Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lemon Vinegar and Egg Shell Calcium

I have been buying organic apples from Azure Standard.  I think this last box put me at 100 lbs.   Gallons of applesauce, pie filling, apple chunks left me with mountains of apple peels and cores.  So of course, I made vinegar:

The peels on the Empire apples were so dark red that the vinegar ended up being pink (vinegar on the right).  Even the other jar has a light pink tinge to it.  I liked the darker pink vinegar so much that I put some in one of those newer, squat pint jars that look like the top half of a quart jar -- like this:   

JARDEN HOME BRANDS Ball Collection Elite 4 Pack 16 OZ Platinum Wide Mouth JarsI gave it to my bud, Shelby, for a late birthday present.  I loved her reaction!  She looked at me and said 'I get it!'.  Not everyone would appreciate pink apple cider vinegar in a cutie jar, but some of us do.  Anyway, I have been using more ACV lately, so I thought I might as well take advantage of those peels.

If I would have known it was so easy to make ACV, I would have done it years ago.  Peels and cores go in a jar, cover with filtered water and top with a cloth or coffee filter for 4 days or so.  Some say to let the peelings turn brown before you add the water and you'll get better tasting vinegar.  I did it both ways, both tasted good.  You can keep adding peels (peelings?) and cores for a few days, too.  Just keep 'em covered with water.
After 4 or 5 days, strain out the apple bits, top the jar with another cloth or coffee filter and put in a dark cupboard for 5 or 6 weeks.  Give it a stir or swirl every few days when you think about it.  The weird filmy or goobery thing that shows up in the vinegar later is the 'mother' that everyone talks about.   Leave it in the jar and be proud of yourself.  Around here a quart of Bragg's ACV is $7 a quart.  You just made better tasting, organic ACV with the mother, for nothing.

Now I have all this vinegar.  I also have two organic lemons in the frig that I need to use.  So, I washed them with a bit of soapy water (doh!  Should have used my vinegar!) to make sure they were clean.  I peeled them with the carrot peeler and dropped the thin lemon peels in a jar, then added vinegar.  In a week or two, I'll fish out the peels and have Lemon Vinegar.  I use a bit of that with some honey and cinnamon for a hot beverage.  It's really good on these cold nights.  Lemon vinegar makes a decent salad dressing and adds some flavor to various recipes instead of using lemon juice or plain vinegar.  I store mine in the frig.

That's my Lemon Vinegar on the left.  And leftover lemon halves in water on the right.  More on that in a moment.

Now I have some naked lemons.  Might as well make some more Egg Shell Calcium. (I started making that after some research.  I kept going back to this gal's page: )  Osteoporosis is rampant in my family and this seems like a good thing for me to take.

The jar on the left is what I have in the frig - eggshells from my hens, but purchased, bottled ReaLemon.  Using fresh lemon juice makes it taste so much better!  Using a fork to juice the lemons makes it so easy, too.  Don't worry about the seeds, they'll strain out later.
The jar on the right with the bubbling goop is the fresh squeezed juice and this mornings egg shells.  Store it in the frig.  After 2-3 days you can strain out the egg shell and any seeds.  This will separate in the frig, so give it a swirl or two before you take it.  Read Bee's post for the details if this is something you want to try.

The last thing is the naked lemons.  I was going to make Whey Lemonade.  But!!  I have no whey!  I am currently whey-less!  Yogurt making and draining is the plan for tomorrow. If you have whey, add some (1/4 to 1/2 cup) to a jar along with sugar, evaporated cane juice, whatever is your sweetener of choice and top with water.  Leave it on the counter top for a couple days then fish out your naked lemon halves and refrigerate.  Pretty good over ice.

Have you made vinegar?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Getting the 'beany' taste out of homemade soy milk

Or how to make homemade soy milk taste better!

There are tons of people that love the taste of homemade soy milk.  I'm not one of them.  I thought it was awful and I really am one of those 'it's so much better when it's homemade' type people.  I researched over the course of a few days, but what really stood out was that over soaking your soy beans made them taste bland and flat.

Hey, that's what I want.  Here's what worked for me:

I put 1/2 cup of soybeans in a quart mason jar, added plenty of water and put them in the frig.  They hung out there for 2 full days - a full 48 hours.  Periodically I'd drain off the water and add fresh water (morning and before bedtime, maybe once or twice during the day).

Cooking day:  I drained off the water, dumped the soybeans in a pot, added fresh water and 1/4 tsp of baking soda.  I boiled the beans for 10 minutes.  Then I drained them, added fresh water and another 1/4 tsp of baking soda.  Again, I heated to a boil and boiled them for 10 minutes.

I drained them, added fresh water and boiled for an hour and a half.  After an hour, the beans were done and there wasn't too much flavor to them.  I was just being anal about over cooking them.  Next time I'll stop at one hour.

Anyway, I drained the beans, and then processed them in small batches in my Magic Bullet pitcher, adding fresh water.  The resulting milk was almost impossible to strain as the bean pulp was more like flour.  I finally gave up and just added the rest of it to the pitcher. 

I do add sugar and some vanilla to my plant milks.  Bingo!  Good stuff, doesn't taste beany at all.  There still is a slight soybean fragrance if you give it a sniff test first.

That half cup of soybeans swelled to 1-1/2 cups during soaking.  I think I used 4-1/2 cups of water when I processed the beans and I like the consistency of the milk.  It's not too watered down.  I also did not remove the skins from the soybeans.  I put the strained bean pulp into an ice cube tray and popped it in the freezer.  I'll use it later in baked goods.

Added 12-5
I read somewhere that if you add 3 Tbsp of barley malt, your soy milk will taste more like purchased soy milk.  I haven't tried it, I don't even know where you can get barley malt.  Let me know if it you use it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Low odor, cheap, eco friendly cat litter!

Update!  The latest and last poop on cat litter.
I have one cat that I could cheerfully drop kick out the front door.  Okay, maybe not. 

Here's the shorter version:

Cat would leave me a 'present' between the litter boxes.  She didn't like the Tractor Supply horse bedding pellets ($6 for a 40 pound bag) that is just like Feline Pine Cat Litter....but way cheaper. I tried misting the pine pellets so they wouldn't be so crunchy.  No luck.  Every day there was a 'present' between the boxes.  At least Cat whizzed in the box.

Cat did like expensive silicone, clumping litter.  Scented stuff just made me cough, gag, I hated it.  Next we got unscented.  Cat was okay with that, I still hated it.  I hated messing with big clumps of wet goop, hated knowing that it wasn't the best thing for Cat(s), hated the tracking, hated the expense, hated hauling it home. 

What is still working after two weeks of trial:
Cheap potting soil
Grass from our yard

After reading elsewhere about using dried grass clippings for cat litter, the light bulb went off.  Last year I raked up some grass clippings, threw some in the chicken coop and sprinkled some on the goat bedding.  I was amazed at how much better both areas smelled.  Fresh cut grass does smell pretty good, doesn't it.  And it does have some odor control qualities.

Back to Cat's box: I started with some newspaper on the bottom of the litterbox.  I added about 2" or less of potting soil and a sprinkle of grass that we yanked up.  That night I could tell it was working pretty good.  The next morning I decided to pull out the newspaper.  We don't use a trash service and I wanted something that I could just dump in an out of the way place.  I didn't want Cat's newspapers blowing all over the county.  Anyway, after pulling out the newspaper, I scooped the poops (plus an obvious damp area) and added some more grass clippings with a sprinkle of potting soil.  I haven't dumped the entire box yet after two weeks, but I have scooped out wet areas.  I planned on dumping the entire box weekly and rinsing it out.

The best thing about this is that a $2 bag of potting soil from the Dollar Store will probably last a good month.  It has that natural feel when Cat is in the box.  The grass is free and really does help with odor control.  I sprinkle some grass in the box with the pine litter, too.

Cat ate some of the grass, upchucked it after a bit, but only on the first day.  We also bought some small mats to put in front of the litter boxes.  That has helped with the tracking.

We use a riding mower, but now we are storing our son's push mower with a bag.   Let's see, cat litter, mulch in the garden, goat bedding, litter for the chicken coop...I'm smiling.  It's the simple things in life.  :o)