Monday, October 25, 2010

Soap Rebatched.

I've wanted to make my own soap for awhile now, and have asked some of my soap making friends about their adventures. I've yet to order any lye, though I hear that Lowes' carries 100% Lye under a different name, I'll find out for sure tomorrow if this is true or rumor. Until then I've been rebatching soap.

Why rebatch? Ever been given soap as a gift? Or picked up a bar in a store that you thought would smell great only to find it smells like something grotesque when applied to your skin? You can rebatch to make different scents or to combine smaller pieces of soap back into a bigger size to use up.

I rebatch to ADD in a scent that I like but have yet to find in any store anywhere....Strawberries and Champagne. Oh heaven, I use this scents in my candles as well. I've never gotten sick of it and visitors to my humble house are always asking what fragrance is that???

Rebatching soap is simply and only 4 steps from start to finish. Here we go!

STEP 1: If you're going to rebatch soap for a scent you like then start with two bars of Ivory soap. (If you're going to use soap you've already got that already has a scent to it skip to step 2.

STEP 2: Unwrap you bars of soap, and grate them with a cheese grater. You want about 3 cups of grated soap.

STEP 3: Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil.

STEP 4: Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the grated soap and stir gently. Now is the time to add in any fragrance you like or want to experiment with. Just a few drops to start with and if it's not strong enough add one or two more at a time.

Kinda looks like cottage cheese doesn't it? Let this sit for 20 minutes.

STEP 5: Roll into balls any size you like. Place on wax paper and let dry for 2-3 days. (I forgot to let my batch sit for 20 minutes once I added in the boiling water so they rolled out a little rougher than usual. If you pull an oops like I did you can simply grate these down once they are dry and start the process over again, but only add in 1/4 cup of boiling water)

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I'm not sure where I found this recipe, maybe on the Kraft website but I'm just not sure.
The kids and I spend Wednesday nights at my folks house, watching Survivor and catching up. This past Wednesday I decided to make this recipe and it was a major sucess. All of us around the table just wanted to feast off of this delicious masterpiece.

I'm not a big fan of Reuben sandwiches but this recipe.....simply amazing. I don't think I can say anthing more about how great this is and how much I'm already craving it again!!!!!

Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

1 loaf rye bread (1-1/4 lb.), unsliced
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
1/2 cup drained  Sauerkraut
1/4 cup Thousand Island Dressing
1/4 cup Sour Cream
Dash black pepper
1/4 lb. lean corned beef, chopped

Heat oven to 350°F.

Hollow out bread loaf, leaving 1-inch-thick shell. Cut removed bread into about 1'' cubes before spreading onto a baking sheet. Bake 4 to 5 min. or until lightly toasted.

While that's toasting, beat next 6 ingredients in a microwaveable bowl  until well blended. Stir in corned beef. Microwave on HIGH 2 to 3 min. or until heated through, stirring every minute.

SPOON dip into bread shell. Serve with bread cubes.

We quickly ran out of bread cubes, but you can easily use any kind of sturdy cracker, like Wheat Thins, or even Rye Crackers.

This recipe was so yummy that I'm already making plans for when I can whip this us again. I'm thinking Thanksgiving, and Christmas Party's for sure and maybe once more just because. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breaking out the Filling.

I got a chance to use my first jar of canned Apple Pie Filling a few Saturday's ago. It was as quick and easy as rolling out the pie crust, dumping in a jar of pie filling and baking until golden brown. The apples were a good consistency, not too mushy not to crunchy. The best part had to be what a huge time saver it was to have the filling ready to add in.

I now have many jars of Apple Butter and though I love it on toast and biscuits I wanted to see if there were any other recipes that called for Apple Butter. This one caught my interest. Grilled Brie, Turkey and Apple Butter sandwiches.
Sounds weird right? I agree. Sounds like maybe you'd skip over this recipe if you found it in a cookbook? Again, I agree. But I beg of you, no, implore you to give this one a try. Make it just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich but use a few thin slices of Brie then spread on some apple butter before you add it to the hot pan. This was fantastic. Boy Toy agrees so you know it has to be good. I think I'm going to log off and make another one now. I may never have a normal grilled cheese sandwich again!!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Salt Maps.

The two little kids made Salt Maps as part of their Social Studies/History lesson. This has been one of the biggest hits this school. No sooner were we done then the kids wanted to make another one.

Isaac shaped all of his landscape by himself.
Evan Grace had a little help from me, but eventually I gave in and let her make whatever she wanted as part of her map. I think added worms and cupcakes.
Here's Isaac's map. The hardest part for the kids was waiting the 3-4 days it took for the dough to dry.
And here it is dry and painted.
As for Evan Grace's map, I'll leave you to interpret it for yourself, because frankly....I'm lost.

Here's the recipe for making Salt Map Dough:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3/4 cup water

Mix until dough forms and then start shaping your map onto a piece of heavy cardboard.

You can use poster paint to color your map or you can add food coloring to the dough as it's being mixed. We didn't have poster paint but we had gel paints. It wasn't a perfect covering for the maps but the kids enjoyed painting no matter how it turned out.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

It's raining Apples!!!!

My sister, (bless her heart, I'm sure she's tired of me asking if she's getting anymore apples) got in more apples for me. This bag is full to bursting!!!

I picked through and pulled out 12 lbs of apples, about 24 of them give or take. You don't have to be on the nose with the poundage.
After cutting a lemon in half, and squeezing one half of the lemon into cold water in a large bowl I set about peeling, coring and cutting the apples.
Thank God for my apple corer, honestly my fingers would be finished by the time I finished coring and slicing these puppies. Make sure you drop the apple slices into the lemon water as you cut them to prevent browning.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling bowl, measure out 6 cups of apple slices and add them to the boiling water.

Cook for only 30 seconds!!!!!!!!

Then using a slotted spoon, transferring the hot apple slices to a bowl with a lid or some kind of pot that will keep the slices warm. I used my crock pot.
Once all of your apple slices have been heated through, add in the following ingredients:
5 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of ClearJel (NOT cornstarch)
1 TBS ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves.
Mix well!!

Now stir in 5 cups of apple juice and 2 1/c cups of cold water. Cook this over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken and boil. (This picture was taken as I was stirring in the apple juice and water).
Add in 3/4 cup of lemon juice and boil for one minute.
Here comes the fun, somewhat messy part, stir in all the apple slices until coated.
Pack hot apple mixture into sterilized quart canning jars leaving a 1'' headspace. Wipe rims and screw on the lids.  Set upside down on the lids and let cool completely before labeling and storing. One can should be enough for one pie.
I'm stoked about using a jar of this for a pie ASAP.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

It's taking over.

It's true, canning has taken over my life, well, that and apples. Waste not want not right?

My next adventure in canning was with Apple-Pear Butter.
Start with 2 1/2 pounds of apples, and 2 pounds of pears, cored and quartered.

Pour 3 cups of apple cider, or apple juice into a pot. I LOVE apple cider, so I used Sweet Apple Cider, made from Gala Apples. Place all the apple and pear slices in the apple cider and bring to a boil. Cover and let this simmer for 30 minutes.

Once it's cooked, pour everything into a bowl and blend until you reach a smooth consistency. You can totally use a food mill if you're lucky enough to have one. Then pour the pulp back into the pot.
Add in 2 cups of sugar, 2 TBS fresh lemon juice that's been strained, and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and let this cook for an hour and a half to 2 hours.
 It will cook down a few inches and get thicker the longer it cooks.

Once it's thick enough carefully label it into jars with about 1/4 inch headspace then screw on the lids. This recipe makes a smaller batch of Apple-Pear Butter but you can easily double or triple it. I kept it small so that I can give these away come Christmas time to friends and family that like homemade goodies but seldom have the time to make them for themselves.
 I quickly running out of room in my pantry for all my canned goodies, it's a sweet problem to have. :)

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Friday, October 1, 2010

4 Dozen Ears.

I've never purchased this much corn at one time. I was lucky enough to get the last bag of corn on the cob at my local farmer's market (and since I make nice with the guy that manages it...he even cut me a deal on it).

I talked my Boy Toy, who hates corn, into helping me shuck and prep the corn. (At one point I told him we'd have to work on his hatred of corn, because that's just sacrilegious in my eyes, but I digress. We shucked.
Then Boy Toy set about cleaning off the silk with a wet towel while I chopped off the ends of the corn that weren't edible.
I brought a large pot of water to a rolling bowl and adding in 3 ears of corn at a time boiled them for 3-4 minutes.

Then I quickly placed the hot cobs in an ice water bath for 5 minutes...

....before transferring them out of the water and onto a towel to drain some of the excess water off.
 I was excited to use the new corn cob slicer I picked up a week or so ago and boy did it come in handy. I can't imagine how long it would have taken me to cut 4 dozen ears of corn with a knife. Whew!
I saved all the ears of corn and tid bits that didn't make the cut so that the kids and I could take it out to the ends of the backyard and toss them into the wooded area so the deer could enjoy a snack if they so choose.
 Once I had all the corn cut I was ready to bag everything up.
 Since corn isn't acidic you can't can it, but if you use the process above you can freeze it for 6 months to almost a year. Basing my measurements on my family of four I added 4 cups of corn to each freezer bag, pressed out all of the air I could, zipped them up and popped them into the freezer.  Now we get to enjoy corn on the cob without the hassle of shucking,cleaning and steaming.
When you're ready to enjoy the corn just place the bag in the microwave for a few minutes until everything is heated.
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