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Alright so I know that this blog isn’t about my cooking adventures. Who cares, its mine and I’ll write what I want. Haha.

This morning I got up and was rather  motivated.  So I didnt really want to do any heavy baking because its still pretty close to 100 degrees during the day here, but its been nice enough that we’ve turned the AC off and turned the swamp cooler on.

So I made Irish Soda Bread. I baked it to. It is pretty good, tastes kind of like rye bread, only with raisins and oatmeal here and there. Also its a little more like a beefy giant biscuit than a loaf of bread. Still I like it, and I bet it would be super duper awesome with Shepard’s Pie or something like that. Warm and hearty.

I also made 6 different kinds of cookies. I didn’t bake any of them though.

I made:

  • almond poppy seed
  • oatmeal raisin
  • chocolate chip
  • Brownie cookies
  • sugar
  • chamomile/lavender with almond slivers (from a base of sugar cookie dough.)

I made them. I moved each btch into mixing bowls covered them and put them in the fridge. Once they were totally cooled, I spooned them out (I’m not done with the process) onto wax paper on a cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the freezer. I have a deep freezer so I just set it on top. I am sure that you could find trays of varying sizes to fit in whatever type frezer you have.

Then once they are frozen solid, I take them out, put them in a vacuum seal bag with a layer of wax paper between the stacks and then I vacuum seal them and place back in the freezer. I recommend marking the bags with the date and type of cookies before taking them out of the freezer, the reason I recommend this is because, your probably much better off having  the cookies stay as chilled as possible during the vacuum and trip back to the freezer. Its okay to take a day or three on this step to let them all freeze fully so there aren’t any squishy messes.

Once I was wrapping the cookie dough adventure, I made tuna salad with boiled eggs, I actually made 2 dozen boiled eggs but I only put about 7 or  in the tuna salad.  (which yeah is about 1/3 of the salad) We’ve been having a lot of salad lately, trying to be more healthy while we can be, and D likes boiled eggs a lot. Well, I do to, probably not as much as him though, but I like making things that he enjoys.

So the tuna salad with mixed greens was lunch and I made brats, zucchini and onions saute’d, and I made friend potatoes I bought the potatoes like 2 weeks ago and I was afraid with how humid its been that they would go bad soon if I didn’t use them. Also, I got a new deep fat fryer, and it was about time I tried it out.

I want to point out here, that I am not much of a deep fried foods kind of person, I don’t do it often but when I do, (tempura battered veggies, or chicken wings) Its pretty cool to have a decent fryer around. Its not something that I NEED but it is something that makes life easier.

That’s pretty much my day of cooking. This kept me in the kitchen almost the entire day, either making, cooking, freezing, or cleaning, I finally finished cleaning the fryer out and putting it back in the box and on the shelf above the cabinets about 30 minutes ago.

When I started researching, one of the things I found is that using FOOD Grade plastic buckets are very important. I have said this before, and I will say this again, the way you store your food is just as important, if not more important than the money that you spend on the food itself.

The reason that I say that is that many of the foods you buy, you will buy a bulk of it in the first couple of years while you are gathering your greatest amounts of food and then after that you will only be purchasing to rotate. So in essence, the way you store your food may be around 10-30 years for the long term staples. Its okay to save money though if its at all possible.

D uses pickle buckets for his work, what he does is take things apart to work on them and while they are in pieces he will place those pieces into a 5 gallon bucket so that they stay with the rest of that particular machine. One of his customers brings them by occasionally, he manages a place where they make sandwiches.

So I know they are food grade, but I didn’t know how to get rid of the god awful smell. I did some research and some of what I have found works and others totally didn’t. So I will give you a running tally of what I found, what I tried and whats worked for me. There is only one method that I found that I haven’t tried and I would give credit but I found it on a forum and it was only a 3 line paragraph by “anon”

I digress.

So plastic food grade 5 gallon tubs CAN be purchased. But they really are rather expensive, and like I said D has a friend who gives them to us for free. Which is totally worth putting a little bit of effort into them.

I found this basic list with a few ideas on on how to implement (on most) on various forums, not in the same place, sometimes only one idea on a page. It probably took me 2 hours of searching for all of these ideas. I am not complaining, I just want to paint a picture. Its easy to find one or two of these answers everywhere but the biggest one I have found is to use vinegar on copious amounts or bleach.

Ideas Found:

  • used coffee grounds mixed with warm water
  • oxy clean with water left in the sun
  • a bowl of charcoal briquettes and leave the lids on (5-10 days)
  • lemon juice
  • dish washing liquid
  • tomato juice watered down
  • news paper

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I am not a huge fan of going without deodorant. I don’t like smelling either. I don’t think that the commercially available “all natural” stuff works very well. I stock pile deodorant and toothpaste just like I do food and water, but just as I mentioned in my post about going without shampoo… Its a good idea to understand the basics of doing it an alternative all natural way with products that you will have on hand anyhow. Right?

I cant remember where I found this recipe. I have tried the recipe, and used it. It worked all right. I think that I have friends who are really much more into the Granola side of things than I am and I know that this along with a few other homemade things would be an awesome gift for them, especially if you knew what scents they really liked. This is really cheap probably $2-3 a batch.

The recipe I have used is

3 tbs Shea butter

3 tbs baking soda

2 tbs cocoa butter

2 tbs corn starch

1/4 tsp vitamin e oil (or you can puncture and drain 2 or 3 gal caps of the same)

1/4 – 1/2 tsp essential oils (Whatever scents you like)

You CAN add 1-2 tbs of vegetable glycerin or bees wax to make it softer if you’d like.

Microwave the Shea butter and cocoa butter until melted, mix in the cornstarch and baking soda, mix until smooth and then stir in the vitamin  e oil and the essential oils.

Once you’ve completely combined, place in a 4 ounce jar, which is perfect for this recipe. Put the contents into the fridge and let it set for 24 hours. If you make more than one, leave the one you will not be using daily in the fridge.

The deodorant should be melted by rubbing the amount of a pea in your hands to soften and then wiping onto your under arms. If its a warmer day they mix will already be somewhat softer but if you chose not to add the bees wax or glycerin it may be a little harder (it will still soften it you warm it up thought.

It worked for me, though I couldn’t trust it on a sleeveless black shirt. I noticed that it left a noticeable residue, but it doesn’t stain.

Sorry I didnt take any pictures of this, but you can find them if you do a search online I think, I have seen them.

It looks milky and off white, kind of like a light colored cocoa butter.

Even though this isn’t my cup of tea, it worked rather well and I would rely on it if need be. Its always good to be prepared with alternatives.

So I tried to sprouting before, sort of. I  talked about it before “Oregano Sprouts” But they died.

I bought this sprout pack and seeds like 3 months ago I think. Never used it because I just hadn’t had time. Till now.

So here is my adventure in sprouting, that actually worked! “I didn’t kill them!!!” (I have such a black thumb)

So here’s what we start with.

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Rotation is very important.

When you have several months or several years of food, you need to make sure that you are using the oldest food that you purchased first. This idea is called First In  First Out or FIFO.

So how do you keep track?

Well for me, I don’t keep my food storage in my cabinets upstairs, I don’t have food cabinets in my kitchen, I only have a pantry and thats chock full of spices and open food (half a bag of rice, open flour, things that have been using or plan to use within a day or two) Everything else I have is in my basement. I am always running down to get this or that from my stores, or sending the kids to fetch something.

So how do you keep track?

I have seen several methods that seem like a good idea.

Keep relative loose track and write dates on everything. This works decently if you only have a few months of food storage. writing the dates down helps you to keep everything lined up with the oldest upfront.

Another idea I have seen is to write down on a list every time they remove something from the store of food, this works okay if you only have short term food storage (less than 6 months) and most of it is located in your kitchen, and is easily arranged, because you know to replace it, I don’t see how it helps you to know its the oldest.

ALWAYS write the date, no matter what method you choose.

My canned food is lined up, I havent had the ability, time, or money to purchase or make a can rotation system yet. So what I do is I have everything in single rows, sometimes 3 or 4 high, when I buy more of anything I push the column back, which means that the oldest is in the back, when I go to get something, I walk around to the back of the shelf and pull from that column in the back, the cans arent facing me, but generally I don’t have a problem getting lost on what I am picking up, this works for boxed food as well.

When it comes to things like Rice, sugar and wheat, I don’t even bother buying smaller amounts all of them are in 25 pound bags or 5 gallon buckets (it is my plan to have them all in 5 gallon buckets, I just havent been able to yet, but thats for another article) I don’t rotate these stores though, I just add on top, they have huge shelf lives I make note of when they were purchased and I don’t worry about them, they don’t have a 12-24 month shelf life like canned foods would.

Now, I have not implemented this next idea but it is the one (for me) that is the best idea. This is the rubber band idea. In this scenario, what we would do is place a wide rubber band around the newest box of pasta or can of chili or whatever it is, and  rotate forward, when you reach the product with the rubber band, work it to the more recent newest and so on. The reason I like this one, is because I can see it working really well for my boxed goods, because eventually I will not have the ability to walk to the back of the shelf, I will have to rearrange my shelving units because I am again running out of space.

Another options that I can see is color co-ordination. get colored post its or stickers of letters or whatever I actually really like the idea of the letters. when you purchase a batch of any given product as your organizing and getting ready to put it up, check to see what color or letter the oldest product has on it, then add another color (maybe the next in the rainbow) If your using colors you may want to write down some where obvious what your codes or order of your colors are for your kids or hubby.

This is all confusing. I know. Food storage feels easy to me but I have done hundreds of hours of research. If I am not clear on this, if you would like clarification on rotation, or anything else I wrote for that matter, please comment and I will get back to you.

The most important thing, is writing the dates on what you buy. Even if you only store food in your cupboards at least you will be able to see how long something has been stored there since you purchased it.

You should keep records either online or on paper, I recommend on paper (You can print forms to help you keep track) Only in case you are unable to use electricity for some reason. A lot of people will add their rotation, and their inventory online, and once a month or so print out their excel sheets or inventory sheets. Its really up to you.

This is not about food storage exactly but it is about self sufficiency,  and about knowing how to take care of yourself and your family.

The reasons that people generally state that they want to go without Shampoo are normally the organic type (or as I grew up calling them “granola“) and they want to lessen the chemicals in their lived or they want to be, well, more organic.

So the idea behind the “no poo” movement is that by eliminating shampoo and allowing your hair and scalp  to return to its original state will eventually give you the end goal of being able to wash your hair with water alone.

So how is this done?

Some people will sprinkle dry baking soda in their hair, comb it through and then rinse in the shower after allowing the oils of your hair to soak into the baking soda.others will use baking soda and water as a paste (approximately one tablespoon baking soda and one half teaspoon water.) Another option is 2 tbs of vinegar in one cup of water. You can use them both also.

Another way that others have tried (or started rather) is using less shampoo over time and shampooing less often until shampoo is eliminated completely.

Some people say that it is a very small inconvenience, others say that it was an oily mess. I have seen the no shampoo thing work. I knew a bunch of granola’s when I was younger and not using shampoo was just the tip of the ice burg. But I know, it is possible for it to look and feel clean even though its only been washed with water.

But for the most part in my opinion, it looks gross, and feels worse. Hygiene is so important to me, and being deficient in that area is unacceptable.  obviously I see that this movement has its need, its time, and its place.  But while I can appreciate this movement, I don’t plan on actually doing it myself. Unless I absolutely had to, its important to know how to do things like this. Really.

Also, in my research, people have said it takes them anywhere from 3 weeks of no washing to 8 months before the oil in their scalp evens out. Most people who stuck it out, say that if you just stick it out, it makes it worth it.

Here are a few things I’ve found that are all natural that can help clean and/or  condition/improve hair health of your hair.

Burdock: root helps prevent dandruff

Catmint: leaves encourage hair growth and soothes scalp irritations

Chamomile: flowers soften and lighten hair

Flannel Mullein: lightens hair

Goosegrass: tonic and cleansing, helps prevent dandruff

Henna: red hair dye and conditioner

Horsetail: non-fertile stems and branches strengthens the hair

Lavender: antiseptic, antibiotic, stimulates hair growth, and degreases

Lime: flowers clean and softens

Marigold: lightens hair color

Nasturtium: for hair growth

Parsley: enriches hair color and gives a nice luster

Rosemary: tonic and conditioner, one of the best herbs to use, gives luster and body, also slightly darkens the hair. (This is good to use if you notice your hair lightening due to baking soda use.)

Rhubarb: the root makes a yellow hair dye

Sage: tonic and conditioning, darkens the hair

Southernwood: encourages hair growth and helps prevent dandruff

Stinging Nettle: tonic and conditioning and helps prevent dandruff

Witch Hazel: leaves and bark are astringent and cleanses oily hair

Most recipes using these herbs call for dried or fresh, you can boil it into a tea and infuse it into your rinse routine (or make it a rinse all by itself). The oils will work as well, but make sure they’re pure, and use very little. A few drops can go a long way!

~~~

Sometimes things just aren’t working. I found this list of trouble shooting techniques:

Long Hair:
Comb your hair from scalp to tips before you go into the shower to loosen dirt and detangle. You may need to use a bit more baking soda in your mix (one tablespoon per 250mls/1 cup of water. If you need more, use two tablespoons and two cups, or three tablespoons and three cups. Don’t overuse your baking soda, or you will end up with dry hair! Less is more.)
Frizzy Hair:
You’re probably using too much baking soda, or leaving it in your hair too long. Try adding honey, or rubbing a little bit of moisturizing oil onto your hair (coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, extra virgin olive oil…).
Greasy Hair:
Some people experience an adjustment, or “de-tox” period of greasiness as they transition to no-poo. Do not over-wash, it will pass soon! If you’ve been using your routine faithfully and experience greasy hair, try using less ACV in your rinse, cut out honey if you’ve been using it, try switching to a citrus rinse, or use a comb instead of a brush to style your hair.
If you have greasy hair and need a quick fix on a day when you’re not washing your hair, try applying a tiny bit of cornstarch to your scalp and combing through to the ends. Remember, greasy hair does not mean dirty hair, it probably doesn’t need to be washed!
Dry hair:
If your hair is very dry, you may have used too much baking soda and should lesson the amount. You may also need to use more ACV in your rinse. Also, try smoothing a tiny bit of oil into your hair either after you shower, or in the morning. A tiny bit is all you need. Coconut oil works well, and smells great!
If you find your hair is chronically dry, and you like the idea of a hot oil treatment every so often, you can follow one of these recipes, the latter is best for dry hair and the former is a hot oil treatment for occasional use :
– 1 teaspoon soybean oil
– 2 teaspoons castor oil
Combine ingredients then warm on low heat. Massage mixture into the scalp and hair. Wrap hair in a hot towel for 15 minutes. Shampoo & rinse out.
– 1/2 cup of dried rosemary leaves
– 1/2 cup olive oil
Combine ingredients then heat up until warm. Strain. Coat the entire scalp and ends of hair with the oil mixture. Wrap hair in saran wrap and a towel over that, leave on for 15 minutes. Wash hair twice to remove the oil. Use this treatment twice a month or when your needs a deep conditioning. Leaves your hair shiny and rehydrated.
If you want, or need the occasional deep condition, especially if you have very long hair with breakage at the ends, you can try a mix with one small jar of real mayonnaise and 1/2 of an avocado. Mash them together in a bowl with your hands until it’s a minty green colour, then smooth onto your hair. Put on a shower cap, or wrap your hair in saran wrap and leave on for 20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing clean. If you’re using this only for the tips of your hair, or for very short hair, half the ingredients.
If you swim regularly in pools, or have very chlorinated water you may find your hair dries easily. To help prevent chlorine damage after you’ve gone swimming, try mixing one egg, one eggshell’s worth of olive oil with one quarter of a peeled cucumber. Blend together, spread evenly onto hair, leave in ten minutes and then rinse well. See also [I have hard water!]
If you regularly blow-dry, stop! Scrunch with a towel and then let your hair air-dry. Curling, straightening or kinking your hair using hot irons can also attribute to drying and breakage. You can also try using a boar-bristle brush to brush your hair with, this will distribute your hair’s natural oils evenly. Though be warned that you don’t need to use it all the time, and using it too much might actually make your hair feel more oily then usual!
White Build-up:
You’re probably using too much baking soda! Remember, you only need one tablespoon per cup (250mls) of water, for long hair, you only need a maximum of 2-3 tablespoons. It doesn’t seem like much, but it goes a long way. For easier distribution, keep a little cup with some baking soda in the shower and take a pinch and apply to wet hair, then rub in.
Itchy hair/scalp:
Try infusing your rinse with tea tree, rosemary or lavender essential oils (only a few drops at the most!) Try changing your rinse routine. Add a bit of honey, try a rosemary tea rinse… experiment! For itchy scalp caused by build-up or dryness, try adding a few pinches of brown sugar (not white, as it will dissolve) to your wash and rubbing it through. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. If you use any oils on your scalp (like jojoba, or coconut), stop and see if that makes a difference. See also [I have hard water!]
Dandruff:
Skin cells flake and slough off the body all the time, normally skin go through the cycle of dying and being replaced once a month. If this process is sped up and the skin cells aren’t removed, you get dandruff. Although the real causes of dandruff are still unknown, most theories involve the sebaceous glands being plugged, or overproducing.
To help control dandruff you can use a mild acidic solution on your scalp, before shampooing, about twice a week.
– 1/2 cup Water
– 1/2 cup of White Vinegar
Combine ingredients then apply directly to the scalp. Use before shampooing. Apply twice a week.
If you’re using any oils on your scalp (coconut, jojoba, etc – not essential) stop and see if that helps. Also try adding some brown sugar to your baking soda wash and massage it into your scalp to help slough away flakes. Don’t use white sugar, it will just dissolve.
Limp or weak hair:
You are over-conditioning! Cut back on how often you use a conditioning rinse. If you’re using hot oil treatments, try going a little longer between them. Think about which moisturizing ingredients you’re using in your routines, and cut back where you can.
I have hard water!
There are several things you can do if you have hard water, which can be very drying and cause damage to hair. If you can afford to install a water softener, which range anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, have it done. If you can’t, use distilled water or boiled water to wash your hair with. It won’t remove all the impurities, but it can make a difference.
Here are a few recipes for making your own hair spray and hair gel.
Hairspray:
1/ Chop 2 lemons, add 2 cups water, and simmer in a pan over low heat until lemons are
quite soft. Cool, then strain through cheesecloth. Pour into a spray bottle, add 1 Tbsp.
vodka, and shake. Dilute with water if too sticky.
The vodka ensures it lasts a long time.
2/ Chop one lemon (or an orange for dry hair). Place in a pot with 2 cups water. Boil until half of the initial amount remains. Cool, strain, and place in a spray bottle. Store in the refrigerator. If it is too sticky, add more water. Add one ounce rubbing alcohol as a preservative and then the spray can be stored for up to two weeks unrefrigerated.
Hair Gel (#1 is not vegan, #2 is):
1/ 1/2 to 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup warm water
Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup warm water. Keep refrigerated and use as you would a purchased gel.
2/ One cup water
2 tablespoons flax seed
1-2 drops of essential oil of your choice.
Combine the water and seeds in a small saucepan, bring them to a boil and then remove from heat. Set aside for a half hour. Strain through a colander. When completely cooled, add the oil and mix through. Transfer to a wide-mouthed jar with a tight lid (mason jars work well!), and use as you would any other gel product.

since I decided to start taking pictures, I thought I would photograph some of the things I make a bunch but never take pictures of.

I’ve started making bread pretty regularly. I only buy bread now occasionally out of convenience or from the bakery, pastries and such that I don’t want to bake or hotdog/hamburger buns which never taste right when I bake them. (always to heavy)

The recipe that I am using today:

(Sorry the picture isnt perfect) Its on page 75 in “The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook”

I did adjust the recipe slightly and I will talk about the small changes I made and why…

Hopefully you can read the recipe above or have the book, the recipe I used was:

1 1/8 cup water

2 eggs

5tbs butter

4 cups flour

1 tbs wheat gluten

1tbs dough enhancer

1tbs sugar

2 1/4 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

This is for the 2 pound loaf.

This is my bread maker.

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So yesterday I picked up the netted bag I’d purchased the day before of peaches from the “Fresh and Easy” market down the road from where I live. I totally love shopping at that store. But I think, because of the heat the peaches were angry because overnight they got so soft, and some of them had spots on them.

Now granted, they were relatively small and werent hard to begin with, but they went south fast. So I parboiled them, and peeled them, mashed them up and made jam with them.

the recipe I used, is as follows:

Sweet Peach Jam

Juice of 1 medium lemon

3 cups mashed peaches (about 2-2 1/2 pounds)

3/4 cup peach Schnapps

1 pouch liquid pectin (3 ounces)

7 cups sugar

I was afraid it wouldn’t gel with so much liquid but it did. It doesnt taste anything like alcohol and I boiled it for 7 minutes or so, so I am sure there isnt any actual alcohol left in it. But it really really does give a lot of peach flavor.

I processed it, in 15, 4oz Kerr Jars. I decided to make it in smaller jars because I wasnt sure what I would use it for (other than making thumbprint cookies and maybe adding to a chicken marinade for some dish.)

A while ago, someone suggested smaller jars for smaller batches so that I could kind of test of flavors and recipes, and be able to give them out and let more people try them while not spending more incase they didnt like them. Also I think that being able to make several flavors in the small jars will be awesome because then I can give 3 or 4 jars away at a time in sampler sets. which may be awesome for Christmas.

D has a huge family and they always do a Christmas thing, no need to remind me, I am still away that I am a Jew, but I do give gifts to my children for Christmas, its about family and fun for us, not religion.

So, its super yummy, amazing really. But even D asked me what the heck I was doing making Jam on SUCH a hot day. I told him, its either today or not at all tomorrow the peaches will be dust. (Ok maybe not that bad, but gross enough to not want to make them into something else.)

A friend of mine is doing a Water Bath Canning party.  Just a canning 101 kind of deal to give the basics.

She asked me if I would like to talk a little bit about food storage. Why to store food, and where to begin. I haven’t ever really done anything like that before but I am totally happy to talk to people about doing food storage and explain why it is SOOOOO important.

Send me a personal message at phedrespaz at g mail dot com (please forgive me, I prefer not to add links for my email on my blog due to spammers) My friend who is throw this shindig is going to give me a free gift to give away to some lucky email entry! It comes with a bunch of coupons for canning as well.

Awesome, right? So shoot me an email and I will let you know how the talk goes.   :)

Its only a 6 quart but I am excited about it.

I like to cook, I think that mastering (or striving to master) your arts is always important.

I want to pressure can food. But I think that an important aspect to that is being able to pressure cook first.

I also think for canning homemade stews and chili it will be nice to be able to pressure cook it and then take the finished products and put them into canning jars and process them in another much larger pressure canner.

I’m looking forward to it.

Back in February for D’s birthday I bought him a really nice camera since the last one I’d purchased (which wasn’t uber nice but was easy to use, functional and took nice pictures) was taking out to the range for target practice and was accidentally left in a box full of magazines and by the time it bumped its way home in the back of the truck the screen was cracked.  But I digress. I am making a new goal to start taking and posting pictures of my new adventures. Although I may not be perfect at it, it is a goal.

I’m actually quite a shutter bug and I love taking pictures while we are out and about but with little things like cooking and sprouting or whatever, I just don’t think about it… So now, I will try.

I’m really excited!