January 31, 2011

Homemade Valentine Soap

Homemade soap - paprika created the pink soap
I made homemade soap Saturday. It's supposed to sit in it's box for 24-48 hours, before cutting into shapes and cured for 2 weeks, at the least. I was thinking "Valentines" so cut heart shapes. The leftover scraps I roll in balls. Since the soap is uncured, it's still caustic, so I dump it out on a vinyl table cloth and use rubber gloves. I've let them cure on my baking cooling racks, or brown paper before - this time they're on some old wicker placemats. The soapmaking recipe is at my Karey's Kitchen blog.

Using a cookie cutter for the heart-shape - rolling scraps into soap balls
Some of these will get felted over in two weeks. I'll post pics then ... so keep tuned.

January 29, 2011

Homemade Soap and Moisturizing Cream

I made bar soap today. I'd rendered suet before and froze it. I've not done it for a long while, so I re-skimmed all my soap books to refresh my memory. I've not bought soap, since we like my homemade soap, having made and used it for over twenty years now.

I used department store boxes lined with stapled on plastic garbage bag plastic. I still have these in the garage, tho Monte made me nice wood boxes several years ago. I line these with freezer-wrap paper, waxed side up, of course - taping it to the edges. My boxes' inside dimensions are 11 1/2" x 18" and a couple inches deep.

Firstly, I put on my apron, glasses, and a mask, to make the lye - water mixture, as it heats to over 200 degrees and needs to cool. I use a recipe I have in my cookbook I got from Ann Bramson's Soap book from the 70's. I first measure my empty 1/2 gallon canning jar and add 32 oz (2#) water. Some years I've brewed herbs in this water hoping for their herbal properties in my soap. Then I stir in 12 oz lye (sodium hydroxide - ordered from online) using a silicone spatula. Little bits of lye will tingle with a burning sensation on your skin, if you get it on it. Just rinse it off. You don't want to breath this reaction, so ventilation is nice.

Measure your stainless steel 4 qt pan and add 38 oz tallow (palm oil is it's equivalent; shortening could be used too), then add 24 oz coconut oil and 24 oz olive oil (this time I did 20 oz and 4 oz castor oil - just because I wanted to!). Heat these till solids are not quite melted. It takes some time to cool down, and will continue melting while sitting.

You want the lye mixture and oil mixture to be about the same temperature around 95-98 degrees. I had to set the lye mixture outside to cool down. I put some cold water in the sink to cool the fats down some too, once the lye was down and ready. If the lye cools too much, sometimes just stirring it will raise the temp a bit. I put the pan in the sink (no need for water in the sink) for slowly pouring the lye mixture in. You want the lye water to pour slowly like a pencil width, stirring the fat continually at the same time, using a silicone spatula. Gently keep stirring for the lye and fats to chemically connect and do their thickening thing.

Keep stirring in circles and swirls gently for at least 10 minutes. Then you can occasionally stir it. This time it set up fast (some times it can be an hour or more), thickened enough that when dripped from the spatula it leaves a trace on the surface, leaving a trail a short bit. At this point is when additives like scent and coloring is added. I usually don't add these, liking the creamy color and tallow or palm oil are forever sweet smelling. If lard were used, or a poor quality beef fat, it develops an off smell over time, so scenting masks this. It's best to use essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. Colorants I've used are things like cinnamon, cocoa, turmuric - this time in one of the soaps I added 5 tsp paprika.

I also added essential oils this time: 2 tsp lavender, 1 1/2 tsp rose geranium, 1 tsp rose oil, 1/2 tsp sage. Not like that's my favorite, but what I had that I thought might go together. Most bottles sold are typically a 3oz size. I found that's about 2 teaspoons worth. For this amount of recipe (about 8 pounds) it's suggested you use 4-5 teaspoons. I ended up adding to my shopping list now that I took stock of what I've got and what I want. For gift-giving and covering with felt, having scented soap is nice.

Once the mixture is thick enough with the tracing, pour it into the molds. Soap needs to sit covered with a blanket to keep warm, for about 24 hours. Then I dump it out on a plastic table cloth. Using rubber gloves I'll cut it into bars or shapes. I'll post a pic of this tomorrow or the next. The soap then needs to sit on brown paper or stainless steel racks or wicker or rattan placemats to cure for 2-4 weeks. During this time the lye turns from a caustic ingredient, into an emollient mixture - the term is "saponification".

I have been making soap for years - now two decades! I guess that tells you we like using homemade soap. My very first books that started me down this journey were Jeanne Rose's Herbal Body Book and Soap by Ann Bramson. I see that both are still available from $1-100. Both were printed in the 70's. I refer to Jeanne's book as my "Hippie" book. It is so marked up with notes and about to fall apart. It's the best beginning reference for what oils, essential oils, fats, herbs, etc are good for - like nutritive values, for what skin types, hair, etc. I've collected other books over the years - the others I've most used are by Susan Miller Cavitch. Her books are still available too. The Natural Soap Book makes 12 pound batches. Her second, The Soapmaker's Companion, makes 5 pound batches. She uses a mixer - I don't. My cookbook has the basic recipes I make once a year.

Since I wrote my book, I've been making a shampoo soap bar and moisturizing lotion - both from The Soapmaker's Companion, tho I've tweaked them quite a bit. In the picture to the right are the three main soap bars I keep stocked. If I don't give too much away, I only have to make soap once a year (even longer span now that it's mainly just Monte and me)(I'll have to ask my kids if they want homemade soap made for them) - that's our total soap use - no buying of bar soap, face soap and creams, nor shampoo! In the past I've done lip balms and laundry soap too and other household cleaning stuff - maybe I'll return to doing that. So pictured are a small tub of the face cream (moisturizing lotion), and stacked from bottom to top: body soap, face soap, and shampoo bar. Cold-pressed, unrefined, extra-virgin coconut oil is great for cooking, but also makes a wonderful massage oil, and Monte's been using it as his body lotion. It and my face cream initially feel greasy, but they soon soak in. I've tried so many facial products, including expensive ones, and still prefer my homemade ones!

The Moisturizing Cream I make is considered a firm mousse. The recipe proportions amount to about 140 grams of solid fats, 400 grams of liquid fats, and 400 grams of water. Each time I make it I use differing ingredients depending on supplies on hand. Olive oil is a dominant fat in all my soapmaking. The solidifiers in the cream are melted beeswax, cocoa and shea butters. I like castor oil in both the cream and my bar soaps. In the cream, I've used wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, apricot oil, and always almond oil. I don't use water - making it's proportion up with liquid lanolin, aloe vera gel, rosewater, and witch hazel. Then there's added glycerin, borax (helps in emulsifying the liquids and solids, so no separation), grapefruit seed extract for naturally preserving the mixture from spoilage (parabens are what's used in almost all cosmetics and studies are finding health issues from this chemical), and then I add some essential oils: lavender, peppermint, sometimes nutmeg, and always lemongrass essential oil. This fills 3 small tubs and a quart jar I keep in the fridge for refilling the tubs. This batch lasts me for more than a year!

I want to write out the recipe because I know a few people would read this and want to make it - I would. I don't want to overwhelm you, but I do keep these ingredients stocked in a bin in my linen/cleaning equipment closet. I used to order them from a co-op, but now purchase them from a health food store and online. Like, Google soap making, and you'll find many sources. Lye is a major bar soap ingredient. When mixed with coconut, palm, olive, castor, etc oils it saponifies into a rich healthy-for-the-skin soap - non-drying to the skin. Store-bought soaps have the natural by-product of glycerin extracted, for making other stuff, therefore removing the emollient quality.

Melt the solids - I put them in a large glass bowl, and melt using the microwave (Cavitch does it in a saucepan on the stove, which I should do).

SOLIDS - 130-140 grams
100 gms beeswax (I used to grate it, but now found pellets)
20-25 gms each of cocoa butter and shea butter
Make sure the beeswax melts - I've occasionally found tiny bits when using my cream :-D

OILS - 395-400 grams
250 gms Olive Oil
50 gms Almond Oil
20 gms Castor Oil
25 gms Wheat Germ Oil
50 gms Jojoba Oil
The oils can be added to the melting solids. Don't heat above 165 degrees. Remember, you can use whatever you have on hand as long as you keep to the overall proportion. Like this time I didn't have wheat germ oil (it needs to be kept refrigerated, and I must have thought it too old awhile back ... and then didn't write it down on my 'to buy' list ...). Also, when I opened the jojoba oil, knowing it was getting old, I smelled it. I won't use rancid smelling products. So I only used more of the castor and almond oils this time.

WATER - 400 grams
primarily witch hazel and rosewater
then some liquid lanolin and aloe vera gel (I used about 100 grms of each this time)
Then 10 gms of borax
15 gms vegetable glycerin
5-10 gms grapefruit seed extract
Make sure the borax completely dissolves in the water mixture.

A freestanding mixer would be nice to use, but I've always used a hand-held little mixer. I might try my immersion blender sometime. Starting on low speed, slowly drizzle the water mixture into the oils. Continue mixing as the mixture thickens, occasionally scraping the sides and increasing the speed. Once it's thickened like mayonnaise and cooler, add essential oils - 5-6grams. I didn't weigh them this time, so used 1/4 tsp each of lavender and peppermint. I would have used nutmeg too, if I'd had it. Then 1/2 tsp of lemongrass.

I often add vitamin E. I used to add Vitamin A to this mixture too. Vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, is good for the skin, but new studies are finding that it might, with sun exposure, develop skin tumors. It's put in lots of lotions, including sunscreens because it is an antioxidant and slows skin aging, but with sun exposure, is it cancerous? On the subject of sunscreen, I read labels and try to avoid oxybenzone, which is hard, cuz it's in just about everything, including lip balms. It can be allergenic, but primarily it messes with hormones. Sunscreens too are messing with our Vitamin D absorption. I also don't use products that use mineral oil - robs skin of it's own natural moisturizing mechanism - it's used cuz it's cheap!, and don't use petrolatum products (in ChapStick and Vaseline). Europe won't allow usage of these products. Monte wants me to start making two moisturizing creams - one with the Vitamin A, for a night cream.

I still have lots of homemade soap bars in tubs from many years of soapmaking days with friends. Over the years we've tried all sorts of additives. I'm sensitive to fragrances, so rarely use them. When soap is made with lard, over time it develops an off smell, so fragrances mask this. I don't use lard, using tallow or palm oil for the other 'fat' in my bar soaps - forever has a sweet smell. We've added ingredients like oats, honey, and powdered milk; colorants like cinnamon, or turmeric ... I've brewed a strong herbal tea to use as the water, adding the herb properties to the soap as well as differing color.

I've started felting wool over these soaps. I'm posting a picture of some I did this year to go with, matching, some of my knitted washcloths. Think: "Soap in a Sweater"!

Felted Soap

"Coraline" - Tiny Knitting

I LOVE what this lady knits (and I like the sweater she's wearing - I wish I could see all of it). For years (since 2003, since that's the pattern's copyright) I've been knitting special earrings for friends - I use US size 0000 double-pointed needles - they're like metal toothpicks. The pattern is called Los Lobe Hose by Carol's Sockery. The pattern came with the needles.

I have a basket of colored yarn - basically like string. I'd like to know what the lady is using in the YouTube clip. I don't think I'd knit what she's knitting, but who knows ... They are beautiful!

Salmon, or Tuna, or Crab Cakes

Monte made salmon patties for supper. He often cooks fish patties for a quick meal. For years I've made tuna patties (it's in my cookbook) - very simple:

Simple tuna patties (or other canned fish)

6 oz can tuna

1 egg

some grated onion

season with dried parsley or herbs of your choice

Drop by large spoonful into heated oiled skillet

Cook on both sides till browned and done - about 4-6 minutes

Monte likes to add a bit of bread crumbs and mayonnaise to the above, using canned salmon. Here's what Monte did last night -

2 6oz cans wild salmon

4 green onions, chopped fine

2 Tb bread crumbs (I always have these in a ziplock in the freezer from my homemade bread)

About 1 Tb fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, dill

Since we didn't have any Old Bay Seasoning - use 1 1/2 tsp - I googled the ingredients and sat them all on the counter and Monte took bits of each, grinding in the mortar&pestle: bay leaves, celery seeds, mustard seeds, paprika, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, red pepper flakes, and cardamom, and salt

1 egg

1/4 C mayonnaise

Mix this all together well and form into 4 flat, round, patties about 3" across. This time he lightly covered them with 1/4 C flour and browned them in olive oil in the skillet. This time too, he finished cooking them in the oven rather in the skillet - he was afraid the flour would burn.

Then he made a sauce which he's calling -

1/2 C mayo

1/2 C sour cream

1/2 lime squeezed to taste

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced cilantro

1/2 tsp ground chipotle seeds

1/2 tsp dill

The fresh herbs are in my greenhouse. When I buy fresh herbs from the grocery store I cut a bit off the bottom of the bunch and put them in a glass of water, leaving them on the counter. Like basil often turns brown in the refrigerator - they'll last awhile this way. If not using soon, freeze herbs in ice cubes.

After eating the above sauce, Monte's convinced it's close to a salad dressing he's raved about for years from Texas Red's in Red River, New Mexico - he did geology there right before we got married. So we had his sauce with the fish patties and on our salad.

January 28, 2011


My last class challenge was transparency. Of coarse we think of see-throughness - and that's what I did. Alot of the gals in my class are art quilters - they have a harder time with this challenge. Think about it ... most cloth is opaque. So they have to think in terms of "illusion of transparency", or implied see-throughness. When I googled that phrase there was a little more possibilities given in what we were presented with.

Heather Thomas, my instructor, said to first choose the "child" fabric, then pick out the two "parents". Transparency is achieved when two colors (parents) are seemingly overlapped on top of each other to make a 'child' - like a quilted scene of overlapping balloons was one she showed.

Organza and tulle bottles without a flash
Organza and tulle bottles with a flash
Bottles and Butterflies were forever in my mind the whole month. I did thread paint four butterflies on soluble stabilizer and added some beads, but will probably use them in this month's challenge. I did do my bottles using tulle and organza. I used a tacky soluble stabilizer for them - the materials were not wanting to stay in place, and then I could stitch them together, dissolved away the stabilizer in water, and pinned it to dry. I'd washed a background material with fabric paint, but decided they looked best on black. So wonder-undered a black tulle over black craft felt (helped the craft felt look richer). Then I pinned on my bottles and stitched through all the layers doing a bit more thread painting for the light glare on the bottles.

I was enjoying playing with the organza and tulle so wonder-undered a lot of the colors, so to trace 'mountains' and 'moons' and iron them onto black cotton fabric. Should have used Steam-a-seam, as it would adhere better to the meshed materials. Once I completed the massing of the piece, I looked at the black pile of material left on the floor from when my son and friends were here sewing, and realized that all the blacks were not the same. I found I didn't have much left of the black I started with, so did two boarders, one narrow. I straight stitch quilted thru the layers around each 'moon over the mountain' rectangle. Then couched a variegated shimmery yarn on the outside edge of the narrow boarder. I'm going to face it rather than bind the edges. Still wondering about quilting it more tho.

Moon Over Mountain without a flash
Moon Over Mountain with a flash

January 27, 2011

Kumihimo Braiding

Kumihimo "Marudai" braiding device
Kumihimo is Japanese braid-making. Kumi means 'coming together', and himo is 'string, cord, rope, or braid'. I first learned to do this braiding on a square cardboard years ago. I knew of the beautiful wooden stand and weighted thread spools, and was about to try making my own, when I found a used one with 8 spools. I love it. I love, and USE all my tools!

There are many braid varieties made from 4, 8, 12, and 16 bobbins. I always do the eight and the same cord progression pattern all the time - no thinking, just a peaceful motion. Since I'm using varied colors, just trying to coordinate with what I'm making it for, it creates it's own pattern. I've made Kumihimo braids for most of my hanging felted pictures - those, using my handspun and dyed yarns.

This braiding is with crochet cotton thread, and it makes a narrower braid than with the yarn. I'm weaving this for the grandson's cloth alphabet books I made. Looking at it, Monte wants me to make him shoelaces!!

The bobbins are weighted and then a central counterweight is needed, attached to the braided cord. They typically put weights in a little silk bag. My counterweight is what I started with - a baby food jar filled with sand. I should make a cute bag!

When I begin and whenever I've got to move the counterweight back up close to the top, I put a chopstick thru some of the strings under the top hole. I used to wrap a rubberband around the threaded bobbins, but now I'm getting used to the twisted thread loop making it's own stopping point (so it doesn't just drop, roll, and unwind - which it will do if you don't have the string to the back as in illustration #1 above).

The felted picture is one of my earliest pieces, before I was doing needle-felting. It's wet-felted with embroidered details. I've made several of these pictures, not with embroidery tho, but needlefelted details, and sold them. The Kumihimo braid is for hanging the piece from a dowel on the back incased in a sleeve. I also attached the braid around the picture - an added twist, separating it from the felted frame.

Wet felted and embroidered - with Kumihimo Braiding

Cloth Alphabet Book

Cloth Alphabet Book
For several months now, when I've gone to my Language of Color & Design class, I've seen this material panel of an old-fashion alphabet, and I finally bought two panels. Then I also got several fat quarters of kid material to go with the panel colors and theme. It would have been easier to just make blankets from the panel, but no, I have to go all out ...

I made two cloth books for the Grandson's birthdays. Emery's first in January and Will's second, coming up early February. Now that I've finished Will's, with more improvements, I want to undo Emery's a bit and improve it also.

When my kids were growing up, they'd often tell us their dreams, or have adventures, or create an imaginary something. So we sometimes made these into books - paper-bound books with covers - books added to the book shelves and would be taken out and read. I wish we would have done more of this. I'll make blank books now for journalling, which is easy. But when you're assembling pages of ordered text, it takes a lot of thinking.

I was doing fine till the other day, one of Will's pages did not have the alphabet going in the right order, and might have even been upside-down, when placed in the page's order. It's best to have a table to do a complete layout on, and keep checking for correct positioning before putting together the whole page, with batting sandwiching, turned right-side-out and edge stitched along the outside edges and down the middle, closing the open part for turning. That was a lot of stitch ripping!

For Emery's I sewed the pages down the middle (had to do sections, as it was too thick to totally sew through it all - that's how we did our paper books - just sewed with a basting stitch on the machine down the middle of all the pages (I'll have to do a post on our paper homemade books). For Will's I bought some colored eyelets, punched holes and added the eyelets. Rather than use ribbon or yarn, I thought a braid would be stronger, so I wove a Kumihimo braid (I'll do a separate post on this) of crochet cotton threads - crayon colors. That threaded through the eyelets and tied holds the book together.

I like the old-fashion pictures and some of the words are no longer used - I didn't know them! I like how they turned out. I'm going to be making some more cloth books soon. One idea is to do some family photo transfers so they can look at family pictures and remember! Then there's always the activity book ideas.

Baked Cod with a Cream Sauce over Whole Grain Rice

I'd gotten cod and didn't know what I was going to do with it, so I googled cod recipes and liked the idea of this dish, at that moment (meaning my emotions and cravings vary ... duh!). This turned out to be a "comfort food" - which means it's a definite keeper I'll be making again.

I have a chapter in my cookbook called "Cooking Tips & Pantry Stocking". Cooking tips are favorite sections of books for me. I've always looked at lots of recipes when deciding what to make. I've learned a lot from this process. When you know your ingredients, you know what you can mess around with and formulate your own recipes.

I wish I could create a consistent weekly or monthly menu - I know someone who does. It could simplify life, but I'm so motivated (or I should say "mood-ivated") by creative impulse. One of my impulses or motivations is to eat as well at home as some gourmet restaurants.

All that said ... doesn't really apply here, other than introducing how I cooked the rice according to my cooking tip from my cookbook. I have rice in my pantry that'll cook in 15-20 minutes, but it's not our favorite, and Monte has asked me to just cook the whole grain or wild rice. That takes time, so forethought or planning. Here's what's from my cookbook and the easiest way to cook rice -

Oven cooking Whole Grain &/or Wild Rice
Place 3 C tap water in an oven-proof dish with

1 tsp salt and

1 C rice

(could add some olive oil or pat of butter if you want)

Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours

If I've not thought ahead, I'll pressure cook it for 10 minutes.

Looking at what I wrote in my cookbook, I'm reminded of something we like: keeping already cooked rice and already cooked black beans in the refrigerator for a quick dish - mix the two together and sprinkle with parmesan. Monte likes to heat rice with milk and cinnamon for a snack.

Following this oven cooking rice idea in my book is how to make a white sauce, which is pretty much what I did for this cod sauce. A lot of recipes call for "cream of ... chicken or mushroom soup". I don't buy canned soup, so I needed to learn how to substitute this ingredient in recipes. Basically heat  1/4-1/3C oil or butter, adding the same amount of flour. Let this "roux" brown a bit and add 2C of chicken broth with seasoning to be the equivalent of the canned soup (add some cream or milk powder for the 'cream'). That flour/fat amount will thicken 3-4 Cups of liquid too, if not wanting something so thick. I make up this sauce a lot, adding canned tuna for eating over toast with some grated cheese - a family quick meal favorite. It's also a sauce for macaroni and cheese, or chicken divan, or scalloped potatoes ...

Cook rice

In skillet saute a chopped onion,

1 C sliced fresh mushrooms,

and then some minced garlic in

2 Tb olive oil or butter till golden

Sprinkle in 2 Tb flour and stir in

Add 2 C of a cream and milk mixture

Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and a pinch of dill

Then add 1/2# of shrimp, peeled and deveined

Pour this mixture over 1# cod arranged in baking dish

Sprinkle with some grated parmesan

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

Serve over the rice

January 26, 2011

Raspberry Tart

I'd mentioned in another post that we had company last week - investor/geology men. I wanted a dessert one night, without much work. When I make pies, I roll my crusts out very thin and always have extra crust. If I don't make little cinnamon tarts with the leftover, I put it in a ziplock in the freezer. Well, I remembered I had lots of little bags in the big ziplock of leftover crusts. I pulled out two of them to thaw. That evening I rolled them out to fit in a tart pan. I didn't have a recipe or want to spend time looking for a recipe, so here's what I did ...

- unbaked crust put in tart pan (click side bar "pies" label to see my crust recipe - it's whole wheat or whole grain something, considering the leftover varieties there could be).

- dumped frozen raspberries till it looked just right - still gaps of crust showing through - not too much and not too little.

- sprinkled several Tablespoons of sucanat (dehydrated sugar cane) - here again, went by looks

- poured over some cream.

Baked at 375 degrees till it looked done - pretty set (set up more as it cooled) and crust browned.

Found out raspberries were the guest's favorite fruit. So the next morning when I made sourdough pancakes I heated some frozen raspberries for a pancake topping with my homemade yogurt and maple syrup.

Gandhi using a Spinning Wheel in India - Gandhi video footage

I'm posting this because as a spinner, I knew Gandhi spun, and worked at getting a lot of people to spin. It's a way for people to earn an income. But it's also a very peaceful tactile activity to do.

We just went to the National Western Stock Show; here in Denver every January. I used to demonstrate spinning, and sometimes weaving, at it a lot. I've demonstrated spinning at many other places too. I should demonstrate again - a great way to get more yarn! I've knit two sweaters and a shawl from my handspun and dyed sheep wool.

Gandhi is spinning cotton. It's a very short fiber. At a weaving guild sale years ago I bought a large box of cotton. I've been scared to spin it, but now, having read about a new book coming out by Rita Buchanan - Spinning Cotton - I'm going to challenge myself to give spinning cotton a try this year. More than a try, but tackle it till I get it!

A shawl I knit from my handspun wool

January 25, 2011

Elevenses Omelet

Monte and me have fun saying we're "eating our second breakfast" - or little lunch. I just read a book, The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise, where a Beefeater, his wife, and a 180 year old tortoise live in London Tower. Hebe works in the London Underground Lost Property Office, where Elevenses is an anticipated time. Both her and her husband look after their respective unusual menageries. Tolkien's Hobbits have their Elevenses, as does Winnie-the-Pooh and Paddington Bear.

Most current mornings I begin with a probiotic green drink, dissolve a microlingual vitamin D tablet on my tongue, start my beverage of tea or coffee, take my Juice Plus, and ready my bowl of a small portion of fresh or frozen fruit, homemade yogurt, a few drops of stevia, scoops of whey, raw unsweetened dry coconut and dried sprouted flax seed, sometimes adding in a bit of granola or Ezekial sprouted grain cereal. Monte makes oatmeal to go with the same mixture of ingredients, and sometimes I'll have some of his oatmeal. Then I'll read, research, and write, fitting in excercise at some point before being hungry by 10:30-11. My current exercise I'm able to do regularly (mentioned in January 1st post) is 18 minutes with Teresa Tapp DVD (T-Tapp). Occasionally I'll do her total, or step-away workouts, but currently trying her "Hit the Floor" one.

I've always loved eggs. Home-grown are the best! In fact, I'm so missing my chickens, Monte's going to build a coop closer to the house and we'll order chickens again. My preference is soft-cooked, but I like omelets and frittatas as well. My cookbook tells of the science to cooking eggs. I ignore eggs and cholesterol talk. One day coffee and chocolate are bad for you and then they're good ... yadda, yadda, yadda. Most healthy people's bodies know how to metabolize good, whole foods. Cholesterol and lecithin are both in the egg yolk, along with most of all the other egg nutrients. Lecithin neutralizes the cholesterol and organic eggs have more lecithin. We like to have a rooster per about seven hens, so the eggs are fertile as well. Think about it! Nature provides a life-giving fertile germ in eggs, seeds, whole grains ... An egg is one of God's wonderful little whole nutritious packets!

One of my favorite OMELETs is with mushrooms and spinach -

- Saute a few cut up mushrooms

- Mix up 1-2 eggs (3 egg omelettes, typical in restaurants, are too big for me) in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, can add a dollop of water, milk, or cream, to have ready.

- Sliver some fresh spinach.

- Sprinkle some ground whole thyme into the sauted mushroom.

Add the slivered spinach and saute another 30 seconds, then scoop the mixture onto your plate.

Pour in the egg mixture, lid the skillet, and turn heat to low, cooking egg mixture thru.

- Grate onto the egg some parmesan or provalone cheese, scoop back in the spinach mixture, fold the omelet in half and deliver it back to your plate and enjoy!

In days of old, when the children were home, our mornings, once having eaten, looked like: me reading aloud and them doing a handiwork, when not on my lap or playing on the floor when they were young. Handiwork like carving, needlework, crafting, or sketching - always honing skills and thinking of gift-giving ... like to the Grandparents. On my other blog I'm going to be talking about the bookmaking we did.

Good morning! Good Day!

January 24, 2011

Cleaning The Cookstove

When we built our home twenty seven years ago, we knew we wanted on old cookstove, so designed a space for it between the kitchen and dining room - all a part of a great room - an L shape with an end space we call "the keeping room". People often think it's my main cooking stove. They seem relieved when they find out I've got a regular range with an oven and glass cooking surface - it's in the kitchen's island, and I'm loving the flatness of the glass top (new a few years ago), adding to the islands food layout as we tend to serve most meals buffet-style. And I've also got a combination convection/microwave, AND a toaster oven - both in the same built in wall shelves next to my pantry entrance, near the refrigerator. My kitchen is nice and big, but my work triangle is nice and small, saving steps. (Read the book Cheaper By the Dozen - the father studied saving steps in many work arenas, and was instrumental in changing the old large kitchens where slaves/servants worked, to energy efficient family kitchens.)

Well, it's time again for me to empty the stove's ashes. I only have to empty the ash bin this time. Every Fall, in preparation for Winter, I fully clean the stove. The old man we bought the stove from showed me how to care for it and told stories. Cookstoves have a small fire box, the ashes falling into the bin below. Above the firebox, especially at the back would be your "high" burner, more "medium- high toward the front, and as you slide pots to the right, you're getting a cooler heat for simmering. The chrome-plated decorative circles at the back open down for another warming place, and then there's warming ovens above the cook surface. When not cooking in the oven, I leave the oven door open for more heat to enter the room. When cooking in the oven you need to move foods around as there's hotter spots there too (it cooks pies better than my regular range!)

If the ashes are removed from around the oven, scraping the sides of the oven, which I only need to do once a year, the oven gets more heat. If water were in the water reservoir to the right, it would heat too, as they did in days of old for washing up - but it's rusty looking and we don't need it, other than a nice look and setting surface.

To the west of us is a hill, so in the winter the sun sets around 4pm. We have lots of large windows since most of our days are sunny - solar heating. But most days I'll start up the stove come 4, for taking off the chill. And cloudy days I usually burn it all day and will utilize it for cooking. It sure comes in handy if the electricity is out! And such a nice atmosphere.

January 21, 2011

Garden Seeds Ordered

I've ordered my seeds for this coming year's gardening, have you? The seed catalogs start coming in for the new year and every January I love planning my garden. I evaluate past years' gardening. With my short, cool growing conditions, Johnny's Seeds, in Maine, develops seeds that produce well for me. I have garden drawings and notes going back over many years (this is the longest I've ever, in my lifetime, lived in one home - wow ... twenty-six years!). Every year there's things I tell myself to never waste my time on again!

Speaking of Johnny's Seeds ... In Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Johnny's is mentioned amongst many others as having seeds from Monsanto. When you do the research you find that Johnny's is owned by the employees and any seeds that had been used from a source that got sold to Monsanto are being phased out.

I'll be starting seeds in the greenhouse pretty soon. This winter I've successfully got lettuces, green onions, and herbs still growing. A fig tree is looking beautiful and tomatoes are setting fruit! I'm going to have to vacuum the brown grapevine leaves, as it'll be putting out new growth soon. We froze most of the grapes, but left some to dry as raisins, and guests love finding them and eating!

Speaking of guests, it's been another week of men underfoot! - geology related. Rick's an investor, owning coffee shops in California, but I'm not letting him make me coffee any more! He uses three to four times more coffee grounds than me - I buy them freshly roasted at my local store - I thought I had enough for a month! His coffee keeps me awake all night!!! No wonder he's a bundle of energy!

They all left for the airport an hour ago. One to Virginia, another on to Vancouver, and Rick back to California. We had Italian Monday night with spreading pesto on chicken breasts and rolling them with prosciutto - I thought them too dry and salty. Tuesday lunch was a potato leek soup with Kielbasa; supper, lasagna. Sourdough pancakes were served for a breakfast with raspberries from our garden (in the freezer) and homemade yogurt, - and since I make extra, liking them as a snack with almond butter and raspberry jam, they ended up sticking them in the toaster for another breakfast. Then of course there's always my homemade bread. I wasn't going to be around, and them doing other things off and on for two days, so the lasanga and soup were great for them to have leftover. Today's lunch was fish tacos. I marinated mahi-mahi in 1/2 cup each Tequila and lime juice with some chili powder, sugar and salt - then smoked/grilled it.

My food and our hospitality is greatly appreciated and even with winter's garden dormancy, the beautiful rock garden walls, fencing, bamboo ornamentation and dried stalks all add to our home's wonderful retreat atmosphere where people like to hang-out. Again, our wonderful Velveteen House!

January 1, 2011


Every January 1st you hear people talking about, "I ate too much over the Holidays", and it's time for New Year Resolutions which always seem to include eating better, exercising, and maybe dieting. I'm never too much overweight, but I'll put on some extra fat and sometimes my metabolism is sluggish, even tho I'm doing a lot. Like I always figure I'll lose over the gardening season when I'm way more active ... 

I'll occasionally walk, lift weights, do the treadmill ... but I'm not regular at anything, and traveling and company disrupts me totally! and that's the story of my life!! My friend Marty though, kept raving about T-Tapp exercising, "And only 15 minutes a day!!" Now that's something I COULD do! The problem with me is I've got so many things I'm wanting to do in my day, that an hour of exercising is not what I want to do. I checked into T-Tapp. And I'm regularly doing it. If it keeps me firmed up and it's something that I'll regularly do, cuz it's easy, then it's better than nothing! I like her 'hit the floor' exercise DVD too.

Good recipes ideas when attempting a diet are a must! Probably about twelve years ago my mom gave me the book "Protein Power" saying it's like the Atkins diet idea. I read it to understand the philosophy. I found a great cookbook that followed the low carb idea and that book is still a favorite of mine - The Low-Carb Cookbook, by Fran McCullough.  It, and that whole diet idea, helped me love veggies. I'd never been a veggie lover, and preferred the starchy veggies over others. When pregnant with my youngest I started enjoying salads. Then when trying the low-carb dieting idea, I fell in love with veggies. Rather than focusing on protein, I still to this day focus on veggies, and a lot of them in a raw salad form.

When you read the T-Tapp literature (Teresa Tapp), she talks about a God-made, Man-Made food plan - several days of God-made foods with a one day man-made food day in between. So 2-3 days of whole natural foods then an allowable one day of processed, preservative laden, fast-foods eating day. When you think of it, most diet and vegetarian foods are processed. I cook from scratch so I have control over my ingredients. I now think nutritive, phytochemical rich food.

So ... when making food choices, think simple (like few listed ingredients rather than the typical 30+!) and whole, close to the way God made it. And think COLOR - a wide variety!!!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...