Archive for the ‘Quick Tips’ Category





How to Offend A Coffee Aficionado And A Giveaway!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013







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Two For Tea?


When I was young, it didn’t take me long to figure out that Europeans were first introduced to coffee by the tribes in South America in order to stunt their growth and make them less of a threat to said tribes. I mean, really, if you coffee drinkers were honest, you would admit that you would have been at least six inches taller with better muscle tone, if you had not daily ingested multiple cups of that horrible stuff.


Yes, I hate coffee. For something that smells so good in the morning as it perks, how in the world can it taste so close to burnt and bitter dirt? I can’t really say that I’ve ever tasted burnt and bitter dirt, but I can imagine what it tastes like and that is exactly how coffee strikes my taste buds.


I’ve had quite a number of people tell me, “Well, it is an acquired taste.” Why? Why would I want to try over and over to choke down a hot liquid in order to acquire a taste for burnt and bitter dirt? I mean, I won’t eat raw oysters, either, and the only difference there is that they don’t taste burnt or bitter – just dirty.


I can’t even stand coffee IN anything. Put it in a cake and call it Tiramisu? Are you kidding? Why ruin perfectly good pound cake? And coffee toffee? Bleh. If I’m going to pull my teeth out on candy, give me a caramel any day!!


I suppose that you have figured out that I don’t order any Caramel Toffee Pumpkin Spice Mocha Macchiato Vanilla Frappucino Vinte Lattes at any of those hoity toity Dobie Gillis Coffee House wannabes. (For those of you not older than the dirt that coffee tastes like, that would be the Dobie Gillis 1950’s television show.) No. I am a tea drinker and I am a persnickety tea drinker. I don’t like just any ol’ tea. My favorite two teas are our Irish Breakfast Tea and our ultimate Oklahoma Prairie Wedding Tea. The first one is a rich, dark, full-bodied organic tea with just a hint of natural sweetness and the latter is a light black tea infused with Kiwi, Raspberry, Strawberry and Mango flavors. Yum. They so totally beat dirt three times over.


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So, the other evening I got a little crazy. I’ve seen what you coffee drinkers do to your coffees with the whipped cream and gently sprinkled spices or cinnamon sticks. I’ve always assumed that it is to keep from having to taste how really awful the stuff is. But as I was reaching for some cream to put into my cup of tea the other night, my eye fell onto a can of Real Whip hanging out on a tray in the door of the refrigerator. I grabbed that can and contemplated my next move. A pretty swirl of whipped cream wrapped around the surface of my tea and I lightly sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg over the swirls. Oh my gosh. That was the most incredible tea I’ve ever had. Yummy. It could have been dessert!


So there you go. If you want to try something tasty, just relax one night with a lovely cup of tea and gild the lily. Who knows? Start drinking tea instead of coffee and you might catch up to the height you should have been in the first place!!


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And while you’re at it, leave a comment below to enter our October Giveaway. On October 18th we’ll draw a name out of the hat and the lucky winner will receive our luscious New England Cupboard blueberry scones mix (with a can of real, wild Maine blueberries!) and a package of our new frybread mix. Two treats from two cultures! And you can enjoy them with a cup of spiffed up tea – or – if you really, really feel you have to do it, with a cup of coffee. Good luck!!



Happy Sipping!



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Freedom, Safety and The Royal Berkey

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013







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True Freedom





I have so much to say and don’t know where to begin. So much has happened over the last couple of months in our state and in our family that it gets just a little bit overwhelming. I’ll do my best to make sense and make my 1971 High School English teacher, Mrs. Carter, proud. But I have some pretty deep thoughts to share. This is going to be a little different from my other posts.


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You know that my community and others around me were devastated by three tornadoes that were so huge and powerful that very little stood up against them. Families have experienced the loss of homes, cars, personal belongings, pets and even loved ones. The immediate aftermath was a call for better safety measures….mandatory shelters in schools and homes, better warning systems and stronger homes. All across the land, “safety” has become the new “in” word. And I have to admit that sitting in our storm shelter on the night of May 19th, I felt snug, safe and strangely calm in the midst of the wind storm above me.


Then, yesterday, a video was sent to me. It had gone viral on the internet and was of a young student from my alma mater in Murfreesboro, TN who had been stopped at a DUI checkpoint, not because he was drunk, but because he was young. I think that he must have been a law student because he knew the legal terminology and the Constitution backwards and forwards. With his cell phone camera turned on and laying in the front seat, the young man recorded a most horrible and astounding episode of police intimidation, corruption and just plain meanness. At one point, one patrolman announced to the kid that the Constitution can be suspended in the name of safety. The very ones who have been charged with the duty to “keep us safe” had become people FROM whom one would want to be kept safe!


Last week was our country’s celebration of July 4th – Independence Day – the day that we set aside to remind ourselves of our escape from tyranny, of the blessed freedoms that we enjoy in this land and to think on those of the past who stood up for those freedoms. Many people, including myself, feel that a lot of those freedoms are being eroded away, but still, all-in-all, we are a people in a nation that enjoys the most freedoms of any other country in the world. Unfortunately, however, we keep giving up freedoms in the name of ‘safety’.


Ironically, in the same week as our Independence celebration, just two days prior to that day, my family experienced something that made us all feel that our freedom AND safety had been snatched right out from under us and it is taking some time to overcome that feeling. On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after 1:00 pm, in the middle of the day, my daughter, Mrs. Dance-A-Lot, drove into the driveway of her new home. She and her hubby (Mr. Guitar Guy) had moved into this house just weeks before and, though it is new and wonderful, the house isn’t quite home yet. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had been on a special lunch date with Mr. Guitar Guy, taking a moment together while their little Miss Snicklefritz, was visiting the other grandmother and recovering from the very contagious Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had only been gone from her house for 45 minutes. As she pulled into the driveway, she noticed that her garage door was open and that a car was sitting in the drive. The door from the garage to the house was open as well and in just a matter of milliseconds she was asking herself why everything was open, whose car was in the drive and if the new pest control man was back without calling her. But then, how could he get into the house without her there? She pulled up next to the strange car to exit hers as a very large man came toward her car, carrying her laptop, with two more men attempting to carry her big screen television behind him. Of course, she and the men all jumped out of their skins at the same time and as Mrs. Dance-A-Lot slammed her car door to back out of the driveway as fast as she could, the men carrying the television dropped it behind the man with the laptop and ran to their car . My daughter was on the phone with 911 as she vamoosed out of there, heart pounding and feeling like she was in some kind of alternate universe. All she could think was, “I have to get away.”


A home full of police, fingerprint dusting and providing their own fingerprints later, my loved ones had to face a ransacked house covered in clingy, fine, black fingerprint dust, a front door that had not only been kicked in but had taken the door frame with it, some missing personal items including jewelry and electronics and a feeling that everything in their “space” had been violated. Of course, the anger set in and pretty soon, the paranoia and fear – and that affected ALL of us. All kinds of things run through your mind like, “What if they come back?” “They know what I/she looks like.” “They know what they left.” “They know that I/she can identify them and their car.” An unsettling lack of peace followed. It wasn’t helped by the fact that on July the 4th Mrs. Dance-A-Lot’s Netflix account showed that someone was watching pornography on her computer!! Just one more violation.


For a week now, many in our family and even close friends have been running through plans of what can be done to avoid this type of situation again. Alarm system companies are loving us as they are getting new orders, doors have been made more secure using the EZ ARMOR door security systems from Lowe’s (they cost $68), video cameras are being considered and discussions on what can be learned from the incident are underway. The issue of “safety” has come up again and a feeling of freedoms lost permeates conversations. And as usual, I’m looking on the bright side in the hopes that these sorry individuals are in agony with high fevers and blisters because they were exposed, in my daughter’s house, to the numerous. stuck on everything and highly contagious germs of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease!! Would that not be sweet justice?!


Laying aside that vengeful part of my personality, it has occurred to me that all of us need to recognize something about freedom and safety that often gets overlooked. In the Declaration of Independence, those great men who wrote that great document stated that our freedoms are ordained by God. We forget that our safety is in His hands as well. Yes, bad things happen but that does not negate the fact that ultimately, our great God who is the authority over all things is our protection and our safety when push comes to shove. We can plan until doom’s day, but all the plans in the world are just man’s efforts to stop something that is totally out of his control. We can monitor every phone call from overseas and still have some nuts blow up the innocence of a marathon race. We can install burglar alarms and fire alarms only to have them irritatingly announce that our home is burning down or that burglars were quick enough to grab and run before the police could get there. We can store up food for a crisis only to have it tossed over the countryside by a tornado or burned up in a fire or spoiled by varmints of some type. We can live in the country with farm animals, gardens and fruit trees to provide our sustenance, only to have drought, bugs, accident or disease wipe out every ounce of that provision. We can use wind power, solar power and generators to offset the loss of electricity only to have God’s electricity – lightning – destroy it all. “The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.” (Robert Burns) The fact is, using man’s schemes, we are never truly “safe”. If any person promises to keep you “safe” from anything, he is a liar. And if he promises you safety in exchange for your freedom, he is a tyrant.


Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” And what is wisdom? “The reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1:7 What kind of safety is scripture talking about? It can be physical safety, but more important, it is about spiritual safety. It is a safety from fear, unease, depression, discouragement, dread and all of the other negatives that cloud our joy and steal our peace. I have experienced moments when God has given me wisdom and warning that if I had just listened, I would have avoided a lot of physical heartache. But more important is that if I had just listened to His promise that He is my safety and salvation, I would have avoided a lot of spiritual turmoil as well.


God truly does have our best interests at heart. He is our calm in the midst of calamity, peace in the midst of chaos and joy in the midst of pain. Even when bad things happen to us, if we let Him, He keeps us “safe” from ourselves. He is the tornado shelter for our hearts that shields us from the winds of our fear and anger, the surveillance for our minds that keeps us safe from thinking we are in control and the burglar alarm for our souls that warns us of stolen joy or pilfered peace. It’s pretty amazing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to your life.” Mathew 6:33


As I said, a lot has happened in our state and family that has messed with our perception of “safe”. And now that it has been a week since a first experience with the nature of people who don’t understand the concept of “this ain’t yours”, it has been hammered into my brain that when all is said and done, God is in control, God is the actual Justice and God is our protection from our own worst reactions. But I have to admit, in the dark recesses of my heart, I still catch myself hoping that those three men contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and are scared to death that they have the Black Plague or something!


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But speaking of steps that you can take to better care for your family, I want to show you our wonderful, stainless steel Berkey water filter that I absolutey love. Isn’t it pretty?


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When ordering a Berkey water filter, you have a choice of charcoal or ceramic filters, as well as special ones for arsenic and flouride. We’ve had this Royal Berkey, which holds a total of 3.25 gallons of water, for three years, and the spigot makes it so handy to just keep on the counter for a quick drink. We pour new water from our well into the top half with the filters once a day and enjoy the clearest, sweetest water you can imagine. They are a little pricey, but the filters last for years if cared for properly. We did the math and determined that in the long run, the Berkey was the better deal for water filters.


So there’s my sales pitch. We don’t sell Berkeys or get a commission or even know anyone who sells the systems, so I can truthfully say that our endorsement is unbiased and for real!



Happy Filtering!

And Stay Safe!



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A Sick Bed Craft

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013







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No Buttons, Just Bows


In-FLU-enza…H1N1…Tamiflu…all words that none of us actually care about or even think about – that is – until we stumble into the doctor’s office, eyes glazed, throat that could only feel worse for a fire eater and muscles that scream four letter words at us, as we try to use them. THEN, the flu becomes a reality and a reason to think seriously about finding a sky scraper from which to jump.


Such was the past week for Mr. Fix-It and me. He succumbed first. I knew he was sick when he willingly grabbed his keys and left the house early last Sunday morning to hit up the AM-PM clinic for drugs. ‘Mr. Fix-It’ and ‘getting medical help’ are not usually in the same sentence. Since he only had a fever of 99.9, after a nose swab, Mr. Fix-It was rather taken aback when the doctor forced a mask over his face and admonished him not to go anywhere, including work, for 5 days. The doctor was stern in his warning and typed up a letter to give to the boss. He told Mr. Fix-It that he was highly contagious and so he came home, not entirely convinced that he was really THAT sick. But then, Sunday afternoon hit. My hubby was a mess. His fever was quickly inching to 104º and I was frantically making preparations to get him to the hospital.


I had tried everything…tylenol, ibuprophen, tepid bath, alcohol rub and then I remembered an elderly doctor’s method quite a number of years ago when our son’s fever had gone to 105. I filled plastic bags with ice, wrapped them in towels and put them under Mr. Fix-It’s arms, on his stomach and on his forehead. Magically, the fever dropped to 102º. All evening I battled the fever and Mr. Fix-It’s irrational statements that let me know he was NOT all with me. By midnight his fever broke and he actually slept while I transferred myself to the couch, hoping to avoid the disease. About 3 am I woke up shaking from head to toe, teeth chattering so hard that I could not keep my mouth shut and throat literally shooting flames. Oh no. Somehow, I made it to the bedroom and crawled into bed next to my ailing husband. I figured that I might as well be comfortable now that I had caught the germs. Of course, I woke him up with my shaking and he crawled out of bed to get me some tylenol and water. I thought I was going to die.


We figure that Mr. Fix-It brought the germs home from the VA Hospital where he had done a computer installation the week before. Ten days is the incubation period and it had been ten days since his visit. I am sure that I picked the germs up from his clothes or from him. Who knows? All I know is that neither one of us has had the flu in years and years and years and years and so the ferocity of the disease was rather disturbing. It has taken both of us over a week to get back to normal.


But, as always, I could see that there was a humorous side to our plight. I made it to the doctor as well…just our family doctor…and I found out that just the word ‘flu’ nearly tatoos an ‘F’ on your forehead and hangs a sign around your neck that announces, “Unclean! Unclean!” I was told to wear a mask throughout my visit and the nurse who swabbed my nose (might I add that this is one of THE most unpleasant tests on the planet – because your sinuses are already swollen and raw without a q-tip being twirled around the membranes like a chimney sweep’s broom!) barely stuck her head back in the door and said through clenched teeth, “It’s flu!” And it wasn’t just the flu-flu. It was the BAD flu. As I left the room with prescription in hand, the cleanup crew was already disinfecting everything I had touched. Even the woman who checked me out, handed my Visa card back to me, washed her hands, grabbed the pen I had been using, disinfected it and wiped the counter right in front of me. As I stepped back, I felt like I had smallpox. I slunk past ogling patients, bemasked and humiliated.


Two days later, still diseased and miserable, I needed to somehow get an order to a friend, who had come in from out of town. We discussed the logistics of this feat without germs and it was agreed that Mr. Fix-It, who was well on the road to recovery, would drive me to a designated meeting place. He did so and when we arrived, dear friend stepped around her vehicle and waved, at a safe distance of 50 or so feet away. Mr. Fix-It got out of our vehicle, placed the box of goodies onto the pavement of the parking lot between our car and Friend’s and proceeded to soak the box with spray Lysol: Bottom, sides and top. The contents had already been lysol’d. I was looking around for Homeland Security to come swooping in with a bomb squad and handcuffs for each of us.


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We got back into our car and Friend picked up the box to place in the back of hers. Hopefully, all germs were murdered by Lysol drowning.


Now, I have to tell you that being sick is a boring state of being, but thanks to this same Friend, I was given a fun craft project that served to pass my time in bed and produce lots of little bows. She sent me an email with directions for making tiny bows that are so handy for a multitude of projects. And, heh, when you are running a fever and eating popsicles a new craft is a welcome distraction!! All you need is some 1/4″ ribbon, preferably a light weight or organza type, scissors and a four tined fork.


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First, begin by running the ribbon under the first tine, over the second, under the third and over the forth.


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Pull the ribbon under the fourth tine and pull it all the way to the first tine.


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Now, go over the first tine, under the second, over the third and under the fourth.


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Push the ribbon up to the end of the tines to keep it tight.


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Continue the process until there are either two or three (depending on the size of bow you want) wraps around the outside tines


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Clip the end of the ribbon that is attached to the spool and now run a fresh ribbon end up through the tines between the second and third one and in front of the first row of weaving


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Pull up other end of this ribbon and clip off, leaving enough that will make it easy to tie


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Pull the two ends up, gathering the center of the woven ribbon together, and tie at the center in a knot


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Slip the bow off of the fork and clip off extra ribbon. The bottom bow was done with two rows and the top one was done with three rows


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Use to decorate cards, hairclips, clothes and anything else you can think of!



Happy Health!



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How To Freezer Wrap Meat Like the Professionals

Friday, October 12th, 2012







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You Just Need

A White Coat


Today, we cooks have all kinds of new products to process the various meats that we love to store in the freezer. Electronic sealers, zippered freezer bags and machines that vacuum pack into plastic bags can be costly and, though they promise no freezer burn, often times, the frost and freezer burn still appear. I love my FoodSaver Vacuum sealing system, but I have to say, the tried and true wrapping in freezer paper, like I did at my job in the meat department many years ago, still seems to be the best way to preserve food in the freezer. In fact, if you really want to preserve your meats, you can vacuum pack them and THEN wrap them in freezer paper.


I continue to wrap most of my meats in the wax coated freezer paper that can be found at any store. It comes in a large roll that is found in the same grocery section with the plastic wrap and aluminum foil and wax paper. The most common brand is Reynolds. I thought that I would show you how I have wrapped my meats for the past 35 years, having cut and packaged meat professionally after graduating college. (An art degree just didn’t put food on the table – let alone wrap it!!! )


What you need:
Roll of freezer Paper
Freezer tape or Masking tape
Sharpie for labeling


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Cut paper to at least 6″ wider than the object that is going to be wrapped. If you are doing large steaks, use two thicknesses of wax paper to place between the steaks. If you are wrapping small steaks or pork chops, chicken breasts, etc, lay the meat side-by-side with large end of the first piece of meat next to the small end of the second piece of meat. The freezer paper should be at least 6″ wider than the width of the two together.


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Place the meat in the center of the paper. Here, I am wrapping one pound balls of ground beef.


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Pull uncut ends of the paper up between fingers and match the edges so that they are equal and even.


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Fold over and slide fingers across the crease to make flat and crisp


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Continue folding and creasing over and over until your fingers are stopped by the meat inside the package


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Press the flattened roll to the top of the package to make a flat seam


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Turn package over to seam side down


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Press finger tips into the end of the package to force down the top paper into the bottom, as done when wrapping a present


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As in wrapping a present, fold the edges over to a point


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Pull pointed end over to the back of the package and tape. Repeat process for the other end of the package


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Turn the package over to the seam end and write the date and what type of meat has been wrapped.


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Stack packaged meat and then carry to the freezer. Lay meats into the freezer in layers of one to two packages deep on several shelves until they are completely frozen. Stacking too much unfrozen meat into one area of the freezer keeps flash freezing from occuring and can make the packages freeze unevenly. Once frozen, you can move and stack them however deep you wish.



Happy Wrapping!



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Suet For The Birds!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012







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Everything But The Moo


Three posts ago, I showed you how to render tallow from beef fat for soap making and for old-fashioned candle making as well. The tallow can be used for incredible biscuits and pie crust too and the same process is used for rendering lard from pig fat for the same purchase. On Friday and Saturday, I cooked down 30 lbs of beef kidney fat to render about 15 lbs of beautiful, white tallow that went into the freezer. And it was when I finished the second run that I had a “well, duh” moment. As you saw from the photos, there is a lot of fat globules left over from the process and dumb me had thrown that away. As I was staring at my most recent by-product mess, it dawned on me that our bird feeders have cages for suet and we spend money every year on the stuff. Here, I had tons of the makings for suet cakes right in front of me.


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Sooooo, I grabbed a bunch of my square and rectangular cake pans and poured the fat leftovers into the pans and evened out the surface. Then, I sprinkled bird seed on top and patted it down into the fat. The pans went into our big, anique Dr. Pepper cooler to cool down overnight.


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The fat hardened nicely


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When the suet was hard, I ran hot water over the backs of the pans and the suet popped right out onto a cutting surface.


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A long blade knife worked perfectly to slice the block into squares that fit our bird feeders.


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Those squares went into freezer bags and are now stored in the freezer until winter. So I got the tallow and some suet too!! I’m thinkin’ we are gonna have some pretty happy birdies!!



Happy Bird Feeding!



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Vinegar Tips

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011





Vinegar Tips


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Brenda, a fellow Mary Jane Farm Girl, shared with the rest of us her exciting discovery of using vinegar in the dishwasher. She said that when she tried it, her dishes came out sparkling clean. Of course, you know that I had to try it and so I poured 1/2 cup into the bottom of my dishwasher and was stunned to find my washed glasses sparkling like fine crystal and the stainless pots and pans showing my face like mirrors. I was hooked. Do you know how many things there are that you can do with vinegar?? Well, I’m going to give you a few that I use plus some I found on the Internet.


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Place a tblsp or two of vinegar



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and milk into a glass container



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and microwave for 30 seconds for buttermilk substitute



I love buttermilk for use in pancakes, waffles, biscuits and many other breads and cakes. However, because I use so much buttermilk, I frequently run out. Not to worry. I just put 1-2 tbsp of vinegar into the bottom of a glass measuring cup, add the equivalent of sweet milk for buttermilk, pop in the microwave for 30 seconds and ‘voila’, I have curdled milk with the same properties as buttermilk.


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Mr. Fix-It has a lot of trouble with indigestion from meals and so we have found that 1/4 cup (with each meal) of the refrigerated mixture of 24 oz concord grape juice, 32 oz of apple cider with the “mother”, 1/4 cup of local honey and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with the “mother” keeps him from having tummy trouble. And it tastes good too!


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Want to rid yourself of an odiferous garbage disposal? Just freeze vinegar in ice cube trays and throw the ice cubes into the disposal to grind up.


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How about that glass you found on your corner table in the living room, left there two weeks ago by the child who was told, “No drinks in the living room!”? Yep, there’s that telltale ring of a water stain. Just take equal amounts of olive oil and vinegar and rub into the stain to remove it.


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According to the Vinegar Institute, (they have a place where you can graduate with a degree in pickling agents?) vinegar has many uses, not the least of which is as an ant repellent. Just wipe your counters with distilled white vinegar and no ant will come within a mile of your home (because of the smell, I’m sure). I daresay that might work on the busybody relative variety of aunt as well. And add 2 Tbsp of the apple cider version of vinegar to ½ quart water, 2 Tbsp. sugar and a couple of drops of dish soap and you can lure fruit flies to a certain “death by a really disgusting substance.”


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Figure this one out: You can pour straight vinegar on the weeds that line your sidewalk, repeating until they die (pickled dandelions anyone?) but add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water for a perfect solution to soak your azaleas and will have them thanking you for the acid – well not literally.


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Cut flowers stay fresher longer if you add 2 Tbsp of vinegar and 2 Tbsp of sugar to a quart of water to fill the vase. If you change the water every 5 days, the flowers will stay perky.


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Our little Ellie (Long-haired Miniature Dachshund)



I got a chuckle out of this vinegar application according to the Institute – tackling smelly dogs: “Wet the dog down with fresh water. Use a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 2 gallons water. Saturate the dog’s coat with this solution. Dry the dog off without rinsing the solution. The smell will be gone!” Right. And now they will smell like vinegar. Good trade.


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Vinegar will remove that bumper sticker for the candidate for whom you voted and who wound up having an affinity for bribes and women. It will soften paint brushes, clean radiator vents and leather shoes and even fix DVDs that occassionally stick on one frame. Most amazing of all is that according to the winner of the 2007 Online Vinegar Use Competition (what is amazing is that there is such a contest and that people actually entered), you can immerse your gold jewelry in one cup of apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes and it comes out sparkling like it is real!! No need for expensive jewelry cleaning!!


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Vinegar has many more uses that you can find at the website of the Vinegar Institute. Yes, it is a weird and smelly liquid, but evidently, it is nature’s miracle substance! Go out and buy a couple of gallons! I’m buying stock!




Happy Vinegaring!



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Dried Orange Zest

Monday, April 18th, 2011





Orange You Glad I Dried?






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I don’t know about you, but one of the worst things I know of in cooking, is zesting lemons, limes and oranges. I have, in the past, posted the tip to freeze your rinds in freezer bags to whip out in your time of need and zest with much greater ease. However, no matter fresh or frozen fruit hulls, the zester makes no distinction between the rind and your knuckles. More than once, I have let go a yelp because I got too close to those nasty little teeth that rip the skin.


Now, I’m a great fan of oranges and it seems that the ones recently have been extra good. Oranges are like candy to me and so Mr. Fix-It says nothing when he finds me typing away at the computer with sticky fingers and juice dripping from my chin. Yes, yes. My momma taught me better. I just grin and hand him a quarter and say, “Wanna slice?” He always takes it.


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So I’m munching on an extra sweet citrus and I’m staring at the pile of peels on the cutting board. My mind clicks and I think, “So, why couldn’t I dry the peels and chop them up for zest?” And so my experiment began.


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Now, the whole point of zest is to basically just take the outer rind of the fruit. No fibrous, white, inner rind. I know that when I’m zesting, though, I get some of that white lining and so I figured a little wouldn’t hurt. Therefore, I used a sharp knife and slid it under the inner skin and carefully cut between it and the outer orange rind.


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I laid the cut rinds out in the air to dry. I decided not to use a dehydrator because I was concerned that the heat would change the flavor of the orange rind zest.


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After a week, the skins were so dry they were leathery/brittle. I popped them into the blender and pulverized them!


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The result was wonderful! I figured out that I could put the “zest” into a jar and then just keep adding as I dried more oranges. I did the same with lemons. Actually, I found lemons for 33¢ each and so I bought a boatload. I brought those home and juiced them, froze the juice in ice trays as 1 oz cubes and then quartered the rinds to easily slice the white inner skin from the outer rind. I dried those too. In the picture, the lemon zest is to the left and the orange is on the right.


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I used the zest in my basic scones recipe and wow. They were wonderful. That’ll be my next post – the recipe! All I know is that now I have a new “zest for life!” :-)





Happy Zesting!



MB
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Healthy Butter

Sunday, February 13th, 2011



It Tastes Like Real


Butter…Because It Is!



Just a quick tip for those of you who love butter, but would like to add more of the “good fat” to your diet.


There are things that I have done to make my eating habits more healthy and more fat-free. But I WON’T do without my butter!! While I know, in my last post, I admitted that I like Velveeta cheese, which it could be argued is not really cheese, I can’t stand margarine. And talk about bad fats…ewwww. All I know is that God made cows which make milk that is churned into butter without any additives. There is no animal that has produced a stick of margarine. It’s pretend butter. Anybody remember that “it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature!” routine?


Nowadays, one can spend a pretty penny on butter that has been mixed with olive oil or canola oil to increase the good fats and to make it spreadable. I’ll show you here how you can do the same thing for a whole lot less.


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For about 3/4 cup of soft butter, use one stick of real butter, at room temp, either salted or unsalted depending on which you prefer, and place into a blender or food processor.


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Add 1/3 cup light olive oil.


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Process until the butter and oil are completely mixed. The consistency will be that of whipped cream and some of the oil may still be separated out, but you can just stir that in.


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Pour the mixture into a container and refrigerate for several hours


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You will have spreadable butter that is part butter and part olive or canola oil, both of which are higher in mono and polyunsaturated fats – the good fats. And it tastes good too!!!



Happy Cooking!



MB
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Gift Ideas

Friday, February 4th, 2011





Unique Valentine’s Day

Gifts!



Introducing the Tea of

the Month Club!



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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! If you want to know the history of this “Day of Love” ala the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ historians, you can catch it at last year’s post. I’m sure that it is accurate. Really.


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Tea Of The Month Club



Our newest and most unique gift, though, is our new club plan that will tickle any tea lover’s fancy. The new Tea of the Month and Tea and Treat of the Month Clubs were introduced in January and are already a hit. The Tea of the Month Club can be given for three, six or twelve months and each month the recipient receives a tin of a new flavor of tea. The first month includes a 2-cup tea pot and tea infuser too!


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Tea and Treat of the Month Club



The Tea and Treat of the Month is also offered in increments of three, six and twelve months but has the bonus of a new treat along with a tin of tea each month. Scones, muffin and cookie mixes, as well as our chocolates, are included with each delivery. The first month also includes a 2-cup tea pot and tea infuser.


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Bread Basket Gift Set



We also have a large variety of readymade gift baskets that include the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ for the cook out there, male OR female. Check out the shopping page!! And have a Happy Valentine’s Day.


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Happy Shopping!



MB
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Makin’ Smoothies

Friday, October 15th, 2010




Real Smooth



As a homemaker, there is nothing more fun than getting inventive, inspired by some tidbit of food leftover and useless for anything major. When a great concoction is created and the family smacks their lips in appreciation, the homemaker feels that all is right with the world.


Such was the case tonight as I noticed a fruit fly winging its way around and around a lone banana left ripening on the counter top. It was pretty ripe and would have been useful for banana bread had it been one of three bananas, but alas, it was alone. What does one do with one banana in a short time? What else? Make a smoothie.

Smoothies are so easy and quick. And they are great at any time of the year. They are also healthy, especially when made with yogurt. Any fruit combination can be used and any yogurt flavor can be used. I use frozen fruit as much as possible to make it colder and thicker. My favorite is as follows and used that lone banana:


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1 banana
1 thick slice of fresh pineapple, frozen
1 cup frozen, sliced strawberries
1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

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In a blender, partially blend fruit and orange juice.

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Add yogurt and blend on high until smooth and creamy. I am using homemade vanilla yogurt here.

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Pour into cups and serve with a straw. Yummy cold and smooth and creamy.

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