, butter, vanilla and coffee on top of a double boiler.  Stir the mixture until combined and smooth.

4.       Remove the mixture from heat and put the pan into the ice bath to cool down a bit.

5.       Add the sifted cocoa powder and beaten eggs and mix until smooth

6.       Pour into the prepared pie/cake pan and cook for 20-25 mins.

7.       Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 mins.  Then invert onto a parchment lined plate and allow to cool for 10 mins. or until set.

Chocolate Ganache topping to serve over top of cake with berries and powdered sugar

1.        Put the swemisweet chocolate into a bowl

2.       Heat the heavy cream until hot stirring to prevent any scourching and burning

3.       Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and mix until all of the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream

4.       Pour over the cake and garnish with the berries and powdered sugar

This is so yummy!  I will do again.  I am sure the cake will not last the night.
What is better then a martini?  My almost guiltless flourless, low sugar Chocolate Cake in a martini glass! 

Note:  you may make the Chocolate Ganache ahead of time and reheat when ready to serve.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Do I smell homemade PIZZA?

Today is Funday Sunday! Super Bowl day! So…sto andando fare la pizza casalinga crust e tutte le guarnizioni! Amo la pizza e niente confronta a pizza che producete al vostro proprio gradimento!  Okay, I do not speak Italian either but I hope if anyone reading this does that my statement will make sense.  I am going to make homemade pizza crust and all the toppings!  I love pizza and it nothing compares to pizza that you make to your own liking!  It is not very hard to do, you just need a little more time to make it then you do if you are going to make one of the not so yummy frozen varieties!

For the crust you will need:
2 ¼ tsp. of yeast or one packet of the little buggers!
1 cup of water
2 tbs. of olive oil (I use 100% pure EVOO) plus more to coat dough and bowl.
1 tsp. of salt
2 ½ - 3 cups of flour (I use a good bread flour. But, use the stuff you like best)
A good size bowl and two strong hands!
Let's do it!!! 

1.     Fill your measuring cup with 1 cup warm water and sprinkle your little yeasties on the top of the water.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes until the yeasts start to get foamy.

2.    Put 2 ½ cups of flour into your bowl and form a pit in the center.

3.    Add the salt, oil and your yeastie water into the flour pit.

4.    With a freshly washed, jewelry-free hand dig in and mix it all up.

5.    If, after all of your ingredients are well incorporated your dough is sticky and does not form a nice elastic ball (as in above picture), add more of the remaining ½ cup of flour.  Keep adding until you get a nice firm elastic minimally sticky ball.  I just keep kneading the dough right in the bowl.  I do this with my bread dough also and it works great and reduces my mess.

6.    Put about 1 more tbsp. of EVOO into the bowl and roll your dough ball in it until the ball and the inside of the bowl are coated with oil.

7.    Cover your bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a draft free location for about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.  While this is going on you can choose to get your blog entry started, chop your pizza toppings up or sit back and just breath in and out!  :) 

8.    Punch down dough, divide in half and left rest for about 5 minutes.

9.    You can either flour a surface and rolling pin and roll out your dough into the size and thickness you want for your pizza or just start spreading it with your hands and finger off a surface (like the fancy pizza making guys on TV).  I like to do it the second way.  Click on the video clip to see me in action!  Oh, I know, I do not look exactly like the fancy guys on TV but you get the idea.

10. When you get it close to the way you want it put it on a pizza pan or stone which has been oiled a little with the EVOO.

11. Spread out the dough to fit the pan and form a slight ridge around the edge.

12.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 – 30 mins. until the crust is a nice    golden color. 

13. Remove from oven and let cool before loading it up with your favorite toppings.
14. Load it up, and pop it into a 425 degree pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

I am going to give one away to the grown-up kids for their game day celebration later and the other one will be mine and my hubby's dinner. 

Senta l'odore della pizza e continu aare respirare!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What the hey? People are crazy!

This has been a very long and busy week.  I have been watching my sauerkraut go from a beautiful shade of celery green to a yellowish color.  It is resembling sauerkraut more then shredded cabbage which is a good thing.  I snuck a little piece out of one of the jars and it even tastes like sauerkraut!  Yahoo!!!!  I am proud of myself for holding off on straining the Milk Liqueur.  I usually am very impatient but I know that if I can hold off until the 8th, I will get the best results. 

I took a trip to Goodwill today with my sister and was able to find some cute little liqueur sipping glasses for tasting the stuff when it is done.  Even found two cool bottles to store it in if there is any left.  Even if we drink it all, I will have to make more and then I will be all set to store the stuff in. 

I will have to get some big batches of my cranberry wine started soon.  I would love to have a bunch of bottles to donate to my daughter's wedding.  I will post the making of the wine on this site.  It is very easy to do.  The cranberry wine does not take long to make and it seems to be the favorite.

Oh, this is crazy.....my sister and I were at Menards today and when you walk in the front door they usually have a table of stuff they have on clearance.  Well, we spotted a bunch of spray hand sanitizer for 5 cents each.  There were a total of 36 bottles and so we decided that we were going to buy it all up.  What a great deal!  Well, I was happy about my find and I believe that my sister was also when all of a sudden a very strange lady told me that I was not nice.  I asked her why and she stated "what if someone else wanted to buy some and you took it all?"  My sister was speechless and I just looked at her and said "well they are selling it and I am a nurse and will use it."  To which she replied that she was a nurse also.  So, I offered to let her take some if she wanted to buy it.  She declined and walked away.  I turned to my sister and said "Oh my gosh, what a b&%*h!"  Loud enough for the very sweet, kind lady to hear.  I am still puzzled over the whole thing.  The store was selling it and I was buying it.  It was not like they were giving away samples and I was filling my pockets with free stuff?

I am going to make pizza tomorrow after church, breakfast and I think perhaps a Bloody Mary!

Until then........find the wisdom to breath!