Friday, June 18, 2010


Little macro pictures of my little balcony garden.



A little strawbery. The topsy turvy stuff doesn't work well when you plant them wrong, but ah well... I'll have a strawberry planter next year.

Baby rosemary in the baby rosemary pot.

Baby spinach, itsy bitsy!


My baby, unhappy okra! It misses Africa, I think.

Future tomato flowers to become tomatoes!

Lavender. Lovely lavender.

Little baby carrots.

Tastiest lettuce I've ever had.

I love dill.

Fuck yeah, cilantro.

And last but not least... my little raspberry flower!

I've gone green!

Well, that's the trendy way to put it. However, the decision was mostly for the health of my little family (dog especially) and my wallet. I've started on the road to not using chemicals, and I've succeeded on the easy ones so far. It's a lot cheaper, honestly. I still use a little dish soap, febreze, dryer sheets, windex, face wash, and makeup. I've turned to making my own soap, which is really nice. It's mostly waiting, and an hour of work at most. I'll replace dish soap with my olive oil liquid soap I'll be making (adding tea tree oil to make it antibacterial) on Monday. once it finishes settling and evening out in about a week, I'll start replacing. My new face soap's curing in my closet, and it smells lovely. I used tea tree, geranium, lavender, and other oils in a soap made with half lard, half crisco. I'll see how that works out. I put green tea in there to make it prettier, and it has quite a bit of nettle extract.

I wash my dishes with a mix of 2 cups borax, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup baking soda, and 1/4 cup citric acid. I toss 2 heaping tablespoons in before the wash, and have vinegar in the rinse agent thingy. It took a lot of tweaking, but it works and the chemical fumes don't pour out the vent. My dishes don't smell like they've been bleached, and there's no chemical residue going into my food.

My clothes are washed using my handmade lard and crisco soap plain with borax, washing soda and baking soda. It's about 5 parts borax, 3 parts washing soda, 2 parts baking soda with as much soap as I made crumbled in. I use 1/8 cup (I found a nifty oyster shell that measures that amount) per load or more, depending on how dirty. Vinegar goes in the downy ball. I'll get dryer balls instead of dryer sheets when I can afford them. So far, I've washed dozens of loads this way and it's gotten all the nasty smell from the mold problem at our old house out.

Instead of comet cleanser, I use a water/vinegar mix and a powdered mix of baking soda, washing soda, and a bit of borax with citric acid added. It works like a dream and really bleaches stains out without using harmful chemicals.

Borax, baking soda, and washing soda are all naturally-occuring. While it might be harmful to eat borax or washing soda, they're a lot less toxic than bleach. Citric acid's derived from fruit and is 100% food safe like baking soda and vinegar.

I'm working on a window wipe that works for me, and I'm cheating with windex while that happens.

There haven't been paper towels in my house in nearly 2 weeks, and with a washer/dryer and a healthy collection of rags, I don't really care. I have a few dozen good rags, and I've been using them for everything. The less linty ones I use to drain oily food with, and we've been using cloth napkins. I've been using organic practices with my little deck garden so far since I see no need for chemicals. I empty out old tea bags into the water, and throw out things like corn husks and potato peels into the buckets to feed the worms I put in there after I went fishing.

The real kicker to all of this is that I'm not spending as much money by FAR. Once I get my mop and finish off my swiffer refills, that'll be $10/month I save in those things. I'm not spending $18 for a Costco pack of dishwasher detergent. My average bottle of laundry detergent gave me about 20 loads and was $7. I just made about 100 loads worth of detergent for probably $3.

Borax and Washing soda both come out to less than $3 per box. I get a 13 pound bag of baking soda at Costco for about $5. I buy citric acid at the soap supply store for about $3.50 a pound. Lye's $11 for 2 pounds here, and fats to make basic soaps are very cheap at the grocery store or free if you're willing to render your leftover fatty pieces of meat. Vinegar's dirt cheap, especially if you get the 2 gallon pack at Costco.

I'm working on my own lotions (just need money for wax, mostly) and my own makeup when I master what's on my plate so far. I made my own powder from cornstarch and enough cinnamon and ginger to color it right.

Cleaning and housekeeping's become fun again, for me. If I can do this, just about anyone can. I have less waste now that I'm following a rule of not throwing out things if I can put them to other use. I have a container full of peanut butter jars, jugs, and other plastic packaging that I've been drawing from. I had to store leftovers and instead of a bowl with plastic wrap, I used a leftover frosting container I'd washed. It's a challenge to see what I can reuse for what purpose, and how little I can throw away. I eventually want a compost bin, but that might be a while with my limited space.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Protecting to Death

Kids and dogs are being protected in dozens of ways. We vaccinate like mad, and it seems that there's a new thing we need to be afraid of and medicate against every year. Chicken pox has become this thing that must be guarded against by pumping chemicals into their bodies. The flu has become this demon that all must guard against. Diets must be so protected and balanced that children lose the ability to try what works for them. Dogs are given diets balanced off of a human model, which doesn't even work for them. We listen to our doctors and our often lied to vets.

Children are getting more unhealthy and more allergies are cropping up. Their parents bleached their toys and playpens and clothing so they'd never encounter bacteria. Bacteria is good! While I don't suggest letting your child lick a day-old meat cutting board, the bacteria found in rolling in the dirt or eating off the floor helps prime the immune system. They WILL encounter harmful things, and no exposure means they can't protect themselves. No vaccine will substitute an immune system fed off of good old fashioned dirt and bugs. No amount of therapy can sometimes substitute just screaming at your child and spanking them when they're a jackass. The old ways of raising children can be good, and help prevent coddled little brats.

Dogs lived for thousand of years off of fresh kills and scraps. Dogs lived for a long time before we started pumping corn, animal by-product, and chemicals into their bodies. Let's give them raw meat or as close to it as we can afford. (No corn or grain, please. Especially not corn. It's their metabolism's equivalent to pure sugar.) Let's put sprigs of lavender or lavender oil in their bedding before dousing them in flea treatments once a month. Don't give them heartworm treatment constantly if it's been ten years since you've seen a mosquito. Learn about things yourself. Vets are taught by sponsored programs, often times, and companies give them kickbacks. You can learn about WHY your animal does or doesn't need what you give it if you would just sit down and use our friend google.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Basic child rearing and animal care (maybe different with training) weren't broke. Don't let modern medicine only fix what it caused, at a higher price tag. Save your money and do a few old-fashioned things that will keep your loved ones safer and healthier without medical intervention.

By the way? Dogs aren't living longer in this age of modern vet care. Their life spans are halved, often times. It wasn't broke until we tried to fix it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving! (For $30?)

I did all my prep way ahead of time, and all I have to do is take meat/milk out of the fridge and mix it with everything else. All the pans and serving dishes are out and ready. Aside from baking the actual things, I'm done. No measuring except for one cup of milk, and no real veggie chopping except for the potatoes. I'm looking at about 10-15 minutes of work. The rest is oven time. This is my first hosted Thanksgiving. I'm 21, and I did it for $30 for all four people.

There was the turkey. I use legs only because I LOVE dark meat and make ham, too. Also, I'm not patient enough for a whole bird with one oven rack of fail. That was $3 for the meat and another $2 for the veggies/sage and another dollar for the chicken stock I'm cooking it with. I have it here, defrosting (did this a month ahead of time) on the kitchen sink. The green is the oil from the sage I simmered with chicken stock and a bunch of cheap veggies. I'll cook those together then use the extra sexy broth instead of water for the stuffing. Baking bags were extras in the pantry and I only used them to defrost easier and shove more in tiny pans.

There was the ham. Bone-in butt is the most expensive, but it came out to $15. Cooking it as is. We're crazy and love both turkey and ham.

Potatoes... $1 at most. Potatoes. Seriously. Cut them up, boil them, mash with milk and butter, salt and pepper.

Stuffing's $2. Pictured with it are the extra veggies I didn't simmer with the chicken broth being added in to freshen up the stovetop.

The biscuits come out to probably 50 cents. Not even counting those. Recipe in old post.

$1 for cranberry sauce. I only have two cans because I'm a dork and love the jellied stuff. I COULD make the real stuff for about the same price, but I love canned stuff.

Dessert? $1. 1 can of pumpkin and various other things I had sitting around. Pumpkin muffins of win have a recipe on here too.

The alcohol I'm calling purely optional. Let's call that $7 for mine, $2-3 for beverages for everyone.

The gravy will be milk, flour, and drippings. $0.

Turkey: $5
Ham: $15
Potatoes: $1
Stuffing: $2
Cranberry Sauce: $1
Biscuits: $0.50
Muffins: $1
Drinks: $3

Total: $28.50

Let's call it $30 for neatness and margin of tax/extras you might not have.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Super Sexy!

So they have these dorot things at Trader Joe's. They're minced herbs put into little cube trays and frozen, sort of how they pack mosquito larvae/blood worms for fish. You pop a cube or two out into your food and it melts into the second best thing to fresh. I use the cilantro and basil ones since those two herbs just don't keep. I use cilantro very rarely and basil lasts about a day and a half in my fridge.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Garlic Greens?

So I had this cleaned, vacuum packed garlic I found in the fridge. Some of it was sprouting inside the plastic, which was pretty cool. So I planted it in a little terra cotta pot, and it grew!

Now it's getting tall, and I tasted the greens. Tasty!

Looked it up, and garlic greens are a delicacy. I'm growing them in a 4" pot on my windowsill.

Thinking of tossing them into a caesar salad.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Leaders in Cataclysm

There are rumors that Jaina and Sylvanas are going to die in the assault on Arthas. It makes sense. Sylvanas has revenge for her and her people to carry out on Arthas that's worth dying for, and if Jaina had put out, none of this would've happened.

This makes sense, too. We know the Alliance and Horde are going to be at open war because Garrosh is going to be leading and he has less leadership capability than Basic Campfire. But would Jaina really allow that? I think she'd be able to do something to get Thrall to come back for a few minutes to whack Garrosh over the head. She'd do SOMETHING.

Also, I think Sylvanas would have the sense to convince Thrall to put Basic Campfire in charge.

I listened to the convo between Tirion, Varian and Jaina a few minutes ago. Look at this....

Herald Beluus yells: The Warchief of the Horde, Thrall, and Overlord Garrosh Hellscream have arrived upon the tournament grounds! Clear the way to the entrance!
Thrall, Garrosh and their escort appear from inside the Sunreaver Pavilion and walk along the path following the Ring of Champions, stopping near the middle of the ring.
Thrall says: Garrosh, I expect you to control yourself here. I do not want a repeat of the Violet Citadel.
Garrosh Hellscream says: Pah! That was a show of strength, worthy of a leader. I only regret I did not kill that human before the mage interfered.
Thrall says: We are guests here, Garrosh, and you will conduct yourself honorably.
Garrosh Hellscream says: What honor is there in thrashing about with blunted sticks? This is a waste of time.
The group proceeds to the western entrance of the Coliseum, where Highlord Tirion Fordring awaits.
Highlord Tirion Fordring says: Welcome, Warchief Thrall. Overlord Hellscream.
Thrall says: Thank you for the invitation, Lord Fordring. We look forward to observing these games.
Garrosh Hellscream says: Speak for yourself, Thrall.
Highlord Tirion Fordring says: I hope you'll see the merit of these events in time, Garrosh. We cannot win against the Scourge if we continue to war against one another.
Thrall says: Wise words.
Garrosh Hellscream says: Words of a fool, you mean. The Horde will destroy the undead without your aid, human, or that of the pompous king.
Thrall says: Garrosh, enough!
Highlord Tirion Fordring says: Under my roof, gentlemen, I trust you will behave.
Thrall says: Of course, Tirion. I apologize for his outburst. It will not be repeated.
Garrosh Hellscream says: Bah.
Highlord Tirion Fordring says: If you will follow me, then.
The group then walks in to the coliseum proper and disappears inside.

Herald Beluus yells: His Majesty, King Varian Wrynn, and Lady Jaina Proudmoore have touched down upon the tournament grounds! Make way!
Varian, Jaina and their escort appear from inside the Silver Covenant Pavilion and walk west towards the Argent Pavilion.
King Varian Wrynn says: Tirion.
Highlord Tirion Fordring says: King Varian, Lady Jaina. Welcome to the tournament. Your place in the coliseum is waiting.
Lady Jaina Proudmoore says: Thank you. It's the least I can do to support this; we need to stand together.
King Varian Wrynn says: You ask much of me, Tirion, to sit and watch, trusting the savages to keep themselves in check.
Highlord Tirion Fordring says: My people are here to ensure they honor the rules of engagement. It will do your subjects well to see you in the stands.
Lady Jaina Proudmoore says: I'm sure Thrall will have his people under control...
King Varian Wrynn says: Perhaps. I doubt the effectiveness of this gambit. We would be better served preparing our armies for the final assault.
King Varian Wrynn says: But if my presence is required in these games to gain your support in the battle, then I will remain. For now.
Highlord Tirion Fordring nods and gestures for his guests to follow.
The group then walks in to the coliseum proper and disappears inside.

Same convo, really.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Moar Recipes!

These are a little bit more fall-ish and they're all really tasty.

Egg Nog!

Beat 6 eggs really hard. I even use an electric mixer for this. I know.

Add 1 cup castor sugar. AKA baker's sugar or superfine sugar or whatever.
Blend that in.

1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon

Gradually add
2 1/2 c cream (sometimes I use half and half or more milk than cream)
2 c milk

Optionally, 1/2 cup each rum and brandy.


Heat a saucepan on medium heat.

Melt 1 cup butter and mix in 1 lb (2 1/3 cup) brown sugar and a dash of salt.

Add 1 cup cornsyrup, keep heating. Add 15 oz condensed milk VERY slowly when it's hot. Make sure it hits and holds 250 degrees with a candy thermometer. Go up a little more if you'd like, but if you get it too hot, it'll be really, really hard. 245 makes syrup, 250 makes soft and semi-firm caramels. Anything too low will make a grainy mess.

Take off heat and add 1 tsp high quality vanilla. Cool in large, shallow dish. I use the freezer. Cut into bits and roll in rectangles of wax paper as little candy wrappers.


Scald 1/2 cup milk and add in 2 TB butter. I do this on medium.

Add 1/4 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt. Cool the mixture in a mixing bowl.

Sprinkle and whisk in one at a time:
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/16 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour.

Mix completely then add another 3/4-1 cup flour. Dough will be stickyish depending on how much, but it won't impact flavor.

Knead for 5 minutes and let rest 60-90 minutes. Roll out and shape. (Will be flat, I roll to 1/4 inch and just us a tiny shotglass to make inch-wide doughnut holes)

Let rest 30-45 minutes.

Heat oil on medium about an inch and a half deep (or more, but why?) to 365 degrees. Plop the doughnuts in a bit at a time until they are ALMOST a tiny bit browned, then flip, wait a few seconds, then fish them out onto paper towels.

I roll them in a glaze and cinnamon sugar. You can do one or the other.


3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp vanila
2 TB cold water. I use double if I'll be putting it in cinnamon sugar too.

Caesar Salad of DOOM!

The salad itself is simple. Romaine (or iceberg if you're poor) and grated parmesean. Fresh is best. For croutons, I make garlic bread a few days before and leave the extras out overnight then cut it into cubes and put it in a sealed container so it keeps really moist and only a bit chewy/crunchy. Cheap croutons are hard. Good ones are a bit tougher and harder than normal bread. Since the dressing has raw egg in it, keep it cold and don't keep it more than 12-24 hours. I'd use it right away.


In a food processor or if you're awesome with mincing, destroy together...

2 cloves garlic. Small for normal garlic, large for extra. 2 small and some roasted if you're nuts.
2 anchovy filets or 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1 egg (or mayo if you're a pussy)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tb dijon mustard
1/4 tsp worstershire sauce

When you're done, whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil.

It's sexy and sooo worth it. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Let sit an hour so the flavors can take effect or it's just not as good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cast Iron > Nonstick

I've used nonstick most of my life because I hate stainless steel. Everything sticks to it. I've had birds, and the first rule with birds and nonstick is to not use it around them or make them food with it. The fumes can kill them.

I, for one, am skittish to use something that could kill a bird. Dead birds usually mean it's not too good for us, either. I got a cast iron pan just to try it out, and everything stuck to it. It was "preseasoned" which I've since learned is a load of crap.

Why use cast iron? Properly maintained, it IS nonstick. Also, you really, really have to screw up royally in order to break it. You have to either leave it soaking in water for so long that it rusts completely through... or break a good inch of iron. It's sort of idiot proof, and very forgiving. Use the wrong sort of spatula on nonstick once, and you're screwed.

Cast iron is also cheaper. A decent pan is about $20. A cheap nonstick pan of the same size is about $30 and requires a lot of special TLC, and still only lasts about 1-3 years. The expensive ones last about 10 years. Cast iron lasts for centuries if you'll let it, and it gets better with age.

This is my nonstick pan. I've had it about 18 months. The silicone flipper I use for it was $20, and the pan was $30. Both require special care. Notice how chipped it is. I shouldn't really cook with it anymore, and I'll chuck it as soon as I'm perfectly adjusted to cast iron.

This is my $20 cast iron pan, bought at the same store, with its $10 spatula. The spatula can take a lot of abuse, as can the pan. The discolorations are mostly from the camera, and they are not rust. This is actually a beautiful, healthy pan. Also, you'll never have to wash it again.

Unless you screw up.

How does cast iron work? You build up a layer of fats (not oils... you want something that is naturally solid at room temperature) and carbon, and they condense into the pan. Cast iron is porous, so it soaks it all in. You don't cook your food in the fats, but on them. You'll use less oil in the cooking. Do yourself a favor and switch to cast iron and let your nonstick slowly fade away. I'm replacing my nonstick pot that I use for candy making with an enameled cast iron one. Cast iron holds heat in better, cooks nicer, and the layers of fat and carbon carry the flavors of the food, which means you'll have more flavor. Also, studies show that trace amounts of iron do carry into the food, which is good for you.

How to purchase and use cast iron:

A website I looked at to learn this myself said to get a #10 skillet from eBay. Griswold apparently went out of business in like the 1950s, and did something really cool to their skillets that they don't do anymore. Also, things were made better back then.

If you don't want to get them off ebay, you'll have some frustration at first, but I used a new one just fine. I went to the grocery store, found the kitchen section, and picked out a "lodge" brand skillet.

When you get your skillet home, and it seems properly seasoned, go ahead and use it if it's used.

However, if you bought it new, it'll either be raw or "preseasoned" and you'll want to pick up some steel wool and a small tub of lard. For one of the few times in the life of your skillet, you're going to use soap and water. That's right! Bacteria won't really grow on your pan on the inside, and you'll never, ever put anything on a cold pan. By the time you put your food on the pan, it'll be heated enough to kill anything.

With a new pan, get your steel wool, soap it up, and scrub the living holy crap out of the thing, all sides. Get everything off of the pan that you THINK might be there. You'll also want to do this step to the cooking surface if your seasoned pan starts to stick something to it. You'll have to build up the nonstick again, but it means that you did something wrong at some point.

Next step is important if you EVER put water on your pan. Otherwise, it'll rust. You're going to dry the thing off and put it on the burner on low heat for about 5 minutes. This'll make sure there is no water in the pan. Turn the burner off and let it cool a bit.

Then, get a paper towel and later the lard on! Just LATHER that stuff on, rubbing it into the iron. Then put the pan on a cookie sheet (preferably with sides) and stick it in the oven. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees. It'll smoke quite a bit.

After about 10-15 minutes, reach in with a paper towel wad and mop up the extra grease. You want a thin layer to remain. Too thick and it won't condense. Turn the oven down to 250 or 275 for another hour, then turn off the heat and leave it for a while.

Take the pan out, wipe the bottom really heavily, and your pan's ready to use, really.

Always, always, always, heat the damn thing before you put the food on, or it'll stick. Also, it's best to use a metal spatula. Mine was $10 at target. It needs a flat front edge, not curved, and rounded corners. It'll scrape the metal just right to even it out, but not kill your layers of seasoning.

I also have some freezer burned bacon in the freezer I toss on my pan one piece at a time when I think my seasoning could use some help. Bacon grease and lard are lovely things.

I also find that you want to cook on medium low where you'd normally cook medium-medium high. The pan retains heat, so you might want to play with heat settings at first.


Get a paper towel when the pan is still warm. Wipe off the food.

If there's too little grease left from cooking (this happens a lot when I make pancakes) take a piece of bacon, some back grease, or some lard, put it on the pan, smooth it around, and let things cool down.

You're done.


Since I've started to do thigns properly, I've had nothing stick, nothing go wrong, and the food tastes sooo much better.

Also, my stupid pan's not in the dishwasher or dirty half the fucking time.

Oh, my bible during this learning process:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So pictures...

We went on a very pretty date, and I took these picturethings.