Thursday, September 30, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
- These instructions call for hand kneading the dough, but if you’ve got a good mixer or a bread machine, by all means, use them. In the bread machine, simply layer the ingredients as you normally would for making bread and set the machine for its dough cycle. When the machine is done, the dough is ready for shaping. Follow the recipe directions from there. If you have a nice, heavy-duty mixer with a dough hook, you can use the mixer for the kneading part of the recipe.
- All-purpose flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour, and fresh-milled flour all work well for this recipe. My family enjoys a combination of all-purpose flour and fresh-milled hard white flour, but feel free to be creative!
- Remember, this is a yeast bread, so choose a hard wheat like hard red or hard white for your fresh-milled flour. Try a mixture of grains for a flavorful multi-grain crust.
- I usually make two large Sicilian (thick crust) pizzas for my family of four. The first pizza fills us up for dinner, and the second pizza feeds us for lunch the next day. To make this much people, I take the above recipe times one and a half.
- Save time later by doubling the recipe today and freezing half the dough. Freeze the dough immediately after kneading. To use, simply let the dough defrost and raise until doubled and pick up the recipe at shaping.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo1 pound Andouille sausage
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cooking oil
1 quart chicken stock or water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
1 pound sliced okra, fresh or frozen
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes
Remove casing from sausage. In a medium skillet, crumble and brown sausage. Drain and set aside.
To make the roux, mix together flour and oil in a Dutch oven, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir constantly for about 15 minutes more until the roux turns dark and coppery like the color of a tarnished penny.
Carefully, stir in stock. Remember, you are adding room temperature or cooler liquid to hot oil. Be Careful! Add sausage, chicken, okra, onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until gumbo begins to bubble. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for about an hour, stirring occasionally. The gumbo will thicken as it simmers and its flavors blend. Serve over hot cooked rice.
- Can’t find Andouille sausage? You can substitute Italian or Chorizo sausage for the Andouille. I wasn’t familiar with Andouille sausage when I first started making gumbo and was a bit leery of trying it, so I started with a mild Italian sausage, and then I tried hot Italian. It was very good both times. However, once you make it with Andouille, you won’t want to change!
- Try making the rice with chicken stock and a little parsley or celery powder for more flavor.
- If you use fresh-milled whole wheat flour, your roux will be a bit darker than roux made with all-purpose flour.
For a special treat, add ½ pound peeled and deveined shrimp to the pot in the last five minutes of cooking. Be sure the shrimp is cooked through before serving.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
One of my least favorite products to spend money on was laundry soap. Anything that cleaned well but gently and didn’t destroy the environment was always priced well out of my budget. Then there’s the smell factor. Why is it that you can’t find compatible detergent and softener scents in the same store? Invariably, I’d pick two flavors that smelled wretched when put together on my clothes. I also noticed that only the expensive brands had an unscented variety, and that was usually more money. Why is that? Shouldn’t it be cheaper not to add fragrance?
Anyway, a couple of years ago, when I embarked on a mission to stop throwing money down the drain, I started making my own laundry soap. It’s cheap and easy, and it works!
By the way, in the last four or five years, I think I’ve only bought two small bottles of commercial detergent, and that was because I forgot to pack some on a couple of camping trips. I really need to stop doing that.
The Zote soap costs a little bit more than the Fels Naptha and has a little more of a scent to it. However, it is also much better at preventing dinginess to your lights and whites. Home Depot and Lowes carry Zote.
Updated 9/26/2011 - Walmart now carries Borax, Washing Soda and Fels Naptha bars!
Friday, September 17, 2010
4 vanilla beans**
1-750ml bottle of rum, vodka or brandy*
Using a very sharp knife, slice the vanilla beans down the entire length of the bean but not all the way through. The objective is to expose the seeds inside, not to slice the bean into two pieces.
Submerge the beans in the alcohol, and seal the bottle tightly.
*Vanilla beans can be difficult to find and very expensive to purchase. Believe it or not, I recommend checking out a local health food store. Many health food stores carry Frontier organic herbs and spices at surprisingly low prices. I've also found good beans at a local beer and wine making supply shop.
I also save my old beans. When it’s time to brew another batch, I add a fresh bean or two to the bunch and mix both the old and new beans with new bottle.
**Rum, vodka, and brandy are all good choices for making vanilla extract because they absorb the flavor of the vanilla easily without adding any new flavors. The biggest difference is color. All three will yield a brown vanilla extract, however the brandy will be much darker. For the longest time, I only used cheap vodka to make my vanilla. Then I met a chef who swears by rum, so I gave it a try. I definitely liked the rum better. Even though many people say that vodka has no scent or taste, I noticed a definitely alcohol taste and smell with vodka. In the end, it boils down to personal preference.
Making vanilla extract at home does require patience. However, it has saved me a significant amount of money. The first time I made vanilla, I only make a quart. My initial investment on that quart of vanilla extract was equal to the price of a single 4-oz bottle store-bought extract. I got eight times the vanilla for the same price! Now that’s worth a little patience!
Thanks for stopping by.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I’m including a list of bug repelling oils and the bugs they repel so you can use what you like or make a blend for your spray.
- Catnip Oil–mosquitoes
- Cedarwood Oil–lice, moths
- Cinnamon Oil–ants
- Citronella Oil–mosquitoes
- Clove Oil–mosquitoes
- Eucalyptus Oil–mosquitoes
- Geranium Oil–flies, mosquitoes
- Lavender Oil–mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, flies
- Lemongrass Oil–mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, flies
- Peppermint Oil–lice, spiders, ants
- Rosemary Oil–fleas, ticks
- Tea Tree Oil–mosquitoes, lice, ants
Monday, September 13, 2010
One of my favorite clothes to repurpose is a pair of jeans. Denim is durable, easy to work with, and terribly expensive. Many of my favorite projects don’t need a lot of yardage. Bags and book covers can be pieced together for a fun patchwork design. So, when I retire a pair of jeans it gets repurposed quickly.
For those of you mumbling that you’d rather see your jeans given to the needy, remember, not every pair of jeans you send to a charity should be there. Rips too big to be worth fixing, bad zippers, and unwashable stains are not good candidates for hand-me-downs. In fact, sending garments that belong in the rag bag now burdens the charity with the disposal job. So, why not get some real use out of those old jeans.
By the way, even if I don’t have a pending project, I’ll keep a stack of denim strips on hand. My hubby does construction, and if I didn’t keep his jeans patched, I’d be buying new ones weekly!!
I find it best to strip the jeans of seams, zippers, and buttons right away so I always have the raw fabric ready when inspiration strikes!
I do tend to wear my jeans until they're falling apart, but I can still get a lot of fabric out of them. Notice the big rip in the backside of these. What you can't see are the thread bare areas that make these jeans not worth patching. Time to cutaway the areas I don't use.
Every once in a while I'll make something that I want to keep certain details from the original jeans. Most of the time I don't want the bulkiness of all that excess. So, I cut away that bulk, starting with the inseam.
Cut the seams all the up to the waistband, then cut away the waistband and zipper. Follow the seam all the way up the leg, around the waits and back down the other side. If the back pockets still look nice, be sure to save them. They can come in handy!
When you open up the pant legs, you'll notice you still have a seam, a hem, and a couple of front pockets to deal with. Simply cut them away staying very close to the original stitching to get the most out of your fabric.
Thank you for stopping by!What have you recycled or re-purposed today??
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,