Thursday, December 4, 2008

Amazing Pumpkin Pie

I have always felt slightly un-American because I have never enjoyed pumpkin pie. Yet, every year households all over America, including mine, eat their Libby canned pumpkin pie. In a last effort to enjoy this tradition, my son and I decided that we would make the icon-ized pumpkin pie to end our Thanksgiving feasting. For the first time in 32 years, I LOVE pumpkin pie. So, if you want to continue to be a rebel on Thanksgiving, don't try this recipe. However, if you want to enjoy your fist pumpkin pie, perhaps this Christmas, here is the recipe for you. I have adapted the original recipe to suit my tastes.

For starters, you must make a fresh crust. Store bought crusts are not allowed!

Whole Wheat Crust

2 cups wheat flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
5 tbls ice water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place flour and salt in your mixer, Vita-Mix or Kitchen Aid mixer. Gently blend the ingredients. Then, add butter while the mixer is still on. Next, add water and process until just mixed. The dough usually forms a ball (in my mixer) when it is ready. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Finally, roll out the dough between sheets of waxed paper or on a clean floured surface. Poke holes in the pie crust with a fork. Bake the shell for 15 minutes.
And now for the drum roll . . . .

Amazing Pumpkin Pie

1 sugar pie pumpkin
(Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds, and lay in a 9x13 glass pan with 1 inch of water. Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, scoop out flesh, and puree in Vita-Mix or blender)

2/3 cup cane sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

3 slightly beaten eggs
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup raw cream

Combine pumpkin, cane sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add eggs. Beat lightly until everything is gently combined. Stir in the coconut milk and cream and mix well. Pour the pumpkin filling into the precooked pie crust.

To prevent over browning, cover the edge of the pie (not covering the top) with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake about 25 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. Refrigerate and enjoy with fresh whipped cream!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Homemade Cleaning Products

Well, there have been many requests to finish my discussion on how to clean organically on the cheap. Do I make my own products all of the time? To be honest--no. But when I have the time, I typically will make my own cleaners because 1) it makes me feel good, 2) it is comforting knowing the exact ingredients that I am using and 3) I know my children can be in the same room or even help me clean without being exposed to dangerous or potentially harmful chemicals. If I buy a product then you can bet it will be Seventh Generation or Bio-Kleen.

Laundry Detergent
3.1 oz bar Ivory soap, Dr. Bronner’s, or Fels Naptha etc.
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
½ cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

5 Gallon container
Knife or grater
Pot large enough to hold 5 cups of water
Long stirring stick/spoon (for 5 gallon container)

Instructions: Shave the soap into small strips (I use a cheese grater) and place in the pot with 5 cups of water. Bring the water just shy of a boil and stir until the soap is completely melted. When the soap is just about melted, pour 3 gallons of hot water into the 5-gallon container and let it sit until the soap in the pot is totally melted. Once all of the soap shavings are melted, pour the mixture into the 5-gallon container and stir.

Once the soap and water are thoroughly stirred, add the ½ cup of washing soda and stir until dissolved. Once the washing soda is dissolved, pour in the cup of borax and stir again until dissolved.

Optional: If you like fragrant detergent, now is when you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Suggested oils would be lavender, orange, or tea tree oil.

Now you've got a huge container of hot soapy looking water. Cover the container, place it somewhere out of the way and let it sit overnight. Once it's cooled it will gel. It will not gel uniformly so it will be lumpy and watery. It may not be very attractive, but it works. It's best to find smaller storage containers for convenience. I use empty, thoroughly washed, milk jugs.

Usage: ½ cup per laundry load is adequate to clean your clothes. This homemade laundry detergent works well in high efficiency washing machines since it is low suds-ing.

One word of caution, if using a high efficiency machines: Before pouring the lumpy gel into the detergent receptacle, stir it to break up the lumps. Very large lumps may not fully dissolve, stirring the detergent with a spoon, pencil, or whatever you have available (or your finger), works fine. Additionally, for cloth diapers, it does clean the diapers well. However, I did notice a build up on the diapers, rendering them slightly ineffective for absorbing urine. So be sure to do a hot soak every now and then, or a vinegar rinse to avoid a film buildup.

Yield: 110 ½ loads of laundry

Powdered Laundry Detergent
2/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap (equivalent of 1 cup grated)
½ Cup 20 Mule Team Borax
½ Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.
Container large enough to hold 2 cups of laundry detergent

Directions: Grate the Fels Naptha laundry soap with a grater or use a food processor. Approximately 2/3 of a bar of soap will make 1 cup of grated soap.
Add the ½ cup of Borax and ½ cup of washing soda to the grated soap. Shake and/or mix well.

Use: One tablespoon of detergent is sufficient per load of wash. If you have a high-efficiency machine, you might want to experiment with using a little less detergent for normal loads. If your clothes come out feeling stiff, lower the amount of detergent. For clothes that are heavily soiled, add a teaspoon more of the detergent.

Yield: The recipe yields 2 cups of laundry detergent. If you use 1 tablespoon per load, you will be able to wash 32 loads of clothes.

Antiseptic All-Purpose Cleanser
Up to one tsp. antiseptic essential oil (thyme, sweet orange, lemongrass, rose, clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, birch, lavender, tea tree, or Thieves.)
1 tsp washing soda
2 tsp borax
½ tsp liquid soap or detergent (Dr. Bronner’s)
2 c hot water

Directions: Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to dissolve and blend the minerals. Spray this on the surface and leave for 15 minutes before you wipe it with a rag, to give the essential oil’s antiseptic qualities time to work.

I have had these recipes for so long now, I honestly am not really sure where they come from. But upon researching a bit, these recipes are pretty standard from many different authors. Happy cleaning!