Things We Make Instead of Buying

Green juice

So we’ve started juicing and it’s pretty much the greatest thing, ever. I want to have this green juice in particular every day for the rest of my life. I know correlation does not imply causation, but when I drink it, I almost feel like I’m on some sort of natural Adderall. I feel energetic and able to focus and really, really good. I follow this recipe from Choosing Raw exactly. I wasn’t sure green juice would be delicious, but it is.

The only downside of juicing is that it’s expensive. Aside from the juicer, you need a ton of produce. We already get a ton of produce every week and now we need even more if I’m going to have my green juice every day. Ben originally wanted to get a juicer because he thought it would be a good way to use our leftover produce each week but man, I’m kind of obsessed and am going to want more than that. Side note: I’m planning to grow a billion cucumbers this summer.

Making juice got me thinking about stuff we make that we used to buy, and I figured I should do an update on that. We’re still avoiding GMOs and trying to be simple and natural and healthy as much as possible. The good news is that the more we make stuff, the more it seems natural to make stuff, if that makes sense. It doesn’t seem tedious or overwhelming or anything — it feels good.

So here’s a list, with links to recipes (mine or other people’s) when available:

We’ve always made our own coffee (we grind beans and use a drip coffee maker or occasionally a French press or Toddy). We also make stuff like salad dressing, pie crust/baked goods, and granola . . . and probably other stuff I’m forgetting, too.

With all this making stuff, we have several single-purpose small appliances in our kitchen, which can get annoying: juicer, ice cream maker, bread machine, coffee maker, coffee grinder, deep fryer, rice cooker, in addition to several general small appliances: microwave, electric griddle, crock pot, food processor, stand mixer, toaster oven, blender (which we never use). We also have a waffle iron (got free) and a donut maker (gift) we haven’t used yet. Why have I not made donuts? I have no idea. I should get on that!

Up next on my to-make list: waffles (Soren loves waffles for breakfast and I’d like to make and freeze some instead of buying frozen waffles), pickles (with garden cucumbers), and more cleaning products. Maybe hot sauce. And one day soon, I’d like to make beer. It’s crazy that we haven’t done that yet.

Grapes & Stuff

dog party
dog party

Here’s what I’ve made:

Day of the Dead necklace

A Day of the Dead necklace (beads from Etsy).

Peanut butter cup ice cream. Holy shit. I followed the recipe exactly. Holy shit. This might be the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. Honestly, it doesn’t really need the peanut butter cups. Peanut butter ice cream (with no chocolate or other additives) might seem a little odd, but it’s really, really good.

mother & son bracelets

Matching mother and son bracelets. Soren and I went to Michaels the other day to get some beads and, well, we got some beads. Soren picked out most of them, including the multicolored round and peace sign beads you see here. I figure it’s a good challenge to make jewelry using the random stuff Soren picks out. The two purple beads next to each other on his bracelet were the result of poor planning on my part. When it breaks (and I’m sure it will) I’ll remake it and fix that.

It’s not new, but I can’t get enough of this song (this version is very short for some reason, but you get the point).

Pasta & Photography (& Bad Ice Cream)

More stuff I made:

Yesterday I made vanilla ice cream (again). I used half & half instead of the heavy whipping cream I normally use, because it’s lower in fat and calories and I felt like experimenting. Don’t ever do this. It tastes fine, but the texture is all wrong. It’s more — I don’t know, crunchy? — than creamy like ice cream should be. I’m glad I tried but lesson learned. Ice cream needs lots of fat, and that’s cool because ice cream should just be what it is. I don’t always eat sweets but when I do, I want them to be fat fat fatty ice cream. Or maybe some dark chocolate on occasion. Or bread pudding, which is my favorite dessert of all time but I never have it. What’s up with that. Or brownies. Or oatmeal-choco-Heath-bar cookies. Okay I love sweets.

Today I made bread (again, so sorry so boring but now that I’m in this groove with making ice cream and bread I guess I’m all about it) and spinach artichoke pasta, which is delicious if I do say so (Soren’s words: “This is yummy!!”).

In other news, for the past few weeks, I’ve been making a half-assed effort to marginally improve my indoor photography. I figured out that my main problem is lighting, so I got one of those fancy-pants Lowel Ego lights, you know how fancy-pants food bloggers do. Wait. Wale time.

 

I’ll be honest. Most of the time even if I use the light, I’m lazy and in a hurry and I end up taking pictures with my iPhone, so you probably don’t even notice a difference. But today I got out my regular camera and yeah, I have a long way to go but I do think my indoor photography is ever-so-slightly improving.

Exhibit A: spinach artichoke pasta from February:

cheesy spinach and artichoke pasta

Exhibit B: spinach artichoke pizza from today:

spinach artichoke pasta

Yeah I know, I won’t quit my day job or anything, but now I hope it maybe looks like something you’d like to eat one day.

More Stuff I Made

To catch you up on what I’ve been making:

On 10/10, I made pizza dough. I meant to make an actual pizza but got distracted with other stuff like making vet appointments for our 900 dogs. (Protip: If you have a dog with autoimmune issues, watch out for allergic reactions to vaccines. Sadie’s face swelled up like a little dog balloon hours after she got vaccinated. She’s fine but it was kind of nuts.)

On 10/12, I made homemade air freshener, following these instructions (although I just used a hammer and nail to poke holes in the top of the lid instead of replacing it with card stock and used way more essential oil).

homemade air freshener

On 10/13, I went to beer fest and made a list of what I had to drink. That required dedication and goes something like this:

  • Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 11/09/12 IPA (Amazing, available only in CO and Ohio for a very limited time.)
  • Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
  • Alaskan Smoked Porter (So good.)
  • Short’s Brewing Co. Beard of Zeus
  • Short’s Brewing Co. Peaches ‘n’ Creme
  • Short’s Brewing Co. Bludgeon Yer Spruce (Not as good as last year’s spruce.)
  • Dad and Dudes Breweria Dank IPA (This does qualify as dank. Very good.)
  • Denver Beer Co. Pueblo Chili Beer
  • Spring House Brewing Co. Planet Bean Coffee Stout
  • Redwood Brewing Co. Cinnamon IPA (Weird.)
  • Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale
  • Odd Side Ales Derelicte Pineapple IPA (Very weird and very sweet.)
  • Fat Heads Brewery Hop JuJu Imperial IPA
  • River North Brewery Hello, Darkness
  • Green Flash Imperial IPA (x2) (Tied with Gubna/G’Knight for best beer of all time.)
  • Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co. Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale (Good.)
  • Oskar Blues Gubna (Yum.)
  • Moylan’s Brewing Co. HOP CRAIC XXXXIPA (I’m pretty sure I really liked this one.)
  • Pumphouse Brewery Hooligan Double IPA
  • Wynkoop Brewing Co. Colorojo
  • Lumberyard Brewing Co. Lumberyard Big Rapid Red
  • Marble Brewery Imperial Red
  • Port Brewing Co. Hop 15
  • Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (x2) (Please sell this in Colorado.)
  • Mountain Sun Vagabond IPA
  • Breckenridge 471
  • Tap It Brewing Co. IPA (gold winner) (Very good.)

On 10/14 (and this is by far the most exciting thing I’m telling you about today) I made what might be the best bread I’ve ever had and seitan pepperoni. Holy crap.

homemade pepperoni seitan

For the bread, I used this recipe, put all ingredients in the bread machine on the “dough” setting, and then transferred the dough to a loaf pan and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.  I had to add extra flour because the dough was super sticky at first, but that happens all the time. This bread is amazing (super doughy) and everybody loved it.

For the seitan pepperoni, I used this recipe. I know I’ve already said “holy crap,” but holy crap. It is SO easy and SO good and really tastes like pepperoni (or at least what I remember of pepperoni because I haven’t eaten meat in almost 20 years). I followed the recipe exactly and as far as the optional stuff goes, I used tahini instead of cashew butter because that’s what we had and ketchup instead of tomato sauce and omitted the agave nectar. The only adjustments I’d make in the future are first, more salt (lots more salt) and second, I’d add some oil. And that’s it. If you like seitan and/or pepperoni, make this.

Now that I know how to make seitan in baked/log form, which is much easier and more pleasant than boiling it, I feel like I can do anything. I could adjust the seasonings and make something breakfast-sausage-esque. Or turkey-oriented with thyme and sage. Or chorizo-esque. So many possibilities!

I made lotion and, ugh, another hemp bracelet.

Yesterday, I made lotion. I made lotion once before, using the “How to Make an Easy Beeswax Lotion” recipe from A Sonoma Garden. I liked that lotion so much I made it again. (FYI: It keeps for at least 8 months — I still have a tiny bit left from when I made it in February and it’s still good.)

If you take my word for anything in life, let it be this: Make this lotion. It is, without question, the best lotion I’ve ever used in my life. And it’s so easy. And cheap. Aside from the jojoba oil, I had leftover ingredients from the first time I made it plus reusable jars, so I didn’t have to buy anything new. I didn’t plan ahead to get jojoba oil so this time I used olive oil instead, which is what the recipe calls for anyway. I added some lavender essential oil and the lavender/olive oil scent is amazing.

Seriously you guys. Winter is coming and your skin is going to be dry, especially if you live in Colorado. Make and use (preferably when you have a little time after showering and before getting dressed or if you’re going to put on sweats or shit you wear around the house and don’t particularly care about — not that it ruins clothes because it doesn’t but because it is super greasy and it does take a while for the skin to absorb it) this, for real.

homemade lotion

Today was kind of a clusterfuck, and I hate the word “clusterfuck” because for some reason it grosses me out. I had the desire to make something but no ideas and no good supplies. I wanted to do a test run of pan de muerto using the one recipe I found that doesn’t call for anise (gross), but we’re out of all-purpose flour and I don’t have orange blossom water. I considered flourless peanut butter cookies and chocolate peanut butter ice cream but then realized I’ve been eating a lot of dessert lately and didn’t really need to make more.

I thought about starting to put together a photo book of Soren’s year for the grandparents (my mom is still showing off pictures of us from when Soren was a baby and we were kinda fat and doesn’t look at Flickr because she doesn’t really use the computer) but got overwhelmed by the thought of going through all my iPhoto shit.

So then I got out my jewelry supplies and kind of farted around for a while. I thought about using some leftover resin beads and hemp cord and . . . that didn’t work. Then I tried to make a hippie fabulous anklet using seed beads, bells, and hearts and . . . that didn’t work. So then I made a hemp bracelet. I even put some beads on the ends because why not. And it fits! Wait, don’t die of boredom yet. Or do, because you might as well, because that’s not very exciting. But hey, I made something even though it was really hard to come up with something to make with the supplies I have, so that’s, well, not awesome but still kind of cool.

Oh and also, if you’re into making hemp bracelets, and how could you not be, Made by Hippies is awesome. This guy introduced me to the groundbreaking technology of the binder clip and how to know which side to knot next (it’s not hard but I get distracted).

DIY hemp bracelet

Ben always accuses me of being on the way to becoming the lady who sells stuff at the Phish show, and I guess with my hippie lotion and hemp bracelets he’s probably right but damn, I don’t even listen to Phish. Or any hippie music, for that matter. The thought of a noodly guitar solo makes me want to punch someone in the face.

What I Made: The Last Few Days

Sometimes you’re so busy doing shit you don’t have time to tell the internet about all the shit you’ve been doing.

hemp bracelet for babies

On Thursday, I made a hemp bracelet for babies. This wasn’t intentional. My plan was to make a Shamballa bracelet, but I realized making a Shamballa bracelet was above my skill set when the tutorial was all, “If you know how to make a square knot, you’ll fly right through this part!” And I was all whoa puppies WTF is a square knot? So I got out some hemp cord and practiced making square knots, which really aren’t that bad and go like this:

  • left working strand over core strand; right working strand over left, under core, and through the loop; pull tight (holding the core strand with your teeth if you’re me and can’t figure out a better way to do it)
  • right working strand over core strand; left working strand over right, under core, and through the loop; pull tight.

Knot knowing what I was doing (haha OMG shut up), my hemp cord wasn’t long enough and I ended up with a bracelet that is too tight even for Soren. The good news is I learned to make the hell out of some square knots.

Omg

On Friday, after thinking it would never happen (I ordered a lemon yellow ice cream maker that was about to ship then it didn’t ship then it was going to ship and then it didn’t and then I was all boy, wolf, and got the turquoise one instead), I made homemade ice cream. I used the “Simple Vanilla Ice Cream” recipe from the book that came with the ice cream maker. It’s just heavy cream (I used “heaving whipping cream”), whole milk, sugar, and pure vanilla extract. Homemade ice cream is all I dreamed it would be and more. It’s so easy and so delicious and I can’t believe I didn’t start making my own ice cream earlier in life. It’s fun, too.

Okkervil River.

On Saturday, I started drinking in the afternoon and didn’t make anything. Actually wait, I did make something. I made Soren a t-shirt at the Cultivate Festival while he was super busy screaming, rending garments, wailing, and throwing himself to the ground in a fit of outrage because . . . his hands were cold and he was grumpy as hell.

I Instagrammed the Okkervil River show and then died of hipster overload.

DIY shamballa bracelet
Today, I made chocolate ice cream (holy shit), homemade bread without using the bread maker (dense), and that goddamn Shamballa bracelet. Let me tell you, if the instructions for making something involve burning and gluing string or cord of some sort, I want no part of it. My square-knot expertise aside, this was not a fun project for me and my sliding knot thing or whatever they call what in theory allows you to adjust the bracelet is a mess. Also, don’t believe what they tell you — 8mm hematite beads don’t fit on Chinese knotting cord, so the beads on the ends of my bracelet were borrowed from Soren because I couldn’t find anything else that fit on the damn cord. Ugh.

This 30 days of making stuff project is going to make me fat and bejeweled.

The Old People Committee

Aside from low pay, the downside of working for a relatively small nonprofit organization is that occasionally you get stuck with a job you don’t want. An example of this is kitchen duty. Kitchen duty should be no big deal. You run and empty the dishwasher, maybe clean up a few stray crumbs on the table, and take home and wash the towels (nobody does this ever). In reality, kitchen duty makes you realize you work with people who were raised by wolves. You end up dealing with crusty and/or slimy dishes left in the sink, fossilized lipstick on coffee cups, boxes of crumbs left behind by the people who took the last donut but didn’t have the heart to dispose of the empty boxes, people who (bless their hearts) try to recycle salad and napkins, and aborted moonshine-making projects in the refrigerator.

That said, kitchen duty is 1,000 times more pleasant than the other job I don’t want, which goes something like this.

 

I’m staff liaison for a committee, the members of which have an average age of 102. Once a year, I summon them from the surrounding countryside so we may enjoy lunch at 10 a.m. (just kidding, I’m firmly opposed to eating lunch at old people o’clock) and bestow honors on various people living (and probably old) and dead.

I always hate everything about doing this.

This year, someone was nominated for something by someone who really, really, really wants said person to get the something for which he was nominated. A letter-writing campaign resulted and I received no less than 872 phone calls promising future written correspondence, emails containing letters as pdf attachments, lengthy emails, one-sentence emails, one-sentence emails with relevant names misspelled, letters sent via U.S. mail, faxes, telegrams, smoke signals, messages written with lipstick on the bathroom mirror, singing telegrams performed by underdressed monkeys, and song dedications delivered by Casey Kasem. This would be no big deal but for the fact that in theory I should keep track of these missives and organize the information in an easy-to-digest format for 102-year-olds while expending as little effort as possible. Oh and there’s also the fact that the person nominated is the only person nominated and even without the vast outpouring of support would in fact obtain the thing for which he was nominated.

Then there are the people who don’t understand how to RSVP. I’ve received one response from someone clearly stating that he will be at the meeting. The rest have all been like this:

  • I’ll try to be there.
  • I’ll try to be there if there’s room. (Note: The meeting is not being held in a closet or teeny tiny room.)
  • I’ll be there if I can blow off the other thing I have scheduled for the same time.
  • I’ll be there unless something better comes up, which, let’s be honest, it probably will.
  • I think I’ll probably be there, maybe. Later: I’m not coming. Later: Okay, I’ll be there after all. I bet you can’t wait!
  • I like pie.
  • …. (That’s the person who doesn’t respond at all but shows up anyway.)

I mean, is it that hard to commit to either attending the meeting or not attending the meeting? I’d rather you just not respond at all. Seriously, how much food do I order for myself, one dude, and 89 people who will maybe kinda try to be there? (Answer: A lot. Pizza is what gets us through these ordeals.) And we can’t blame this behavior on kids these days, because these people are all, well, older than I am.

Then there are the people who don’t understand email and their ornery friend email attachments. I sent an email that can be summarized as follows:

  • 3 sentences of text, one of which states “The call-in information is on the agenda”
  • several clearly labeled attachments, one of which is the agenda.

Without fail, I receive an email like this:

Hi. Could you please send me the call-in information?

One of the attachments is titled “Tabby Nominees.” I receive an email like this:

Are there any tabby nominees? Would you please tell me who the they are?

This or something like it happens 600 times a day during the week before the meeting, while I have, like, other actual work I have to get done. The good news is it’s almost over and I won’t have to think much about it until next year. Oh, and pizza.

_______

I didn’t make anything today but I did a bunch of volunteer work and I think that counts because . . . I’m making the world a better place by doing volunteer work. Okay no, I’m kidding and that’s gross, but I am counting it. It was fun and involved walking around the neighborhood with Ben, Soren, and Peaches and assessing the health of baby trees that were planted this spring. Soren is getting good at this. After we got home, I asked him if he was going to help me look at more trees tomorrow. He said “Yeah!!” and ran to the back door, opened it, and pointed to the tree in the back yard. “There’s one!”