Thursday, September 10, 2015

William's Little Store

With the popularity of the show American Pickers on the History Channel comes others who want in on the business or they have been picking forever and the show has given them credibility.  We have such a picker in our area.  His name is William Williams or at least that's the name of his place called William's Little Store.  It's not really a store, but more like several piles of stuff sitting out in the elements.   I never asked him if that was his real name.  He also says he is an arts and crafts supply store which is thinking outside the box, but I guess you might call it that.

William told us he is an art teacher at the University of Wisconsin.  I assumed it was in Madison but it may be in Oshkosh.    His facebook page says he is a lot of things.  One of his websites is a little creepy, so I won't link that site.  He is friendly as can be and has a story for everything.    I don't know how long he has been in business but he joined our Princeton WI Area Buy, Sell and Give Away facebook page, and that's how we found him.  He posts new items almost everyday.  He also has his own page called  William says the Pinterest ladies love him and are his best customers.  They get all kinds of ideas from Pinterest and come to him for supplies.  He has just about anything and if he doesn't have it, he can probably find it.

 So if you are looking for something out of the ordinary, William's Little Store is the place for you.
Almost nothing is marked so you have to ask the price.  He will negotiate.  We didn't know that until we heard another customer haggling with him.  I think he enjoys that, and we could have saved some money.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fermented Salsa

I have a good friend.  Although we haven't seen each in a long, long time, Facebook and her website have allowed me to stay in touch.  She has beautiful flower and vegetable gardens.  She does enjoyable video tours of her gardens, she has a forum and she blogs.  The website is:

Recently Lark blogged a recipe for fermenting salsa.   I didn't have any tomatoes because I don't plant a vegetable garden, so I asked my daughter's mother in law.  She brought me a whole grocery bag full, plus some green peppers and squash.  It was so nice of them, and they even delivered it to our house.  I even had enough tomatoes left over to make four quarts of tomato juice/sauce with my pressure cooker and vitamix method. 

Immediately I got the salsa ready to go.  Culturing all kinds of food is very popular.  Cultured foods provide probiotics which are the good kind of bacteria and healthy in your gut.   They help boost the immune system and make you feel better overall.  I have written several times about the kefir I make.  I have made kefir for over eight years.  Kefir is rich in probiotics.  Recently I blogged about making sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut is also full of probiotics. 


3 pounds ripe tomatoes chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped onion
½ Jalapeno Pepper (with seeds) chopped or more if you like it spicier
1 cup chopped sweet bell pepper
2 tsps. minced garlic
2-3 tsps. sea salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano or 3 tsp. chopped FRESH oregano
1 lime (juice from 1 lime)
½ cup WHEY
(Whey can be obtained by draining plain yogurt or kefir through a cheesecloth.  The clear liquid is whey.  For those who are lactose intolerant, there is mixed information about whether or not there is lactose in it.  Most information I have found says there is only a trace, but that may be more than some people can tolerate.  I have seen recipes eliminating the whey and the salsa will still ferment.)

I use a food processor for ½ of the ingredients, this will make a finer and juicer blend. Then I mix in by hand, the other ½ of the chopped mixture. It gives the salsa a CHUNKIER texture. Fill jars with salsa, leaving an inch of space at the top. Push down the veggies. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover all the veggies. Put cover on. This is important for the fermentation. Leave jars on the counter and cover the jar with a towel (darkness) for two days. You will notice little bubbles forming. This is normal. After the two days refrigerate. This salsa fermentation will keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator.
NOTE: All seasonings are to your taste.

This salsa is excellent.  I didn't use a food processor and there was plenty of juice given off.  It isn't really sour from the fermentation, but has a bite to it.  It is sort of tangy and sour mixed together.  I used the Kraut Source contraption I mentioned in the sauerkraut blog, but it isn't necessary.  Just make sure the vegetables are under the liquid. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Jewelweed Plant

All summer long I have been struggling with an invasive plant which has been growing in the bushes under my kitchen window.  Every now and then, I go out and pull out big bundles of this plant. They pull out super easy with a shallow root system, but I had to stomp down the bushes to get to some of them.  I never inquired as to what this plant was.  I just knew it grew everywhere.  It did have a pretty little flower which I liked, but I couldn't confine these plants to a certain area so I pulled them out.  They gave the term "wild flower" a new meaning.

Some of you may know what this is, but I did not.

I discovered this plant is a Jewelweed or a Touch Me Not plant.  It is a great plant that has value.  I had no idea.  It can be made into a salve or a tincture to treat poison ivy, nettles and bug bites.  It is called Touch Me Not, not because is shouldn't be touched, but by what happens when you touch the seed pod.

Here is a seed pod to the left of the flower.

There are five main modes of seed dispersal in plants.  They are gravity, wind, water, by animals and ballistic.  The way this plant spreads its seeds is "ballistic".  The seed pod is sensitive to the touch of your fingers or when an insect or animal brushes past.  It explodes when it is touched.  The pod is made up of five valves fused together.  When touched they twist away from each other and fling out the seeds inside.  No wonder the plant is called invasive if the seeds disperse that easily. 

Through some research, I learned how to make the salve.  Here is how I did it.

I went outside and gathered a bundle of plants.  Fortunately I haven't destroyed all of the plants.  I have been pulling these plants out for years, and they always return in abundance.

These are growing in the compost pile where I threw the dead
plants (or so I thought they were dead).

I cut the roots off and chopped up the stems and leaves.  I kept about six or seven cups, and put them in a saucepan.

To these chopped up plants, I added two cups of olive oil.  I read you can use coconut oil as well.  I then heated this to a simmer and let it cook for an hour or so.

After an hour, I turned off the heat, put a lid on the saucepan and let it cool overnight in the oil.  Then in the morning, I put a coffee filter into a fine metal sieve.  I put the cooked, steeped leaves still in the oil into the coffee filter.  I let it drain into a measuring cup until all the liquid had drained.

At this point, I put the oily liquid back in the saucepan and added one cup of beeswax beads.  I heated it until the wax was melted.  Then I put in ten drops each of lavender, tea tree and sweet orange essential oil.  I let is cool for a short time and poured the liquid into containers.  This is where I didn't plan ahead well enough.  I had some little metal Altoids boxes.  I thought that would be perfect.  I forgot there is a hinge half way up, and I filled them too full.  I had wax all over the cutting board.  Fortunately it scraped off quite easily.  Then I had to find containers for all the rest of the liquid.  I filled all the little containers I could find.  If I do this again, I will have to order some metal tins to store this salve in.

This was an experiment, and I am not even sure if the stuff works.  I am not going outside to find a bee to sting me or pull out a nettles plant just to see if it works.  When my sister visited she got into some unknown plant or was bitten by an insect.  It caused a lot of discomfort and itching.  It took a long time to heal.  I wonder if this salve would work on something like that.  I am sure that in time we will be able to test it on some bite or reaction.  Until then, it actually is a good moisturizer for the hands.  While cleaning up my mess, I was able to test it out.  Right now I have the skin of a frog.  Water just rolls right off.  Maybe I should apply some to my back so my feelings won't get hurt.  It will just roll right off my back as the saying goes.