Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Ricotta

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Awwwww yeahhhh….comfort food is always welcome in the middle of winter! Especially a big tray of lasagna. After I found some gluten free lasagna noodles at the store I HAD to make some!! And I bought some Daiya cheese to try on top. I was definitely impressed with it, as my first try of vegan cheese was….well. Horrifying, I must say. This was such an improvement that I definitely have faith restored!

There was also the question of the ricotta. Most of the recipes I found online included just crumbled tofu which…well I suppose the texture would be accurate, but I was wanting close to the real thing. So, I made it as I would regular homemade ricotta, I just subbed the whole cow’s milk for one box of shelf stable soymilk. Which, interestingly enough, my daughter demanded a drink of. This is strange only because I had been trying to get her to have a taste for months now, and she avoided it like the plague. Make a big deal of needing to use it all for cheese, and then of course she has to have some…

I digress.

If you’d like to know how to do it, it’s simple enough. I got a big saucepan, put in the whole box of milk plus about a 1/4 tsp of salt and a dash of basil. I let it warm up over medium heat, mostly stirring the entire time. You want it just about ready to boil, but not -boiling…You can use a thermometer if you want to be more precise, and let it get to about 180-190 degrees I do believe. Then take it off the heat, slowly stir in either 3 tbsps of lemon juice or white vinegar. It’ll curdle pretty quickly. After about 5 minutes or so, pour it into a colander lined with cheesecloth over a bowl (if you want to use the whey) or pour into a cheesecloth, and tie it to your faucet (if you don’t care about the whey). The longer you let it set, the thicker it will become. I’d like to play around with the flavors on this, see if I can make some yummy spreadable cheeses this way!

It made enough for a small pan of lasagna, maybe a cup or so. So definitely double up if you are wanting more. And I would probably have done this earlier in the day/day before, not when I was getting ready to make the lasagna….haha. Oh well, last minute ideas! 🙂

I had a meat eater try some, and even he liked the lasagna….the biggest problem he had with it was my precook noodles didn’t soften up all over, which I’d remedy by thinning out my sauce next time…So I say SUCCESS!

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Pocket Diapers!!

So, I still keep trying to work cloth diapers into my DD’s diapering system. The bf is very reluctant to do so, so I want to try to find easier solutions for him. I got a new diaper cover from one of my local grocery stores, strangely enough..a Cutey Baby Wrap, which we’ll be trying out too.

Diapers are pretty pricey though, and since I love being a diy-er, I wanted to try making some pocket diapers.  With printer out of ink though, I had to try and draft a pattern myself, and well..I’m certainly not the best seamstress yet so my edges are kinda funky. haha! But, as long as they function I could care less.

All I did was measure my DD, waist and rise (rise is from belly button down between legs and up the back) and then doodle on some newspaper until I got a shape I liked. Referenced a few of her cloth diapers for it, and left a 1/4-1/2 seam allowance. I used some fleece for  the outer, and t-shirt for the inner.

I especially like how pointy my edges seem to have gotten…dang! haha. So have no fear if you can’t sew. Neither can I, and I got it just fine! I just cut my two pieces (make sure to put the sides you want facing out pointed inward when you sew) and I pinned around, making sure to leave about 2″ open on the back side so you can stuff your insert into it.

I may topstitch around these too, but eh they seem alright just with that sewing and turning. Did I mention I’m lazy?

I used 1/4″ elastic on the legs. I tacked down one end with a zigzag, then streeeetched it tight and sewed down, tacking it down well on the other end. I did not make them a casing (lazy). We’ll see if I need to add that as well…

I am just using some of DD’s prefolds as inserts, as they fit quite nicely actually! (she’s a toddler of 19 months atm) just folded into thirds and stuffed in there.

We’ll put these to the test (I’ve made 2 so far) to see how they hold up. Also what the bf’s verdict is on them. I’m going to get some of the disposable & flushable liners for bf’s sake too.

I did not add any snaps or velcro btw… 1)couldn’t find the damn velcro and 2) I can’t find a snap press like I want anywhere near me. I want to add some snaps once I can get a press. Probably going to be from ebay.

I’ll update on how these are working out.

UPDATE: Huzzah! I tried one out on her last night for bedtime..figured that’d be a good stress test. I can fit 2 of her prefolds into one, and then put one of her covers over the whole thing. NO LEAKS!! Though she managed to take the whole thing off first thing upon waking this morning. 😛 Velcro is quickly a no go for me. So yeah!! I’ll be making more of these 🙂 and working on some longies for her to cover her booty. hehe.

Yummy Homemade Toothpaste

I finally got a good combination down for homemade toothpaste!

My bf had major complaints on my last few attempts…too baking  soda tasting every time.  Which, I had to agree..and it’s hard to get someone to switch to homemade toothpaste if it tastes like you’re chewing baking soda. Yuck!

I don’t have any pictures just yet..I’ll upload some after my next batch. I had someone ask me to make them some so probably after I get theirs made!

Yummy Homemade Toothpaste

these measurements are approximate..adjust to suit your tastes

1 tsp Dr Bronners Liquid Castile Soap (I used the peppermint kind)

1 Stevia Packet

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp aloe vera

3-4 tsp baking soda

Few drops of essential oil(I added 3 drops of spearmint. Mine was plenty minty with the peppermint soap!)

Few drops of Vit E oil (optional)

Splash of hot water

Whisk

 

In a medium bowl, put splash of hot water and stevia together. Add coconut oil and aloe vera. Whisk together. Blend in the baking soda. Add the soap and whisk like crazy! It’ll froth up a bit and look just like commercial toothpaste!

Add the essential oils (if any) and then put in a jar or tube. I put mine in a little travel tube, but it was quite the pain to get it in there nicely..but then I have a nice lil tube of fresh toothpaste. Your choice.

It doesn’t froth up like regular toothpaste, but it also doesn’t taste like baking soda. Woo hoo! Big score there.  I’m wondering if there would be any merit to adding  Vitamin A or anything else to it. I’ll post any changes I make that I think are beneficial.

 

Overcast skies, simple afternoons

Bark in the park went really well, despite Flaming Gorge Days being the same day and increasingly strong winds. But it’s Wyoming, so what can you do? I sold my 2 pet beds before I even got set up! woo-hoo! I sold out of quite a few items and some garnered absolutely no interest. Good way to test out some items to see reactions 🙂 the kitty fishing poles went almost as fast too! yay for kitty love!

I realize it took me a while to post about it (bark in the park was saturday) but life got busy and er…I forgot to take pictures haha! My friend ashley stopped by and took one at least, so I’ll try and get that up. But I’m trying to get all nice and organized for farmer’s market!! Starts July  8th so be ready! 🙂 I’m getting rather over-ambitious ideas for my booth, so hopefully I’ll have everything ready-ish ..haha. I made a prototype new design for a swiffer mop pad, then immediately gave it to someone else to test out soo I’ll wait till I hear back on how it works before I post it up here. I’ll probably include a lil tutorial on how to make it as well. 🙂 I made a new version of a knit dishcloth sponge/scrubbie, and I’ll post a second post of the pattern itself.

I’ve also been busy in the kitchen..getting better at making bread! I made a wheat bread this afternoon. Not as fluffy as I would like but at least I didn’t destroy it! haha. I successfully made ginger syrup last night and combined with club soda to make-ginger ale! Too cool! It’s pretty refreshing and spicy, much different than regular ginger ale. Delish! I also started a sourdough proof and am attempting a ginger proof as well…I’d like to make sourdough bread and ginger beer! Along with some fruit soda. .blackberry, huckleberry perhaps? 🙂 My sourdough proof is already getting some yeast, but no go on the ginger proof…so we’ll see how it does. Takes a week at least for each to develop so I just need to be patient.

I also bought a fantastic book called “The Urban Homestead:Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City” which is marvelous and totally inspiring. It’s where I got the idea for the sourdough starter, and I am thinking I will try out a diy solar dehydrator to make some sun dried tomatoes! I totally recommend this book for anyone with a diy attitude! I”ll post pics if I accomplish the dehydrator 🙂 http://www.amazon.com/Urban-Homestead-Self-sufficient-Process-Self-reliance/dp/1934170011/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277939718&sr=8-1

Well I’m going to start some supper. I’ll be sure to take pics my first day at farmer’s market!

Busy busy busy!

So sorry I haven’t posted in a while!! I’ve been busy trying to catch up on projects. I finished up some baby items for a friend who should be in the hopsital soon and having that baby! ❤

I made her a little baby cocoon and hat to match!

I also made her a decorated wipes case (because white plastic is boooring) and homemade baby oil along with some yummy sugar scrub for herself.

I will be participating in a mini fair for the local humane society this saturday (was supposed to be the 12th but got postponed due to weather :/) I am trying to get as many things made as I can, including homemade pet bedding and hamster huts and cat and dog toys 🙂

Here are a few pics:

I set down the bed and called the fat cat over and he jumped right in! I had quite a time getting him back out of there haha! I made a little hamster hut out of jute too. 🙂

I’ll be posting pics of the actual fair after saturday too. Hopefully I’ll get a better canopy so I don’t have to battle to get it set up.

I’ve also been busy building up my bread making skills. I even made homemade butter to go along with it! Yummy! I also successfully made homemade crackers. Once I perfect doing bread and crackers I may do a posting on that as well.

Also: I hope everyone gets outside today and enjoys the warm sun on the solstice! ❤

DIY Snowed in day!

Ok so the weather outside is terrible. Which prompted me to start making goodies of course! Staves off the cabin fever 😉 hehe.

First up I decided to attempt bread. It’s still rising right now…had to toss the first batch away cuz I dumped in too much flour to begin with >.< oops! Note to the beginner: pour in like maybe 1/4 cup at a time. I didn’t use nearly the amount of flour the recipe called for! I’ll post some pics of that if it ends up tasty 🙂

I also thought about things we use that could be made at home with less preservatives and better taste. So I picked…ketchup! Weird I’m sure. But I loove me some ketchup. And I found some recipes online using just tomato paste! It was actually really easy! One can of paste, some water, some apple cider vinegar and an assortment of spices. Chinese 5 spice works well 😉 Oh some brown sugar for sweetness too. It made more than I would’ve imagined!

Had to use 3 baby food jars for all of it! But that could be handy…separate jars for everyone!

Next up was homemade mayonnaise. First off if you do not have an electric mixer or hand mixer, go get one. This takes freaking forever by hand!! Seriously, it took close to an hour to beat this stuff into shape. All it is is egg yolks and oil, plus lemon juice or vinegar. But you have to add the oil sllllowwwwwwwwwwwwly. Very slowly, so as to avoid weird egg drop soup goo. I was adept at avoiding that but had to call reinforcements for egg beating. Poor Devin worked hard for something he didn’t much care for! I like it but then again I like the taste of olive oil. I added garlic and lemon to it as well to help with the strong oil taste. I’d recommend a lighter oil if you’re going to attempt it!

Well hopefully I can try out making butter too…mmm! 😀 I’ll share my experience if I try that as well! I’m off to go attempt a second loaf of bread while this one is baking…

DIY Shampoo & Conditioner

So I have been messing around with different types of homemade shampoo and conditioner the past week. It’s been an interesting week to say the least!

I started with the one recipe I see most often online-the liquid castile soap + water/tea +essential oils. The first time made my hair feel stripped and dry, so I tried adding a pinch of jojoba oil. This resulted in nasty greasy hair. :/ even when followed by the ever popular apple cider vinegar rinse. The ACV rinse does work well as a detangler, but doesn’t do much to cut the oil.

Hrm. So I started looking at other recipes people have made. I tried putting in some baking soda in the shampoo, and making up a conditioner from aloe vera and glycerin and lemon juice. That seemed to help the first use, but day 2 of that resulted in nasty greasy hair again. Bleh!

I realize that my hair will be going through a ‘transition’ phase while not using regular shampoo and conditioner, but I am impatient. hehe.

So back to the research board. I came across some stores selling ‘shampo bars’ and thought what! What the heck is a shampoo bar? Do you rub your head with a bar of soap? Well…pretty much. But I heard some good reviews in the forums I came across-like no more need for conditioner, hair doesn’t feel greasy, etc.

But I wanted to make my own! And I’m not sure I want to start making soap in my kitchen, so I found a nice alternative-hand milling! Basically melt down a bar of soap and add extra ingredients such as different oils, herbs, infusions, essential oils, etc. Basically what you want extra of that may have been made less during the soap making process, or something that wasn’t in there to begin with.

I had a nice castile soap made by a local gal that I used half of for some DIY laundry detergent that I decided  to use.  It took forever to melt down! It took like half and hour and i still had some chunks in it. I added coconut oil, jojoba, sweet almond and grapeseed oil. I added rosemary and lavender and mint essential oils. I also added honey and rice powder. 🙂 I poured it into a wax paper lined bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. It came out really soft! My boyfriend says it looks like caramel candy lol!

So I tried it out this morning…It felt strange to use a bar of soap on my head, I’m not going to lie. But as I’m sitting here waiting for my hair to dry, I feel no grease, no dryness! 😀 There may be something to these shampoo bars! I’ll update as I use this over the next few days…this may be a great great thing!

Cleaning gifts!

So my friends recently bought a house, and I thought what better for a house warming gift than some green cleaning items?

I made for them some lemon mint all purpose cleaner, some orange mint laundry detergent, some yummy air freshener, a swiffer duster and a swiffer mop duster  😀 yay! I was kind of on a mint kick. I made rosemary mint shampoo and  conditioner this morning for myself. hehe. I very nearly have a perfect blend of ingredients for diy shampoo and conditioner so I’ll be posting that soon as well.

Green sewing projects

So I’ve been trying to improve upon my sewing skills, and I figure what better way than to make something worthwhile and green? 🙂

First thing I made last night was a reusable duster. I followed this pattern (http://www.flickr.com/photos/merwing/2057552929/sizes/o/) and made mine out of fleece.

It works pretty darn well too! Only took maybe 5 minutes to make. How cool is that? I would like to make one like this (http://sewmuchado.blogspot.com/2010/02/tutorial-reusable-swiffer-duster-cloths.html) but the only flannel I had I wanted to save for project #2. ..

Project #2 is cloth wipes! I order some off etsy earlier, and figured hey I can totally make these! Also really easy to make! And nice and durable 🙂 Plus they have duckies! Just need to find some devil ducky fabric now…. 🙂

Burst o Creativity…and fluff.

So I have been busy concocting and scheming and creating in my kitchen the past week or so, hence the lack of posts 🙂 First off i tried to attempt a liquid laundry detergent. Didn’t sound too hard, just need to take your powder ingredients and melt together in a pot with water. Easy right? Welllll…not so much. It worked, but instead of the slime that everyone else online seemed to get, mine exploded into a giant ball of fluff and bubbles O.o  Like it’s a giant ball of fluff in my container days later since making it…it seems to work just fine, and even makes the clothes smell nice to boot! I think the fluff comes from me adding a dash of oxyclean to it…. If you want to try it, go for it 🙂 I used some locally made soap that smells awesome and all the same dry ingredients, plus a lil bit of kosher salt and maybe 4 cups of water? I used enough to get my container 3/4 full. Just use a much larger pot than I did..probably a nice big canning pot. Cuz it will get extremely fluffy/foamy!! Like I had to dive to save it from bubbling over and fluffing up my stove. Lol!! I’ll post some pics when I get a chance. 🙂

Onto second concoction: dishwasher detergent! First few times resulted in nasty white film. Everywhere. Which meant I had to go back and handwash all the said dishes.  Bleh! Not exactly what I wanted out of a detergent. So I did some digging and found out the Secret Ingredient to DIY Dishwasher Detergent-Citric Acid! Except trying to find that here was…well…challenging. As in, it doesn’t exist here. :-/ So I did some more digging and found out here (http://diynatural.com/simple-effective-jabs-homemade-dishwasher-detergent-rinse-agent/) that one thing that is really cheap and pretty much just citric acid-Unsweetened Lemon Kool-aid. Right on!!! And guess what? Works like a freaking charm! No more nasty film, plus my detergent smells all lemon-y fresh. 😀 Yay!

I also found this amazing book called Better Basics for the Home and it is Freaking Amazing. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. I’ve got recipes from face wash to white wash to pooch wash in this baby. I could get super exotic and make this 3 part Mayan formula skincare regimen, or even just a basic cold cream. I ❤ this book. I made some peppermint face cleanser from it and it rocks..

I’ve almost got down a perfect shampoo/conditioner recipe now…once I get that one figured out I’ll post it too. Most of the ones I’ve found online make my hair freak out and get nasty ass greasy, no matter how much vinegar I dump on my head. Yuck.

I did learn that one of the best things I’ve ever put on my face is just some honey and sweet almond oil. Not only does my face smell like candy, it feels soft and silky too! That’s a sweet success right there 🙂

Also got some new ideas for sugar scrubs…god I love sugar scrubs. Anyone in need of one should contact me because I love making and sharing them! 🙂 I’ve also been into making body oils since well…I’m too impatient to make lotion, worry about preservatives for lotion, and have had amazing success with using oil instead. I’d highly recommend to anyone, especially here in our lovely lil desert (especially in the winter) to switch over to using oils instead of lotions. Makes for some nice smooth skin! ❤

Well that’s about enough for this post! I’m off to go create some more…probably something nice and hot since it’s snowing…like a foot of snow today. Argh I can’t wait for spring…..