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Friday, August 31, 2012

Flavored vinegars

I have two post from my cooking blog, for flavored vinegars.
Homemade raspberry vinegar

Homemade mixed citrus vinegar

Sourdough Starter

This is the old King Aurthur Flour sourdough starter, Ill give their exact instructions. This is my favorite bread recipe Soft parmesan-garlic sourdough bread

2cups warm water
1Tbl. of sugar or honey (optional)
1Tbl. or packet active dry yeast
2cups flour

Pour the water into a 3- to 4-quart glass or ceramic container or bowl, and add dissolve the sugar or honey and the yeast in that order. Stir in the flour gradually. Cover the jar or bowl with a clean dishcloth and place it somewhere warm. By using a dishcloth instead of plastic wrap, you'll allow any wild yeast in the area to infiltrate and begin to work with the domestic yeast which itself is beginning to develop "wild" characteristics and flavors.
The mixture will begin to bubble and brew almost immediately. Let it work anywhere from 2 to 5 days, stirring it about once a day as it will separate. When the bubbling has subsided and a yeasty, sour aroma has developed, stir your starter once more and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. The starter should have the consistency of pancake batter.

Here is what Better homes and Gardens had to say about the process.
" Let stand in at room temperature (75 degree F to 85 degree F) for 5 to 10 days or until mixture has a fermented aroma and vigorous bubbling stops, stirring 2 or 3 times a day. (Fermentation time depends on room temperature; a warmer room will hasten the fermentation process.)"

If you don't want to freeze your starter, it has to be replenished.
King Arthur Flour's instructions for maintaining your sourdough starter 

Scented Bath Salts

                                        Scented Bath Salts

 My all time favorite bath product. This soak makes your skin and hair, silky soft, and removes any sticky buildup from using hair products. I use 1/2 to 1 cup, once or twice a week, it can dry your skin if you use it too often. Table salt does have an anti-caking agent added to it, but sea salt is derived from sea water, with no added ingredients. Real soap (the handmade kind, not the detergent-laden soap you buy at the store) is actually salt. It comes from a chemical reaction when combining fats (like olive oil) and lye. (sodium hydroxide) Once I started to use the real thing, (about 3 years ago) I'll never go back to soap from the store.

1 cup Epsom salt
1/2 cup sea salt or un-iodized table salt
1/4cup baking soda
10 drops of food coloring
1tsp. skin safe fragrance oil- I get my oils from Natures Garden and Daystar supplies

Combine the Epsom salt, sea salt, and baking soda in a bowl.
Drop in the food coloring, and work it through with your fingers, until well blended.
Add the fragrance oil and work through the same way. It's ready to use, but I prefer to wait a day or two, before using. Store in an air-tight container or a storage bag.

Exfoliating Honey-Sugar Scrub

                                             Sugar Scrub
 I add a little liquid soap or shower gel, so it leaves you skin moist, but not oily. Honey is a natural humectant, attracting moisture to your newly exfoliated skin.

1Tbl. sugar
2tsp. honey
1/2tsp. shower gel
1/2tsp of light oil, like grape-seed, almond or soybean.

Combine all ingredients, it's ready to use. Apply it to you face, hands, feet, or body. Scrub 1 minute or less. I love to use this after a pedicure.

Grow your own Ginger

 Leave the root at room temperature for about 1 week, then you will notice little eyes begin to sprout. This tiny piece has two.
 Ginger (zingiber officinale) Photo ,that you buy in the produce section of your grocer, is a live rhizome, that can easily be grown. It becomes a tall bamboo-like plant, that is really tough, and can take a lot of abuse. The root grows very similar to an iris, sending out nodes, and spreads, fairly rapidly, filling the pot. They can be removed, with a knife, and washed. You now have a constant supply of ginger. I once had one, that filled an 8" pot, it made a pretty plant for one corner of my living room.

 Plant the root shallowly in at least a 4" pot, laying it flat, leaving the top exposed. The rhizome will creep along the surface. treat it like any other houseplant, watering when it looks a bit dry.

                                              After 2 weeks.

My Cooking Blog

I have lots of my favorite recipes posted at my other site. My Gingerbread Men-Recipe Blog

Drying Herbs

                                       Thai basil "Siam Queen"
I like to grow a few of the herbs I use, indoors, particularly, the ones that are hard to find. I grow many more, in the garden.

Cut a small cluster of stems, from the plant, before it begins to flower. Twist a rubber band around the stems, and find a spot to hang them, until they are dry. In most cases, two weeks is long enough. Here is a bundle I dried, from a Texas tarragon, that had become overgrown.

I've found a less messy way of removing the leaves from the dried stems. Put the bundle in a gallon storage bag, and lightly, crush. The leaves crumble and fall to the bottom of the bag.

Since I was rejuvenating the tarragon, it had already flowered. Remove any flower buds, and stems, from the leaves. Store in jars or a small bag.

Some herbs, come from trees, like this baby bay tree, I recently bought. I wouldn't want to cut this type of plant, just pluck leaves, and dry them on a screen or similar.

                      Drying basil leaves, on a towel covered cooling rack.