Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kelsey's Homemade Laundry Soap

Kelsey's Homemade Laundry Soap

As some of you may know, things are a little tight around here as Trevor is pursuing his art, and fixing up the house, and maybe fixing up some vehicles.  Therefore, we are cutting out unnecessary expenses.  Like laundry detergent.  I made my last batch in late November, and it has lasted me until now.  Woohoo! 

Making your own laundry detergent is easy.  It's cheap, and you know exactly what is in it. 

To make your own laundry detergent you will need:
A 5 gallon bucket with a lid
1 bar of soap
1 cup of Washing Soda
1/2 - 1 cup of Borax
3 gallons of water (+ 6 cups)
essential oils or fragrance oils (optional)

You may now have many questions running through your mind. Such as "Where can I find a 5 gallon bucket with a lid?" "What kind of bar soap?"  "What is Borax?" "What is Washing Soda?" and  "Where do I buy these?"   Don't worry, I'm going to tell you.

My friends at Dodger Bowl Lanes were kind enough to give me a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.  It was a pickle bucket and still smelled slightly of pickles, so if you do this, I recommend putting some bleach in there to soak overnight, then rinse it out completely.

This time I used Lever 2000, last time I used Dial.  Whatever you have on hand will work fine.  

Washing soda as defined by Wikepedia is Sodium Carbonate.  You can read more about it here:

Borax is also known as sodium borate.  You can read more about it here:

I purchased both my washing soda and my borax at the local Piggly Wiggly, I found them in the laundry aisle.  If I recall correctly they were each about $4.00 per box.  This is a good deal considering that you only use a small portion of the box for this recipe.  You may be able to find them cheaper, but I thought this was a good enough deal for me not to have to go hunting all over tarnation for them.

Step 1:  Heat 6 cups of water to boiling on your stovetop.  The saucepan that your husband borrowed from you to use for something in the garage would work great.  Especially because when he borrowed it, you raised an eyebrow, at the unidentified object in contained.  He reassured you that it was no big deal, and you moved on.  However, now, the saucepan is nowhere to be found, and he's just not sure where he left it.... Ah well, you can use your least favorite wok.  And don't bother getting upset about it, because he probably really won't care that much, and you will be the only one upset. 

Step 2:  Whittle down your bar of soap while the water heats up.  (The Lever 2000 whittled much more easily than the Dial did.)  Now, halfway through this process you will be little do these pieces really need to be?  I'm sure these larger chunks will melt down just fine.... WRONG, right about the time you think that you need to whittle those in at least half.  Or you will be watching this pot melt soap for-eva.  Okay not forever, but a really long time, and you will eventually use a slotted spoon to discard the large chunks floating on top.  I don't know this for a fact....I'm just could happen.  Do step 3 as you do this step.

Step 3:  Add whittled soap to boiling water.  Reduce heat so it is no longer boiling, just really really hot.  Stir often, maybe use a slotted spoon...just in case?

Step 4:  Once all (or most of the soap) has melted away, pour into the five gallon bucket.  (Be careful, it's very hot!)  I use hot pads just in case.  I put the bucket on the floor, it's easier to pour into. 

Step 5:  Add 1 cup of washing soda and up to 1 cup of borax to melted soap.  I use almost 1 cup of Borax because hubby's clothes are so dirty from playing in the garage all the time.  The first time I only used half a cup.  This is fine for my clothes, but I think Trev's could use the extra umph. 

Step 6:  Add 3 gallons of water.  You can use milk jugs, I use a 2 qt pitcher.  There are 4 qts in a gallon, so this is 6 pitchers. 

Step 7:  Stir it up.  Is good if you have a super long spoon so you don't have to touch it with your hands (It will dry them out in a hurry).  If you are using essential or fragrant oil, add up to an ounce about halfway through and continue stirring.  (See slotted spoon, just in case)

  Step 8:  Put the lid on, carry it to your laundry room, and let it sit over night.  In the morning it will be more of a gel.  You can stir it up periodically to keep it from clumping.  I don't know if that will work or not, but sure can't hurt. 

That's it, you now have your own laundry detergent!  I use a cap from one of my old laundry jugs to measure it out. 

If you live with someone who tends to be a little over-zealous on the use of their laundry soap, you can add water to make it stretch a bit further. 

If you have old laundry jugs you can put it in there and give to college students or friends as a nice gesture, or simply to keep it easier access for you. 

It doesn't make a bunch of suds, just remember it is the soap that cleans, not the suds.  If you have a front load washer, I would water it down a bit more.  This is a low suds operation, so it is perfect for front loaders as is, but probably doesn't need to be as potent. 

I don't mind wasting this as much as my other stuff.  We've all done it, forgot that we left a load in the washer all day...or since yesterday, okay fine, a couple of days.  It used to pain me to waste fragile soap on a re-wash, now I just dump some in and move on. 

This hasn't made me rich or anything, but I don't cringe at the thought of buying laundry soap anymore.  Now we can put our money toward things we need, like cute little coats for the dog to savings. 

If you try this, I would love to hear about your experience.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cabbage Kielbasa Stew

Cabbage Kielbasa Stew

I first made this stew when working in a local group home.  I would like to give a shout out to Diane Bober for the starter recipe.  When I moved on from the group home I didn't take any recipes with me other than what I had committed to memory, so I'm sure this isn't spot on.  This stew makes me feel warm all over and it smells delicious!  It's just perfect for a winter weather advisory afternoon.  Sometimes I make it in the crock pot, and sometimes, I want to eat it right now so I rush it on the stove.  Last night was one of those nights that I wanted it "right now."

1 Polksa Kielbasa (I used Turkey this time)
1 Onion
1 Medium Head of Cabbage
2 Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
1 can broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 can of water
2 garlic cloves
2  Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fennel seeds if ya got 'em,
(if not doctor it up with some rosemary and Italian seasoning, and a titch of cumin)
2 Potatoes (optional)

Cut up your onion, get that sauteing in the pan with a bit of oil of your choice.  Ideally, you would throw the sliced kielbasa in now too, but mine was frozen so I was thawing it out in the microwave.  While waiting for the kielbasa to thaw, go ahead and slice up your carrots and celery*, and throw them in the pan with some salt and pepper.  Add your garlic, minced. Ah now, the kielbasa has thawed... slice that  up thin and throw it in the pan.  Continue sauteing while you shred the cabbage, however large or small of pieces you want.  I am lazy, so we get big pieces of cabbage (easier for hubby to pick out too).  Add the cabbage to the pot, add your broth and water.  Sometimes I run out of broth and just use water.  You have to let it cook longer, but it still tastes pretty good!  

I then add my spices.  Throw in your bay leaves and cover the top with salt and pepper (you can always add more later). I keep forgetting to buy fennel seeds at the grocer, so I used a touch of cumin, and some Italian seasoning and some rosemary.  Use what you like to create a good flavor that you and your loved ones will enjoy.

Let it simmer on the stove until the cabbage is soft and tender.  Let it simmer longer if you want your flavors to merry more, it smells great.  I of course wanted to eat it "RIGHT NOW," so I didn't cook mine very long last night.  

You will see that I did not add potato.  You can add it if you like.  I leave it out because hubby sometimes picks out all the sausage leaving vegetable stew for me to eat.  If I leave out the potatoes, this doesn't happen as much. There is more sausage to stew ratio.  If you did add potatoes you can peel them or not peel them.  I wouldn't, because I hate peeling potatoes. 

  * I always wash my veggies before i peel them.  This way I can save the skins (onion, carrots, potatoes etc.) for a veggie broth for next time.  I throw them in a freezer bag and label it.  OR, i feed them to the chickens.  OR I make broth out of them, strain the broth and then feed it to the chickens.  AND your garbage doesn't get stinky!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cheeseburger Pizza with Pickles - Say Whaaat?

When I was 19, I got a job in a small town gas station.  I didn't even know I had applied, my mom had turned in an application for me and they called and were like "you're hired."  Thanks Mom!  I very much enjoyed my gas station job in this very tiny town.  It was the only gas station, and I was the new girl in town.  I hit it off really well with a lot of the guys in town....I think, because I wasn't their cousin....and I made their pizza.  I got to know everyone in town really, really, quickly many good relationships were formed...a couple I probably could have done without, but that's a story for a different day.  Today we are going to talk about Cheeseburger Pizza, a recipe I learned whilst working in the back room of this classy gas station.  

Ingredients you will need:

Pizza Crust (I use Jiffy, but you can use whatever you like)
1 can Pizza Sauce
1/3 cup Ketchup
1/3 cup Mustard
1/2 onion
1/2 lb ground beef
Equal parts Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese (enough to cover the top of your pizza)
 Tomato (optional)

Step One:
Make your crust and preheat your oven according to crust package directions.
Step 2:
Brown  and drain your hamburger.  (I usually do steps one and two at the same don't have to if you don't want to, but it saves time...)  Some people like to add the onions to the ground beef, I like my onions added later. 

Step 3:
Put your sauce on the crust.  I use about 1/2 can to start and add more if I need to.  Put sauce in the middle of the pizza, now add about 1/3 cup of ketchup and 1/3 cup of mustard to the sauce pile.  Spread around to edges with a spoon.  (It sounds weird, but just do it, you will thank me later.)

Step 4:
Add toppings
I add raw onion, and had a tomato in the house, so threw that on too.

Then I add the beef.

Next, add your cheese (I only had mozzarella in the house, is much better if you can add cheddar) and put your pickles on! 

I used baby dills because that's what I had in the fridge, you can use hamburger slices, or whatever kind you like on your cheeseburger.  

Step 5:
Now pop it in the oven . 
When you are done you should get something that looks a bit like this.  It sounds strange, but is absolutely deicious, especially if you can't decide if you want a cheeseburger or pizza.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gourmet Soup in Five Minutes Flat

Today is dreadfully foggy and dreary looking outside.  I want only to curl up my my bed and sleep away the day.   However, I feel like my boss, coworkers, and clients make take offense.  So, I decided I needed some homemade soup for lunch, except of course I didn't have any.  We RARELY eat canned soup here, but I went to my cupboard to see if anything intrigued me.  There on a bare cupboard was a lonely can of tomato soup.  There was also a can of cream of mushroom soup, does anyone really eat that as soup?  I use cream of mushroom for casseroles only.  If you eat this on a regular basis please let me know, I'm curious as to know why?

Usually when tomato soup is in the house, it in mind for a specific recipe, but this soup had no plans, so I put my eye on him.  By this time I was quite hungry, having skipped breakfast due to my grogginess, and did not want to wait an hour for good tasting soup, but also did not want to eat a can of plain old soup.  An memory of my younger years, came back to me and I remembered that Gordon's Restaurant in Dodgeville used to make the most amazing Cream of Tomato Basil Soup.  In an attempt to recreate this (in five minutes or less) I threw the tomato soup in a pan, added garlic salt (tomatoes love salt), some paprika, a cup of milk and a few Tablespoons of dried basil.  I'm sure that this soup would have been better if I would have used garden tomatoes, fresh basil, heavy cream and sauteed onions, but for five minutes or less I was very very pleased.  I ate it with some of my homemade rye crackers.  The sun still isn't shining, but I'm enjoying the coziness of my office a bit more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Crock Pot Fajitas

I've had a round steak marinating for a day or so.  Last night we had a couple pieces of it with our baked potatoes, it was tough...really really tough.  I put the man in charge of marinating it, and he didn't beat it with a mallet, like I normally do.  So, fortunately, I only cooked up half and let the other half continue to marinade overnight. 

Today at lunch, I cut it up into small strips and threw in my little baby crock pot with a bunch of fajita seasoning that we got for our wedding.  It's been almost five years and I still have a whole bunch, I'm sure it isn't as strong so I used 4 Teaspoons and mixed it with half a cup of water in the bottom of the crock.  I shoved all the meat strips in there, put the bone and the fat on top (for flavor) and sliced up half an onion I had in the fridge and threw it in there.

I am cooking it on high for the afternoon ( I started it at about 12:30).  At 5:00 I will check on it and see if I need to turn it down.  I will then saute` up another onion and a green pepper and maybe some carrot shavings.  You can put these in the crock but they get a little mushy, and I like my crisp.  I also don't have much room left in my crock to add as many veggies as I would like.  I will be serving with warmed tortillas, sour cream and salsa.  If we had mushrooms in the house I would add those too...but we don't.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Best Baked Potatoes

I'm sure you're thinking "Really?  You started a blog so you could tell us how to make baked potatoes?"  Well, it's my first post so give me a break, I'm really just trying to figure this whole thing out before I commit to doing this, and I have some baked potatoes baking away in the oven, and they really are the best so I thought I would let you know how I do it.  This way you can quit getting angry at me because of my foodie facebook posts.  This way you can get off your behind and make whatever I'm making, and not be so jealous all the time. 

For the BEST Baked Potatoes, you will need:

Potatoes  (I don't know how many people are you feeding, and how many potatoes will each person eat?)
Salt:  A fair amount... (separated)
Olive Oil:  Put some in the bottom of a shallow bowl.  If you need more, you can add more.  Quit getting so worked up about measurements, they're baked potatoes for crying out loud!


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2) Scrub your potatoes.  Back in the day, I learned a trick from a really neat lady named Nurse Nancy.  She would throw all the potatoes in the sink, fill it will cold water (like ice cold) and dump a bunch of salt in.  Because we were using so many potatoes we would just mix them up and the salt did our scrubbing for us.  I have found that this is less successful if you are only using a few potatoes (they don't rub against eachother in the sink).  In any case, wash the dirt off your taters. 

3) Dry your potatoes.  Not sure why.  Just do it. 

4) Stab your potatoes 2-3 times with a fork or a knife.  Be careful.  It is frustrating to stab yourself with a fork.  I used to stab before I dried, but those suckers are a little slippery.  Maybe that's why we have to dry the potato.

5) Now, roll your taters in tthat shallow bowl of olive oil, coat them and set aside on a cookie sheet.  Roll the rest of your taters in the oil and add to the cookie sheet.

6) Bunch them all up together in the middle of the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle salt liberally.  Flip potatoes over.  Sprinkle salt liberally. 

7) Now, you can remove them from the pan and place on oven rack and bake.  I did this the first time and put the cookie sheet on the bottom of the oven to catch dripping oil.  This time I just spread them out and left them on the pan, because I don't think it will hurt anything.  Leave them in the oven until they are done, about an hour. 

The end result is a delicious potato that is so good, I can eat without adding any butter or sour cream. The skin puffs up and gets crispy and the generous coating of salt adds the perfect amount of flavor. Of course, when you do add butter and sour cream, it is extra super delicious. 

Give'em a try and let me know what you think.