Friday, February 26, 2010

Rip Off Friday ?!?!?!

I know, I'm supposed be making the perfect cake for my little grandson, Wincoln (if your Big brother Garrett, or Yincoln if your big cousin, Tati). How should I spell his name (Lincoln) on his cake? Just too many choices.

Anyway I was "checking my email" and of course that includes blogs. I ran across this one and it made me pretty dad gum hungry just looking at the pictures and reading the cooking ideas. So check it out for me while I go and make a "Monkey Cake."

Yes, here I go again, ripping off another blog. This delicious looking chicken came from "Our Best Bites". It has a great post about cooking chicken breasts and has all the right precautions, suggestions . . . . the works. Be sure to check it out right HERE

Be sure to pay attention to the precautions. After taking some food science classes at University of AZ years ago, I have been so careful about contamination in the kitchen. Too many of us tend to become complacent and can cause lots of bad days for our family, if we're lucky and don't cause some very serious illnesses.

Thursday, February 25, 2010



I make the WORST cakes on the planet. It hasn't always been that way . . . . it has grown over the years of being rather indifferent when it comes to most cakes. I love pineapple upside down cake, carrot cake and "rotten fruit" cake. Of course I make those really well, if I may say so myself . . . and I do.

When it comes to making just regular yellow or chocolate cakes for birthdays . . . . . well let's just say Duncan Hines Moist Extra Cakes don't even stand a chance with me. Since I have a grandson who is soy and dairy intolerant, I get elected to make the birthday cakes. They are usually cute as all get out, boy . . . I do hold a record in the taste, texture and dry departments . . . not the kind that you want to!

So off to the internet I went, found a wonderful site with great, detailed tips & somehow managed to lose it before I got it copied and pasted onto a word document . . sorry. Back I went today so that I can get my one year old grandson's cake made today . . . and found these very worthy tips from the Better Homes & Garden website, HERE .

So here goes nothing, I will try to document as I go along and see if I can eliminate at least some of these bad qualities . . . as I read the list, I realized that my cakes usually have everyone of them!!! Such a gift >:- [

Everyone loves the flavor of a home-baked cake. Our tips reveal the secrets for creating and storing these popular desserts.

These rich cakes are tender but don't crumble when you slice them.

Proper prep. Have all of the ingredients at room temperature unless the recipe directs otherwise. (Eggs should only be left out about 30 minutes before using them.) This makes ingredients easier to combine and gives cakes better volume.

The right flour. If a recipe calls for cake flour, but you don't have any on hand, use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour for each cup of cake flour. Some cake recipes call for cake flour because it produces a slightly more tender cake, but you'll find all-purpose flour makes a good cake, too.

Preheat, please. Be sure to preheat your oven before baking; otherwise your cakes won't rise properly.

Smack down. Once the batter is in the pan, tap the cake pan on a counter top to release any large air bubbles in the batter.

Testing for done. In general, a layer-type cake is done when its top is domed, it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, and it springs back when lightly touched. To be sure a cake is baked, insert a toothpick near the cake center. It should come out free of wet batter.

Cool down. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and cool completely.

Storage tips. To freeze an unfrosted cake, place it on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer till firm. Then place the cake in a plastic freezer bag or an airtight container, seal, and return it to the freezer. Unfrosted cakes can be frozen for up to 6 months. Fruitcakes can be frozen for up to 12 months.

Solving cake problems

When your cakes consistently turn out less than perfect, its time for a little detective work. Here are some common problems and the solutions that make them disappear:

Coarse texture: It might be that you didn't beat the sugar and shortening, margarine, or butter long enough. For a fine, even cake texture, be sure to beat these ingredients together thoroughly.

Dense or compact cakes: Perhaps you didn't beat the sugar and shortening, margarine, or butter long enough. For a light texture, beat these ingredients together well.

Dryness: You might have overbaked the cake. Remember to check doneness after the minimum baking time. Or, you might have overbeaten the egg whites, if they were used. Stiffly beaten egg whites should stand in straight peaks but should look moist or glossy. When the egg whites have a "curdled" appearance, they are overbeaten. Start again with fresh egg whites instead of folding the overbeaten ones.

Elongated, irregular holes: You may have overmixed the batter when the flour was added. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laundry Soap . . . . More Suggestions From a Comment

Anonymous said...

I have been using a very similar recipe for two years. If you put a scoop of Oxi-Clean in with the whites, you will not have any grey-white clothes; my clothes come out of the washer bright white (BTW the clothes will last longer using Oxi-Clean rather than bleach).

Also, don't forget the vinegar rinse!

I would love to ask "Anonymous" a couple of questions! So if you drop back by, hope you will let me know how to contact you.

I have had mixed results with Oxi-Clean. It seemed to work better when I lived in Northern AZ in red dirt country and had harder water. Would that make a difference? Do you use the powder or liquid. Does that make a difference. When do you use vinegar in your rinse water? All the time or just when you are washing whites. I know apple cider vinegar is a great rinse for your hair. Leaves it clean and shiny! I have also used white vinegar in lots of cleaning situations.

Please share your secrets!!

Fresh Ginger . . . . Ground Is No Substitute!

When I was in college in the 70's, a friend who had spent time in the orient taught me how to make some wonderful dishes using ginger. I used the ground powdered style for years, even after I got married. I finally was told what ginger root was and decided to try it. So much better!

Since we got some in our Asian Pack with Bountiful Baskets, so I thought I would post about it as I processed it for storage. Sorry I forgot to take a picture before I started. Here I am peeling it with a small sharp knife. It is fairly fibrous and a little tough, but you'll quickly get the hang of it.

Grate it on a grater made for fine shredding. The regular size makes it way too course. If you notice down in the left corner, you will see the fibrous material that collects on the top surface. Just toss that . . . feels like straw in your mouth . . . . not so good!

Here is the pulp that makes everything taste better! Rub the lose material from the underside of the grater. Some of the fibrous material will stick to the grater. Pull it off once in a while and add it to your waste pile. The next piece will grate better if that doesn't build up too much.

The juicy pulp on the surface of the cutting board is also what you cook with.

I put 1/2 teaspoon scoops on the cellophane wrap.
Set into the freezer until frozen.
Next I will put them into a bag to keep
them until I am ready for use.

I do this with a lot of foods that will have better or
more flavor when fresh. Freezing will preserve
that flavor better than heat preservation or drying.

I was married for several years before we could buy a freezer. It sure changed my way of cooking in many ways. I have found that has been one of my problems cooking with strictly pantry items. My taste has changed a lot! I am still working at it and will be posting more ideas as I relearn all of my old tricks!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

First I would like you to check out this video from You Tube showing how to make Egg Drop Soup from traditional ingredients.

I usually thicken the broth before I add the beaten egg and stir less so that there is less shredding of the egg. Now here is the pantry version I made from what I have stored.

For some reason, I can no longer manipulate pictures like I used to. I have pictures ready for the pantry style Egg Drop Soup. I will do that post following this one.


OK, finally, here is the pantry style Egg Drop Soup. I went to put this on and realized that I hadn't taken the ingredient pictures. Just now, I realized that I forgot the corn starch, so let's just pretend, OK?

Pantry Style Egg Drop Soup

  • 4 C. Water
  • 3/4 C. Chicken Broth Powder (or follow directions on your broth cubes or powder)
  • 1/4 t. Ginger, ground
  • 1/4 t. Garlic Powder
  • 1 t. Onion Powder
  • 3 t. Powdered Egg Whites
  • Chives or Chopped onion greens
  • 4 T. Corn Starch

Traditional egg drop soup is so light and such a wonderful way to start a meal. It is like making a gentle announcement, "OK tummy, here comes dinner!" With the "winter" storms we have had coming through, I like to hardy up the soup a little better. These are some of the goodies I like to add:
  • Chives, oops, forgot these too!
  • Mushrooms, fresh, canned or dried
  • Rice, cooked--brown mixed with wild is my favorite
  • veggies, frozen mixed are my quick ones
  • Chow Mein Noodles ( out of them so I used Ramen ;-)

Mix the egg whites with 3 T. water. Whisk a little and set aside.

As you are preparing the rest of the soup, whisk this mixture occasionally and they will gradually blend together. Here it is getting closer to blended. I use the back of a small spoon to flatten clumps and break the bubbles on the surface.

Add broth powder to cool water or after it is warmed, follow directions on your powder.

Blend it well and bring it to a boil.

If I am adding veggies, this is when I put them in, except for green onions or chives. You want to add those at the last.
***Note on dehydrated veggies. Yes, you can add them to the hot soup or broth to cook and rehydrate at the same time, BUT I have always felt that they are more like fresh if the are hydrated before you cook with them. It really isn't that much trouble with a little planning. I even do this when I am camping.

Next, I usually add the corn starch which has been dissolved in 1/2 C. cool water. Most recipes will tell you to add the eggs next. I prefer that the egg not be shredded as much as most call for. If the thicker broth is barely simmering, it will help the egg stay more intact as it cooks.

Now is when I add the cooked rice or noodles, just before serving. Sprinkle each bowl with chopped onion greens or chives and enjoy!!

Now that we have established that I am a little rusty with this posting . . . . I will have to work on it some more.

Hopefully, the main problem is that I spent the day running around the country having my eyes examined for some surgery and I am watching the olympics . . . . well yeah, skating is on . . . come on now, old lady here. I watch Peggy Fleming make her big gold medal performance . . . when I was in high school . . . . can't miss this for Pete's sake!

Anyway, hope it makes some sense. Tomorrow I am going to try to make Paintbrush Sugar Cookies. I want to share this fun way to keep the kiddies entertained, while being creative. I'll try to get it posted before the skating comes on tomorrow night ;+ D

Friday, February 19, 2010


I was snooping at what was coming and saw pommelos. Hm-m-m-m what the heqq is that anyway? So I went to the internet and found several videos on how to peel and eat them.

They should be called meal-in-a-peel. One video had a pommelo that had to be head size! Any way, have fun this week ! I went and got my basket, came home and tried one of these big ole guys . . they are really quite good. Aren't bitter like grapefruit. It was a bit of a project to do all the peeling but well worth it. Some of my kids don't want theirs . . . goody!!


Last May, I shared this home made laundry soap with you after trying it and being so pleased. I made a HUGE batch of it and just cruised through my laundry for the next few months . . . and started to wonder . . . hm-m-m-m.

This week a great friend came and spent a couple of days sewing some dresses for brides maids in her son's wedding. (The girls live down here and it just seemed easier for her to get them done and then get on to the rest of the sewing she needed to do.) Such a wonderful visit for both of us, but back to the point.

I was folding some laundry, whites, and I asked her if she was still using the soap. She told me no, that she noticed her whites were getting gray and just used it on the outer grungy clothes after that. When I asked her why she didn't let me know, she had the nerve to say she was afraid to tell me. I'm still not sure what to think of that, but I told her I wanted feed back.

I have noticed the same thing. I thought maybe I had made it up wrong when I did the large amount, but I guess not. At first my whites got so white and I was having the ring in my husband's shirt collars come right out. Now I have some majorly gray whites. I dug out a whole load of whites, even out of drawers, soaked them in hot clorox water, for hours, and have my white clothes gleaming again.

I will use up the batch, small one, washing the darker clothes and work clothes. I may still keep it around because my hubby and I do love the clean smell it gives our laundry, as in no perfumes.

  • Well, like I just said, I will continue to use it for the dark colored clothes.
  • When made up into a paste, it gets out even old stains quite well. I used it on table cloth stains, grease stains in my clothes, I am the messiest cook in town.
  • As a paste, I have used it for all kinds of cleaning around the house and liked it.
Here are some of the results I shared way back last May: