January 22, 2014

The Make Your Own Movement (1 Comment)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 5:46 pm

This is why I don’t like Make Your Own. Everything empty at once. And why does it seem more of a burden to stop and MAKE some as opposed to putting it on a list, forgetting list at home, going to the store- where I have to go anyway (these kids want food!) and picking it up?

I keep messing with my laundry detergent recipe- just trying to make it easier than it already is because: Burden! The typical recipe calls for a shredded bar of Fels Naptha (which is getting easy to find- the local Walmarts even carries it), some washing soda and Borax. But I saw one recipe (sorry, can’t remember where or I’d give a hat tip) that only called for Washing Soda, Borax and essential oils. The greatest problem with making my own is shredding the soap- yes, even when my food processor does it. I’m a wimp.I’ve been reducing the soap and adding more of the other ingredients. I’ve also been adding essential oils for kicks. Usually eucalyptus or tea tree with something that smells better. Then I read where someone mentioned shredding the soap and keeping it in a baggie. This last time I shredded two bars and am keeping one in a baggie. That way all I’ll have to do next time is mix it all together.

The glass containers were for deodorant (coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder and essential oils) and face cream (coocnut oil, vitamin E and lavender essential oil).

The spray bottle is a cleaner that I’ve been using which was all over the internet awhile back. It’s vinegar and dish soap (supposed to be the name brand stuff but I don’t buy it). I mainly use it for a bathroom cleaner. I find it keeps the mildew down on the shower curtain.

I like using these but I am not an overly picky person. I’m not sure how much it saves money wise if you look you can find breakdowns of the laundry detergent on line. Balancing out time vs. money savings? I don’t know. I am not sure any one of these things would break the budget but maybe added up it amounts to something? Again, I don’t know.  But it makes me feel like I’m DOING something to earn my keep.

February 26, 2012

Yogurt (1 Comment)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 6:47 pm

I’ve been making my own yogurt for awhile.  No, not consistently but it’s something I try to do fairly often.  Since I have causally mentioned this fact in conversation I’ve had hordes of people asking me how I make it.  A “horde” is two people, right?  Do I need to add that to my dictionary for you illiterate people?  I then decided to make a tutorial like them big, fancy blogs with pictures and everything.

I had seen recipes on the internet that helpfully suggested incubating the yogurt in your oven and that the pilot light would provide enough heat for the little bacteria to work.  After examining my electric oven all over I decided this option would not work for me.  Then I saw one where she used her crock pot to incubate her yogurt.  (She now uses a different method- read about it here.) But this method struck me as taking a long time- especially heating the milk up.  I also don’t have a crock pot with a removable insert so I would have to put the whole thing in the fridge because I think it’s important to let it get cold before disturbing it.  Then I came across someone- I wish I could remember who so I could give credit- who said a cooler would work well for keeping the yogurt warm as it fermented.  A light bulb went off and my yogurt making days began.

For some reason I decided to try this recipe for Armenian Yogurt.  Maybe it sounded exotic?  But I don’t follow the recipe exactly anymore.  I’m just a Recipe Rebel.

First I heat 4 cups of milk.


I put the thermometer in to keep an eye on the temperature.   The recipe says to bring it to a boil but I have read that it only needs to be heated to 180 degrees.  I try to make sure I am near the stove while I am doing this.  One batch was made unusable by my lack of attention.  I read also that if the milk is held at about 180 degrees for awhile then the yogurt will be creamier.  I’ve tried to do that these last two batches but rushed it a bit with this batch.

I made this while I was watching the milk.


I try to remember to put some boiling water into the jars I am going to use.  I managed to do so this time mostly because I was trying to impress you.  The yogurt has turned out fine even when I have forgotten this step.


I take the milk off the element


and add the heavy cream.  As you can see, I make sure to measure accurately.  Some people use dry milk to make their yogurt creamier.  It might surprise some people but I have a heavy cream addiction.  Therefore, it’s always on hand.  I also am not afraid of fat and would go so far as to say it’s good for you.


I then let it cool to 115-110 degrees.  I take out a bit of the milk and add the yogurt starter.  I have been using less then the original recipe calls for- usually 2 Tablespoons to a 1/4 cup.


Then I stir it into the milk.   And pour it all into the jars.


I heat a rice bag in the microwave as I do this.  Then put the jars into the cooler with the bag.


And then towels to fill in the open spaces.


Put the lid on and let it sit around.  Most recipes say to let it sit for 8 hours.  I have done it for as short as 4 and as long as 24.  Some people say that after 24 hours the bacteria have eaten up all the sugar in the milk.   If I leave it for a long time, I will heat up the rice bag again.


When the time is up I take the jars out of the cooler and put them in the fridge.  You can see that it is very thick.


I leave it in the refrigerator overnight.


Here it is after it’s been in the fridge for awhile.


The kids really like it.  I was a bit worried there wouldn’t be enough left from my last batch as they ate it almost all up.   When I buy yogurt for starter I have been freezing some of it to have on hand in case my starter stash gets eaten or if I leave it go too long between batches.  I sometimes drain the whey off to make a thicker yogurt or cheese.  I use the whey as a substitute for buttermilk in baked goods.

That’s it.

Armenian Yogurt

Original recipe from : http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/yogurt-recipe.html

4 cups milk

2 Tbl. – ¼ cup yogurt starter (plain yogurt- make sure it has “live” cultures)

2 cups (or so) heavy cream (optional)

Heat the milk to 180 degrees.  Take off heat and add cream.  Let cool to 115-110 degrees.  Take some out of the pan and stir in the yogurt starter.  Add starter mixture to the rest of the milk and stir.  Pour into containers.  Put into cooler and let sit for 8 hours or longer.  Put containers into refrigerator until cold and ready to serve.

May 6, 2009

The Cake (0 Comments)

Filed under: HP,In the Kitchen,Photos — The Spider Herself @ 1:40 pm

We had friends over on Saturday to help celebrate The Boy. He had wanted mint chocolate chip ice cream cake so being Julia Child in disguise I whipped one right up. Snort. Internet recipes- what a blessing!

I took the cake out a few minutes before we needed it so that is would soften up and be ready to cut. But then this happened-

Melting Cake

I don’t know if the freezer door hadn’t been closed all the way the last time I was in it or if I lost track of time time and had it out too long. I also think the ice cream was a brand that was particularly soft. But whatever the reason, it was melting and melting fast. So I snapped a few photos and we cut it up. It wasn’t until we had some on Monday, the true birthday, that we put candles on it. It looked a bit worse for wear.

Cake and Candles

But The Boy didn’t seem to mind.

The Boy and Cake

Blowing candles

It sure tasted good though.

March 26, 2009

The Tortilla Maker (3 Comments)

Filed under: In the Kitchen,KJ,Personalities,Photos — The Spider Herself @ 12:41 pm

I was rushing to get dinner cooked and trying to think of a side dish while talking to a friend of mine on the phone. She commented that she was making tortillas for dinner. Aha! thought I. I had some tortilla mix that I had bought awhile back at a store but hadn’t made any yet because there were not instructions (it was a bulk item) as to how much water to put in. I decided to just start adding some until it seemed the right consistency. I was feeling a bit stressed as The Girls crowded into the kitchen telling me vitally important stuff. Pixie asked to help.

No, I’m in a hurry.

She pulled up a chair to watch me anyway. You know, a little girl on a chair can sure impede the traffic flow but I held my tongue and tried to keep moving. She watched me take a bit of dough, put a bit of flour on the tortilla press, push down on the lever and peel off the tortilla before throwing it into a pan to cook. She asked if she could push down on it.

Oh, all right! I reluctantly said. But hurry!

She did that fine and we put the tortilla on the skillet. I rolled another ball and put it in the press then went off to tend something else. She pressed it.

Pixie pressing tortilla

Then peeled it off. I rolled the dough into the right sized balls for her and she took over. She put flour on the press, put in the ball of dough, pressed it and peeled it off.

Peeling the Tortilla off

I felt bad for being grumpy. Pixie ended up being a big help and was pleased that she was able to make the tortillas for dinner. They may not have been perfectly round, I wasn’t getting them that way either, but they tasted good.

Tortillas frying

We’ll have to make more sometime.

March 23, 2009

New Faucet (2 Comments)

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Photos — The Spider Herself @ 12:14 pm

Once in awhile we get wild and crazy around here. It’s just who we are.

One day, we wandered around a Big City trying desperately to spend money and stimulate the economy but finding blockades at every turn; in desperation we turned to the home improvement box store knowing in our hearts that was the place to accomplish our mission. We emerged victorious! We were the proud owners of a new kitchen faucet.

The old:

Old Faucet

The place to push to make it spray was falling apart plus it wouldn’t pull out anymore because the hose part was broken.

The new:

New Faucet

It’s lovely. It’s really tall, which causes a little bit of splashing but it’s nice for getting things under it. It has a button to stop the flow of water which is nice for filling things not directly in the sink. The end can pull out and spray. On the left is a soap dispenser. So far, I really like it.

October 23, 2008

German Chocolate (5 Comments)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 11:54 am

I recently made a German Chocolate cake from scratch for a certain Somebody’s birthday.

German Chocolate Cake 1

It took a bit of effort but I thought it turned out pretty well.

German Chocolate Cake 2

(See the all important Chinese Chili Sauce in the background? It has permanent residency on the table but not on the cake.)

The important person liked the cake. And The Boy thought it was great. The Girls, on the other hand, didn’t like the “frosting”. Coconut and pecans swimming in sweetness doesn’t appeal to them. As with most of the dinners I fix, I have found that you can’t please everybody so I don’t even try anymore. In this case, there wasn’t much sadness about it- in fact there was some joy as it meant more for the ones of us who liked it.

September 22, 2008

Sofrito (3 Comments)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 9:51 am

It’s the time of year when the garden is full of tomatoes and peppers.

That is, if one had a garden that wasn’t growing weeds.

But, we shan’t let that deter us, that’s what Farmer’s Markets and Farm Stands are for.

OK, where was I? Oh, yes, lots of tomatoes and peppers.

Actually, what I am going to tell you about doesn’t use a lot of tomatoes. So forget that part.

Do you have peppers,cilantro, onions and garlic in abundance?

Then I have the recipe for you!

Sofrito. I learned about Sofrito during one of my less energetic periods when I was watching afternoon cooking shows on PBS. We live in the dark ages with no cable or satellite- just an antennae up in the air catching random, but free, signals so I don’t have the “24 Hour Cooking Channel”. More the pity. What was I talking about again? I keep distracting myself. Oh yes, so I watched a show called “Daisy Cooks” (I will not link to that site because Google has a warning that the site could damage my computer- how odd.) and learned all about Sofrito. Daisy Martinez says it does “everything but make the bed”. I wish is did make beds but it does make adding fresh tasting zing to dishes easy.

So what is it exactly? “Exactly” might be hard to come by. But it is a chopped up mixture of mainly onions, garlic, peppers and cilantro that can be frozen and added to dishes like Spanish rice and beans.

Here is the link to Daisy Martinez’s recipe (this site is ok to go to). Now you will notice she uses things like “culantro” and “ajices dulces”. Yeah, I don’t know what those things are either and will not likely find them in the local stores. Do I let a lack of ingredients listed in a recipe stop me? Ha! Yeah, right. I just plow on ahead. Actually, I did look up some other recipes online and never found a consensus of what should be in there. So I make up my own mixture.

Can I tell you what is in my mixture? Umm, no because I forget from time to time. Actually, I follow Daisy’s basic instructions about onion, garlic and cilantro then I improvise. I use quite a bit of green pepper or red, if I have it. Then, I add what ever kicks my bucket- jalapeño (sans ribs and seeds), banana chili or fresh green chilies. I put it all in my little “food processor”- it fits onto my blender motor and is not very large. I have to do it in batches and then mix it up by hand. This last time I didn’t even have enough cilantro but the other things were trying to turn bad on me so I had to take the matter in hand and made up a batch anyway. I then put 1/2 cup portions into freezer bags, label it (important step!) and throw it in the freezer.

Do you notice how quickly cilantro will turn slimy on you? This is a good way to use up the extra you had to buy when you were making a recipe that called for three sprigs.

Then when I want to make Mexican rice, I grab out a bag- throw it in the skillet and as it thaws, it cooks. This way I can make great tasting Latino dishes without having to keep all sorts of fresh ingredients on hand plus saves money because I can buy the ingredients in season.

Now that you know all about Sofrito (or maybe not- I’m not being too clear here) go forth and make some. It’s great stuff.

But it doesn’t make the bed.

June 28, 2008

Clothes Choices (1 Comment)

Filed under: In the Kitchen,KJ,Photos,Uncategorized — The Spider Herself @ 10:40 am

Let’s all sing here-“One of these things doesn’t belong here, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” One of these children is not dressed appropriately; she made her own choices on what to wear.

Hint: it was 80 degrees.

This winter when there was snow on the ground Little Miss Pixie decided to wear skirts… everyday. When she went outside she would bundle up in her jacket, scarf, hat and gloves and then fight me tooth and nail to put on thin leggings or tights.

Now, when it’s warm, she is wearing jeans and long sleeve shirts. She has other choices in her closet. I bought some cute skort (skirt with shorts sewn in) outfits when she was along with me. She helped me pick them out- now they are not pink but she said she’d wear them. There was not any tan to be seen. One set has not adorned her body and the other was worn once. We picked out some cute sandals for her, she tried them on, she said they were fine and now it’s a fight to get her to wear them. She would rather wear too small, dirty old ones. The sandals are even white and PINK for goodness sakes!

Do you sense a bit of frustration in my typing? Ah well, I’ve told her I am not buying anything more for her because she tells me she will wear it and then doesn’t. That will last until this winter when she’ll need jeans that aren’t expecting a flood.

And to think- she’s only 5. What will the teenage years be like?

Lord help us.

June 19, 2008

Chinese Hot Sauce (4 Comments)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 4:15 pm

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. wait a minute. Maybe not the galaxy part but the rest is right, I wrote a post about The Col.’s love of something called “Tapatio”. It’s a hot sauce that he put on everything. Well, not pancakes or desert or something like that but on about everything else. He likes his food spicy. As I mentioned in that old post he knows to taste his food before he puts on the sauce because it upsets the Cook if he doesn’t. It’s not good to upset the Cook- you never know what she might put in your food next time around. (evil laugh!)

Anyway, a while back we went out for Chinese food. I love it- The Col. tolerates it and the kids eat grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries. Since The Col. was barely able to choke down that bland stuff, he asked the waitress if they had any Tabasco sauce. They didn’t but would he like to try some Garlic Chili Sauce? It was spicy!? So he decided to give it a try. And, hey Mikey!, he liked it!

I found it at the local “Out” house – which for once, was not out of it. Actually, what I found was without the garlic but he manages somehow. I have seen it since in other stores and will have to get that when this bottle is gone. Which won’t be too long the way it’s disappearing. At first he would put a few drops on but now he pours it all over the place- with a big grin!

So now the poor Tapatio bottle is sitting there neglected as the Chinese Hot Chili Sauce gets center stage. Don’t you feel sorry for it? If you come visit you’ll have to give it a special hug.

June 5, 2008

Cake (2 Comments)

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Photos,TG — The Spider Herself @ 3:36 pm

Chocolate cake to be exact.

I didn’t get a good shot of just the cake. Since the focus was on a certain young lady’s birthday, I guess that isn’t a bad thing.

It looks like a regular chocolate cake, right? Little would you know that the frosting had one pound (16 ounces) of semi sweet chocolate in it. And butter. And 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream. Do I hear your arteries clogging? Are you drooling on your key board? Eeeewww!

It was yummy. The cake itself, made from scratch with my own two hands (and the electric mixer) was also very good. It had butter in it too, of course, and two kinds of chocolate. It’s an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and, oh is it good. You have to have a bit of patience making it though, as with most of their recipes. I made it without a standing mixer and thought it turned out fine; just be patient and make sure things get mixed well.

I had one part that didn’t go totally smoothly. The recipe for the frosting says to melt the chocolate and (separately) heat the butter and sugar, etc. then combine these two with the cream. It’s too warm for it to whip up at this point and so to cool it down you place the bowl into a larger bowl filled with cold water and ice. The tricky part is to get it to the desired temperature of 70 degrees. If it’s too cold, it will seize up, if too hot then it will not whip up all light and fluffy. I cooled it in the water bath for a bit then did the scientific thing of testing it with my finger. It was clean! (and then I got to lick it too!) I don’t have a thermometer that reads that low. I thought it felt pretty cool, and not wanting it to get too cool went ahead and started to whip it with my hand mixer. It wasn’t getting lighter in color nor was it whipping up all “fluffy” like. I mixed, and mixed, and mixed. I finally decided, after referring to the recipe again (and again, and again) that the mixture was too warm still. So I plopped it back into the water bath and continued to beat it. And then the miracle happened. It got lighter in color and fluffy in texture. It looked lovely and was great to work with when putting it on the cake.

It was worth the effort.