Sunday, July 31, 2011

Emergency Crayon Candles

This is completely cool and is one of the MOST inexpensive ideas I've ever come across!
Go to the Dollar Store and pick up a box of cheap crayons and try this.

Get a small saucer or plate or even a candle dish...something fire-safe. Crayons are flat on the bottom side and will stand on end. You'll be taking advantage of this feature. Paper is flammable. You'll be taking advantage of this feature also.

Take the crayon and break off the point so that the crayon is flush with the paper. With a lighter or match, melt the broken end of the crayon and allow the paper to catch fire. The paper is your candle wick. Once it starts burning, place it flat end down on your dish and allow it to burn. One average crayon will burn for about 15 minutes. A box of 24 crayons will provide light for 6 hours.

Want to watch it happen? Check out this little video:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Freezing Without Blanching

Canning is the preferable way (in my opinion) to preserve fresh fruits and veggies from the garden. Sometimes, though, I only get a few things out of the garden and it just doesn't seem worthwhile to can up 8 tomatoes, ya know? So in cases like that, I opt to freeze. Freezing is not a long-term solution because "what if the power goes out?" You lose your frozen foods, that's what. But if you only freeze those small portions, chances are that you'll get them used in a more timely manner and won't have to worry about it anyway.

A lot of foods need to be blanched to stop the action of enzymes. Those enzymes continue processes inside the vegetable that will ultimately cause it to lose color and texture and flavor. But there are a few you can get away with NO blanching!
So what foods can you do that with and how do you do it?

  • Blueberries
    Don't even wash your blueberries! Just spread them out in a single layer (such as on a cookie sheet) and freeze them. Once they freeze, put them into a bag, label the bag with what they are and the date you picked them, and store them in the freezer. Wash them after you thaw them out for use.
  • Cucumbers
    Peeling is optional. Slice them up like you like them, bag, label, freeze!
  • Mushrooms
    Slice them, bag them, label and freeze!
  • Onions
    Slice, dice, chop, however you like them, bag them, label them, freeze them.
  • Peppers
    Wash, slice and remove the seeds and membrane thing in the middle, bag, label freeze. (NOTE- I particularly like bell peppers this way, making them great to toss into spaghetti sauce or to saute in stir-fry or include in pepper steak recipes. You can do other peppers too, so don't hesitate to freeze all different types.)
  • Tomatoes
    Wash and dry them, cut the core out, half or quarter each one (if desired, or just leave them whole), pack into freezer bags, label and freeze. When using, rinse in warm water to get the skins to slip off easily.
It is normally not recommended to keep these foods frozen for longer than 6 months, but if you are only freezing SMALL quantities, that shouldn't be too terribly difficult, right?

Good luck to you preserving even the small amounts!