Thursday, August 21, 2014

Two Days in the Kitchen

I've been working in the kitchen for the past couple of days.  Yesterday I made cheese crackers.  I followed the directions because this was the first time I made any sort of cracker.  There was no salt in the recipe.  All crackers have salt in them.  I didn't think of it until they were ready for the oven.  I took the opportunity before they went into the oven to moisten the tops (slightly) and pop some sea salt on them.  I'm so glad I did.
For my taste there was too much parm in the finished product.  Next time I will cut the parm down by half and add a Colby to the dough, which is less potent of a taste.  On their own the crackers were too pungent.

But, I also made farmer's cheese.  Which is a first for me, as well.  I followed the directions, but instead of laying the cheese cloth over a sieve, I hung it from a cupboard knob.  I also added a bit of salt after it was done separating from the whey.

It has the consistency of cream cheese and it's very tasty.  I took a bit in a bowl and added the ingredients I normally make a cheese ball out of - one made with cream cheese.  We are talking gourmet food.  Martha Stewart couldn't have done better.  I am so happy with the outcome.

One not so good thing happened. (But, not the end of the world.)  I took the bottle of whey out in the garden to feed some to the tomato plants and dropped the glass bottle on the patio.  Nothing hit me, but I had an unplanned cleaning of the patio.

The cheese hanging over a bowl to separate the whey from the cheese.

The simple ingredients used to make the crackers.  Flour, salt, butter and cheeses.  This was turned into....

This.  Then rolled out and cut with a canning jar ring to make....

These.  I only got 16 crackers this time around because the cutter was bigger than a normal sized cracker.  A friend suggested I use the cap from a spice jar the next time.  Sounds good to me.  I may also roll the dough thinner.

This morning I took one of my large cucumbers, a tomato from the farm market stand, onion, and a pepper from the garden to make a salad.  Since my daughter and her family are coming for dinner, I made a large salad so she can take some home with her.  The meal is completed with home made corn bread, meatloaf, and green beans from - you guessed it- the garden.  Dessert will be jello with whipped cream made from fresh cream.

I consider us very  blessed to have such good, simple meals.  Gourmet?  Not for this family.

Before we eat, my son in law is putting a new light up in the kitchen for me.  he'll be hungry after all the swearing he's going to do!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Not So Good Review

I really am not one to write or think anything negative.  Life is just too short for that.  Especially at my age.  I'm writing this review because I want to save others from making the same mistake I did.  I went on a brand's reputation without researching the item.  Mistake, big mistake. (anyone know what movie this line is from?)

I bought a Food Network food processor.  We don't get along well at all.  Because I put money on it, I live with the battle to use it, but you don't have to.

The suction cups on the bottom which are there to hold the item in place, don't hold the item in place.  That is, unless you want to pick it up to put it away.  Then you have to fight with it to remove it from the counter.  This is something that would not ordinarily phase me.  A small glitch, but doable. 

What is not doable is you have to literally slap the bowl part to engage with the bottom part.  Literally.  I have to whack it to engage.  Not a little, but hard.  Then try getting the cover on to twist into the lock as well.  Again, a firm whack is needed.  Not with your fingers, with the side of your hand.  It needs plenty of pressure to engage.  Do this three times when you use the appliance and I see you will be saying words that normally are spoken in a bar room.

So, no, I don't like the appliance, one bit.  But, I paid for it so I will need to suck it up and fight every time a recipe calls for use of a food processor.

Stay safe.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Sunday was a relaxing day.  I don't normally go out on the weekends because there is so much traffic in my area when everyone is off work.  The crowds make me nervous, so I stay in the house.  I have all week to go out to get groceries or do errands, so I don't stress about driving on the weekends.  I will venture to one of my daughters' houses, though.  Offer me a free meal and I'm there.

I spent the afternoon cruising the internet.  I found a couple on yootoob who had one of the first HGTV shows, Mat Foxx and Sherry Hillar.  After watching a few of their videos I subscribed to their channel so I can watch more the next time I want to relax.  I love their comfortable decorating style and miss their input.

I also found a recipe for rosemary tea.  A year or so ago I bought a tea ball because I wanted to start drinking herbal teas.  Teas that I grew in my garden.  I forgot about my mission for one reason or another.  Yesterday I was reminded.  There's a couple of precautions you have to take when preparing the tea.  One is not to use too much rosemary.  I used half a teaspoon for an eight ounce cup.  Then the post warned not to reuse the rosemary because it can get bitter.  Other than that, you can enjoy the healthy properties of rosemary tea.  The health property it's known for is protecting the memory. A touch of honey and I was a happy girl.  Let's see if it works!

Remember that bathroom shelf I bought this past week?  I took the time to put it up in the powder room.  Other than paint, that is just what the little room needed.  I gathered things from around the house to decorate it.  That morning I read a post on one of my go to blogs that reminded me that I could decorate with greenery.  (link below)  I clipped a couple of small branches from the bushes in front of the house and added a bit of water.  I can continue to do this when the clippings die off.  Thank you Prudent Homemaker.

The shelf has two drawers and three hooks.  The wall stencils are from the Dollar Store.  The rest of the items I had around the house.  It's difficult to see, but the greenery is already starting to turn red - orange.  Other signs of an early fall include the geese that have been flying overhead in formation.

This is the only area that has anything on the walls.  My husband picked out the butterfly picture around eight years ago and a friend sent me the needle work picture as part of a new home package I received.

Link to Prudent Homemaker's blog site  The post about greenery is the second one.

In this video Sherry Hillar  makes  a decorative pillow cover.  The perfect frugal way to change the look of a room with season changes.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Shelves and Seeds

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I bought a shelf for the garage to get things off the floor.  Another reason I bought it is to be able to park my car in the garage during hurricanes and hail storms.  Like most people in the South, my car is normally parked in the driveway.  People use their garages down here for -among other things - a man cave.  It's not uncommon to see big screen TVs and a kegger sit in a garage when you pass by.  The door is wide open and the men are hooting it up while watching sports on the TV.

No man here, so I craved organization.

This pile of plastic became...

This organized unit.

I placed it on the back wall so there would be room to get out of the car.  All it took to put it together was a picture for instructions and a hammer to pound the stilts in.  Yes, I do use bug spray.  I live in the South where there are spiders that could kill a person.  The spray is used as a first line of defense.

When I finished this project (and cleaning the garage) I relaxed and turned....

into this.  A handful of radish seeds were harvested from a few of the pods on the radish plant I let bolt and go to seed.  I have more that I harvested earlier.
I surprise myself every day with the things I'm willing to learn.  Lots of yootoob on a subject, and I have gained confidence with projects I never imagined doing.

Stay safe.

Kitchen Deodorizer

I have been making my own room sprays for a few years.  Once you start, it's difficult to go back to store bought.  I know what I'm breathing in when I make my own.  My favorite is lavender, made from flowers I grew and harvested a few years back.  I still have quite a few of the dried buds.  The recipe is simple.  I use the cheapest vodka I can find and add whatever I want the spray to be,  It needs to infuse for about five weeks in a dark place.  When it's totally infused,

 it gets transferred into a spray bottle I got at Wal Mart.

Recently I came across a recipe for a room deodorizer.  Amended to fit my needs - as well as what spices I had on hand - it's suppose to rid the kitchen of cooking smells.

My recipe:
I bought a three cup spray bottle at the local Wal Mart for .87 cents.
The contents are:
1 c of water
1 c of vodka ( I have a supply that I paid 4.57 for (each one).  I use it all of the time for making sprays, so I stocked up when I found a clearance sale.)
1 c of vinegar (distilled is the cheapest.)
3 cinnamon sticks
2 t of cloves
5 anise stars
Peel from one lemon, cut in strips
2 t vanilla

Let the mix sit for three to seven days before use.

The spices you use are your choice.  I would always use vanilla and lemon or orange peel.  (Which can be frozen until needed.)

If you try this, let us know how it worked for you in the comment section.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Week's Accomplishments

Time is going so fast that it's difficult to remember this week from last.  Who am I kidding, there's times that I have to reflect on what I did yesterday!  Tee Hee.  I know I will miss a couple of things, and I may even put one in here that I posted last week.  It's OK if you just pass by it without reading.  After all, I will never know!  (I'm in a humorous mood.  This mood has always gotten me in trouble when I was a kid.  My humor tends to be rather dry.)  Come to think of it, it has gotten me in trouble within the last few months.  Oh well, life goes on.

1. Dusted the hardwoods.
2. Froze four packs of beans.
3. Made bread rolls.
4.  Bought the grands some back to school clothes.
5.  Bought a rug for the master bathroom that matches.
6.  Watched organizational videos and am finally getting the hang of it.
7.  Reorganized the bathroom cabinets.
8.  Now that I found the paint color for the powder room, I have redone some of the decorations in that room using things I have on hand.
9.  Canned four jars of cucumber salad to be used for the holidays.
10. Cut the grass, put down moth balls. (to keep unwanted critters from liking my yard.)
11. Cleaned up Marley's garden 'gifts'.
12. Cleaned the table top bird bath.
13. Watched my neighbor put up my flag.
14. Had my hair cut.  (My daughter is a stylist, so it's very easy to be relaxed as she does it at her house.
15. Packaged up the seeds I dried.
16. Fermented cucumber seeds for next year's crop.
17. Mailed four packages at the post office.
18. Visited the doctor for an annual checkup.
19. Bought a new printer.
20. Three loads of laundry.
21. Froze tomatoes from my daughter's garden.
22. Fermented tomato seeds for next year's harvest.
23. Dried pepper seeds for next year's harvest.
What have you accomplished this week?  I love to read your comments, so don't be shy.  God bless.  Stay safe.

The seeds I've dried so far.  When they are all picked and dried I will put the paper sacks in a Food Saver bag to keep them safe from deteriorating.

Breakfast Was Fit For a Queen

I feel like a queen this morning.  No I did not win the lottery.  I'm not wealthy in terms of cash and assets.  I feel like a queen because of this morning's breakfast.  A queen couldn't have eaten better food.  A queen most likely would have wanted a fancier meal, I like my simple rustic meals.

I fried up some green pepper strips in olive oil and butter.  The peppers came from my organic garden, the butter from the milkman's farm and the oil straight from Italy.  What a difference in my peppers compared with grocery store ones.

The egg came from the milkman, too.  Free range and yummy.  I added a slice of the rolls I made this week with just a tad of home made peach jam.  The combination was delightful.

I can afford to eat like this because I have altered my eating habits.  I decided quite a while back that I was tired of being sick.  I was tired of being over weight.  I was tired of remembering what food use to taste like.  I had my fill of junk foods.  I wanted to taste good food again.  In order to do that, I had to eat less.  I slowly decreased my portion sizes, a tablespoon at a time.  If I ate less, I could afford good foods. 

Let me put a disclaimer in here.  I am not a food Nazi.  It doesn't matter to me who eats what or when.  When you have a growing family there are times you have to buy what you can afford.  I also still eat junk food from time to time.  My weakness is a good jelly donut.  I can't seem to resist a good donut.  Or sometimes I crave bread dough fried and rolled in cinnamon and sugar.  I'll eat a half a loaf of bread when I make those.  I'll eat it with no guilt.  It's somehow satisfying to me.  So, no, I'm not perfect or bragging.  Just happy and content.

The scrambled eggs and peppers were a quick and easy breakfast.  While the peppers were cooking I cleaned up the dishes from a project I did this morning.  I ordered my milk for the week, and checked out Facebook.  Since the pan was already hot from cooking the peppers, the egg only took a minute to cook while the bread was in the toaster.

Other foods I eat for breakfast often are oatmeal - nice and runny with lots of salt- soft boiled eggs and Special K or Cheerios cereal.  Once in a while I add bacon to the meal, but not often, only when I crave it.  I do small tasks while the food is cooking, then sit down to eat, adding a cup of coffee when the meal is gone.

My health has improved tremendously.  I sometimes wonder if the health epidemics in this country aren't due to the additives manufacturers put in our food.  The additives are there to extend the shelf life, not to keep us healthy. 

I also eat carbs.  The ones I eat have no additives.  My blood work has never been better.  So I urge you not to follow fad diets and to check out the contents of your food.  If you can't pronounce it, try to stay away from it.

A few good snacks are:
Sun Chips (No additives)
Name brand cream cheese (no additives)
Crackers (read the ingredient list)
Block cheeses ( The shredded kind has cellulose in it -wood shavings- to keep it from clumping  Even the brand name cheese has wood shavings in it.
Carrot sticks
Celery sticks
Pepper strips
Other raw veggie
Potato chips with only three ingredients, potatoes, salt and oil
Ice cream, read the ingredient list

My food bill for two weeks is approximately sixty dollars.  I do have to tell you I'm not a big meat eater.  If I were my costs would increase.  I'll also say that my bill (for one person) only increased around four dollars with changing my food choices.

Garden peppers frying in olive oil and butter.  Try it, you'll like it

The cooked meal.  Eggs, peppers and home made bread with home made peach jam.