Homemade Microwave Popcorn (In A Brown Bag)

I was going to follow-up with my hair saga. But I got distracted by a craving for popcorn.

It started at work. I was tempted by the stale bags of emergency popcorn in my drawer, but I was able to stave it. Then it came back again with a vengeance, this time for movie theatre popcorn. I fantasised a bit, figuring that technically, I could  run in the closest movie theatre around and get a tub of unbuttered popcorn to bring home.  I have done it before. I mean, why pay for movie tickets when all you really want is the popcorn? Let’s be real here.

Reality set in somewhere and I forgot about the craving… until I got home. Sometimes the best choice doesn’t happen, and at that point you have to go to the alternate better choice.


Overwhelming craving for movie theatre popcorn. Best choice: ignore craving, munch a veggie, or make air-popped corn and eat that. The BEST choice didn’t sit so well with me. I was either going to sink or come to a middle ground. I chose the middle ground: homemade popcorn with butter and salt. It wasn’t the BEST, but it wasn’t the WORST. I met things half-way.

Which leads me to the whole reason for this post, which is to share the semi-newfound love of microwaved popcorn in a brown bag. As I snapped my pictures, I couldn’t for the life of me remember where this idea came from, but I certainly didn’t pull it out of my own imagination. On a whim I checked my history and found it: squawkfox. I think that’s it. There might be other sources, but that’s what popped up for me. Get it? Popped up?

At any rate, I generally make popcorn on the stove in my iron pot with some oil. But, that’s not something I want really the kids to do by themselves right now. They are more likely to reach for a bag of microwavable corn than to grab my iron pot, oil, hot pad  anyway. I rarely eat the microwaved kind, though, so when I buy it, it is only for the kid’s sake. With two kids that LOVE popcorn (with hot sauce). I was happy to find the brown bag method. This is cheaper, and renders just as good results. I would say better because you can make it and add what you like.

All you need is 1/3 cup of popcorn, a brown bag (lunchbag) and a microwave.

Look mom! I took pictures this time!

1/3 cup of popcorn goes in bag:

Does that make you feel claustrophobic? It does me.

Bag goes in microwave. You can put it upright or sideways with the top folded a couple times. I like it upright (yeah, my microwave could use a cleaning I see):

I have a “popcorn” setting on my microwave (picture of that didn’t turn out so well). I set it to the 3.5 setting and it was perfect when setting the bag upright, and don’t fold it over. If I lay the bag on its side folded over on the top I have to set it to a shorter setting and push +30 to add more time. Every microwave probably has its happy spot for popped corn, and you’ll have to find yours.

Out comes this:


Do you use popcorn salt?

Generally I don’t. I just take my salt grinder and grind some salt into my mortar and pestle, then go at it a bit to make a finer salt. Buying it in a little shaker is convenient. To each their own.

Butter. Yum, yum and yum.

I really, really love popcorn.

No human being should have this many pictures of their popcorn.

But that’s how much I love thee.

Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (copycat recipe)

This has become one of my favorite recipes: Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (copycat recipe)

I have to admit, when I’d take my kids to Noodles and the order this dish, my throat tightens just a little. Isn’t there anything else you want? I mean, I make home made mac & cheese on a regular rotation and they love it. Can’t they try something I don’t make? And then I tried it. I liked it. Especially with a dousing of Sriracha Hot Sauce. I can see why it is a winner, and I’m from Wisconsin.

Pool of cheesy roux + noodles + a topping of shredded cheese?  You get to stir it up and watch the cheese melt right in front of you. What kid (or adult) wouldn’t want that?

Basically you are taking the cheese roux and instead of mixing that with the pasta and baking it, you plate it up all separate. Why wouldn’t it be good? I’ve been known to sneak some roux and noodle before baking and chomp it down. The stuff is good.

Here we go. Source: Food.com

Noodles & Co. Wisconsin Mac and Cheese
8 servings

2 lbs macaroni noodles (cooked al dente)
4 T butter
4 T flour
4 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
4 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 cups colby-monterey jack cheese, finely shredded

Cook the macaroni according to the directions to al dente; do not overcook!
Heat butter in sauce pan over medium heat; melt.
Add the flour; whisk to make a roux.
Continue to whisk until the mixture boils, bubbles and turns slightly brown.
Whisk in salt, pepper, and paprika.
Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk and cook until it starts to thicken up. It will not get pudding thick, and will still be a thin sauce. This is how you want it.
Remove from heat and add the 4c. of monterey jack.

To serve: Pour about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a bowl. Add about 1 cup of cooked noodles over the sauce. Top with a small handful of colby-monterey (about 1/4 cup). Stir and enjoy!

NOTE: 1c shredded cheese is approx. 4oz.

I can feed my entire family a very healthy portion of this (and have leftovers) for less than it would cost to feed two people the same meal at Noodles & Co. — score!  You can make the noodles ahead and whip up the roux in less than 15 minutes. Just warm your noodles before plating. It heats up well, too.

(Mock) White Castle-Like Sliders

In collecting recipes to add to my ever-growing binders of cards, clippings, scraps, and scribbled recipes, I found another new one to try: White Castle-Like Sliders

We don’t have a White Castle anywhere in Madison, much to my dismay. However, it makes it even more of  a treat when we are visiting the Twin Cities and indulge in some of their steamy, oniony burgers. We don’t do this every time we go there because there are so many other places to sample deliciousness from. But when the craving drives us – we’ve indulged (and sometimes felt less than healthy following the indulgence). I have seen frozen White Castle burgers for sale at the grocery store, but I’m not big on frozen fast foods and have not tried them.

The recipe looked interesting, and regardless of the authenticity of the flavor, I figured it the family would be down with eating them.

I purchased my beef at Walmart, and went for the fattier 80/20 that the recipe calls for. I actually followed a recipe. Fancy that! The buns, however, were a little more tricky. I found some mini buns that were called “dollar rolls” – but they cost $3 per bag of 8. No thanks. I found some ciabatta buns for about the same price and there were 12 in there. Because I was doubling the recipe (which makes 24), I figured I’d need 2 packs and could quarter the rolls. It was a decent bet, but then I noticed some mini sub-like rolls, a 24-pack, for the same price. The decision was easy. Actually, I probably put too much thinking into it, as I do EVERYTHING, but when I shop it isn’t always about the product or finding the right one, it’s also about the money. The sub rolls were the most cost-effective.

Armed with all the ingredients, I headed home to take on the recipe.

It is a very. Easy. Recipe. Really, it is. The original site has lots of pictures and step-by-step instructions, so I won’t go into that. I’ll just share how my experience went.

I used a baking sheets rather than a baking dish. In fact, I used two. One large one and one half sheet. They worked fine, fitting side-by-side in my oven. I sprinkled the cup of flakes down on the sheets, then patted the beef on top. I had 5lbs. of beef (a little more than the recipe called for, but I’m SO glad I went ahead with that extra pound – more on that in a bit). Because the onions spread around when you pat the beef on top, I tried to “sprinkle” the beef around the sheet, then pat it all in like play dough. It was the worst part. Ground beef doesn’t exactly sprinkle. I made do, and patted, patched and coerced the beef until it covered the entire bottom of both pans. After that, they went in the oven.

Shock and horror when I pulled them out and notice the teensy, tiny rectangle of beef floating around in the pool of fat (removed in picture below). Besides gently patting the beef with a paper towel like the recipe said, I had to first drain off the over 2 cups of liquified fat, then soak up the rest with towel. It was truly disgusting. A little tricky, too, because I didn’t want to lose my precious rectangle of beef. I started to have serious doubts that I would pull out 48 burgers from the little beef sheet.


Cheese time. I had white cheddar. In my head I could hear the kids groaning about my substitution. They prefer yellow (even though it is just dyed cheddar). I topped the meat with the cheese, popped them back in (it takes very little time to melt, FYI) and then stared at the huge bag of rolls that I had not begun to cut. Following the cheese-topping was a crazed kitchen dance of me slicing pickle spears (I skipped out on buying sliced pickles – spears sliced in mini triangles are fine) and quartering the sub rolls that were not cut to being with — all with hope of serving White Castle(ish) burgers that were still warm.

It was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I did not get many pictures, due to the frantic pace at which I worked.

I wouldn’t say they were a “hit” – or maybe they were a hit, just not out-of-the-park hit. They were definitely interesting and something out of the ordinary. Rarely can you duplicate a restaurant food, but just make a similar version of. That’s what these were. If you did not know what the attempt was, you might say, “Wow – these are kind of like White Castle” – but you certainly would not mistake them for the original. That said, they are close enough that if you have had WC you would smile at the homemade version, noticing the similarities. Wait. I kind of just said that. Whatever. I think in reality, these were too fresh, and the bread too meaty (I would go with a different bread). Today when I warmed one (OK three) in the microwave for lunch, my mouth was thinking they were closer to the original. A couple days old, and bread spongy-steamed from the microwave, they were closer to tasting like real deal WC junky fast food. I mean that as a compliment, but there’s no way to extract that from it, is there?

Oh – and, interestingly enough – I got 47 burgers out of them. I’d forgotten how small those little patties really needed to be. Not much bigger than a regular pickle slice.

At any rate, these were a fun try. I could definitely see making them for a group – although I’d rather not be doing the latter phase of production with anyone but family around to witness it. I’d make ahead. I also think I’d be a rebel and use less fatty beef next time, too.


Homemade Pizza Night

We had Homemade Pizza Night twice last week. I would feel… guilty, if I ordered pizza out twice. Every time we order pizza out, it is never less than $25 and sometimes more than $45. For special occasions, that’s fine, but when we can make it at home for much less, that’s a better choice for us. My home pizza-making adventures are generally sporadic, though, it took the first try to get my groove back on. By the second time, I was doing quite well.


I was very happy with how this last batch turned out, and the family approved. I had the time to mix up the dough and let it sit, so there was no pressure there. Frank made chicken wings, I made pizza. We feasted without breaking the bank. I prefer to purchase bulk cheese at a decent price, otherwise I’m scrambling to find cheese on sale and it can get pricey quickly. I had a large bag of cheese from Costco, and was able to squeeze two pizza-making nights out of it. I also had pepperoni on hand, onions, banana peppers. What I didn’t have was sausage and anchovies, which we picked up at the store. I didn’t have to, but it was a “treat” for us.

Here is the recipe I used to make 3 large, 16-inch pizzas:

4.5 tsp. dry yeast (I used rapid rise)
4 tsp. sugar
1 cup water + 1 cup beer (warmed, about 110 degrees)
4 cups flour* (I used unbleached, all-purpose)
2 tsp. salt
4 T. olive oil (a friend of mine swears by lard for the fat – he makes a great crust, too)


1.) Add sugar to the warmed water (stir – it will bubble, so make sure you have some head room). Add yeast (stir – it will foam so mind that head room… this all worked fine in my 2-cup glass Pyrex). Let sit about 10 minutes until foamy and creamy.

2.) Mix flour and salt in mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid – start with mixing paddle). Add yeast water. While mixing, add olive oil. Change to hook. Mix about 10 minutes. *Sprinkle a bit more flour over, if it is too sticky. I tend to need about 1/4 cup extra during this step. The dough will be sturdy and kind of sticky. Now it needs to sit for a while. I remove mine to a bowl coated lightly with olive oil turning the dough to coat. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes somewhere warm.

3.) Grab a hunk (about 1/3 of the dough) and go at it on a lightly floured surface. Again, add more flour (sparingly), if you need to. Roll it out, and use your hands to shape a pizza. Add toppings and bake in a 425-450 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

How I do it? I roll mine and use my hands. We have a pizza pan (a flat, circular pan with holes in it) that I use. Pizza stones don’t work well for me. I brush some oil on one side of the dough, put that side down on the pan and shape it a bit more. Add sauce and toppings. Put it in the oven for 10 minutes. After it is sturdy enough, I slide the pizza off the pan directly onto the rack for another 10 minutes. When done, I use the pan to remove it from the oven again. Cut and serve. Yum.

I also made the sauce by taking a can of chopped tomatoes, a clove of garlic, some olive oil, salt and sugar. Take about 1T. of OO, heat in a pan, add the peeled garlic clove. Heat it up a little, but don’t burn it. Add a can of chopped tomatoes. Simmer the entire time you’re busy making the pizza. (I added about 1-2 T. tomato paste, too.) When the dough was ready, I pureed 1/2 fresh tomato in my ABSOLUTELY MOST FAVORITE APPLIANCE EVER FOOD CHOPPER, added the sauce and pureed that, too, stirred in about 1tsp. sugar and that was my sauce. I really like a fresh-tasting sauce, and not too terribly much of it.

Make Your Own Fancy Shmancy California Garlic Powder

I love my McCormick California Style Garlic Powder. I do, I do. I use it as my go-to garlic powder (I skip garlic salt and if a recipe calls for garlic salt I add garlic powder and salt). I use it as the base for my homemade pizza topping. It has a coarser grind and splash of flavor/color from the parsley.

But I also like to simplify. I like to make things myself if I can. Not to mention, whenever I’d buy the McCormick kind, I’d be spending more money than I cared to spend. So, I made it myself.

Pretty simple ingredients, both of which I purchased bulk-size from Costco (which sells some McCormick, if you like that kind). You can see in the picture that I used “California” garlic, which has a bit of a coarser grind.

For the price of two bottles of the store-bought kind, I can make about 2-3x as much of the mixture (and have enough parsley to use for at least 6 more). The ratio I used was about 3:1 garlic to parsley. But you can tweak to your desire. I have made it with regular-grind garlic as well and it did fine, but I prefer the coarse grind. Works for me!

Happy Birthday To Frank

Yesterday was Frank’s birthday. 42nd I think. I’m getting terrible with these things. Nevertheless, it was a birthday, and we celebrated it. In our house, the birthday boy (or girl) gets to choose a dinner (in or out). Being that I was working yesterday, I really tried to steer Frank in the direction of eating out. We started with the possibility of creating a menu, and I immediately grew exhausted. After a few emails back and forth, dinner out at Buffalo Wild Wings was the plan.

My husband likes chicken wings. Seems like every year we end up at some wing location for his day of celebration.

I did wonder about the cake. As I pondered this on the way home, I planned. I knew I had some cake flour at home. I’d whip up something. I thought about making one of Jack’s Chocolate Cakes. I had no mayonnaise. White cake? No… what to make, what to make? My mom usually makes Frank one of her apple spice cakes with cream cheese frosting. That’s it! I have a HUGE bag of carrots in the fridge. Mission Carrot Cake begins.

I checked out allrecipes.com and went out on a limb with the highest rated recipe for carrot cake called Best Carrot Cake Ever. I know. Risky rebel that I am. I saw the ingredient list and had mostly everything on hand. My mission began.

Some of the comments on the allrecipes.com website mentioned the cake being “pudding-like” which scared me, so I read a few responses just in case. If you decide to make this cake, do these two things:

1.) Soak the raisins. Bring water to a near boil on the stove, shut it off; add raisins.

2.) Drain most of the liquid from the carrot/brown sugar mix before using it. Drain the pineapple, too. Maybe that’s three things. Oh well. I put my pineapple in a colander and let it drain for a good 15 minutes during prep. time.

Other than that, this is a recipe that works. I didn’t even substitute anything. Well, I subbed the white sugar for granulated cane sugar, but that’s not a biggie.

As I said, I was on a mission. So much so that when the birthday boy came home from his hard day at work, I immediately sent him to the store for cream cheese and pineapple. Pathetic, no? I felt bad, actually, after he left. I realized I hadn’t even looked him in the eye, said hello, gave him a kiss or anything. I focused obsessively on my cake preparations and missed the whole point all-together. A habit that needs breaking.

You know those recipes that you make that totally fill the house with a smell better than any scented candle will give you? This was one of those. It. Smelled. Divine. I whipped up the frosting (1 stick butter, 16 oz. cream cheese, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2c. sugar) and put it in the fridge. After de-panning the cakes and putting them on racks to cool, we went to dinner. Dinner was good. Loud. that place is loud. But good. Our whole family was there, which is the best part. As they grow older it becomes more difficult to get everyone together in one place. Full and sassy, we came home to the yummy-smelling house and I frosted the cake.

Four candles for 4 decades.

So good. One of those instances where a thin slice is all you need.

This recipe was a definite keeper. Better than store-bought and totally tweakable. The only problem is that I have an entire half a cake left and very little willpower. Cake for breakfast. Cake for lunch. Seriously, this cake’s calorie count you don’t even want to know — especially with that frosting. Which is why, immediately after publishing this post, I’m going for a walk. See ya.

Substitute For Pizza

I’m trying to eat better. Recent wait gain has me in an undeniable position (can feel it in my clothing). But, also, the fact that our paychecks are less than they were – well, no, more is being taken out of the paychecks of State workers here in Wisconsin. The take-home pay is less. Anyway, I’m trying to eat better and save money.

Hence, the new coupon page up there, and my increased use of them. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Today, we talk pizza.

Frank’s working an overtime today. Unfortunately, it is a Friday. I’d much rather have him at home, out back with me by the fire. But I’d also like to be able to pay bills. Trade off. I’ve been very good lately, relying less on McDonald’s coffee in a pinch, and more on my handy insulated coffee mug (filling it at home first). I didn’t stop for coffee ONCE this week. Pretty good, if you ask me! Even when I was running late, even when I was tired. I. Held. Strong.

Tonight though when thinking of dinner, I immediately imagined pizza. Ordered. Delivered. Easy. Effortless. Thankfully, though, I have a stack of frozen pizzas (thanks to couponing and sales). I also have hungry children who popped one in the oven before I could even get my fingers on the phone to order anything. With two kids at home sharing a frozen pizza and two kids at a friend’s house hanging out, it seemed like an enormous waste and lack of effort for me to order a pizza.

Instead, I went for a walk. I chugged a glass of water and took Wheezy for a walk.

Then I came home and made my own “pizza” without spending an extra dime. Cheese and tomatoes from Costco, “Italian” bread on sale.

Lonely bread.

Not so lonely anymore. A wipe of butter, dash of garlic pepper and basil. Topped with cheese…

…and tomatoes.

Broiled and toasted in the toaster oven.

A sprinkle of salt and Parmesan, glass of wine (OK, coffee mug of wine). Yum. No, it wasn’t take-out. But it was good. And easy. And yummy. And I’m happy that I didn’t spend $30 on pizza – I can pocket that for another time!

Today I Avoided McDonalds, Sorta


Most days are “one of those days.” From the moment the feet hit the floor to the time where they come back under the covers at night. Busy. The last few days have been kind of crazy simply because Frank’s been working doubles back-to-back, two days in a row. I’ve been the sole taxi driver, chef, planner, cleaner, laundry maid… and everything else being the only one at home entails. Yesterday, thankfully was my day to work at home. It was busy, but I was able to get more done around the house, which always helps. Today was an office day.

Feet hit floor and the frantic morning dance begins. The twins are usually gone to school by the time I need the bathroom, but I still share it with Dante and Carlito. It is a popular place in a 1-bathroom home, as you can imagine. Beyond getting myself ready, I  remembered that last night I put some black beans (slightly expired ones, so I’m hoping they will turn out fine) in to soak, preparing them for a day of the crock pot. This morning, as I went to attend to them, I realized I hadn’t had breakfast, hadn’t packed a lunch (for myself). That trumped the beans since an angry stomach doesn’t go well with a day of work.

And, I was determined NOT to go to McDonald’s for breakfast.

Two reasons: body and budget. McDonald’s would mean oatmeal and coffee. It would mean money I didn’t need to spend. It would mean, also, sacrificing my calories (I’m trying to get back under control again) on something I didn’t want to sacrifice them on.

Frantic, I made up a sandwich, wrapped it sloppily, grabbed a peach and headed out the door. No time for coffee; I would have to stop. At. McDonald’s.

I did and was tempted by the oatmeal. Restraint. Self-control. I slowly counted out change from the ashtray (I keep my pens and change in there), grabbed a medium coffee and a glass of ice water (which fits perfectly in my water bottle).

Battle won, my temptation was not over.

On the way home from work. Once again. Tempted. See, I drive right past the crack house that is McDonald’s. I know how many calories the salads have, and desperately wanted the ease of not having to make my own.

Grumbling, I went into the grocery store instead. Bread, milk and a container of Organic Girl 50/50 in tow, I head home. I am already anticipating the salad I will make, since I had a fabulous one last night.

Here it is, crappy phone picture and all. But you get the gist. I think there are 2 servings in that container, but I made it into 1. I added 1/4 cup of navy beans (soaked and cooked a couple days ago – tossed them with some salt and pepper first), 1/4 cup shredded parmesan/romano mix, some cherry tomatoes, and topped it off with Simply Dressed balsamic dressing (my new favorite).

So. Dang. Good. I think my pants are going to split, but I got my greens in. Much better than a McDonald’s salad, if you ask me.

Bread Maker Pizza Crust

#1 Happy Holidailies!

Once again, I’m blogging daily from December 6 to January 5. Live with it. They’re using a slightly different system this year and I hope I can get the hang of it before the end of the Holidailies run, but who is to say. I don’t think I like it already, but maybe it will grow on me.

OK so pizza crusts in the bread maker– or rather, momma hasn’t done much of meal-planning since Thanksgiving and she’s flying by the seat of her pants. That’s probably more appropriate.

Wednesday I made a quick run to Costco while Sal was at goalie practice, and I worked hard not to buy for the sake of buying, but to be thoughtful in what I needed. Of coarse, that means I needed to recall just what it was I needed. Need, need, need. Noodle bowls. Ham. Shredded cheddar cheese… gum, sour cream, Sobe. I didn’t so much need the peeled baby carrots, come to find. But I picked up a HUGE bag anyway (sigh). I’ve been spreadsheeting it out to see what really IS a deal and what IS NOT a deal at Costco. So far it looks like I’m getting decent deals. Just don’t buy the vinegar there. Not a deal.

As I was walking the isles, I decided that I would be making pizzas. The huge bag of shredded mozzarella was calling me to make some pizzas and possibly a casserole. In the cart it went (I did end up making crockpot lasagna and I WILL post the recipe this week).

Back to the pizzas. Now that wrestling season has started (and winter soccer trainings, indoor soccer leagues), life has swung back into crazy gear again. The plus is that Frank coaches and all 3 younger boys are in wrestling at the same time. The not-so-plus is that Dante is just finishing up wrestling (for high-school, they use the same mats as the youth wrestlers), and needs to come home just as Frank is arriving with the boys for their mat time. That means I have to go pick up Dante. Before the youth wrestling started, I’d have dinner ready to go when Dante got home (ravished), and we’d all sit down to eat. Now that we’re on different schedules, it isn’t so easy. It’s only 2 days a week, though, that that happens, so I can’t complain.

Basically what I’m saying is, even though all the boys are occupied, it isn’t a real down-and-dirty “work time” for me because I’m running around in between cooking dinner. Last week on one of those days, I thought I’d be all Ms. Smarty Prepared and start a pizza crust in the breadmaker before I left, come home and start up some pizzas. That would have all been find and dandy had I not set the bread to “Quick Bake” instead of the “Dough” setting.

I didn’t actually realize that was the problem, not right away. I thought that maybe there was simply something wrong with my bread maker. I mean, it is a little bit on the older side. But I had made calzone dough in it not too long ago, so I couldn’t figure what went wrong and why my bread maker was so warm. The kids munched on the “bread” and said it was good (they were just hungry). I turned into Maniac Mom, panicking, stressing, hyper-cooking. Refusing to change directions. We were having pizza if it killed me. And it nearly did.

I worked on mixing up a dough that didn’t need to rise or be beaten, thinking that at least they could start on that, and if nothing else worked, their bellies would be satisfied. But, in tandem, I also put another batch of dough in the machine. Well, that’s not true. I intended to put a batch in, while the kids hovered, squawked and asked questions that my brain had to work to answer. Everyone asking me questions and getting in my way makes my head start to sputter and blow smoke. The distractions caused me to add the ingredients to the machine in a fashion that would have rendered yeast-less dough. I had to toss that batch.

Next attempt went fine, although I realized I screwed up the other no rise/beat dough, adding double the yeast. At this point I was about ready to glug down some spiked eggnog and go lay in a snowbank somewhere. Forget dinner.

The first pizza to arrive on the table was the no-knead. Pepperoni and banana peppers. No picture.

Second pizza was another no-knead (still waiting on the bread machine to finish its job). Italian sausage and banana peppers.

Third pizza was with the “regular” knead-and-rise dough, though I didn’t quite let it rise all the way because we were hungry and I was sick of playing pizza-maker. I used half the dough on 1 pizza and the rest I put in the fridge.

They were all OK, but I prefer the knead-and-rise dough. Frank liked the sausage and pepper one, but got horrid heartburn from it. Sal liked everything. They must have all liked the pizzas enough because what they didn’t eat for dinner, they ate the next day. Every time I make homemade pizzas I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Story of my life.

I made a breakfast pizza with the remaining dough. It was also a hit.

Again, Bowzer wondered when he would get his.

Don’t judge us because we don’t take our dog to the groomers. All the boys have long hair at some point.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Challenge

I realize I have an obsession with laundry and laundry detergent. I’ve swung through so many phases of brand name, generic, homemade, eco-friendly… it is shameful. I don’t even want to dig up the archives that reference it. At this time I have a jug of Tide, Gain, Charlie’s Soap, Downy dryer sheets, Gain liquid softener, Ecos… So we will move forward (after one quick digression). The only recipe I could dig up from my archives was this:

Marthat’s Homemade Detergent
Here’s another laundry detergent recipe, sent in by Martha. I haven’t made it yet, but she tells me it’s easier than mine:
1 quart water (4 cups)
1/6 bar fels naptha or other soap grated as fine as possible (now I soak the cube for a week or two in a cup of water).
¼ washing soda
¼ borax
½ quart hot water
cold water
Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved. (now I nuke it for 5-6 minutes in the microwave). Stir in Washing Soda and Borax (pop back in the microwave for a minute or two– but watch it as it does bubble up. I really don’t think this part is necessary if it is stirred real well.). Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 Quart Hot Water to 1 Gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with hot water, and mix well. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

I don’t know if it was “Marthat” or “Martha” but the recipe is what it is. At that time, I remember using a liquid version of homemade detergent. Since I’m not still using it, I’d have to say that I wasn’t head over heels in love with it. I still have the bucket that I kept that homemade glop in, though.

At any rate, I wanted to do a powder this time. Less hassle, easier to make and store. The internet has a gazillion recipes, and most of them are the same (Fels Naptha, Borax, Washing Soda). Same ingrediants, different ratios. I went with this one:

Homemade Laundry Powder
4c Fels Naptha (almost an entire bar of it, grated, you can use Kirk’s or Zote’s, too)
2c Borax
2c Washing Soda

Mix, store, use.

Simple to remember. I have a hunk of the bar leftover, though, so it isn’t the best ratio for complete usage. But I can store it and grate it for next time. I also didn’t use any scent in mine because, from my experience, the scent doesn’t stay anyway. So what’s the point in wasting it?

I had help in the grating. No, he’s not naked. He’s still in his shower towel, though. He insisted on helping to grate the soap, and stuck with it until the bitter end, something I am entirely grateful (get it – grateful?) for. When it came time to mix the two powders I had two “helpers” who wanted to get their hands in there. Lootie’s always one who likes to feel, and learns by touching. I am still amazed that he hasn’t had his hand completely burned off from Don’t touch the burners (touch). He’s just one of those kids.

grating away mixed and ready to use

I kept it in one of those plastic shoe boxes. You can see my scooper. You may also notice my empty wine glass in the background of these pictures…

The hard part of the whole laundry thing is figuring out how much to put in each load. With this ratio, I’ve read anywhere from 2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup. I’m still experimenting and will let you know how it works out for me. There’s a great post here from Frugal Upstate that breaks down the costs per load on homemade (using same formulation above) vs. Tide.

So here’s my challenge: I’m going to use my own homemade laundry detergent powder for two weeks (exclusively).

For what it is worth, I have an HE washer, top-loading (NEVER get a top-loader, I really don’t think it cleans that well), soft water.

I know it won’t be easy, at least not for me. I thoroughly enjoy my highly-scented detergents. I’m a scent driven person. If it weren’t laden with chemicals and didn’t skunk up my washer, dryer and clothes, I’d probably be one of those Tide/Downy people that you can smell across the room. In fact I have been, off and on. But the more I read about it, the less I like. And the more build-up I see on my washer and feel on my clothes, the more I steer away. But, I do fall off the wagon. My lust is severe. Hence the line-up of product I have sitting by my washer and dryer.

My routine for the next couple weeks will be my homemade detergent to wash the clothes, and vinegar to soften (I add this to the softener dispenser – this has been my main source of “softener” for quite some time when I’m not gucking it up with commercial softener, though sometimes I mix the two – don’t ask), bleach occasionally. We’ll see how it goes. Today was Day 1. I’ve got 13 more to go.

Day 1 observations: First observation is that it is really Day 2, since I threw a load in last night. But I need to stop. This isn’t all that technical. I’ve done a couple loads of darks, 1 white, 1 blankets/jacket. All have been fine as far as I’m concerned. Not much unlike Charlie’s Soap, really. I dug my nose in a few different items and they all smelled clean. I even plunged it in some pits. Take one for the team, I do. One bra still smelled faintly of Tide. None smelled like the bar of Fels-Naptha. None smelled like vinegar or the essential oils I put in my vinegar hoping they will smell of the oils. This is not new to me, but I’m letting you know about it. Why I keep wasting my EOs? Slow learner. My whites looks as dingy as they always have. I blame my washer for that. My 2nd load of darks that I removed from the dryer today were laden with static. Not sure why. Stay tuned.