Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Crickets In The Basement

This is going to be a quick little blog.  Last weekend we were at my daughters old farmhouse that they recently bought.  They are still busy getting it ready to move in, but everything takes longer than it should.  They are close to finishing up and have done a ton of work.  She asked me if I had a home remedy for getting rid of crickets.  She said she can hear crickets in the basement, and the sound is annoying.  I had no idea.  We have had country critters, but crickets haven't been an issue.  I kind of like their sound, but probably not in the house.  She decided to search for a remedy and found a good solution.  Just take a strip of duct tape, lay it next to the foundation upside down so the sticky side is up, stick a couple pieces of dog food to the tape and wait.  This was what she found in the morning.  I think it works and doesn't use harsh insect sprays.  Sometimes the easiest method is the best.

Two pieces of dog food and sticky tape does the trick.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Light Alfredo Sauce

I had every intention of blogging about our dinner tonight.  However, life happens and we ended up with leftovers.  I was going to make a skinny version of Chicken Alfredo that I found on   Instead I made the major component, the sauce.  It is made with kefir instead of heavy cream or cream cheese.  There is no butter either so the calories are cut dramatically.  The calories in most Alfredo sauces are over 500 calories per serving.  This recipe has 170 calories.

The sauce is tasty and very creamy.

In this recipe you can use kefir from the grocery store.  I make my own, so I was able to use that.  I wrote a few days ago about the homemade kefir I make, and I have a lot of it on hand right now.  My grains are very prolific.

Light Chicken Alfredo Sauce

3 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of minced garlic
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain, nonfat kefir
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Add the garlic and cook briefly.  Garlic burns easily so watch carefully.  Stir in the flour and stir until combined, then whisk in the chicken broth.  Stir until the mixture thickens and then remove from the heat.  Whisk in the kefir and the parmesan cheese.  Season with the salt and pepper.

I also grilled some chicken breast strips, so I will have them ready for tomorrow.  I will cook some noodles, and toss the sauce with the noodles.  Then top with the cooked chicken.  This sauce could be used in alfredo lasagna. chicken alfredo pizza or any recipe calling for alfredo sauce.  It is low calorie and basically lactose free.

Prepared chicken strips.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fruit Flies In My Kitchen

This post is disgusting but I didn't realize how disgusting until today.  For the past few days, I noticed a few fruit flies in my kitchen.  I couldn't imagine where they had come from, and then I found some over ripe tomatoes I had from my daughter's garden.  I tossed the tomatoes and thought that would be the end of it, but I still saw a couple flying around.  I heard that vinegar attracted them, so I set out a dish of vinegar.  In a few hours, I hadn't attracted any.  I had used white vinegar so I thought perhaps I needed cider vinegar instead.  Apple cider is made from fruit and fruit flies like fruit (and vegetables).  Without realizing it, I grabbed rice vinegar instead.  I sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in the vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing soap.  I set the dish on the kitchen counter.  In a few seconds the fruit flies started to appear.  They would perch on the side of the dish and then fall into the pool of vinegar.  Obviously there were more than a couple fruit flies in my kitchen,  and I couldn't imagine where they all came from.

A lot of fruit flies in a short amount of time.

After a while we had some errands to run, so we left for a few hours.  When we returned, I checked the dish and it had many more drowned fruit flies.  I told you it was digusting.

Do we all have fruit flies in our homes, and we don't realize it?  I hope not.  I will use this combination in the future because it obviously works.  I hate to see how many will be collected by morning.  Hopefully there aren't many more.

1/2 cup rice vinegar (apple cider or red wine vinegar)
1/2 t. sugar
a few drops of dishwashing soap

*Note: After I posted this blog,  I got several comments about using a dish with the vinegar solution but covered with plastic wrap.  I decided to do a test.  Over 8 hours ago I set out a dish with vinegar, soap and a little sugar.  I covered it with plastic wrap and secured it with a rubber band.  I poked holes in the plastic wrap.  Next to it I put out an open dish of vinegar, soap and sugar.  I caught several fruit flies in the open dish and not one in the covered dish.  They crawled on the plastic but wouldn't go through. It seems that the open method is more effective.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Time To Dry Your Hydrangea Blossoms

The last two days in Princeton, Wisconsin are a sharp contrast to the hot temperatures we had earlier this week.  It is very cold and tonight we have a chance of frost.  In case this happens, I have gathered my inside plants that I have outside.  I don't want to bring them inside yet, so I am going to cover the bunch with a blanket and hope for the best.  I hope it doesn't freeze yet.  It is way too early.  One of the reasons besides the obvious, is that I save some of the hydrangea blooms and dry them.  They have to be cut after the growing season but before a frost.  If it freezes the blossoms freeze, and they don't dry properly.  Today I cut a few just in case.  This is my process for drying them.  Some people tie the stems together and hang upside down until dry.  I don't do that.

This Hydrangea is getting the fall blush.  I hope these are ready to cut, and not too early. 

Fill a vase 3/4 full of water and cut the flowers.

Strip the leaves off the stems and place into the vase of water.

The flowers should be put into water immediately after cutting.  This allows the water to be pulled up into the stem just like any cut flower.  The difference is that the flower doesn't wilt.  Just leave the bouquet in the water until all the water evaporates.  At this time the Hydrangea has begun to dry.  It does turn light brown, but once dry they last for years.  I have never done this, but I have heard that you can color the water, and the dried flowers will have that color in the blossoms.

These dried hydrangea's are several years old.  They still have the slight pink blush.

This is what happens if you pick the blossoms too soon.  They shrivel up and don't dry properly.

If it doesn't freeze tonight, I will wait until the next near frost to collect more.  There are a lot of ways to decorate with dried Hydrangea.  Some years I decorate my Christmas tree with some of the dried blossoms.  If you have some or have access to them, give it a try.  It's free, it's pretty and it's fun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Update Of My Kefir Miracle

Today's blog is going to be an update of a post I wrote when I first started to write my blog in December of 2012.  It was called the Miracle of Kefir.

If you read the first blog, I mentioned what kefir is, how wonderful it is and how it returned me to health after cancer treatment in 2006/2007.  Well, this spring something happened to the kefir grains I had.  My grains were over 6 years old, and they started to die off.  I tried to keep them going.  They still made kefir but the quality was poor and the grains quit growing.  All summer I tried to revive them.  I finally gave in and ordered new grains from a wonderful source called the kefirlady.  I was familiar with her because I followed her yahoo group for many years.  I learned from the literature she sent that I was killing my grains in two ways.  First, I was stirring with a silicone spatula.  Silicone kills the kefir.  I had never heard that before.  I also was not using enough milk in ratio to the grains.  I was starving my kefir grains by not giving them enough to eat.  I was thinking the more grains the better.  That was not true.  The kefirlady, Marilyn, raises goats and makes her milk kefir from goat milk, but her grains work perfectly fine in regular store bought milk as long as the milk isn't ultra pasteurized.  Some people were concerned that the grains would be "goaty".  Once a couple batches are made, there is no detectable goat flavor.

Finished batch of fresh kefir.

In case anyone is interested, the kefirlady also sells water kefir and kombucha.  I made water kefir in addition to milk kefir for a long time, but I found they reproduced so fast we couldn't possibly keep up.  They are different from milk kefir grains in that they grow in sugar water.  The grains use up the sugar in the water and make a fizzy drink that is slightly sweet.   It can be flavored with juices.  I often added grape juice but if left to ferment too long, it tasted a little like sweet wine.   It has good beneficial properties with probiotics just as the milk kefir does.  Kombucha is similar but the water kefir contains a greater number of good bacteria.  Good bacteria helps us to digest our food, helps with allergies and boosts our immune system.  I got this explanation of milk kefir benefits from

 "In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also offers an abundance of calcium and magnesium, which are also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly profound calming effect on the nerves.
Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity."

Hopefully I will be able to keep my new grains for a long time, and I will have plenty to share.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lemon Bars

Recently my sister reminded me of a recipe we used to make.  She got this recipe when she worked and lived in Stoughton, Wisconsin.  That was probably more than twenty five years ago. The recipe has been around for a long time, but I haven't made them in many years.  I don't know why, they are so good and go together very quickly.  It is a very easy recipe that doesn't need a mixer.

Lemon Bars

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Cut the butter into the flour and powdered sugar just like with pie crust.   Pat it into a 8 x 8 inch pan.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

2 eggs
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix with a fork until blended.  Put filling over the crust while the crust is still hot.  Bake for another 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  When done, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut while still warm.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fall is on the Horizon

 Fall is nearly here in spite of the warm temperatures we had today.  It was a beautiful day, but there are signs everywhere.   Here are just a few of the pictures I took today that proves fall is just around the corner. 

The corn fields are getting ready to harvest.

The corn tassels.

Ears of field corn drying up.

Lots of bees on the sedum.


Another pumpkin

Lots of tomatoes, too many to eat.

Wooly Caterpillar

Blush on the hydrangea

Jack in the Pulpit berries