Saturday, September 10, 2011

All Natural Homemade Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

We're on a roll, with our adventures in making our own homemade cleaning products.  We started a couple weeks ago, by making our own super easy, super frugal, homemade laundry soap, and it was a hit! It's cheap, it's effective, and better for the environment.  I won't be going back to the store-bought stuff anymore!

Next on the list of homemade cleaner recipes: automatic dishwasher detergent.  First, a little background: it is so incredibly difficult to find a good dishwasher detergent that doesn't contain chlorine.  My mother, especially, is very chemically-sensitive, and it was a lot of trial and error, before I started using Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher detergent for my own family.  It cleans thoroughly, especially with our hard water, it's phosphate-free, and doesn't produce noxious chlorine fumes.  Still, that came at a price; almost five dollars a box at my local grocery store.  Lucky for us, after having made our own laundry soap, we had almost everything already on hand, to churn out our first batch of homemade detergent for the dishwasher.

Much like the laundry detergent, this recipe calls for borax and washing (not baking) soda.  Both are readily available in grocery store and big box store laundry aisles, at a couple dollars a box.  The one ingredient I had to buy was citric acid.  It comes in a white powder form, and should be available where you buy your vitamins and supplements. I ordered a huge five-pound tub from Amazon.  The rest of the ingredients are just pantry staples: kosher salt, and a little bit of uncooked rice (a great tip, from DIY Natural, for keeping the powder from clumping).

No soap grating in this recipe: just mix the various dry ingredients together, in a container with a tight-fitting lid, label, and you're done!
1-cup measure
Storage container with tight-fitting lid
An old 1-oz. plastic scoop

1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda
1 cup citric acid
0.5 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp dry, uncooked rice

Add all of the ingredients to your storage container, close lid tightly, and shake until thoroughly mixed.

Use 0.5 oz (1 tbsp) per load.

I just ran a load of plates, flatware, glasses, mugs, and even a stoneware baking dish.  Everything is squeaky clean!  Vinegar also magically makes a reappearance in the kitchen.  Last month, we introduced it as a fabric softener for your washing machine.  Now, it goes in your rinse agent dispenser, to get sparkly, clean dishes, without the hefty price tag of store-bought rinse agent.

Happy frugal cleaning :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Grain-Free, Paleo "No Corn" Corn Muffins with Bacon & Ham

A huge thank you to Kara over at The Primal Home, for sharing this awesome, mouthwateringly-delicious recipe for the paleo equivalent of a grain-free corn muffin!  One of my girlfriends has already replicated the recipe, and my freshly-baked batch is being devoured before my eyes.

These are totally gluten-free, and made with just a few basic, healthy ingredients, including the miracle that is coconut flour.  Coconut flour is just ground-up, dried coconut.  Surprisingly, the coconut flavor is not overpowering, and the muffins came out with a great, fluffy, moist texture.  If you don't tell your friends they're grain-free, they probably wouldn't even notice.

I made a few tweaks, including substituting the cooked bacon for diced deli ham.  Just like Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond, I keep a "jar of fat" in the fridge, so the bacon grease was already on hand.  That saved a little prep time, but you can always follow Kara's method and render three strips of bacon.  Here's how I just created our batch of these awesome little muffins:

3 tbsp bacon grease
5 slices deli ham, diced very small
6 eggs
1/3 cup local, raw, organic honey
1/2 cup organic coconut flour
1 tsp fresh Italian herbs, chopped fine (optional)
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line your muffin tin with nine paper liners.

Melt bacon grease in a large Pyrex mixing bowl, in the microwave.  Heat until mostly melted (do not overheat).

Whisk in honey with the melted bacon grease.

Add the six eggs and Italian herbs, and continue to whisk.  Add the ham.

Add the coconut flour, and mix thoroughly, breaking up any lumps.

Once blended, whisk in the baking soda.  Immediately scoop the batter into muffin tin, filling 3/4 of the way, and bake for 15 minutes.

Transfer muffins to a cooling rack.

These came out so delicious, even my reluctant-caveman husband went back for seconds!  I'm trying to keep myself from going back for a third.  This is going to be a regular baked-good item in our Paleo household ;)