Sunday, February 19, 2012

By hook, cook, and laboratory!

(because I didn't want to write two blogs - and I don't have pictures - my two DIY experiments are included here today :-)

Purple Cauliflower (cook)
See this gorgeous thing that I found at the Farmers' Market?

I'd already been planning to get cauliflower because I was assigned to bring the side dish to our Sunday night small group meeting, and I wanted to re-make this dish (from Pinterest, of course!).  I just couldn't pass up the glory of the purple one!  Here's how it turned out:
all chopped up, tossed, and ready to roast 
It looks a lot like I was letting Judith paint vegetables.  :-)  I really expected that (like with the purple bush beans that I grow) the color would leach out of the cauliflower during cooking.  I even saved some out to take along to group to prove that it had really been purple.  Instead the opposite happened!  Lance compared it to blanching broccoli - which enhances the color.  The roasted cauliflower was a deep, dark purple.  The picture below really doesn't do it justice, but it was the best I could get.
After cooking

And it tasted good too!  (Notice the small amount left above - and that was only saved se I could take the picture.)

Most people assumed I'd done something to make it purple, but it really just grows that way.  Wikipedia says:  Purple color in cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanins, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include 'Graffiti' and 'Purple Cape'.  I'm almost tempted to try to grow some, but I'm afraid mine would be full of aphids.

Bunny Slippers (hook)
shhhh...I made these for a friend.  She had posted a picture of some made for children, and waxed so eloquent about them that I thought, why not?  I searched around for a pattern, but couldn't find one, but I found this one that was pretty close, and I modified it to fit her feet instead of a baby's.  Then I experimented with eyes and the tail.  I think they turned out pretty well, but we'll see what she thinks!
DIY Dishwasher Detergent (lab)
We came to the end of our dishwasher detergent supply this week, and I decided to experiment with making my own.  (Pinterest, how you inspire me!)  So I found this recipe, and got the ingredients (Borax, Washing Soda, and Lemi-Shine).  The first two I could easily find at Winco, the local discount grocery store, but I spent a good two hours driving around trying to find the Lemi-Shine.  When I had checked online, it said the local Walmarts had it in stock, but I couldn't find it at the first one.  And since I was at other stores I asked around, but everyone kept referring me to orange cleaners.  When we finally found it (at a different Walmart), Judith said "Mama, is that the Lemi-Shine?" and proudly carried it up to the checker.  And she pointed it out to Daddy later in the day.  

Anyway, I combined the ingredients as instructed, put the result in a container, and have been quite happy with the washing power of my new detergent.  It is the first time I've used a powdered detergent, so that feels a little strange, but the dishes are certainly getting clean.  That's the main thing.  And it's all natural, and pretty cheap to make.

DIY Liquid Soap (lab)
I was in a DIY mode after the detergent, and noticed this recipe on Pinterest.  I'd just noticed that our three liquid soap dispensers were running low, and was planning to purchase a big refill bottle next week.  For a couple years now I've been buying the gigantic refill bottle and re-filling the small pumps by each sink.  This saves a lot of money over buying new small bottles, but using this DIY recipe, I can control the ingredients, and save even more money!  So when Daddy came home from work on Saturday afternoon, the three of us took a walk to the local CVS (for Glycerin) and to the 99 cent store (for a bar of soap - we got Yardley's English Lavendar).  Then I got out the cheese grater and experimented.  Basically, you melt the soap in the water, add some glycerin, and let it cool.  As a lot of people noted in the comments to the recipe, it looked like skim milk when the melting part was done.  Fortunately, I'd read through all the comments, and I knew that it needed time to gel.  However, I wasn't entirely sure of my success yet, so I didn't start pouring it into bottles or anything, just let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours.  Oh how I wish I'd trusted it!  By about three hours later it had congealed to the consistency of egg white (less charitable comments said "snot"), and like egg white it wanted to stick together!  Getting the soap from the big pot to small bottles (through a small funnel) was not easy!  (I kept thinking how much easier it would have been to pour the "skim milk" in.)  But I persevered!  And used lots of paper towel.  Now I have three full bottles of hand soap that's nearly the same consistency as what I buy (it gelled further overnight), as well as 3 pints of soap to store!  (Anyone need some?)  It smells very nice - not-too-strongly lavender, and it definitely cleans hands.  The only thing that's a little strange about it is the relative lack of suds.  But I learned (again from the comments, as well as from a discussion with Lance, who used to work in his aunt's health food store) that suds are typically caused by things (like Sodium Laurel Sulfate) that are added to the soap by manufacturers, and really aren't necessary for cleaning anyway.  I'm so excited with the success of this experiment!  For about $1.50 (the glycerin cost like $6, but I only used 1T) I made enough liquid soap to last us for a year!

Next experiment:  bubble bath!

The joy
As I know I've said before, I was created to create.  I really enjoy making things.  I take great joy in finding ways to be "greener" and save money at the same time.   And that purple cauliflower?  Oh. Wow.  What beautiful variety God created for us!  

Joy to you!