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Monday, July 30, 2012

Kitchen Guilt




My guilt over not really doing any cooking for the last three days and my hubby's sad puppy face as he left for work has me springing (okay well maybe not SPRINGING), into action.  First thing I did was put on a dozen eggs to boil, (effortless) to have hard cooked eggs for eating OR for making deviled eggs.  Also just sliced a jar of whole dill pickles to make them into Sweet Pickles. (I can do in my sleep).. Not that hubby eats them but me and the kids sure love them.  

Into my slow cooker goes as much chicken as I can fit in. (10 lbs of legs and thighs) This will cook down and tomorrow will be smothered chicken with creamy white mushroom sauce.. this is to be eaten tomorrow with fresh baked biscuits. (which I am making up the biscuit dough to be ready to bake)  This is a favorite supper in our house.  Hubby will be very pleased.  He always is anytime I make him hot biscuits.  And these are even cut out (instead of my usual hand-formed), into perfect little uniform circles.  :)  Yay me. ;)  LOL  

For now though, I've made a big batch of banana bread, which the girls and I made into both regular muffins, and minis. :)  Yum! And because I felt froggy, some Fluffernutter Fudge. :) 

Banana Bread
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 Cups chopped pecans OR granola (or whatever else you like)... (optional)
  • 3 Cups self rising flour
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 2-3 bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla  
  • & a good shake of cinnamon
Put into either 2 greased and floured loaf pans OR use as muffin batter.. bake til golden. :)


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Fluffernutter Fudge



2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
8 oz. jar peanut butter
8 oz. jar marshmallow creme
Cook sugar and milk on stove until boiling. Boil exactly 3 minutes. Add peanut butter and marshmallow to sugar-milk mixture immediately. Fudge will start to harden quickly. Mix well and pour in greased pan.


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Now...  to make sweet pickles.  After breakfast, get a jar of room temperature dill pickles and drain all but about a half cup of pickle juice. Set that little half cup aside... If the pickles are not already sliced, then slice them how you like them.  Add 3 cups of white sugar to the pickle slices.  Stir.  Let sit a few hours, stirring occasionally til all sugar is melted.  Add back that half cup of pickle juice and also a half cup of white vinegar.  Find the pickling spice, and fill the lid of the jar with it and dump it in.  Stir it again.  Before bed that evening, add all the pickles back to the jar.  Add as much of the juice back to the jar as will fit.  Screw the lid on tight, and rinse and dry the jar.  It will take 4 or 5 days for the pickles to soak up the "goodie". Shake the jar good every day while you're waiting for your 5 days to be up.   Now watch how fast your kids will eat these! :)

Dusty Knickknacks and Leftovers




I'm not usually annoyed on Mondays, but today I am.  I have a freshly painted living room, and am getting ready to pick out and order drapes for the windows.  With new paint comes cleaning the room contents.. especially the curio cabinet, the knicknacks, and our books... Good Heavens at the dust... and bearing in mind that we dust it all regularly... I just don't know where it all comes from.  Really, it's amazing we don't all have asthma from the dust in this house.  I am beginning to feel profoundly that weekly dusting is just not enough.  I swear, the dust is reproducing, and attempting a hostile takeover.  But the paint looks good. :)  I just wish I had a way to keep the dust away!

My hubby begrudgingly took leftovers for his supper.  With a few unhappy comments that bothered me more than they should have.  Sorry.  If he were home today, he'd be eating leftovers here too.  Why do husbands and kids NOT understand that leftovers must be eaten.. that every day cannot be a freshly cooked gourmet meal.  Not only do I not have the time, I also do NOT have the inclination.  Leftovers never killed anyone, (assuming they're still good and not went bad!).  Every day can't be everyone's favorite.  

Now it's about to storm outside.  Thank goodness we got the three ficus trees and the other artificial plants sprayed down with a hose and wind dried before the storms rolled in.  Now I've got to clean all the baskets, add the green plants back to the baskets, and put them all back in their designated spots.  

Since my poor deprived husband is being forced to go out into a storm to get to work, carrying his unwanted leftovers, (I am a cruel, unfeeling woman), I feel I should at least get a jumpstart on making 'fresh' supper for tomorrow.  I don't know how everyone got to be so spoiled around here. I can assure you all.  I am NOT Julia Child, and neither am I Martha Stewart.  What bugs me even more is that now that's he's left, I actually feel guilty that I didn't at least pack it differently to make it more appealing.  *beats head against wall*

While I am annoyed at my picky family, (especially hubby), and my imperfect house, I have to reflect on what I have to be grateful for.  That we have food at all, leftovers or not.  That hubby does in fact have a job to go to, and that we have our own home, perfectly imperfect, that is all ours.  God bless our little house, with all it's flaws.  It's dusty nooks and crannies I try to keep tidy and dust free. God bless us and fill us with thankfulness for what we have.  For our healthy happy kids, for our spoiled rotten pets, and for a strong loving marriage with a good man.  Even if we do drive each other crazy sometimes.  And even if that means suffering through leftovers.  LOL :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blowing Through the Jasmine In My Mind.....


"Summer breezemakes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind."  Seals & Crofts

Summertime in Florida... is just... too hot!  I love how pretty everything is.. how green and lush it is here in the South, I love the fresh summer produce, and the sounds of the crickets at night.  I love the gorgeous summer night sky, and all the sounds of the summer night...   but the unGodly heat, humidity, and the Jumanji sized mosquitoes are the WORST.  

During the summer, some days it's so hot, even in the air conditioned house, you just don't want to turn on the stove.  Forget heating up that oven!   Getting up early, and getting errands done, so you can go hide indoors during the heat of the day.

At the beginning of the summer, I got new sunglasses.  I know some folks go for the ooh-la-la ones with the fancy design or the name brand.  Not me.  I want the ones used by construction workers... so dark that people think I just had cataract surgery.  They have "sides" on them too... I don't know about anywhere else, but the freakishly bright Florida sun makes hellacious glare. The combination of heat and glare can make for a seriously wicked headache.  So I am all for the ugly dark shades.  

Right now our driveway is NOT "so hot you can fry an egg on it".  Nope.  It's hot enough to fry the carton of eggs, a side of bacon, and even hoe cake.  We've had family get blisters on the bottoms of their feet THROUGH THEIR SHOES... after hours walking on scorching hot asphalt.  Even sand at the beach will fry your feet.  Yet another reason I love my Birkenstocks. That thick cork is truly your friend. :)


There's something about summertime that makes eating shrimp, having a cold drink, (beer, cider, sweet tea, or Co-cola) just a pure treat.  I like putting raw green peanuts in the crockpot and cooking them for hours, and then enjoying.  Summer afternoon naps... the heat just "takes it out of ya".   Peeking through my lacey dining room curtain and seeing tons of pink blossoms on the branches of our crepe myrtle tree, and the afternoon is starting to make long shadows... it's hot as Hades out there, but it sure is pretty.

Yesterday it was 102F.  I called my Granny, and she tells me tomorrow, (today) is supposed to be the "hottest day we've had so far".  Oh, goody.  "At least 110F," she says.  I told my hubby last night, "I ain't going NO WHERE tomorrow."   Joke was on me.  I was up early, going and picking up shrimp for dinner.  

So now it's late afternoon.  Eldest daughter is napping on the loveseat.  Both our dogs are stretched out, snoring.  My youngest is quietly playing with her dollhouse... in her own little world.  

Lazy summer afternoons... you just can't beat 'em. :)   

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Healthy Breakfast, Warm Bellies, & Ditching the "White Stuff"





Ever in my quest for our family to eat healthier, (which goes completely against my spoiled Southern tastebuds which prefer everything deep fried and smothered with either cheese or chocolate), I have learned a thing or two in these last months.

First and foremost, I am only purchasing the freshest, "best" eggs I can find.  We've been on the "good eggs" for a year now. No cages, no hormones, no crazy stuff.  Eggs laid by happy chickens who get to run around and scratch and eat bugs and have a happy chicken life.  Yep.  Those are the eggs I want my kids to eat.  Same with the milk.  I want happy cows that get to romp around and play kiss and chase in the sunshine.... no hormones, no crazy stuff.  Just good fresh milk as God intended.  If I could find a farm nearby that sold milk and eggs, I'd be overjoyed. :)   But in the meantime, I am hitting the hippie stores.

Organic fruit.  Or at least fruit from the Clean 15 list if nothing else.  This week I bought bananas, pears and oranges.  I keep dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins, and prunes.  Sometimes I will splurge and get the dried cherries or blueberries.  I have my eye on our fig tree.  It is covered with little green figs and we are anxiously waiting for them to turn purple.  My daughters and I love eating them right off of the tree.

A big favorite around here is organic, steel cut oat groats.  We like it with fruit in it.  I am not above adding pecans, cinnamon, or anything else that sounds appealing at the moment.  I have heard some folks add a spoonful of peanut butter.  I LOVE peanut butter.  So I tried it.  YUCK.  No, I won't eat that again. ;)   Peanut butter is best on toast!  Yum, yum, yum, I love oat groats.  We eat them so often I am surprised we haven't began to whinny yet.  LOL   

Recently I bought Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten free "Rice & Shine" brown rice cereal.  We tried it once.  Using only a bit of honey and some cinnamon.  Reminded me quite a lot of Cream of Wheat.  I was not impressed.  My stupid spoiled American taste buds cried for more flavor.  I have been doing some reading, and we will try it again with dried fruit and some agave nectar.  I am resisting the temptation to dump in good old brown sugar.  Which I know would be absolutely delicious.... but I am trying to get us away from eating so much of that stuff.

A big favorite for myself and the girls is granola or muesli with yogurt and fruit.  We like it so much we will gladly eat it for any meal.  Unfortunately though, we like the packaged, sweet yogurt that everyone eats.. not the 'real' yogurt.  I have tried the 'real' yogurt, and I found it to be thick and not sweet.  Fruit and honey help it a lot. 

I love tea.  English Breakfast tea.  Barry's Irish Tea.  PG Tips.  Typhoo.  Mmmmm!!  I only use American tea (Luzianne, Tetley, Lipton), bags for making iced tea.  When I have hot tea, I want the "good stuff".  :)  Europe makes not only better chocolate, but better tea too. I love how strong it is!  That being said, I unfortunately have English taste buds in that sense... milk and sugar please.  This is a difficult habit to break, and I am not sure I actually 'want' to break it!  I do buy herbal teas, and those are nice for my kids, and hot chocolate too.. especially on our few chilly days we have here.

 It's hard to break away from what we were raised on.  Pre-sweetened cereals, packaged pancake mixes with sugary fake syrup.  "Instant" oatmeal loaded with sugar.   Poptarts.   Everything so white.  So processed.  So full of sugar, fillers, preservatives, and garbage.  Fat, sugar, and salt.   For lunch we always had peanut butter and jelly, or bologna sandwiches, or a grilled cheese with canned tomato soup.  All washed down with Koolaid... full of red dye and sugar.   Our moms fed us what all the other moms fed their kids, and no one thought anything about it.  

I want to do things different.  Eating canned veggies... I want that to be "occasionally" and not "usually".  My kids love tabbouleh.  Hummus.  Bulgar.  Couscous.  Kale.  Seaweed.  Tofu.  Things that, when I was a kid.. I had no idea what those even were!  And neither did my parents.  But I read, read, ask, and read some more.  I worry about what they're eating, or not eating.  When they get colds, I ditch the cow milk and go with soymilk and up their raw unfiltered honey intake.  I know some people think I'm a wacko.  I don't care.  I want for us.. our family.. in all areas... just to de-sludge our bodies and minds.  To be as healthy (and happy) as possible as we grow in our faith.  You've heard that saying, "Garbage in, garbage out"?  And "You are what you eat."?   It absolutely does matter what we fill our hearts and minds and bodies with. :) 

Anyhoodles... Next on my list to weed out is "drum roll please" is the "white stuff".  Actually I am pretty sure I've said this before.. and probably more than once.  LOL  I have GOT to stop buying white flour, white sugar, white bread, white rice, white pasta, and white anything.  This garbage is KILLING us and I know it.  I do hereby publicly declare..(again).. I "ain't buyin'" no more "white stuff".  God give me strength to resist the temptation!

Lord, please be my guide in all things...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent (powder) and Zote

I am putting this here for 2 reasons.  (A) to share it, and (B) so I don't lose it! :)


Super cheap and easy to make.  


Grate a full bar of Fels Naptha. 
Put in food processor and pulse till powdery, add 1 cup borax and 1 cup super washing soda. Pulse till combined. That's all you really need, but  I also added 1 cup of oxi-clean and about a half cup of Purex Crystals (lavender blossom scented), but this is optional. I use 1 Tablespoon per load.   (all the ingredients are sold at Walmart). 






In addition, I also started buying Zote Soap.  You can use 
Zote soap for laundry also, (same recipe as above, just use Zote instead of Fels Naptha) and believe it or not you can 
bathe with it.   I am not Mexican but from what I have read that is a common practice there. :)  Very thrifty and WOW does the Zote lather up great!  The pink color will not effect your laundry... there is also blue and white... they all work the same and the color effects nothing.  Just colored to be pretty, that's it. :)







Homemade Antibacterial Soaps?

We (me and my kids) have been making our own homemade laundry soap, using Fels Naptha, Super Washing Soda, Borax, and OxyClean.   Today the question came up about making homemade antibacterial soaps.  Here is what I've found.  


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Antibacterial soap?



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The Truth About Antibacterial Soaps



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God’s Soap Recipe



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How to Make Antibacterial Hand Soap

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Making Homemade Preserves with mango, pineapple, papaya, bananas. — Mrs Wheelbarrow's Kitchen

I am "all over" this!! :)


Some new and different preserves with mango, pineapple, papaya, bananas. — Mrs Wheelbarrow's Kitchen:


(copied and pasted from above site)



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Mango Preserves

Makes 4 half pints
2.2 lbs. diced, peeled ripe mango (about nine champagne mangoes, or 5 lbs.)
3 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon
Macerate the fruit, sugar and lemon juice overnight.
Strain out the fruit and bring the syrup to 218°F in a heavy large pot. This will take about an hour.
Add the fruit to the syrup. Bring the jam back to a boil for about ten minutes, until the foam has cleared and the jam sheets off the spoon.
To clear the last of the foam, add about 1/2 tsp of butter, stir well.
Ladle the preserves into sterile jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
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MaiTai Preserves

Makes about five half pints
4 lbs., about 7, champagne mangoes
1 ripe papaya, about two pounds
6 ripe, juicy bright green limes
1/4 c dark rum
4 oz ginger confit or 1/2 c finely minced fresh ginger or 1/2 c finely minced candied ginger
4 c sugar
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp black pepper
Peel and dice the mangoes. Peel, seed and dice the papaya. Stir together in a large glass or ceramic bowl.
Remove the peel, not the pith, from the limes using a vegetable peeler. Add the peel and one cup of sugar to the food processor or blender and blitz the bejeezus out of it until the lime is distributed throughout the sugar. Take a whiff. It smells amazing. Add this sugar, and the remaining three cups, to the papaya and mango.
Juice the limes. Add the lime juice, ginger confit and rum to the fruit mixture.
Crush the coriander and black pepper under the blade of your knife and add to the fruit. I tried toasting the spices, but prefered the flavor untoasted.
Cover with parchment, then plastic wrap, and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.
Strain out the fruit and bring the syrup to a boil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Raise the temperature slowly so the syrup doesn’t burn, this process will take about an hour. When the syrup is at 218°F, add the fruit, stir well, and continue to stir as the mixture comes back to a boil. You may need to tilt the pot so the syrup is deep enough to measure with a candy thermometer. (These are very small batches!)
It will take about ten minutes until the fruit and syrup combine. Stir stir stir. The bubbles will change, and the mixture will go from very foamy to bubbles that burst slowly to reveal clear preserves below. When the jam is ready, remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 tsp of butter, to remove the remaining bubbles.
Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Process in a waterbath for 10 minutes.
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Pineapple Rum Preserves

Makes about three half pints
1 large, very ripe pineapple
3 c sugar (I used white, but half brown sugar would be wonderful)
1/4 c dark rum
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Juice of one lemon
To assess the ripeness of your pineapple, tug at the large leaf. It should pull away like an artichoke leaf, with a slight tug. Smell the pineapple. It should smell sweet and fruity. There should be no green, or very little, on the outside of the fruit. When ripe, they turn golden.
Hack off the top leaves and cut the bottom to make a flat surface. Using a large, sharp knife, slice away the outer roughness. Cut in half lengthwise, then in half, the long way, again. Remove the tough core and cut out any brown *eyes* on the outside. Now dice the fruit.
Stir the fruit, rum, vanilla and lemon juice together and allow this mixture to macerate overnight. Mme. Ferber suggests ceramic, but glass bowls are perfect. Cover with parchment, then plastic wrap, and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.
Strain out the fruit and bring the syrup to a boil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Raise the temperature slowly so the syrup doesn’t burn, this process will take about an hour. When the syrup is at 218°F, add the fruit, stir well, and continue to stir as the mixture comes back to a boil. You may need to tilt the pot so the syrup is deep enough to measure with a candy thermometer. (These are very small batches!)
It will take about ten minutes until the fruit and syrup combine. Stir stir stir. The bubbles will change, and the mixture will go from very foamy to bubbles that burst slowly to reveal clear preserves below. When the jam is ready, remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 tsp of butter, to remove the remaining bubbles.
Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Process in a waterbath for 10 minutes.
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Mango Banana Coulis with Grapefruit

Makes about five half pints
4 lb. champagne mango, about 9
1 lb. small sweet bananas
1 ripe, juicy grapefruit
4 c sugar
Juice of one lemon
Dice the mango. Slice the bananas into 1/4″ rounds. Stir fruits together. Add the juice of the grapefruit and any pulp that squeezes out, too. [I wish I had thought to add 1/4 c minced, candied grapefruit peel, as well.]
Stir in the sugar and lemon juice.
Cover with parchment, then plastic wrap, and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.
Strain out the fruit and bring the syrup to a boil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Raise the temperature slowly so the syrup doesn’t burn, this process will take about an hour. When the syrup is at 218°F, add the fruit, stir well, and continue to stir as the mixture comes back to a boil. You may need to tilt the pot so the syrup is deep enough to measure with a candy thermometer. (These are very small batches!)
It will take about ten minutes until the fruit and syrup combine. Stir stir stir. The bubbles will change, and the mixture will go from very foamy to bubbles that burst slowly to reveal clear preserves below. When the jam is ready, remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 tsp of butter, to remove the remaining bubbles.
Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.