Friday, October 31, 2014

Deer Hunt 2014

Uinta Flat

So, this year's deer hunt was sort of a bust. In four days we drove 200 miles, and were only able to catch a glimpse of a little 2-point buck. Since no one was able to get a clean shot, and none of us is so un-sportsman-like as to take a bad shot, we came home with no deer today. We did, however, get to spend a week camping on beautiful Cedar Mountain with friends. That was a definite win. Here are the best of the best of the photos we shot. If we couldn't shoot deer, we may as well have shot photos, right?

Dead Lake
Beautiful firey aspen trees

Pines on Asay Knoll

Cool clouds over Asay Bench

Sunset on Asay Bench

Old dead aspen, near Duck Creek Village
View of Asay Bench, taken from atop Asay Knoll

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Make it Yourself - Stain Remover

I've run across a lot of hard to remove stains in my day. It's always such a bummer when you have to stop wearing something that you love because of a big stain or blotch of grease that just won't come out. I ran across this idea to remove stains some time ago, and I decided to test it out and see how it works!

Seems simple enough, all you need is concentrated dishwashing liquid (Such as Dawn, Palmolive, Ajax, etc.) and hydrogen peroxide. Mix equal parts soap and peroxide, and apply to the stain.
Rub it around a bit to agitate it and force it into the fabric, and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes or so. Right after you put it on the stain, you will see the peroxide start to bubble as it starts eating away at the organic matter stuck in the fibers. Launder as you normally would, then check out your stains to see if they lifted. Not every stain will be lifted the first time, but you should see some improvement with each application. I tested it out on the bottom cuffs of my work scrubs (where I walk on them all day, because I am short) and some greasy spots on one of my dishtowels where I set some cookies to cool.
See the greasy spots?

Grease spots, foaming up!
The wash is done, and the results are in. The bottoms of my scrubs seem less dirty, but the stain is not completely removed. The dishtowel, on the other hand, has no more grease spots! My main reason for applying it to my scrubs, aside from seeing if it would remove the dirt, was to test colorfastness. Now that I know it won't fade my work clothes, I can use this little remedy all the time. Since I work in a nursing home, I'm sure that you can only imagine the stains that I bring home. All in all, I'd say it is a stain remover worth mention. Certainly it will remove stains with organic components, just not sure about inorganic stains. Test it out and see what it will remove from your clothes, carpets, linens and upholsteries. I'm fixing to put it on the carpet on my steps...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mom's Potatoes with Cheese on Top

Potatoes with cheese on top were an all-time favorite at my house. I'm not sure how well leftovers keep, because I don't remember ever having any! We all fought over who got the last spoonful!

What you will need:

Mashed potatoes
Shredded cheese
Butter or margarine
Seasoned salt
Garlic salt
Black pepper

First off, make up a batch of potatoes big enough for the group you're feeding. Homemade or instant, either one, it's up to you. If you've got some leftover mashed potatoes, those will work out fine, as well. This recipe comes in handy when you are trying to figure out what to do with your leftover potatoes after Thanksgiving! 

Locate a casserole or baking dish large enough for the potatoes to cover the bottom and be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. 

Dot the top of the potatoes with butter. You don't need a lot, just enough to cover the surface of the potatoes with a thin layer of butter. This helps to moisten the potatoes, and to dissolve the salt in the seasonings. Sprinkle with garlic salt, seasoned salt and black pepper to taste.  Top with shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Caring for Your Eggs

At my house we have a backyard full of farm animals. We've got goats, chickens, and ducks. While the goats do little to earn their keep (unless destroying anything they can fit in their mouth counts,) the ducks and chickens actually provide something useful: eggs! Eggs from your backyard are the best eggs ever! Especially if you allow your birds to free range. Our birds have the run of the yard. The chickens scratch and peck, and find bugs and seeds to dine upon, while the ducks eat the bugs that have drowned in their pool, or that are hiding under the plants that they graze on. I introduced my ducks to grass when they were just little yellow ducklings, so now they really love to munch on it! It is a smart idea to set up a designated area for your birds to make a nest and lay their eggs, otherwise it will be Easter egg hunting on a daily basis. It has been a challenge for me to find a box that the chickens will lay eggs in, but that won't get stomped into oblivion by curious goats. Recently I found a sturdy egg crate at a local thrift shop. I'm hoping that this will be my solution! Check for eggs every day. Take them inside and out of the heat or cold. I typically wash my eggs every few days. I let a nice pile build up in my egg basket, then wash the whole batch. Since eggs have a coating on the outside which keeps them protected from germs and bacteria, it is okay to leave them at room temperature for a few days, or even as long as a month, if they are kept in a cool, dark location. Washing your eggs washes away this coating, therefore your clean eggs should be kept in the fridge to protect against illness.
The tools of the trade.
When you have a stack of eggs ready to wash, gather up some egg cartons, a clean damp towel, and a spray bottle with a dilute bleach and water solution. Rub your eggs just enough to remove any dirt or debris from the outside (feathers, straw, mud, manure, etc.) Don't scrub the whole egg top to bottom. You want to keep as much of the protective coating in place as possible.

See the weak spot at the top?

As you are wiping your eggs off, watch for cracks or weak spots. A dark spot on the shell of an egg is typically an indicator of a crack or weakness. Press gently with your thumb and listen for the crack. If you hear or see your egg crack, discard it.

Ready to be spritzed!

Once your eggs are all inspected and wiped, lay them out on the counter and give them a good spritz with your bleach solution. Roll them around and spritz from another side, just to be sure you get even coverage.
Thirty good-looking eggs!

After your eggs are washed and spritzed, they can go into an egg carton, or flat, and be put in your refrigerator. If you have more than one carton, number them so that you know which carton to use first. This way, you can use up the older eggs before they go bad.

If you would like, you can weigh and label your chicken eggs for the purpose of cooking or baking. I use a kitchen scale, set to weigh in grams, to weigh my eggs, and write the size on the bottom of the egg with pencil. Weighing in grams seems to be a bit more accurate. The sizes of chicken eggs are as follows:

Jumbo - Greater than 71 grams
Extra Large - Greater than 64 grams
Large- Greater than 57 grams
Medium - Greater than 50
Small - Greater than 43 grams
Peewee - Greater than 35 grams

L-R: The smallest chicken egg, largest chicken egg, smallest
duck egg, and largest duck egg in my basket.
Duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs, typically weighing as much as, or more than, a jumbo chicken egg.
Merle the duck's giant, monstrous, jumbo-sized egg.
Duck eggs are also higher in cholesterol, and have a higher yolk to white ratio, which makes them quite tasty. All the bad stuff tastes so good, right?

Treat your duck eggs much as you would chicken eggs. Be sure to cook your duck eggs thoroughly, though, as there may be an increased chance of salmonella associated with them. Also, keep duck eggs away from ready to eat food items, and wash your hands after handling them, for the same reason. Don't want to scare you away, just giving you the facts!
See the itty-bitty fairy egg?

On occasion, a bird will lay an egg smaller than a peewee egg. This is commonly referred to as a fairy egg, and is typically not a complete egg. It is sort of a random event, but occurs more frequently in new layers, or in older birds who are ending their laying career.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Saving Melon Seeds

 I wanted to purchase some fruit to chop up and freeze for smoothies, and this little melon was one of my selections! I figured, after I brought it home, that it would also afford me the opportunity to show you how to save melon seeds. As discussed in my Finding Seeds to Plant post, watermelon seeds are pretty easy to save. Eat the watermelon, spit out the seeds, wash them and let them dry. Other types of melon are pretty dang easy, too! Most melons resemble squash and pumpkins in how their seeds are situated, so you just need to scrape out their "guts" to get to the seeds! First off, gather together your tools: a cutting board, a sharp knife, a spoon, a mesh sieve, a small bowl, and some paper towels.

Cut your melon in half, then use your spoon to scrape out the guts. After I scraped out my melon I put my guts into a bowl and used my spoon to separate the seeds from the guts.

I peeled and chopped up the fruit, putting the fruit in the freezer and flinging the rinds out for the animals to eat. The chickens peck the fruit off, then the goats eat the rinds. The ducks are clueless about food flung out the door. They do not realize what they are missing out on.

Once you have your seeds and guts thoroughly separated (it's okay if a little fruit matter gets in) put them into your sieve and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Make sure you rinse away all of the sugar and pick out any remnants of the guts. A sticky seed is an unhappy seed, and may turn into a rotten seed.

Lay your newly washed seeds out on some paper towels and allow them to dry completely. Store in an envelope or zip top bag to plant next year. I always mark my seed receptacle with the date, and the type of seed, so that there is no confusion on what it is or how long it will last.