Look Mommy, Stickers!

An oldie but goodie, from my previous blog:

As all mothers know, there are days where you are just too tired. There is nothing wrong with that, and if you didn’t have one of those days once in awhile you would be a freak of nature. No mom is perfect. If you think you are, you are more than likely the worst parent on the face of the earth. This is not just my simple opinion either. Statistically speaking the parents who fail to see their flaws tend release the the most problematic children into the world. Dur! Just watch an episode of Maury when he has the 200 pound babies on. “She eat what she want, I know my baby hungry. I give her whatever she want when she want it.” I’m sure you do. Your 2 year old weighs as much as me. Can I get that Hello Kitty tank top when she outgrows it next month?

So, I had a “too tired” day yesterday. As a result of a few days straight of no sleep, on top of my allergies acting a fool, I have barely been able to function as a parent, let alone entertain Big H’s game of “look it, mommy” for 2 hours straight. And before you judge, we freaking played “look at it” all afternoon. I looked at the same crayon for 20 minutes.

Fast forward to late afternoon and there was nothing in the house to make for dinner. So I load Big H into the car and off we go to grocery land. On the way there I notice that Big H has found the hidden book of Grover stickers. Hidden because I pull those out as a last resort, you know, to lure him out of the car without screaming at places like the doctor or the gym. I need a little coaxing to get out of the car at the gym too, so i guess he comes by that honestly. We make it in and out of the store in record time. I load him back into the car and head for home. I hear him in the back seat talking about the stickers ( as much talk as an almost 2 year old can create that is) and I didn’t give it a second thought.

Until I heard crinkling. Crinkling and laughter and “Yaays!” and then even louder “YAAYS!” I can’t see what is going on in the backseat because Big H’s car seat is still rear facing. Because I strive to be a distinguished driver and not one of those moms who hits parked cars because their arms are constantly in the back seat swatting things out of their children’s reach, my eyes were glued to the car in front of me with the really, really bright brake lights without break lights.

Once we arrived back home I assumed that I would open the door to find a ripped up Grover sticker book and a few Grover stickers stuck to the headrest.

NOPE

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So, what did this mommy learn? Never assume. When you think it’s going to be Grover stickers, it’s always going to be Kotex.

Now, who wants to talk about their weekend?

P.S- A big thanks to Grandma loves Metal for the gargantuan bag of feminine care products. She apparently stalked everyone with a Sunday newspaper last week (high dollar coupon that made the pads FREE!) and bought enough pads to take care of every period EVER. She also put them in my backseat and I forgot about them. Leave it to Big H to find something he isn’t supposed to have, or really have any dealings with ever. Leave it to me to still be embarrassed in a “my mom bought me pads” scenario at the age of 27.

I realize that my embarrassment is probably something that you are enjoying.

So enjoy.

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Sriracha Pimento Cheese

I grew up in the south and basically my diet (before I decided to get heathy-er) mostly consisted of things like biscuits and gravy, bacon (still eat it. always will) and various versions of “grandma’s recipe” fried chicken. Anyway, I don’t eat a majority of those things on the regular anymore but one thing I do still love is homemade pimento cheese. Not the orange colored science experiment you get in the little plastic containers in the grocery. Omg no. Stay away. I’ve had several recipes given to me, but none really seemed to hit the spot. I had a version in a restaurant just outside of Memphis, Tennessee a few years ago that I have tried super hard to replicate. It was the perfect pimento cheese in my book. I have come pretty close to re-creating the recipe, and this recipe below is what I came up with.  

Sriracha Pimento Cheese

what you’ll need

1 8oz cube of softened cream cheese (I just let mine sit out at room temperature) 

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

1/4 cup white cheddar, Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese (shredded)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2.5 tablespoons pimentos, diced 

2 tablespoons finely chopped, or grated onion

pinch of salt 

pinch of onion powder

pinch of garlic powder

pinch of black pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon of Sriracha sauce ( I pretty much triple this.)

optional

diced green chilies and jalapenos

what you need to do

In a large bowl, add all cheeses and mayonnaise. Mix in a stand mixer or handheld mixer (easier!) until blended. 

Add pimentos, onion, sriracha and spices (and green chilies and jalapenos if you went that route.) 

Mix until slightly smooth and fluffy. 

Serve on bread for a world class grilled cheese or on crackers or eat it straight out of the bowl. No judgment here. 

 

I’ll add a photo soon. Being lazy tonight. 

 

 

 

 

Traveling with Anxiety

Tomorrow will officially mark the start of “race week” for me. After just shy of 15 months of training, I will be running my first half marathon in Disney World on February 23rd. I think it is fitting that I run my first half in Florida, as this was the place that sparked me to begin my almost 3 year long battle to loose weight. It was my cousin’s wedding and it was the first time both my mom and almost 1 year old son had ever been to Florida. So it was a super happy time full of celebration and new experiences. I had a great time visiting with my family, we made some new friends and got to spend some time at the beach with my mom and Henry. I returned to work anxiously awaiting to talk about my trip. Everything was just grand…until I uploaded the pictures.

Call me superficial, but I have always taken pride in my apperance. Even during my pregnancy. I had never been overweight a day in my life until I had my son. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing about becoming a mom, but I hit rock bottom when the weight didn’t come off as easily for me as it did for the rest of my friends. I had a lot of issues during my pregnancy, from gestational diabetes to high blood pressure. Throw some thyroid issues in there and you have yourself a trifecta of weight gain inducing madness. I actually lost weight in my first trimester from being so sick. I gained back the weight I lost and then about 8 pounds during my second trimester. I was on track to having the “ideal pregnancy” according to both of my doctors. You know, only gaining in the belly, 80% of the weight being the baby and baby growing fluid or whatever the hell it is called? Well, thanks to that statement, I was jinxed. By the start of my third trimester, I had gained 50 pounds. When I was weighed at the hospital on the day I was admitted, I had gained almost 100 pounds. Something was clearly wrong, but it was never diagnosed. I never had enough protein in my urine to be diagnosed with preeclampsia, but I had all of the other indicators. At my 6 week post partum visit, my primary doctor admitted that they may have missed the diagnoses. Especially with the weight I lost right after giving birth (20 pounds in the two days I stayed in the hospital. All excess fluids). Who knows? Too late now. All I knew was that I still felt awful.

After the 6 week postpartum visit, I was cleared to exercise. I tried to lose weight on my own just by eating what I thought was healthy. Yoplait yogurts and low fat everything. I should have gone to a doctor outside of my OBGYN to have some tests ran, but I have always been untrusting of doctors and the whole “pretty sure we missed you having a deadly disease while being pregnant” didn’t help to change that. I lost maybe 10 pounds before we headed to Florida for my cousin’s wedding. I had hoped to lose more, but I was headed to a wedding and I  had one of the first new  babies in the family in almost 6 years. I knew the attention would not be on me. In fact, I hid behind the attention Henry was getting for a long time. No one was really noticing me anymore, so who cares! Mommies are supposed to be plump. That is how they survived the plagues and shit during the 1500’s.

I was wrong. I was also embarrassed that I couldn’t lose weight and it wasn’t until I saw the pictures I was forced to take while in Florida that I noticed I had a problem that needed to be addressed. And quickly. I was mortified. My face looked swollen and even my fucking nose was obese. How does that even happen?

I joined a gym with the help and encouragement from a good friend. She was just getting into this fairly new sport called Crossfit. I walked into the gym and almost walked right out. No way could I ever achieve what these people were doing. Ever. Never in my lifetime could I even begin to lift just the bar of one of those weights over my head…repeatedly then drop and do 230 burpees. Fuck that, where’s the treadmill?

But, this friend has always been my rock. I was told “quality not quantity” and “form not weight.” After 6 weeks I had done enough WODs to feel almost secure in myself. I even explored kickboxing and cycling classes. My friend and I were even trying out this crazy new “diet” called Paleo and we were trying our best to Zone. (Look that one up, still makes me LOL). It was so crazy back then (like almost 3 years ago was SO long ago, but Paleo has really taken off in the last few years). This way of eating seemed so foreign to the people we tried to explain it to. You know, it was just insane to eat as if you weren’t a bored and fat American who relied on Kraft products on a nightly basis for sustenance.  Anyway, after two months I had lost 25 pounds. But my victories were short lived. Unfortunately, my job became super busy and time consuming and I began dealing with some health issues that Henry was having. They are all well under control now, I won’t go into them because that time in my life is far too painful and time consuming to explain. Maybe one day. But because of these things,  I took an almost year long hiatus from exercising. I openly admit to using these thing as excuses and I still feel ashamed of it to this day. But, I justified it then by still attempting to follow the “Paleo rules” while eating for the most part, this did not include the insane amount of alcohol I was drinking to cope with a sick child, or the binge eating of “Paleo approved” deserts for dinner.

Fast forward to November of 2012. I had a doctor’s appointment for a ruptured ear drum. I usually never get sick, but when I do it almost always warrants some sort of medication. I had to be weighed for proper dosage of an antibiotic. I didn’t want to look at the number on the scale, so I looked to the side. Unfortunately (or fortunately, really) I saw the number because it was a digital scale that had the readout on the wall. 210 pounds. All I thought was: 210 pounds. I still weighed 210 pounds. I had a baby over 2 years ago, lost some weight and I still weigh 210 pounds. Oh, and my blood pressure was still high.

It took a few days to recover from my ruptured ear drum fiasco. Which, by the way,  is one of the shittest things that can happen to you. I joined a new gym, that didn’t have Crossfit or my friend (she moved to Oregon a few years ago). I didn’t know anyone there, so I knew it would be a huge challenge for me to stick with it. But I did. I stuck with it because I had to. My health depended on it. No excuses this time. I have stuck with it for well over a year now. I have my off days, more so now than when I initially joined the gym due to the numerous and oh so joyous injuries that occur when you run (shin splints, anyone?). I even managed to take myself outside of the gym and began to run in the   parks that surround my house. The old Diane would have been to anxious and insecure to do that. But it wasn’t until I began to run outside that I fell in love with it. I mean, how can you fall in love with running while you are on a treadmill watching Ellen? I dare say I even  looked forward to it. I even got a running partner, an adopted golden retriever named Moses to run with me.

Running almost daily, combined with my diet caused the weight to fall off quickly. One of the best things about eating Paleo is that I am never hungry. I never calorie restricted to the point of starvation, so I never binge ate. I didn’t eat processed sugar, so I never craved it. I FELT AWESOME. Until the shin splints developed from running, but I gladly took the pain . After all it meant that I was moving. Quickly. They were my earned stripes in some strange way. My blood pressure became normal within 6 months of healthy eating and running and by March of 2013, 5 months into my journey I had lost almost 30 pounds and over 12 inches off my body. I stopped weighing myself this past November, but the last time I was weighed was in October, just before Halloween. I was once again at the doctor for an ear infection. Instead of looking away, I anxiously awaited the number to appear. 158 pounds. All I thought was: 158 pounds. I haven’t even been running for a year and I weigh 158 pounds.  

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Photo on the left was taken outside of our hotel in Florida in 2011, photo on the right was taken at Tipsaw Lake in September of 2013.

So now, as I sit here and relive this whole crazy journey to health, I am becoming anxious about my upcoming trip to Florida. I am ready for the race, I know this in my heart. My mind is just always anxious and tries to come up with excuses for me to cop out. It has always been that way. I will admit, there will be a lot of firsts on this trip as well. The biggest one being that it is just Henry and I going. I have never flown anywhere by myself. But, I keep telling myself that if my elderly grandmother could travel to Texas with me as a child, I can totally do this. I can also totally finish a half marathon.

I can have my gluten free cake and eat it too.

Thanks for supporting my food addiction! Here are some fun things to do with bacon!

I was recently surprised when I saw how many followers I had on this blog. Here all this time I thought I was writing for myself and a few Facebook friends who have already been given the recipes I post, or have heard my ridiculous life happenings in person. So really, they only follow the blog because I will drop things on them from high altitudes if they don’t. Apparently the “Look Mommy, Stickers” post has made several rounds on Facebook, mostly re-shared by people I don’t know, and I’m ok with that. It’s pretty funny to think about,  especially when I see it pop up in my own newsfeed. I sit and cover my mouth and laugh, and point “hey, that’s me!” and laugh. What is even funnier is the random texts I get from my friends saying that someone had shared it. “I saw your pad story on Facebook again! I told the person who posted it that I knew you! Feel like a celebrity?” Why yes, yes I do! Some people get famous because of a sex tape, if I can get famous with a pad story on a food blog, i’ll take it!  Ain’t  no shame in my game, Y’all.

With all of this being said, you may be asking “Why would you post a Kotex story on a food blog?” Because that is how I roll, baby genisuses. I talk about tids and bits of information that no one should share and I share it like it is my god given mission. I talk about stuff that should be shared too, like how you shouldn’t bully or buy “high quality meat’ from a creepy guy with a chest freezer strapped to the back of his truck. So there’s that. Here’s the short of it. I’m a weirdo who loves to share things, hug, cook and make kitschy things with googly eyes. I’m basically a walking ad for the Lifetime Network (From the time Martha is on until Little House on the Prairie goes off. Please note: I am not a Lifetime Movie, and I pride myself on that.) I’ve always been this way, and this fake-paper digital notebook is my little baby to mold and shape and be my voice box to talk about the things of my choosing. Thank you for all of your support leading up to this point, and thank you in advance to any new followers. Stick around, we will have some fun and you may even learn how to cook something in the process.

With that being said, who wants to talk about bacon!?

5 Fun things to do with bacon. 

Well, really that’s a total lie. It is only one fun thing to do with bacon that can be done 5 different ways. But that isn’t a catchy tagline. Or is it?

Anyway, it probably isn’t super obvious by my previous posts, but I am a proponet of the Paleo diet. I have been for well over a year now. I would totally bust out a picture of fat Diane, but then you won’t want to eat the bacon if you don’t understand how this way of eating works…and then no one will have a good time. I’ll save that for another day. But, what we can talk about is bacon. Delicious bacon. I eat a world of bacon, I spend a lot of time trying to make unique bacon-y recipes. In my world (the Paleo world, that is), most of it has already been done so you either get super scary creative in the kitchen and hope for the best, or you simply build upon the basic recipes. This is what I am about to do. I am building upon a recipe for perfect, crispy oven cooked bacon. (because if I get one more burn on my face from grease splatter….)

Bacon is a delicious treat of the gods on its own, but sometimes you want something with a little zing to it. Sure, you can buy store bought bacon that is soaked in faux maple syrup, or sometimes even cayenne pepper. But who wants to eat that? If you are going to eat bacon, you really need to make sure you are getting high quality, uncured, unprocessed bacon. Bacon won’t kill you, but nitrates will. Well, not immediately, but they have been linked to some pretty scary stuff. Learning time!

Nitrates: What are they?: Nitrates and nitrites are chemical compounds found in many foods, including some salts. Salt containing nitrates has been favored for preserving meat because it maintains color and flavor while inhibiting bacterial growth.

Nitrates: Why they’re unhealthy?: Nitrates have been linked to infant methemoglobinemia (oh yeah, big ole’ words up in here) a deficiency of oxygen in the blood. Also, nitrates can interact with the amines in protein to form nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer in lab animals.

So if you are going to eat bacon, eat the good kind. There are a lot of uncured varieties avaiable in most local supermarkets. I don’t eat a lot of commercially prepared meat products, so my bacon comes from either my food exchange group, or from U.S Wellness Meats. If I am in a pinch I get it from Whole Foods or Trader Joes. When shopping for bacon, simply look for “uncured” on the package and make sure to store it below 40*F at all times. If you have made it to this point and I haven’t scared you away from eating bacon, Congratulations!

Let’s move on.

For all of these recipes you will need the following:

Parchment paper

cookie sheet

an oven

Garlic Siracha Bacon

place parchment paper on cookie sheet (I like to double layer, bacon is greasy yo’)

place 6-8 strips of bacon a few centimeters apart

simply top with Siracha. My bottle has a squeezey top so I just squirted two strips down each slice, then spread evenly with a knife until all slices are completely covered with Siracha.

sprinkle high-quality garlic powder on top

place cookie sheet in cool oven and set the temp to 400*F. Check the bacon after 20 minutes and continue until desired crispyness is achieved.

Using this cooking method, here are other seasoning you can try. Please note, each seasoning may change the cooking time, so pay attention and don’t burn your bacon!

Cajun Bacon- sprinkle with Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning

Sweet Maple Bacon- cover in maple syrup and a pinch of brown sugar (or coconut sugar, for a healthier, lower gylcemic alternative)

Bourbon Bacon with Vanilla- 1 tbs. bourbon and 1tbs. pure vanilla extract. mix and dip the strips in the mixture. (Yes, this is real). If you really want to add some health and you can find it, sprinkle Bourbon Barrel Foods- Bourbon Vanilla Sugar on top.

Penzy’s Spices: 33rd and Galena Bacon- sprinkle this poultry and pork seasoning on each slice.

Here's my pre-cooked Garlic Siracha bacon

Here’s my pre-cooked Garlic Siracha bacon

Well, that’s all she wrote, folks. Make sure to use your oven mitts and be sure to tell your friends about me. I’m not building a secret society or anything.

D

Let’s Talk About Nick Cave and Make Some Meatloaf Cupcakes

Does anyone else feel like Nick Cave just needs a hug? I do. How can someone which such great hair that spans decades be in such a bad mood? Who knows, but let’s make some meatloaf. What does Nick Cave have to do with meatloaf? Absolutely nothing.

NickCave

^This guy needs a hug. And some meatloaf happiness.

In case you were wondering why I am on a tangent about Nick Cave, I am listening to Let Love In, oh and watching Happy Gilmore. If you have never done this I most certainly recommend it, it’s a perfect combination. It’s like a yin yang.

Let’s get our meatloaf makin’ on.

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds  grass fed ground beef, as lean as you can afford to buy
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped spinach (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (more if you like oregano. I don’t)
  • 1 tsp. Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 cups homemade ketchup, divided (recipe below) or Heinz if you are feeling lazy
  • 1.5 cups bread crumbs, almond meal or rolled oats* (*not instant, not steel cut SUPER important)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard, prepared
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cooking spray

Homemade Ketchup

  • 24-28oz can of canned tomatoes. (I find that whole peeled plum tomatoes work best)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup onion, very finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Basically, this is very straightforward, it just takes a little bit of time. You will need a very heavy duty pan, I prefer to use a enameled cast iron pot. If you don’t the mixture burns very easily and you will need to babysit. By babysit I mean don’t even think of leaving the kitchen to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

1) Empty the canned tomatoes and juice into the pot.

2)Take potato masher, wooded spoon or spatula and crush the tomatoes as much as possible.

3)Add the remaining ingredients. and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, making sure to stir repeatedly until the mixture is consistent and even.

4)Once a slow boil has started, let simmer 2 minutes and reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for an hour while stirring occasionally. The goal here is to thicken the sauce. If it takes a little over an hour, that’s ok. Just don’t scorch it.

5)After the sauce has thickened, you will need to add the ingredients into a blender to chop and puree until it has a smooth, ketchup consistency. It is best to let it cool a few minutes before doing this, unless you are using an immersion blender or your upright blender that has a glass blender jar.

5)Once pureed, return to heat for an additional 25-30 minutes until super thick. Let cool and transfer into an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.

Mashed Potato Frosting 

  • 2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

You should already know how to make mashed potatoes. But just in case you don’t, add water to a large pan, add a little salt, add the potatoes and boil for around 45 minutes or until super soft. Transfer to a bowl and add remaining ingredients, mix until super smooth. Adding additional sour cream and milk if needed. Let cool and add potatoes to an icing bag with a decorative tip on the end. I used a star shaped tip.

Sprinkles 

  • bacon bits (uncured), chives or green onions

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

1)Heat the olive oil or vegetable oil in a large pan, sautee garlic, onions, celery and carrots in 1 teaspoon of butter for 3 minutes, or until slightly browned and soft. Set aside.

2) Add the remaining ingredients (only one cup of the ketchup) into a large bowl and mix well. Mixture should be thick and firm and able to be spooned out into a muffin pan without being runny.

3) Drop mixture into the cooking spray coated muffin pans, leaving a little room at the top for the ketchup topping. I usually get 18 out of a batch.

4) Top each of the cups with a spoonful of ketchup, spreading it evenly over the top.

5) Place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

6) Begin preparing the mashed potatoes while the meatloaf is cooking.  You want a fluffy consistency in order for it to flow easily out of the icing bag.

7) Once meatloaf has finished cooking, remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before you begin piping the mashed potatoes on top.

8) sprinkle bacon, chives or green onions on top of the potato icing as sprinkles

meatloaf

If you do everything right, you should have something that closely resembles this. Even if they are ugly, they will taste good. 🙂

No Coupon for Tide?

  Song of the Day: Holy Diver – Dio


With today’s fuel prices, the cost of lugging those big jugs of laundry detergent has skyrocketed the price of something that (in my own honest opinion) was way overpriced to begin with.  Not only are these soaps expensive, but they contain lots of synthetic surfactants and enzymes that can irritate skin and cause chemical burns. In the last few years, many mainstream detergent companies such as All and Tide have developed “Free and Clear” detergents that are seemingly better for the consumer. However, you are still going to pay an astounding amount for something that is easily made in the kitchen sink.

Once I had my son, I became a  die hard advocate for cloth diapering, especially for the first year and a half of his life. He was suffering from a plethora of allergies and we didn’t know what the cause was,  so finding a detergent that is safe for my stash of diapers presented a challenge. Most commercially produced detergents cannot be used on cloth diapers because they “clean too well’, meaning the surfactants and enzymes that get your whites the whitest and your brights the brightest essentially destroy a cloth diaper in less than 3 washes.  The enzymes can linger on the diapers and lead to a nasty case of diaper rash as well. Enzymes are proteins that are added to detergents to help break down organic stains like oil, blood, grass, and the like. Unfortunately they may become reactivated when they get wet and cause painful rashes on some babies. Mine included.  Commercial detergents also contain synthetic fragrances that are oil based.  When these oils come into contact with the diaper, they coat the fabric and prevent them from absorbing. Not something you want to deal with! However, when making homemade detergents that are used for clothing, it is perfectly fine to use natural fragrance oils such as lavender, orange or lemon. These can actually be found in the baking isle in most supermarkets. Just make sure you are purchasing “natural oil” instead of the imitation, imitation or synthetic oils can leave stains on the clothes.

When it comes to homemade detergents, I have tried just about every recipe I have come across. Some work better than others, while some are easier to make than others. Nevertheless, your laundry needs will determine the type of soap you make. Powered detergent is quick to make but doesn’t last as long as a batch of liquid. The recipes listed below have proven themselves worthy enough to share.

What you will Need

There are a few inexpensive items you should have on hand in your kitchen if you plan on making homemade detergent on a regular basis. A cheese grater, small food processor (not a necessity, but WELL worth the investment) old saucepan (you won’t be able to cook food in it after making detergent) and large metal bowls or plastic buckets with lids are quite handy. For powdered detergents, I make smaller batches and store them in repurposed yogurt cups (large sized ones with lids)

If you want to invest in the food processor, Black and Decker makes one that sells for around $30.00 new. If you catch it on sale they can be even more reasonable. I have seen it on sale at Target for $22.99 on several occasions. Keep in mind though, you probably want to dedicate this item to detergent making. With that being said, yard sales are also a great place to find cheap food processors!

Detergent Making Staples: What’s in it?

There are only a few basic ingredients in homemade detergent. Soap, soda and borax.

Soap: The soap is the main ingredient in the detergent. You will need a washing soap, which sounds stupid, but it is completely different than the Irish Spring or Dial bar soap that may be in your bathroom. The most common soap is Fels Naptha, which is located in most laundry isles. It works well, but some prefer Zote or even Ivory. A fair warning though, if you use Ivory, you will need to use the whole bar. It is not as strong as the other laundry specific soaps. I don’t use any of these soaps in my detergent though. I prefer using a castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s. They make a fragrance free bar for babies that is perfect for the cloth diaper detergent and they make a citrus and peppermint scented one that I use for clothing. Check them out here. The soaps are also available at Whole Foods.

Washing Soda: This is not to be confused with baking soda.  They are not the same thing.  Washing soda is sodium carbonate or soda ash (baking soda is sodium bicarbonate).  It is a white powder and  its purpose is to help remove dirt and odors.   The most common brand to look for is Arm & Hammer.  It can be found in the laundry isle alongside the powdered detergent. I know that is is hard to find in some areas, but now that many folks have returned to making their own detergent, many stores are stocking it on a regular basis. If your local store does not carry it, try asking them if they can order it. Most stores don’t have a problem with doing this. In fact, my local grocer didn’t start carrying it until I asked for it.  As a last resort, you can order it online, but you are going to pay a pretty penny for it by time shipping is factored in.

Borax: Borax is a naturally occurring mineral: Sodium Borate.  It is used to whiten and deodorize. The most common brand is 20 Mule Team.  It can be found in either the laundry or cleaning isle of most stores. Borax has a lot of uses around the home, so I always wait for a coupon and buy the big box. Borax is a natural pest repellent and does a bang up job cleaning lawn furniture.

The Recipes

Easy Liquid Detergent (except for the stirring!)

(this is where the large plastic bucket comes in handy)

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap (again, if using Ivory, use the WHOLE bar)

½ cup washing soda

½ cup borax powder

10-15 drops of natural scented oil (OPTIONAL) Do not add if you are planning on using for diapers!

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your cooling soap mixture and stir.  Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use ½ cup per load. Yield: around 75 loads.

Please note: Homemade liquid detergents will not look like store bought. They will be slightly runny, almost like an egg white.

Easy Powdered Detergent

1 bar of any of the above listed soaps, finely grated

1 cup washing soda

1 cup borax

This is really, really simple. Grate the soap and add the washing soda and borax. This is where the food processor comes in handy! I usually hand grate the soap then throw everything in the food processor for 1 minute. Yield: 20-30 loads depending on how much you use. The standard load uses 3 tablespoons per load.

Can I use these detergents in my high efficiency washer?

By all means! In fact, both recipes are low sudsing. The cleaning comes from the ingredients, not the suds. High Efficiency machines are great because they use less water, but manufactures use the “HE” designation as just another advertising mechanism to try and swindle consumers into buying “special soap” that they charge even more exorbitant prices for.

Well, there you have it. A basic outline of homemade detergent. It is extremely rewarding to know that you not only saved yourself a lot of money by making your detergent at home, but you also know EXACTLY what is in the soap. All of the ingredients are pronounceable and depending on the soap you use, almost all natural or even organic. Once you have the basic recipe mastered, it is fun to add different fragrances to the detergent. I always make a batch of peppermint detergent at Christmastime. There is nothing quite like smelling like a friggin’ elf. I think my friends look forward to it year after year. Although, I recall a few raised eyebrows the first year I made it to give away as gifts. Not sure if it was because I gave them detergent and they were offended, or because I gave them peppermint detergent and they were creeped out. Regardless, detergent making is actually fun for me.

I’m lame. Don’t care.