Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Diapers for Haitian Babies

Some readers in my local area may be interested donating materials or time to the Diaper Project, cloth diapers made from recycled materials for the babies of Haiti. Even if we give money, which is crucial in the aid picture, some of us are left wondering what practical hands on use could we be? I heard about this project from a lady in Saint John, NB and thought, I can do this in the evenings instead of watching tv, and it would be a lot more satisfying. The first step I think is to gather in materials, then recruit some volunteer sewers. Maybe a cutting/sewing day at the school? Im thinking packages of 10 diapers with one set of pins and 2 sets of plastic pants. Drug stores or large chain stores may want to donate the diaper pins & plastic pants. Here is the poster I'm getting ready:

Friday, January 8, 2010

Homemade laundry, cheap, cheap!

I just found out how to make laundry detergent and it's so easy and SO cheap to make, I wish I'd known this years ago. With all the bedding and towels we wash in the summer with the B&B and cottage rentals this is going to save a bundle. I found the borax and the washing soda side by side in the detergent aisle at the superstore. The bulk barn had the laundry bar soap.
The recipe :
1 bar regular people soap like dove or 1/3 to 1/2 bar laundry soap
1/2 cup arm&hammer washing soda
1/2 cup borax powder
Bucket or container with lid. This makes a bit over 2 gallons.

Grate the bar of soap and put it in a saucepan. Add 6 cups of water and heat it, stirring occasionally, until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and borax and stir til dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups of hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. let the soap sit 24 hours and it will gel. Use 1/2 cup per load.
For HE machines use 1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on load size. Works fine in cold water.
The cost of making this 2 gallon batch is under $2.00 The big manufacturers are making a killing!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Winter gardening and composting

A lovely warm day above freezing yesterday to gather seaweed on the beach..there never seems to be time in spring and summer and I read that seaweed composts quickly so a new project is evolving. After gathering up a trunkful of free fertilizer we brought it home and hosed it off thoroughly because apparently the salt residue is not welcomed by the plants. I decided rather than have it just freeze outside for the rest of the winter, to make a temporary compost pile in an unused corner of the greenhouse. I layered the seaweed with cleanings from the chicken house floor, the contents of the kitchen compost bucket, and handfuls of soil for the benefits of all the busy little microbes. I have a feeling this might get smelly but time will tell, its just an experiment and something to satisfy that winter gardening call.
 I'm reading Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest, a wealth of information on cold  weather crops in a variety of unheated structures. He has great advice on freeze proof crops like corn salad, spinach, etc, and a lot of greens I've never heard of but am ready to try. E.C. has his farm in Maine, zone 5, which is only half a zone warmer than southern New Brunswick so his ideas should work here, I think. He makes plastic tunnels inside his greenhouses to give the winter crops a double layer of protection. They are made of polyethelene sheets stretched over half moon shaped hoops made of 3/4 inch pvc. The plants grow more slowly in winter, my august planted mesclun has never bolted to seed or become tough and bitter like the summer crops will do.
My initial idea was to try and have fresh greens til Christmas but heck, why stop now? Today I planted some sugar snap peas, some spinach and radishes, just to see if they will germinate in January.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sinless guilt-free no fat cheesecake, YUM!

The best way to enjoy today's raging blizzard, imho, is to make a nice cup of tea and settle in with a good book next to the wood stove, while savoring a delicious piece of cheesecake. I love this recipe because its mostly fat free and I feel like I can indulge myself and persuade guests to have another piece.
The recipe:
Crust - 2 cups graham cracker crumbs and enough canola or olive oil mixed in so you can press it into a large springform pan ( probably about 1/4 c oil)

Filling: 1 cup sugar
2T lemon juice
1/4 cup cornstarch
2  8 oz (250 gram) blocks or tubs of no fat cream cheese
1 cup (250 g) tub of no fat sour cream (or substitute cottage cheese)
2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1. Pre heat oven to 325 F Coat a spring form pan with non stick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and part way up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake at 325F for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
2.In a mixing bowl combine cheeses, sour cream, lemon juice and sugar. Use a hand mixer or even better a food processor, until smooth. Add the 1/4 c corn starch , mix in for a minute. Add egg whites and egg. Mix briefly till eggs are combined.
3. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust. Bake 55 minutes or until the center is done.
4. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge and let the cake cool at room temp. Refridgerate at least 3 hours. Take off the springform side and put your favorite topping on.
I use a canned pie filling like blueberry, cranberry/cherry or make my own with any frozen berries.
To make your own, thaw berries, combine about a  half cup of sugar with about 4-6 T cornstarch. Mix into the thawed berries and cook on the stovetop till thickened. Cool and spread onto the cooled cheesecake.