Ever heard of making your own laundry soap? No? Well, let me wax poetic about why doing so is a good idea.
1) It doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that a lot of other detergents have, meaning it won’t break down the fibers in/is gentler on your clothes, textiles, etc.
2) It is way cheaper than buying premade detergent. We are talking about $.70 a load here folks. That is easily a 1/3 of the price you would pay for even no name detergent.
3) It’s fun to make!
Hopefully, I’ve at least got your mind’s cogs turning and (possibly) interested in giving homemade laundry soap a go. I found this recipe after doing a little internet digging and was able to source all of the ingredients at my local Harris Teeter. I payed roughly $9 for everything since they didn’t have any smaller sized boxes of washing soap or Borax. On the flip side, I have enough material to handle about 5oo loads of laundry!
- 1/2 cup Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup Borax
- 1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap (shredded- I used an old cheese grater)
- 1 gallon plus 6 cups water
- 2 gallon container/bucket with lid
Mix first four ingredients in your bucket.
Let sit for 24 hours until it “gels” (It will be the consistency of egg drop soup). Use 1/2 cup per load.
Please Note: this mix is not designed to be “sudsy”. It is not the soap bubbles that clean your clothes it’s the actual ingredients in your mix.
Holy Moly Gaucamole Batman, this weekend was exhausting! The reason for such whirlwind activity was a very important one- Roscoe turned 5! We had not one, not two, but THREE parties for him with the end result being one very happy, and very tired, young man. The celebrations started out with cake and party favors for his class. In the interest of time and my sanity, I did not make his cakes for 2/3′s of the parties and bought the favors online via Oriental Trading- easy peasy. After being hopped up on sugar and the added excitement of turning 5, Roscoe came home to celebrate another party with family. My mom and dad came in for the party, too, making it an even more special day for our special guy.
What summer party is complete without watermelon?!
The cake! (Spiderman of course)
Our big presents to little man were a touch tablet (only $55 folks- not an ipad!) and an ukelele. I am proud to say he loved both! As for us, we loved having so many special people with whom to share this awesome occasion. Once the party was over, however, it was time to gear up for party #3. Fortunately for us, we decided to keep the friends party low key opting to have it at our neighborhood playground. We were pleasantly surprised how many folks showed up and had a truly memorable time.
Roscoe’s meal request were pizzas from his favorite spot- Corner Slice. He even made a custom pizza request of Mac n’ Cheese Bite Pizza. The consensus was that it was delicious, but I just couldn’t muster the courage to give it a try.
For dessert we had homemade vanilla ice cream and “hamburger” cupcakes that I made copying a recipe I found online (courtesy of Delicious Melicious)
Although it was an exhausting weekend, we are confident Roscoe felt uber special and had an amazing couple of days: mission accomplished!
Just a brief recap of our Father’s Day celebration for ya’ today. We spent the weekend at the lake house with Aaron’s family and I hunkered down to make a feast that could satisfy even the most insatiable of carnivores. The menu? For my part, I parboiled several racks of pork ribs and then threw them on the grill alongside chicken drumsticks, basting them with my homemade country-style barbecue glaze (the recipe is below)- and, yes, I did manage the grill (yet another hidden talent).
Aaron’s Mom took care of most of the sides, including fresh green beans, corn, and watermelon while I made a peach cobbler using fresh peaches, garnished with homemade vanilla ice cream. Described in one word? Scrumptious. The best part is that all the dad’s present felt special, loved, and happy with full bellies to boot.
Country-Style Barbecue Glaze/Marinade
Mix together all of the following:
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. molasses
- 2 tbsp. worchestire sauce
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. ground mustard
- 2 tsp. chili powder
I had prepared a well-thought out, long post for today, but the cyber gods laughed at me and erased it right before I posted. Boo! To make a long story short, my topic today was all about my adventures in the kitchen- the latest of which is making homemade pasta. It is definitely better than store bought and was actually fun to make, too. I found my recipe in a 80′s version of Good Housekeeping and found it easy to follow with simple ingredients (mainly all-purpose flour, olive oil, water, salt, eggs). I am too lazy to repost the recipe, however, if you do by chance want it just let me know in the comments section. Sorry to be lazy, but running after a 4 (almost 5) year old and taking care of an infant has drained me of energy today. Just trust me though- making your own pasta is well worth the effort. The best part? You don’t need a fancy machine or hand crank to make simple noodles.
Upon the advice of friends, we took a trek to supermarket on the other side of town a few days ago. But this wasn’t just any ole grocery store- this was the holy grail of international food stores: the Super G Mart. The clientele alone attested to its diversity of products. The place was absolutely packed with folks from all corners of the globe! (This immediately gave the place some major street cred in my not so humble opinion) We grabbed ourselves a cart and perused the awesome product section with varieties and options that I had never even heard or seen before. The aisles were just as exciting and full of ingredients we were anxious to try at home. Our first foray into homemade foreign cuisine was inspired by dried corn husks: homemade tamales!
I’ve seen several tamale recipes in food magazines and it seemed relatively easy. The first step is to soak the corn husks in warm water. I just filled a large bowl, putting roughly 12 husks in (they are very thin) and putting a heavy glass bowl on top to ensure they were submerged. After they soaked for a about an hour I drained the water and shook any excess off of the husks in the sink. The recipe I was using called for Mara Harisa (a corn flour mix), but that happened to be one thing I failed to pick up at Super G. So I substituted using corn tortillas. I simply shredded and pulsed them in the food processor until they were finely ground, adding vegetable oil, white flour, salt, chili powder, and a little cumin until it reached the consistency of peanut butter.
For my filling, I went simple for this first batch. Aaron browned some turkey meat with chopped onions, adding a little salt and pepper to bring out the flavor. When this was cooked it was time to put our tamales together! I went on You Tube to find a tutorial on assembly and then mimiced their directions. It was suprisingly simple to do: spread 1-2 tablespoons of your Mara Harisa on one side of husk (fat side), put your filling on top, and roll!
I secured my tamales with torn strips of husk to ensure they stayed together during the steaming process.
After 90 minutes of steaming, they were done and ready to enjoy. The verdict? Quite tasty, particularly when served with a fresh tomatilla and cactus salsa.
It seems my topics this week are thus far focused on Southern culture- yesterday was all about the porch and today is about collards. How much more Southern can a gal get? But let’s focus on collard greens. They aren’t just a veggie to enjoy on New Year’s, they are delectable all year round (at least when cooked properly). Yes it’s true that you can smell collards cooking from a good six miles away if the wind is right, but they are entirely worth if only because of the loads of vitamins and nutrients they pack. We scarf them down more frequently than most folks because our neighborhood restaurant The Iron Hen serves them up in a most amazing way: collard green egg rolls.
That may sound absurd initially, but one little bite of these apps and you are sure to be a convert. Given that it’s not feasible or advisable for me to order these every day I knew I had to try my hand at making them myself. My first step was sending Aaron out to the local Asian supermarket for the egg roll wrappers. Unfortunately, they were all out of those (I still am perplexed how an Asian food mart can be out of egg roll wrappers, but whatevs) and picked up spring roll wrappers as an alternative.
I opted to use a bag of frozen collards instead of cooking fresh due to time restraints. I threw my collards (dethawed), cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and a touch of sugar into my sauce pan and let it cook for about 30 minutes on simmer after first bringing it to a boil. After I drained and cooled the mix, I began to make my spring rolls. First step was to brush the edges of the wrap with a beaten egg so it sticks to itself when rolled. I then put about 2 tbsp of collards at the front of my wrap and began to roll, folding in the sides as I went.
I made about a dozen of these bad boys and Aaron dropped them in small batches into the fry daddy to crisp up.
The result? Awesomeness.
Next time I make these rolls I plan to add diced chorizo for a little more flavor depth. I will also cut the vinegar with more water next time since it was very powerful compared to the light and flaky wrap. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying first attempt and made an awesome, albeit not the healthiest, dinner. Bon apetit!
Being on maternity leave is both a necessity as we adjust to a new baby, particularly their sleeping/eating patterns, and a bit of an indulgence since I actually have time to devote to tasks I would otherwise be too harried to undertake. One such task that I’ve been interested in giving a go is making pita bread. Word on the street is that they are actually rather easy to make and after having giving it a go, I full heartedly agree. They are also much tastier than the store bought version!
My first step was to find a recipe online. I went with Food Network’s version since it was easy and I already had all the necessary ingredients on hand. It does require some time to prepare the dough since it has to rise twice over a several hour period, but other than that it is way too easy to make these. Even when I return to work I can guarantee these pitas will certainly be a frequently made item in our kitchen. Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast (I used Fleischman’s)
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- About 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bread bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add whole wheat flour, one cup at a time, then 1 cup white flour. Stir 100 times (one minute). Let rest for at least 10 minutes, but up to 2 hours.
Sprinkle salt over the mix and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add white flour, one cup at a time. When the dough is too stiff to stir, turn it out onto a lightly floured bread board and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Return the dough to a lightly oiled bread bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least double in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Gently punch down.
The dough will make approximately 16 pitas if rolled out into circles approximately 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4-inch thick. Size and shape all depend on you, but for breads of this dimension the following baking tips apply:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough in half, then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide dough into eight equal pieces and flatten each piece with floured hands. Roll flat with rolling pin to 8-9″ diameter.
Bake 2 at a time (or more if your oven is larger) directly on baking stone or baking sheets. Bake each bread for 3 or 4 minutes, until the bread has gone into a full “balloon” or until it is starting to turn lightly golden, whichever happens first.
When baked, remove, place on a rack for about five minutes to let cool slightly, then wrap breads in a large kitchen towel (this will keep the breads soft).
Aaron loved the pitas as much as I did and agree they are tastier than store bought. I never cease to be amazed how homemade trumps machine made/store bought almost every time!
I’ve been debating whether or not to rehash a recent breakfast we enjoyed with our Wilmington houseguests. It was certainly delicious and hearty, but I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone going into cardiac arrest. With that being said, the following recipe actually came from another set of friends who enjoy this protein-rich dish quite frequently. Seeing as how they still remain in good health, I’ve decided it’s safe to spread on the blogosphere: Scottish Eggs.
What exactly are Scottish Eggs? Its a softboiled egg wrapped in sausage, dipped in yolk wash, dipped in panko bread crumbs. The most redeeming quality of this dish is that at least it is baked, although I’ve since learned that they can be fried as well.
In reality, they are quite tasty. I was skeptical at first (to say the least), but gave it a whirl with a little dollop of whole grain mustard. Suprisingly good! If you want to give it a go yourself, here’s how you do it:
Pre-heat oven to 375 to 400 (mine was on 375 since it’s gas).
First and foremost, if you’ve never soft boiled an egg before all you have to do is place your raw eggs in a pot covered by enough cold/room temperature water to cover the eggs. Bring it to a boil, boiling for only 2-3 minutes. Immediately drain the water and cover the eggs with ice to stop the cooking process. Once cool peel the shells off carefully. Pack the sausage around the eggs and then dip in the egg yolk and then the panko bread crumbs. Place on a cookie sheet lined in aluminum foil (to prevent staining of your pan) and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with whole grain mustard. Enjoy! (and be sure to go for a long walk afterwards)
We had a wonderful Valentine’s Day on Tuesday although a bit more low key than in years past- I suppose that happens when you have a kids? Anyhoo, our celebration plans weren’t extravagant by any means; a card exchange, smooches and hugs, and a decadent meal we planned to cook up ourselves.
As I mentioned yesterday, we scored a major deal at the local farmer’s market this past Saturday: two for one grass-fed rack of lamb! For only $14 buckaroos, we could eat the equivalent of a meal that would easily be $70 for us in a restaurant. Aaron and I got down to business with our rubs/glazes, with Aaron opting for a garlic dijon mustard blend and me going with a mint/olive oil/sal and pepper blend.
With Aaron manning the grill preparations, I got the sides ready: baked potatoes and Tom Ka Gai (Coconut and Chicken Soup). I found my recipe for the soup here, and subsituted light coconut milk for the full throttle version. With Roscoe on table setting duty we all contributed to making an excellent meal.
It was, to say the very least, absolutely delicious. All the flavors melded wonderfully together and Aaron cooked the racks to perfection. And for dessert? Homemade creme brulee of course!
It was a superb lover’s day meal if I may say so, better than going out to celebrate not just because of the food but rather because of the company of my family and the intimacy of our own home. Cheers!
Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s time once again to overindugle in conversation hearts, confessions of affection, and googly eyed adoration. While I wouldn’t qualify this day as my favorite holiday of the year, it is nice to have an annual reminder that we should vocalize and express our love for the special persons in our lives. We can too easily get caught up in daily doldrums and stresses and fail to adequately display our care and concern for our friends, family, and significant others. With that being said, lots of kisses and hugs to my wonderful husband, son, family, and friends- without you life would not be as magical or meaningful!
Mushiness and gushiness aside, I do have a rather appropriate recap to share. This past weekend we hosted our housewarming party for the new pad, complete with a vday theme. We called it our housewarming/lovefest and certainly felt the love from everyone who attended. (While I realize hosting a housewarming two weeks prior to my anticipated delivery date was risky, the good news is that the party did not have to move to the hospital.)
A quick shot of the decorations (although minus the tissue paper pom-poms we made)
We were also very fortunate to have some very special folks as visitors this weekend- our wonderful friends The Pohlman’s who came from Wilmington, North Carolina to celebrate with us. They made the weekend quite memorable with good conversation and company.
As for celebrating today, Aaron and I are going to enjoy a quiet night in with a planned feast of grass-fed rack of lamb, creme brulee, and a good bottle of wine (confession: I will be indulging in one glass). Roscoe has his own celebration at school and will likely come home wired from all the sugar and sweets. His valentine’s for his classmates are of course homemade (surprise!), but I thought they turned out rather cute.
But enough rambling about love for one day! I hope everyone has a wonderful day and takes time to show appreciation for the special people in their lives. xoxo