Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adventures in Luffa

Or loofah, as you please.

These long-season plants, similar to cucumbers, grow MILES.  This year, our second in attempting to grow them, finally proved to be a success.  Their flowers are beautiful and attracted lots of bees in the fall.

I think I might have waited too long to begin peeling mine, but I had tried to peel another and was too quick, so I decided to be good and sure!  

We chose the floor for our peeling experiment because it was MESSY.  Here, the kids are picking out the seeds so we can try again next year!

She's so proud of herself for gathering seeds (and she closed her eyes on purpose).

Bear Cub Q wanted a picture taken too.

The leftovers.  It's supposed to be easier to peel than this, if you peel earlier,
but I didn't know that until after the fact.
I will be washing it next, and bleaching if necessary.

If you would like some seeds, please leave your email.  I'd be willing to send out a few envelopes of 10 seeds for anyone who would send me a SASE.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Homemade Chili Powder

This year, I had plenty of chilis, so I made a double batch.  If you want a smaller amount, cut the ingredients in half!

2 c. dried chilis
We use any kind of dried pepper.  The hotter the peppers, the hotter the powder.
Last year, I made a pretty mild version, using plenty of bell peppers, but, since the the peppers are fresh instead of having sat on a grocery store shelf for a while, the taste is still much stronger than I was used to from my old chili powder!  Use at your own risk.

2 t. paprika
2 T. dried oregano
4 T. garlic powder

4 T. toasted cumin seeds
(toast over medium high heat, shaking frequently)

Throw in the blender until a fine powder is formed.
Please don't open it for a little bit, or all these fine particles will be in your eyes instead of
in the blender, and you don't want that!  (Neither do I!)

On the left, remnants of last year's batch.
I used more green peppers, so you can see it has a more greenish cast.

I'm looking forward to trying it!

I *think* this is based on an Alton Brown recipe I found last year, but since I didn't note it on my recipe card, I'm just not sure!  Check out other homestead blogs on the Barn Hop at Homestead Revival.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

No-Sew Handkerchiefs

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those T-shirts?  You know the ones I mean... you can't wear them anymore in public, but you don't really want to save them for a T-shirt quilt (one can only have so many T-shirt quilts, after all), but you hate to throw them away?

Two winters ago, I was appalled at how many tissues we used in the winter, even when no one was sick.  Our house is approaching its 90 year mark, and with the original windows in place until a month ago, winters were cold, and that meant drippy noses.  Why buy tissues, I thought, when I could make them?

A pile of T-shirts had been aging nicely in my "someday" pile, the pile of things I will do "something" with, "someday."  In search of a good use for the soft fabric (and noticing my children preferring to wipe their noses on their clothes rather than stiff tissues), I decided to try a few no-sew handkerchiefs.

Two years in, I think they're great!  Because we have a shoe-box full, they don't have to be reused all day like traditional handkerchiefs.  I have to wash cloth diapers and make sure they're sanitary, so the cloth tissues can go in the same wash and be germ-free. (The tissue to the right is old and no longer a tissue... it was commandeered as a rag for an ink spill, and has only gotten more stained with time!)

Here are two old polo shirts that I cut recently.  One was too worn for my husband to wear to work, and the other had a large grease stain.  Neither matters for tissues!

I use a 6.5" quilting ruler and a rotary cutter, but you could cut a template to your preferred size out of cardboard, mark with a pencil or chalk, and cut with plain old scissors.

The important thing here, to avoid needing to sew the edges, is to cut on the bias, or a 45 degree angle from the straight edge of the fabric.  There is a little raveling the first few washes, if you use something like an old tea towel, but T-shirts don't ravel at all... as long as you cut on the bias.  Also, if you have a t-shirt with a large plastic logo on it, I would not use the plasticy part for a tissue.  Just cut around it.  Tea towers also work (that old, stained tissue is one of the originals, now ink-stained from some long ago spill...), or flannel receiving blankets that have one of those permanent stains on them.

You don't have to be too scientific about where to start cutting... I managed 9 new 6.5" squares from a medium polo, and 16 from an extra large! 25 new tissues from a few minutes work for something that I wouldn't give away and couldn't use anymore in it's original form.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.