Veggie Popcorn – Is That Redundant?

April 22nd, 2014







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I Came. I Saw. I Ate It!





I grew up appreciating a good meal. And I don’t mean a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with potato chips. I mean a filet mignon at La Vendon in Quebec or an authentic meal of Sukiyaki (pronounce Ski-yah-kee) prepared by one of the international students who stayed with us from time-to-time. While others my age were buying Villager clothes (remember those?), sporting around in new Corvettes and swooning over the latest Beatles album, I was being dragged all over the country in, first, a 1959 Nash Rambler station wagon, then a ’66 blue Plymouth station wagon (with a third seat that faced backwards! THAT was safe in a rear end collision) and then a ’71 Plymouth Satellite wagon, all of which could house two adults and four girls, plus suitcases, make-up cases, games, food, drinks, pillows, a grill and maps in relative comfort if we all pretended hard enough, all the while trying new foods like we were searching for gold treasure. In high school, while friends showed off their new Bass Weejun loafers, I, in my Buster Browns, wanted to yell, “Yeah? Well, WE just got a crate of live lobsters in from Maine and they are still waving their claws!” It was all about priorities: Appearance or stomach – decisions, decisions.


And so, I have had a love affair with food that has been passed down from generation to generation (just look at my family cookbook at the website) and which has made it very difficult, as I grow older, to face the fact that ‘food’ and ‘older’ don’t necessarily mesh well. Having a thyroid condition hasn’t helped matters, either, and never mind that aerobics or walking is out of the question at this stage of two broken feet!! All of a sudden, I’ve had to start paying attention to Dr. Oz’s latest diet or researching the Paleo diet, the Fungus Connection, and the South Beach diet, Weight Watchers and, my favorite, Sparkpeople.com, in order to look forward to my twilight years as something slightly smaller than a Beluga Whale. In my research, I have discovered that a Boca Burger has nothing to do with a tasty treat at the sunny beaches of Boca Raton, Florida (can we say, “Ick?”) and that a low-fat, protein shake, no matter how masked by strawberry or chocolate flavoring, is still disgustingly similar to a barium cocktail at your local gastroenterologist. While I love a salad, a perpetual menu of spinach, kale, lettuce and tomatoes renders me boringly unable to carry on a conversation about world affairs because I’m too busy visualizing a sirloin steak with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes.


I have portion control down to a science – digital scale and all. I’m so efficient that if we eat out, I can divide my meal into halves or thirds or fourths and know exactly how many calories I’m NOT getting to enjoy. But with all of my careful calorie counting, organic and all-natural food purchasing, fat/carbohydrate/protein calculating and the purposeful attempt to drown myself in gallons of filtered water (I swear that when I walk, I sound like the tide rolling in at Boca Raton, Florida) I haven’t been able to lose a single pound. In fact, I’ve gained a few more. And I have a bigger problem. I like to snack. Life is not fair.


Four weeks ago, my endocrinologist made a suggestion to try something called the 5/2 Fast. She told me to research it and that she thought it might jump-start my metabolism. I started it three weeks ago and I have to admit that I am feeling really good. AND I have lost three pounds. The kicker is that I’m not having to focus so much on my daily menu. That is really, really, really nice. On Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, I eat normal meals of 1250 to 1500 calories per day (totally lenient span there) and then on Tuesday and Thursday I do a semi-fast of 500 calories per day. That really isn’t as hard as you would think. On those two days, for breakfast, I have one egg, one piece of bacon and a half a piece of toast. For lunch I have an apple or orange and for dinner I have 3 oz of baked or grilled chicken, all of the steamed veggies I want and a small potato or 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes or 1/4 cup of rice. Knowing that I get to have normal food the next day, makes my ‘days of want’ easy to get through! My head feels clearer, although Mr. Fix-It may tell you THAT’S all in my imagination, and my insides feel better too. Really.


As I said, I like to snack and so on my days of ‘fasting’ I’ve come up with a ‘snack’ that I can tolerate. I like crunchy stuff but popcorn, Cheetos and Cracker Jacks just don’t qualify as diet friendly foods. So, I’ve started cutting up celery, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and any other veggie I have on hand and mix those pieces together in a closeable refrigerator dish.


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Then, I add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp. of a dry dressing mix, like Hidden Valley Ranch, and toss it in with the veggies. I taste to see how much I want. Just a little is needed because as the mixture sits, it absorbs the flavor.


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I keep this “Veggie Popcorn” (alright, I realize that popcorn IS a vegetable, but, heh) in the frig and when I get the ‘munchies’, I put some into a bowl or bag and carry it around with me. As great as I was at pretending that I was comfortable, all those years ago and packed into a car like a sardine, I’m still pretty good at pretending I’m snacking too!! I’ll keep you posted on how the 5/2 diet is working. Hopefully, by next time, I’ll be on the cover of Vogue in a svelt Villager dress and Bass Weejun loafers.



Happy Calorie Counting!



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March 17th, 2014







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Some Thoughts

and Roast or Pulled Pork

Nachos




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These last several months in boots, on crutches and a cane (I’m still dependent on those last two lovely pieces of equipment, much to my chagrin) have given me a deeper insight into a truth that I think we already know but don’t consider very often: While it is true that “if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” it is much more true that “To him whose feet hurt, everything hurts.” (That’s ol’ Socrates, by the way).


Have you ever noticed that when your feet hurt, your back hurts too, along with your knees, your neck and worst of all, your mood? You may be able to get through a day and sort of get things done, but when your feet hurt, you do not do your best job. With sore feet, the bulk of your intelligent thought tends to center around what you can do to alleviate the pain and get off of your feet. You can’t concentrate on what you are supposed to be doing and your responsibilities have a way of flying out of the window in favor of soothing those throbbing tootsies.


Such is my life at this moment, and while I have thrown myself into the research of new and wonderful all-natural and holistic methods to attack pain and broken limbs so that I can be a know-it-all at the doctor’s office to all of the patients unfortunate enough to be sitting in my general vicinity, – “You DO know that frankincense essential oil could help relax that tight muscle, right?” – the fact is, short of giving up all semblance of reality to the likes of morphine, hurt feet hurt.


It has been with this earth-shattering revelation that I have also discovered a coinciding truth: If the foundation isn’t strong, while what is built upon it may work, it will not work well or as it was intended to work. This applies to businesses, to governments and to individuals. There must be a strong foundational basis for existence or any of those entities will function in less than an optimum manner. And what is that foundation? It is God.


Any entity, whether public or private or individual never functions well without a Godly foundation. They may exist and they may function, but they will never enjoy the full potential or optimum purpose for which they were intended. Many will argue with me and swear that they are doing just fine and dandy without any focus on God, but if brutal honesty came into play, there would be an admission of struggle, dissatisfaction, pain and uncertainty. I know. I’ve been there and I’ve done that.


Making God the foundation simply requires the acceptance of His power and authority over all things. Human beings will always fall short of living out a perfect/Godly life, but the first step has to come in the admission that only God is in control – not man – and that He is the authority over the individual, the family, the city, the state and the nation. Without that foundation, nothing works as it should. There is only the constant focus on the pain that ensues and a desperate attempt to alleviate it. And so, on a serious note, I recognize my need to release everything to God’s authority (including my aching lower extremities) and I ask all of those in my nation to do the same, as One Nation Under God. Until we do that, nothing will work as it was intended to work.


And speaking of foundations, I have an idea here for the foundation on which to use that leftover pork from the last recipe. Starting with a base of tortilla chips, you can build a meal that IS everything it is intended to be!


Roast Pork Nachos



Ingredients:

  • Tortilla chips
  • 1/4 lb roast pork per person (leftover pulled pork works great too)
  • Shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses
  • Chopped onion
  • 1 tsp smoked barbeque sauce per person
  • Pickled Jalopeno peppers
  • Sour Cream
  • Taco Sauce
  • Leaf lettuces


  • Printable Recipe



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    Chop pork into small 1/2″ pieces or pull into shreds. Toss with barbecue sauce until the sauce is totally incorporated. Arrange tortilla chips onto a plate and top with pork.


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    Sprinkle with fresh, chopped sweet onions and the two cheeses. Microwave until the cheeses are nicely melted over the meat and chips – just about 20 to 30 seconds.


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    Add pickled jalopeno peppers and then top with lettuces, a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of taco sauce. Enjoy!










    Happy Leftovers!



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    Walk – Don’t Run

    February 8th, 2014







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    Walk – Don’t Run


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    I know. I haven’t written anything since November. It was at that time that I had an “accident” of sorts, the details of which I am not at liberty to go into at this time but suffice it to say that I wound up with two broken feet, a broken ankle, two torn knees and a brain really not functioning all that well. Oh wait, that brain part was going on before the accident. Never mind.


    Mr. Fix-It, around the same time, had to have pretty major surgery and so, the two of us were quite a pair trying to care for each other – he couldn’t lift anything larger than a piece of toast and I couldn’t walk. It was the stuff that Lifetime Movies are made of; really bad background music and all.


    Creating Concepts, Enterprises managed to continue with the busy Christmas season of orders, still shipped on time and closed out 2013 with a sigh of relief (and a shuffle on my part). For two months, I rarely showed my face to the general public unless it was for a doctor’s appointment or MRI when Mr. Fix-It could drive me. I don’t live in a cabin, but I can pretty well say that I have a good clue what that kind of ‘fever’ entails!! Today, however, I am back in shoes – sort of – and am slowly getting around flat-footed and, when I first get up in the morning, doing a pretty good imitation of Quasimoto. It has been an interesting ordeal with quite a bit of pain and a greater number of jokes. You have to laugh about stuff like this. That’s the only way to deal with it sanely!


    God has shown me some interesting stuff during this time where life has been forced to a crawl – no pun intended. I have learned that in these times, when nothing is normal, we can hear God quite audibly because all of “life” isn’t getting in the way. It’s that “Be still and know that I AM God” kind of thing. I have been able to take time to really read and pray and I must say that my joy is even more abundant while I feel that the teaching from the Lord has increased daily. As a friend so aptly put it, God has given me “a season of quiet.” And if you know me well, ‘quiet’ does not fit into my nature very easily!


    I feel very blessed. I got the good news that I do not have osteoporosis – yay – and that I broke my bones because the human body and a concrete floor do not work well in a spirit of cooperation (you know, kinda like Congress. I’m waiting on a few broken bones there too!). Mr. Fix-It is all better and back to normal and the blessing of working with customers continues. So, on that note, I think it’s time for a recipe good for these cold days (is Winter EVER going away???). A yummy pork loin roast is just the ticket. Quick, easy and tasty. This serves 4 people so you can do a larger roast for more.


    Savory Pork Roast and Mushroom Gravy



    Ingredients:


    2 1/2 lb boneless pork loin roast brought to room temperature
    meat tenderizer (optional)
    cotton twine
    2 tbsp. onion soup mix
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp thyme
    1/2 tsp paprika
    1 tsp rosemary leaves (fresh or dried)
    aluminum foil
    pkg chicken gravy mix
    1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
    1 tbsp. butter


    Printable Recipe



    Directions:


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    On a cutting board, slice the roast into 1″ slices, keeping them together in the original shape of the roast. You can sprinkle between the slices with meat tenderizer. This step is optional depending on if you like to use tenderizer or not. With cotton butcher’s twine, tie the roast back together. Place the roast onto the dull side of a square of aluminum foil.


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    Sprinkle the outside of the roast with garlic powder


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    Add paprika


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    Sprinkle the top with thyme and rosemary


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    And finally top with the onion soup mix.


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    Pull the foil up around the roast and curl the edges over to leave the very top portion of the roast exposed. Place into a baking dish or sided pan and into a 325º oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or 30 – 45 minutes per pound.


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    When roast is done, remove 1/2 cup of the drippings and set aside. Mix chicken gravy with one cup of water, as per directions, and set aside.


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    In a shallow skillet, melt butter and sauté mushroom slices until soft.


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    Add roast drippings and stir. Add chicken gravy mixture and stir continually until thickens slightly. Continue to simmer until gravy is the consistency of thin gravy.


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    Cut strings on the roast and your slices are already made! Serve with mushroom gravy which can also be used on a side of mashed potatoes! Leftovers can be used for pork bbq sandwiches or pork nachos. Dig in!!



    Happy Cooking!



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    Cyber Monday Deal!

    December 2nd, 2013







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    Just letting you know that there is a special surprise deal over at the shopping page for your Cyber Monday shopping fun! Want a hint? You’ll CLEAN up! Gnyuck. Gnyuck. Hop over there to see this great deal before supplies run out!



    Happy Shopping!



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    It HAS Begun!!

    November 30th, 2013







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    SALE!!


    The Day After The Day After The Day You Ate Too Much Sale has started!! Hop over and get you a deal while supplies last. New deals go up at 10 am. If you purchase from the two sales, you will be refunded any overcharge on shipping as we will combine your order! Sound fair enough?



    Happy Shopping!



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    The Day After The Day After The Day You Ate Too Much Sale!!

    November 29th, 2013







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    I refuse to call Friday ‘Black Friday’. That sounds so dark….and mercenary. I prefer to think of it as ‘The day after you ate too much”! And since Saturday is Small Business Saturday, we are doing a first for us on that Day After the Day After You Ate Too Much! We are having a sale. Does that mean that we have finally grown up?


    We are going to try something different this year. On Saturday, from 8am until 10am (we figure you don’t want to have to get up at the crack of dawn after you got up before the crack of dawn for The Day After You Ate Too Much sales) we will have a few special, special specials that will be limited. First come-first serve while supplies last. Then, for the rest of the day, some of our other items will be on sale for all. So, here’s you a list and be an early bird for a juicy worm:

    From 8am – 10am while supplies last. Just remember, there’s a very limited supply!


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    The Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ (18 x 24) Regularly $14.99 Specially priced: $10 Only one per customer. This size is great for small kitchens, small projects like biscuits, for apartments and for travel or camping

    Want to try some of our teas? Here’s your chance! The following tea flavors, regularly $3.00 per 1 oz bag are Specially priced: $1.00 per bag. Mix and Match!


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    Sweetheart Kiss
    Orange Cranberry
    Apricot Orchard
    French Crème Brulee
    Chocolate Caramel Turtle
    Bavarian Chocolate


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    Our mini-whisk, regularly $2.50 will be Specially priced: $1.00 per whisk. Great for scrambling eggs and mixing sauces

    Specials for the day until 6 pm:


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    Then And Now Cookbook, signed – regularly priced $9.99 Specially priced:$7.50


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    Victorian House Scones – Regularly priced $7 (makes 8 large scones) Specially priced:$5.00




    Ha-Pa-Shu-Tse Fry Bread Mix – 8 oz – Regularly priced $2.00 Specially priced:$1.25
    Ha-Pa-Shu-Tse Fry Bread Mix – 2 lb – Regularly priced $4.25 Specially priced:$3.00


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    Fortunes Blueberry Vanilla Tea – Regularly priced $4.25 Specially priced:$3.00
    Fortunes Blueberry Vanilla Decaffeinated Tea – Regularly priced $4.50 Specially priced:$3.25
    Fortunes Peach Apricot Tea – Regularly Priced $4.25 Specially priced:$3.00
    Fortunes Peach Apricot Decaffeinated Tea – Regularly priced $4.50 Specially priced:$3.25


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    Willis Chili Seasoning (Made In Oklahoma) – Regularly $4.95 per package (Makes approx. 10 cups chili with beans) – Specially priced:$3.95


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    Bakewell Cream – Regularly priced $4.25 Specially priced:$3.25

    We hope that you find something on our list that will tickle you pink!



    Happy Shopping!



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    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    November 27th, 2013







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    We are all up and running at last. All the code is in its place and I have a happy face! :-)


    Its a beautiful, crisp and sunny day before Thanksgiving Day and I am just overwhelmed with joy. I will be spending tomorrow with family and friends – 25 all total – and with lots of food. You know me! Food is good!! We will be having our traditional dishes and, I’m sure, some new ones and half the clan will be bringing guitars, mandolins or banjos for an afternoon of picking and grinning. This is a time to just kick back and recognize that even with problems, difficulties, concerns and even heartaches, we can be grateful for our God – our provider (the reason for the FIRST Thanksgiving!), for our loved ones, for our friends and for our country> I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!!


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    Happy Eating!


    And Many Blessings!!



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    Temporary Issues – We Hope

    November 9th, 2013







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    UPDATE: Yay! We are back online. Thank you to web guru, Jon, for rewriting code and doing all the hard stuff to get us back to business. And thank you to everyone for your patience.


    We apologize, but the website has been hit and all buttons, except for the blog button, are not working. According to our web hosting company, all of our folders are gone!! Who wiped them out? And why? Grrrr. In other words, shopping online is not available. However, if you are wanting to place an order with us, please give us a call at 405-275-5639 and place your order by phone. Hopefully, the issue will be solved quickly!



    Happy Shopping Anyway!



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    Would You Be Willing To Help?

    November 1st, 2013







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    Help?!


    Heh all! We had our drawing for our October giveaway and Denise Thompson of New Jersey is our winner! She should have her mixes in hand. Congratulations, Denise!!


    Now, I have a huge favor to ask. This request is for you readers who have Facebook accounts. We are entered in a grant competition in hopes of getting enough money to build a store front for everybody to come visit us and in which to teach classes on site! It would include a sage garden to roam in and pick sage and for our Rosemary/Peppermint/Sage soap that is our most popular fragrance. It is loaded with real, hand-rubbed sage. So, we need votes. 250 votes!! We are now at 93 and that is simply amazing because I’ve seen companies bigger than ours getting fewer votes. In fact, in the state, we have the third most votes of around 25 companies! I sure would appreciate it if you all would click on the link below and vote and then share this with your friends, on Facebook or through Pinterest, so they can go vote. We can do this!! We have until November 15th. Thanks to everybody!!!


    Mission Main Street Grants





    Happy Voting!



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    Waxing Commercial Cheese

    October 10th, 2013







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    Mission Main Street Grants



    Waxing Poetic





    You know I can’t resist a sale,
    And so begins this shopping tale.
    I found a bargain sure to please,
    A dollar for a block of cheese!

    I purchased 12 and paid my dough.
    I hurried home to a problem, though.
    What would I do with 12 blocks of cheese?
    ‘Cause they’re not great if them you freeze.

    I’ve showed you how your cheese may can,
    But something new seemed like a plan.
    And so I researched what to do
    And saw, myself, if it was true.

    I followed directions to a ‘T’
    Which t’ain’t a normal thing for me.
    Voila! Now a new way to stow ‘em!
    And I waxed that cheese as I wrote this poem.

    And so you see (you’ve got to get it!)
    It’s obvious I waxed, poetic!!



    No groans from the peanut gallery out there!! I can’t resist a little verse…a very little verse! I thought that I would show you, step-by-step how to preserve cheese that you find on sale. Mine has been sitting at room temperature for four months now and we are using it regularly. Mr. Fix-It likes this cheese on crackers and sandwiches because as it sits, it ages. Now it tastes like expensive, aged, sharp cheese. But first, I’d like to remind you about the giveaway going on.

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    Just be sure to leave a comment below in the comment section and you’ll be entered to win our fry bread mix and a package of our blueberry scones (complete with a can of real, Maine wild blueberries). The drawing will be October 18th.


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    OK. Back to cheese. Any brand of cheese will work, but I happened to find the REALLY cheap kind. I grabbed mild cheddar, provolone and longhorn. All are relatively mind flavored cheeses so that when they age, they don’t become too sharp.


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    I cut the blocks in half to make 4 oz blocks for easier waxing.


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    Carefully wipe each block with white vinegar to clean. If you do not have vinegar, you can use a brine mixture of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water.


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    Place the cheese blocks onto cookie sheets, wax paper or paper towels and allow to dry for 48 hours. You can turn the cheese if it is not on racks. I am using metal cookie racks here, but I think that plastic racks would be better. The metal can rust or oxidize and leave lines on the cheese. I am purchasing some plastic racks for future use.


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    After the cheese has dried, using paper towels or cheese cloth, wipe excess oil off of each block.


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    I melted the wax in a double boiler. You can purchase cheese wax online at the New England Cheese Making Supply. The wax is supposed to get as hot as possible to kill any spores and the only way to get it really hot is to put the pan directly on the stove eye on high, but that is very dangerous as the wax can catch fire or even explode. Plus, you can really get burned. So I did some research and many people are using a double boiler and getting it hot with boiling water beneath it. It is the safest way and seems to work fine. You can make a double boiler, if you don’t have one, by placing an empty tuna can in the bottom of a sauce pan, filling the pan with water and then placing a smaller pan onto the tuna can to keep it from dropping down into the first pan.


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    Or, you can use an old cake pan, fill it with water and set your pot into the water. By the way, I went to our local Big Lots and bought this sauce pan for $3. I just keep the wax in it and let it harden after melting to use the next time, adding more as I need. To store, I keep the lid on it so that no dirt gets inside.


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    When the wax is hot to almost boiling or is boiling, dip one end of each of your cheese blocks into the wax to halfway up.


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    Turn the blocks to the undipped sides and let them rest to harden


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    It only takes about a minute for the wax to harden where you can touch it. Pick the cheese up by the wax end and dip the unwaxed end. Place the block onto the end with the hardened wax so that the new wax can harden. Continue this process until you have waxed each end four to five times.


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    Place the waxed cheese in a container and into a room that is dark and cool or into a pantry where it can be easily accessed. Every few days, turn the cheese to a different side. Sometimes, the cheese will weep oil or water. It is still ok to use. I found that storing it on paper towels or cheese cloth helped absorb any weeping. Also, in some cases, the wax will thin and so you will need to wipe it clean and dip the block a couple of more times. If you see a dark patch under the wax, it is probably mold which is the result of a pin sized hole or other disturbance of the wax surface. You can use that cheese immediately, washing it and cutting off the molded part.


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    When you decide to use a block, use a knife to pry one end of wax off of the cheese. The rest just lifts off. Wash the wax in hot, soapy water and be sure that any pieces of cheese and oil are removed. Put the wax into your wax pan to reuse on your next batch.


     photo 12GrateCheese_zps9b8bc290.jpg



    The cheese can be grated


     photo 13SliceCheese_zps868d7abf.jpg



    It can also be sliced or cut into cubes. Because it is sharper, it is also drier. So there you go!! Now you can wax poetic too….and if you want to send me your poems, I put them up at the blog! :-)
    Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the giveaway!






    Happy Waxing!



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