Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Salt of the Matter

This really is one of those 'duh!' moments for me.

In the picture is regular table salt,
sea salt, and reeeal salt!

First, let's just be clear.
Salt is NaCl - sodium chloride.
It is a chemical compound.
These two elements can be brought together upon manufacturing will.
This is what happens when you get the
typical table salt, with the additive of calcium silicate
which helps keep it from caking.

Then there is sea salt.
This one is not the iodized sea salt which contains
other ingredients such as dextrose.
This one is just 'sea salt' and calcium silicate - again.
I am wondering just how they get all the nutrients out of the salt
and how they get it so bright white.
I could find no such information in my search.
Most salts on earth are not a true white.

And here is the 'duh' part.
I grew up on a ranch.
We gave the cattle, sheep, etc.
salt with trace minerals.
Guess what...
we (humans) need those trace minerals too.
I found Pacific Salt Sea Salt.
It is the real salt.
No additives - so yes, it will cake if it sits that long.
It is a soft greyish-white color.
The great part is that we are now naturally
getting trace minerals in our diet.

We are not salt-aholics so
our diet now contains more of what we need
and less of those anti-caking chemicals.
As far as price goes.
I think the real salt was about twice the other
which means it was about $2.00 rather than $1.00.
We don't go through a ton of it so I deemed it affordable.
The flavor is slightly milder and a bit more savory
as opposed to the acrid tang of regular salt.
It seems to add to or bring out the flavor of food
rather than masking it.
We've been using it for several months now and love it.
That's why we still have these others in the cupboard.
Might have to use them as ice-melt or something.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mary's Dehydrated Potatoes from Scratch

Mary is a family friend who is a wealth of knowledge.
She is our go-to gal for anything canning and preserving.
She sent me the following email,
and I thought it was so impressive
I asked her if I could share it here.
She kindly said, "Yes."

My Experiment with dehydrating potato’s from scratch.
 I started out boiling potatoes in a 2 qt. kettle.  I cooked them until they were soft and mushy. Then mashed them using an electric mixer. I did not drain them but used the boiling water to mash them. I whipped them until they were nice and fluffy. Then spread them on the dryer sheets. I used 3 different types. One was the sheet that came with the dehydrator for making fruit roll-ups. One was a tray covered with parchment paper and the last was a plastic canvas like sheet that was made for the dehydrator.   I made 2 different batches and the first batch I spread thin and the second I spread about ¼ inch thick.
Plastic canvas                        parchment paper                         plastic roll-up tray
The first batch, the one I spread thin I dried at a temp of 140 degrees and it took 9 hours to dry.
The second batch that was around ¼ inch thick took 20 hours to dry at 140 degrees. The first batch had a slight brownish look but the second was much darker.
     Half way through I turned them over to finish drying on the back side.
I then broke these up. The thicker ones were harder to break than the thinner ones. Then I put them into my blender. It is an old one so it took some time for it to make this into a powder some of the harder pieces were more like pearls. I think maybe a food processor would have worked better.
 End product.  This is about 8 med. Potatoes.  To use I brought a little more than 2/3 cup of water and 1 tablespoon butter to a boil. Turned off the heat, added ¼ cup milk and stirred in 2/3 cup of potatoes.  Add more butter and milk if needed.  They turned out a little darker than fresh potatoes but the taste was good.
I asked which drying sheet was preferred and thick or thin method.
I prefer the thin layer. It took less time and also blended up better and was lighter in color.  Parchment and rollup dried about the same and was easy to get off, but the plastic canvas dried faster and was a little harder to get off. I used a table knife to scrape it off but liked the way it dried. 
Thank you Mary.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Pantry Idea

It might just be that I need visual reminders
one of the things about gardening,
canning, and preserving the harvest in general
is knowing how much food we need 
to get through until next year's harvest season.
This is one of those ideas born out of necessity.
I was running out of room in the boxes
under the spare room bed.
That's when the lightbulb flashed above my head
just like in the old cartoons.
Every year, I have to rearrange the pantry shelves.
As we use up one thing,
it's easy to put something else in it's place.
Now, as we use a jar of something,
I have begun putting the empty jar back in it's place.
It's like a reservation for next year.
Also, my not so pretty at the moment - labels
tell me how many jars of given products we use.
I must have issues with rifling through pages to find
what we need during the long days of harvest/canning.
This last year, I feared we would run a little short on a couple things
so there are a couple of store bought cans still in the works.
Of course, the home grown veggies are better
so those foreign cans remain.
(I try to use them up in soups etc.)
Also, that can of 'No Salt Added' is awful.
I grabbed two of them by mistake.

As we narrow in on the actual number of pints and quarts
we use, I will make pretty little labels.
The number can change depending upon your situation
and stage of life:
new little family members,
becoming empty nesters,
an extra adult in the house for a period of time, etc.
I like knowing our consumption for planning reasons,
but I sure don't want more paperwork.
This was what I came up with.

I had the above written and couldn't handle it.
 I was off and playing with labels.
I printed them, cut them, then used clear mailing tape
rather than contact paper (which I didn't have) to cover them.
I can write the number of jars on the label.
If I discover it changes, I can wipe it off with a little alcohol or hair spray
and write the new number.

If you have a working system,
leave a comment to let us know.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution
so the more ideas the better.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Classic American Clothespins

There is nothing like an inferior clothespins
to ruffle my feathers.
Our canine companion thinks it's just a fun game.
I go to hang laundry,
get said inferior clothespin in proper pincer grip,
go to pinch clothes to line,
it breaks and flies,
Rip (short for seam-ripper) goes into attack mode.
Those flying objects are no match for his sharp teeth.
He'll show'em.
He's going to be so disappointed when I use clothespins that actually work.
No more attack the flying clothespin game.

One of my Christmas blessings this year
was a  bag of Classic American Clothespins
from Herrick Kimball.
Source here
I was so excited.
I actually ordered them for myself
since there was a waiting list to get them.
They came ready to be assembled.  The sand paper and emery board were included incase of any rough spots (as well as the springs-not pictured.)
I want them to last for the rest of my life so I first gave them a
generous dose of linseed oil.
Since I was at it, I decided to go ahead and oil my old ones too.
I then mixed up a batch of wood wax.  I melted the beeswax in a tin can
then mixed it all together in a little old chipped teacup I had.
I like the wide-mouth of the teacup.
It makes using a rag/cloth easier.
It's not set-up in this picture.
I had to stir it up several times.
The recipe that Herrick recommends is the same one that I had,
so that was reassuring.
I've used it on furniture, and really like the results. 
(Recipe included at end of post)
Here is the common clothespin available in most laundry sections of the store.
One of the old 'good' ones that my mom gave me when I was whining
about crummy clothes pins.
And on the right one of my new American Classic Clothespins.
And I just couldn't resist - the real ends of the spectrum:
a plastic clothespin vs. AC clothespin.

We have snow on the ground right now
so I haven't had the opportunity to use them yet,
but I can hardly wait.
As I was putting them together,
I told Mr. LB, "Let me see your finger." :)
The springs are nice and strong.
It will be so nice to be able to hang jeans and not break the clothespins.

Wood Wax Recipe
2 Tablespoons linseed oil
2 Tablespoons turpentine
1 ounce beeswax (melted)

Mix together and rub on wood products.
Please be sure to follow any safety precautions on ingredient labels.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Long Winter's Nap

What a superb time to follow the lead
of Mother Nature~
everything is at rest.
Spring is waiting right around the corner
to com endear our daylight hours.
Today is yours.
Find peace and appreciate the stillness of the season.
Go ahead ~ indulge
A nap
The word itself sounds like bliss unexpectedly found.
Visions of the 6 year old boy or girl you once were
exhausted my frolicking in the snow,
and the extra weight of the clothes,
now in by the fire, fed and full,
nose and toes warming and red,
wrapped in a favorite comfort,
and lids become heavy and soon close.
The clock on the wall making it's rhythmic tock
until it's no longer heard by little ears.
A nap

January for some reason evokes the image of a soft light
in a dimly lit corner,
a book in a quilted lap,
a half cup of tea left, now barely tepid,
maybe a beloved pet curled up near by, 
and a head tipped to be supported by the edge of the chair.
Alas, a nap

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Home Fire Safety Tip

New Year's eve, there was a fire 
in a little town in central Oregon.
Three homes burned before residents
were able to extinguish the fire.
They are beyond any fire district.
Luckily, nobody was injured,
but what a loss.
One of the homes was an historic house and a bit of a landmark.
It did however, get me to thinking...
Some time back my dad told me that a common cause
for house fires used to be that mice would get to the matches
and chew the sulfur igniting the match.

Recently, I read that this is still a common source of house fires.
Many years ago, wall boxes were a common safe place.
There is an even better alternative:
those tin canisters that came with Christmas cookies in them
(that now hold only a couple crumbs) are perfect.
Our power goes out on a semi-regular basis,
and we have a wood stove
so we keep plenty of matches (mostly in a desk drawer.)
I hadn't really given it a lot of thought,
but the thought of a house fire is awakening to say the least.
We also live beyond the fire district.

We do have a generator and a water pump
so we could get water from the river even if the power was out,
but we have candles and matches in nearly every room in the house.
Needless to say they are going into tin cans, mason jars,
old wooden cigar boxes, empty candle jars (like below,) or any other
form of mouse proof container.
One other little side note.
I know a middle school teacher who has had to teach her 
students how to light a match.
We have gone from "Don't play with matches"
to "Don't touch matches."
If we teach children how to use them safely and properly as a tool
and not to 'play' with them (and explain why)
they will be knowledgable of and responsible with them.
If we teach them not to touch,
they remain ignorant of all of the above and are more likely
to sneak and play with them.

Let's start out the year on a safe footing.
P.S.   It's also a good idea to have a fire-extinguisher hanging around somewhere handy.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Thursday, January 1, 2015

~Hold onto Your Hats~

Happy New Year!
There is so much to share, 
but all in due time.
We have a beautiful -8 degree morning
out here in Oregon to kick off 2015.
One exciting thing is my honey got me a new computer for Christmas.
Well, new to me (it's actually a couple years old.)
The only glitcher is it's a Mac
so I have to learn how to operate it.

There are times when computers make me grumble
and others when I think they are just the cat's meow.
One of the meow bits is that
there are so many talented folks out there,
and I love learning.  So, when I ran across
the post that Connie shared, I was thrilled.
You can see it here.
How to make fabric twine.
It's one of those things that makes me think...
Why didn't I think of that.
I love it!
I am rather frugal (no kidding:)
so I save scraps that are too skimpy for anything 'real.'
Here is what I have done so far.

With that, 
I will wish you all glad tidings
and a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches