Monday, August 23, 2010

Weekend excitement!

I really love weekends!  Having John home is amazing and I LOVE getting to do fun stuff with him!  

This weekend was the annual Busker Festival here in Lawrence.  It was Friday-Sunday and ended with the  30th annual Kansas State Pickin' and Fiddlin' championship!  Friday night got rained out, so John and I rented 3 movies and had a marathon movie night with lots of ice cream!  

Saturday,  we walked around downtown and heard lots of folk music, ate cotton candy, watched jugglers, and followed Charley around as he made new friends.  Usually, kids will just run right up to pet him.  Which he loves.  He always goes straight for the slobber face, so we have to shout a quick warning that he gives sloppy kisses!  Most boys don't mind, but I've noticed that girls are more apt to pet him if he rolls over for a belly rub.  Most of the time, if an adult approaches us it is because they either have a Boxer or used to have one.  We can always agree that they are the best, most happy dogs on the planet!  

I also worked on some kitchen projects this weekend.  First, to John's great amusement, I made butter!  He was convinced that he remembered making butter taking an hour in his 7th grade science class.  I was convinced that the internet would not deceive me in its 'butter in 10 minutes' claims.  As with many of my random ideas, John has the foresight to step back WAY in advance.  As soon as I announced my plans for the 2 quart carton of heavy cream at the store, John made it quite clear that he would do no shaking, no matter how much my arms hurt or how much I begged.  I remained undeterred.  I combined two sets of directions and made the butter my own way.  The internet said to just pour butter into a quart jar and shake it until it was butter and pour off the buttermilk.  The recipe I found in an old bread book called for the cream to be left out for 4-6 hours to sour.  It also described how to pasteurize the cream first, but I skipped that step since my cream was already pasteurized.  It also said that cream needed to be at least a few days old to make butter.  I assumed my cream hadn't seen a cow in at least a few days before I picked it up from the refrigerated section.  Once my cream had soured, I poured it in the quart jar and started shaking.  The old fashioned recipe wanted me to re-chill the cream before shaking, but I'm not that patient.  It only took about 10 minutes to start to form butter! It was yellow!  I poured off the buttermilk and saved it to make pancakes the next morning.  The old fashioned recipe called for you you add cold water and continue shaking.  I did that step, poured the water off, and plopped the butter out into my colander.  After squeezing it with a spoon to get the water out, I put it in a bowl and stirred in some sea salt.  I covered it with plastic and it now resides in the fridge!  I was pleasantly surprised to hear John announce that he thought it was better than regular butter!  It was a fun and cost effective way to make butter.  Two quarts of cream will yield 2 pounds of butter, 2 cups of buttermilk, and costs $3.75.  I I usually pay $3 for 2 pounds of butter, so I think it is a good deal as long as you use the buttermilk.  We generally go through a pound of butter per week and one cup of buttermilk is perfect for sunday morning pancakes!  

My second kitchen adventure is still in progress.  I am working on making a starter for sourdough bread. John and I both love sourdough bread.  I have only made a starter before using yeast and the bread was fine.  I was living alone at the time and couldn't eat the bread fast enough to keep up with the starter growth.  John easily eats a loaf per week and if I want any sandwiches we usually end up buying a second loaf midweek.  So, my sourdough recipe yields 2 loaves and I need to feed the starter weekly, so that should work out well.  This starter is an old fashioned, natural starter.  It started with heating milk and stirring in yogurt.  I sealed that in a quart jar and put it outside (80-100 degrees is optimal) during the day and in a pot of warm water on the stove overnight.  After 12 hours, it had turned to curd and I stirred in flour.  Now, I just wait for 2-5 days for bubbles to appear and for it to smell good and sour.  I should have 1.5 cups of starter and I need only one cup for the bread recipe.  After I use the one cup, I will mix in more warm milk and flour to keep the starter fed.  It can live in the fridge after this whole 'warming' process is over.  Anytime between Tuesday and Friday, I should start to see the starter ripen and be able to make bread!  Yum!  

My Sunday project was VERY exciting for me.  I know nobody else cares, and this seems so mundane. But it is something that made my whole week!  I steam cleaned our carpets!  With my very own steam cleaner!  When John and I lived in Bartlesville, we used to borrow John's sister's steam cleaner every few months.  We hadn't gotten around to buying our own after we moved to Lawrence, which made me sad.  I LOVE to clean the carpets!  Our carpet had started to get pretty dingy and stained.  Spot treating just wasn't getting out the worst of the stains.  The doorway by the garage was dark and dingy.  We bought a rug to cover that patch of carpet.  When I complained of being bored while John mowed the lawn, John suggested I clean the carpets!  We went to Target and he got me their best carpet cleaner!  It felt like christmas!  We ended up with a Bissell ProHeat 2x 9200.  I knew a few features that were important to me, including rotating brushes and the ability to select a rinse cycle.  The cleaner we got has an optional water heater as well.  We got it home and I found it easy to put together.  At first, I was a little frustrated because the hose hanging rack doesn't screw on and kept popping off.  Also, the hose attachment 'spot cleaner' just wouldn't work.  I couldn't figure it out at all and gave up on pre-treating the spots.  Though, I have to say, while the accessories may have been disappointing, the actual cleaning power blew me away!  I was so thrilled with this cleaner!  It was easy to use and worked very well.  The water tank is only a gallon (pretty standard, really) and I had to refill it 6-8 times for the living room/dining room area.  I didn't mind refilling it once I got into the groove of using it.  The cleaner has a great feature that many other cleaners don't, which is being able to select the level of soil on the carpets.  It has high, medium, low, and water rinse.  I did high soil and ended up using a LOT of soap, but my carpets look brand new!  I did a high soil clean and suction, then a water rinse and suction, then a dry suction to get up excess water.  I was AMAZED at how clean the carpets looked!  They look brand new- even the spot in front of the garage door!  

I should have taken a before picture!  I plan on shampooing the rest of the house this week.  

Having clean carpets makes me feel like the queen of the block!  Woo!

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