Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent, Take 2...Powder!

For Abbie, because I promised.  And the rest of our readers, too!

Well, I finally ran out of my 5 gallon bucket of liquid laundry detergent (Duggars' Recipe).  It lasted me over a year, and that includes a time when another family of 4 was living with us and using the detergent.  I also didn't dilute it nearly as much as the Duggars suggest because I felt like I needed more cleaning power.  My final review is that, while it definitely costs very little compared to store-bought, I felt that our clothes got a bit dingy after a while.  ESPECIALLY the whites.  Frustrating.  Also, I missed that "laundered" smell.  It's one of my favorite smells in life, after all!  It wasn't a big deal, but I also wasn't fond of measuring liquid.  It just seems messier than it needs to be, whether store-bought or homemade.

I didn't want to make another 5 gallons of the liquid without first trying a powder form.  Some people seem to caution away from powder because of it "wafting in the air" posing a problem to breathing health.  Others said they had trouble with caking in their dispenser.  It does cost a bit more than homemade liquid, but still not nearly as much as store-bought.  And powder?  Just so much easier to measure!  So I researched, chose a recipe, and went for it!

I used Liz Marie's Laundry Soap recipe.  I had 1 leftover bar of Fels Naptha, so I only did 1/3 of her recipe - yes, math was involved to figure out how much of the other ingredients to use.  Good brain exercise!  I also thought it would be good to only do 1/3 just in case I didn't like the recipe or it wasn't effective.  Here are my notes from making it:

  • I left out the scent beads because of cost and non-necessity.
  • Microwave the soap bar(s) on a plate.  It makes it SO much easier to grate or powder-ize.  After breaking up the pieces as much as I could by hand, I put it in a big ziploc bag and went to town with my rolling pin.  I figured, "The finer the bits, the better they dissolve" to avoid the caking issue.
  • I picked up a simple plastic snap-top container from Target - plastic is cheaper, lighter, and IF per chance it falls off of washer/dryer/shelf, you'll only have to clean up detergent.  I use a 2 Tbs measure (harder to find in store, though not impossible...Amazon will rescue you).  Normal loads use 1 Tbs (half a scoop).  Bigger or more soiled loads use 2 Tbs (whole scoop).
I made my 1/3 batch back at the beginning of December.  It's mid-Februrary now, and I still have at least 2 months or so of detergent left!  Which means a full batch would last approximately a year to a year and a half!  My thoughts after using it for a few months:

  • I.  Love.  It.  After the FIRST load, I thought I was seeing things.  The clothes seemed brighter - especially a particular green shirt my boys wear.  I called my boys into the laundry room and asked if they thought the shirt was a brighter green.  Even they agreed!  I'm pretty certain it's the oxyclean.  And if you keep extra on hand, you can add a little to any load you want to have an extra punch of clean!  I usually do this for whites and wash on warm.  They have revived a bit from the dingifying effect of the homemade liquid.  But new socks we've gotten recently are still perfectly white!  No dingifying!
  • Laundry smell!  It's back!  I think because the Fels Naptha isn't so diluted down with water as in the liquid recipe, the smell is able to shine a bit more.  I imagine the powder version would smell like whatever soap you choose to use (Fels, Zote, etc.).  The smell is not incredibly strong like store-bought, but you might catch me with my nose in clothes.  Maybe frequently.  If you were a bug on a wall in my sunshiny laundry room.
  • Measuring?  LOVE.  Super easy.  Mess free.  Unless you bump your hand or the measuring spoon or just completely miss your dispenser.  But that's user error.  ;-)
  • Wafting and breathing powder in?  Not with daily use.  I did notice some of this action when pouring the batch into my plastic container, but I'm the only one around when doing it.  So no worries for my kids, namely my asthmatic boy.
  • Caking?  I have had no issues with this at all.
Conclusion?  I'm sold.  For forever.  :-)

Ps - I would have pictures for you, but I believe my superhero power of spastic static ruined the memory card drive of my computer......  Apologies.  You'll just have to imagine my little container filled with powder and measuring spoon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pinteresting Recipes & Reviews

So the last week or two I have endeavored to actually make some of the recipes I have pinned on my Pinterest food board.  I have made bread, dessert, and a couple main dishes that I'd like to share with you.

FYI: I have included the links to the original recipes because I believe it is important to help fellow bloggers with their traffic and credit should go to whom credit is due for recipes!

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

Though I have made quick breads before, this was the first yeast bread I have ever made.  It was quite tasty!  The reason I haven't made bread before is because I was afraid of failure.  And I saw success!  I was so nervous about making bread that I forgot to put the egg wash on until the last five minutes.  I realize now how silly I was to be afraid of making bread.  I encourage you to find something in the food world you've been hesitant to try, and go for it!

As for the recipe review... I was a teeny bit disappointed because the Pinterest user I found the recipe from said it was like the bread at Macaroni Grill.  I did think the flavor was better than Macaroni Grill, but it didn't have a hard crust on it.  Now, being a brand new bread maker, I don't know why the bread did not turn out crusty (perhaps from forgetting the egg whites)...and it certainly did NOT keep me from eating the bread.   :)  Also, I thought it needed more salt.  Perhaps sprinkling sea salt on top before baking would help.  I just put some salted butter on it which was really good.  I think you could dip it in olive oil with a little salt and pepper; and that would work, too.  I used fresh rosemary in the bread and dried rosemary on top.  I will make this again!

Beer Crockpot Chicken

The recipe will be found here.  Let me preface this review with a disclaimer (?) I started this early in the day, before I go volunteer at church for a few hours in the morning.  I don't know if I set my crock pot wrong or it malfunctioned or what happened but when I got home the crockpot was off.  I had no idea how long the chicken had already cooked but it didn't look cooked.  I needed dinner to be ready in a few hours so I re-set the crockpot for 4 hours on high.

So, I found this dry and tasteless.  I shredded two chicken breasts and mixed the meat with black beans and brown rice.  Then served it with tortillas, sour cream, cheese and taco sauce.  Once it was fixed up it tasted fine, good actually.  I saved the rest of the meat, in the freezer, to make chicken salad and maybe some sort of chicken casserole later.  I will try this recipe again because I don't know if the crock pot situation is what made it not taste as good as the reviews.

Main Dish #2: Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
You can find this yummy recipe here.  This was so delicious!!  For people who are low-carbing, this is a great meal.  This is easy as well.  One word of warning, though it is a simple recipe, it takes a while.  I thought it would be a thirty minutes or less meal (the danger of not reading through a recipe).  It actually says to cook the onions and mushrooms for about 25-30 minutes to get them caramelized then you cook the actual stuffed peppers for about 20 more minutes.  But, seriously, don't let the time keep you from making these.  They are delicious.  I will definitely be making these again.

Dessert!:  Apple Enchiladas
This recipe is so good!  Another easy recipe.  We had this as part of my dad's birthday dinner.  We had Dawn's Chicken Tortillas soup.  I'm not sure we have posted that here but if we haven't we need to do that :)  It was fun to have a main dish and a dessert with a spanish/mexican flair.  I served vanilla ice cream along side the enchiladas.  The sauce that you make so pour over the enchiladas before baking is so good, I have thought about making it just as an ice cream topper.  I will make this again, but I think next time I may try it with cherries, since that is my Honey's preferred cooked fruit.

Let us know if you try any of these and what you think of them.  Remember Pinterest is only a worth while thing if you actually USE/DO the ideas that you pin...otherwise it is simply a time waster.

Update: Why update you ask? Well I actually typed this a while ago and forgot to publish it :P  I have another one that I did the same thing with that I will post in a day or so :)