Butterfly Fund

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making Wine At Home

How to Make Wine at Home

Have you ever wanted to make homemade wine? Here's how.

Did You Know?

Back in the days of prohibition, when wine was illegal to produce, grape growers would mail blocks of grapes to thirsty patrons, along with packets of yeast and careful directions on how to prevent the two ingredients from accidentally coming together and, gasp, turning into wine.

Like many things we love, wine was probably first discovered by happy accident. Many thousands of years ago, natural yeasts, blowing in the wind, would have settled upon a handful of squashed grapes, whose juice was pooling in the shaded bowl of a rock. After fermenting, some lucky passerby would have stooped down for a taste, and liked what he discovered.

In theory, making wine is as simple as that: Yeasts meet grape juice in an environment that allows fermentation. Of course, over the span of the millennia, the process of winemaking has been refined and the environment controlled, to the point of being both science and art.

What You Need

Making homemade wine is easier than you might think. Mostly, it takes a few pieces of inexpensive equipment, serious cleanliness, and a whole mess of patience.

Equipment Checklist:

    One 4-gallon food-grade-quality plastic bucket and lid to serve as the primary fermentation vat
    Three 1-gallon glass jugs to use as secondary fermentation containers
    A funnel that fits into the mouth of the glass bottles
    Three airlocks (fermentation traps)
    A rubber cork (or bung) to fit into the secondary fermentation container
    Large straining bag of nylon mesh
    About 6 feet of clear half-inch plastic tubing
    About 20 wine bottles (you'll need 5 bottles per gallon of wine)
    Number 9-size, pre-sanitized corks
    Hand corker (ask about renting these from the wine supply store)
    A Hydrometer to measure sugar levels

Ingredient Checklist:

    Lots and lots of wine grapes
    Granulated sugar
    Filtered water
    Wine Yeast

To the above list you can refine the process by adding such things as Campden tablets to help prevent oxidation, yeast nutrients, enzymes, tannins, acids, and other fancy ingredients to better control your wine production.

Making Wine

Part 1

    Ensure your equipment is thoroughly sterilized and then rinsed clean. (Ask at the wine supply store about special detergents, bleaches, etc.). It's best to clean and rinse your equipment immediately before using.
    Select your grapes, tossing out rotten or peculiar-looking grapes.
    Wash your grapes thoroughly.
    Remove the stems.
    Crush the grapes to release the juice (called "must") into the primary fermentation container. Your hands will work here as well as anything. Or go old school and stomp with your feet. If you’re making a lot of wine, you might look into renting a fruit press from a wine supply store.
    Add wine yeast.
    Insert the hydrometer into the must. If it reads less than 1.010, consider adding sugar. If you're adding sugar, first dissolve granulated sugar in pure filtered water (adding sugar helps boost low alcohol levels). Stir the must thoroughly.
    Cover primary fermentation bucket with cloth; allow must to ferment for one week to 10 days. Over the course of days, fermentation will cause a froth to develop on top and sediment to fall to the bottom.

Part 2

    Gently strain the liquid to remove the sediment and froth.
    Run the juice through a funnel into sanitized glass secondary fermentation containers. Fill to the top to reduce the amount of air reaching the wine.
    Fit the containers with airlocks.
    Allow the juice to ferment for several weeks.
    Use the plastic tube to siphon the wine into clean glass secondary fermentation containers. Again, the purpose here is to separate the wine from sediment that forms as the wine ferments.
    Continue to siphon the wine off the sediment periodically (this is called "racking") for 2 or 3 months until the wine is running clear.

Part 3

    Run the wine into bottles (using the cleaned plastic tubing), leaving space for the cork plus about a half inch or so of extra room.
    Insert corks.
    Store the wine upright for the first three days.
    After three days, store the wine on its side at, ideally, 55 degrees F. For red wine, age for at least 1 year. White wine can be ready to drink after only 6 months.

Coins left on Tombstones

My husband is active duty Army. I found this interesting...


While visiting some cemeteries you may notice that headstones marking certain graves have coins on them, left by previous visitors to the grave.

These coins have distinct meanings when left on the headstones of those who gave their life while serving in America's military, and these meanings vary depending on the denomination of coin.

A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier's family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited.

A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served with him in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the solider when he was killed.

According to tradition, the money left at graves in national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

In the US, this practice became common during the Vietnam war, due to the political divide in the country over the war; leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier's family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war.

Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a "down payment" to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.
The tradition of leaving coins on the headstones of military men and women can be traced to as far back as the Roman Empire.

Winter Gardening, Preparing for Spring

I miss Spring!!! I love Spring!!! I need Spring!!!

Pleased help support The Butterfly Bonsai by visiting the advertisers of this page.

Winter gardening is a weak area for me. I suffer seasonal depression, and many times, the gray gloomies catch a hold of me quite badly. However, I am trying to fight this, and I continue to research articles for preparing for Spring.

I love Spring! For me, it is the absolute best season of the year! I love the warm breezes, the lengthening of the days, the Spring rains, the new growth, the green spreading across the fields and trees. I love everything about Spring!

My mother and my daughter both loved Spring, though I must admit, I believe that Fall was my mother's favorite time of year. She was born and raised up north, and she loved the changing of the colors, harvest time, and preparing for the holidays. I was the one who was chomping at the bit to break out the tiller and feel that warmed earth turning under my bare toes. (Yes, I know that this was dangerous and I do not recommend anyone tilling without proper foot wear.) But I was a rebel. I still adore the smell and feel of fresh turned earth!

I have collected several articles about preparing for the Spring, and I hope that they are able to help you through this dreariest part of the winter. (Yes, I know that some people truly love winter, however, I am NOT one of them.)

The weather outside might still be frightful, but if you’re planning to grow a garden this spring, now is the best time to choose a site and prepare your soil. Determine a garden spot that’s sunny most of the day, (keep in mind that bare winter trees will block sun in summer) and where it will be convenient to pop out and harvest something fresh for a meal. Access to tool storage, water, a compost pile and possibly electricity (for power tools) is also helpful.

Consider designating three or four distinct garden plots, which will allow you to rotate crops—a traditional method of plot management in which vegetables with like needs are grouped together. The three main groups are brassicas (cabbages, cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts), root crops (carrots, parsnips, beets and potatoes) and legumes (peas and beans). Make a fourth group with whatever miscellaneous tender vegetables you decide to grow, such as zucchini, sweet corn, celery and tomatoes. Divide your garden plot into three or four areas, and rotate each crop group to a new plot every three or four years to avoid the buildup of pests and diseases that can occur when the same crops grow in the same spot year after year. Planning for crop rotation also allows you to prepare and feed soil in the ideal way for each crop.

Good Soil

Soil is a plant’s essential source of moisture, air and nutrients. Good soil is a living, thriving community. Many small beneficial creatures such as earthworms, wood lice, centipedes, microscopic bacteria and fungi contribute to a healthy ecosystem by converting dead material into organic matter. Topsoil is the rich, well-cultivated uppermost layer in which most plant roots grow. It’s generally around 12 inches deep, although depth varies depending on whether soil has been well-cultivated or neglected. One of the best ways to improve soil is to cultivate deeply, which opens up soil for air and water to penetrate plant roots.

Prepare your soil for growing vegetables by turning soil over in advance, ideally during winter, digging 6 to 12 inches deep. Add organic matter in the form of compost, leaves, rotted manure or seaweed. If you don’t have your own compost, you can often find it for free or for sale in your community; search online for “compost” and your community name.

As the soil starts to dry in spring, finish the seedbed by breaking down the surface into a fine crumble, using a fork and rake. If the soil is not sticky, you can walk on it at this stage, which breaks the clods and gently firms the surface. Apply a balanced organic fertilizer, then do a final raking. Remove excess stones, remaining clods and any weeds. Ideally, you should prepare your seedbed well in advance of the first sowing, allowing time for a first crop of weeds to germinate. Hoe off the weed seedlings immediately before sowing your garden seeds, which will give your crops a head start.

What’s Your Soil Type?

Depending on your soil type and pH, it may also be helpful to amend your soil before the gardening season begins. First, determine what kind of soil you’re working with. The mineral components of soil are clay, silt and sand. A good soil is one that contains a mixture of all three; gardeners call these soils loamy.

• Clay soils are heavy and difficult to cultivate. They can be wet, poorly drained and slow to warm in spring. They do retain moisture through summer. Clay soils can be improved with cultivation, added organic matter and possibly sharp sand.
• Sandy soils drain well, are easy to cultivate and tend to warm up quickly in spring, making them good for growing vegetables, in particular root vegetables such as carrots. Sandy soils do not retain water or fertilizer well, so they tend to need more irrigation and regular feeding.
• Silty soils are not common but are also good for growing vegetables. They generally behave like sandy soils but are richer and less prone to drying.

Determine what type of soil you have by rubbing a small sample between your wet fingers. Sandy soil feels gritty and does not stick together. 

Clay soil feels sticky and rolls into a ball. Silty soils feel silky and smooth. If you have loamy soil, you may be able to feel all of the constituents in the mixture in varying proportions.

Soil pH is also an important factor—soils above 7 on the pH scale are alkaline and soils below 7 are acidic. The ideal pH for most vegetables is 6.5, just slightly acidic. Soil testing kits are readily available from garden centers. They’ll advise you on natural materials you can work into your soil to raise or lower the acidity, achieving a pH range that will allow your plants to take up the nutrients they need.

To make soil more acidic, many test kits recommend adding lime; to make it more alkaline, add wood ashes. Autumn is the ideal time to apply lime to the soil, but you can apply it in winter if the soil isn’t frozen. Beware that it is difficult to reverse the effects of liming, so use small quantities and monitor the effects before adding more. Never apply lime at the same time as manure, as the two react and produce ammonia, which will scorch roots. Also keep in mind that soil’s pH is not constant; you might want to test every few years. Tests will also reveal any toxins in your soil. If you find you have toxic soil, don’t worry. You can either add several feet of uncontaminated soil and compost, or grow food in containers or raised beds.

A Few More Garden Tips

Winter is the best time to start a few other helpful garden habits. To save money later, think now about ways to conserve water once the garden is growing. Peruse garden centers and catalogs for large water catchment tanks (check out Rainwater HOG modular tanks) or drip irrigation kits. Adding mulch to garden beds also helps conserve moisture—you can begin accumulating natural mulch materials such as leaves and twigs at any time.

Starting a compost heap will also save you money over buying organic fertilizer, and it provides a no landfill way of disposing of garden, yard and kitchen waste. To start a compost heap, you just need a way to contain it—for example, a circle made with chicken wire. (Find instructions to make a compost bin from old shipping pallets.) You can compost much of your kitchen and garden waste, including eggshells, vegetable peelings, rotten fruit, grass clippings, leaves, old potting soil, tea and coffee grounds, newspaper, plain cardboard and yard waste. Do not compost pet feces, meat or fatty foods. If the compost heap is dry, water it occasionally. Compost usually takes three to six months to mature. It’s ready when it resembles crumbly dark brown dirt and smells earthy but not unpleasant. If possible, have two heaps—one rotting down while the other is building up.

It’s a good idea to plan your food storage in advance, too. Set aside space in the basement or garage if you plan to store long-keeping crops such as carrots, onions and potatoes through the cold months. You might also want to make room in your pantry or consider investing in a chest freezer if you want to can, ferment, dry or freeze garden produce.

Janus, who lends his name to the month of January, was the dual-faced Roman god of gates and doors.  He also was called the god of beginnings as it was commonly believed that you needed to go through a door or gate in order to enter a new place or beginning.

The god was depicted as looking forward and backwards at the same time--forward towards new beginnings and back towards the past.  It's an appropriate symbol for this month as it's a time when gardeners are thinking about last year's garden in order to look ahead to the new growing season.

If you are like many gardeners, you probably keep notes on annual seed and plant purchases, past garden successes and failures, and even new things to try.  It's a good idea to review these before you start planning your seed and equipment orders.  Maps of past gardens will help you rotate plants and avoid overcrowding when planning spacing of plantings.

January is a good time to start a garden journal or even just a file where you can store articles clipped out of newspapers and magazines, or lists of ideas you want to try in the garden.  A good place to get a few new ideas is by taking a class or joining a garden club.  Most gardeners love to talk about gardening and won't mind sharing some of their tried and true methods and products with you. 

Next, check the seeds you saved and stored from last year's garden.  Discard anything that is damp, diseased, moldy, or in otherwise bad condition.  Look over what's left, and determine what you need to order.

You also should take a look at squash, potatoes, root crops, and other vegetables and fruits in winter storage.  Although conditions may have been ideal when you harvested and stored them in the fall, the cold, wet winter may make that location too wet or damp.  Toss anything that has spoiled or has soft spots.  The same goes for summer flower bulbs like dahlias and gladioli that you saved to plant this year.

As many avid gardeners have discovered, it's wise to plan your seed order with other gardeners.  This will allow you to save money while growing a wider variety of crops and flowers.  In addition, some seed companies offer discounts or free seeds for early bird and/or large orders.  Just don't fall into the trap of ordering more than you can use.  That's where the notes you kept from past years will be useful.

If you need to replace a tiller or want to add a few new gardening tools to your inventory, start comparison shopping in January.  Granted, some of this equipment won't be available for purchase in garden centers for a few more months.  But by studying catalogs and magazines, talking to friends, and even surfing the Internet now, you will have a better idea of what you want and won't waste valuable time in the spring deciding what to buy.

The same goes for landscape plants.  Although you wouldn't be able to plant them now, even if you could buy them, this "down time" in gardening is perfect for planning.  Start thinking about what you need to fill in gaps in your landscape or what new plants you'd like to try.  It may help to take a walk around your property to visualize where landscape improvements are needed or where you might put in a new flower bed.  Think about color, scents, textures, and shapes.  Then scout out companies that carry what's on your wish list.

No yard or garden is complete without statuary, gazing balls, sundials, and garden whimsies that make the space uniquely yours.  Shop now for what you'll need in the spring to accessorize your lawn, garden, and flower beds.  Use your imagination.

This January get creative in the workshop.  Build a bat house or a birdhouse or two.  Paint garden furniture. Construct artificial lighting set-ups for growing houseplants or starting transplants indoors. Or install a composting bin in your basement, adding a handful of red worms to turn your vegetable table scraps into rich compost for the garden.

What to Plant in Your Spring Vegetable Garden

During January spring seems like it will never arrive, but it is actually the best time to get ready for your cool season vegetable garden.

Cool season vegetables are those that can thrive during the shorter days and cooler temperatures of spring and fall, In fact, some vegetables such as kohlrabi and kale actually develop  better flavor when nipped by frost.  Lettuce, collards, snow peas, cabbage and broccoli are a few examples of cool season vegetables. Summer favorites like okra, squash and tomatoes require long, hot days to grow.

So you are looking out the window at 2 feet of snow wondering what you can possibly do now to start your garden  the first thing  to do is place your seed order. When your order arrives, it may still be too early to plant the seeds outdoors, but many cool season vegetables can be started from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the frost free date in your area.  Some transplants can be put out a few weeks before the frost free date as well.

Now I foresee the comments from readers in the Deep South already, “This doesn't apply to me!”  Well, you are right.  You are already mid-way through your cool season vegetable garden time frame, but there is still time to plant. 

On the flip side, gardeners in the extreme north have such a short growing season that they will plant their cool and warm season vegetables practically side by side.

Last Frost Dates by Zone
Zone 3 1 May / 31 May
Zone 4 1 May / 30 May
Zone 5 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Zone 6 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Zone 7 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Zone 8 28 Feb / 30 Mar
Zone 9 30 Jan / 28 Feb
Zone 10 30 Jan or before
Zone 11 Free of Frost throughout the year.

Before you start sowing seeds and planting it's important to know what the last frost date is in your area.  This will determine when your spring growing season begins.  There are several on-line sites where you can find this information using your zip code or by checking frost dates of near-by cities. These are average dates that may differ slightly year to year but they give you a basic window of time in which you can create a planting schedule.  Another good source of local, reliable advice is your area's County Cooperative Extension Service or check with knowledgeable members of local gardening clubs.

I don't want to mislead you, even though many of these vegetables are regarded as cold tolerant, they can all be wiped out by a sudden, severe drop in temperature. It's important to be prepared with something to drape over the crops if an overnight cold snap is expected.  Simply cover your crops with newspaper, old sheets or frost blankets. Just remember to remove the covering the next morning.

So that brings us to just what types of vegetables should we plant.  Here is a list of common cool season vegetables with a few tips to help you produce a bountiful spring garden.

     Arugula – Sow seeds in the garden as soon as soil can be worked in spring. They will germinate in about 7 days and are ready to harvest in 3 to 4 weeks. For a continuous harvest, sow seeds every 2 weeks until temperatures heat up.
    Beets – Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Beets prefer a well-drained, sandy soil. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers as this will encourage top growth at the expense of root development. As with all root crops good soil aeration is key to uniform, robust development. Consistent moisture is also important. Keep areas weed free to avoid competition for nutrients.
    Broccoli – Broccoli seed can be sown directly in the garden 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area or set out transplants 2 weeks before the last frost date. The ideal day time temperature for broccoli is between 65 and 80 degrees. Feed the plants 3 weeks after transplanting into the garden. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer.
    Cabbage – Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last front date or plant transplants in the garden 2 weeks before that date. Direct sow in the garden immediately after the last frost date. Cabbage plants are heavy feeders that require fertile soil rich in organic matter and consistent moisture.
    Carrots – Sow seeds in spring about 2 weeks before the last frost date. Carrots need deep, loose soil to form a robust root. Keep the bed weeded to avoid competition for nutrients from other plants. Too much nitrogen will result in forked roots. When the seedlings are about 2-inches tall, thin them so there is about 1 to 4-inches between them. Cover the shoulders with mulch or soil to keep them from turning green and bitter.
    Collards – Collard transplants can be planted 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant in fertile, well drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8. Rich soil encourages rapid growth and tender leaves, which are the best tasting collards.
    English Peas – Direct sow in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. They will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40 degrees F. Seedlings will survive a late snow and short periods of temperatures down to 25 degrees F.
    Kale – You can plant kale in early spring, about 3 to 5 weeks before the last frost date. Cover with frost blankets during severe cold. Similar to collards very fertile soil is ideal to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves.
    Kohlrabi – Kohlrabi is similar to a turnip, but is actually related to cabbage. Set plants out 4 weeks before the last frost date. Protect young plants from freezing temperatures with a frost blanket. Cool temperatures enhance the sweet flavor.
    Lettuce – Sow lettuce any time in spring when the soil is workable. Lettuce is more sensitive to cold than other cool season vegetables and should definitely be covered during cold snaps. The ideal day time temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees. Fertilize with fish emulsion, which is high in nitrogen. Lettuce will grow in partial shade and actually appreciates the shelter from intense late spring sun.
    Onions – Onions can be grown from sets, small bulbs, or transplants, which look like scallions and come in a bundle of 60 or so. Either method should be planted in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Long-day varieties are suitable for Northern gardens and short-day varieties can be planted in the South. Place time release fertilizer in the planting hole so that it is close to the roots. Follow the fertilizer's label directions.
    Potatoes – Greening of grass is a good indicator of when to plant potato sets, dried potato pieces with 2 to 3 eyes. In my zone 7 garden that occurs in March. Soil should be loose, fertile and well drained. As the tubers mature, cover with soil to prevent burning.
    Radish – Sow radish seeds in the garden about 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area. No feeding necessary, but soil should be fertile and well drained. They are quick to mature so check them regularly. They are ready to harvest as soon as they are of edible size.
    Spinach – Spinach seeds can be sown over frozen ground to germinate as the soil thaws. Transplants can be set out 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Fertilize when the plants are about 4 inches tall. Spinach prefers very fertile soil to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves. Once the days get long and warm it will bolt, meaning that it grows tall, blooms and becomes bitter tasting. For grit-free leaves select plain leaf varieties such as Giant Nobel and Olympia.
    Swiss Chard – Swiss Chard is one the more beautiful vegetables in the garden. Bright Lights and Ruby are favorites for adding color to the garden and the dinner table. Plant or sow seeds 2 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Thin to 6-inches apart when seedlings are 3-inches tall. Water regularly.
    Turnip – Plant 2 weeks before the last frost date. Any well-drained soil will do. Consistent moisture is key for healthy root development. Although it is not necessary, the greens will be the most tender if you plant in a fertile soil.

Good to Know

Vegetables need 7 to 8 hours of full sun daily. Cool season vegetables get by on 6, some can even be planted in partial shade.

Framed Bed Soil Recipe: 50% existing garden soil, 25% aged manure, 25% compost or humus

Gardeners in tropical regions plant & grow cool season vegetables in fall and winter.

 Make a Plan

To start your spring garden planning, begin with a plan. Write out the goals you hope to accomplish with your gardening projects. Do you plan to grow fruits and vegetables or do you simply want to grow flowers? Be sure to take into consideration your expected time constraints for the spring and summer. Don't bite off more than you can chew and overload yourself with more garden than you can keep up with as that will only leave you frustrated and disappointed.

Consider whether you will be doing all of the gardening by yourself or will you have help from family members. If you are planning a vegetable garden, think about the vegetables you might want to grow.

If you plan to just grow flowers, think about whether you want to plant them in the ground or grow everything in containers. Do you already have perennials planted and if so, how can you build upon what you have?

Mark Your Spot

Even though it's winter, you can still be marking out the spots where you want to plant your garden or gardens. You can begin preparing your spot now by placing newspapers on the ground to begin killing any grass that might try to pop up on those warm winter days. Newspapers will biodegrade into the soil.

Use stakes to mark corners and you will have all winter to ponder and be sure that the spot or spots you have chosen will be appropriate. You can keep track of the sunlight and shade on the spot (remember that when trees leaf out, the sunlight and shade will change so be sure to take that into account).

Do Your Research

Spend some time researching recommended planting dates for your area. Research plants that you would like to grow to learn more about their needs and care requirements. Reading about spring and summer gardening on cold winter days can make the days much more enjoyable.

Pick Your Poison (Plants)

While you are doing your research, take some time to pour over seed catalogs. Search the Internet for seed companies that offer catalogs and request to have catalogs mailed to you. Peruse these gems to determine what plants -- fruits, vegetables, bushes, flowers, trees -- you would like to try and begin to make a list based upon your family's needs, your location and your time constraints. If your family doesn't care for squash then don't spend your time and energy growing squash. Choose plants that your family will enjoy and you can make use of.

Do you plan to "put up" your garden harvest? Now is the time to be looking into preserving your future harvest and adding this to your plan.

Draw It Out

Draw diagrams of your plans and keep them with your written plan. A drawing can help you better visualize what you wish to do and will keep you focused. When the winter is getting long, pull out your drawings and make any adjustments or simply daydream about the coming garden season.

Chips and Dips ~ Make your own!

Chips and Dips - Make your own!

*** Too Easy ***

Chip recipes ~ Dip recipes below

Why are you purchasing chips and dips for parties and family, when it is so very easy to make them?
Tortilla chips have to be among the easiest to make! Pita chips are pathetically easy as well!

To make tortilla chips, buying corn tortillas is the easiest way, but it is also easy to make corn tortillas.

Take a package of corn tortillas, and stack 5 tortillas on your cutting board. Using a straight edge knife, cut the tortillas into wedges. Usually quartering them is the easiest way, but you can cut them into any  shape or size you wish.

Using a deep fryer, or even a skillet, heat your oil to 375 and fry several pieces at a time until golden crispy. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and then salt as wanted. Best in my opinion when served hot, but they can be served hot or cold.

You can do this for pita bread and flour tortillas well.

Here is a simple flour tortilla recipe:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder   
2 tablespoons lard or shortening
1 1/2 cups water

1.     Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the lard with your fingers until the flour resembles cornmeal. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together; place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
2.     Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll a dough ball into a thin, round tortilla. Place into the hot skillet, and cook until bubbly and golden; flip and continue cooking until golden on the other side. Place the cooked tortilla in a tortilla warmer; continue rolling and cooking the remaining dough.

Here is a recipe for corn tortillas:

How to Make Corn Tortillas

Makes 16-18 tortillas.


2 cups masa harina
1 1/2 to 2 cups water


Before you start

You'll need a special corn flour called masa harina for making the tortillas. Masa harina is corn flour that has been treated with calcium hydroxide or "lime" which makes it more nutritious by releasing the niacin in the corn, and easier to digest. Masa flour can be found at most grocery stores, or online. Look for masa harina that is only corn and lime (calcium hydroxide) for corn tortilla making.

You can make the tortillas completely by hand, by forming a thin pancake with the dough between your hands. But unless you are somewhat experienced in this method, you'll get more consistent results by using a tortilla press. These too are available in Mexican markets and come either in wood, aluminum, or cast iron. 

To make 16-18 tortillas, start with putting 2 cups of masa flour in a large bowl. (Hint: for added "lift" you can mix in 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.) Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of very warm water to the masa flour (according to the directions on the package, some brands may call for different amounts of water). Mix in and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Begin working the masa with your hands to make the dough. Work the dough for several minutes. Press the dough with your fingers and the palms of your hands as if you were kneading bread dough. If at any point through the tortilla making process the dough seems too dry or too wet, add a little more water or masa to the dough.

Take a piece of the masa dough and shape it into a ball the size of a plum, or slightly large golf ball. Make about 16-18 balls from the dough.

Pressing the Tortillas

Take two pieces of wax paper or plastic from a plastic bag and cut them to the shape of the surface of the tortilla press. Open the tortilla press and lay one piece of wax paper on the press. Place the masa ball in the center. Place another piece of wax paper over the masa ball. Gently close the press and press down, until the dough has spread to a diameter of 6 inches.

Cooking the Tortillas

Heat a griddle or a large skillet on high heat. Working one at a time, hold a tortilla in your hand, carefully removing the wax paper on each side. Allow the tortilla to rest half on your hand, and half hanging down, and gently lay the tortilla down on to the skillet. Start working on pressing the next tortilla. Cook the tortilla on the hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The tortilla should be lightly toasted and little air pockets forming.

Remove the tortillas to a tortilla warmer lined with dish towel or paper towels, or wrap them in a dish towel to keep them warm. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat.

Potato Chips:

"Making home style potato chips is fun and easy. Guaranteed they won't last long! A food processor with a slicing attachment is very helpful. Experiment with the thickness; you may like them thicker or thinner."
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced paper-thin
3 tablespoons salt
1 quart oil for deep frying

1.     Place potato slices into a large bowl of cold water as you slice. Drain, and rinse, then refill the bowl with water, and add the salt. Let the potatoes soak in the salty water for at least 30 minutes. Drain, then rinse and drain again.
2.     Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C). Fry potato slices in small batches. Once they start turning golden, remove and drain on paper towels. Continue until all of the slices are fried. Season with additional salt if desired.

Ranch Dip :

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayo
(Or just 2 cups sour cream)
2 packages or two tablespoons ranch dressing mix (Make your own)

Combine ingredients in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

French Onion Dip:

"This creamy and rich dip is a hit at any party. Fresh onions cook down to give this dip the sweetest flavor, far superior to any powdered soup mix French onion dip."

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1.     Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook and stir until the onions are caramelized to a nice golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the onions from the heat and cool.
2.     Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic powder, white pepper, and remaining kosher salt. Stir in the onions when they are cool. Cover and refrigerate the dip for at least 2 hours before serving.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip:
(Leave out the artichokes for just a great spinach dip)


3 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (8-ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles (recommended: Rotel)
1 cup shredded 4 cheese blend

Tortilla chips and cut vegetables, for serving


Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it foams, add the shallot and garlic, and saute until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the flour and cook while stirring until it becomes a light blonde color.

Slowly stir in the heavy cream, and the drained spinach, and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and cheese and cook until the cheese is melted. Remove to a serving bowl.

Knorr Spinach Dip:


    1 box (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
    2 Cups sour cream
    1 cup Mayo
    1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
    1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
    3 green onions, chopped (optional)


    Combine all ingredients and chill about 2 hours. Serve with your favorite dippers to your favorite people.

Make your own copycat Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix:

There might be any number of reasons you would want to make your own version of this soup/dip mix. Price of course, although a good approximation won't be cheap at the outset but over time will prove to be a real money saver. But there are health reasons--sodium, carb count, sugar, msg allergy, who knows what all. For myself too much starch, sugars and carbs. But i do love that spinach dip, so I came up with my own solution.

Vegetable broth powder, which has the essential elements w/o all the unnecessary stuff, (Maltodextrin, salt, onion, carrot, autolyzed yeast extract, garlic, tomato, natural flavor, xanthan gum, parsley, spice extractives.) Dehydrated leeks (to keep it as authentic as possible) and dehydrated vegetable soup blend (Carrot, onion, tomato, spinach, celery, red bell pepper, green bell pepper), you need soup mix not stew, for the proper mixture you get in Knorr's. Toss in dehydrated spinach for the dip or you could use the frozen or fresh called for or even half and half. When you smell this recipe you will swear you just tore open a pkg of Knorr's.

2-4 teaspoons broth powder
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon dry leeks
2/3 cup soup mix veggies, for the Knorr packet which weighs 1oz, adjusting the figures to your taste.

For about $24 but I figure I have enough ingredients for approximately 48 packets, at 50� a packet, with only the stuff i want and nothing I can't have in my diet, and i don't have to wait around for a sale or hunt in obscure places to find a good deal. I am winning all around.

Pizza Dip:

1 Cup cream cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Cup pizza sauce

Take your cream cheese and Italian seasoning and mix together.
Put into bottom of 8 by 8 casserole dish.
Top with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
Pour pizza sauce on top of the cheese.
Then top with remaining cheese, sprinkle with more seasoning, and bake at 350' for 30 minutes.....yup, its that easy! SERVE WITH CRACKERS OR NACHO'S

Friday, December 27, 2013

How to reuse eggshells

Did you know that eggshells had this many uses?

Prepare your eggshells like this

For most eggshell uses, it is better to make sure they are clean and free from bacteria. If you don’t wash the eggs thoroughly before using, bake the shells at 150 degrees Fahrenheit on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.

You can grind your eggshells either wet or dry. I personally find grinding  them dry to be easier, but decide which method works best for you in your kitchen:

To grind eggshells wet, simply take all of your eggshells, place them in a blender and fill the blender with water to about 1/2 way up the eggshells. Then whizzzzzzzzz, and drain. What to do next is where I find the difficulty. Small bits of wet shell are not necessarily cooperative, and most uses for eggshell are easier to implement when the shells are dry.

To grind eggshells dry, you can either leave them sit in a bowl until they are thoroughly dry (I keep them in an old coffee container next to my sink and simply stack eggshells as they accumulate), or you can bake them. Baking to dry and sterilize them can serve double duty here! If 10 minutes baking at 150F doesn’t dry all of the wet egg remnants inside the shell perfectly, just leave them bake in the oven until the insides of the egg are perfectly dry.

1. Compost for Naturally Fertilized Soil
Eggshells quickly decompose in the compost pile and add valuable calcium and other minerals to the soil in the process.

2. Nontoxic Pest Control in the Garden
Scatter crushed eggshell around your plants and flowers to help deter plant-eating slugs, snails and cutworms without using eco-unfriendly pesticides. Also, deer hate the smell of eggs, so scattering eggshells around the flowerbed will help keep Bambi away from your begonias.

3. Less Bitter Coffee
Add an eggshell to the coffee in the filter, and your morning coffee will be less bitter. The spent coffee grounds, eggshell and bio-degradable filter are then conveniently ready for the compost pile.

4. Splendid Seedling Starters
Fill biodegradable eggshell halves with potting soil instead of using peat pots to start seedlings for the garden. And an egg carton on the windowsill is the perfect way to start a dozen tomato seedlings in shells before transplanting to the garden in the spring.

5. Eco-friendly Household Abrasive
Shake crushed eggshells and a little soapy water to scour hard-to-clean items like thermoses and vases. Crushed eggshells can also be used as a nontoxic abrasive on pots and pans.

6. Eggy, Crafty Projects
"Blow out" the inside of a raw egg and paint/decorate the hollow shell to make your Faberge eggs or other craft projects. Pieces of egg shell (plain or dyed) are also used in mosaic art projects.

7. Clever Jello and Chocolate Molds
Carefully fill "blown out" eggshells (above) with jello or chocolate to make unique egg-shaped treats; peel away the eggshell mold before serving, or serve as is and let your guests discover the surprise inside.

8. Natural Drain Cleaner
Keep a couple of crushed eggshells in your kitchen sink strainer at all times. They trap additional solids and they gradually break up and help to naturally clean your pipes on their way down the drain.

9. Membrane Home Remedies
The super-thin membrane inside the eggshell has long been used as a home remedy for a wide range of ailments, from healing cuts to treating ingrown toenails.

10. Treat Skin Irritations
Dissolve an eggshell in a small jar of apple cider vinegar (takes about two days) and use the mixture to treat minor skin irritations and itchy skin.

11. Egg on Your Face
Pulverize dried egg shells with a mortar and pestle, then whisk the powder in with an egg white and use for a healthful, skin-tightening facial. Allow the face mask to dry before rinsing it off.

12. The Fuel of Tomorrow?
Just when your brain was totally fried by all my ingenious reuses for eggshells, researchers at Ohio State University recently discovered that eggshells might be the key to producing affordable hydrogen fuel. I've heard of walking on eggshells, but maybe some day we'll be driving on them too.

13. Give your hens a calcium boost. Eggshells contain 95% calcium, and hens need calcium to lay eggs that have those strong shells. There is nothing unhealthy about feeding your hens eggshells, as long as those shells have been sterilized to kill bacteria (see below on how to do this) and offered in ground form. Pay special attention to shell sterilization if you get some of your eggs from another source where you can’t be sure of the laying hen’s health.

14. Give your pets a calcium boost: In the case of eggshells, what is good for chickens is good for your pet. Adding pulverized eggshells to their food provides extra calcium for bone health. And just like using shells for chickens, be sure to sterilize the shells first.

15. Give yourself a calcium boost: Consuming calcium from eggshells can help you, too. In a 2003 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research, eggshell consumption helped stop bone loss in postmenopausal women. While you can consume pulverized eggshells for added calcium, remember that calcium amounts very greatly in shells, so there is no way to tell exactly how much calcium you are getting (but we know you are getting more than if you didn’t consume the shells at all). Be sure you bake the shells before consuming to prevent ingesting any bacteria if you haven’t washed the shell before eating the egg (see below).

16. Whiten Clothes. Hate the way your whites turn gray? Toss some eggshells in a cheesecloth bag in the washer along with your whites.

17. Get Your Tomato Plants in Tip-top Shape. Tomatoes can get blossom-end rot as a result of a calcium deficiency. You know what’s full of calcium? Eggshells! Put some at the bottom of the hole when you’re transplanting them to prevent it.

18. Feed Your Indoor Plants. Place some eggshells and tepid water in a lidded container in a cool, dark place. Let it sit for a few days before watering.

Make your own salad dressings - So much cheaper and tastier!

Make your own salad dressings!

French, Italian, Ranch, Thousand Island

Cheaper, tastier, and NO additives!

Most of the ingredients can be found at Dollar Stores!

 Clicking on ads on this page helps to fund The Butterfly Bonsai.
Purchasing ingredients from this page helps to fund The Butterfly Bonsai.

French Dressing


1 cup corn oil
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt


Put all ingredients in blender or food processor; blend until well mixed.

Italian Dressing 


3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese


Combine all ingredients in a bottle.
Shake to blend.
Allow flavors to blend about an hour or so, Will even be more flavorful the following day. Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes about 1 cup.

Italian Dressing Dry Mix 


1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons oregano, ground or 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons salt or 2 tablespoons salt substitute
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground basil or 1 teaspoon basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme or 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried celery leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried celery flakes


Mix all ingredients together and store in air-tight container.
To make dressing: Mix 2 tbs of this mix with 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tbs water, and 1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil or canola oil.
Shake before using.

Ranch Dressing


1/2 cup dry buttermilk
1 tablespoon dried parsley, crushed
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (If you do not want the pepper noticed, use white pepper.)


Combine all ingredients in a blender.
Blend at high speed until smooth.
If you want to use this to make salad dressing combine 1 tablespoon mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup milk.
Otherwise use 1 tablespoon in any recipe calling for an envelope of ranch dressing mix.

For a GREAT dip, combine 2 tablespoons mix with 1 cup sour cream. Chill for an hour to meld flavors.

Thousand Island Dressing


1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish


Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Mix well.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Clicking on ads on this page helps to fund The Butterfly Bonsai.
Purchasing ingredients from this page helps to fund The Butterfly Bonsai.

Make the "quick" foods you like, instead of buying them!

Let's make the pre-packaged foods we like instead of buying them!

We tend to spend a LOT of money on pre-packaged foods in today's world.
Why not spend a few minutes of time once or twice a month and save even more money for our budgets?
The following recipes will save you a lot of money on your grocery budgets.

Below are recipes for Instant Oatmeal Packets, Hamburger Helper Varieties, and Cornbread Mix.

Purchasing products from here will help to fund The Butterfly Bonsai.
Clicking on any picture ad will help to fund The Butterfly Bonsai.

Instant Oatmeal Packets

10 cups of quick oats (about 3/4 of a large tub of oats)
2 teaspoons salt
1-2  cups brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like your oatmeal)
2 cup non-dairy creamer
snack-sized plastic baggies


Put 7 cups of the oats into a large bowl.
Blend the remaining 3 cups of oats in a blender until powdery, then add to the 7 cups of oats.
Add salt, brown sugar, and creamer to the oats. Stir until well mixed.
Measure 1/2 cup of the oatmeal mixture into each snack-sized plastic baggie and seal.
Makes approximately 24 servings.

To prepare: empty 1 “packet” of oatmeal into a bowl or mug and add 3/4 cup of water. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. (Microwaves vary, so add more time if necessary.)

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

Basic recipe (above, using brown sugar) plus:
1-2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cup raisins

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal

Basic recipe (above) plus:
1 cup additional non-dairy creamer
2 cup freeze-dried strawberries
Mother Earth Products Freeze Dried Strawberries, 1 Full Quart

Blueberries and Cream Oatmeal

Basic recipe (above) plus:
1 cup additional non-dairy creamer
2 cup dried blueberries or 2 cup freeze dried blueberries
Mother Earth Products Freeze Dried Blueberries, 1 Full Quart
Signature Dried Blueberries, 20 Ounce

Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal
To bowl add maple syrup :) (Too Easy!)

Homemade Hamburger Helper

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

Using actual packages of Hamburger Helper and cookbook comparisons for the types of varieties offered along with my own cooking common sense and experience, I’ve broken down some of the most popular Hamburger Helper varieties. I’m showcasing Chili Cheese here–see below for the demystification of a number of other popular flavors.

Hamburger Helper Basics: When creating your own helpers, keep in mind that most packages of Hamburger Helper include about 1 1/2 cups of pasta plus a packet of sauce seasonings, sometimes dried tomatoes, and sometimes a packet of dried cheese, depending on the variety. If there’s anything more disgusting than dried cheese, I don’t know what it is. Some varieties use rice or dried sliced potatoes instead of pasta. Whatever you’re using for the starch base in the dish–1 1/2 cups is a good rule of thumb when making homemade helpers (except for rice, which I think works better using only 1 cup). After browning and draining the ground beef (one pound), in the same skillet you add water and milk (usually about 3 cups total), seasonings, and simmer (usually about 12-20 minutes). Add cheese near the end for some varieties.

What you need to have on hand to create homemade helpers: Ground beef, various herbs and seasonings and other basic pantry items (such as sugar, salt, and corn starch), pasta, rice, potatoes, canned tomatoes, and cheese. (You can buy large bags of pre-shredded cheeses to shortcut this step, or buy blocks of cheese and pre-shred it yourself.) Some varieties also call for Frito's or nacho chips, and most call for milk because it makes a creamier sauce. (Out of fresh milk sometimes? Keep dry milk in your pantry.) I always keep a large box of dry milk in my pantry so that I’m never out of milk.

You can also freeze milk, but you can keep far more milk on hand if you make dry milk a basic pantry item. It works just fine for baking and cooking, and is even pretty good for drinking. (For drinking, dry milk tastes better if you reconstitute it then refrigerate it overnight before using. For baking and cooking, it doesn’t matter. Just reconstitute what you need and use immediately.)

The chili cheese variety (a “pasta and cheesy sauce mix”) includes elbow macaroni, chili powder, paprika, salt, garlic, corn starch, sugar, and dried cheese along with other fun stuff like preservatives and FOUR types of food colorings.

In homemade helper, you cut out the dried cheese, preservatives, and food colorings combined with the seasonings in the store-bought sauce packet. That’s the store-bought Chili Cheese Hamburger Helper packet dumped out in the white bowl in this picture:

To the store-bought helper, you add a pound of ground beef, water, and milk. It goes on the dinner table in 30 minutes.

Here’s your Homemade Chili Cheese Hamburger Helper–pre-measured pasta and your own sauce packet.

You add a pound of ground beef, water, milk, and (real!) cheese. It hits the dinner table in 30 minutes, just like the store-bought version, only better.

I’m replicating store-bought Hamburger Helper in homemade form so I’m including the sugar and salt here. (Why do you think kids like this stuff?!) You can use the sugar and salt as measured here (or in reduced measures) in your own helpers, or leave it out entirely, as per your own preferences.

How to make Homemade Chili Cheese Hamburger Helper:

1 pound ground beef
1 cup hot water
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Brown ground beef in a large skillet; drain.

Add hot water….



….and your homemade sauce packet (corn starch, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, sugar, and paprika).

Bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer on low about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.

In the last few minutes of cook time, stir in the cheese; cover the pot again for the final few minutes of cook time.

When the pasta is tender and the cheese is melted, turn off heat and uncover. Let mixture stand, uncovered, about five minutes. It will continue to thicken as it stands.

You can make your Homemade Hamburger Helper in advance by pre-measuring the pasta. Place in a sandwich-size baggie. Snack-size baggies are perfect for the sauce mix. The measured pasta can be used in a number of Hamburger Helper varieties. Just label the sauce mix so you’ll know what you’re picking up then grab whichever bag of pasta you need. For the cheese, you can pre-measure your shredded cheese, or just measure it as you need it.

Here’s how to put together several popular varieties and your standardized directions. Have a big family (or just big eaters)? Double or triple the recipe and use a big pot! Note: These are not amazingly inventive gourmet meals. But they are homemade lifesavers for busy days.

Step One: Brown and drain one pound of ground beef.
Step Two: Add 3 cups of liquid (water and/or milk) along with your 1 1/2 cups of pasta, sliced potatoes*, or rice (use only 1 cup of rice), the sauce packet, and sometimes tomatoes. Simmer covered. The simmer time will be approximately 12-20 minutes for most varieties. If cheese is used, stir it in during the last few minutes of cook time and put the cover back on the pot.
Step Three: Turn off heat and uncover. (Some varieties have cheese tossed on as a topping at the end instead of or in addition to being mixed in.) Let stand to thicken at least 5 minutes before serving.

*When using potatoes, slice the potatoes very thinly, like very thin potato chips. (If you find that difficult or annoying, you could finely dice the potatoes instead.) Add cook time if necessary, till the potatoes are tender. Some varieties use shredded potatoes. To save time on busy nights, you can slice, dice, or shred potatoes in advance in pre-measured quantities and freeze. Then all you have to do is take out your bag of potatoes and drop them in the skillet. (To freeze potatoes–slice, dice, or shred then blanch for about two minutes in boiling water. Drain and cool then freeze. You can also dehydrate sliced or shredded potatoes for homemade helpers.) Note: There’s a good suggestion in the comments about keeping store-bought frozen potatoes on hand as a shortcut for homemade helpers!

A number of varieties require tomatoes. (Store-bought Hamburger Helper uses dried tomatoes.) Use canned stewed or diced tomatoes for homemade helper, reducing the hot water by 1/4 cup because you’re also adding some liquid along with the tomatoes. (I use my own home-canned tomatoes.)

Feeling frisky? Use add-ins anytime you feel like taking an extra few seconds. A cup of pinto or red beans works great in chili mac, for example. Chopped peppers also work well in many varieties, as do all sorts of other vegetables. As a rule of thumb, use one cup for your add-in (if using multiple add-ins, combine them to add up to one cup). You can use more than a cup, of course, though keep in mind that you may overwhelm the dish if you use too much. When using add-ins like mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc, either saute them first separately or put them in as you brown the ground beef to saute them. Like heat? Add some ground cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to any variety for a spicier version.

In the case of stroganoff, an add-in of 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms is suggested. You can make stroganoff without mushrooms, but it’s just not the same. Store-bought Hamburger Helper uses dried mushrooms in their stroganoffs. If you can get your hands on some dried mushrooms, add a teaspoon (to the sauce packet) in place of the sliced, fresh mushrooms. But really. Use the fresh. It’ll only take a few minutes to prepare them, not adding much to your effort. You can even buy pre-sliced mushrooms if you prefer.

Once you get the hang of the basic principles, you can make any kind of helper you want! As you try any of these for the first time, choose an evening when you have time and add the sauce ingredients (except for the corn starch) sparingly. Taste test while you’re cooking to adjust the seasonings to your own preferences. These measurements are suggestions to get you started. Once you know how you like it, make up your own sauce packets for future use.

Chili Mac: Using 1 pound ground beef, 2 1/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar or jack cheese, shredded, near the end.

Lasagna: Using 1 pound ground beef, 2 1/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups either lasagna broken into small pieces or small egg noodles, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded, near the end, then sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese during the 5-minute standing period.

Cheesy Beef Taco: Using 1 pound ground beef, 2 1/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup rice, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, near the end, then top with another 1/2 cup cheddar plus 1 cup of Frito's during the 5-minute standing period.

Beef Stroganoff: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk (if you have sour cream, replace 1/2 cup of the milk with sour cream), and 1 1/2 cups small egg noodles, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper with an add-in of 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms.

Potato Stroganoff: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk (if you have sour cream, replace 1/2 cup of the milk with sour cream), and 1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced or diced potatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper with an add-in of 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms.

Salisbury: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups small egg noodles, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Cheesy Italian Shells: Using 1 pound ground beef, 3/4 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups small pasta shells, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar, shredded, near the end.

Cheesy Jambalaya: Using 1 pound ground beef, 3/4 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 cup rice, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, near the end.

I’ve had several requests for Cheeseburger Macaroni. The way I figure out how to do these is by studying the side of the box then experimenting on my own. Paprika is the “secret” ingredient to get the flavor right with this one, and heavier on the milk than water for a creamy texture.

Cheeseburger Macaroni: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, near the end. (You can toss a 1/2 cup cheddar on top at the end, too, if you want. We’re going for cheesy here!)

Homemade Lasagna Hamburger Helper.

(One of our favorites around here.)

Notice how similar the recipes are? Hamburger Helper is like a template. (This is how Betty Crocker churns out a zillion varieties.) You plug in more or less milk to control the creaminess, a certain type of pasta (or rice or potatoes), sometimes tomatoes, certain herbs/seasonings, and more or less (or no) cheese. You can make a homemade helper for any variety of Hamburger Helper that appeals to you–invent your own! Put labelled sauce packets for your family’s favorite “helpers” away in your pantry for busy days (add a little 3×5 card with directions for the water, milk, cheese, etc, per variety) and you’ll never go hungry again. (Cue the Gone with the Wind music.) When you’re tired, everybody’s hungry, and you need dinner that won’t make you think hard, grab your sauce packet and your bag of pasta (or rice or potatoes) with your little cheater 3×5 card and you’re set.

Real dinner. Real easy. Really in 30 minutes!

*Keep homemade cornbread mix and homemade biscuit mix on hand and have fresh bread fast, too.

You will find the homemade biscuit mix in a previous blog post.

Homemade cornbread mix

Corn Muffin Mix

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together and put into sealed plastic bag.

To make muffins add

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

Optional Ingredients
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
2 ounces canned chilies (optional)
1/4 cup drained chopped pimiento (optional)
1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)


Put content of bag in a bowl, mix well.
Whisk in vegetable oil and mix until dry mixture is smooth and lumps are gone.
Combine mix with egg and milk, mixing well.

To make Corn Muffins, preheat oven to 400F, spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

If another recipe is calling for a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, add the above mixed ingredients to that recipe.

OPTIONAL: To mix, add any combination of optional ingredients you prefer.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to extract citrus oil from peels

How to get that wonderful oil from citrus peels

Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars - From Amazon

If you purchase from this link, The Butterfly Bonsai makes a small amount of money.
If you click on any other ads, The Butterfly Bonsai makes a small amount.

1. Wash & dry hands and fruit completely.
1. Wash your hands, the fruits and everything, just make sure everything you're using is clean. Make sure to dry completely.
2. Carefully peel the fruit.
3. Use the fruit flesh for something else.
4. Carefully press skin against sieve to remove oil.
 2. Peel the fruit with a knife, whilst being careful not to go in too deeply. You do not want to damage the pulp of the fruit at all.

3. Reuse the leftovers. Once the fruit is peeled, you can maybe use the leftovers for cooking or eating, etc. Or simply compost the fruit flesh if you cannot use it.

 4. Get a jar and a sieve. Put the sieve on top and start squeezing/pressing the peels into the sieve. After a second or two, you will start to feel that an oily extract is released. Keep the oily extract.

You're done. You can wear it on your wrists and neck for a fresh citrus scent. Or use in home made household cleaners.

A great way to make a citrus cleanser is to use your peels with vinegar.
Place peels in a quart or 1/2 gallon mason jar.
Add distilled white vinegar to cover completely.
Place in a dark cupboard for at least 2 weeks.
Strain peels.
Ready to use.

Just some interesting historical sayings and how they came about

Historical sayings and how they came about

INTERESTING........ definitely a good read....

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor" But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June..

However, since they were starting to smell . ......

Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.
The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. 
Last of all the babies.
By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it..
Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.
When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof...
Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.
This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.
Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt.
Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, "Dirt poor."

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.
As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire..
Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.
They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat.
They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.
Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.
Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.
It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon."
They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter.
Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death.
This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. 

Bread was divided according to status.
Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky.
The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.
Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial..
They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.
Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.
So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave.
When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive...
So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

And that's the truth....Now, whoever said History was boring

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Make your own laundry soap! SAVE LOTS OF MONEY!!!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

In today’s economy, it’s important to save money in all possible ways.

That’s why we’re going to show you a recipe for homemade laundry detergent, that only costs a few cents per load!

Here is a simple recipe to make your own homemade laundry detergent.

Traditional Homemade Laundry Detergent

1/3 Bar of Fels Naptha laundry Bar Soap (grated) or 1/2 bar Ivory soap grated
1/2 Cup of 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster
1/2 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
5 Gallon Bucket with lid

Updated version of the homemade laundry detergent I like my formula a bit stronger, so this is what I tend to use.

1/2 bar of Fels Naptha laundry Bar Soap or 1 full bar of Ivory Soap grated.
1 cup of the Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup of the 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster
5 Gallon Bucket with lid

Putting it all together Mix Fels Naptha laundry Bar Soap (after grating it) with 6 cups of water in sauce pan.
Heat this mixture until soap melts.
Add Washing Soda and Borax to Sauce Pan Mix. Mix it well until both the washing soda and Borax Dissolve
Put 4 Cups of Hot Water into a 5 Gallon Bucket and add mixture from sauce pan.
Add another 22 cups of water and stir well. ( 22 cups = 1 gallon and 6 cups or 176oz )
Allow 24 hours for soap to gel.
I recommend using a dedicated sauce pan for this recipe. I also have a dedicated soup ladle that I use to dip out my concoction.
I do not recommend using your wife’s good cheese grater to grate the Fels Naptha.
This only invites trouble ;-)
A double recipe may be produced in a single 5 gallon Bucket. Safety:
Keep soap and ingredients out of reach of children and keep bucket sealed when soap is not in use.

Directions for use: Use 1/2 a cup of soap per load, recipe produces approximately 50 loads.

So many uses for Lemon Peels

Save those lemon peels! So many uses!

Eat the lemon peel.

Did you know that lemon peels are nutritional power houses? Seriously?

Lemon Peels contain a spectrum of vitamins, minerals and fiber (things like calcium, potassium, and vitamin C) that can give your menu a nutritional boost. And even though you would have to consume large amounts of peel to glean significant nutritional benefits, it doesn’t hurt to throw in some peel when you can.

Remember, organic will be your best best when consuming the peel to avoid eating any pesticides.

1. Lemon Zest
Lemon zest is a common ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. Zest some of your peel, use some now or freeze it for later. (Check out my favorite tool to get my zest.)

2. Lemon Pepper
One of my favorite seasonings, and easy to make.

Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning

7 large lemons
1/3 cup {scant} of crushed pepper corns {black and/or medley}
1/4 cup kosher salt


Zest all the lemons and mix with crushed peppercorns.
Spread out on parchment lined baking sheet and bake on lowest setting until the zest is completely dried.
(Or you can use a dehydrator)
Add the lemon-pepper to a spice grinder and grind until desired texture.
Mix with the kosher salt if desired and store in a airtight container for up to a few months.

3. Candied Lemon Peel

4 large, firm, organic lemons, ends trimmed
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

01. To peel the lemons, slice off both ends. Insert a very sharp, small knife between the peel and the membrane that hugs the flesh, about ¼-inch deep, and work the knife all the way around the end of the lemon. Repeat on the other end.
02. Make 4 equally spaced, ¼-inch deep, lengthwise slices through the peel. With the fingernail of your thumb and the help of your forefinger, pry each section of peel off the lemon, ideally leaving the membrane with the flesh of the lemon. (Reserve lemons for another use.)
03. Cut each quarter piece of lemon peel lengthwise into 2-4 strips.
04. Lay each strip peel-side down on a cutting board and with a very sharp, small knife sliver off as much of the pith as you can. Don’t worry about getting it all, however. You want some depth to the peel.
05. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a simmer.
06. To blanch the lemon peel and rid it of most of the bitterness in the pith, add the peel to the simmering water in the saucepan, simmer for 2 minutes and drain into a colander.
07. Repeat twice more, using fresh cold water each time.
08. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and slowly bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. The sugar syrup should clear before the syrup reaches a simmer. If it doesn’t clear, lower the heat to beneath a simmer and continue whisking until the syrup is clear. Then bring back to a simmer.
09. Add the triple blanched lemon peels to the sugar syrup and simmer gently for about 1 hour, until the peel is translucent and tender.
10. To test, lift a piece of peel from the syrup, let it cool slightly and then sample. If you can easily bite through the peel, it’s done. If not, continue simmering until the peel in fully tender. If the syrup becomes too thick, add additional water.
11. When the peel is tender, remove from the heat.
12. With a fork or small tongs, gently remove each piece of peel from the syrup and lay on a wire rack set on an edged baking sheet. Let cool completely and then dry for several hours.
13. A few pieces at a time, toss the peel in sugar to coat and set on a clean wire rack to dry.
14. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days or in the refrigerator for several weeks.


Candied Orange Peel

Use 2 large oranges instead of the lemons.

Candied Grapefruit Peel

Use 1 large grapefruit instead of the lemons.

Candied Lime Peel

Use large limes instead of the lemons.

4. Lemon oil infusions, Lemon Sugar Scrub, & Other great recipes

How To Make A Lemon-Oil Infusion

This basic oil infusion is so versatile you might just find yourself keeping a stash in the kitchen, bathroom AND living room! Unlike lemon essential oil, the flavor is very mild and blends well with herbs and spices. More on how to use it soon, but first here’s the “how to”!


    Lemon peels, preferably organic
    Minimally processed olive or coconut oil* (where to find high quality oils)
    Optional flavorings if you’re making an oil to cook with: garlic and/or fresh herbs

*Olive oil is not recommended for the hot process due to oxidation. Though some olive oils can withstand heat, it’s because they have been intensively refined and no longer contain the micro-nutrients that make olive oil so good for us.
Hot Process Method (Super Quick)

    Wash and dry lemons
    Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. (Or if you have a zester, use that!) Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
    Place the peels in a small pot and pour in coconut oil until they’re just barely covered. Bring oil to a very light simmer for about 5 minutes, then set aside for a few hours to allow the oils to continue to meld.
    Strain peels and pour oil into a jar. Store in a dark cabinet or the fridge.

Cold Process Method For Coconut Oil

Because this method does not use heat the enzymes and micronutrients are better preserved.

    Wash and dry lemons.
    Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. (Or if you have a zester, use that!) Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
    Pack peels tightly in a jar, then pour in just enough coconut oil to cover.
    Place in a sunny window for 1-2 weeks, shaking every day.
    Strain peels and pour oil into a jar. Store in a dark cabinet or the fridge.

Cold Process Method For Olive Oil

I prefer an olive oil infusion for salads, but because it’s so vulnerable to oxidation via sunlight I let mine “steep” longer in a dark cabinet to attains its distinct flavor. Like the cold process coconut oil version, this method preserves enzymes and micronutrients

    Wash and dry lemons.
    Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. (Or if you have a zester, use that!) Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
    Pack peels snugly in a jar, then pour in just enough olive oil to cover.
    Seal tightly and place in a dark cabinet for 1-2 months, shaking every few days.
    Strain peels and pour oil into a jar. Store in a dark cabinet or the fridge.

How To Use Your Lemon Oil Infusion

Skin Brightening Scrub

The alpha-hydroxy acids contained in lemon peels possess astringent and skin brightening qualities, making it a great base for this scrub!

When deciding whether to use unrefined sea salt or epsom salt for this recipe keep in mind that both are fabulous detoxifiers with unique benefits. Sea salt infuses trace minerals, helps restore moisture balance in the skin, and possesses potent anti-microbial qualities that have been found helpful for acne.

Epsom salts, on the other hand, mostly contain magnesium, a mineral which it thought to improve sleep quality, prevent morning sickness in many cases, and is often used to treat migraines and depression. Use whichever you happen to have on hand, or mix them together!

Note: If you have acne be very careful not to tear the skin while gently using this scrub!


    2/3 cup unrefined sea salt or epsom salt/magnesium flakes, finely ground (where to find unrefined sea salt, where to buy magnesium flakes)
    1/3 cup your lemon-infused oil
    A few drops of essential oil if desired


    If you’re using coarse ground sea salt or epsom salt, run it through a food processor or coffee maker until the granules are very fine (you don’t want to tear delicate skin).
    Mix all ingredients in a clean jar and store in a cool, dry place.

To Use:

    Step into the bath or shower, but before you turn the shower on spoon a little of the mixture onto a washcloth, exfoliating mitt or your hands.
    Scrub all over in a circular motion, then rinse!
    Pat skin dry and follow with moisturizer if desired (like this one, this one, or THIS one!)

As A Furniture Polish

Want to restore luster to wood furniture? It’s easy! Just dab lemon oil on a cloth, rub on, and buff with a clean cloth! (Note: This polish may not be suitable for every type of wood finish. I haven’t had a problem with the furniture in my house but I recommend doing a test spot in an obscure area before applying
In The Kitchen

Drizzled over a bed of fresh greens with 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup chopped fresh thyme, 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary and a pinch of red pepper flakes (assuming with you start with 1/c cup lemon oil, of course!)

5. Lemon Olive Oil

1 cup extra virgin olive oil or 1 cup olive oil or 1 cup grapeseed oil or 1 cup other vegetable oil
2 -3 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated


1. Place the oil and the zest in a glass jar. Let it stand at room temperature for at least 2 weeks, shaking occasionally.
2. Pour the oil through a strainer and discard the zest. Transfer to a jar and store, tightly covered, in refrigerator. Enjoy!

Yield: 1 cup.

6. Lemon Extract
Sometimes I’m amazed at the things I never realized you could make yourself. Like this lemon extract.

Combine the zest from 2 lemons, 1 teaspoon sugar and  ½ cup 80 proof (40% alcohol by weight) vodka.  Don’t use the pith (white part) of the lemon- just stick to the yellow – as the pitch is bitter. I make this in a pint mason jar and double the recipe. I also usually double the amount of lemon zest.

7. Lemon twists and ice cubes!
Brighten your drinks by putting twists of the peel into ice cubes. Perfect for summer parties. Use a vegetable peeler or knife to make long strips, cutting away from the white pith which can be quite bitter. Again, these can be frozen.

8. Herb-Lemon Zest Butter
Another “what more do I need to say,” right?


1/4 cup mixed herbs, such as flat-leaf parlsey, chervil, tarragon, and chives, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. Put herbs on a work surface. Add butter and lemon zest. Finely chop together until well combined. Season with salt.
2. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper, placing on edge closest to you. Fold paper over and roll into a cylinder, twisting the ends; wrap airtight in foil. Chill until solid.
DO AHEAD: Butter will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.

9. Keep brown sugar soft
Adding some lemon peel (with traces of pulp and pith removed) to your brown sugar can help keep it moist and easy to use.
Clean with the lemon peel.

10. Lemon AP Cleaner
Also known as lemon vinegar, this stuff is awesome at cutting grease and disinfecting. To make, simply place a bunch of lemon peels in any sized glass jar (mason jars would work great). Pour white vinegar over. Put the lid on and let it sit for 2 weeks (I promise, it’s worth the wait). Then strain the liquid. Combine this with water (using a 50/50 ratio) and then use as you would your normal all purpose cleaner.

11. Get rid of ants and pests
Place small slices of lemon peel along thresholds, windowsills, door entrances, or near  cracks or holes where ants or pests are lurking about. I haven’t tried this one yet (living on the third floor does have some advantages… no big ant problem where I live), but apparently ants do not like lemon and will not enter your home. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas.

12. Freshen your Fridge
Place a lemon peel or two inside your fridge to absorb smells and bring a bright citrus scent.

13. Trash Can Deodorizer
Throw a few lemon peels in the bottom of the can. This will also help absorb odors and keep things smelling fresh.

14. Simmering Stove Top Scents
This idea has been floating around pinterest for some time, and with good reason. You’ll make your house smell heavenly simply by adding lemon peels to simmering water. Throw in some cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange peels. This adds a wonderful scent and humidifies the air.

15. Clean your tea kettle or coffee pot.
To clean mineral deposits in your tea kettle: Fill the kettle with water and add a handful of thin slices of lemon peel. Bring it to a boil then turn off the heat. Let is sit for an hour, drain, and rinse well.

To clean your coffee pot: Simply add your lemon peels with some ice and salt. Whirl everything around a minute or two and the dump and rinse.

16. Sanitize your cutting board.
Lemon’s natural acidity provides great antibacterial properties to home cleaning. After properly cleaning your cutting boards, rub the surface with half a lemon. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing.

17. Freshen and deodorize the dishwasher.
Add lemon peels to your dishwasher every now and then to help rinse and deodorize it.

18. Clean your microwave.
We don’t use our microwave much, but I wish I knew this secret back when I did! Add lemon rinds to a microwave-safe bowl filled halfway with water. Cook on high for five minutes, allowing the water to boil and the steam to condense on the walls and tops of the oven. Remove the hot bowl (carefully!) and wipe away the mess with a towel. Yes.

19. Deodorize the garbage disposal.
Use lemon peels to deodorize the garbage disposal and bring that amazing citrus smell to your kitchen. Fake lemon cleaners have nothing on the real thing. Simply put a peel or two down the disposal, flip the switch on (with the water running), and done.

20. Firelighters
Bake discarded lemon peels until they darken. These create natural, fragrant firelighters. So cool, and just in time for grilling season!

21. Make drawer sachets.
Dry your lemon peels (either out in the sun or in a dehydrator) and place them inside of fabric sachets. Add spices, as desired such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and cardamom. Place in drawers to freshen.

22. Clean your stainless steel, polish your chrome, and make your copper shine!
This one was my favorite as we’ve had some nasty residue on our steak knives that I’ve been trying to get off for a while. Simply sprinkle some sea salt on the metal, and then use the lemon peel to scrub away any dirt, grime, or stains. Rinse and polish!

Don't throw your lemon peels away! Here are 31 ways to use them.
Beautify and heal with the lemon peel.

23. Skin Brightening Scrub
This will really perk your skin up.

Whenever you use an orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit, save the peel, which contains skin-rejuvenating essential oils. Citrus does double duty: The acid in the oil helps loosen the dead top layer of skin, and the ground-up peels slough it off. (Using lemon peel really works best at lightening)

1 tablespoon dried citrus peel, chopped and finely ground in a food processor
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure honey
1/4 cup vitamin E oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal

Mix the ingredients until well blended and massage on a damp face. Rinse well with warm water and finish with a splash of cold. Though the scrub's nicest when used fresh, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week.

24. Nail Whitener
Whiten fingernails by rubbing with a lemon wedge.

25. Travel Sickness Cure
Suck on a slice of lemon to help you stop feeling nauseous.

26. Lighten age spots.
Many folk remedies suggest using lemon peel to help lighten age spots. Apply a small piece to the affected area and leave on for an hour. (I’d avoid too much sun exposure while it’s on your face.)

27. Soften dry elbows.
Use a half lemon sprinkled with baking soda on elbows; just place your elbow in the lemon and twist the lemon (as if you are juicing it) for several minutes. Rinse and dry.

28. Use as a skin tonic.
Lemon peels can be very lightly rubbed on your face for a nice skin tonic; then rinse (be careful around your eyes).

29. Make a sugar scrub.
Mix 1/2 a cup of sugar with finely chopped lemon peel and enough olive oil to make a paste. Wet your body in the shower, turn off the water, and massage the sugar mix all over your skin. Rinse off and bask in your smooth skin.

30. Make a scented humidifier.
If your home suffers from dry heat in the winter, you can put lemon peels in a pot of water and simmer on the lowest stove-top setting to humidify and scent the air.

31. Make a foot soak.
Boil citrus rinds for several minutes. Allow to cool completely and strain. Add ¼ cup cow or almond milk, 2 tablespoons of cold pressed olive oil and a couple of drops of lemon essential oil. Soak feet for about 20 minutes and then pat dry to moisturize and soften feet.