Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote for the day

"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." ~ Charlton Heston, actor (1924-2008)

Courtesy of Jeanmarie Dancer's article "Just Thinking"

Where is my heart?

Where is my heart today?  I feel it is in a dream...fading in and out of and out of my realm of experience.  I move on through the day...vague yet awake.  Hiding from myself, but not knowing what...or how or why...or where to look.

Most days, my heart is clearly visible...longing, loving, laughing, nudging.   Some days, she sleeps.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Broth Revisited

Soooo.....last night I made pot roast.  I browned my meat and then covered with water and simmered for a couple hours.  Then added about 3 cups of my broth and simmered another couple of hours.  My thought was that the "juice" in the pot would be more tasty than usual and make a yummier gravy...

But, no go!  The gravy was really LESS TASTY than usual.  I have been chewing it over and think the problem is that all the fat is pulled out of my broth (which makes it a wonderful soup base).  However, you need the fat for gravy.  So, usually I have a larger percentage of fat in the leftover "juice" that I make my gravy out of for a pot roast.  Although the broth has some flavor, it just is missing something when made into gravy. 

How does everyone else make their pot roast gravy?  I know it may be silly, but I refuse to use any buillion or gravy mixes.  I want to do it naturally....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Broth

How many of you boil your ribs before barbecuing?  We started doing this and find we come up with a much more tender meat.  BUT: What do you do with the water that you boiled it in???

Since I am always on the lookout for an animal fat source for my soapmaking, I started putting the pot of leftover water in the frig overnight.  In the morning, the fat is a hard layer on the top that I can easily pick out and save in a coffee can in the frig for later soapmaking.  I was pretty pleased with my secondary use of the water.

But...the leftover product can be a wonderful homemade broth!  I just simmer the broth on the stove for about 3 to 5 hours to reduce it.  The water steams out, leaving a more flavorful broth.  Then pour it through a strainer to get out the meat pieces, etc. and, voila!, you have an incredible base for soups, sauces, or a boost for a pot roast or stew gravy.  I usually put it in a tupperware and freeze so it will be ready when I need it. 

So, that pot of water can give you three products in three stages:

1) Yummy ribs
2) Fat for soapmaking
3) Wonderful Free Broth

I would love to hear other ideas or comments.  :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fabulous Fabric Softener

I had a little time before work this morning, so whipped up a bottle of homemade fabric softener.  Now, I called it fabulous above and it is true that it is fabulous in that:  The ingredients are simple and cheap, natural, non-toxic, and non-threatening to the environment (as far as I know).  However, this homemade version does not make things as soft and full of scent as a commercial product.  But, it does soften some, get rid of static, and leave a clean scent.  

The reason I use it is I don't trust all of the perfumes, lotions, cleaners, shampoos, candles, etc. with their incredibly yummy smells.  If you can smell it, that means the item is entering your body through your mouth and nose in a gaseous state.  Now, look at the ingredients on these items.  HOLY COW!  What the heck IS all that STUFF????!!!!!  God knows what the health effects to our society have been.  We are always covering our skin and hair with unknown substances (lotions/shampoos), breathing in "scents" and eating preservatives! 
Anyway, that is my rant for the moment.  :)    If anyone is interested, here is the recipe for fabric softener that I actually got off of the internet and cannot remember where exactly it came from.  I just make it in an old laundry detergent bottle.  Before I started making my own natural products, I began saving plastic bottles. 

Raven's Camp Fabric Softener:

2 cups Baking Soda
2 cups White Vinegar
4 cups Hot Water
30 drops of essential oil

I use a funnel and a wooden shish kebab skewer to get the baking soda into the bottle.  Then, I slowly add the vinegar bit by bit.  The vinegar will cause the baking soda to foam up, volcano-like, so take your time.  Then, add the hot water...still slowly.  Finally, add the essential oil.  I have used vanilla, grapefruit, pine, rosewood, etc.   It is really a personal choice.

Now to mix it:  Put the lid on the bottle and gently turn upside down and back a few times.  Give the foam a chance to dissipate and then open the bottle to relieve the pressure.  Put the top back on and repeat.  Do not shake as the pressure may pop the top off of your bottle.  You can swirl as well.

Use about 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load.  You will have to gently give it a few swirls each time as the baking soda settles somewhat.  

Good Luck!  If you try this, or have any ideas or another recipe...or just a random something to say, please comment below and let me know you're there!   Thanks!


This weekend I made the most amazingly delicious banana bread I have ever tasted!  So, enough with the philosophy...this post is about a recipe!

This banana bread is soooo dense...soooo moist....and sooooo banana-ie!  I took four or five recipes I found online and used pieces of each and got lucky.  I don't usually claim that something I made is the best I ever tasted, but I do with this! 

I would post a pic, but my camera broke.  :(    With our new budget, it may be awhile before I get a new one.  Anyway, here is the recipe:

World's Most Fabulous Banana Bread

1- 1/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup blanched almond meal (or just use all flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
4-5 medium overripe mashed bananas (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla 
1/4 cup plain yogurt

Topping (optional):
1/2 cup  brown sugar
@ 1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter (at room temp)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream brown sugar, butter, and vanilla together.  Beat the eggs and then add them to the butter/sugar mixture and stir or beat until well mixed.  Add the yogurt and mix well.  The whole mixture took on a curdled look at one point so don't worry if yours does too!  :)

Mash the bananas and add them to the creamed mixture.  I just mash them inside their skins and then open them, remove the strings and plop into the bowl.  Blend well.  

In a separate bowl, mix flour, almond meal, salt, and baking soda.   Add dry mixture to wet and stir JUST UNTIL MOISTENED.  Over-stirring will change the texture of your bread.

Now make the topping.  Mix together brown sugar and butter (doing it with fingers works best) and then add flour until you get crumblies.  You may need a little more or less flour than 1/3 cup.  

Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.  Pour in bread mixture.  Crumble topping on.  Bake at 350 for about 60 minutes.  I used a toothpick to test doneness.

When I took my bread out, it had a rounded top.  As it cooled, it fell a bit and I was worried it was ruined.  However, it was just wonderful.  After it cools, refrigerate until good and cold before serving.  

For all blending in this recipe, I used my new stick blender.  I cannot believe what a convenience this item is!  I use it for my soapmaking, to make a quick smoothie, to make carrot soup, and now for baking recipes as well.  Best $15 I ever spent!

Happy baking all!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Marital Expectations

My thoughts this morning have turned to marriage.  My husband and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month....quite a milestone.  Our marriage started off very rocky and I always tell people the first ten years are the hardest.

A friend who has been married for a few years said to me recently that she keeps expecting that her husband will "grow up".  I told her don't count on it. 

What we owe our spouses: The love and support to help them become the best of themselves that they know themselves to be at this particular moment.

What our spouses owe us:  Everything that they are capable of giving at this moment.

Having specific expectations of your spouse is a sad in which you will most surely be disappointed.  Your spouse will likely grow and change over time....but not according to your expectations.  People are individuals, no matter how close the relationship.  They can only grow in the direction their own self takes them.

Think of your spouse as a seed that you found.  You can't tell from looking at the seed what it may sprout into.  Will it bear fruit?  Will it flower?  Will it even ever sprout its head above the dirt?  All you can do is plant that seed in the loving soil of your marriage and care for it.  Shower it with love, comfort it with warmth, feed it with encouragement....and watch it grow!  And enjoy the process...the years, the growth, the ups and downs, the beautiful crazy path that is life.  Busy yourself with your own self as well...looking to become all you are in each moment. 

And one day, under all that love and care, you will look at your spouse and realize all the change that they have gone through and recognize that beautiful self that they are.  And you also will have grown and changed in unexpected ways (if you have let yourself) and you will look at each other and laugh together at where you have been and where you now find yourselves.

And then you will grasp each other's hand and turn to the future...with openness and interest and humor.  Knowing the next 25 will be even more amazing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This is a great article! C'mon people, let's eat real food!

New Hope

Today is full of hope.  I really feel and uplifting...lightening the spirit.  My husband and I have made new year's resolutions of

 1) Sticking to our new budget
2) Not buying any more junk food

I know these sound like the normal things that people resolve, but we have never made a serious agreement about this before and I feel that we will make a real change in our lives.  The reason this is so exciting is we have started a savings account for our SAILBOAT.  We have dreamed of living aboard for years and finally we have made the first tiny step in the right direction.  Our budget includes monthly donations into this savings account. 

I hope that all of you can make changes in your lives that inspire you.  I am listening to a book on tape right now called "Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire".  It's okay, I guess...I have just started it.  However, I believe you can find wisdom anywhere (anyone ever read Illusions?).  And I found an awesome line in this book.  The main character is bemoaning to her coworker (a surfer dude stereotype) about her divorce and life and why does this happen to her.  His advice is that "everybody wipes out, dude!"  He says she just needs to get back out there and "squat in the curl until your calves cramp up".  Now, I have never surfed, but I found this to be sage advice.  If you have made a new year's resolution, throw yourself into it!  Give it all you've got and don't worry about maybe failing.  If you fail, well, everybody wipes out.  Review your goals, think creatively about your methods, and get back out there and squat in the curl, dude!

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Time's a Charm!

Hello There!  This is my first blog and I have to say that I really don't know what I am doing.  However, it looked fun and there were so many creative ideas on other blogs that I had to join in.  So, I will write when the moment hits me.  Now I feel trapped by the keyboard and attacked by bloggers' block.  Ugghh!
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