Homemade Coconut Milk

The boys and I made a sad, sad trip yesterday. One of my favorite local grocery stores is going out of business.

We stopped by to see the reality with our own eyes during yesterday’s errand run, and it is undeniable–the bakery, deli, meat, seafood, and freezer sections are completely vacant. The produce section is apparently the next target, because the prices in that area were SLASHED. While I’m totally bummed about the store closing, I’m NOT bummed about getting a ton of apples for $0.99/lb, a 3lb bag of oranges for $1.99, a nice pineapple for $1.50, and two coconuts for $1 each!

Wait…two coconuts? How did those end up in my basket?

What in the world was I thinking? Oh…right…I was channeling my inner homeschool mom.

“Won’t this be a fun and educational thing to do?!? The kids will be fascinated to see the processing of a fresh coconut!”

I also had read on Spartan Race’s Food of the Day email about using fresh coconuts…so I guess it was just all working together to cause my impulse buy. 🙂

Regardless of HOW I made it home with two coconuts, the fact remains that they were sitting on my table.

First, we used a CLEAN screwdriver and a hammer to open the coconuts, and then we collected the coconut water from inside.

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Then we used the hammer to crack them open. A quick taste of the coconut meat and coconut water sent the boys running for a glass of water to get rid of the taste! Hmmm….that could be a problem.

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Naturally…I consulted Google, and came across this site which gave instructions for making coconut milk! Three out of four members of our family are sensitive to cow’s milk and usually drink almond milk instead, so coconut milk is certainly something that I was interested in trying.

Simplified instructions: Process the meat of one coconut, the coconut water from that same coconut, and two cups of boiling water for about 5 minutes. If desired, add sweetener to taste in the last minute of processing. I had to split this into two batches in my 7 cup food processor. 

I knew that we would only be using the coconut milk for drinking and in sweet recipes (like smoothies), so I added a bit of sweetener to make it more tasty. One coconut produced almost a full quart of milk.

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Of course, it didn’t ALL make it into the jar because the boys kept sneaking sips from the bowl with their straws while it was still warm from the processing… 🙂 Sounds like success to me!

After squeezing out the milk, we were left with a bowl full of finely ground, slightly sweetened coconut meat. I’m going to use some of it in muffins, and I’ll freeze the rest for later use. You can also apparently dry it to make coconut flour, but since I had sweetened it I chose not to go that route.

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Overall, I’m thrilled with the results! I still have one more coconut to process, but I may try freezing the meat and coconut water until we’ve used up the first batch since the milk only lasts a few days in the fridge (no preservatives!). You can’t beat getting a quart of preservative-free coconut milk and about two cups of minimally processed coconut meat for $1!

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Check back tomorrow, when I’ll post my delicious new smoothie recipe featuring our fresh coconut milk!

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Feeling Crafty

I guess that blogging about my home improvement projects lit a fire under me, because I woke up yesterday with a resolve to finish the job that I started. 🙂

I put the last coat of paint on the back bathroom walls in the morning. When I finished, I realized that I has about 1/4 cup of paint left from that  gallon. I knew that I wanted to use some of that paint to make custom artwork for my front bathroom…and if I let it dry out I knew that I would put off the project because I didn’t want to open a whole new gallon.

I had a deadline! I work very well under the pressure of a deadline. Some call it procrastination…I call it creative…procrastination. Ehh. It works for me.

So I loaded up my mom, my boys, my niece and nephew, and headed out to Michael’s to get a few supplies. We hit the jackpot and found a 5-pack of 16″x20″ canvases for $9.95! I only needed two, but Zander has fallen in love with art in the last couple of years. He had been begging for me to get him canvases…so two birds and such. I also picked up a larger canvas for half off (of the normal jacked-up prices…) for the back bathroom. One tube of paint for an accent color (regularly $3.99, but it was also 40% off), and we were ready to go!

I had seen a pin on Pinterest that gave me the idea for this project. I decided to use the colors from the two areas that I was painting (front bathroom–green; hall, foyer, and back bathroom–blue) plus the accent color that I picked up at the store to create artwork that would coordinate perfectly with my rooms without running all over town trying to find the right picture at the right price.

Here’s what I did:

Tape off your design

First, tape off your design.

Then do it again...

Then do it again…

Then pretend it's a paint by number (without the numbers)...

Then pretend it’s a paint by number (without the numbers)…

Remove the tape

Remove the tape and enjoy!

Custom art work for super cheap!

Custom art work for super cheap!

Again, I said custom art work for super cheap!

Again, I said custom art work for super cheap! See how the blue in the painting coordinates with the blue peeking through the doorway? Brilliant!

The final result

The final result…note the bathing child, which allowed me the few minutes necessary for taking these pictures without the creation of messes of horrific proportions.

A different take on laundry detergent

This post marks the end of weeks-long radio silence on this blog. 🙂 It’s good to be back!

The last few weeks of work and the first couple of weeks of stay-at-home mom’ing were so trying that I couldn’t even make it to the computer. I am so glad to be able to take a couple of minutes this morning and get back on track!

I promised my friend/neighbor and my mom a recipe for laundry detergent that didn’t require the 5 gallon bucket, grating soap, or cooking the mixture. Since they both have septic tanks and therefore can not use bleach anyway, I knew just the recipe to give them. The recipe uses Dawn dishwashing liquid as the “soap,” so if you ever use chlorine bleach in your laundry this is NOT the recipe for you.

Note: If you don’t already know, most standard dishwashing liquids (including Dawn) contain ammonia. NEVER MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA! The combination of these two chemicals creates a toxic gas that causes lung damage and even death.

Ok. Warning is out of the way. Here’s the recipe!

As so many of my homemade ideas have, this one came from One Good Thing by Jillee.

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons Borax
3 Tablespoons Washing Powder
2 Tablespoons Dawn dishwashing liquid

Put ingredients into a one gallon jug. Pour in 4 cups very hot/boiling water and swirl until dissolved. Let mixture cool and then fill up with cold water. Voila!

Use about 1/2 cup per load. This detergent is very thin, but Jillee says that it still works just as well. Also, if you want an additional scent boost, you can mix in a couple of tablespoons of your favorite scent crystals (I use Purex) to the mixture before adding the water.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

About 6 weeks ago, I stumbled across OneGoodThingByJillee.com while browsing Pinterest. I LOVE her blog! She has shared so many great recipes for homemade products and tricks that I absolutely love. Her recipe for homemade laundry detergent really sparked my interest. It looked pretty easy, and I was almost out of my stockpiled detergent from my couponing days. I also had just found a steal on a front load washer/dryer set ($200 cash for washer, dryer AND pedestals! Thanks Craigslist!), so I was washing like a mad woman. It was the perfect time to test a new product. She had the price breakdown on the post, and it ended up costing about $0.01 per load! With that kind of a discount, no bargain shopper can refuse.

The next step, for me, was to find several other recipes online to see what they shared and what they changed. I ended up using the Dugger family’s method(they wash clothes for 22 people. I figure they’ve got to know what they’re doing!) but adding an extra 1/2c of Borax. From what  I saw, all of the recipes online are very similar. They almost all contain the same three ingredients: soap (often Fels Naptha but it can also be Castille, Ivory, or probably most any soap), Borax powder, and Washing Soda. All three of my ingredients can be found in the laundry section of my local WalMart.

Here’s what you need to gather:

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap (this can vary, but I really like the clean smell that it has)
  • 1c Borax powder
  • 1c Washing Soda (NOT the same thing as Baking Soda! Don’t try to substitute. The pH levels are very different in these two products.)
  • 5-gallon bucket with lid (I got the orange on from Home Depot for about $3. WalMart also has them in the paint section. While you’re picking up the bucket, grab a big paint stir stick that’s designed to stir a 5-gallon bucket. It’ll save you a trip back to the store when you realize you don’t have anything long enough to stir with.)
  • Hot water

Here is how I did it:

  1. Grate 1 bar Fels Naptha soap (I actually microwaved it instead, but I won’t do so again. It releases a lot of fumes and didn’t melt nearly as smoothly as some other soap that I grated and melted later.)
  2. Pour shavings into a pot containing 4 cups of hot water and cook, stirring often, until melted and smooth. (I used a regular pot for this because I wasn’t sure how it would react with nonstick finishes. It cleaned up very easily since it was just washing soap out of a pot!)
  3. Pour melted soap into a 5 gallon bucket. Add Borax and Washing Soda. Fill about 1/2 way with hot water and mix until well blended. Fill the rest of the way with water, leaving a couple of inches of headspace in the bucket (you’re going to be stirring it and don’t want to slosh it all over the place.)
  4. Put the lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight. It will solidify to a thick, jelly-like consistency.
  5. Once it has solidified, stir with the paint stick until it resembles egg drop soup. Yum! Call the kids in and tell them that this is supper.
  6. Once your kids have run screaming from the room, fill your container 1/2 way with the soap. Fill the rest of the way with warm or hot water. Close tightly and give it a good shake. You’re ready to wash!

Steps 1-4 took me a total of 30 minutes on a Friday afternoon with both boys at home. Steps 5-6 took all of 10 minutes including harassing the kids. Subsequent refills take 5 minutes tops. It is really fast and easy. I promise!

If you use the detergent before it cools from the diluting step, it’ll be very watery but still effective. You can, of course, add less water to get a more concentrated product. I like this dilution level because one batch makes 10 gallons of soap, and the soap is pretty smooth. Also, I don’t like to measure every time I mix up a gallon of detergent, so I use a clear jug and marked the 1/2 way point on the side with a permanent marker.

Use between 3/4c to 1/2c for normal top-load machines and 1/4c to 1/2c for HE machines. Make sure to give the bottle a shake before you use it each time to make sure it’s still well blended.

If you like your laundry with a scent, you can add 5-8 drops of essential oil per gallon. I have started using a VERY small amount of Purex Crystals (I found it on sale, and I use about 1/3 of the normal amount. This $4 bottle should last me about 100 loads.) to each load to add a touch of scent to ours. I may try adding some with the detergent next time I mix a gallon to save that step.

I think that’s it! I hope you enjoy this as much as I have. If so, share a gallon with someone you think will enjoy it! I have gifted three gallons, and I still have about half of my bucket left!

If you try this, please comment to let me know what you think!