Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Things!

I am a “saver”. I try to keep it under control so that I don’t turn into a “hoarder”, but I am always trying to find ways to repurpose items rather than throwing them away (not to mention saving myself money).

One way I “save” is by re-using food containers from the store. The 32 ounce cottage cheese containers are the perfect size for freezing stock, for example. The problem is, when I put them in the fridge or freezer, I often forget what I had in them, because my mind says “oh, that’s your cottage cheese”.

Well, no more! I found this on Pinterest and tried it myself at home. It seems like such a no-brainer, I can’t believe I never thought of it,

Acetone nail polish remover. I have this on hand all the time anyway. It takes a little patience, but if you soak a cotton ball and let it sit on the ink on a container, it will begin to remove it. A little rubbing, and away it goes! Now, I HAVE found that it doesn’t work on EVERYTHING. For example, it didn’t want to remove the ink from the LIDS of these sour cream containers, but hey, at least now I can tell it’s a re-used container.
The acetone doesn’t seem to hurt the integrity of the container at all, and being able to re-use them is a good thing for me. In this small town, the recycle center only accepts #1 and #2 plastics, and most of this type of container are #4 or #5. So its either re-purpose, or throw away. And I just HATE option #2. Don’t you?

I may never need to buy new containers again. And THAT’s a GOOD thing! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jam Exchange 2012!

This summer has definitely been one for the record books. Extreme heat, drought, and a very poor growing season all combined to make this summer.....not very fun for canning.

For the past few years, I have been participating in Steph Chow's Jam Exchange, and it is SO. MUCH. FUN. What a good excuse to gather produce from the garden, make something lovely out of it and send it off to someone you've never met? And THEN! When that long-awaited mystery package arrives at your doorstep...well....its kind of like Christmas in July. Ok, technically September, but you get the idea.

Luckily, I got an early start to my jamming this year and finished off my first batch in May, before the heatwave crippled the entire midwest. Somehow I managed another batch in June, and then, just this last weekend, the third - an experiment. I have to mail my package fast, before I give the rest of my goodies away to family and friends!

I hope my jammy exchange partner (check her out at Blondie's Cakes!)enjoys the package heading her way on Monday, with one jar each of my Piña Colada (recipe here), Mango Habañero (recipe HERE), and the new experiment - Corn Cob Jelly! (recipe below!). I had so much fun putting these together, two long time favorites in this house and a new addition to the menu.

Corn Cob Jelly
12 large ears of corn
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
3-4 cups sugar

Cook corn; cut kernels from cobs and store for another use. Measure 2 quarts water into a large pot; add corn cobs.

Bring to a boil; boil hard for 30 minutes. (If you had the pot covered when you brought it to a boil, take the lid off now. Boil it down uncovered for a more concentrated result.) Turn off heat and remove cobs. Strain corn liquid through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer if you like a clear jelly. (I prefer to leave the corn bits in there! I didn’t strain it.)

Measure remaining corn liquid. I got a little over 3 1/2 cups corn liquid after it boiled down. Return liquid to the large pot. Stir in lemon juice and pectin. (Add a dab of butter to prevent foaming.) Bring to a boil. Add sugar cup per cup to match the measure of your corn liquid. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring pot to a rolling boil. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. (I probably boiled mine for five minutes at this stage because the first batch I tried never set up very well.) Remove from heat. Ladle hot corn cob jelly into hot jars. Adjust lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Tied in Knots

We are living in the electronic age. Everyone knows this. If you didn't, well, you've been living under a cyber-rock. Technology is wonderful...and horrible....all at the same time.

Evidence? That mess of look-alike black cables seething in your desk drawer, or jumbled about in the junk drawer of your kitchen. So many cables....a different one for every device. (one for everyone in the house, and each one unique), Kindle....GPS.... you name it, it comes with a cable.

Now, try finding the right one when you REALLY need it.

SOLUTION!!! Its sheer genius, really. I reorganized the basket I have in my computer desk where all the mystery cables reside. All it took was some 6-inch scraps of PVC, a sharpie and some zip ties.

Now, if I can just keep the husband out of it, it might just STAY organized!