Monday, April 30, 2012

homemade chocolate sauce

Chocolate! It's a must. And I put it in my coffee every day. But the store-bought stuff, even Hershey's - gasp! - has junk in it. So I decided to make my own. I've made three now, actually.

Here's the first one. I found it on Pinterest. I knew it would involve some cooking; most chocolate sauce recipes do. Here's this one:

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (still true to Hershey's here)
1 cup water
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the sugar, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan. Add the water. Bring mixture to a boil while stirring. *Be careful - it might boil over, even in just a second.* Turn down the heat and cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add vanilla. Keep it in the fridge.

It was good. It tasted a lot like cocoa cooked on a stove. :) Very heavy - but good - cocoa flavor. It's the kind of flavor that's wonderful over vanilla ice cream and makes it taste all fancy.

Not exactly what I was looking for in my coffee, though.

Here's the second one. This one is from DIYNatural; I'm finding more and more stuff there that I love!

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (packed)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

At first he said to put the water in a saucepan and then stir in the cocoa until dissolved, then add the sugar and keep stirring. Later in the comments section, someone suggested just mixing the cocoa and sugar in the pan first, then add the water and bring to a boil. That second option is what I do. After it boils - and, again, it can boil over in a SECOND so stay right at the stove stirring constantly - turn the heat down to medium-low and keep stirring for 8-10 minutes. Long, yes. But not impossible. When the timer goes off (and a timer really is a good idea), take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla (he uses his own; I don't...yet). Put it in a bottle or container (I use mason jars, usually reused Classico spaghetti sauce jars with the labels boiled off) and keep it in the fridge.

This is obviously very similar to the first recipe. Not sure why I thought it'd be different. It isn't really.

Here's the third recipe. This one is from Paths of Wrighteousness.

1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
dash salt
1/4 cup water - the warmer the water, the easier to mix; I used relatively hot water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

This one is different in two ways: 1, she tweaked it to use honey instead of sugar to make it a little healthier, and 2, it's not cooked on the stove!

It still has that heavy cocoa taste, but the honey does give it a very neat 'n sweet flavor. I tried it in my coffee, and - although it's not Hershey's - it might be a smidge closer.

Note: A week or so has passed since making this version of chocolate syrup. One thing I have noticed is that it gets much thicker as it sits in the fridge than the others do. Also, I stuck my finger in it today for just a taste...and it just seemed cold and heavy and not such a mixture of flavors anymore, if you know what I mean. Like it was several different ingredients put together, not one cohesive taste. It was yummy...but it just didn't seem to be what it should be. So, my determination is that I will go back to one of the first two recipes. Hubby liked them. That's important. :)

I may try one sometime with agave nectar. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Do you have a chocolate syrup recipe you LOVE? I'd love to try it, and I'll add my experience with it here!

AUTHOR'S FINAL NOTE:  After spending weeks and weeks making these, my family has finally decided on option #1. It tastes the best in coffee, in chocolate milk, and on ice cream. It stays liquid in the fridge, and is one of the easier to make.
Problem: SOLVED.

doing so much, writing so little

I MUST start writing about these things.

I don't know why. But I know that I have gotten so much of my help from other bloggers - the people that are living this first-hand and can tell me just what it's like to go through it, what works, what doesn't - rather than the "official" DIY sites.

So I feel compelled to share my findings with you. Whomever. Or no one. But at least they'd be here if someone needed them. :)

Problem: I'm having such a good time, that I don't entirely feel like settling down and writing. If I'm going to sit at the computer, I'd much rather search for farmhouse kitchen ideas. Or research my local zone's planting season. Or look for pictures of easy chicken coops to build. Not sit and try to organize my thoughts. But something is tripping me up in just continuing on willy nilly without sharing my experiences, in hopes they help someone else.

So I'm going to try to keep start sharing with you what I've been learning. I'm taking pictures of everything I try...but here they sit on their little uploaded webite, not doing anyone a bit of good.

I'll try to be more consistent very soon....ish. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

the adventure begins

The chickens have arrived. [eeeeee!]

Three Americanas, two New Hampshire Reds, and one Leghorn.

I ordered three.

I came home with six.

And I'm hoping for 2 or 3 black Australorps in June.

I've been working on being farmy for a while, but this is like the embodiment of being farmy. I have other living beings to keep track of and care for now, as part of my journey-toward-farmy-ness. (Other than my family. They were here before.)

They all seem to be pretty taken with them...

Can you even see the chick there? Migs adores his precious Rachel.

So, at the moment they're on the kitchen table. Eventually they will be in our bedroom.

I've promised Hubby they won't be as loud as he thinks. They only seem loud when you leave the room...I seem to have a bit of a mama's girl on my hands.

Here we go!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

the DIY bandwagon has a new tag-along

Oh my goodness, I must blog.

I'm trying so many new things - things that are just exactly what I should be blogging about - and I haven't written about a one of 'em!

I'm going to have to recap...mostly just to make sure I remember everything. I feel I should announce it somehow - tada! - ...'though I really don't know what to call it. It's a change in thinking, plain and simple, but that doesn't sound dramatic or catchy.

We are trying to be more simple. More natural. More real. It's the "real" word that I think I like the most. When you throw words around like "natural" and "organic," people think a certain thing. Whatever that conjures in your head personally...I don't think we're that.

Of course I SAY "we" but I think, really, I started it for us. I think it must've started back with my love of farmhouses. I guess there might've been hints of it before then (we once had a wall border that we got somewhere that showed just a simple clothesline with about four garments on it...I loved that), but that's the biggest stepping off point in recent history. I love farmhouses, I love old things, I love things that would have gone in farmhouses, I love simplicity and worn wood and have grown to love glass jars and metal bowls... And so I have started surrounding myself with those things. I have started "decorating" - 'though really I aim for practical decoration, things you can use; I'm not in this for more clutter and things I just have to dust - in a farmhousey style. My kitchen shelves are open shelves (although that started out as necessity because we had no cabinets). I have paired down our dishes to only what we need for the number of people in our family. I hang the rolling pin, sifter/masher/thingy, and barbecue basket on the wall. My pots hang from a curtain rod on the wall. Now, all these things are due to a lack of cabinet space, but...isn't that why they hung on the walls in old farmhouses, too? They didn't have rows of kitchen cabinets to store things in, and they certainly didn't have more things than they needed.

So anyway, I love thinking about old farmhouses, and finding old things that look old but are useful (and inexpensive...farmhousey stuff wasn't about being pricey), and so have been happily surrounded by things from days gone by, a much more useful and simple and productive and no-nonsense time gone by. And that makes me think what else they might have done that was the right idea.

And all in all, I've just come to the conclusion been convicted by the fact that...if God didn't make it, do we really need it?

Things in our houses, things in our bodies, things on our bodies...God created us and HE takes care of us, so hasn't He provided all these things that we already need? How so completely off-track have we gotten by creating so many things in the name of beauty and convenience, when HE'S created it all already!

So yes, things like these are better for the environment, they're better for us physically, and they're cheaper...but for me, for right now, it boils down to just...I like doing these things because they are what God gave us to use. And you can't improve on that.


So...I've been researching. And it's fun! I research things like planting and chickens, make-it-yourself toothpaste and shampoo and laundry soap, I'm looking up clotheslines and coops and subsitutes for sugar.

I have already made my own laundry soap. Tonight I made my own toothpaste. I also have my DIY shampoo and rinse ready to go for the morning. I've bought agave nectar and extra honey to replace the gobs of sugar there are everywhere, and am steadily toward cooking and baking everything for myself that I can. To be sure I know where all the ingredients come from, yes. To be sure the food is healthy and real, yes. To make it the healthiest possible for us, yes.

But mostly because all the things that go into these things came from God's creation, they are His provision incarnate, and there's a closeness, and a gratitude, to be had there.

I can't wait to share all these things with you. Not everyone will have an excitement for these things like I do, but that's okay. Everyone has their niche, job, purpose, hobby. This is slowly quickly becoming mine. And I want to share them to encourage the people who ARE as excited, to encourage the people who are THINKING about trying out some of these, and because blogs are the very places I've found a lot of my most-helpful information, because it's first-hand "I tried this" knowledge.

I hope it helps. Stay tuned.