3/3/15

Button Hair Ties

These easy to make hair ties will only take you a minute to make! Need the perfect addition to your  daughter's  Easter outfit? You can easily make your own to match!

I am making a bunch up for my cute 1 year old grand daughter. She has the cutest little "Pony Sprout" on top of her head, that I wanted to make her a few little button hair ties to jazz up her look!

The nice thing is you can easily take the buttons off and make new ones! You could easily tie on some coordinating ribbons to the backs of the button shanks too to jazz them up even more!

It's so easy I'll show you how.

Jan's Tip: For the buttons, you'll want the kind that has the shank on the back not the flat ones with the holes in them.

Supplies:

Buttons (The kind with the shank on the back)
Small elastic hair ties
a small wire  (I used one from the back side of the button package but a bread twist tie might work too)

Directions:

I found that using a small wire to feed the elastic through the button just works faster than shoving the elastic through on your own.

Feed a small wire through the center of the elastic.
Bend the wire in half.
Pinch the elastic around the creased end of the wire.
Feed both ends of the wire through the shank on the button.
Pull the wire through the opening and a small portion of the elastic. (Don't pull it all the way through)
Remove wire from elastic
Fold over the long end of the elastic over the short end.
Grab the short end of the elastic from the middle /center opening of the long piece.
Pull until the elastic is tight against the button

Optional: Tie small coordinating ribbons onto the button shank if room allows to embelish.


2/28/15

Country Fair Blog Hop March 15



Its that time again! Time to start a new months blog link up party! As I write this, I am staring at a new 12 inches of snow on the ground! I am soooo ready for winter to be over! How about you?
Meet my fellow Cohosts:
A Kansas Farm Mom
High Heels and Shot Gun Shells
Country LINKed
Dirt Road Charm
Corn, Beans,Pigs & Kids

February Favorites!
Grow a Good Life
Thanks for the great tutorial on how to make this yummy looking gnocchi! I think I might give it a try, I've always wanted to learn,but never really knew how or where to start! I might even use my own homemade ricotta! Save this recipe and make it with me!



The Locust Blossom
Shares a step by step tutorial on dehydrating potatoes! I dehydrate quite a bit, but have never done potatoes! I will now! I have a local scratch and dent grocery and when they have the next great deal on potatoes I will be dehydrating some for sure!

Now onto our new party!
The theme for March is  "March Madness" 
What will you be doing this month? Spring Cleaning, preparing spring gardens or crops for planting, Easter holiday recipes, crafts? Please share how you enjoy your early days of spring!


What is my favorite Spring Cleaning Tip?
  I mix up this batch of deoderizer/freshner! Every mattress in the house gets cleaned, along with camping tents, sleeping bags, mops etc.  To learn how I clean my mattresses or make my shoe sachets for my teen age boys football cleats/basketball shoes read the original post below.
spring-cleaning-with-baking-soda

Baking Soda/Corn Starch Deodorizer Cleanser



1 cup baking soda
1 cup corn starch
Optional: 15 drops (pick your scent: like Lavender) essential oil.

Put ingredients in an airtight container with a lid. and gently shake to blend together.

Ok Come Share Your Posts! 


  • Grab a copy of the button at the top, we'd love for you to post it somewhere!
  • Link up to 3 of your best posts!
  • Visit a few other party goers and let them know you stopped by to see them!



Ready? Get set... Go!




2/24/15

Do You Remove the String/Net Bag on the Meat Before Cooking?

Have you ever wondered if you are supposed to remove the little cotton string net bag that comes on your pork, beef, or lamb roast before or after you cook it?

The answer is......  either way!

Let me  answer a few of your questions: 

First lets clear one thing up: I am talking about those cotton string net bags, not the plastic ones. If your meat comes in a plastic net bag, you must remove those prior to cooking it.

Why do I want to leave the bag on? Depending on the meat, sometimes the butchers actually are throwing smaller chunks of meat together to form a roast and the bag maybe necessary to hold it all together.  (Todays Pork Roast is an example of that)

By the time you get it home you can't tell that. If you are just making a pot roast that will fall apart anyway you can take it off, but if you are hoping to "carve" the roast in front of guests you want to cook it in the bag.

What about Leg of Lamb?  On the other hand, leg of lamb often comes in a bag and some people choose to remove the bag and "butterfly the leg of lamb prior to cooking.




Jan's trick: I can hear you now, saying: "But I HATE when you snip the bag off the cooked meat and it takes some of that delicious seasoned skin or crust with it!"  Here is my tips for reducing that from happening. It won't prevent it all but will help ALOT!

First: Loosen up the bag all the way around. By the time you get the meat home to cook it, that mesh bag is pretty embedded into the roast. Just loosen the bag all over.. That will help quite a bit. I usually do this prior to adding any seasoning.

Second: Use Non Stick Cooking Spray.   While loosening the bag, spray the roast and mesh bag with non stick cooking spray. Just spray as you loosen the bag. That will also help reduce the amount of seasoning and meat that is stuck to the bag after it cooks.
Proceed with seasoning and baking as desired.



Do I Sear the meat with the bag on or off?    When I sear the meat prior to putting in the oven, do I sear it with the bag on?: Again you certainly can, the cotton string can certainly hold up to being seared prior to being put in the oven.

One option is to remove the bag, sear the meat and either put the meat back on, or tie the roast up with bakers twine in several places and not use the bag.

What Can I do Instead of the Bag?  If you want to remove the bag entirely,  but are not sure if the meat will "fall apart" without it, I recommend peeling back a little of the bag from the front end and tie off the part of the roast with bakers twine before proceeding further. Pull back the middle of the bag, tie the middle of the roast with bakers twine,etc. That way by the time you pull the bag off the roast is still held together but is not completely covered in the bag.



Happy Roasting!

2/22/15

How To Choose Yeast for Baking

Hands down, one of my frequently asked questions in my Bread Machine Garlic Bread Pizza Dough Recipe is why my recipe doesn't call for sugar with the yeast. There are so many new yeast options out there and they all work a bit differently than the old classic yeast you may be familiar with.


So, what is the difference in all those yeast products and how do you choose which one to use in your baking?

Old Fashioned Cake Yeast:
This is nearly impossible to find anymore but those that use it, LOVE it! (moist) - IT has the traditional live yeast cultures. It needs to be dissolved in water.

Active dry - This is the yeast you probably remember as "classic" yeast. It is the traditional dry yeast. It does need to be dissolved in water and usually with a bit of sugar to activate the yeast cultures. This yeast has really been the "gold standard" of yeasts for years. It is very consistent in its labeling among manufacturers, and in its performance if you activate it properly.

Now, on to all the "New" kinds of yeast:

Instant and Rapid Rise:


The main problem with these  yeasts is that  there is no consistent labeling among manufacturers and even  a single manufacturer often uses the same kind of  yeast labeled different ways in different packages and commanding higher prices for some, even though it is the same yeast. For example little packets of "pizza" yeast will cost you more than it does when you buy a jar of "bread machine" or "instant" yeast, even though it is usually the exact same yeast.


Instant:

Uses: For bread machine users, and recipes that only require a short amount of rise and bake time, (such as pizza dough).

Names that are commonly used by manufacturers include:

Instant

Bread Machine 
Pizza

1) No need for sugar: These new instant yeasts do not need sugar to activate the yeast cultures, they contain a little bit of yeast enhancers, (usually citric acid) that work in place of sugar.

2) NO need to dissolve the yeast in water: These new instant yeasts are meant to be put directly into the dough recipes,




Rapid Rise: Basically this is usually Instant yeast with a larger amount of yeast enhancers, and also can have a change in the granules. This type is meant to work very fast, and can be used in recipes that will be done in an hour or so.

Pro's: of Rapid Rise: If you only ever make simple bread macine breads or  pizza dough this will be perfect,

Con's of Rapid Rise  For people wanting to bake more artisan breads that require a slower rise time, do not use rapid rise yeast. For making by hand, use active dry yeast, for your bread machine use the Instant/Bread Machine yeast.

Beware: Because there is no consistent labeling, some manurfacturers may actually interchange the meaning and labeling  of  Instant/Bread Machine and Rapid Rise.

How to Choose?:

There are no easy answers here, but here is my advice:

If you are an experienced bread maker, you already know, love and use regular active dry yeast. No need to change that for any reason what so ever.

There is a place though for the newer instant yeasts.

For  those of us that use a bread maker, or make an occasional batch of pizza dough in our Kitchen Aid Mixer , the Instant Bread Machine yeasts will work just fine!

Jan's Other Tips:

1) Avoid Rapid Rise: I recommend avoiding the rapid rise all together. The Bread Machine /Instant yeasts will work just fine without the increased concentration of rising enhancers.

2)Buy your yeast in jars not packets. Besides being more expensive, they often are packaged just too tightly and can effect the performance of the yeast.

3)Store in fridge or freezer: Will help the yeast stay fresher longer.

4) Stick with the same brand: once you find one you like stick with it, it will lead to consistent results.

2/17/15

Top Loader Washing Machine Do's and Don'ts


 Thinking of one of those new top loader washing machines? I do love my new one, but let me share a few things I've learned since I got one.
Ok let me just have a moment of truth telling. I should name this "What I Learned from the Maytag Repairman" because he had to come out recently to service our fairly new machine, and I learned alot! What I mostly learned is that I had caused the issue by not taking the time to learn about and understand how the machine really works!


No Massively large loads!   I don't do much of those anyway, but if you look in the photo below (from my washing machine lid) the larger washer on the left shows the new machine only uses 3 inches of water. The machine on the right shows my old machine that used a TON of water. These new machines are meant for much smaller loads! There is a setting for "Bulky Items" such as sheets as well as a "Deep Water Wash". These settings will bring your water level up to 8 inches instead of 3, so use this for larger loads.


 Load Clothes Carefully!
These new machines use a "floating" bottom plate so if you just dump your clothes into the machine you can easily start the load off balance.  This was really my undoing. Because I didn't understand that with no middle agitator you have to be a bit more carefully how you load the clothes. I had unbalanced the agitator plate. The repairman did a simple calibration to fix it but he had me go get some clothes and he physically showed me how to load it.  Below I'll show you what he taught me:

Think of your machine like a clock.  Load the clothes into the machine by placing them one by one "around the clock".
Place one item at the "12:00" position, then the "3:00", "6:00" and finally the "9:00".  Then continue layering the clothes evenly. Remember you only have 3 inches of water so you should only fit maybe 8-10 items depending on size and kind.



Wash Like things together: Because of the floating plate and low water is best to wash Jeans seperately from other clothes. Same goes for towels. They are water hogs and also weigh down the plate off balance in comparison to say the  t-shirts. so keep them out of the regular loads. This will also help the load to spin nearly dry.

Use less Detergent: Reminder with the smaller amounts of water and super concentrated laundry detergent these days you really should use the recommended amounts. More soap is not better! It will not rinse well, and be harder on the machine also.

Reduce Your Drying Time:  Your dryer will get a lot less use! Regular clothes come out of these new machines, nearly dry sometimes! They really reduce the drying time in the dryer, so don't just set the timer out of habit, you may be over using your energy consumption needlessly!
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