Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ginger Tincture and Why

Ginger root is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice.

Tincture is typically an alcoholic extract of plant that should have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60% or 80-120 proof. Vodka is usually the alcohol of choice because it doesn't have flavor. (I would have to disagree with that! I'm not an alcohol drinker so when I do get a taste of it I find it very unappealing.)

*People with biliary disease or women that are pregnant are advised against using ginger tincture.*

So why ginger tincture?

First I want to tell you some of the medicinal uses of ginger.

  • nausea
  • cramping
  • sore throat
  • arthritis pain
  • common cold
  • aphrodisiac
  • cholesterol
  • digestion
  • fibromyalgia
  • gout
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • motion sickness
  • loosen and expel phlegm
  • reduce fevers by increasing perspiration
  • anti-inflammatory
That's quite a list of medical benefits!  Interested? Guess what? It is super easy to make and easy to use.

What you'll need:
  • Chunk of ginger root 1/2 cup per batch
  • large glass jar with lid (canning jar or recycled mayo jar etc.)
  • 1 cup vodka per batch
  • cheesecloth or fine sieve
  • Time

Peel the ginger and cut into chunks and place in food processor to chop finely. If you don't have a food processor just use a knife to make a fine dice. You can leave the ginger unpeeled but the skin might cause a bitter taste to the tincture. I opted to take the few minutes to peel it.

Put the chopped ginger in a clean sterile jar to prevent contamination.

Add 1 cup of vodka per 1/2 cup of ginger. I ended up with 2 cups ginger to 4 cups vodka. Whew!

Close jar and shake vigorously for 1 minute.

Label and date the jar. (I just used a sharpie.)

Place in a dark cabinet and shake for one minute each day for two weeks. (I set an alarm on my phone to remind me.)

After two weeks strain the tincture into a clean jar and cover. Tincture will last several years in a dark place. 
(Sorry, no pictures yet. I'll update when this batch is done.)

Now, what do you do with it?

When you have any of the above symptoms or as a daily supplement simple take 1 teaspoon to 1 cup hot water as needed. Add some honey or lemon or add to tea to make it more palatable. I do not like just ginger tea. Many do so the hot water mixture should be fine. You could always be brave and just take the teaspoon of tincture.

For those against alcohol. I am too, but it is the best to use for tinctures. You also might not know that you purchase alcohol in many of your everyday products, it is a very common ingredient. If you just can't get yourself to go buy the alcohol perhaps a friend can get it for you. This really is a great medicine to have and I don't want the fact that it's made with vodka to deter you from using it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apple Pie Filling

I love apple pie. It is one of my favorites. The one thing I don't like are uncooked pieces of apple in my pie. Some might prefer that crispness but neither of us do.

That problem is solved by making my own filling and cutting the apples into small dices so they cook during processing and if any are still tough the pie baking will finish cooking them. Not to mention filling made this way is so versatile and can be used for turnovers, coffee cakes or whatever else you might like apple in.

Dicing the apples also solved the problem of some of my apples already turning brown in spots. I could just cut away the worst and still have plenty of pieces. I had bought the apples almost three weeks ago and was really worried but I still managed to get 7 pints out of them.

Other than coring, peeling and dicing the apples the process is quite easy.

What you'll need: (for 1 quart)
Hot water bath canning supplies
3 1/2 cups Apples-Any variety but increase sugar by 1/2 cup for Granny Smith per quart
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup clear jel  Do not use corn starch as a substitute.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cloves, ginger and allspice
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Start by coring and slicing the apples.

Peel and cut the apples into desired size, you can make just slices or bigger chunks depending on your preference.

Blanch the apples for 1 minute. (Bring a pot of water to boil, add the apples, return to boil for 1 minute.) Drain.

Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT lemon juice into large pan. Stirring constantly bring to a boil, add lemon juice and continue to boil for 1 minute. Mixture will be very thick.

Pour the liquid over the apples.

Mix well.

Place into hot jars leaving 1 inch head space. Put hot lids and rings on.

Process for 25 minutes in hot water bath.
I now have enough for three pies and one extra for turnovers or whatever else I like. I had less than 18 apples to get this amount. The entire process only took a couple of hours. So if you've never tried canning and want to this is a great one to start with.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Menu Planning and Review Home Management pt 4

It's 2PM and you are still trying to figure out what to have for dinner. That's me at least. Unless I have a plan.

A weekly menu plan serves several purposes for me.
1. I don't have to think each day what we'll have.
2. It saves trips to the store because I have already purchased what I need.
3. It saves time.
4. It saves money. Less trips to the store = less impulse purchases.

I had been using just a blank monthly calendar that was on a tear off pad. I ran out of those and have just been winging it with the "2PM OMG what's for dinner?" Printspiration was looking for someone to do reviews and I volunteered. She has so many things to choose from but the one that popped out was the menu planning!

Pretty design (customizable too) and easy to use. It is a one time purchase and you can print as often as you like. Even better, save your ink and paper and place the sheet into a glass frame and use dry erase markers to make your menu. I chose a frame that was simple and I could set on the fridge so anyone walking by would know what we are having and in the morning I know what to get ready for dinner.

To sweeten the deal the wonderful lady at Printspiration is offering my readers a 20% discount on your order when you use coupon code: ROBIN

How great is that? Make sure you bookmark her site. As I go through the home management book you will find that she has many of the pages in my book available to print to save yourself the hassle of making your own or figuring out how to do spreadsheets.

Back to menu planning.

I make a long list of all the foods we eat for dinner. I don't plan lunch and breakfast because we usually don't eat them and if we do it's just whatever is in the fridge.

Take that long list and break it up into sections. IE: Beef, pork, chicken etc. The reason for that is as you're planning your week you don't want to group the same foods over and over again.

After you have your list divided, pick one from each section to add to your weekly menu. Repeat if you don't have 7 sections.

I will plan two weeks at one time, checking against my food inventory to see what I need to buy. Using the menu plan from Printspiration I can just jot it down in the right hand column. After I'm done I see exactly what I need to get. 

Don't be scared. Go ahead, try it. You'll be amazed how much it simplifies your life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A letter to make my day.

Several of you know I've been in the hospital for a few days. I convinced the hospitalist (Dr.) to send me home today. I don't do hospital confinement very well.

With several days of mail piled up I was dreading sorting through it all. Then there was this one handwritten envelope. Of course I grabbed it first! It was from my Aunt and Uncle that had sent me Grandma's recipes. There were some more recipes in the envelope.

Talk about making my day brighter!

Posts might be slow for a while. Be patient with me.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quilt top in an hour

I love quilts! Not because of the intricate designs but because they are cuddly. Before today the only quilt I successfully made by myself was a simple patchwork. To my credit it has been 12+ years since I made it and it is still going strong. Might not be pretty but it sure is cuddly.

Mom has helped me make quilts since. She is a pro! I watch her in awe as she puts together masterpieces. She has instructed me over and over how it's done. I just don't get it. Sigh.

I find pretty patterns and I pin them hoping to someday figure it all out. Then I saw a video where the lady claims you can make a quilt top in an hour. Yeah right! This is me she's talking to. But I REALLY want to make a quilt. I bookmarked this video:

My next mission was to find jelly rolls that I liked. I grabbed my 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby and headed there. The rolls didn't seem very big so I bought two of them.

The next step was to sew them all together. Yikes! I did, then I tore them all apart because I wasn't paying attention and didn't have right sides together. This was really a pain and there is no way I can do this in an hour. I was really frustrated at this point and forgot to take pictures to document my mess.

Second try I only messed up two of them. Whew! After they were all together I began to snip the threads and cut off the excess material.

Then to sew two sides together. Seems simple enough right? Not for me! By the time I got to the end my material was so twisted I had no choice but to cut it. That turned out to be alright because it gets cut at the end anyway.

After that I just kept folding and cutting the end. It was mere minutes to finish the rest. The hardest part was truly the first two steps. And my goodness it turned out beautiful!
 Then I ironed the back pressing all the seams the same direction.
And a close up. Isn't that pretty?
After I got past that first long stitch magic began to happen. Honestly, I became giddy with excitement that I was actually doing it. Now I want to make all kinds of them. My son will be getting married soon, I believe it will make an awesome gift.

I'm going to add border to make it bigger and make it nice and fluffy and most of all cuddly. I don't think I can do that in an hour though.

Chore Box - Home Managment Part 3

The idea behind my chore box is to keep me focused. With very little attention span and short term memory loss it's hard to stay in one area. Without my box I find myself wandering from room to room. That is a waste of my time and energy. (I never have enough of either!) It is always best to focus on one room before moving to the next. If I find something in the room I'm working on that belongs in another it goes into a box to be taken there when I'm done.

The box is divided into sections. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Each section has three colored cards in it. Yellow cards are daily chores. Orange cards are weekly chores. Green cards are monthly/quarterly chores.

Each card has one chore on it. I give it an estimated time to complete, some take no where near the time I've assigned. I might put details on the card in case there is someone helping me and not sure how I do a certain thing.

Weekly cards have the day of the week written on them.

Monthly cards have a week number on them. I used a four week system so if the month has 5 weeks you will get one week with no weekly chores.

Not only does this system keep me focused as I complete a card it gets refiled. Either in the next day for daily chores or back in it's daily slot for weekly chores. I start out with this large deck of cards and soon it's halfway gone, then I'm down to one or two cards then there are none left. It's like a game played with yourself and gives you a greater sense of accomplishment.

There is a "Skipped" box on each card. This box is for those days you just don't have time or energy or it just really isn't dirty. Use sparingly and if it's checked the next time it comes around make sure to do it or whatever it is can and will get out of control. 

I have no children at home to help with the work so this is all on me. However, if you do have children at home it would be great for them too. Hand them a few cards or have special cards for their own chores.

Menu planning coming soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Birthday Cake

Buttercream frosting, royal icing flowers and frozen buttercream transfer. 2 layer 10x15 cake with 2 layer 6" tier. The transfer was fun and can be done in almost any design.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chicken and Yellow Rice

I'm not the type of person to cook from prepackaged foods. I believe food just plain tastes better when made from scratch. There are exceptions though. Saffron Yellow Rice is one of them. My husband calls it yellow rice, I call it saffron rice.

A few years ago my husband said he wanted chicken and yellow rice. This required a usual phone call to Mom Pat to find out just what the heck he was talking about. With the instructions from my MIL, I take that little bag with all the precious saffron and rice in it and turn it into something amazing.  This is now one of my very favorite meals.

I am sure you could make what is in the bag at home, but since this is the only food I know of that I eat with saffron I'm not willing to pay a small fortune for saffron. These little bags are inexpensive (under $1.00 at most stores), full of flavor and go a long way. You will find this rice usually on the top shelf where boxed foods are and right next to other rice products.

What is saffron? It comes from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world’s most expensive spice. 

Okay, on to the recipe. Or more the "how to." I really threw this together last night and didn't think to take pictures through the whole process.

Red or green pepper
Pepper to taste
Mahatma Saffron Yellow Rice (I've tried other brands and do not like them.)

If you are just feeding two people, a chicken quarter and half of a breast is plenty with one bag of rice. Last night I doubled it to make more for lunch today.

I put two chicken quarters and half of chicken breast in a large pot covered with water. You can substitute some of the water with chicken broth or add some chicken bouillon. Add pepper to your liking. We use more than most people do I think. I add a little salt if I'm using plain water.

*Time Saver* Use leftover chicken that you have deboned and chicken broth for the liquid omitting the water so you still get flavor.

I chopped up a small onion and two stalks of celery and cooked with chicken until the chicken was fully cooked. My chicken was frozen so this took a little bit longer.

If you start in the morning you can just turn off the heat and let your chicken cool to debone later. If it's late and you are rushed just carefully debone the hot chicken using two forks. Set the chicken meat aside.
Pour the liquid from your pot into a measuring container. I have a mixing bowl with measurements on it up to 8 cups. Don't be too careful and no need to strain, the liquid will come out first leaving the celery and onion in the bottom of the pan. Don't worry if you don't get all the liquid.

The package calls for 1 2/3 cups liquid. I bump it up to 2 cups per package. Pour the amount of liquid you need back into the pot. (Save the remainder for noodles or freeze for some other time you need chicken stock.) Add the rice to the liquid. Add chicken back in and chop up your pepper to add in. Red pepper is very pretty in the rice but green works just as well. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

That's it. Super easy.  Serve with your favorite vegetable and some rolls and dinner is served.