Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dishwasher Soap

I thought there must be a recipe out there in internet land for dishwasher soap if there were so many for laundry soap.  I found one on Newlyweds.  It was simple, so I thought I’d give it a try. 

You will need

1 cup borax ($5.39 per 76 oz, $5.39/76oz = $.07 x 4.5oz = $.32)

1 cup washing soda ($3.49 per 55oz, $3.49/55oz = $.06 x 10oz = $.63)

2 packets unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid ($.29 per packet, $.29 x 2 = $.58)

¼ cup kosher salt ($2.99 per 48oz, $2.99/94.42 Tbsp = $.03 x 4 Tbsp = $.13)

Everything you'll need.
Mix and you’re ready to go.  I decided to store mine in an old honey jar.  I got a little fancy and affixed a pour spout to the top.  I got the idea from the Non-Consumer Advocate.  Cut the top off a salt box the size of a mason jar lid.  Looks good… Now how does it work?

I know, I'm so crafty with my sharpie.
I initially tried it by itself- I fill the wash part to the top, which is 2 Tbsp.  That worked just fine for a few loads, but by the third time around my dishes felt oddly powdery.  Then I tried it with a splash (about 2 Tbsp) of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher, and the issue was resolved.

Try It

$1.66 per about 2 ¼ cups, or $.09 per load.

Buy It

$4.49 per 45oz of Seventh Generation Free and Clear powder, or $.09 per load.


I rechecked my numbers and my scale several times.  I don’t understand how Seventh Generation is so cheap!  If indeed my numbers are correct (my breakdown of the 7th Gen. is $4.49/45oz = $.09 x .94oz = $.09), I will Buy It because it’s the SAME PRICE, and has less packaging due to the Kool-Aid packets.  Sheesh.

NEXT WEEK: Bib or nursing strap

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wheat Bread

I’ve been interested in making bread for a while.  Even though my family doesn’t burn though bread like some, who doesn’t love homemade bread?  Last time I tried making bread it was semi edible... But I thought it was worth a second shot.  The Frugal Girl is a blog that I subscribe to that has a lot of great ideas- including her own bread recipe.

You will need

2 1/3 cups warm water (free)

¼ cup honey ($5.97 per 32oz, $5.97/32oz = $.19 x 2oz = $.38)

4 Tbsp organic butter, melted ($5.49 per lb, $5.49/32 Tbsp = $.17 x 4 Tbsp= $.69)

1 ½ Tbsp yeast (2 packets) ($2.19 per 3 packets, $2.19/3 = $.73 x 2 = $1.46)

2 ½ tsp salt ($.47 per 26oz, $.47/30.69tsp = $.02 x 2.5 tsp = $.05)

3 cups organic whole wheat flour ($1.39 per lb, $1.39/16oz = $.09 x 18oz = $1.56)

2 ¾ cups organic all-purpose flour ($4.99 per 5 lb, $4.99/80oz = $.06 x 15.125oz = $.91)
Dry yeast mixture all ready...
I couldn't put my dough back in the bowl because this is what happened while I kneaded

Mix together yeast, salt, 1 cup wheat flour, and 1 cup all purpose flour in your mixer.  Add in the butter, honey, and warm water, mix on low till blended, then on medium for 3 minutes.  Add in the remaining 2 cups wheat flour, and enough all purpose flour to make it kneadable (I added 1 ½ cups, but it was pretty sticky).  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
Blob of kneaded dough
This was the easiest way to put the bowl in a warm spot!

Put the dough back in the mixer bowl and cover with a wet cloth.  Place it in a sunny spot for 45 – 60 minutes.  After it has risen, punch it down, divide it in two, and flatten out each half into a rectangle about 5 inches wide (doesn’t matter how long).  Roll up your dough on the short side and put each log into a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  Cover them again with the cloth, put them back in the sunny spot, and let them rise again for about 30 minutes.  When they fill the pan nicely, put them in the oven (preheated to 350 degrees) for 30 minutes, till the bottom of the pan sounds hollow when tapped, and/or a meat thermometer reads 205 degrees when stuck in the end of the loaf.  Turn them out into a wire rack to cool.
The dough punched down and divided
My rectangles were a little wonky, but they work
Risen loaves, ready for the oven

I was really intimidated coming into this one, probably because of how gross my last bread came out (different recipe, different type of bread).  This is a nice sandwich bread, that does indeed taste delicious as Kristen suggested- warm with butter.  When they cool I’ll stick one loaf in the freezer and use the other this week for PB&Js and whatever other bread needs come up. 
Aren't they pretty?
The perfect way to celebrate successful bread!

Try It

$5.05 for 2 loaves totaling 48oz, or $.11/oz.

Buy It

$3.29 for a 20oz loaf of Nature's Own Whole Wheat, or $.16/oz.


It’s a little cheaper to make organic bread than to buy conventional.  All in all it took a little over 2 hours to make, but all but about 20 minutes of that was completely hands off.  We keep our bread in the fridge to make it keep a little longer, and by the end of the week it was tasting a little dull and sad.  Next time I'll freeze a loaf and a half to accommodate our slow bread use. In conclusion: Try It- it was even easy with Spencer’s brand of help.

NEXT WEEK: Dishwasher soap

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Laundry Soap

A friend asked if I’d ever tried making my own laundry soap, and suggested the Duggar family recipe.  I checked it out, and thought it sounded great, but I wasn’t taken by the Fels-Naptha soap bar when I looked it up.  I am a reader of Thrifty Living, who posted a powdered laundry soap recipe that looked up my alley.

You will need

½ cup borax ($5.39 per 76oz, $5.39/76oz = $.07 x 2.25 oz = $.16)

½ cup washing soda ($3.49 per 55oz, $3.49/55oz = $.06 x 5oz = $.32)

1 bar Yardley soap ($1.99 per 2 bars, $1.99/2 bars = $.99)

Very fragrant.
It was surprisingly smooth to cut.
Chop the Yardley soap up a bit and throw it in the food processor.  Process it till it becomes these weird nubs that don’t grind any smaller.  Add the borax and soda and process till combined.  Pour into a container and use one Tablespoon at a time.

Weird nubs that made my equipment smelly.
Try It

This made about 24 loads of laundry soap for $1.47, or about $.06/load.

Buy It

I normally use Seventh Generation detergent, which is $7.99 for 32 loads, or $.25/load.  I also normally use Rockin’ Green detergent for my diapers, which is $13.95 for 90 loads, or $.16/load


I have tried the soap on my whites on hot, my husband’s permanent press shirts on warm, and on our colors on cold.  My husband didn’t notice any difference at all.  I noticed the scent, which was a little overpowering for me (I used the Cocoa Butter bar); again- I have a crazy sensitive nose.  Our clothes also feel softer than with Seventh Generation detergent, but not that gross chemical soft like fabric softener leaves behind.   I haven’t tried it on cloth diapers yet, but Beth Anne at Thrifty Living has been for years and hasn’t had any issues.  All that said, I think once all my bought detergent is used up, I’ll Try It full time, though I may try a different scent of Yardley.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (with Flakes!)

After making the Magic Shell, I had to try making ice cream with the flakes!  I used Miss Molly’s easy-peasy vanilla ice cream recipe, but replaced the vanilla with mint.  Make sure your ingredients are good and cold before you begin.
You will need

1 cup organic whole milk ($5.99 per gallon, $5.99/128oz = $.05 x 8oz = $.37)

¾ cup sugar ($3.29 per 5 lb, $3.29/ 80oz = $.04 x 5.625oz = $.23)

2 cups organic whipping cream ($2.99)

1 – 2 tsp mint extract  ($4.65 per oz, $4.65/6tsp = $.78 x 2 = $1.55)

Homemade magic shell to taste ($.24 per Tbsp, $.24 x 4 = $.96)

Whisk together the milk and sugar until sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Add whipping cream and mint, whisk to combine (I like mine super minty, I used 2 tsp of extract).  Add to your ice cream maker.  When the ice cream is nearly thick enough to remove from the maker, start to pour in your magic shell.  I drizzled it in with a spoon, adding about ¼ cup to the batch.
Drizzling chocolate into the ice cream maker

Look at all those beautiful flakes!

Spencer got to lick the mixer blade afterwards

And… It worked!  That does indeed make flaky chocolate chips!  I would think that if you poured it in a little faster rather than drizzling it might make larger flakes. 
Especially delicious with a little extra magic shell on top!

Try It

$6.10 for 1.37 quarts, or $4.45/qt.

Buy It

$6.59 for 1.75 quarts, or $3.77/qt.


Well, it’s more expensive than store bought, even if I compared it to the organic ice cream ($3.99/qt), but it is really tasty, fun to make, and fit in perfectly while we were waiting for bread to rise.  Overall, I’ll Buy It, but it’s nice to Try It from time to time.

Magic Shell Chocolate Sauce

Okay, a little explanation:
For Easter, I was going to make homemade Cadbury eggs.  I got halfway through the process of making them and basically got a bad attitude about the whole thing and quit.  My attitude problem stemmed from the realization that my all time favorite holiday treat is nothing but an oversized chocolate filled with fondant.  Having made many fondont chocolates in the past, I just couldn't believe that was it.  I have read, however, that Cadburys have an enzyme in them to break down the sugar and make it all gooey inside.  If you would still like to try these, check out the instructables page that originally inspired me.  Please enjoy this deliciousness instead:

On my last day at work my co-worker Bethany gave me an interesting and very simple recipe for Magic Shell.  It would never have occurred to me, but once she said it, it made perfect sense.  Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, so when a warmed combination of coconut oil and chocolate hits something as cold as ice cream it would obviously harden.  Oh, I can’t wait!  We also got to talking about other ways to use this- specifically, if you pour it into an ice cream maker while it’s going, could you get the flake chocolate like some brands of mint chocolate chip?  I had to find out…

You will need

7oz quality chocolate, roughly chopped ($6.99 per lb, $6.99/16oz = $.44 x 7oz = $3.06)

2 Tbsp coconut oil ($9.99 per 14 fl oz, $9.99/14oz = $.71)
I used dark chocolate

In a double boiler (or in my case a metal bowl set over a pot of water) mix the chocolate and coconut oil over medium high heat until fully melted and blended.  Pour into a small jar, and store in the fridge.  To remelt, place it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.  

my fancy double boiler

After just a few minutes, we have sauce!
It is awesome.  It has a very faint and wonderful hint of coconut flavor but not enough to come through when it’s on ice cream.  Really delicious.  Read on to the next post for the ice cream experiment!

Try It

$3.77 per 16 Tbsp, or $.24/Tbsp.

Buy It

$2.09 per 12 Tbsp, or $.17/Tbsp.


More expensive than store bought, but I don’t go through a ton of this stuff, and store bought magic shell has a distinctly fake flavor.  If you’re a big fan of the squeeze bottle stuff, continue to Buy It.  If you want a really delicious addition to impress your friends with at your next ice cream sundae party- Try It.