Friday, September 25, 2009

Country Spice Sink Scrub

Country Spice Sink Scrub
1 C baking soda
3 t ground cinnamon *
3 drops sweet orange, or clove oil essential oil
Combine all in into a container that has a lid with holes to sprinkle it out of (washed parmesan cheese, spice, etc) and shake well. Sprinkle into sink and scrub with damp cloth. Rinse well.
*you can add some all spice, pumpkin spice, gingerbread spice, whatever you like All spice and cardamom are my favs.
Ya gotta clean the sink, might as well enjoy the aroma while doing it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's better than a FREE about 26 FREE cookbooks!

Wow, I hit the jackpot today! lol. I am such a cookbook collector and there is nothing I love more than a PDF version of a the best part of today is, I got 26 of them, thanks to a gal in my Rice Cooker Group who shared this link!

I could not resist sharing it with you all, and I really feel sorry for those who do not check out my blog, because this post is the coolest!

Free for the downloading are 26 PDF version copies of these books!
Here is a link to get one or all that you want. There are Halloween books, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hunting cookbooks and so much more, something for everyone!

I am pretty sure you can just view them online, but like I said, what if that link is gone one day. I have the books on my hard drive for viewing offline. I have had favorite recipe sites disappear forever suddenly.

Pictured below are just three. Who knows how long this link will work, so I made sure I got them all downloaded and fast!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Anti Theft Lunch Bags! this is great!

A cute little sandwich bag that a nice gal in a yahoo group shared with the group.
thanks Judith from Family Home and Garden Group! (to purchase them)

If you want to join the family home and garden group..its a nice bunch of friends who send in ideas and tips for anything family life.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Laundry tip: Blue makes whites, bright white!

I hate do to laundry, and who doesn't? But its something we all have to do, unless we are celebrities or very wealthy and have people to do it for us.
About 10 years ago, I was reading a Martha Stewart book (go figure, my muse)...and she talked about laundry and using bluing agent. I had never heard of this. It's been around for years and years and years. I brightens whites, better than bleach and its safe, and doesn't eat away slowly at your fabrics like bleach will. I ordered some and have been using it ever since!

It can be used for not only making laundry whites, brighter white, but also brightens white hair or pet fur and make pools and spas bluer. It makes black fabrics blacker too!

You can use too much, and in my front load washer, it took me some time to figure out the ratio and cycle I wanted it added. I add it into the fabric softener compartment, alone with fabric softener so its used in the rinse cycle. I turned a few of my kitchen towels blue, but after another washing, they were white again. I have the ratio down to a science now and I use it for so many things. I used to be afraid to buy whites. The washing instructions would not bleach..and I thought, how in the world will I get that white again.

Now I am not afraid to buy whites, and I really love my whites. I even have white table clothes for parties and they are as bright white, as the day I purchased them.

I also have a black and white "skull" theme table cloth and I use it to keep that looking new..the black is still really black and the white is still really white!

To download the All About Bluing brochure in pdf format, click here.

If bluing were used to make things blue, it would be a simple matter to explain its action.

Actually, it is used to make things white, and we will attempt to explain that phenomenon.

Blue and White Make the Whitest White
It is said that color experts can distinguish about 300 shades of white, and if you look at all the things around you that are white, you will notice the many different shades. Some are a pink- white, some are yellow-white, etc. The white which is the brightest of whites is one which has a slight blue hue. One of the more dramatic experiments to prove this point is to place a brand new white shirt or blouse next to one which has been laundered for perhaps a year or so and notice the difference. They will both look white until placed next to each other, when the new one will appear much whiter, and the blue hue will be evident.
Because blue-white is the most intense white, most artists, when painting a snow scene, will use blue color to intensify the whiteness. As color experts would explain it, the proof comes when two pieces of fabric are placed under a spectrograph - the one with blue added will reflect more light, making the fabric appear its whitest.
White Fabric Isn't White
In their original state, white fabrics are far from white. Unbleached cotton fabrics, known to the trade as "greige (grey) goods", are grey or yellow tinged. Raw wool is, too - even from the whitest fleece. Most of all the synthetic fibers are not white, but tend to be a greyish off-white color. These all have to be bleached, usually by some chemical treatment which removes most of the yellow or grey color. Even this bleaching is not enough. To make white goods acceptable to their customers, manufacturers of sheets, towels, linens, etc., put their fabrics through a process of bluing. So also do the makers of shirts and other white apparel.
The Blue Hue Must be Renewed
After the fabric goes into use, the effects of the bleaches wear off, soil and stain mar the color, and the material goes to the wash to be cleaned. Detergent and water lift out the dirt and stains, and successive rinses remove the soapy mixture. Sometimes a mild bleach is used to help remove the stains. If all this is thoroughly done, the fabric is clean, but it is not "snow-white". To counteract the rest of the yellow, blue must be added. A little diluted bluing in the washing process or in the last rinse water adds the necessary tint that makes the fabric really snow-white. Mrs. Stewart's Bluing allows the consumer to re-blue their items at home.
In the early and middle 1900s bluing was used by everyone who wanted to have a white wash, and could be found in virtually all laundries. When washing was done by hand or in wringer washers, the second rinse tub was always the bluing rinse, the blue became the accepted color for laundry products. In the ensuing years, most new products, detergents and other additives were colored blue. Many of the manufacturers even claimed that their products contained bluing. In spite of those claims, many homemakers have discovered that nothing whitens like Mrs. Stewart's Bluing.
What's In This Stuff, Anyway?We get many calls from people wanting to know the ingredients or contents of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing. Some are just curious. Some have allergies and are concerned about how they may react to the use of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing. Some call as environmentalists to determine the effect on our Earth that Mrs. Stewart's Bluing might have. Some are scientists and looking for the chemical makeup so they may better understand the experiments they are doing. If you are wondering about the Salt Crystal Garden and how it grows, go to Salt Crystal Garden.
Basically, bluing is made of a very fine blue iron powder suspended in water ( a "colloidal suspension"). We add a nontoxic amount of a pH balancer and a biocide to prevent the buildup of algae and bacteria. (This may be why Mrs. Stewart's Bluing is loved by farmers who tell us they use it in the water troughs of their farm animals and by owners of lily and fish ponds.)
Mrs. Stewart's Bluing is nontoxic, biodegradable, non-hazardous and environmentally friendly. While we cannot guarantee that no one will ever be allergic to Mrs. Stewart's Bluing, we can say that we have not seen any reports of such an allergy thus far. In fact, several of our customers use Mrs. Stewart's Bluing because it is one of the few laundry products from which they do not experience an allergic reaction.
Mrs. Stewart's Bluing is a simple, concentrated blue liquid that optically whitens white fabric. It does not remove stains, does not "clean", but adds a microscopic blue particle to white fabric which has been giving fabric that "just bought" whiteness for 120 years!

The Early Years
Mrs. Stewart's Bluing was born in the early 1880s. "MSB" owes its existence to a peddler and his mother-in-law, a marginally successful Five and Ten Cent store, and a fireworks explosion. From the beginning, Mrs. Stewart's journey has been an interesting one!
In the late 1870s, Al Stewart, a traveling salesman for a Chicago wholesale grocer, was a familiar figure in Iowa and southern Minnesota. In his market basket full of samples, he always carried a bottle of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing, which he made in his home with his family assisting him according to a formula he had acquired.
Meanwhile, Luther Ford, a young silk salesman, moved to Minneapolis where he started the first "Five and Ten Cent Bazaar" west of Pittsburgh. Business was not highly successful and so he began a wholesale business, carrying notions, toys, and fireworks.
Al Stewart and Luther Ford crossed paths when Mr. Stewart began searching for someone to manufacture his bluing for him. Following a spectacular (but accidental) eruption of fireworks in the Five and Ten Cent store, Mr. Ford realized the potential of a (safer) future in the bluing business! Al Stewart sold Luther Ford the rights to Mrs. Stewart's Bluing, and the first documented sale of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing was logged on July 30, 1883. Mr. Ford quickly made plans to extend distribution across the region.
Facilities and equipment used in manufacturing in the late 1800s were primitive. The ceiling in the first basement factory was so low, holes had to be made in the floor so the employees had a place for their feet to hang down. Filling was done from wooden barrels with a rubber hose. Corks were pounded in with a small mallet, and each bottle was dipped in hot sealing wax as the corks didn't always fit into the slightly irregularly shaped hand-blown bottles. Labeling was done by hand using paste. Bottles were packed in sawdust in wooden cases or in barrels. Stock was stored and production stopped during the winter, until a later date when a heated manufacturing building was obtained.

Early CompetitionAround the turn of the century, Mrs. Stewart's Bluing had lots of competition from other "blues". Mrs. Stewart's was such a superior product that other companies were constantly trying to imitate it. Labels were copied and even reused in many cases. Loyal Mrs. Stewart's Bluing users were not easily fooled, however, and all of these "masqueraders" eventually faded away, leaving Mrs. Stewart's Bluing in a class by itself!
Bluing was manufactured by some competitors in stick, cube, powder and ball form. Mrs. Stewart's Bluing has been a liquid from the beginning. We have never marketed MSB any other form, and, as incredible as it may seem, it is essentially the same product today it was way back in 1883! (As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!")

Growing the BusinessMrs. Stewart's Bluing grew slowly until 1910 when Luther Ford's son Allyn, fresh from college, came into the business. He saw great potential in bluing and resolved to put his best efforts into expanding distribution. Allyn's brother, Robert, eventually left his teaching career and the brothers turned all their energy to the Mrs. Stewart's Bluing enterprise.
By 1925, additional factories existed in Portland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Pasadena and in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Distribution was nationwide across the United States and Canada. Today, all production takes place in our updated Bloomington, Minnesota facility. Distribution of MSB is handled by public warehouses in several key market areas and by our broker network.

From Salesman to Grocery Brokers
When business started booming, salesmen were hired who worked directly out of the Minneapolis office. In 1918, this method of selling was replaced by the appointment of food or grocery brokers. It was this switch to food brokers which accounted for the rapid and steady growth of the Mrs. Stewart's Bluing business. Since then, Mrs. Stewart's Bluing has been represented across the United States and Canada by brokers. Much of the credit for the good health and longevity of the business belongs to these devoted brokers, many of whom, over the years, have become personal friends as well as business colleagues!
In 1946, with Mrs. Stewart's Bluing sales at a high point, Robert Ford's son Luther (named for his grandfather) returned to Minneapolis and by the mid 1950s, he had taken over the business from his father and his uncle. He was head of the firm during the 1960s and 1970s. In August, 1955, Ken Norman was hired as Manager of Production and Purchasing. In the late 1970s, Ken bought the company from Luther Ford. Ken's son, Brad, joined in the business as well, in 1974. In 1986, the business was moved from downtown Minneapolis to suburban Bloomington. From 1883 to the present time, production and distribution of MSB has been and remains an old-fashioned "family" business.
Highly Sought-After MSB Bottles
The earliest Mrs. Stewart's Bluing bottles were hand-blown. Starting in about 1907, bottles were manufactured on automatic bottle-blowing machines. The words "This contains Mrs. Stewart's Bluing" were embossed into the face of the bottles, as insurance against unauthorized reuse by others.
Around 1920, the embossing on the bottle face was discontinued and replaced with a similar embossment around the shoulder of the bottle. In the spring of 1933, Robert Ford's newly designed machinery was used to apply hot wax around the rim of each bottle to prevent the liquid from running down the side of the bottle when dispensing the product. This soon became the patented "No-Drip" process. That summer, the words "No-Drip" also appeared in gold lettering on the MSB labels in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Ford/Stewart connection. Bottles were capped with imported Portuguese corks which were specially made for MSB and put into red wooden tops; the two parts of each closure were hand-glued together. The top of each bottle cork had the words "No-Drip Bluing" imprinted by hand.
Early in the 1960s, a new development in liquid dispensing became available in the form of a plastic dispensing "fitment" inserted into the bottle allowing it to be dispensed by the drop.
Starting in 1962 in the U.S. and in 1965 in Canada, plastic screw caps replaced the wooden corks which were previously used. Beginning in the early 1970s, our company began phasing out glass bottles and introduced plastic. Today, MSB is packaged exclusively in recyclable high density polyethylene plastic bottles.
For almost a half century, MSB was put up in just a ten-ounce size and retailed for 15¢ to 25¢. The Depression economy of the 1930s prompted the production of the "Dime-Size" glass bottle for some years. The "Dime-Size" bottle actually underwent three different size changes and didn't always retail for a dime. At first, the "Dime-Size" was a squat 3-ounce, then a tall and slender 3 1/2-ounce, and finally an oval 4-ounce which was sold through the mid-1970s.
Mrs. Stewart's Bluing bottles, particularly the oldest ones with the long-ago replaced red wooden-topped corks, are now highly sought-after antique collectors' items. Requests are often received for these old bottles, but, alas, there are few to be found nowadays! Collectors scour the country's antique shops in hopes of purchasing one for their very own, or check out Grandma's cellar hoping for a lucky find!

The History of the Bluing ProcessBefore the automatic washer arrived, the process for bluing white fabric in the home consisted of soaking or washing the clothing in hot soapy water, usually in a large kettle over a stove or in a wash tub, then rinsing the clothing thoroughly in another kettle-often two times. Finally, a "bluing" kettle was prepared in which the clothing was simply dipped in briefly and removed, then hung to dry.
Today, bluing can be used in the wash cycle or the final rinse cycle to restore fabric to the "whitest white"!

Who Is She?The first bottles of MSB probably carried a homemade, handwritten label. Eventually, Mr. Stewart decided to have his labels commercially done. The printer he contacted recommended that a label be used which featured a picture of an older woman, as this would help sales to increase! He asked his wife for a picture of herself to use, but she, so the story goes, refused to have her picture used on the label of a bluing bottle. He plucked a photograph of his mother-in-law from the mantle and promptly delivered it to the printer. So, that no-nonsense granny who appears on every bottle of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing throughout North America is none other than Mrs. Stewart's mother, the real Mrs. Stewart thus losing her opportunity to be immortalized!
MSB label design has remained fairly constant from the early days to the present, with one notable exception. On the advice of an advertising agency in the early 1970s, the "stern granny" look of Mrs. Stewart on the label was replaced with the pleasant face of a silver-haired, "with it" looking, wrinkle-free, smiling woman in a stylish hairdo. Consumers went on a rampage! A flood of mail came in from all across North America wanting Mrs. Stewart back! And they got her back, too! Over the years, Mrs. Stewart has undergone several very minor changes, but never again will consumers be surprised with a "stranger" on the label of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing!

How Did MSB Get to be Over 100 Years Old?Although MSB has been used most commonly to whiten white fabric that has grayed or yellowed with age, consumers have discovered additional uses for bluing since day one! Remember the Salt Crystal Garden (also called a "Depression Flower" or "Coal Garden")? A favorite family or school science project for all ages, bluing is an essential ingredient in growing this beloved crystal formation! We continue to sell MSB to schools, scout packs, science supply houses, and consumers for this use.
We know of no other product, laundry or otherwise, that has as wide a variety of other uses. Look at some of the other reasons consumers purchase MSB!
And, while Luther Ford and Co. has done some small time advertising in magazines here and there, we've never launched television or infomercial campaigns. Word of Mouth has always been our preferred method of advertising. It's fail-proof.

Please go to her website and read more about it..I order mine online. I have not seen it in a store and have asked my grocery store manager to carry it, but he looked at me like I had BLUE HAIR.
Ps She is no relation to Martha Stewart...or Margarita! It's just one of my favorite things, and it makes life easier...brighter!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making butter with the kids

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When I was a child, my mom and sisters and I made butter. It was fun and we did it more than once. We took heavy whipping cream and put it in an empty mayo jar. We shook it about 20
-30 minutes and magically, it turned into butter. I carried this tradition on with my kids and we have made it quite a few times.
You can do this with a group of kids, scout troops, homeschool groups etc...just give each child their own babyfood jar with some heavy whipping cream in it and let them go to town. It will not only keep them busy and tire them out, but they will never forget that they made butter!
You can add a dash of salt if you would like, but its great as is...dont' forget the crackers or italian bread for tasting!

How to Make Butter and Buttermilk

article from Mother Earth News
By William Rubel
Of the sweet cream butter I’d made earlier in the day, my Italian visitor said, “It tasted heavenly.” Sweet cream butter is churned from cream that has not been acidified by the conversion of milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid by lactobacillus bacteria. Think of it as butter straight from the cow. The butter I served my friend was unsalted; so, in the slightly confusing language of butter, it was sweet sweet cream butter (not salted and not acidified).
Sweet Cream Butter
Sweet sweet cream butter is the purest butter — it most cleanly expresses the essence of the underlying cream. It was April when I made dinner for my friend, so the cows were eating from spring pasture. Spring pasture butter is more delicately flavored than the rest of the year, and more yellow because spring and early summer grasses are the most nutritionally complex, containing the highest levels of beta carotene. Indeed, the butter I made for my friend was sweet and bright yellow.
Prior to the industrialization of butter manufacturing in the late 19th century, butter sales were local, and butter customers were connoisseurs in a way that we are not. Early spring butter commanded a higher price than any other. Modern dairy practices ignore seasonal differences by feeding cows an unnatural diet of year-round grain. If you often make butter from good cream, you will notice changes as the seasons progress.
Cultured Butter
In the 7,000-year history of butter, sweet cream butter is comparatively new. In the few hundred years prior to the industrialization of butter making, cream was cultured before it was churned. Culturing was the consequence of the universal practice of accumulating multiple milkings before churning. There was no refrigeration, so the cream was stored in a cool room.
Because raw cream is naturally full of benign bacteria, raw cream ferments and sours on its own, without the addition of a bacterial culture. Fermentation by lactobacillus bacteria changes the chemistry of cream, making its flavors more complex. Among other changes, it produces lactic acid, making the cream less “sweet.” Of even greater importance to butter makers working hand churns, culturing helps make churned cream “break” faster into the two products of butter making: butter and buttermilk.
When sweet cream butter was first introduced in America in the late 19th century, there was consumer resistance because, as described in one 20th-century text, “Flat flavor is noticeable in butter made from unripened cream.” Now this flat-tasting butter is the standard butter in America, Canada and England. In comparison to cultured butters, sweet cream butter will always taste flat. But it has special qualities of its own. Fresh sweet cream butter is the taste of the cream unmediated by the butter maker. It often has a lovely fresh and milky taste.
Homemade Butter: A Difference You Can Taste
Whenever the taste of butter as a condiment is important — such as when spread on bread or melted over vegetables — homemade butter will make a difference you will taste. Where butter is a significant ingredient — such as in bread and pastries — you’ll find an astonishing difference in both the ease of making the pastry and in the texture of the finished product. That’s because homemade butter is usually about 86 percent butterfat. Commercial butter is usually 80 percent butterfat — the government’s minimum standard.
Once you start using homemade butter, you won’t look back. It is so different from commodity butter — even premium “European-style” cultured butters — that they are almost two different foods. As a rule, use homemade butter within a week of making it. For baking, try to use it the same day you make it, before it is refrigerated. The buttermilk, that other product of butter making, is also entirely different from cultured buttermilk. Try it in scones, soda bread, gingerbread, corn bread and pancakes.
Culturing Butter
Sweet cream butter can be heavenly, but once you begin culturing butter, I predict you’ll find that you like cultured butter even better. Culturing brings depth of flavor to butter, and lets you become imaginatively engaged with manipulating that flavor. With a tiny amount more effort than it takes to make sweet cream butter, you can routinely make butter that crosses the threshold between butter and cheese — butter that tastes so good you literally want to just sit down and eat it.
Commercial culturing is a superficial affair, so don’t imagine any brand you have purchased as a model for cultured butter. Industrial butter is cultured in a matter of hours. At home, you can do much better. Unlike factories, you don’t need to consider the cost of waiting for cream to ripen. And that’s the secret to making extraordinary butter.
Raw cream cultures naturally. Pasteurized cream requires inoculation with an appropriate culture because all the lactobacillus that naturally ferments cream would have been killed in the pasteurization process.
Butter making is an incredibly simple craft. Even a child can churn cream into butter, which is why butter making is a common activity in kindergartens. But as an adult, butter making can be a lifetime project. It is a culinary area that has barely been explored in our modern world. In addition to seeking top quality cream to make the most heavenly sweet cream butter, and the open-ended possibilities with culturing, one can add special flavors, such as savory rosemary or floral rose water.
Butter Nutrition: No, Really, Butter is Good For You
After tasting a butter I’d made that he found utterly delicious, my killjoy friend said, “But William, no one should be eating butter.” So I will address those of you who have concerns about the healthfulness of butter. In Moby Dick, Ishmael exclaims, “Flask, alas!, was a butterless man.” Flask was also an unhappy man. I say no more on the correlation between happiness and eating delicious butter.
In truth, butter is not the enemy Americans once feared. Researchers have upset the old-fashioned “lipid hypothesis” that blamed heart disease on animal fats. Plus, we are now discovering how incredibly healthy foods from pastured animals can be. Butter from grass-fed cows is higher in many nutrients, including vitamins E and A, beta carotene, and essential fatty acids.
If you can find cream from pastured cows, your butter will also be more luscious and spreadable than you can get using cream from grain-fed cows.
So, how do you make butter so good that those who taste it always want more? Up until recent times, people — mostly mothers — had been expert butter makers. The break in this tradition is exceedingly recent. So let’s teach ourselves this ancient and elegant craft. The following are general guidelines for those of you who don’t have a mother or a friend to show you.
Making Butter
Butter is made from cream. You get the greatest yield from cream with the highest fat content. In America, that’s “heavy whipping cream,” and the commercial grades “extra-heavy” or “manufacturer’s” cream have even more butterfat. Plus, different cow breeds produce different percentages of milk fat. The most common U.S. dairy cow, the Holstein/Friesian, produces milk that has 31 percent less fat than Jersey cows. Jersey cream is widely regarded as the ideal cream for butter making. If you are lucky, you can find a source nearby. (Search for one at Local Harvest.)
Raw vs. Pasteurized Cream for Butter Making
To taste the ancient taste of butter, you have to use raw cream. Raw cream is biologically active: It comes inoculated with beneficial local bacteria. When milk fresh from a cow sits for a while, the cream rises to the top. For thousands of years, all there was to separating cream from milk was spooning it off the top. Then it was allowed to sit and ferment.
But when it comes to pasteurized cream, even the most mass-produced stuff yields yummier butter than any butter you can buy. Let taste be your guide. If possible, make butter from two different dairies, and compare the results in blind tastings. This will help you develop your palate and focus on taste, rather than labels. If you can find and afford it, test cream from the smallest local dairy that offers cream from a single herd and pasteurizes at the minimum temperature. You will then have the best chance of tasting a butter “varietal,” such as Jersey.
Pasteurized cream must either be used for sweet cream butter or be purposefully cultured. You can’t let pasteurized cream sour naturally, as you would raw cream. Pasteurization kills all bacteria, even the beneficial natives. So, if you were to let that cream sour, you would be allowing a blank slate to absorb any ambient bacteria that might be lurking, without the natural defenses to control it.
Culturing Cream
Butter cultures are “mesophilic,” meaning the bacteria thrive in cool temperatures. (“Thermophilic” yogurt cultures require higher temperatures.)
You can buy mesophilic cultures from suppliers (New England Cheesemaking Supply is a good source), but there is no reason you must. You can culture cream effectively by inoculating it with a little store-bought sour cream, buttermilk or crème fraiche. (Just make sure it says it contains live cultures.)
If you have a methodical mind, take notes on what you do, including tasting notes. If you’re like me, just go with your gut. Either way, you’ll consistently make butter that is far superior to commercial products, even premium imported butters.
Butter Churns
A churn is anything that can agitate cream until the butterfat comes out of suspension, resulting in butter and buttermilk. It can be as simple as a mason jar (shake and pass around a circle of friends), or as easy as a food processor or electric mixer. Small hand churns are practical for home use, holding a pint to a quart of cream. The most common types are a paddle churn (a paddle in a jar) or a plunger churn (a wooden plunger in a wooden cylinder). You can find churns at Lehman’s, Homesteader's Supply, Ebay and Craigslist.
How to Make Butter That is Really Flavorful
Equipment should be scrupulously clean. Before and after each use, scald any wooden equipment, including spoons and the inside of churns. Scald repeatedly, if necessary, until there is no butter smell left in the wood.
To make sweet cream butter, use fresh cream, skip the culturing instructions that follow, and go directly to Step 1.
To make cultured butter from raw cream, pour the cream into a bowl and cover with a double layer of cheesecloth or a clean towel. Leave out in a cool room. If your room is warmer than 60 degrees, set the bowl of cream in cool water. Become familiar with what is happening to the cream as it ripens (sours, ferments) by tasting it every six to eight hours. Raw cream can be used at any stage from fresh or lightly fermented (e.g. eight hours) to heavily fermented (e.g. a week).
To make cultured butter from pasteurized cream, you have two options: You must inoculate the cream with either a mesophilic bacterial culture (from a specialty shop), or a store-bought cultured product that contains live cultures. If you go the specialty route, purchase a culture for crème fraiche, sour cream or buttermilk, and follow the instructions. If the commercial culture also contains rennet, your cream will set up slightly, but otherwise will achieve the consistency of soft yogurt.
If using a grocery store product as the inoculant (starter), strengthen the starter by leaving it out at room temperature for approximately 8 to 12 hours, and then add a tablespoon per cup of cream. If you are sure of the inoculant’s strength, just 1 teaspoon per cup should be sufficient. Leave the cream at cool room temperature for one to three days.
With either method, you can further develop flavor by leaving the cultured cream in the refrigerator for days, or even a week or two. The ripening cream should have a pleasant smell and develop a slightly tangy taste, sharpening with time. As the cream acidifies, it becomes hostile to toxic bacteria, but should the cream curdle, or smell or taste bad, discard it. The longer you ripen it, the more clear and distinctive the flavor of your finished butter will be. Butter churned from long-ripened cream is a butter of perfection, like a perfectly ripened fruit.
1. Pour sweet or cultured cream into the churn, leaving headroom for the cream to expand when whipped.
2. Begin churning. As you churn, cream goes through three distinct phases. First, it becomes a snowy white whipped cream, then turns yellow and granular, and lastly “breaks” into clumps of butter swishing around in buttermilk. Churn a bit longer to be sure the butter has clumped, then stop. Observe what is happening throughout. Look, listen and feel what happens as the cream goes through these phases so you develop an intuitive feel for the butter-making process and your own equipment. Cream churns best between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but will break eventually even if it’s warmer. And cultured cream breaks faster than sweet cream.
3. Drain the buttermilk to reserve for baking. Remove the butter from the churn to a steep-sided bowl. Hold the bowl at a steep angle, and gather the butter into a ball. Using the flat of your fingers or the back of a wooden spoon, spread and press it against the side of the bowl to squeeze out buttermilk. Still using the flat of your fingers or the spoon, fold the butter in half over itself, and press down again. Repeat until little or no buttermilk squeezes out. When done, remove the butter to a plate, drain the buttermilk into your buttermilk container, rinse the bowl, return the butter to the bowl, and cover with cool water.
4. Wash the butter covered in cool water using the flat part of your fingers or the back of a spoon. Repeatedly press, fold and turn to wash the butter free of buttermilk. Change water as needed, until it remains clear. Another option is to replace the last change of water with a flavored water — rose water for butter to be used in sugar cookies or shortbread, or salted water in which a sprig of rosemary was boiled, for an unusual savory butter circa 1615. Remove the butter to a plate, wash your hands, and drain the bowl. Note: If you are working with a large quantity of butter, an effective alternative to hand washing is to return the butter to the churn and churn with repeated changes of cool water until it runs clear.
5. To remove the rest of the water, return the butter to the bowl and hold it at a steep angle. Use the back of a spoon to spread and re-spread the butter repeatedly against the side of the bowl to force out trapped water. When no further water can be pressed out of the butter, remove to a plate. Note: If seasoning butter with salt, sprinkle it onto the butter at the beginning of this step. I suggest erring on the side of undersalting and would not exceed 1 percent salt, which is a scant one-quarter teaspoon per 4 ounces of butter.
6. Eat up! The butter can now be used immediately. It will be soft and supple. Always wrap butter before refrigerating. Parchment paper makes a nice wrapping. Try to use the butter within a week. Homemade butter is rarely washed free of buttermilk as effectively as commercial butter, and thus seldom stores well. Homemade butter freezes well, but the point of homemade butter is to use it when it’s fresh!

and a very cute blog post about making butter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Lazy Fisherman's Maryland Crab Soup

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Okay I was going to post a pic of a cute crab and Darnell "Crabman" Turner from My Name Is Earl, popped into my head...I love him and Joy on the show, in fact, they make the show!

I just made my own version of Maryland crab soup in the pressure cooker and its to die for...and took no work! I know I could have used potatoes and all but this is a lazy day for me. I have had a full weekend...starting Wed night of last week, up until last night, we got home at 11 and I managed to stay up to watch my dvr'd shows lol.

This is very lazy for me, I love to cook and go to extremes sometimes, but this is one day, I did it the easy way and it turned out awesome!
If you don't have a pressure cooker (electric one's are best for lazy people like me), then you can stew it in a pot for awhile)

The Lazy Fisherman's version of Maryland Crab Soup

Like the name..hehe..its from a can...can't get much lazier than that!

Recipe by Shannon Dillman (that's me)

I used the following.
1 pound of crab meat (canned leg meat)
1 32 oz container of water, or Veggie broth (organic)
1 pack of fresh mushrooms
½ bag of frozen corn, ½ bag frozen peas, ½ bag of frozen limas
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
½ bag refrigerated broccoli slaw (no dressing just the veggies)
handful of dried minced garlic
handful of dried parsley
handful of old bay seasoning
few splashes of Louisiana hot sauce
and a cup or so of water to add to make more broth
cook on veggie setting 5 min...
That's all folks! How easy is that...and wow, sooo good..better than most (not all) of the restaurants in Maryland that make crab soup!
So sorry about the measurements...I told you before, I don't measure...wing it, put in what you want!

Pepperfest 2009!

I took a picture of my sunflowers and had to include them on here, aren't they gorgeous. They are about 3 feet taller than I am and I am 5'5". I just took this pic the other day and used the sky as the background and now this pic is my laptop wallpaper. Its so lovely to look at.
Okay, on with the pepperfest.
This is my childhood friend Christa and her husband Ryan's, Smoked Crabby Pepper Poppy Stand at the Bower's Pepperfest. I was always at the beach for this event, and this year, the economy got the best of us, so we skipped the beach for the first time in ages and finally got to go to the pepperfest

Christa and I have been friends since the first day of kindergarten! That's about 33 years now! Wow, does that make me sound old! Whoooo! But I am proud to call her one of my best friends and her and her family are family to me.

It was exciting to see them in action but I never knew all of the work that went into it. It's a lot!
But when the people came to buy, they said things like....I am so glad you are here again, this is our favorite stand! Your peppers are the best! ..I knew it was all worth the work they do.

Here's Ryan, her husband, smoking peppers. I call him Ry-bread. Her brother and some friends are in the rained! Bummer, but that did not stop the sales!

My hubby had the camera and she had a customer, so I said..hey take a pic of her in action...well, he cut out the well.

The night before, my hubby and I went to her house and helped stuff peppers..we know the secret ingredients, but I will never tell! lol. Christa and Ryan have done this for years!
This is Christa's family. Here mom, dad, brother and daughter, Mackenzie

This is her brother Ryan (another slice of Ry-bread) and her mom and I stuffing...the guys in the background. Boy did my hands burn, more of a tingle though, didn't hurt bad. But when I showered, it activated it again and I got that burn for days. lol.

They even had cherry peppers for the wimpy people who couldn't eat Jalapeño's.
Allen and Ryan cleaned the Jalapeño Peppers...imagine playing with those seeds.

And here we are...Christa missing from Pic.

Now Ryan is missing from pic (brother)

How about I take a family pic of just your family..wait...there's Allen popping his head in lol..we all cracked up....he is Uncle Allen I guess lol.

She caught me off guard. Christa's mom and my hubby in the background.

Shannon (me), Christa and Mom

I had so much fun, that on Friday night, we called her and she invited us over to help out again. We could not pass it up.
I figured an easier way of stuffing on this night. Ain't I lazy! lol

The peppers in this cooler are just the tip of the iceberg! They had over 3000 peppers!

Christa and I

There's Ry-bread, hookin us up with more crab stuffing!
And if this isn't two of the sexiest "Biznatches" you have ever seen..I don't know what is.

Some Customer Service Pics.

Thanks Christa and Ryan for the great experience of helping out. You guys work really hard to have that stand! I don't know how you manage, but you do, and you do it well!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Big Mac Attack inspired Cheese Steak

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Oh my, will you look at this! Now I am starving for a Big Mac

I was talking to my sister on the phone about how I wish Mc Donald's would make a regular size cheeseburger in Big Mac form, they could call it the Mini Mac. I would not fell so guilty eating a Big Mac at half the size.

I even wrote to them suggesting it. They replied and said, they tested a similar product , years ago and it didn't sell. WELL TRY IT AGAIN RONALD! The world has changed and there are some of us now, who want to partake in your tasty burger but its way too big. If we could learn limit our meals to a REAL serving size and get a little workout in, we would be a much slimmer world. Okay, enough about healthy..that's a whole other blog! lol

As I am thinking about the Big Mac and making it at home in my recommended serving size, a light bulb pops up in my about a cheese steak with Big Mac sauce (Russian Dressing). I love to make cheese steaks at home, and must say, I make them very very well. Why I never thought of this before..but immediately I add the ingredients to my grocery list that I keep on . To make it more of a serving size, I will put it on a Kaiser roll instead of a hoagie roll (some of you say submarine roll). Sure, my husband and boys will probably eat two..but little old me can try to keep my figure!

Shut up, I know its still fattening..I chose my battles wisely, and work out to make up for it. One of my famous quotes when I am eating junk food is..."Eat like there is no tomorrow and exercise like there is!" Yes, its my own quote, I know it will be stolen now that I put it in print..whatever, that's how life is ya know lol.

So anyway, back to the subject of the email...we are talking about having a good sandwich. I probably am not the first to think of this, but my friends and family have never concocted one, so its all new to us, anyway! We made them and loved it.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Most people remember on this day, but how quickly they forget. For a few short days following today, America was united! We were one big family...politics, religion, race and economic class was put aside and Americans were a family. We were all Americans and that was all that mattered!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Share the Table

I saw this website info on the Today Show today, Martina McBride was on talking about it.
Commit to having family dinner together at the dinner table (or kitchen table, or patio) at least a few times a week.
Why Family Meals are Important
Dr. William Doherty

Family meals are more than feeding events; they are precious opportunities for family connection in a hurry-up world. Dinner in particular is the only time when most families are together, face to face, doing the same activity and sharing in conversation.
At the dinner table we can reconnect, relax, discuss, debate, and laugh together.
It’s not that we can’t do these things in other ways, but for most families the rest of the day is too scattered with everyone going in separate directions. Family dinners are one of the main ways that families create their own cultures.
Parents tell family stories, children talk about their teachers and friends, people discuss the hot news of the day, and we get to know the ups and downs of one another’s lives.
Over time young children learn to understand and share more as they move fully into the life of their families.
They also learn to help with meal setup, preparation and cleanup – tasks where they learn that family life means working together. All of this makes common sense to most people. But in recent years research has shown important benefits to children, and also to adults, of having regular meals with their families.
Children grow up healthier, smarter, and better adjusted when their parents take the lead in having regular dinnertimes. And adults feel better about their own lives. Of course, there is nothing automatically good about sitting down to eat together. Family dinners can be hurried, hectic, and full of conflict, in which case they don’t do much good for anyone. But we can learn to make them times of connection rather than frustration. And nearly all of us can improve our family dinner experience even if we are already doing a good job. Ideas on this website show how.