How-To
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Instructions for things I've done.
Your results may vary.
Mine sure did.

Renwings

Contents
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Homemade Vinegar
Making Butter
Homemade Egg Noodles
Soda Geyser
Garden Recipes
Hot Process Soap in a Crockpot
Horehound Cough Syrup and Drops Recipe

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Homemade Vinegar

Making Vinegar is done in two stages. An organism converts sugar to alcohol and another converts alcohol to acid. This takes a long time. Months! I'm really good at getting sugar to convert to alcohol (*cough*), but I haven't managed to breed the organism that gets me the stuff I really want.

You can use sugar water, juice (no preservatives) . . . From a frugal point of view, save all the cores, peals, trimmings from canning. You can press the juice out or you can just dump it all in your Crock; (plastic, glass, stainless steel, wood . . . no aluminum or chipped enamel) covered in water with a little sugar or non-sulfured molasses. Remember to strain all that off after you've made alcohol.

Have you ever found a child's sippy cup that was lost for some time behind a bed, in the car, under the couch and opened that container to be greeted by the strong odor of beer? That's hard cider. You're halfway to vinegar! The one-way valve in the sippy cup did a very efficient job of creating a favorable environment for sugar to convert to alcohol. It let the CO2 out without letting in any oxygen. That's one way to do it. Works best for me! Don't worry about anything growing in there when you open the container, you may need that later (mother may be in there). When you have hard cider, you are now going to need Mother. Mother of Vinegar is a bacteria that exists everywhere. You can buy it from wine supply stores, health food stores or you can wait for it to show up on it's own. This is the part that takes forever. Waiting for mother to arrive. Your crock shouldn't have any covering and stored in a place where in can attract flies. This flies in the face of every instinct you possess, I know. But it is the way of Mother. She will create a then grey film on top of you liquid and the water will look cloudy and gelled. Don't Disturb the Crock! Mother is working and needs her peace and quite. We can all identify with Mother. Take good care of her by straining her off from the liquid before you pasteurize your vinegar. Put her in a sealable jar (no metal) with a little vinegar.

Preserve your new vinegar as you would can juice. Finely strain the liquid and boil in sterilized jars for a half an hour to kill all the mother and whatever else. You can dilute it to taste when you use it. If you want to be precise, you've come to the wrong shop!

Making Butter

I have a wonderful recipe for homemade rolls from a good friend that calls for buttermilk. You can buy cultured buttermilk at the grocery store, but I figure if I'm going to make bread, I'm going to MAKE BREAD. So I buy a quart of heavy cream and make butter. The liquid left over is the buttermilk I will use in the rolls. It is truly worth the effort. This is how I make butter.

Fill a clean sealable jar halfway with heavy cream. Start shaking! Get your kids involved. I usually do this while I'm watching a movie, having a conversation, listening to music, watching kids . . .

The cream will become quite thick, but keep going, your almost there. You'll begin to notice little particles floating around in there, Keep Going, Your Almost There! It may take a good half hour of shaking. When you get tired, try rolling it around on the floor.

The particles will begin sticking together and form a glob of fat which is the butter, almost. When you can't see anymore free particles open the jar and pour the buttermilk off into another sealable container and chill.

Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Toss your blob of butter into the water for a bit. We're going to wash and gather the butter.
When it is chilled and waxy, press it flat and rinse it, then gather it back up into a ball again. As the butter warms up in your hands, you'll have to put it back into the water to chill The water will become cloudy, so you'll have to dump it and make some fresh ice water. When the water stays clear, the butter is clean. It is important that the butter is clean from buttermilk or it will spoil or sweat. Which isn't a very attractive thing for butter to do.

When your butter is clean you can let it soften again and salt it to taste. I like to add honey and whip it up nice and fluffy. Sometimes I'll add dried herbs or crushed garlic. Then I place it in a airtight container in a cool place.

Homemade Noodles

My Great Grandmother Ann (whom I was named for) was a woman after the tradition of women I want to embody. Independent, spiritual, strong and feminine. Still working on that last one.
She kept chickens and made chicken soup that we have made in my family for generations. The are lots of methods that make the soup unique, but my favorite is the homemade noodles. I find sometimes that I have more eggs that I know what to do with. So I preserve them. Homemade noodles are worth the effort and TASTY! You will realize that store bought noodles taste like cardboard. You can make any pasta you like with your dough.

1 egg to half a cup of flour will make two servings. Multiply as much as you like!

Mix the flour and the egg with a fork. It will make a sticky, pasty dough. Roll about the dough into a floured surface, turn it over, sprinkle flour, rub the flour into the dough with your palm, roll again in all directions and turn it over again. Repeating this process. A good dough with stretch with the rolling pin and shrink back again. Keep working flour in until the dough is pretty stiff. Rub flour into the surface one last time and roll it up. With a sharp knife, start at one end and slice off the width of noodle you'd like. Unroll your slices and lay them out lengthwise as you work. Cut your pile of long noodles into 2 inch chunks (if you like) and toss them with flour. Lay them out to dry in a warm sunny place (out of sight if you can, or everyone will be picking at them all day). If you want to use them right away, toss them into a pot of salted boiling stock or water until they are tender. The flour will also thicken the water. Once they have dried, store them in a sealable container. If they are really crisp and bone dry they will store a month. Or you can freeze them.

Soda Geyser

We live in a society than loves to ban things. But there are always a few enterprising souls looking for loopholes. Specifically, I'm thinking of fireworks. The Independence Day is my favorite holiday and I LOVE the fireworks. But for those of us that live in communities that ban fireworks because of the unfortunate few who destroy property other than their own each year, here's something else you can do instead.

I 2 liter bottle of DIET soda. A few FROZEN mint Mentos. Rock salt.

Add rock salt to soda bottle. Insert Mentos into soda bottle. Run away. Then experiment with different quantities for more explosive reactions. It'll keep the kids occupied, that's for sure.

Garden Recipes

I've had a few people ask me about Organic Gardening.

It's not something I do because I think my life will somehow be more holy. It really just makes good practical sense for many reasons. #1 being I can't really afford to pay the price garden centers ask for yard chemicals.

So here are some of my favorite garden recipes. All of these I use and find to be effective.

SEEDLING SPAY
Little seedlings are prone to dampening off, a fungus that kills those tender little babies. Brew a strong Chamomile tea and pour it once it's cooled into a spray bottle. I also add a drop of dish soap to keep the whole concoction from going rancid. Spray the seedlings once a day to keep them damp. Chamomile has a touch of sulfur in it to deter the blight. A tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle of water also works well, but you have to make new solution frequently, since light destroys the fragile bonds in hydrogen peroxide.

BUG SPRAY
This works especially well for aphids, but I find lots of other incests hate this too. 1 tablespoon (or three!) of dish soap to a gallon of water. Spray leaves of plants, especially roses, often to deter pests. Surprisingly simple!

HERBICIDE
My most favorite herbicides are bleach and vinegar. I use vinegar is places that I don't want ANYTHING to grow, such as gravel areas. My soil is already acidic enough, I don't use it anywhere else. It takes repeated applications to kill perennial weeds like dandelions, chickweed and grass. I use a 1 part to 1 part solution of bleach for weeds I can't get out that are entrenched in the flower beds. The bleach breaks down nicely in 24 hours. The chlorine gas evaporates away leaving behind a simple salt. Don't overdo it though, I little goes a long way.

THE HEALTHY LAWN RECIPE
1 cup household ammonia (don't use the lemon variety)
1 cup CHEAP mouthwash
1 can soda (any kind just not diet)
1 can beer (I bought Coors brand. It was the cheapest)
1 cup dish soap (the cheaper the better. No special perfumes though)

The amonia is to green up the lawn
the mouthwash kills bugs and mold etc
the soda pop feeds the lawn
the beer helps kill bugs and feeds the lawn
the dish soap is a wetting agent that helps the lawn absorb the mixture. It also makes the blades feel softer.

I mix it up in a two quart pitcher that is dedicated to this task. I don't use if for drinking from any more. I store it in a two liter soda bottle in the garage. Be sure to label it clearly as poison so it isn't thought of as root bear or something. It fizzes when shaken and is the right color. Use it on the lawn or the flower beds about once a month. It makes the grass greener and thicker. And because it is thicker the weeds can't get as good a hold. I can tell you that it does a number on ants. I don't think it kills them but they don't want to come across it. Remember how we used to get the hills in the cracks in the cement of the driveway and sidewalks? There haven't been any this summer since I started using this recipe. You can use it in the vegetable garden on plants with skins that can be washed. I wouldn't recommend using it on soft skinned things like strawberries. I believe the lawn has to be pretty hydrated too so if you aren't going to water when you use this you might burn the lawn.

FOR SLUGS
There are lots of things that work and don't work. I find chickens are the best thing that does work. They scour the yard through the late fall till early spring. I kill all that I find in the summer. I also save all of my eggshells and cook them in the oven till they are dry and brittle. Then I crush them and sprinkle them thickly around the plants that are susceptible to slug defoliation. As they break down slowly, they also add much needed calcium to the soil.

Hot Process Soap in a Crockpot

These instructions are also one of my diary entries on Davesgarden.com. My user is Renwings, of course.

TO BEGIN

I'm going to assume you already have attempted to make Soap. I may have time to consider those that haven't at some later date. Email me to remind me.

Turn your Crockpot on to high. Weigh all your fat and add to pot and wait till it all melts. Remember that a watched pot never boils, so go do the dishes or something.

ADDING LYE AND GETTING A TRACE

After the fats have melted prepare your lye mixture. Be careful. Use Caution.

Add it to the fat slowly as you stir.

I don't wait on a certain temp when making soap now. I used to, and haven't noticed a significant difference in my soap.

Using a stick blender will save you a lot of time as you mix the lye and fat. Stir until you reach trace. Keep stirring and soon you will approach a thick trace. Your mix may look much more opaque.

Put the top on and leave it alone.

SEPARATION

Get your colors and fragrance ready if you haven't already.

In about 10 min, your soap should look really thick. It would be difficult to stir. Put that top back on, you're looking for separation. You'll see liquid fat and soap all swimming in there together. When you see that, keep the cover on don't leave!

You will need to stir it at regular intervals to keep it from crawling out of the pot. We're speeding up the saponification process that takes weeks in cold process soap.

At some point it may start looking like applesauce. Keep stirring. We're looking for mashed potatoes, at which point you take the crockpot out of the base and keep stirring til you have fluffy, thick mashed potatoes.

ADDING COLOR, FRAGRANCE AND FINISHING

If you like, now is the time to add fragrance and color. Lots of people like the marble look, which works well with this soap.

Add the fragrance oils to the mix in the pot and mix it in.

Take a few globs of soap out and mix it with your color in a separate dish. Add the color blob back to the pot and stir a bit, careful not to over stir.

Be sure to prepare your mold by spraying it with cooking spray. HP soap does not release very well.

Spoon your soap into the molds and tap in against the counter until you are sure there are no more air pockets. Smooth out the top of the soap if you like, some people like the nubby texture.



Let the soap cool and harden. It is ready to use at that point.

Horehound Cough Syrup and Drops Recipe

Before I begin, make sure you understand, the following is not medical advice. Herbal remedies and dosing are not regulated by the FDA. So everything you take, you do so at your own risk. Always check with a qualified medical practitioner or a pharmacist before taking an herbal supplement or remedy. Just because herbs are natural, it does not mean they are by any means, safe. Some of the horrific poisons you can find are derived form herbs. Herbs can interact with medications you are taking and can be contraindicated for conditions you may have. Please use common sense.

Anyway,

Horehound is an easy herb to grow. In fact, it can get out of hand, like mint. Give is plenty of room or put it in a pot. If you'd like seeds, let me know. I am always generous with seeds! It is an ancient herb, used by the Egyptians, the Romans and the Jews for various reasons. Today, it is considered valuable for lung troubles and coughs. I consider it an essential in any medicinal herb garden. Forget Echinacea, it's not a sustainble or efficient remedy.
Have you ever tried the Horehound Hardtack they sell at the Pioneer Village? I suppose it's an acquired taste.

The recommended dose for a syrup made from Horehound is 2-4 drachms, which converts to 3.55 milliliters.

HOREHOUND COUGH SYRUP:
cup of fresh horehound leaves (or cup of dried)
2 cups of water
3 cups of liquid honey

Place the horehound in a stainless steel pot with the water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for about 10 minutes. Strain and then add the honey. Mix well and bottle. The amount of honey can be adjusted for taste and consistency.
Store in an airtight containers (I recommend dark glass) in a cool place (like the fridge).

HOREHOUND COUGH DROPS:
1 cup of fresh or dried horehound
1 cup of water
2 cups of brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
Enough icing sugar to cover finished drops

Put the horehound leaves and water in a stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes and then cool. Strain and squeeze out the herbs. Put the liquid back into the pan and add the brown sugar and the honey. While continually stirring with a wooden spoon, bring the liquid back to simmer. Keep stirring and when the liquid falls from the spoon in a thread, test it by dropping it into a cup of cold water. If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should reach at least 300 degrees F. When the mixture hardens enough to crack with your teeth, it's ready. If you overdo it and the mixture crystallizes, just add more water and a little more honey. When ready, pour the mixture into a lightly buttered baking dish. When cool enough, score the top to facilitate breaking the hardened mixture into squares or diagonals. Once broken up, shake icing sugar over the horehound cough drops to keep them from sticking together. You can also wrap them up in waxed paper. Store in an airtight glass jar.

This is my content and I reserve the right to it. Leave it where you found it. You don't know where it's been! The right click demon will flay plagiarizers alive. grrrrrr