Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ironic Morning & Sexy Baths

A good dose of irony is always a nice way to start your day! This morning I was debating taking my shower, thinking I could just take a nice long bath this afternoon. I looked in the mirror though and realized I really needed to wash my hair, so into the shower I hopped.
No sooner had I washed my hair, put homemade conditioner on it, and begun washing my face than the water pressure dropped. And I mean dropped, as in "who snuck in here and flushed the toilet?!?!"-dropped!! I quickly rinsed off fearing the water would cease to run or would become either very hot or very cold, very quickly! I was able to get my face washed and my hair shampoo-ed and conditioned, but that was it!
Since I knew we weren't using any water else-where in the house, visions of a quickly-filling flooded basement began to fill my head. Our basement is accessible only via a trap-door in the back hallway. Not normally a hassle, but something where someone really ought to be "upstairs" (not in the basement) to keep an eye on the kids and dogs to make sure no-one falls down the steps. Drying off from the shower I began to try and figure out just how I would do this by myself. And, how we were going to afford to call our plumber out to fix this mess. How strong is duct-tape?? Doesn't going down in a dirt-floor basement to deal with a busted pipe shooting water negate ANY type of shower?? What clothes do you even put on for that?? Do I call Justin to come home, and if I do what do I do in the time between now and then?
While I was quickly getting dressed I noticed a City Water vehicle pull up out front. They weren't there long before moving along. I checked and our water was back on as usual. I don't know what they were doing, but whatever it was, it was over now. WHEW!!
Now I suppose I get my afternoon bath after-all! However, I'll take a different approach from the last time I took an afternoon bath. I had been reading one of my books on amazing women through-out history, reading about how they seduced men, how they would bathe in oils that would leave the men's heads spinning. You can see where this is headed.
Kids gone, Justin still at work (but coming home soon), I hop into the tub with plans to leave my husband stunned with my sex appeal. I poured in some of my sexy smellum oil. It seemed to dissipate rather quickly, so I poured in some more. Ahh ... it was an Oriental Musk scent, but the bathroom smelled like flowers! I bathed and washed my hair and imagined how sexy I would look and smell.
After my bath I got out, got dressed up some, and waited for Justin's impending arrival home from work. We were planning on driving up to Vintage Cellar to get some nice beer and have an evening of yummy beer drinking like we used to do before kids when we car-pooled to school together. I sat down in the living room and began to notice my own smell. It was a little strong, but then again I am very sensitive to smells, so no worry - I am still sexy. He will be amazed.
But, now it is really bothering me, so I sit in front of the fan to help keep the smell away from me (isn't that a sign when you try to keep your own smell off of you?). Justin came home and I tried my best nonchalant sexy attitude. You know "me, I'm just sitting here reading a book, I didn't know I was sexy" attitude.
Sure enough, my plan worked! As we were getting ready to leave, Justin complemented how nice I looked. However, he didn't seem awed by my sexy-scent. I asked my smell was too much -- it was. I knew it. Thankfully, Vintage Cellar is a good 30 minute drive. Thankfully the weather was nice, as we had to roll down the windows to let me air out along the drive. Note to self - a little smellum oil goes a LONG, LONG way!!!!
Later that evening, after my intense smellum had worn off & I was back to a very-humbled sexy, one of the beer bottles we bought would explode in Justin's hand (see for that story!) and cut his leg. Gosh, I really hope my water/shower incident from this morning isn't a precursor to another evening like that!! At least I know my new smellum rule!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Fun Poll

Ok, on our other blog, Soul One Brewery, we have a poll going. We're curious to know (because I have a wild theory in my head ... no suprise there, right? ha ha) what type of beer you like. We have one poll for the guys and one for the gals. In part, my theory is that, in general, women and men have very different taste preferences in beer. I won't tell you what my guess is, so I'll let the polls speak for themselves. You can even choose more than one style if you'd like when you vote! Check it out at: - scroll all the way to the bottom to find the polls ... and please make sure to only vote for YOUR gender!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Failed Sour Cream & Real Butter

Not all attempts work the first time we try them, but it is only more encouragement to keep trying! A beautiful example: This was our first attempt at making sour cream. We used our raw milk, or rather the cream from it, and cooked it for a bit, then blended in some of our (traditional) buttermilk. This is it, sitting out to age. It tasted different than store-bought, that was to be expected. What wasn't to be expected was that it never thickened up like we had hoped. Hmmmmm. A dilemma to be sure! But, all was not lost ~ RANCH DRESSING PACKETS TO THE RESCUE!!! And, viola, we made a beautiful, homemade, raw ranch dressing. The taste truly was amazing.

And now, here's something we hope you'll really like: REAL BUTTER!!
On the left you will see a partial stick of butter. I bought it at our local Co-op, and while not organic, it really is a very good quality butter from a respectable creamery. On the right, my homemade butter, made from the cream of our delicious, Jersey-cow, pasture-raised, raw milk. Historically speaking, one could always tell the quality of the butter by just how yellow it was. Any questions?
Ok, I think I heard one - how do you make butter?? Well, it is a merciless sport to be sure! First, start with raw milk and seperate out the cream into another container (I use a 1/3 measuring cup for this). The cream is thick and heavy, when it gets watery looking you're not getting cream! Once you've got your cream, well, here is what I do: 1) I pour it into my KitchenAid mixer and attach my whisk attachment. 2) Start to whipping the daylights out of the cream. Here is where you show no mercy!! ;) 3) You're cream will soon become whipped cream (yes, this is where it comes from) ... but don't get too excited!! ~ Be mean & cruel and keep whipping that cream till it breaks down! Don't give up, you're almost there! 4) Soon, you will have mastered the cream (hee hee) and it will suddenly begin to split ~ with the butter beginning to clump together & buttermilk shooting out. 5) When I say "shooting out" I mean it, so turn down your mixers! 6) Drain off the buttermilk - you want to get as much of it out of your butter as you can. Sometimes if I plan on adding ingredients, I will attach the paddle attachment here. Save the buttermilk, it is great in recipes! 7) Now that you've gotten the buttermilk out, you can add any extra ingredients to your butter that you'd like: salt, honey, garlic (though I wouldn't advise the honey and garlic together, but you may be weird like that and if you are - go for it, I won't judge!), strawberries, various herbs and so on. 8) I like using little metal molds for my butter as they freeze well and it is very easy to pop the butter back out once frozen.
So, there you go, how to make butter. *Note - if you have buttermilk left in the butter it will increase the rate at which it spoils. I've never had any butter that lasted long enough without being eaten to go bad! Now, go find yourself a nice cow and get to milkin'!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

School, fat, and more beer

It must be something about August. Or maybe I just really hate the heat. Either way, by this time of the year I'm done with summer and longing for fall. So, once again, we've begun some "school" exercises with Shannon. This is proving tricky with Tristan underfoot and other demands calling, but we're taking it a day at a time. One thing I am really trying to learn to balance is doing something "schooly" while realizing we're much more into unschool. Integrating the two is tricky, and getting into the routine of doing something is much harder.
On the topic of fat, I lucked out with a major haul of it on Monday. I had contacted the farm where we get our meat from and inquired about beef fat as well as leaf fat from pigs. The meat processor has to pay to get rid of fat, so having someone take it off there hands is something they get pretty happy about. I drove up there with two big coolers, got them both filled up and had an extra box of fat sitting beside them for the ride home. I'd say I probably got a good 75 lbs of pasture-raised fat. Yes, pasture-raised, meaning high in Omega-3 not Omega-6, nice old-fashioned fat the way it should be. I've rendered down a full skillet's worth of the leaf fat into lard and I didn't even make it through the entire package it was in! WOW!!! I will use the lard and tallow (rendered beef fat) for cooking, and also use the tallow in making soap and shampoo. To say I am excited is a complete understatement!! Nina Planck's book 'Real Food; What to Eat and Why' has changed our lives, and we couldn't be happier or more grateful. Take a moment and check her out at:
Finally, and I know this really belongs on our Soul One blog, we're planning on entering an Organic Homebrew Competition this fall. It will be our first Homebrew Competition and we're really excited about it. We've ordered our organic ingredients, and are ready for them to get here so we can begin brewing. We're also beginning our plans for our winter beer this year. We're calling it 'Decadence' and it will be a strong stout (maybe an imperial? we'll see!) brewed with coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. My mouth is watering already.