Archive for December, 2011

Mending Plastic Toys.

Country Woman had a post in their December edition about how to mend plastic toys.  This is actually a method I’ve used for some time now and it works great.   We all have those little parts and pieces from plastic kid toys that get broken off…then end up throwing the toy away, well it’s not trash and can be repaired with a fairly simple step.

Take your kitchen knife and heat it over a open flame (I keep a old one around for just such emergencies).  Then when hot press it against the broken part and the part it broke off of to melt the plastic…hold the pieces of melted plastic together tightly for a few minutes and ….fixed.

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Bacon, love it…the taste, the smell it’s just the wonder food.  I wonder how many know that they can make their own bacon quite easily from their own homes without needing to subject themselves to all the preservatives and additives thrown into commercial bacon found on the store shelves.

Many are afraid to attempt making bacon at home. The element of needing to either hang it for months or put it in a smoker filled with wood chips sets the fear in so many individuals they avoid it.  You don’t need either of these to make your own bacon, your kitchen oven works just fine and even the apartment dweller can make it.

Bacon does not need to be made only from the stomach of the pig either, pig jowls make excellent, and, in my opinion, flavorful bacon.

To make your own bacon you need the following ingredients:

Pork belly or Pork Jowls.  (See your butcher)

2 oz kosher salt

2 tsp pink salt  (often sold online or some butchers carry this also)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple sugar

2 tbsp liquid smoke

Combine ingredients in a bowl and pour over your pork inside a Ziploc baggie.  Rotate to coat well and place baggy in your refrigerator.  Turn it three times daily, (when you get up, get home from work, before you go to bed) for a total of seven days.

On the seventh day, remove your bacon and place on cookie rack atop a cookie sheet and bake in oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  (You will need a meat thermometer, these are cheap and can be found in most grocery stores).

That’s it….when ready to use simply thick cut (or thin if you are talented enough to) your bacon and fry as you would normally.  Enjoy!

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I had a bag full of some really pitiful looking apples that were in need of some TLC.   Now, let me warn you, I have a “Waste Not Want Not.” mentality.  So these little apples got transformed today into some goodies to grace the canning shelves.  First step was to peel them all, and keep the peelings and cores in a kettle and not the garbage.  The apples I sliced, then diced.  I know…diced apples for apple pie filling?  Yes! I like apple pies where I get a bite of apple in every fork full, not to mention that it’s far easier to stuff homemade pop tarts, apple filled donuts, mini pies and tortes with….so….I diced my apples and put them in the crock pot.  I then added enough water to be visible under the top layer of apples, turned it on low and went to bed.  Next morning I woke up and added 2 cups of sugar, 1 tbsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of nutmeg, 1 tsp all spice and 1 tsp cloves to the crock.  I did at this stage remove about 2 cups of the liquid which I turned into Apple Pie Jelly (using the steps below).  The rest I turned the crock on high, vented the lid slightly and let it cook away until the liquid thickened  (or about 2 hours).  From here it was just filling canning jars and hot water bathing for 30 minutes.

Now, as I said….I am a firm believer in Waste Not Want Not…and there was a lot of peels and cores sitting in the scrap pile left over from making the apple pie filling (happens when making apple sauce too).  These normally tossed away elements make the most wonderful jelly.  Simply put them in a pot on the stove and add enough water to be visible just under the top layer of peels.  Bring to slow boil and let cook down until soft.   Using a colander over a large bowl,  pour the cooked down mixture into the colander and let the juices drain out.  You can now discard the rest to your compost heap OR feed your chickens.

The nice thing about apple jelly is that apple is what pectin is ….you don’t need to buy pectin when making it.  Simply to every cup of liquid add 3/4 cup to 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil….watch closely it WILL boil a sticky mess all over if you don’t.   This will take some time to cook down …so expect about 30-40 minutes for this process.   To test if your jelly has cooked down enough fill a bowl with ice cubes and using a metal table spoon scoop some of the boiling liquid into it and rest the spoon on top the ice for about 3 minutes.  Lift the spoon and if the syrup is still watery and runny it needs more time.  If it sits like a glob on the spoon…it’s ready to into jars and be hot water bathed for 30 minutes.

I made two variations to traditional straight apple jelly…there are a ton of combinations you can try.   For the Ginger-Apple Jelly I cut up fresh ginger root into the peels, though you can use about 1/2 tsp powdered ginger if you desire.   For the Grapple Jelly I added 1 can of frozen concord grape juice concentrate to the apple juice and cooked down until set.  If I had fresh concord grapes here I would have smashed them up with the apples and let them cook down.

There you have it, a way to use the whole apple and end up with some delicious treats.

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