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Sharpening Not Just Your Knife

My father and grandfather could keep a pocket knife sharp as a razor with an Arkansas stone (a type of wet rock).  I’ve never been able to reach that level of sharp.  EVER!  With anything!  I’ve spent tons of money on all kinds of things to sharpen my knives because I’ve been totally spoiled by my dad and granddad.  I can not abide a dull knife.

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I keep several in a favorite coffee cup in the kitchen.

CC’s dad used the bottom of one of my coffee cups to sharpen one of his knives and I had to try it.  It works.  It works well, except it is unwieldy and I wanted something that was smaller and easier to take camping and such.  Then I read something on a blog about using ceramic insulators as a sharpener.  I already knew from my research that ceramic is one of the greatest sharpeners, so…  A quick trip to eBay revealed ceramic insulators for sale for a cheap price.  I paid $5.00 for a dozen.  I then went to Home Depot and bought a wooden dowel.  Cutting the dowel into pieces, I inserted them into the insulators as a handle and TA-DA!  I have sharpeners that keep my knives razor-sharp.

I would like to note several things.  I spent the time to research before buying my knives and bought quality knives.  I managed to catch a block set of them on sale for $30.00, as a close out item.  I’ve had the set for more than ten years and the only issue I have had is the wooden handles have to be oiled periodically.  If I had it to do over, I might go with a different type of handle.  Then again, I might not.  I like natural materials.  I didn’t want serrated knives because they are a pain to sharpen, if you even can and most just don’t cut as smoothly as a honed hollow ground blade.  Don’t know what a hollow ground blade is?  You might want to research that.  The point that I’m trying to make is spending the time and money on quality decreases the quantity that you will end up using up.  (Think smaller footprint on the Earth and less aggravation for you!)

These are not wonder sharpeners in one regards.  If you do not know the proper technique for sharpening, I highly suggest you jump on YouTube and check out some videos.  Sharpen more than your knives, sharpen you mind by learning something new.

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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in A Penny Saved

 

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Water Counter

Everyone knows that we should all be drinking more water; however, the actual doing of it leaves a lot of us at a loss.  For me, the big hang-up seems to be keeping track of how much I’ve drunk.  It’s all well to say, “I’m going to drink X amount today.”, but the fact is that after a while it all sort of runs together in my head.  Hence, my latest project: the water counter.

They have counters made from paracord and pony beads for almost everything, but I’ve never seen one for this.  It isn’t anything fancy or complicated.  You simply slide a bead down for every container of water you drink that day.  So far, I’ve drunk one and need a refill.

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It also gives me a heads up to where I should be depending on the time of day.  That’s a big one for me because as I said, I always start off with the best of intentions and then I’m like: “Did I drink one… No, I refilled it… Or was that BG’s water bottle?”  Of course you could just go with the theory: drink more, but hey…  It’s pretty, too!

 

On the practical side, you could use whatever kind of beads and cord you wanted.  I thought of making one for my friend with big chunky crystal beads because that’s more her thing and she’s always lamenting the lack of bling on her water bottle.  Also it makes a great leash for dragging the thing around.

Let me know what you do with it and if it works for you!

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Fitness

 

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Turkey Dressing and Gravy (gluten-free)

We made cornbread, now we’re going to turn it into a Holiday stand-bys.

Pan of cornbread
Boiled turkey thighs (2 per pan of cornbread)
Turkey thigh broth
Eggs (4-6 depending upon size of eggs)
Celery (to taste)
White or yellow onions (*to taste)
Green onions (*to taste)
Cream of Mushroom Soup (2 cans) **
Salt and Pepper (*to taste)

*to taste because some people like these things and others HATE them.
**gluten-free soups are available or try this alternative: Cream of Anything Soup!

Make your pan of cornbread and let it cool.
Boil your turkey thighs and allow thighs and broth to cool. De-bone thighs.
Slice and dice your veggies to sizes that you and your loved ones like.
Add cans of soup, eggs, salt, and pepper.
Mix it all in a huge bowl with enough of the broth to make is pretty wet but not soupy.
Pour into a lightly oiled casserole dish (save back about four cups of mixture for a separate smaller pan).  Pop them both into the oven at 375 degrees until golden brown and firm.

Turkey Gravy
When your Turkey Dressing is done, dish all of the smaller pan (four cups) of dressing into a sauce pan and pour the extra broth over the top. Stir in corn starch and cook low until nice and thick. This is the best turkey gravy you’ll ever try.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Recipes

 

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Not Your Normal Muffin

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so…

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Now for the nitty-gritty of making these bad boys!

 

“Country Breakfast” Muffins

18 eggs

2 cups cheese

4 green onions

2 1/2 cups shredded tater tots or hash browns

Salt and pepper to taste

1 package of thick sliced bacon

Mix everything together in a bowl except the bacon.

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The mix before the eggs were added.

 

 

Break out your muffin pans and line them with a strip of bacon. I used a full length strip for my muffin pan with the big cups and cut down the strips for the smaller cup size muffin pans.

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Pour in the mix and pop them in the oven at 375 degrees.

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As a side note I made this pan of muffins in my toaster oven just to see if I could.

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So no excuses!  You don’t even need a real kitchen to have these.  I made a bunch because:

1. Who isn’t going to eat a bunch of these!

2. They should freeze really well for another day.

 

CC and I were going to snack out before BG woke up, but the Force is strong with this one.  She appeared before we got our first bite.  She took one sleepy look at our plates and lit up with the most angelic smile!  She gives them her seal of approval but says the green onions are not to her taste.  I wonder how these would taste: bacon filled with blueberry muffin with chunks of pre-cooked sausage links?  Hmmm….

 

Let me know what you try.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Recipes

 

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Wishy Washing

One of the ways I’ve reined in our spending is soap making.

Have you recorded how much you spend on what and how frequently? $4 per bar, $10-20 for laundry detergent, 88 cents for the cheapest hand wash dish soap and another $4 for the dishwasher detergent. I hate to bean count, but at some point I have to treat my family to wise business practices. When something that literally goes down the drain rings up $300 of the grocery budget every year I have to take notice. That’s a month’s worth of groceries!

I started out in January 2013 with Super Laundry Sauce (blender method). Then DG found Rural Spin’s Green Tea Blender Soap and we’re turning out bath bars. And we found recipes we want to try for dishwasher detergent, too.

But once I’ve been at something for a few rounds I invariably start tinkering. Really, it’s all a part of learning, and I hope that you’ll do some creative learning and tell us about it. That’s how complex evolution and higher thinking continue. Evolve or die.

I looked at making my own powdered laundry detergent but found that aside from weight, pre-packaging and spill clean up there aren’t many advantages. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But then again, Super Laundry Sauce isn’t perfect either. It can be messy, doesn’t dissolve and leaves smears on DG’s uniforms; the process is mildly inefficient and while sweltering through summer insomnia I discovered that the chemistry behind it is flawed (sorry, no links)- more on that once I’ve finished my trial runs.

And just so you’re aware, it looks like a meth lab or explosives if you don’t keep your storage cabinet, containers and loose chemicals well labeled and cleaned. Hit up google, it’s entertaining and educative. Various chemicals and some weird stuff in old peanut containers with a crust around the lid. Yeah. Too bad I can’t turn this into an amusing continuing ed opportunity for the local fire department any more.

But the goal is making it better, right?
First I threw a measure of SLS in an old jar with a cup of water and shaking. And hey, it was an improvement over plain paste. It’s just a little messy and time consuming, especially when BG only needs 2 seconds to sneak down stairs and set the water heater to self destruct.

Next up, diluting it via counter top blenders and stick blenders. OK, except for the time and noise – the Basement Troll works nights, and frankly I’m too lazy to spend half an hour every week on something so mindless.

Enter Home Depot. Or as I hate to call it, the Tim Taylor Method.
DG, in her infinite and varied wisdom, pointed out that Gnome Depot has 5 gallon buckets, lids and drywall mixers – paint stirrers on steroids.

A quickly drilled hole in the lid and a drill chuck adapter for the mixer and I was set. OK, I lied. I tried 2 gallon buckets – messy and not enough output. And I already had a 5 gallon with a hole from my failed hand washer project.
Oh, and use a siphon because pouring is messy and means dealing with a fourth of a jug of foam.

I tried my neighbours discarded laundry detergent dispenser/container for storage, but it was tough to clean out and I had to shake it every time. If you haven’t read elsewhere, home made liquid laundry soap separates. I’m working on a cure, but in the mean time I use a 1 qt peanut container, marked per load. For the bulk I just use a well rinsed gallon milk jug.

Now I can muck up a month’s worth of laundry soap in 5 minutes.
Stay tuned for the sciency stuff and hopefully a video to come.
-Cappy

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in A Penny Saved

 

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