Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's Fixed

Remember that hat with the funny edges that waved?

You don't, well, here's a reminder. Yup, it looked silly and so I took out the crocheted edging and redid it, crocheting in every stitch until I came to the wavy part and then I single crocheted in two stitches, skipped the third, repeating the process until I came to the non wavy area. It helped to shrink the flared area.

A couple tassels and I called the hat complete, finally. I've only put this thing down and picked it up umpteen times in the last year and a half. It's become our youngest grand daughter's favorite and she dons it thinking she's ready to weather the cold, coat on or not.

The home-made baking powder worked great this morning in the buttermilk waffles. I am a bit disappointed at the buttermilk though in my pancakes and waffles. Using store milk with my buttermilk culture leaves everything lacking for flavor compared to the richness of when I use fresh goat's milk. Aw, well, the goat's girths are increasing and I've just got approximately six weeks before the first goat will freshen. I can't wait. My goal is to get yogurt and a few cheeses down to perfection this year.

If you are interested in learning about baking powder or want to make your own, check out last Novembers blogs about the subject. Hopefully the links below work correctly and you can just click on them to take you directly there. Can't promise it as my computer skills are poor at best.

The real test for this single action baking powder will be when I freeze biscuit dough made with it. I'm nervous to try so don't count on it being extremely soon. I've got to have time to muster up the courage.
Meanwhile, I spent an hour on Sunday studying growing mushrooms. At the moment, I've no room in the house for the project so I'm looking in to growing them in the garden. They are suppose to enhance the soil and work well grown side by side with vegetables. One aiding the other. I found an interesting blog who experimented on the project. I think I'll e-mail the person and asked some questions. If any of you have experience, PLEASE let me know if I can fire some questions your way.

Orange Extract

Yes, I blogged twice today. The photo challenge is the next post down for those of you who may be looking for it.
I'd made lemon extract a while back but not orange. No really good excuse since it takes only a few minutes to whip up. So despite the looks from my husband that said, what are you doing that for right now, I went full steam ahead. Yes, other things needed done worse but sometimes you just have to take a few minutes for yourself.

I knew I had some really good juicy sweet oranges in the fridge and so I used the peeler and took the outside off a couple medium sized oranges, just the orange part since the white is bitter tasting. I chopped it up further and removed the juice from the inside of each orange. Then I poured a cup of Vodka over the juice and rind in a pint jar.

In five days it will be ready to strain, the peel having turned white, and the extract can be used but I've found if you leave your extracts quite a bit longer the heavy alchohol smell will disipate leaving a much more pleasant product. The extract is suppose to then be put into a dark bottle but mine just gets put into the back of a dark cupboard to keep it from being exposed to light.

Interesting that the orange and lemon are ready for use within a week but the vanilla takes six weeks.

Photo Challenge

Rosy red cheeks of our oldest grand daughter.

Santa Claus with our middle grand daughter perched on his lap.

Rose hips sprinkled with snow.
Poinsettias from Christmas.

Now it's time to adventure over and check out what others have entered in the photo challenge for this month.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Looking Stupid And Loving It

Did you think I dropped off the planet? Well, I didn't. Just real busy and no time to chat but I'll try to catch you up on a few of the things I've been doing. Today was a bit exciting. Some of you will remember that we always process our own beef, hogs, and chickens. Not this year, we just couldn't see our way to handling knives, a big electric meat saw, and a large powerful meat grinder with a curious six year old, a four year old who must touch everything, and a two year old who's in to everything and pleased as punch with every mess she makes. Yup, as much as we prefer doing our own, it wasn't going to happen this year so, regretfully we made an appointment with the meat processing plant to do our steer for us. That's when trying to simplify things became complicated.

All our beef before this time, except our halter broke FFA steers, have left their pen strung up dangling off the end of a tractor's bucket. In order to have someone else process it, we had to transport our steer 40 miles to my fathers where the gentlemen would come and begin the processing. The part we do behind a tall privacy fence so squeamish people who might be passing by won't complain because they saw a scene from real life.

But first we had to get the steer into the trailer. We soon learned where a thirteen hundred pound steer can go, anywhere he pleases if he's fenced in with cow panels. Though we pretty well had that figured out before we tried to load him as he's been busting down panels on a regular basis as he leaves his pen to visit our goats or heads over to have a chat with my mare. Only on rare occasion has he actually gone outside our pens and then he comes running when called, returning through the just opened gate. Yup, he's very tame having been bottle fed as a calf and has gone through manners training 101. You know, don't butt, don't shove me around, don't eat out of a bucket when it's in my hands, and move over when told. But, loading into a trailer was never covered since that's taught in class 102.

We might have tricked him in to teaching himself had we been able to leave the trailer hooked up to the pickup and put his feed in it each day. The trailer and pickup would have blocked traffic and we need it for transportation. No, we couldn't leave just the trailer as the pickup is needed to stabilize the trailer from the thirteen hundred pound steers movements.

In an attempt to do the same thing I tried tempting him with a bucket of grain as I walked backwards. He followed to the edge of the trailer and refused to go any further. I was almost glad. Where was I to go if he became frisky in the trailer. I know the danger of being in such confined quarters with such a big steer. Our middle daughter had four surgeries in thirteen months when her FFA steer pinned her in the corner and beat the tar out of her. She had just clipped him in preparation for a show and had led him in with a halter. I wasn't anxious to put myself in the same possible situation.

When the coaxing our beef failed, we resorted to herding him. He wouldn't herd. Oh we chased him this way and that and even resorted to a few whacks on his nose trying to convince him but he still wasn't convinced to go into the trailer. And after he'd shoved his way through the fence and took off with his tail in the air THREE different times. We decided that a fourth time he may head for the hills and we may not be able to get him back since we were on foot.

By this time, I was hopping mad. I ordered Kirk to go get his gun. I didn't care that I had a funeral I needed to be at that afternoon. I was too busy planning one that morning. Kirk stalled, letting me fume for a while, eventually he convinced me I needed to attend only one funeral that day and that we should reschedule for the next weekend, giving us time to call in recruits to help us load the steer.

When this week the steer tore up some more fencing, I didn't care that the temperature was hovering at 0 F with the wind biting making us miserable, the steer was going bye bye no matter what it took. But before I called in a small army, I asked the help of ONE of our friends who is also very skilled with horses. Little did I know how ignorant he'd make Kirk and I look. He simply whispered sweet nothing in that steer's ear and he trotted right in the trailer. Well, actually he just used a little body language and I assisted by doing what I was told. Oh we moved that steer around a bit but not more than a couple minutes and he was facing the trailer just staring at it. I thought for sure Tim would tell me to crowd him a little after he'd had a look see, but no... He said, watch, he'll walk right in. Danged if he didn't walk forward and right in all the way to the front of the trailer without any hesitation. I had to stop my jaw from dropping and Kirk later admitted so did he. This, the same steer that had said the weekend before, "No way, and no how!"

By this time I was so thrilled to concede that I was a complete idiot I would have announced it to the world. Actually I have since I'm blogging about it. But this idiot had her steer loaded into the trailer and was now free to hop back in the warm truck with the kids. That's success by any idiots standards. I figure being made to look dumb is a part of life and I don't really mind since it meant I'd found someone to whom I could learn from and you know how much I love to learn something new. So though I was freezing my fanny off in my blue jeans I stopped to quiz Tim a little. Next time, I just might be able to whisper sweet nothings in a steers ear and get him to load easily too. After all, he's taught me to do it with horses and this was a little different but not too much. But, if we are really blessed I won't have to because we'll be processing the steer ourselves.

Tomorrow, I'll be doing a photo challenge but I promise I'll blog about making orange extract along with showing you how I fixed the Intarsia hat.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Day

Our daughter called and said she was taking all three kids with her to the dentist, which is three hours away. She has yet to switch to one closer since the divorce. I was shocked. She rarely ever takes all three children by herself. Sh... don't tell anyone but I whooped for joy. No children and no husband. You know how much I love them but a whole day to myself - that is a treat.

No, I didn't sit on the couch eating bon bons and watch old movies. That just isn't my style and there was too many things to do that have been piling up. Had I known this was going to happen, I would have gotten a book on CD to listen to while I worked. I've tried to whistle while I work but it just isn't the same. Especially since it sounds more like hot air escaping a balloon. All day long I thought about how I've missed listening to a suspenseful espionage. I've been hearing day after day about princesses. What is so interesting about them I don't understand. Myself, I've always preferred the seven dwarfs in Snow White to her or the prince. My middle grand daughter would argue that point and watches the princess shows over and over and over again.

If it isn't princesses, it's Barbie movies. The one where her two friends train to become Musketeers is kind of interesting. It makes me giggle for one excels in fan fighting. Yup, you heard me. She fights off the bad guys with a fan as a weapon. You just don't know how much damage those paper cuts can really do. LOL

If the middle grand daughter doesn't have one of these movies on, then our youngest is clamoring to watch Scooby Doo during television time. So you can see why I crave a good CD full of suspense and intrigue.

I should be able to at last get to listen to my type of books for our daughter has a new job starting tomorrow. Yeah!!! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it. I get to spend five days a week with the kids but at night I can cook supper for hubby and me. No more, I don't like that, can't we have hot dogs or spaghetti out of a bottle. I'll just have breakfast and lunch to make and the kids LOVE my breakfast. At last after almost a year, I can go back to some serious cooking once more. Oh the wonderful meals Kirk and I use to eat. He's as excited as I am.

I know, I know, I got a bit carried away in my excitement. What you are probably really wondering about is the blob of dough at the top of this page. What is it? Well, orange and date quick bread batter. I'm showing it to you because today, I used home-made baking powder in the making of it. It rose nicely and the home baking powder version did its stuff. I'm pleased.

I haven't quite decided whether this recipe warrants the rank of a keeper or not though. This is the second time I've made it and I've once more tweaked it. The spices are not quite right yet. Kirk didn't like the ginger in it last time and I loved it. This time I used cinnamon instead and it just lacked something. I think the ginger. Maybe I'll reintroduce the ginger and just cut the amount down from the original recipe next time.
The quick bread slid into the oven after the bacon. was done. Oven cooked is so handy. I bake a whole package up on a broiler pan and then freeze it. The bacon warms up quickly in the microwave, in a fry pan, or is a great addition to green beans and many other dishes. It stays nice and flat too cooked in this manner.
And while the quick bread waited and the bacon cooked, I started the Kitchen-aid mixer kneading some oatmeal molasses bread. It is yummy as toast for breakfast.

Figuring I had enough projects lined up in the kitchen either raising or cooking, I painted sealer on wood floors and sanded the hallway. Yup, I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by. The kids and Kirk are gone and so far I've gotten a couple coats on in the hallway. I'll have to finish the bedroom floor tomorrow as I've one more area, where the furniture sits, that needs sanded and sealed. It would be so nice to move all the furniture out of the room but there simply is no place for it to go. Our home is fairly small and full so projects are often done in piece meal.

In between all this I did laundry - seven loads.
There is always so much laundry to do with children and I changed the sheets on the beds this morning since they were gone.

Then tonight as one of the coats on the hallway dried and I talked to our son on the phone, I made some vanilla extract. Multi-tasking is the only way to keep afloat around here. I shouldn't have waited so long to mix up another batch since I'm all out of Mexican vanilla extract. I still have a little Madagascar so I'll be okay for the six weeks it takes to brew. As we talked about bird hunting, one of his favorite past-times, I quickly cut six more vanilla beans in half and slit them lengthwise keeping the ends attached yet, exposing the inside pulp to the two cups of Vodka. My instructions say to use the mixture after six weeks but it smells pretty strong of the Vodka. I found that after a couple months, the vanilla mixture didn't smell so alchoholy anymore. It's aroma was more similar to the stores. Michelle and I made our first batch in September and split it so this batch should last me twice as long as the last one. For instructions look back in September 2010 as I did a couple posts about it. Now I really need to go and put the laundry away clearing off the bed in the spare room so I've some place to sleep and the hallway is probably ready for one more coat. No rest for the weary.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Busy Day

Our youngest grand daughter tending to the plants in the basement early last spring. Yup, it's that time of year, time to start planting. Oh I didn't do much, just a few herbs, a little lettuce, and a few Siberian tomatoes. The lettuce I've not had good luck in the past growing down stairs under the light in the room with the coal/wood stove and so I'll bring those pots up into the cool livingroom and see what happens.
They grow in cool temperatures outside so maybe a warm basement was the problem.

I was at my Aunt's funeral this weekend and my cousin from Texas said they were suppose to have planted their potatoes the fourteeth but the ground down there is covered in snow. Unheard of for their area. We on the other hand could have snow up into the middle of June but it is usually done by the end of May. That's why jumping ahead of the season by starting plants early is so important for us. Oh not this early grant you but I can never hold my horses into the middle of March to start so I'm beginning with herbs. My old plants got to looking pretty sorry and I started a few tomatoes too. Last years Siberian tomatoes were giving us red tomatoes the beginning of July and I started them about now. I'm hoping for the same thing to happen this year.
Then I pulled out some popcorn to make a Cracker Jack style treat for this week's school lunches. Sweet Corn
As I was grabbing the container, I looked at this sweet corn next to it and thought even if they weren't labeled, there wouldn't be any doubt which was which.
Then as I put them back I pulled off my wool hat I had blocking on the ironing board. Remember this hat,? The one that the edges curled so bad on that I crocheted around the edges trying to get it to lay flat.

Well, it didn't completely work. To show you, I asked our youngest if she would be so kind as to model it. It's a whole heap better about curling up on the ear flaps but the last crochet row will have to be taken out. I'll have to put in stitches that skip every third one or something to get rid of the flare on the edge. It's the price for having a restless brain that's always trying something new - branching off of patterns on my own. For me it always means a good bit of frogging, then again I frog a good bit even when I'm following a pattern being rather handicapped at trying to figure out what the blooming they are trying to tell me. What's frogging, you know rip it, rip it out until it's right or more often I've decided that I'm tired of trying to make it work and decide it's good enough.
All these projects along with taking care of the kids were in between my main one. I sanded part of my bedroom wood floor and began the layering of sealer on it. Two coats down and two more coats to go. I'll be so glad to be done but it doesn't end here for the hallway is in the greatest need. Yet, it's last because of the heavy traffic that is almost constantly moving up and down it. I'm still not sure how I'll get it accomplished with three little ones in the house. If it was just Kirk and I, I'd sand it, seal half and then seal the other half, allowing us a strip to walk on.
That won't work with a 6, 4, and 2 year old. Have you got any suggestions? I want it done before the weeks over.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Photographing Children

It's going to be a photo Friday as things just became a bit difficult with a already tight schedule being squeezed even tighter. So I'll talk a little more on children's photography. To get a good picture you have to first decide what the focal point is. Is the balloon and the pants the focus, as they are the Valentine's gift or is it the child? The pants and balloon for me were secondary but I kept them visible in the photo. The first picture was cropped from this hasty snap shot. Had I been paying closer attention, I would have zoomed down to just above her head with the camera.

Still, I would not have gotten rid of the distracting side view of the hallway by doing that. That's when the computer comes in real handy. Using the crop feature. I was able to zoom in. What bothers me about this photo is I feel I've lost the personnal contact with our middle grand daughter. That's why I like the top photo so much better. Call me old school but I'd rather get the photo right with the camera, than spend time on the computer changing it. You can only zoom in so far before things become a bit fuzzy and you've lost your ability to have the photo enlarged. Besides, I'm not very good with the computer, only being able to do rudimentary changes. I'm still wondering how you guys put a collage of pictures at the top of your blogs. I'd love to know.

For me, children's photography's main focus is almost alway the child. The exception is if you are telling a story like a trip to Disney Land (something I would never do) and you wanted to show the child was there. Then the child would be small as you tried to emcompass part of Disney Land in the background. Don't forget to get close ups of the child's face and their reaction to this adventure.
I'm always thinking scrapbook page, though that hobby has gone by the wayside with raising our grand daughters. Won't I have a back log of pictures to do since I'm taking more than ever of them. I just can't leave the necessary materials around with a four year old that can't leave anything alone and a two year old who naturally is in to everything. So it lies in a heap in the basement since it once resided in their bedroom.

But because I can't keep from thinking scrapbook page, I snapped this photo of our youngest looking up at her balloon thinking I might put it at the bottom left hand corner of a page and a paper balloon up and to the right of her with writing inside telling of the gifts and events of the day.
One of my favorite photos is this one. I almost always choose a close up as a favorite. Those cute chunky cheeks makes me want to kiss them. My emotions are set off and yet, it shows she recieved an outfit to wear on this special day and a balloon. Her eyes looking off to the left could lead the person looking at the scrapbook page off to another photo there.
This photo is another of my favorites as it engages the viewer because she happened to be looking at the camera. I don't care for set up shots and like to put the kids somewhere and just shoot. Never, NEVER, so I ask them to look at the camera and smile. Authentic emotions never come through with this method. I'm still trying to get our oldest over this method and hence, her fake smiles always cause me to delete the shot off the camera. I don't have many candid shots of her right now in comparison to her non trained siblings who for the most part ignore me as I shoot, shoot, shoot, away.
Some day I'll teach them about composition and tell them that this photo is good but the balloon pulls attention aways from the subject.
I wanted to capture our middle grand daughter sucking on this ring sucker. A face on shot made me wonder what she was sucking on except I saw her put it in her mouth. This side shot I took next didn't work at all for me so I just kept shooting. And finally, I caught this one with her head tilted and the sucker just outside her mouth leaving no doubt what she was doing. This is a picture that tells a story. The sucker is the focus and the story is her sucking on it. The same with this photo. You've got to include candy in your Valentines photos don't you, for it is a big part of Valentines Day for children. Okay, for me too. This story photo had to be shot back a ways to catch the table and kitchen light to reveal our two notty grand children on the table. Note the distracting background. It draws attention away from the girls but can't be helped since this is a spontaneous photo. You don't think I put them up there on purpose. No Way, as our youngest is aways saying instead of a simple no.
And though the lighting was poor in these two photos, they tell the personality of our grand children. Yes, they were pretending to be dogs with balloons.

But best of all I love photographing children when a real spark of personality shines through like in this photo.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Substituting Applesauce for Oil

The poppy seed muffin recipe given to me by a dear friend was yummy --- except (now quit laughing) I know, I know, I just had to tweak it a little, a cup of oil in a recipe making two quick breads is over kill in my opinion. The taste was good but greasy. Besides making it high in fat and calories. Not that calories has stopped me from eating anything. Solution to both problems is adding applesauce for part of the oil.

Cooking is science and to make changes you should understand the role each ingredient plays. Oil keeps flour protein from mixing with the moisture in the recipe and forming long strands of gluten that will make the cake or cookies tough. Think yeast bread and its texture. You want those long strands of gluten to develop hence, the long kneading process and lack of very much oil. I prefer yeast breads not only with less oil because of the fat levels and cholesterol but I don't like the crumb texture as well which is much softer.
Quick breads, cakes etc. are tough if mixed too long since you don't want those strands forming and oil helps in this. The solution is to mix the wet ingredients in one bowl.
Your dry ingredients in another. Then gently stir them together much like pancake batter or waffles. To best accomplish this, I hand mix my quick breads leaving the electric mixer in the drawer.

Another role of oil is to carry flavor so even though chefs say you can substitute applesauce for oil 1=1 ratio, I don't - especially in this poppy seed bread since it isn't applesauce bread. Yes, it would be changing the flavor too much for me. Another reason is applesauce softens the texture. Think applesauce cookies versus chocolate chip cookies. I want my quick bread soft but not fall all apart when I slice it. Therefore, I opt to use 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup of canola oil in the recipe. One chef recommends doing just that. Substitute half the amount of oil for applesauce and work your way upwards from there until it changes the recipe too greatly in sweetness and texture.

When substituting applesauce for oil, you have to keep in mind that the applesauce is sweeter and adjust the sugar in your recipe, especially if the applesauce is sweetened with sugar. Those of you do it yourselfers who can their own applesauce know the huge difference in the taste and sweetness it makes with choosing various types of apples. Think for instance Granny Smith apples compared to Fuji, Gala, or Braeburn. The first applesauce would be tart and the others sweet. If I could I'd use Winesapp exclusively but it is no longer available in our grocery stores and the tree won't grow here. Do any of you by chance have this tree growing in your area? I'm curious as to what happened to the supply.

Experts also caution us to use applesauce as a substitute for oil only as applesauce and oil are considered liquids and butter and shortening solids.
Butter causes cookies to spread, producing crispness and adding applesauce softens this crisp texture causing a cake like one instead. If you use appplesauce in a cake recipe you might want to substitute cake flour for the usual regular flour which will give the results an added lift. And since we mentioned spread, shortening does not cause as much spread as butter so if those cookies are looking a bit flat, you might use half shortening and half butter in the recipe.
For many years I've used applesauce in many of my recipes that call for lots of oil but now that I have ghee, I wonder if I could use it instead of the oil and of course use applesauce too. The ghee would add more nutreints as would the applesauce. It probably would work. Oh will my brain ever be still? Probably not. Then to keep it thoroughly revved for sometime to come a chef mentioned substituting yogurt for part or all of the oil. Now that's an idea. I could from what's in the cubboard trying to keep from running to the store for this and that saving loads of money that way. After all, I can't just buy one thing.
That is why I'm fondly called the dumb queen. Substituting is a way of life for me and as I've thought on this, I do have a cream biscuit recipe that has no oil or butter in it because the cream is its equivelent substitute. Cream makes butter and butter makes ghee. Hm........... see where my brain is whirling now. Yup, my new found ghee might just get worked into this applesauce or yogurt substituting.
I'm going to use yogurt more when I start making it again. Before I stopped this winter, I was happy with the yogurt's texture but not the flavor, too tart. I'm getting ready to order some cultures to refresh my stock, I noticed that yogurt cultures come in several tartness levels. My culture happened to be a gift from the neighbor. I can't remember exactly what kind it was but I'm thinking it was the tartest kind. This time I'll order the two less tart varieties and see what I like. The least tart is said to have a weaker, softer texture. I see another experiment brewing. We just might have to nick name my kitchen, Queenies Laboratory. The chefs also say to be careful what kind of yogurt you use as the tartness will change the recipe and a tart yogurt in poppy seed bread would not be good. In bread though it would impart a sourdough flavor. Hm.... yup, I've got some things to try. The old saying, " Make do, or do without.", was just raised to another level.
I suppose now I should give you the recipe so you can have some too.
Poppy Seed Bread
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil (canola)
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoon butter flavor extract
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cup milk
Place in a small mixing bowl and stir thoroughly.
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon poppy seeds
Stir together in a medium sized bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir together until the flour is all mixed in but a few small lumps remain.
Pour into two greased bread pans and bake at 350F for 30 and then lower the temperature to 325F. until done. My recipe says an hour but I've never timed it. The first thirty minutes either. I just watch through the oven window for the bread to reach its highest rising level, let it bake for another five minutes or so and then turn the oven down. The purpose is a higher temperature creates a greater rise and the lowering of the temperture means the bread gets done in the center before the outside is burned.
Happy baking!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bits and Pieces

This post will be a smathering of this and that. I'm still cleaning the grout on the kitchen floor. I've the refrigerator to move and do under it and I'm done, yeah! I'll save that for tomorrow since I know better than to try to do a project like that after school. I'm just happy I got the bathroom floor done early this morning and later sanded a third of the wood floor in my bedroom while the youngest grand daughter slept. It's in preparation to put some new sealer on it. Yes, floor maintenance is on my mind.
And as I moved the back door's rug, I thought I should share what I've learned about rugs by the entrance doors. I must confess I was a doubter but I'm sold now. A good rug is worth the money. Instead of touting their virtues, I'll show you a picture. Look closely, this is what this rug collected in just one small little spot in twenty four hours. Yes, we haul in a great deal of dirt on our shoes but unless you are a concrete walker, you might be surprised just how much your family trucks in each day. The dirt this rug collects is dirt that won't be spread throughout our house saving on vacuuming, dusting, and best of all it would save on the carpets, if we had any.

Yes, dirt is death on carpets. It cuts the fibers, stains them, and buries deep down underneath where the vacuum can't go. Doubt this? Rip up carpet sometime and see just how much stuff is hidden below. After we ripped up our first room, the living room, and put in oak flooring, we went ahead and ripped up the whole house. To this day, we still haven't gotten flooring for all the rooms yet, choosing instead to just paint the floors and wait for available funds. Now, I know some of you love carpet and you should definitely have that choice. The removal of the carpet was hastened by my allergy to it. I still have one but since I'm not around it so much, I do pretty well for short periods of exposure.

Without carpet to disguise the amount of dirt on the floor, we really noticed walking on the dirt that was drug in by our feet. Oh, I don't mind walking on dirt barefoot as long as it is outdoors. I've been known to frequently walk in my garden without shoes so I can feel the good earth beneath my feet, but walking on dirt in the house is another matter. So in came the first rug with reservations as to just how right those experts were in all those organizational books I use to read.

Not only did it save me work but I'm not fighting those skimpy little cotton rugs that move all around and redeposit the dirt onto the floor. My plain rugs may not be so pretty as they were but I wouldn't go back for nothing now. I'm presently saving up to buy a chef's rug for my kitchen in front of the sink. The pretty rug I have now needs frequent washing and hence is often missing from it's place. I want a chef's rug though it may also be plain because I spend lots of time doing dishes, the rug has cushioning in it and can be cleaned with a swipe of a cloth. It's going to be even more expensive than the rugs at the front and back door that cost me around 90 bucks a piece with shipping but I'm sure it too will be worth it. So don't wait twenty some years like I did to figure out just how much a good rug will save you on carpet cleaning and vacuming time. Start putting those dollar bills in a jar.
The next thing I want to tell you about is that I made buttermilk with store milk the other day and it worked great. Lacked the rich flavor of my goat's milk buttermilk but one does what one must. So if you were waiting since you didn't have goat's milk, wait no longer. Yogurt, I haven't done yet with store milk. I'm wanting to order a new culture. The one I had was a bit tart for my taste. Since then I learned there are several different kinds. We'll talk about that later in a post devoted to the subject.
Now I know you have been wondering why the picture of home-made hamburger buns was at the top. Well, I knew I couldn't start with a picture of a dirty ole rug. That wouldn't entice anyone to read further so I began with the buns instead. To be fair, I will talk about them, kind of. When I made these, I was studying salt and it's role in baking. I found a little bleep about England and their efforts to eliminate or reduce salt in their breads. Blood pressure you know. Substitutes left a chemical tastes and reducing the salt moofed up the bread. Salt is essential to to regulating fermentation from the yeast. It also plays a big role in strengthening the gluten structure as I learned with the sweet potato waffles. And it enhances the sweetness of the sugars in the dough which means you can use less. Their conclusion was to leave the salt alone.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cleaning Grout

I've been neglectful, really neglectful. I haven't cleaned my floor grout in two years. Face it, I'm lucky to keep the food cleaned up off the floor. The floor that our youngest grand daughter keeps decorating with the food that was intended for her to eat. Oh the joys of two year olds, grugg.

I've taken a scrub brush to the kitchen floor trying to clean the grout and get the dried on food off but the grout has just gotten grungier. I didn't realize when Kirk and I put this tile flooring in that it would require grout maintenance. I thought that twenty year sealer kept me from having to do that. It was expensive. But alas, not so it seems.

Surprise, the floor may not need waxed but it does need some extra attention beyond the mop. Actually, I scrub my floors on my hands and knees. They get cleaner that way. Maybe it is because I'm near sighted. What do you think?

But as I looked at the floors this week I knew I just had to do something. So I went where? Yup, the Internet. I swear I should be a spokes person. The first advice recommended making a paste of vinegar and baking soda and it took only ten minutes before I was to scrub. But -na da, zip, zilch, nothing. So much for the tile companies advice. This time, I used the same cleaning agents so I didn't strip the sealer off, but applied it in a new way and for a longer period of time.
With someones advice, I can't remember who, I dabbled the baking soda on along the grout lines and then applied the vinegar with a spray bottle, spritzing the lines. I let it set for over an hour before using the scrub brush, a nylon stiff bristled one like they recommended.

Lastly, I washed it all off and studied the results.

What do you think? A definite improvement, huh, for this is what it use to look like. Well, that spot anyway for most of the floor still does resemble this picture. With trying to keep three little ones off the treated area, I have to do a small section at a time. Will probably take me a few days to get the job done, but that's how most things are accomplished around here.

If you need to clean your tile, I recommend this method. If you want to put in tile flooring, you should know a few things. No, yo do not have to wax it and shouldn't. Yes, it will last a very long time, so I recommend choosing a fairly neutral color. My step-mom's tile is turquoise. I wonder how long that will be in style before it will look really outdated -maybe it already is. The drinking glass you drop will disintegrate into a zillion pieces so if you're nickname is butter fingers, don't buy tile. Then again if you want something with a more natural look, will last a very long time, and is more upscale than linoleum , tile is a good choice. It also increases the value of a home. Carpet and linoleum do not. Keep in mind though some on your hands and knees work will have to be done to clean the grout.
After seeing the results I'm determined to do a better job in the future now of keeping the grout clean. It will definitely save time in the future as I won't have such a build up to clean. But lest you think I'm a terrible housekeeper, I have granite counter tops and I do use the monthly sealer on them.
I also have leather furniture and I use a leather conditioner once a month on it. Love how easily they wash up. And yes, I admit it. I like things that last a very long time and I don't like a great deal of change. Good thing for I can't afford new things as I've saved up for ever for what I have.
Just in case you are wondering how to clean your grout, give the above method a try.
I found a few more tidbits of advice I haven't tried yet. They recommend alcohol to kill the mold on grout walls in the shower. They also say just spraying vinegar on and letting it sit works too for dirty grout. That might be extra handy on shower walls. My new tile bathroom walls don't need anything yet. The grand kids don't shower but bathe but I'm sure that will soon change. As for Kirk's and my bathroom. Well, it is in bad need of being gutted and remodeled. We have part of the supplies needed but haven't gotten started yet.
As for those of you that I've written to telling I'd post family pictures, I will but right now I've got a little Daisy girl scout to pick up.