7/22/14

How to Soften & Dewrinkle Line Dried Clothes

How to Soften and Dewrinkle line dried clothes.

If you have ever dried your clothes outside to save on energy, you know that some of your clothes and towels will come in stiff and wrinkled. I have  a tip that will help keep your line dried clothes soft and reduce the wrinkles.



Grab your bottle of homemade wrinkle spray, and toss it into your laundry basket as you go outside.

After hanging the clothes on the line, while they are still damp. give a quick spritz of the wrinkle spray onto the clothes.

Smooth out the clothes with a brief swipe of your hand.

Although they won't come off the line, quite the same as using your dryer does, they will be soft not stiff, and have a lot less wrinkles to deal with!

The best part is, you still saved money from not using your dryer, and made the planet a little "greener"!

7/20/14

Orange & Herb Infused All Purpose Spray CLeaner

Making your own Orange Infused Spray Cleaner is a thrifty, and easy project to do! You'll love the way it cleans, but also that you are using discarded orange peels to do it.

Last year I showed you how to dehydrate those citrus peels into Orange (or lemon, or lime) zest for baking, teas, and more.  This year I am showing you how to use those collected orange peels from your family and save them to make this easy yet effective cleaner.

Save orange peels in a bag or container in the freezer till you have enough to fill a quart (or slighlty larger) glass jar.
The citrus peels add oils to aid in the cleaning properties, as well as works to infuse some of the orange scent into it.
I added fresh Rosemary to mine, but you can also add cinnamon sticks, or cloves to your cleaner. (they just trigger migraines for me, so I stuck to herbs). The herbs and spices just add a bit to improve the scent of the cleaner.
Orange & Herb Infused Cleaner
Supplies:

Glass quart jar with tight fitting lid.
Vinegar or Cider Vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
Orange peels (enough to fill jar)

Optional:
Herbs
Cinnamon Sticks
Cloves

Directions::
Place all orange peels into jar.
Add herbs and /or other optional ingredients:
fill jar with vinegar.
secure lid.
Store in cool dark place for 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks, strain the liquid into an empty spray bottle
Use cleaner within 6 weeks.


7/15/14

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

Last year at the end of the growing season I had an abundance of green tomatoes that were just out of time to ripen on the vine. I started looking through all my options on recipes using green tomatoes. There are many out there! tomato relish, pickled green tomatoes, green enchilada sauce, sreen salsa verde, etc.
but the truth is I just didn't feel like making any of them! Not wanting to waste the tomatoes either, I decided to ripen them indoors.

This method is super easy. You will however lose a few that go bad before ripening, but in this batch I'm showing you today I think I threw out 5 or 6 little ones total. The remaining all ripened just fine indoors.

The basic idea is to pick them, lay them flat in a warm but out of the way place (not so out of the way that you forget about them, though!) and let the warm indoors turn into a sort of "hot house" to help them ripen.
You'll always have a few that just won't ripen (the 5-6 that I lost), but the remaining bunch will ripen at different lengths of time. I believe the last of mine ripened at about the 3 week mark, but your time will vary some.

1) Pick them: here's mine fresh off the vine:


2) Lay them flat on a cookie sheet, or box lid in a warm out of the way place (ok mine are on my kitchen table, so not really out of the way!)


                                         
3) Every few days check on them, rotate them a little. Toss the ones going mushy or black.
4) As they ripen, wash them and use them!

Here's a look at my tray of tomatoes every few days or so. I just kept removing the ripe ones, turning the remaining ones, and remove them as they turned ripe.



Final Product: Canned Spaghetti Sauce

7/13/14

Crock Pot Tomato Sauce

Big batch of summer tomatoes and no time to make a slow simmered marinara sauce? Let your Crock Pot do the work for you!
Toward the end of summer, I am about pooped out from making and canning all things tomato related: Salsa's, sauces, and more.
So when time is short, and so is my energy, I literally dump my garden bounty into the slow cooker and whip up a batch of tomato sauce with little effort.

This is more of a method than an exact recipe. I really wing it with some basics and what I have on hand. But I'll give you a recipe to work with .

Jan's Tip: This batch I was using all the tomatoes I had left at the end of summer: Big juicy slicers, as well as my paste (plum or Roma) tomatoes,so the water content varies at times depending on the type of tomato you toss in there. And to answer a question you are going to ask: No, I don't peel them at all! I just leave them in, and blend them right into the sauce, but you can filter the skins out also at the end of the recipe.

To figure out how many tomatoes to use in the recipe here are a few guidelines to help you out:
1 lb. = 3 medium round tomatoes, or 8 small plum/roma tomatoes, or 2 cups chopped diced tomatoes.

Crock Pot Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
6 lb's fresh tomatoes stems removed and cored. (chopped or whole: I don't always bother to chop mine, just cut the core/stem out)
Chopped Vegetables: (choose what you like /have on hand)

  • 1-green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 carrots and celery

2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tablespoon salt
Directions: 
Place all ingredients  in crock pot
Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
Remove lid, and cook on high an additional 8 hours uncovered until vegetables are soft, most of the water from the tomatoes has cooked/evaporated away and the remaining juices are mostly concentrated tomato juice rather than water.


 Here is where you have some options depending on your preference for smooth vs. chunky sauce, and whether you want to filter out the skins or just blend them into smithereens and keep them in.:

  1. You can run batches of your cooked tomatoes through a blender,foodprocessor or immersion blend right in the crockpot. 
  2. You can run it through a food mill to remove as much skins and seeds as possible. 
  3. Use a food masher and just mashed it into a super chunky sauce to go in batches of chili's and soups.








7/8/14

Growing Garlic Part 3: The Harvest

This is Part 3 in a series about growing garlic. Click here to  read Part 1: Planting or Part 2: The Growing Season.  At this point it's early summer, your garlic has been growing well and you aren't sure when it's time to harvest or what to do with the garlic after you harvest.

When to Harvest:

When the leaves begin to yellow and bend over it's time to harvest. That can be anywhere from mid-summer to September depending on your region.

How to Harvest: 

Do not pull the bulbs up by the stalks. You'll break off the stalk and not pull up the bulb.

Using a garden trowel or pitch fork gently dig around the bulbs, but go deeper than the bulb. Hold the stalk with the other hand and gently lift the bulbs out of the ground.

Bulbs bruise very easily, so if you accidently hit one with the shovel or pitch fork, put those bulbs to the side, you'll want to use those first after the harvest and drying steps are done.

Drying & Processing :

Do not knock the dirt off the bulbs by banging the bulbs together or on any surface. This will only damage the garlic.

Leaving the dirt on, you'll need to dry the garlic. Many sources will tell you to lay the garlic out in the sun for a few days, other sources will tell you this will dry out your bulbs too much and too fast. In my climate is way too hot and humid to lay them outside. I will give you the "out of the sun" directions.

The directions below come directly from the North Caroline State Cooperative Extension which is near my region of the country.

Garlic likes to dry gradually to allow excess moisture in the roots and leaves evaporate or withdraw into the bulb. Wait until the roots and necks are completely dried and emit no typical garlic odor when cut; that is the time to trim it. It often takes three or four weeks to get to that stage, longer for large bulbs. 

1. Tie them in bundles of 6-12 bulbs.
2. Hang the bulbs outside but out of direct sunlight for several day but can take up to 3-4 weeks. Until no more odor emits from the plant  when you cut open a stalk, and the outside layers become papery and fragile.
3. Gently brush the dirt off the bulbs.
4. Bring bulbs inside.
5. Trim the stalks if you don't wish to hang them during storage.
6. Store in a slightly cool (But not too cool) pantry or storage room.
7. Save your biggest and your best bulbs and replant them the following October!

 Jan's tip: Do  not store in a closed container or bag. Keep them out in the open during storage.
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