Monthly Archives: February 2012

Homemade Pasta

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I’ve been on this “Home made” kick lately.  Enjoying every moment and every bite of it too!!  I think my family thinks they have died and gone to heaven with all my cooking experiments lately!   I went shopping, bought myself a very basic Pasta Maker by Imperia, came home and got down to work!  It was so much easier then I ever imagined.  I know that my Nonni (grandma) is looking down upon me with a big smile and saying, “Mangia, Mangia”  lol.  She was an excellent cook, and lets just say that her dinner table was like an endless buffet of food, and she wanted every last crumb gone!

I strongly encourage you all to give this a try!  You’ll be so proud of yourself and you will taste the difference between store bought and freshly made pasta!

To start I cleaned my cooking surface with my “Eco friendly” surface cleaner, Tough and Tender (that I also sell if anyone is interested!)

Then I gather my ingredients… all four of them!

Two eggs

Two cups of flour

pinch of salt

water if needed

 Place flour onto your cooking surface and make a deep well.  Place two eggs into the well and whisk well.  Once  you have the eggs mixed well, begin to mix with your hands, until well blended.

Flour your surface and begin to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Shape it into a ball and wrap with saran wrap and cover.  Let dough rest in a cool place for about half hour.  (do not put in refrigerator)

While dough is resting, set up your pasta maker.  Take dough and knead for a few more minutes and divide into four equal parts.  Make sure you keep the portions wrapped while working with another so it does not dry out.  If it does dry out some, add a little bit of water at a time to get the consistency that you desire.  Roll out a section of dough so that it is ready to put through the pasta maker.

Once Rolled out, you are going to put the dough through the roller of the pasta maker, approx five times.  Start at the widest setting and run through a few times.  Then make your setting a little smaller, run pasta through a few times and repeat until you have the pasta as thin as desired.

Now it’s time to choose which type of pasta you are preparing.  I chose spaghetti.  As the pasta is coming through, take a hold of it before it completely drops to the work surface.  You can then hang it to dry, or lay it out on the counter to dry.   Add a sprinkle of cornmeal to the spaghetti to keep it from sticking together while drying.   Some people choose to cook it right away, which is fine either way!   Add salt to your water for flavor and to keep it from sticking together during cooking.

I know that you and your family will love the end results, mine sure did.

Bon appetit!!

How to boil the perfect egg

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Have you ever tried to peel a boiled egg, and it turns out to be an ugly mess?  What I have learned is that the older the egg, the better it is for boiling and easier to peel!  So save your fresh eggs for cooking and baking and use the older ones to Hard Boil.

Grocery store eggs are normally about a month old by the time they get to your home.  Farmers market eggs are usually locally grown, under a week old.  They also have no additives which is nice!  It’s always nice to support your local farmers!   You can also choose to raise your own chickens as I did.  It’s fun and you know that you are serving your family only the freshest eggs!

Hard Boiled Eggs

In a 4 qt pot, carefully place one dozen eggs (or however many you wish to boil) in the bottom of the pot.  Cover with just enough COLD water to completely cover the eggs.  This will ensure your eggs will not crack when boiled.  Place on the stove top on medium heat, and bring to a slow boil.  Once the water starts to boil, set the timer for exactly 10 minutes.  When the timer goes off, remove the pot of eggs and set in sink.  Run lukewarm water over the eggs, letting it spill over until you can touch the water in the pot and it is tepid.  This will stop the eggs from cooking.  Remove the eggs immediately from water, and place in refrigerator.  They will be good to peel in about 15 minutes after being chilled, or you can leave them in there for up to four days to snack on for breakfast or lunch!!

Safe and Cheap Air Freshener and so much more!!!

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I love to listen to the radio all day while doing chores and work at home.  Our local radio station has a “John Tesh” segment that gives advice and helpful tips from A to Z!  Todays was a great idea that I thought I would share with you.  I have been on a band wagon lately trying to find ways to save money  and this is a good one and wanted to share!  I don’t know about you all, but I love candles, wax melts and room sprays. I love to walk into my home and smell freshness.  John recommends taking Baking soda, as it’s free from harmful chemicals.  He says to  pour about 1/2 cup into a paper coffee filter and then securing the coffee filter at the top, like a sachet.  Place the sachet under the front seat of your car.  Well I got to thinking about this, and why not also at the bottom of your hamper, behind a book on a bookshelf, in a basket in a bathroom, kitchen, office… anywhere you want to smell fresh!  Baking soda is a natural odor absorber and used for a million other things as well.

Other uses for Baking soda:

cleaning jewelry (it will sparkle a diamond right up! I use a soft tooth brush to apply it to my rings)

whitening teeth ( just add to your toothpaste directly onto your toothbrush)

Soak for oral appliances

Facial and body scrub (3 parts of baking soda to 1 part of water

Deodorant (pat baking soda onto your underarms to neutralize body odor as you would body powder)

Treat insect bites and itchy skin (make a paste with baking soda and water)

Make a hand cleanser and softner (make paste with 3 parts of baking soda to 1 part of water to gentle liquid hand soap)

Hair  (sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into palm of hand with your regular shampoo and shampoo as usual.  Rinse thoroughly.  Baking soda helps remove the residue that styling products leave behind so your hair is cleaner and manageable.)

Clean brushes and combs (1 teaspoon of baking soda in a small basin of warm water.  Soak comb and brush.  Rinse and allow to dry. You will notice your hair will have more shine.

bath soak (1/2 cup baking soda to bath.  It neutralizes  acids on the skin and helps wash away oil and perspiration, it also makes your skin feel very soft.  Epsom salts are wonderful for bath too!)

Freshen sponges (soak stale smelly sponges in a strong baking soda solution to get rid of the mess.  About four tablespoons to 1 quart of warm water works well)

Clean microwave  (baking soda to a clean damp sponge works well )

Clean coffee and tea pots (works amazing and removes coffee/tea stains well.  1/4 cup baking soda to 1 quart of warm water, soak overnight)

Clean floors (remove dirt and grime, scratch marks too by using 1 cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water.  Mope and rinse for a sparkling floor.

Freshen sports gear (my favorite yet!! sprinkle baking soda into golf bags, gym bags to deodorize, clean golf irons without scratching them with baking soda paste.  3 parts Baking soda to 1 part of water, use a brush to apply, rinse.

Remove oil and grease stains (sprinkle baking soda on the spot and scrub with a wet brush)

clean cars (baking soda cleans car lights, chrome, windows, tires, vinyl seats and floor mats.  Use 1/4 cup baking soda to 1 quart warm water.  Apply with sponge to remove road grime, tree sap, bugs and tar.

deodorize the following:  Trashcans, drains, garbage disposals, lunch boxessneakers and stuffed animals)

Carpet deodorizer (sprinkle baking soda on carpet.  Let sit overnight or longer, maybe a weekend while you are away.  Vacuum up)

Freshen closets (place a box or make a sachet as we discussed and place on shelf in closet)

Pet bedding (Eliminate odors from your pet bedding by sprinkling liberally with baking soda, wait 15 min or longer for stronger odors, then vacuum up)

Septic Care (regular use of baking soda in your drains can help keep your septic system flowing freely.  1 cup of baking soda per week will help maintain a favorable pH balance in septic tank)

 

Thank you Arm & Hammond for your wonderful Cost Saving ideas!!  If my readers have any other ideas please share!  Im so excited to have found another way to save hundreds of dollars on house hold cleaning items!!


Amish White Bread Recipe

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So I have been feeling pretty “Domestic” lately.  I have been racking my brain, thinking of ways to cut back on the grocery bill.  You know, trying to do my part!  I looked at all the things that I have to buy on a regular basis that cost a lot and then looked at the ingredients and figured out that it is much cheaper and much tastier to make my own bread for the family.  This particular recipe makes two loaves of bread and is so simple to make.  They freeze well if you want to double the recipe and make four loaves and just take a day to make bread once a month.   I enjoyed making the bread so much, that I will dedicate a day twice a month to make bread for the family and I vow not to by sandwich bread any longer!!

There are many recipes out there, I read through a lot of them and really liked this one.  Especially since I am a beginner!

Amish White Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2/3 cup white sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 cups bread flour

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast.  Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.

2.  Mix salt and oil into the yeast.  Mix in flour one cup at a time.  Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat.  Cover with a damp cloth.  Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

3.  Punch dough down.  Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half.  Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9×5 loaf pans.  Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.  (note:  I only had one loaf pan and used an oblong casserole dish as you can see the difference in my loaves, but it worked fine)

4.  Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

I hope you enjoy your bread as much as we are enjoying ours!  If you  have small kids, this is so much fun to do with them.  And if you don’t, you might find the kneading of the bread is rather therapeutic.  I did!

Country Gourmet Home Wick – Less Collection

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COUNTRY GOURMET HOME

WICK – LESS COLLECTION

http:www.countrygourmethome.com/consultant/uid/lisaschultz

Our original “Mr. Momz” wickless wax melt packages come with decorative country fabric ties.  Each package contains six cubes of the same scent.   We also sale a variety of Wickless Warmers.

Scents are all priced at $3.99 each

Wickless Warmers from $12. 75 to $23.95

We offer:

31 scents in Aroma & Herbal

17 scents in Earth

27 scents in Bakery Scents

34 scents in Seasonal

22 scents in Special Blends & Duplicates

22 scents in Floral

29 scents in Fruits

Please feel free to stop by my on line store and do some shopping!!  You will love these scents that last for days!  While there, stop and check out all the choices in mixes (even low sugar mixes)  that I offer to simplify your life!

Thank you and God Bless!

Raising Chickens

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Raised a “City Girl”, always wanted to be a “Country Girl”.  As a child I always wanted a farm.  I love all animals and just found myself at peace when ever visiting a farm.  When my husband and I bought our home on five acres I had big plans.  Horses, goats and chickens.  Well in the meantime my health got worse, so horses were out!  But the chickens finally happened!  We adopted five chickens and this massive coop from a family who had to move.  It’s been the best thing that I have ever done.  I absolutely love my mornings with the chickens and afternoons when they are most active.  Not to mention FRESH EGGS!!  There is nothing as wonderful as fresh eggs.  You WILL notice a difference in taste and color of the yolk.  So much better!  I probably have the cleanest coop in town!  They are a tad bit spoiled to say the least.  They get a “little extra” snack in the mornings and afternoon along with the “scratch”.  I have one that loves to be held and talked too.. Bessie is very sweet and actually stand up for me if another is feeling nasty and wants to peck at me.  Bessie will actually peck at them and chase them away from me.

Chickens are wonderful!.  They are clean, cheap and very quiet.  (Roosters however are not so quiet)  I chose not to have roosters… just wanted eggs to eat, not more chicks at the moment!  They take very little time to care for and they give you the best tasting eggs ever!!  Backyard coops are showing up all over these days, it has sort of become a trend!  But before you go and buy your chicks and put up a coop… make sure you read a bit about raising chickens and knowing the breeds for particular climates as well.

There are a few things to consider when choosing your breed of a “laying hen”.  Climate being one of the most important.  If you live in an area that gets snow (like I do) you want a hardier breed.  You can also think about the color and size of the Hens you want and the color of eggs that you would like to have.  Some people like the “easter egg” assortment of colors.  Ameraucana’s lay Easter eggs in blues and greens, and a Welsummer lays an egg so dark you’d think it was made of milk chocolate.  If you are being practical and just want lots of fresh brown eggs, your best bets are the classic Rhode Island Reds and the Red Stars.  These are hardy birds and great layers.  I have Rhode Island Reds.  They are very friendly, adapt well in the different temperatures that we get here and are wonderful layers.  I install a heat lamp in the winter that points into the nesting boxes to keep them warm at night.  If they get to warm they all head down to the end of the “hall” and sleep away from the lamp… but they have the option of being closer to it if they are colder.

Right now the coop has tarps up on the sides of it to keep out the wind, snow and rain.  It’s important that they have a dry place to go to.  We plan on doing some remodeling of the coop this spring.  We will be putting a raised floor in to help keep preditors from digging in to the coop and putting siding on the sides of the building to keep the weather out.  I will put in windows for cross ventilation which is very important and actually cover the “yard” with netting to keep out preditors as well.   I will also be raising “red worms” to feed to them as I do not let my chickens “free range” because of the wild life where I live.  They’d be eaten up in a heart beat by a mountain lion or bear!  So they have a yard that will sometimes get a worm or bug… but they keep it so clean, that I have to do the bug and worm hunting for them!  I often buy them dried meal worms from the feed store.  Big treat for them!

My advice to you if you want to simplify your life a little and save on the grocery bill… do some studying on raising chickens.  Then go for it… it’s simple, it’s fun, it’s very entertaining and you’ll love your fresh eggs for breakfast, baking and gift giving!