I had a very busy weekend. Most of the business was of my own making. But in all it was full of accomplishments, both big, small, successful, and not-so-successful. I’m going to refrain from calling some of them failures, because they were attempts and showed me where I might need to improve in the next try.
“I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
– Thomas Edison
First, I’ll start with the success. On Saturday I harvested the yukon gold potatoes I planted this spring. This is the first time I have tried growing potatoes, and I was pleased at the results. They look like potatoes! I got about a gallon sized bucket of small to mid-sized potatoes out of the 6 plants I had planted. This will definitely be a repeat crop! It was so satisfying to clear away the dirt with my hands and uncover each potato. They were like buried treasure, and I was the archaeologist uncovering the find.
I made charcoal grilled lamb shoulder chops rubbed with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and sea salt, sauteed fresh green beans with minced garlic, and baked the potatoes in the microwave and served them simply with a little butter and a little sea salt. YUM! The potatoes were very good, missing the grainyness that they sometimes have. Everything else was good too, that was a great cheap meal. $4 for chops, $1 for greenbeans, $0 for potatoes = $3.00 per person if you leave some for covering the incedental pantry items.
Saturday I also tried washing my hair with a bar of natural soap, and rinsing with apple cider vinegar. The purpose of this experiment was to see if my hair came out clean and manageable, allowing me to stop buying shampoo. Yup, stop buying shampoo. My reasons are to reduce the use of chemicals on my body, and to reduce the amount of plastic bottles I have to buy. Since I know where to buy shampoo/conditioners that are pretty all natural (albeit expensive), the whole chemicals thing isn’t my main point. However, every plastic bottle I don’t have to purchase, bring home, and toss into the recycle bin is one less bottle either downcycled or ending up in a landfill.
The results of this experiment were mixed. I would call my hair “second day clean” at best. It wasn’t dirty, but neither was it clean, bouncy, and shiny as usual on day one. I smelled like a salad while it air-dried, but once dry there wasn’t any lasting odor. This morning I went back to shampoo because I’d forgotten the only bottle of vinegar downstairs. I’ll try this again. Perhaps it was the soap I used (lavendar oat), or the concentration of vinegar in the rinse.
My next experiment involved making my own deodorant. This was definitely a not-so-success. I found the ingredients, and decided to use tea tree oil and rose oil. Rose for the scent, tea tree for the anti-bacterial properties. I goofed on two fronts: One, I forgot how strong tea tree oil is, and two, I had some trouble with the bottle because it didn’t have a cap. So I seriously overdid the tea tree oil. It’s about all you smell when you open it, and when I lift up my arms it’s quite overpowering.
The deodorant feels ok going on, didn’t have to use that much. I put a bit on one fingertip and shared it with a fingertip on the other hand, then spread it on like a cream. It feels a lot like the Dove deodorant I’ve been using because I like the moisturizing properties. Several hours later, after a hot day, I sniffed my pits and they STANK. Not a natural gee-I’m-not-wearing-any-deodorant-and-I-smell-like-a-dirty-hippie stink. It was a gross whoah-what’s-wrong-with-you stink. because I was working today in the office, I didn’t put any on this morning. This may require a rethink. I’ve heard other people trying to go natural (not au-naturale) on deodorant have to shop around before they find what works with their body chemistry. Hoping I can find a solution that will reduce yet another plastic bottle from purchase, like some of these on Planet Green.
My final experiment was in making soda syrup from fresh fruit. I made cherry vanilla syrup from a bag of cherries purchased at the market and a vanilla bean. I began by pitting the cherries and chopping them into pieces, which took me about an hour for about a 3 pound bag. I had History International on in the background, informing me about the french revolution while I got my fingers all red and sticky. I simmered the cherries and smooshed them a bit for about 20 minutes, then hung them in a towel over a mason jar and let it drip for around an hour. It gave me about 1-1/4 cup of nice dark red juice. In the meantime I split a vanilla bean and simmered it for 20 minutes in about 3/4 cup of water. After I was done simmering I let it sit, then removed the bean for reuse and added the vanilla water to the cherry to make 2 cups of juice. I mixed that with 2 cups organic sugar and stirred over medium heat to make the syrup, which I put into 2 pint mason jars.
This experiment was definitely a success. My hub, who likes soda, was quite happy with the results. I had to buy a plastic bottle of seltzer in order to test this, but in the future I can purchase a reusable seltzer bottle. I’ll have to work out the cost/glass once I’ve done that to see if it’s worth the work I put into it. I have a bag of grapes that were on sale, I’ll try grape soda now. Next stop might be to see our friend Joe Bair over at Princeton Homebrew with a recipe and get to making some Root Beer.
This weekend of experiments was a lot of fun, and left me with a sense of accomplishment. It’s not something I think I’ll do every weekend, but there are definitely more experiments to be done!