Bread baking

I haven’t made homemade yeast bread in many years.  Time is one reason, but really, if I make it, I eat it, and heaven knows I don’t need the carbs….or the butter that I will undoubtedly slather on it. I was always good at making it, from my very first loaf, and the first month I learned how to do it I gained 5 lbs.  So there you have it.

I baked bread frequently, though, when I had a house full of kids.  It was an inexpensive way to dress up whatever cheap dinner was being made for 5 or more people.  I made plain breads, fancy breads, rolls, quick breads, muffins, etc.  I was a stay-at-home mom and it was my pleasure to do this.

I baked my first one in many years last week as a gift and since the recipe made two loaves, of course WE ate the 2nd loaf.  I could do no less after poor Jim had smelled it baking, right?  And then I promised him I’d make us our own batch soon, so today was the day.

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Can you smell it?  Mmmmmmmmm……

Christmas was a fine time and now I have some organizing to do before beginning some projects.  I am truly hoping 2013 is my last year of being employed.  My plan is to retire at the start of 2014 and get on with the things I like to do and want to do.  Hope the economy lets me do that!

Happy New Year!

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Thrifted treasure

Sometimes thrifting adventures come up empty, but on my last trip to the camper I found a few great things.  I found a full-sized tablecloth that matches some yard sale napkins I bought a year ago.  It is all pastel squares with a raised twill plaid stripe running across it in about 2 inch squares.  I won’t likely use this for a tablecloth because the colors just don’t suit me. (It is just too feminine for most of the family dinners I host) but it will make great fabric for future projects.  I’m thinking purses, tote bags, clutches, etc., or maybe the lining of something.  It’s quite sturdy.  And only cost me $2.00!

I found a lightweight cotton dress for a couple of dollars that has lots of fabric for doll sewing or charitable baby sewing.  It’s a pale yellow with tiny white flowers.  $2.

The big treasure, though, was this cotton velveteen Old Navy jacket for $4.00.

The shape is pure ME….too bad it is not my size….and look at the sleeve detail!…..

and the rhinestone buttons!  The buttons alone would be worth at least $10 purchased new.  Look at the lovely welted pocket.

I even liked the classy, silky lining, even though it is a synthetic fabric.

I bought this blazer for the velveteen fabric and the buttons.  I once made a suit with the exact same fabric for the collar and button flaps.  But I am faced with a dilemna: I am having trouble cutting it up.  I know, I know, I said I bought it for the fabric.  But it’s a gorgeous jacket, made to be worn by someone who will love it as much as I do.  My daughter might fit it, but it is not her style.  I think I know someone who will fit the size and style perfectly, so I’m going to check that out before I take scissors or seam ripper to it.

The person I have in mind probably doesn’t care for the rhinestone buttons and would want to replace them with more natural materials, maybe even wooden ones, but that’s fine, too, ’cause it means I can keep my buttons 🙂

This little blazer is making me very happy.  Right now, I’m just looking at it, but when I get the chance to check out the situation, it might make someone else happy, as well.  And that’s pretty good for $4.00.

ADDENDUM:  My pretty blazer found a home today, which made me happy all over again 🙂  11/24/2012

Homemade laundry detergent revisited

I promised a report after using the first batch of homemade detergent and I’m happy to report that it was a success.  I got about 6 weeks out of that batch and I’m quite pleased with that for the cost, which was considerabley less than the equivalent in commercial detergent.  I never saw any excess sudsing, which was important to me with my h.e. washer.  I still use my Oxyclean when I’m doing lights or whites, only use chlorine bleach about once a month on my whites, and pre-treat stains, if necessary.  I didn’t see any difference in the results of how clean things came out. 

I did begin using white vinegar in my rinse dispenser and I’m pleased with that, too.  I haven’t used any fabric softeners for many years because of skin sensitivities and the oily residue it leaves on the fibers.   I use rubber dryer balls when I use the dryer, but it’s even better with the vinegar and terribly cheap.

So don’t be afraid to go for the recipe and it works safely with the h.e. washers!

Another homemade……this time dishwasher detergent.

I’ve been pleased, so far, with my homemade laundry detergent and figured the next thing to try was the dishwasher detergent.  Used the recipe from http://simplydesigning.blogspot.com/2011/05/hard-water-stains-dishwasher-detergent.html  that I had found through Pinterest.    So far it’s working really well.  I did follow the advice to use the Lemishine first in the washer with no dishes to get it clean.  I also am using white vinegar in my rinse dispenser.   My dishes are as clean as I ever remember, but time will tell if is going to continue.  I think as long as the white vinegar is in there, it’s going to be really successful. 

There are a lot of comments in the link for the recipe about clumping of the mixture.  The suggestion for stirring it often for the first 24 hours is helpful, but I found that it took several days (3-4) of doing so before it stopped continuing to clump.  I have lots of very small clumps, but as long as it dissolves well in the washer (and it does!) then I can deal with it.  I waited till it was completely finished clumping to put it in a container (I had it sitting out in an open bowl, but if you have children or pets that might be curious, PLEASE DON’T  DO THAT!)   Since mine was going to be stored under the sink, it didn’t have to be pretty, so I used an empty Oxyclean container and it was the perfect size.  It is airtight, so nothing is going to leak and moisture shouldn’t get in. 

If you’re on the fence about trying some of the homemade cleaners, this one is a success, so don’t be afraid to give it a shot.  If you’re having any trouble finding the Lemishine in your local stores, Wal-Mart’s site said they have it, but I was in Target that day and found it there, even though their website didn’t find it.  So check whatever store you’re in.  I had no luck with my local grocery store (Food Lion.)  You can use regular citric acid or Fruit Fresh (sold where canning supplies are) but I found the Lemishine to be cheaper by volume.  I think I paid $3.69 for it at Target.

Apple picking day!

We have apple trees in our yard that were well established when we bought the house about 25 years ago.  We don’t usually bother with them because they require spraying several times throughout the season and I hate doing that because of the other creatures.  But one other time we did it and had a great harvest, so this year….since we knew we weren’t going to have a real garden, we did what we had to do with the trees and they have blessed us with lots of lovely apples.  They have also blessed the squirrels, the raccoons, birds, butterflies, wasps and many other creatures with their bounty.

So today was a beautiful day and we picked many of them, set up our processing station on the picnic bench and went to town with an old-fashioned apple peeler, slicer, corer that we’ve owned since the first time we harvested apples.  The best apples only require a few swipes with the paring knife to cut up the spiral slices into pieces and sometimes a few “clean up” cuts for peels or tiny blemishes that got left behind.

We harvested 11 quarts that are now packed into my freezer for later use in pies, cobblers, applesauce, apple cakes and whatever else we think of.   We still have more apples on the trees and we plan to do another session tomorrow.  We had a gorgeous day with a little breeze, but we attracted one huge wasp that we didn’t really want to collide with and a number of other pests that are attracted to sticky sweet apple juice (or humans covered with it….I probably have a dozen mosquito bites).  So we decided to stop for today and give it another go tomorrow.

So I didn’t have veggie garden, but I am making use of what we were given.  Jim did plant quite a few tomato plants, but their production was very minimal.  Even with the extra watering he did, I’m guessing the drought was to blame.  I’ve heard others with similar problems in other areas.  It was just SO hot when the tomatoes would have been forming.

So…hurray for apples!

Back to the very mundane..

Dust cloths.  Yeah, exciting.  Okay, but I made a great discovery for saving money and paper/trees, etc.  I’ve been using the Swiffer handles with the nice, fluffy paper mop ends that are ridiculously expensive, but very efficient at dusting.   So, that being said, I was in the grocery store looking for that ridiculously expensive and wasteful box of refills and found this instead!

 

It is the “Fuzzy Wuzzy” chenille duster.  It was cheap and the great thing is that it has these wonderful microfiber “fingers” that get into small spaces and grab the dust.  The even better thing is that the mop end comes off and goes in your washing machine (air dry only.)   No more buying wasteful, expensive fluffy papers.  Yes, I know I bought this thing, and can’t use my old Swiffer handles, but really?…..this Fuzzy Wuzzy cost me less than a box of refills for the Swiffer.  And I’m done.

Certainly, old rags are more frugal, but not at all efficient at picking up dust.  Spraying Endust or something similar is something I don’t want to do often.  It’s something I do only a few times a year and rags will suffice for that.  But for the weekly dusting, this is terrific.  It won’t send your dust flying like a feather duster and it won’t keep putting profits in the pockets of the Swiffer company (Procter and Gamble, I think….and they are doing just fine without anymore help from me.), and paper in our landfills.  No more trees will have to die for me to dust my house.

Peach-Blueberry Crisp

Oh my, this is good!  I mean REEEEEEALLY GOOD!   It is my favorite summer time dessert.  The recipe title calls this a “crisp,” though I’ve always seen the toppings for crisps include some oatmeal and usually nuts, and this has neither.  Perhaps it is more of a cobbler or a buckle.  At any rate, the topping is basically flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon, with a sprinkle of salt and then it is blended with a pastry blender and sprinkled over the peeled and sliced peaches.  I decided to substitute a cup of blueberries one year, as I was short on peaches and it turned out to be my favorite thing.  Feel free to use all peaches if you don’t like blueberries, or substitute another berry (I’m not fond of raspberries or blackberries, so I won’t.)

The photo was snapped just before we started scooping it out to eat.  Warm and with ice cream, of course!   Whipped cream, plain old cream….it’s all good.  Even cold and with vanilla yogurt if you’re a yogurt lover.  That would be healthier, but if you’re going for healthy, you should stick to the crisps that include oatmeal and nuts.  Seriously.  Or just sprinkle blueberries and peaches on your yogurt and skip the whole buttery topping.  This, however, is dessert.

This is a slighly wetter version than usually comes out, but the peaches were VERY ripe and juicy and I used more blueberries than usual, since I was a bit short on the peaches.  Feel free to experiment with your own proportions.

I wish I could give credit for this recipe where it is due, but I honestly don’t remember where I found it–probably on the internet several years ago.  At any rate, recipe follows:

PEACH CRISP

2 1/2 lbs fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (feel free to substitute berries for some of this, as you wish)

Topping:

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour; 1 cup sugar; 1/4 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 cup soft butter (and don’t even THINK about using margarine, unless you want an oil slick on top!)

Preheat oven to 375.  Place fruit in 8″ buttered square baking dish. Sift together the dry ingredients of the topping and cut in butter till the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle crumbs evenly over fruit.  Bake for 45 to 50 min., until topping is golden brown and peaches are tender.  Try really hard to let it cool down some before eating, because it WILL burn you.

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