Friday, December 30, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent (easy and $0.06 per load!)

Well I am starting to settle back in after the holidays, so now it's time to start blogging again.  

So, I ran out of my wowgreen laundry detergent and now it is time to give a homemade version a try.  ;-)  Today is my third time making this laundry detergent and I can tell you that I LOVE IT!  My clothes are super clean and super soft and when I think back to my days of using Tide and Downy, I cringe.  There are so many bad things in most commercially sold laundry detergent.  I always wondered why I had a rash on my arms where my shirt lays on my skin...when I stopped using detergent from the stores.....the rash went away.  And most commercially made detergents do not get rid of the dirt in your clothes, they simply cover your clothes in artificial fragrances.

So, if you have 5 minutes or less, you can make this detergent.   

You can see how it separates.  So shake well.
It will look cloudy.  That is normal.

I bought this shot glass/measuring cup at WalMart.  It has oz and tsp.

I leave my measuring cup in there so it is always clean and ready.

What you need......
Gallon jug/jar of some kind (if you use a milk jug, clean well with white vinegar, soap just does not kick the milk smell. I use a white vinegar plastic bottle and I love it.)
1 cup Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap (baby soap-no fragrance) (Target, Whole Foods and sell)
1 cup baking soda or washing soda (I use baking soda)
1/3 cup salt
2 cups of warm water
White vinegar- make sure you only buy vinegar made from corn, Target sells. the bottle will say what it is made from.  Non-gmo is the best if you can find it.  
5 minutes of your time

Whisk or stir with a fork the salt and baking soda into 1 cup of the water, making a roux.  Continue adding the remaining 1 cup of water, pouring while whisking or stirring until the baking soda and salt are dissolved (this will minimize any clumps).  Pour this warm water, salt and baking soda solution into your 1 gallon jar or jug.   Pour the 1 cup of Dr. Bronners into the gallon jar or jug.  And fill your jar with water.  

Shake your jar or jug like crazy before pouring detergent into your washer.  You will see how the ingredients separate.  Use 1/4-1/2 cup per load when you wash.  Depending on how dirty the load of clothes is.  Add a tablespoon or 2 of the white vinegar to your wash during the rinse cycle.  This works as an effective fabric softener and disinfectant.  

All of the amounts (detergent and white vinegar) will depend on the hardness of your water.  You may want to use less water when making your detergent to make it concentrate, or increase how much you use per load and the same with the white vinegar, increase or decrease depending on the hardness of your water.)

We have a water softener, a front load He washer and I am using 1/4 cup detergent and white vinegar every other load.  (I started just using the detergent and no white vinegar, I just wanted to see what the detergent would do on its own, and it did great.  I have had a few loads with static problems, in which I throw a Melaleuca fabric softener sheet in (used only in the winter months, Melaleuca still uses artificial fragrance in their fabric softener sheets, so I don't use unless our clothes snap crackle and pop when I take them out of the dryer.  :-) )

If you want a little fragrance to your clothes, add a cotton ball with drops of essential oils on it to your clothes in the dryer.  Lavender smells amazing.  But don't expect your clothes to smell like they did when you were using Downy fragranced softener.  :-)  The essential oils give a subtle, soft fragrance to your clothes.

I have no complaints and I have been using this recipe for homemade detergent for 2-3 months now.  Like I said earlier though.....SHAKE WELL before using. :-)

-Do not add essential oils to your washing machine.  This could break down the fibers in your clothes, which would lead to holes.  Not a good thing.
-Reviews show that this recipe does not work well on cloth diapers.
-I have a friend that LOVES Charlies Soap.  Fyi.  Works awesome on cloth diapers too.

Gallon jug/jar---Free. Recycle here.
8oz/1 cup Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap (baby soap-no fragrance) (Target, Whole Foods and sell)---Whole Foods $14.00 for 32 oz, Target $16.99 for 32 oz.  $0.44 per ounce----Total $3.50
8oz/1 cup baking soda or washing soda (Arm & Hammer 2 lbs $1.12).  2 cups in 1 pound---so 4 cups in 2 pound---$0.28 per cup.  Total $.28
1/3 cup or 2.66 ounces salt (Morton brand 26oz $.58).  $0.02 per ounce--- Total $0.05
2 cups of warm water
White vinegar--Target $3.99 for 1 gallon (128 fl oz.....2 tbsp = 1oz) $0.03 per oz.  You are using 1-2 tbsp per load of laundry $0.06
5 minutes of your time--priceless
Add it up $3.50+.28+.05+.06$=3.89 per gallon...I use 1/4 cup or (2 oz) per load that equals $0. 06 per load!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

$0.06 per load!!!!  Are you kidding me?!  AWESOME!! LOVE it!!!

Let me know what you think?

Information shared by my friend Jesicas from the blog Passionate Homemaking  An excellent blog!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Does Having a Cold Mean Sinus Problems to You?

Well, then do I have some wonderful news for you!  

Picture of an actual Netti Pot.
For many years I have heard people talk about the Neti Pot.  What's a neti pot?  Wikipedia describes a neti pot as a device that is used for irrigating the nasal passages.  They are used to flush out the nasal cavities by using gravity to draw the flow of saline.

I have always been intrigued about the neti pot and when I get a cold it usually goes into my sinuses.

So, months ago my father-in-law gave me a sinus rinse bottle.  It looks like this...

And since I have taught the kids to share so well (ha ha) my youngest has shared his wonderful little cold with me.  When I woke up the first morning with that head congested, sore throat, I am getting a cold feeling, for some reason the first thought that came into my head was the neti pot in the cubbard.  So, that is where I headed.

It came with little packets of sinus rinse.  The sinus rinse packets have 2 ingredients...
1.  Sodium chloride-common table salt
2.  Sodium bicarbonate-baking soda

You pour the package into the squeeze bottle and fill with bottled or filtered water to the fill line.  Shake well.  Stand over a sink with mouth open and gently squeeze the bottle into one nostril.  It is a weird feeling, that I can best describe as you think you are drowning, but once you learn to calm down and breath through your mouth you are fine.  You squeeze the bottle continuously until you use between 1/4-1/2 of the filled bottle.  The liquid comes out the opposite nostril you are squeezing the liquid into.  Then you blow your nose.  And repeat with the other nostril. 

I am NOT going to post pictures of this. Lol.  But I will tell you that it was amazing what came out when I did blow my nose (no more details than that lol).  And I felt amazing!!  The directions say to do this 2 times per day.  I did it 2 times per day when I felt really bad and now I am just doing it first thing when I wake in the morning.

I still have a tiny bit of a scratchy throat.  But hey I can handle that!!  At least I am not getting worse and I do not have the head congested sinus pressure that I usually get with a cold. 

So, in summary....I AM SOLD on this!!  I suggest buying the squeeze bottle type, is so easy to use.  Keep it in your bathroom so you are prepared when a cold/sinus problem hits.  

Plus keep pushing foods high in vitamin C in this weather!

Let me know what you think!

Note:  After using this for a few consecutive days, I did notice my nose was dried out and would bleed a little when I would blow my nose.  So, if you seem to have a sensitivity, every day use is not recommended.  Try every other day or every 2 days.

New note!!!!!  ONLY use filtered or RO water!!!!!!!  NEVER use tap water!!!  Please read this article.  People have died from using tap water in their neti pot!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Making My Own Vanilla

This is something I have wanted to try for a long time.  The time is finally here.  I just opened my last bottle of Pure Vanilla from Mexico.  I admit, I panicked a little.  Whatever you decide to do after reading this, just promise me one thing....YOU WILL NOT BUY IMITATION VANILLA!  Whether you make your own, buy your own, BUY Pure Vanilla, not imitation.  The imitation leaves a bitter aftertaste, is made from sapwood and coal extracts...yuck.  Stay with the pure, better for us stuff.  :-)  (Since this is a great opportunity, I will also add...try to stay away from artificial coloring and flavoring all together....bad bad is in so much stuff we eat.)

Ok, so do you have 5 minutes?  Let's make some homemade vanilla!

Picture of my new vanilla beans.


When deciding what vanilla bean to buy, there are 2 that stand out to me as the best...
1.  The Mexican Vanilla Bean-has a smooth, strong, rich fragrance and flavor.  But buy from a reputable supplier.  Some suppliers add coumarin which can damage your liver and kidneys.   
2.  Madagascar or Madagascar-bourbon vanilla bean-has a smooth, rich sweet flavor and are the thinnest of the vanilla beans.   

I bought 2 vanilla beans from Whole Foods and paid $11.99.  Then I went on and found out that I can buy 16 Madagascar-bourbon beans for $14.50 and 54 beans for $26.50.  Ouch!!!  Live and learn.

What you need....
3 vanilla beans (split in half lengthwise)
Vodka 80 proof or higher (buy the cheap stuff)
Glass bottle that closes tightly (recyle here and save money)

Split 3 beans lengthwise with a sharp knife on a cutting board, but stop 1 inch from each end so that bean stays together but the centers are split.  

Place in a glass bottle with a tight fitting lid.  Fill with 8 ounces of vodka.  Place in a cool, dark place for at least 6-8 weeks (mine will steep for 1 year, as I don't need any right now).  Shake at least once per week.

Mark your bottle with the date you are making your vanilla...cause....drum roll....for 1 year forward, when you run out just add more vodka.  Your beans will flavor your vodka for 1 year.  Pretty cool huh'?

At the end of the 2 months, it is ready to use.  Leave beans in the bottle.  And remember vanilla is a forever food.  It will not spoil.  Just make sure to store in a dark pantry.

Note:  -You will need 3 vanilla beans per 8 oz of vodka.
-Do not add pure vanilla to hot liquids, the alcohol will evaporate and so will some of the vanilla flavor.
-If you make homemade ice cream with vanilla beans, wash the split bean thoroughly after cooking the ice cream mixture.  Place the cleaned bean in a bowl and cover the bean with either 1-2 cups of granulate cane sugar (not beet!) or 1-2 cups of powdered sugar.  Cover with tight fitting lid and let it rest for 2 weeks.  Use this vanilla sugar in your recipes for an amazing flavor.  1 tbsp of vanilla sugar is equal to 1/4 tsp pure vanilla.  Recycle!!  :-)
-If you want a bolder flavor use spiced run or brandy instead of the vodka.
-Once your vanilla is finished you can pour it into cute bottles and give as Christmas presents with ribbon or bows or from the beginning give as a gift but put a note on the bottle that says "do not open for 2 months."
-I read from another blog that she has had her bottle going for 14 years, she just leaves the beans in there, adding 3 new beans every year and a cup of brandy.  She said its tastes fantastic. 

Happy vanilla making and money saving!  :-)  I will post more after my vanilla beans arrive and I make my first batch. :-)

**Changes/Updates:  I would highly recommend using Organic vodka.  With all of the gmo corn, organic is a smarter choice.

I thought I would show you some recent pictures.  The vanilla extract is beautiful.

The 2 on the left I started brewing November 2011.  The 2 on the right I just started.   Cool, huh'?

Simply beautiful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Do You Eat Oats, Rice or Beans? You have to read this!!

 How to make you own "quick cooking oats" that will be ready in a snap in the morning.  :-)

This is what oats look like after soaking over night.


Rinse well with cool water.

Tap strainer to remove water and place oats in saucepan.

Add milk and cook over medium heat.

Our favs.  (We no longer drink this type of milk.  ;-) )  
And I recommend raw unrefined honey bought locally.

If you eat oats, rice, quinoa, couscous, dried beans or any other grain, this post is a MUST READ!

When I learned what I am getting ready to share with you, my life and my health was changed forever.

What oats look like in their natural state.

I have been buying organic thick cut oats for a while now and love them.  "Nourishing traditions" recommends not buying rolled or cracked (steel cut) oats from bulk bins as they may be rancid.  But to buy them in packages or, better yet to grind the oats coarsely yourself in a grain grinder or roll your own, if you want (I would love to do this one day!).  I have been buying mine from the bulk section at Whole Foods and fortunately, have had no problems.  You can also buy Bob's Red Mill in the clear bag at Meijer, Bob's is not organic but it is still good.

For as long as I can remember I was told to not buy steel cut oats or quick cooking oats, due to their lack of vitamins and nutrients from the way they are over processed.  I never thought to question this, but after a reader contacted me about this, I did some research and I stand corrected....steel cut oats actually contain more fiber than rolled oats!  So, eat away at the cracked or steel cut oats!  Just make sure you soak them.  And cracked or steel cut oats do take longer to cook due to the fact that they are minimally processed (oh how I love that....less processing = healthier for me and my family, in my opinion).  When you research this topic it looks more like splitting hairs, but I'm going to choose the path less processed.  :-) 

As far as the quick cooking oats that I was brought up with, Quaker brand for example, I do not see any nutritional difference when I research this topic, just an even thinner cut oat.  Having not soaked the Quaker brand, I am not sure of what type of consistency we are talking about after they are soaked and then cooked.  So, if any of you soak and cook the "quick cooking" type, let me know how the texture turns out.  As for me, I will continue eating my thick cut rolled oats and once they are gone, I am switching to steel cut.  :-)  (Thank you Sarah!  :-) )

I only store my oats in the freezer, in a glass jar, if they are organic the have to go in the freezer for a few days, even if they are not organic, they will last even longer if they are stored in the freezer or refrigerator.

The night before you want to eat your oatmeal do the following.....
1.  Measure the amount of oats you want, place in a glass bowl with a lid.
2.  Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with clean water (filtered or R.O. if you can) and pour water over the oats in the glass bowl.  Keep track of how many cups of water you are pouring over the oats.
3.  For each cup of water you pour over the oats also place 2 tbsp of any kind of yogurt in the bowl with the oats. Stir well.
4.  Let sit overnight covered on counter top.  Do not place in refrigerator.  
5.  In the morning, place the oats in a strainer with small holes (small enough that your oats do not fall through the holes) and with your sink water sprayer, spray the crap out of your oats.  I usually do small batches, like 1/4-1/2 cup at a time, spray/rinse with water, place those in a stainless steel sauce pan, add more oats to the strainer spray/rinse with cool water, place in sauce pan, continuing until all oats have been sprayed with cool water.
6.  With all your sprayed oats in your stainless steel saucepan, pour milk (REAL milk or rice milk in our house) into the sauce pan and cook.  It will not take long at all, since the oats have soaked overnight, they are already "quick cooking oats" for you.  :-)
7.  Cook over medium heat until almost all of the milk is absorbed, stirring frequently.
8.  Place oats in a bowl, drizzle with organic honey or raw honey (heated in a small saucepan) until thin, pour a little more milk over the oats in your bowl and add any fresh fruit you would like.
9.  Voila!  You are done and getting ready to sink your teeth in to the best tasting oats you have ever eaten.
10.  And watch out, you might not even feel hungry for lunch, these oats stick to your ribs like nothing I have ever eaten.  Enjoy!

For the science part.  Oats are in rich in Vitamin B and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.  Oats/grains have an outer coating called phytates and oats contain more phytates than almost any other grain.  This outer coating prevents our body from absorbing all the wonderful vitamins and nutrients that oats have in them.  If we ate a ton of unsoaked oats our bodies could suffer from mineral loss, allergies and irritation of the intestinal tract.  When we soak our oats in the yogurt and water mixture, the phytic acid (phytates) are broken down.  And our bodies are given the wonderful opportunity to absorb excellent vitamins and nutrients from our oats.  Secret:  When our bodies are lacking vitamins and nutrients, we crave foods, sometimes foods that are bad for us....imagine having a body that is happy....a body that is filled with healthy vitamins and nutrients....what would you feel like, what would your skin look like, what would your body look like??  This is a step towards a healthier you.  :-)

Rice, Quinoa and Couscous 
Your rice, quinoa and couscous need soaked too.  Except here we use organic apple cider vinegar (available at Meijer).

The outer coating on the rice, quinoa and couscous need to be broken down just like the oats.  This allows for better absorption of the nutrients and vitamins that are in the wonderful foods rice, quinoa and couscous.

The night before you want to eat your rice, quinoa or couscous do the following.....

1. Measure the amount of rice, quinoa or couscous you want, place in a glass bowl with a lid.
2. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with clean water (filtered or R.O. if you can) and pour water over the rice, quinoa or couscous in the glass bowl. Keep track of how many cups of water you are pouring over the rice, quinoa or couscous.
3. For each cup of water you pour over the rice, quinoa or couscous also place 1 tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar in the bowl with the rice, quinoa or couscous. Stir well.
4. Let sit overnight covered on counter top. Do not place in refrigerator.
5. Before dinner (or whatever meal you want to eat this) place the rice, quinoa or couscous in a strainer with small holes (small enough that your rice, quinoa or couscous do not fall through the holes) and with your sink water sprayer, spray the crap out of your rice, quinoa or couscous.
6.  Cook as you like.  We love our stainless steel steamer.  It makes the best rice, quinoa and couscous.  Remember you will need to add a little less water, since the rice, quinoa or couscous was soaked in water overnight and has retained some water. 

Note:  Quinoa rocks!!  It is a grain with protein in it.  Even my picky family LOVES quinoa.  And Meijer sells it.  :-)

Your beans need soaked too. Except here we use organic apple cider vinegar (available at Meijer).  Plus, we all know the canned beans have bpa, so we need to try to cook with dried beans.

The outer coating on the beans need to be broken down just like the oats. This allows for better absorption of the nutrients and vitamins that are in the wonderful food of beans.

The night before you want to eat your beans, do the following.....
1. Measure the amount of beans you want, place in a glass bowl with a lid.
2. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with clean water (filtered or R.O. if you can) and pour water over the beans in the glass bowl. Keep track of how many cups of water you are pouring over the beans.

3. For each cup of water you pour over the beans also place 1 tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar in the beans. Stir well.
4. Let sit overnight covered on counter top. Do not place in refrigerator.
5. Before dinner (or whatever meal you want to eat this) place the beans in a strainer with small holes (small enough that your beans do not fall through the holes) and with your sink water sprayer, spray the crap out of your beans.
6. Now you boil the heck out of your beans in clean water.  Can take up to 2 hours.  Follow directions on your package of dry beans or check out my other blog post about cooking beans.

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Basic Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream (eggs)

Ok, so seriously, our love for ice cream continues to grow.  I am having a blast experimenting with different flavor combinations and I am LOVING the fact that everything is made with organic dairy products.  That makes me one verry happy mommy.

So, here is a third, basic ice cream recipe.  A chocolate without eggs is in the works.  :-)

Basic Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups organic whipping cream
2 cups organic vitamin d milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup baking cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a large glass batter bowl with a whisk, it will take some time for the cocoa to incorporate, be patient.  Let set in refrigerator over night.  Make sure canister is frozen and ready to make ice cream. 

The next day...remove ice cream liquid from refrigerator, beat with an electric beater.  Place canister on deni motor base, place paddle in canister, cover with clear vue dome, turn on deni and pour chocolate ice cream mixture into rotating canister.  Set a timer, my recipes usually take 26-32 minutes. 

Transfer ice cream to a glass pyrex bowl and place in freezer (do not use a metal spoon to remove ice cream).

Let set overnight or for 4-6 hours.  Enjoy!!

Basic Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Well, I have had plenty of time to play with my new love, my new deni ice cream maker, and ohhhhh am I in love!!  So are the kids and hubby.  We now have ice cream every night after dinner.....if...........the kids eat their vegetables.  Works great as a reward for eating what their bodies need.  :-)

I do not like my ice cream to be so over the top creamy that it gags me when I eat, so this has become my go to for ice cream.  Then I just tweak it to make other flavors.  Those recipes will come under a different post.


(If the print friendly does not work, you can either copy and paste this recipe into Word or copy the http address and paste it into the printer friendly web page that opens and print from there.  Sorry, I working on this problem currently.  :-) )

When using a deni ice cream maker, remember your liquids cannot total more than 4 cups.

Basic Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups organic whipping cream
2 cups organic vitamin d milk
3/4 cup sugar (make from sugar cane not sugar beets)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

Combine all ingredients in a large glass batter bowl, whisk until sugar feels incorporated into the liquid.  Place in refrigerator overnight.  Make sure your canister is in the freezer, so your ice cream canister will be ready to make the ice cream tomorrow.  (My canister lives in my freezer, that way it is always ready.  :-) )  The canister needs at least 8 hours to freeze before making ice cream.

Ok, so it's the next day.  Take your ice cream canister out of the freezer.  Shake it.  If you do not hear any liquid, you are good to go.  If you can hear liquid sloshing around, back into the freezer your canister goes.  Place your canister on the motor base, place stir paddle inside canister, then cover with the clear cue lid.  Take you ice cream liquid out of the refrigerator, whisk again.  Turn ice cream maker on, and pour ice cream liquid into canister while the canister is turning.  Cover with top and set your timer.  Mine usually takes 26-32 minutes. 

You can eat the ice cream now or let it sit in the freezer overnight.  We prefer the over night method.  Ta Da!!  You are done!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homemade Organic Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

About a month ago I invested in a new appliance.  An ice cream maker.  But not like the one you are thinking of, not the one I have sitting in the garage collecting dust.  You know the one that requires you to walk down into your basement, scoop out a bunch of softener salt, carry it back upstairs, empty out your ice cube maker and then lug everything out into the garage to make the delicious treat you are yearning for...homemade ice cream.  Nope.  This beauty can sit on your counter top or store away in your cabinet.  The canister stays in your freezer so it is always ready to make you a cold, creamy treat.

I found mine at  The brand is deni and Amazon is the cheapest place we found it with free shipping.  Target also carries it, but for $10.00 more.

So, as I was flipping through the recipes that came with the ice cream maker, my eyes landed on the one that would be my first, adapted of course to make it organic...Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream.  Oh my!  We all love this recipe.  This recipe is not for the weak at chocolate heart.  If you do not care for rich, silky, deep chocolate with loads of peanut butter flavor, this may not be your favorite.  But stay tuned, I am working on a light homemade peach recipe.  There's something for everyone here.  :-)

Homemade Organic Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
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1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 cup organic half and half
1 cup sugar (from cane, not beet sugar)
4 oz. egg substitute
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla (not imitation)

1.  Combine cocoa and sugar in a mixing bowl, processor (I used a food processor and it worked great) or blender and mix.
2.  Blend in peanut butter and eggs.
3.  Add cream, half and half and vanilla.
4.  Beat well and chill thoroughly.
5.  After it is well chilled remove canister from freezer and pour your chilled, liquid into the canister and make some ice cream!  It took mine 26 minutes until the ice cream was finished.

I will say, for us, the recipe tasted better after we let it sit overnight in the freezer in an air tight glass storage bowl.  I am thinking to add pretzels and maybe a few marshmallows to this recipe next time.


Monday, October 10, 2011

"Nourishing traditions"

I am finally reading a book I have wanted to read for a while.  My friend MK has shared things from this book on her blog that have intrigued me, to say the least. I read I am going to post in this blog things I think you need to know.  So, here we go.....

1.  Never buy margarine!  Buy the real stuff, that is actually a real food....butter!  How margarine is made should be outlawed!  The reputation that butter has been given is shameful.  Shameful on the behalf of advertising and money making schemes.  Shame shame!

2.  Breastfeeding cannot be explained, in great enough detail to you, how much better mothers milk is compared to what is in formula.  You have to at least try to breastfeed when you have a baby...try before you say no.  What is in formula and what is lacking in formula is heartbreaking.  If you can't breastfeed, cross that bridge, if you get there.

3.  I am horrified at how unhealthy america is...especially when compared to other countries...but what should I expect when what is on the shelves in most grocery stores is crap...or should I say what we choose to buy off of the shelves is crap!  Grocery stores do have healthy, good is just that most of us don't know where to find them or know how to prepare them.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Marshmallow Fondant

Today's fun included using up some fondant I had sitting in the refrigerator.  So, last night I made a basic chocolate cupcake.  Today I filled it with straight marshmallow cream you can buy in the store.  Usually, I add a little shortening and a few other ingredients, but today I just wanted to taste it in a cupcake straight out of the jar.  It was a little harder to fill the cupcakes with, by harder I mean thicker and did not come out of the bag as easy, but I can't wait to try one tonight after dinner. 

So, I had already made the fondant, using only natural coloring (you can buy natural food colorings at Whole Foods or any health food store, they cost, but they last forever in your refrigerator).  So, that is what I topped the cupcakes with.  I wish the edges were smoother on the circle, but I am guessing that is because it was a little dry from sitting in the refrigerator and I should have used more shortening when rolling or water when I made it.

Here is the basic marshmallow recipe I used....

Marshmallow Fondant
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8 oz miniature marshmallows (4 cups not packed, or half of a 16 oz bag)  buy name brand
1 pound powdered sugar (4 cups), plus extra for dusting (buy name brand)
2 tbsp water
Natural food coloring or natural flavor extracts, optional

1.  Dust your counter or a fondant mat with powdered sugar or rub with shortening.
2.  Place marshmallows and water in a large glass bowl.  You can 1/2 or quarter this recipe depending on how much fondant you need.  Microwave on high for 1 minute, until the marshmallows are puffy and expanded.
3.  Stir the marshmallows with a rubber spatula until they are melted and smooth.  If some unmelted marshmallow remain, place back in microwave for 30-45 seconds, until the mixture is smooth.  Here is where you can add your natural coloring or flavoring.  Stir until incorporated.  This makes coloring fondant soooooo much easier!
4.  Add the powdered sugar and stir with spatula.  Stir until incorporated and it becomes impossible to stir.  It is going to look like a sticky mess.
5.  Scrape the marshmallow/sugar mixture out onto the prepared work surface.  Dust your hands with powdered sugar or rub shortening all over your hands and knead like you would bread dough.  I like the shortening over the powdered sugar on my hands for kneading.  It's a personal preference.
6.  Continue to knead until it smooths out and loses its stickiness, could take 5 minutes.  Too much sugar will make the fondant dry and difficult to work with.  If you have added too much powdered sugar and the fondant is looking dry and cracking add water about 1/2 tbsp at a time kneading until the fondant will stretch without tearing. 
7.  When it becomes a smooth ball, it is ready to use.  Or you can rub shortening all over the ball and wrap it up in plastic wrap (bpa free) to be used later.  Store it wrapped in a glass airtight bowl. 
8.  It will need to sit out for a good day to return to the soft consistency to roll.
9.  Roll it out and have fun!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's time to start blogging recipes

Print Friendly and PDFPrint Friendly and PDF I have decided to start blogging some recipes.  I am always looking for good organic recipes and have a hard time finding any suitable ones.

So, this should have been a no brainer...I will try out a new recipe and post it if it is blog worthy.

Stay tuned.  :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Organic?

A friend of mine suggested I write this Blog post (thank you LE).  She has a HUGE point.  The majority of people do not even know what Organic is, let alone what "Natural", "All Natural" "Non-GMO" "USDA Certified" "Fair Trade" or  "DfE certified" mean and what "Conventional" means.  So, I am going to attempt to explain each of these terms.  So, here we go.

1.  Organic-  Organic foods are produced without the use of the following...
-Genetically Modified Organisms in seeds or any ingredient (GMO's)
-Synthetic pesticides
-Synthetic herbicides
-Artificial preservatives or additives
-Growth hormones
-Irradiation (a process where our food is actually exposed to radiation to sterilize our food.  Which actually depletes the food of vitamins and nutrients.  There is a movement occurring right now where we are asking for foods to be labeled if they have been irradiated, that way we know not to buy this food.  Seriously, you are just wasting your money when you buy irradiated food, the nutritional value has been altered so much, you may as well save your money for something else. And right now unless you buy Organic you do not know if your food has been irradiated or not.)

Consumer Reports has found that 77% of non-organic produce items in the average supermarket contain pesticide residues. The beef industry has acknowledged that 94% of all U.S. beef cattle have hormone implants, which are banned in Europe as a cancer hazard. Approximately 10% of all U.S. dairy cows are injected with Monsanto and Elanco's controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, banned in most industrialized nations. Recent studies indicate that an alarming percentage of non-organic U.S. meat contains dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Organic farms and ranches use far less fossil fuel than conventional farms.  Twenty-four billion pounds of chemical fertilizers are applied on non-organic farms in the U.S. every year not only pollute our drinking water and create enormous dead zones in the oceans.

Organic farming categorically prohibits the use of sewage sludge (sewage sludge is just that, sewage used as fertilizer which animals in turn eat and live in, which are then butchered for our consumption).

On an Organic farm slaughterhouse waste is not allowed.  This is also just like it sounds, waste...intestines, flesh, hair, blood, bones, veins, etc from a slaughterhouse is fed back to animals.  Are you freaking kidding me here?????  This practice has given rise to a form of human mad-cow disease called CJD, often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's disease. Animals on organic farms cannot be fed slaughterhouse waste, manure, or blood.

Organic farming prohibits intensive confinement and mutilation (debeaking, cutting off tails, etc.) of farm animals. In addition to the cruel and unhealthy confinement of animals on factory farms, scientists warn that these CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) produce enormous volumes of manure and urine, which not only pollute surface and ground water, but also emit large quantities of methane, a powerful climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas.

Consumers are concerned about purchasing foods with high nutritional value. Organic foods are nutritionally dense compared to foods produced with toxic chemicals, chemical fertilizers, and GMO seeds. Studies show that organic foods contain more vitamins, cancer-fighting anti-oxidants, and important trace minerals.

So, do you see why Organic food costs more than conventional food?  Because Organic food is actually food.  Conventional food, is beginning to look more like McDonald's food to me.  It is something that you can eat, it will fill your belly....but what is it doing to you and your family?  And are you really getting any vitamins or nutrition from it?  Yes, some. 

Cost-many people have explained to me that they cannot buy Organic because of the price.  From what I have seen in grocery stores there are times where Organic food costs the same as the conventional product setting right beside it.  And I know people who have a very tight budget who live on Organic food only.  I will blog more on this later...ideas and tips on living Organic on a tight budget.  Also, a different way of thinking is this...if the foods we are eating today are giving us high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc...isn't that going to cause us to pay more later in life when we are going to the doctor getting help for these problems.

So, do we spend more money now and eat Organic or spend less right now, eat conventional and have poor health and high doctor bills later that we can't afford?

Only food that is labeled USDA Certified Organic is really 100% Certified Organic.  See below under Miscellaneous for a definition of USDA Certified Organic.
Tell me if I am wrong....but isn't this how ALL food should be made???????????

2.  GMO/Non-GMO- You are hearing these 2 terms used more and more each day.  GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques, also called DNA splicing.  In a nutshell, this is where humans try to play God and alter the way food is supposed to be.  Which is not good.  I am not a fan of cloning and I am DEFINITELY not a fan of GMO.

For example....corn....Monsanto's triple-stack corn—which combines Roundup Ready 2 weed control technology with YieldGard Corn Borer and YieldGard Rootworm insect control—is the market leader in the United States.   So, now farms do not simply spray their crops with poisioness weed control chemicals, they are now created inside the seed that then grows into a corn stalk, that then produces corn that we eat or the animals we serve at dinner eat.  So.....we are eating the Roundup Ready 2 weed control chemicals, the Corn Borer and Rootworm insect control chemicals.  READY to go cook some corn??  And it does not have to happen like this!  Look at Organic farms...they are producing corn in great volume that is safe and delicious.  (Side note....Meijer has their own line of Organic frozen sweet corn that is delish!!)

Genetically engineered ingredients are now found in 75% of all non-organic U.S. processed foods, even in many products labeled or advertised as "natural." In addition, the overwhelming majority of non-organic meat, dairy, and eggs are derived from animals reared on a steady diet of GM animal feed. Although polls indicate that 90% of Americans want labels on gene-altered foods, government and industry adamantly refuse to respect consumers' right to know, understanding quite well that health and environmental-minded shoppers will avoid foods with a GMO label.   Sick...sick....sick!!!  Don't you want to know what you are spending your money on and eating?  I do!

Non-GMO is a label you are starting to see on foods.  This means simply the ingredients in that food have not been genetically modified.  All Organic foods are non-GMO.   But not all non-GMO foods are Organic.3.  Conventional Farming-
Look at the definition of Organic...all the things that are not allowed in Organic farming are allowed in Conventional Farming.   The agriculture industry is estimated to use over 800 million pounds of conventional pesticides each year.

The example I was given when I started my Green quest was this...."Would you spray an apple with Raid, rinse it, wipe it off and give it to your kid or eat it yourself?"  I would hope that your answer would be a big NO!  This is what we are doing when we buy conventional fruits and vegetable, just to start with.  Let alone all the other food we eat that are drowned in pesticides before we serve them at our tables.

The major challenges and issues faced by society concerning conventional farming include:
Environmental and social costs

Damage to fisheries
Increased health risks from pesticides****
Increased ozone pollution and global warming from heavy use of fossil fuels

4.  Natural or All natural- Does not mean Organic.  Food labeled "natural" does not contain any artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives, and in the case of meat and poultry, is minimally processed. 

Meat from animals treated with artificial hormones can (and is) labeled "natural," as is meat injected with saline solution (claimed to add flavor, which it does, but it also adds considerable weight to a product sold by the pound). Food containing "natural flavors" such as processed proteins that you may or may not consider desirable can legally sport the label "natural."5.  Fair Trade- Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold.  Simple terms, you know you bought something that a 5 year old child did not make or prepare for you. 

6. Design for the Environment (DfE) Certified- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows safer products to carry the Design for the Environment (DfE) label. This mark enables consumers to quickly identify and choose products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families. When you see the DfE logo on a product it means that the DfE scientific review team has screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and that-based on currently available information, EPA predictive models, and expert judgment. To learn more about the Design for the Environment EPA partnership program please visit:

Wowgreen products are DfE certified.  And I can say that I love using and selling all of the cleaning products wowgreen offers. 

Misc info
1.  Irradiation-cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde (found in finger nail polish).  Many non-organic spices contain irradiated ingredients.  The USDA and large meat companies have promoted the use of irradiated meat in school lunches and senior citizen facilities.

2. Consumers worry about rampant e-coli, salmonella, campylobacter, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and fecal contamination in animal products coming out of the nation's inhumane and filthy slaughterhouses. The Centers for Disease Control have admitted that up to 76 million Americans suffer from food poisoning every year. Very few cases of food poisoning have ever been linked to organic farms or food processors.

3.  For all these reasons, millions of American consumers are turning to organic foods and other organic items, including clothing and body care products - part of an overall movement toward healthy living, preserving the environment, and reversing global warming.

4.  USDA Certified Organic-   This is a 21 page document that shows what is required for a food or product to have the USDA Certified Organic logo placed on it (if simply clicking does not open this link use CTRL click to open it).  It is a very rigorous process to go through.  So, if you have thought to yourself, "well, how do we know it is truly organic?" this document will show you the steps that a farmer or producer have to go through to use the green and white logo USDA Organic.

So, if you believe in voting...keep in mind you are voting every time you go to the grocery store, with your money.  Start small.  Change your milk, yogurt and cheese then move to your veggies and fruits.  Click here to see my posts on what fruits and vegetables are highest in pesticides.

If you feel the desire to start eating Organically just take it one step at a time.  And I am currently working with Meijer to get even more organic food in their grocery store.  They have a great start right now on the choices of organic foods to choose from, but they still have a long way to go.  I will be posting in the future what organic products Meijer carries. 

Also, The Downtown Farm Stand has nothing but organic in their grocery store and restaurant.  And of course, don't forget my favorite place when you are in Indy, Whole Foods.  If you stick with the 365 organic brand at Whole Foods, you definitely DO NOT spend your whole paycheck.  Whole Foods is not perfect yet, they still sell conventional foods...but one day I hope this will become 100% organic.  At least, for now I can buy my organic foods there at a good price.

I have to really share my heart as I am writing this, as I am adding the finishing touches to this post, my brain keeps telling me..."No one's going to read this, no one's going to change the way they eat."  I hope and pray that thought is very wrong.  And I pray that there is a movement in our hearts, that we demand better quality of food on our tables and even in our restaurants.

I would love to hear any feedback or requests for future posts from you.