Experimenting In the Kitchen

I always marveled at my Grandma’s ability to throw together ingredients without the use of a measuring cup or recipe and have a meal turn out great. Her cooking was meat heavy – bacon grease in the green beans, lots of fried foods, homemade chicken noodles and beautiful, scrumptious pies.

My eating style is much different now than it was when she was living but it seems I inherited her talent for instinctive cooking. It sounds arrogant to say that because she was as much better cook than I will ever be but I did at least inherit a fraction of that skill.

The problem is that I can never recreate a dish.

Ever.

Even my breakfast smoothie is different every day. The only thing I bother to measure is the almond milk and then just toss in random amounts of other ingredients. I made a great bean soup last week but I’ll never taste it again since I just diced carrots, celery and onion until it looked like I had enough and tossed in minced garlic until I panicked because it seemed like too much.

This is partly because I’m often adapting recipes to make them vegan so there’s a lot of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experimentation happening. Other than that, I have no good excuse but I have had some really good meals.

The other day, I made some maple peanut butter granola that was divine. I used oats, almond slivers and pecan pieces with a pinch of salt. Then melted peanut butter, agave nectar and pure maple syrup in the microwave and mixed it all together with those dry ingredients. When it just started to toast, I pulled it from the oven and added a small sprinkling of vegan chocolate chips and some golden raisins. Amounts? No clue. Temperature? I think it was 350 degrees. Time? Not sure. About fifteen minutes, maybe.

I let it rest on the cookie sheet for over an hour to finish roasting and then to cool for storage. That, I remember.

While the results were fabulous, I clearly won’t be writing a cookbook anytime soon. That’s ok. This, luckily, isn’t a cooking blog and I have fun in the kitchen so that’s all that really matters!

What meals can you cook without a recipe? We all have a collection of dishes that we toss together this way so tell me all about yours!

Happiness Is….

Happiness is homemade granola, fresh from the oven. The recipe was simple and it didn’t get as crispy as the blogger promised but the flavor is amazing.

Next time I’ll bake it a smidge longer to take care of that crispy issue.

What’s making you happy today?

Simple ways to save: Laundry room edition

Have you noticed lately what it costs to buy just one jug of laundry detergent? Why is keeping your clothes clean so expensive?

About a year ago I realized that my laundry detergent was costing a lot of money every year and that it wasn’t doing anything special. I mean, that $16 container of Tide doesn’t come with Rosie from the Jetsons to actually fold and put away your clothes for you.

A friend recommended that I try making my own laundry detergent and even gave me a recipe. With about a $7 investment I was able to make enough batches of detergent to last my single self for close to a year. My clothes look, feel and smell cleaner. The waste is just two small boxes and a soap wrapper and I store my detergent in an airtight container that looks attractive sitting on the shelf.  I couldn’t be happier!

Powdered Laundry Detergent:
1 c. grated Fels Naptha soap
½ c. washing soda
½ c. borax
For light load, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy or soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.

Here are a couple of other recipes that I have found useful:

Laundry Pre-treatment:
½ c. ammonia
½ c. white vinegar
¼ c. baking soda
2 tbsp. liquid soap or laundry detergent
2 quarts water
Mix in spray bottle. Spray spot.

Laundry Pre-treatment 2:
1 tsp. liquid laundry detergent
2 tbsp. ammonia
1 pt. warm water

Mix in spray bottle. Spray spot, let sit for 20 minutes.

Fabric Softener:
Add ½ – 1 c. vinegar to your softener dispenser

Bleach Alternative  for Laundry
¼ c. hydrogen peroxide

I know in this busy world it may not sound practical to make your own laundry supplies. But look at the recipes. All the supplies should be available at your local grocery or big box store. The most labor intensive part is grating the soap for detergent and that just takes a few minutes. The reward is well worth the grating time.

What do you think? Have you ever made laundry detergent? Do you like it?