Water + Lye + Lard = Soap!

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Sometimes I come across recipes that peek my interest. I’ve been fascinated with the home life of people who lived in our area back in the 1800’s. From their clothing, to the homes, transportation, health remedies, train schedules and their cooking habits. Last week while doing some research I came across a hard soap recipe from June 11, 1881. It’s hard to imagine making soap instead of just going to the store and picking up a few bars of the many brands available. I remember hearing stories from my mom about her grandmother making soap and the grand children helping. Usually the soap would be made outdoors after rendering lard from pork skins. After rendering the lard the pork skins and cracklings would be removed from the lard. The lard was then strained and the soap making would begin.

Hard soap recipe found in the Jacksonville Republican Newspaper (Alabama) from June 1881

Hard soap recipe found in the Jacksonville Republican Newspaper (Alabama) from June 1881

Since this recipe contains a few products that I’m still unsure of where to buy, I decided to try an alternative recipe that uses only three ingredients: lard, water and lye.

*As with any recipe that uses lye, extreme caution is advised! Directions should be followed exactly! Order of adding ingredients matter.

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Fermenting – Homemade Kimchi

Let’s Make Kimchi!
Instead of spending $30 for a fermenting lid and air lock I decided to make one. All it took was a gallon jar that I found at the thrift store for $.50 and a borrowed air lock from my hubby. He even helped me out by drilling a hole in the jar lid for the air lock.  The air lock will keep the funky stuff from growing on the surface by preventing oxygen from getting in but will let the excess pressure escape.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Napa cabbage – sliced thin
  • 1 head purple cabbage – sliced thin
  • 2 cups green onions – chopped
  • 1 garlic clove – minced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons sea salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large plastic bowl. Let sit for 10-15 minutes so the salt can draw out some moisture. It may look like a lot of cabbage, but believe me it will be a lot smaller after it gets a beating later.  After 15 minutes, pound the ingredients with a wood mallet or a cabbage pounder if you have one. More moisture will be released from the cabbage.

Homemade Kimchi

Homemade Kimchi

Pack the mixture into a glass container. Add more water if needed so that the cabbage is under the water. Place a saucer or plate on top if the mixture wants to float. Seal the lid, add the air lock and let the fermenting begin. (Keep in a place that’s about 70-75F). If you do not have an air lock then you will need to remove the lid daily to let off the pressure or you’ll end up with a messy kitchen. When the kimchi gets to the texture and taste that you like, just transfer to another container and place in the refrigerator to age. Kimchi gets better with age too!

Frugal Laundry Detergent #2

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Laundry Soap

A few years ago I was using a liquid laundry detergent that I made.  I thought about doing this again but now I have a new HE front loading washer.  A little research later here’s what I’m testing right now:  1 cup each:  borax, washing soda, oxy booster, Purex crystals and one bar Felsnaptha.  More to come after a few loads of laundry.

Jelly Time of Year!

I’ve been a little busy this weekend and thought I’d try something new.  Over the years I’ve made jelly and jam for canning but standing over a pot worrying about it burning or trying to remember when the boil started took away the fun. The past week I saw a couple of video’s showing how easy it is to make jelly with an automatic jelly maker.  So I did a little research and picked up my own Jelly Maker Needless to say I’ve been on a jelly roll since it arrive on Saturday!  My first test was an easy blackberry jam (recipe book included).  I picked up some berries, sugar and pectin on my grocery trip.  My first batch (4 – 8 oz jelly jars) was done in about 45 minutes.  The jelly maker made it so easy that I wanted to do more!  Since that first batch I’ve made some Irish Breakfast Apple jelly and some scuppernong jelly.  I called one of our local wineries and they had extra scuppernong juice left over from pressing a few days earlier.  The scuppernong jelly was a test since I did not have a recipe.  Instead I used the apple recipe from the guide and used scuppernong juice instead.  The first batch turned out awesome!  The second batch did not set so I will reprocess it later today.  I was going good until I ran out of pectin and used a different brand.  Lesson learned…if a recipe calls for a specific pectin don’t swap it for a different brand.  Well swap if you’d like, but you’ll be doing twice as much work when re-batching time comes around.  Take a peek at all the jelly!

Jelly Time

It’s jelly and jam making time at my house! Guess what some family members will get for Christmas!

Let play catch up…or Barbecue in my case

I tend to be a little ADD when it comes to projects and things around the house.  At any one time there may be several projects in different phases of completion.  Oh LOOK!  A chicken!  Just kidding.  One of my hobbies is finding and saving old books.  It used to be any type of book but now my favorites are cookbooks and the older the better.  Well I found this awesome site that for me is even more exciting.  Ok, not more exciting as finding a 1902 Bible and its hand colored illustrations still bright and colorful, but close.  The site I’m talking about is called Feeding America.

Feeding America is a project that has created an online digital collection of American cookbooks from the late 18th to the early 20th century.  So far Michigan State University has digitized 76 cookbooks!  The best part is that they are searchable!  This means that if your looking to find out what your great great grandmother may have cooked for Sunday dinner you’ll probably find something close within one of the cookbooks.

Well my latest adventure is a recipe from the following book:  “A Century Of Good Cooking”.  This cookbook was compiled by the Pinson Memorial United Methodist Church and printed in 1993.  Not a very old book, but thought I’d give one of the many recipes a try.  This week it’s:

Barbecue Sauce

  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 cup catsup
  • 1/3 cup vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine margarine and onion in saucepan, simmer slowly for 10 minutes.  Add other ingredients and cook slowly until well blended, approximately 15 minutes.  Good for all types of meats.  Keeps well in refrigerator.

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This one turned into a type of mustard sauce.  The recipe made about a quart of sauce and I decided to use it with chicken.  After I made the sauce I put a couple of boneless chicken breasts in the slow cooker and covered them with half the sauce.  Since I had to work today I set the slow cooker on low temperature and let it go for 8 hours.

Guess what we’re having for dinner!  Barbecue Chicken!  I’ll update later with how it tastes.