Archive for the ‘homemade’ Category

Yes, I suppose I have to confess that it’s been more than a year since my last post here.  Too long for sure.  I’ve been going through a change in the season of my life and let me tell you it aint no spring season… more like fall or winter.  Life seems to whiz by and it’s not waiting for anybody to catch up.

Lots of things have changed in the past year, like I got hooked on Pinterest.  One of my favorite categories is homemade stuff.  Stuff like bio-green household cleaners, alternatives to lotions, shampoos and the like.  Today I decided it was time I shared some of the surprising results with you.  Of course, I realize this has been for the most part a food blog but today I guess that will be a thing of the past.

And for my first trick…. watch me pull a rabbit out of my orange tree… well not exactly a rabbit.  How about a Citrus Enzyme Cleaner?  I didn’t come up with this myself, infact, I found it on Pinterest and figured I’d give it a try since I have an orange tree and don’t like to waste the peelings. (normally they go into my compost pile)

Here’s the link to the original blog post at Homemade Mamas with the recipe and some good information.  I’ll forgo some of their details and assume you’ll visit the original post for that.  What I will do is share the recipe and my findings.

Citrus Enzyme Cleaner

  • 1.  In a large 3 liter soda bottle (or similar plastic container) combine 7 Tbs brown sugar and 2 1/2 cups lemon and orange peels and scraps in pieces small enough to get into the container.
  • 2.  Pour enough water to cover scraps (about 4 cups) into the container.
  • 3.  Put the lid tightly on the container to make it air tight. Shake the container long enough to get the sugar incorporated throughout.

3 Liter Fermenting Bottle- sugar, water, citrus peels.

  • 4.  Now it’s time to ferment.  Write the date on the outside of the container with a sharpie so you can keep track of the progress and remember when you started.  The sugar/fruit mixture will ferment for 3 months to get those enzymes going. As it ferments, CO2 gas will build up in the container. The container will swell, open it to release the pressure, unless you want an explosion, then recap it. You’ll need to release the CO2 daily in the first month and less often after that. After 3 months, the process is complete, and the enzymes are ready for use as a household cleaner.
  • 6. Filter through a cheese cloth and pour into the containers of your choice.  (I recycled some clear bottles with screw caps)

Homemade Citrus Enzyme Cleaner

You can use full strength or dilute as needed.  For light cleaning I went with a 50/50 cleaner/water solution poured into a spray bottle. You can use it around the house, on floors, cabinets, appliances and it doesn’t streak!  You can also pour a couple of tablespoons into laundry to help remove stains.
Let me tell you this stuff is awesome!  The proof came when I used it on that gunky built up grease that collects above your stove.  You know the stuff I’m talking about, don’t you?  Just look and the ugly mean stuff that has built up since last spring.

Gunky built up grease on the plastic vent cover to my microwave over the stove.

 I’m talking gross!  Now watch what happens when I sprayed on a 50/50 solution and let it sit for a few minutes… not long, just maybe 5 minutes at the most.

After a few minutes I wiped off the gunk with ease! I was flabbergasted!!!

Now look at my microwave… it’s so clean that you cant tell if you are looking through the door at my kitchen or if it’s a reflection.  I’ll let you guess which.

My microwave after cleaning with the same 50/50 solution. It's never been so shiny.

So there you have it!  Try this at home but I recomend you test this cleaner on surfaces you aren’t sure about.  I would hate see you remove the paint off your cabinets or messy up your pretty tile or wood floors.  When in doubt go with a diluted solution first then up grade as needed.

Blessings and joy!  And happy cleaning. [kiss]

She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.  Proverbs 31:17 

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homemade air freshener

homemade air freshener

Over the past few years I’ve noticed that I have become more and more sensitive to a number of things including fragrances and air fresheners.  After reading some of the contents on various air freshener labels I’ve noticed there are essentially two kinds, air fresheners with gobs of stuff I cant pronounce and air fresheners with the simplest list of ingredients; alcohol, water and essential oils.

I have come to greatly appreciate the latter.  One type in particlular stands out in my mind as simple and amazing in it’s ability to freshen the air quickly and pleasently.  I’ve considered trying to reproduce it and have come up with a recipe I think will ease the minds of most indoor air-pollution consious persons.


  • 6 oz  distilled water
  • several drops of essential oil (citrus, peppermint, lavender, etc)
  • 1 oz  alcohol (rubbing, vodka, gin etc)

Use a good misting style trigger spay bottle, shake and spritz away!

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photo: Not Dabbling in Normal

In the beginning God created the….

Ok so I wont go that far back but I will ask you to think about what it would have been like to be in the kitchen a couple hundred years ago.  What items would have been in the ordinary pantry?  How simple would the ingredients have been back then?  Raw, unprocessed foods were the supplies in the kitchen except for some things like sugar, flour and maybe a few other simple cooking and baking ingredients we take for granted today.

Simpler times meant simpler ingredients and it was cost effective.  Today, we face the dilemma of trying to decide which can of soup is the healthiest without loosing all that flavor or which boxed cake is the easiest while still light and moist.  Plus, we could save a bundle if we think simple foods and avoid the center of the grocery store and probably be healthier for it too.

I was reminded, this morning, of those simpler times at Not Dabbling in Normal. This sight is full of simpler times, eating real food and growing your own.  Today, Baking Powder is the topic.  Have you ever made your own?  Did  you know you could?… It never even crossed my mind.  Surprise!  Simpler is putting it lightly.  I figured it’s like lots of other stuff that requires special ingredients an ordinary cook doesn’t have access to.

If you want to simplify your kitchen, save a little for the cookie jar, are going back to basics or just want to experience a new thing, try making  your own Baking Powder.  Visit Not Dabbling in Normal and see how simple it really is.  You wont believe your eyes!

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Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread

It’s been quite some time since I posted any thoughts here at Fishes and Loaves so I figured I needed to poke my head up and let you know I was still around.

Actually, I’ve got some Amish Friendship Bread in the oven as I type this.  Amish Friendship Bread is great in a pinch when you need to throw something together that’s sweet and goes well with coffee or a cold glass of milk.  You can smother it with ice cream or a fancy vanilla sauce or you can dunk it.  Any way you choose it’s delicious.

The thing about this sweet bread is that it starts with a yeast starter and needs to be fed on a regular basis just like sour dough starter so if you arent up to the maintenance you might not like this style of bread.

On the other hand if you like to share your recipes this is a wonderful way to do that since you “grow” your starter and then split and share it with your friends, hence the name Friendship Bread.

Here’s the same recipe I’ve been using but there are other similar recipes all over the internet.  This site suggests giving your friendship bread away to the needy.  A nice opportunity to share the love of Christ.

Acts 2:46-47
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

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Picture 2
Here in Southern California, after temperatures in excess of 105℉, things are beginning to cool off as Fall is right around the corner. That means it’s almost time to fire up that oven, roll up my sleeves and get to work on a no-knead bread recipe I had tried a few months ago.

If you have tasted homemade bread you know how wonderful that first warm slice all buttered and crispy/chewy is.  Right out of the oven, fresh baked artisan style bread is on the top of my comfort food list.  

This recipe calls for 12-18 hours of  fermenting of the yeast mixture and final proofing, and about 45 minutes to an hour in the oven.  Because timing is important you do need to do some planning to be sure you’ve started the process at a time that will work with your schedule.  

For instance, if I mix the ingredients at 6pm on Friday evening, then I’ll need to be in a position to do the next step between 6am and 10am Saturday morning.  Then I’ll have to wait another 2 hours or so of proofing time before I can put the final dough into the oven and be willing to wait another 45 minutes to an hour before its ready.  If you follow this schedule you’ll have great bread to go with that bowl of chili or soup or make panini at lunch.

It’s really easy and requires no previous experience.  Just some patience and a 6-8 qt. cast iron Dutch Oven.  

If you are looking to try making bread for the first time you don’t have to be afraid of this recipe.  It works out great every time.

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned.
Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

I do hope you try this wonderful old world style bread.  It’s great with a hearty soup or just toasted hot with butter and jam.

For more great bread recipes check out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I use this kind of 6 qt or larger cast iron dutch oven.  You really don’t need to pay $200.oo+ for that fancy french one.

Leviticus 2:7
‘If your offering is a grain offering baked in a covered pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.”

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Some of us do some traveling now and then and a nice hotel comes with pricey room service and even more pricey restaurants.  I’ve seen folks talk about making a grilled cheese sandwich on the clothes iron in your room but how about tortellini with spinach and crème fraîche and ciabatta muffins?…. FROM SCRATCH?.. no microwave, no toaster!!!   Now that’s what I call room service!

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There’s a part of me that genuinely believes I was born in the wrong century.  When I was a child I loved to imagine myself in the old west something like Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family.  Living off the land and preparing all sorts of wonderful and useful home made concoctions.  Sounds so glamours but not very realistic.  

That part of me sneaks up every once in a while and I get the urge to bake or make a home remedy or some soap.  Usually these urges are unheeded but this week is an exception.

This morning I baked some yeasty no-knead whole wheat rolls which were perfect for our lunch sandwiches of roast beef and pepper-jack cheese.  While, over the past few days, I have been drying and packaging peppermint leaves I grew in my garden for tea.  The aroma in my house on Monday was intoxicating and lasted for days as the oven and food dehydrator slowly did their magic and dried the leaves.  After some simple tasks I now have two large canisters filled with loose tea leaves for gifts and for my own pantry.  And I have plenty of peppermint in the garden to make some more next week and hope to stock up for the year.

This afternoon I’ve been trying something totally outside of my experiences.  I’ve created a simple still on my stove and have begun the process of distilling lavender water from which I hope to extract lavender oil.  

Once again the house smells like a perfumery and I’m so giddy at the thought of my first adventure in making my own frangrances for bath and body soaps and salts.  

Leave a comment… tell me what you like to make at home.

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