Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Healthy Homemade Version of Chocolate Syrup

Every other Tuesday this summer, we have had two of our grandboys for the day.  It broke up the summer a little for them and gave us a chance to see them.  Yesterday our granddaughter came along.  She will be 16 in a couple months so I think her day was quite boring, but it was very nice to have her here.

The boys like chocolate milk, but I didn't have any.  I had some Trader Joe's organic chocolate syrup, but it was almost gone.  We eeked out enough for one glass, and I promised to get some before next time.

I dropped the kids off late in the afternoon and had to stop at the grocery store on the way home.  I looked at the Hershey syrup and another brand.  I was shocked to see the first ingredient was High Fructose Corn Syrup.  They still put that junk in products.  Needless to say, I didn't buy any.

This morning as I was putting the empty syrup container into the recycle bin, I remembered a recipe I had seen a few months ago.

Jill from the Prairie Homestead has a lot of great information and recipes.  I had all the ingredients and in less than five minutes, I made chocolate syrup.  This isn't as tasty as the recipe we all have made with real butter and cream, but it will work fine for making chocolate milk.  I put the finished syrup in the Trader Joe's container and the boys won't know the difference.  They are very visual and if the food or the container looks a little different from what they are used to, they balk.

Here is the recipe from the Prairie Homestead:

Homemade Chocolate Milk Syrup

  1. On low, in a medium saucepan, mix together the maple syrup and water. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Whisk in the cocoa powder. Remove from heat.
  3. Add vanilla extract and let cool (syrup will thicken).
  4. Simply add your desired amount to a glass of milk and enjoy. Keep in the fridge for up to three weeks.
It seemed that 1 cup of cocoa powder was a lot, so I used 3/4 cup.  It still had a very strong chocolate flavor.  This also doesn't seem as sweet as the high fructose product but it is so much better for everyone. 

I didn't want to throw my sample away so I embellished it.  I added some vanilla protein powder and some instant coffee.  Yum, there may not be any chocolate syrup left for the boys when they come next time.  I will have to make more.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Start Your Campfire With These Little Fire Starters

Sundays are always long boring days for me.  I don't know why, but it has always been that way.  My house is clean enough and the laundry is caught up.  My husband is working on a big project so there is no hope of going anywhere or doing anything fun.  I had to occupy myself.  I grabbed some iced tea and went outside to start a campfire.  It was a beautiful day to just sit and relax.  As I was starting the fire, I noticed I was down to my last two fire starters.  I decided I could multi task.  I could sit by the fire and make more fire starters.  Quite a while ago I wrote about giving away egg cartons.  It has gotten to the point where I can't find anyone who wants them.  You would think with the popularity of raising chickens, I would easily be able to give away cardboard egg cartons.  Since I have a bunch, I didn't feel bad about re-purposing a couple.

I make these fire starters with old candle wax, sawdust and egg cartons.  Since I discovered essential oil diffusers,  I don't burn that many candles anymore.  I have kept a few of the jar candles that have the wick burned up but still have wax in the jar.  It sounds like I'm a hoarder, but I don't think I am.  I just keep things I know I can re-purpose.

When making this type fire starter, the first thing you do is melt some wax.  Whether it is a block of paraffin or used candle wax, it really doesn't matter.  I tried a new approach today to melt the wax.  I filled an old kettle we had in our Goodwill donation box with water and placed it on the campfire grate.  In the water, I placed a used jar candle.  My husband thought melting the wax outdoors was also a lot safer.  It worked great.  If I spilled, it was no big deal.

I sat and relaxed while the hot water melted the wax.  Then I went to my husbands workshop and gathered some sawdust off the floor.  While working on his project, he made a pile of sawdust that hadn't been swept up yet.  I filled a box with sawdust even though my project will only take a small amount.

This box of sawdust will last for a very long time.

I gathered an old metal coffee can and cut the tops off the egg cartons.  I just threw the tops in the fire.

At this point I filled the coffee can about half full with saw dust.  I took the saucepan off the fire and let it cool off a little bit.  The wax will stay melted for a long time.  I found a stirring stick and poured the melted wax into the sawdust.  I mixed it completely so all the sawdust was moistened with wax.  Then I took an old cookie scoop and placed a scoop of mixture into the egg cartons and pressed them down firmly.

That is all there is to it.  I intended to fill three egg cartons, but I miscalculated and half a coffee can only makes two dozen starters.  Using two egg cartons won't put a dent in my stash of cartons, so I will still have to find a home for them.

To use these fire starters, just cut them apart after the wax has hardened.  When you want to start a campfire, just place two starters in the fire pit with some kindling.  Light the cardboard carton and the wax will begin to burn.  There is no need for lighter fluid or a lot of paper.

I just store the starters in a covered container and grab what we need whenever we have a campfire.