sometimes you just have to do it yourself

Sometimes you simply cannot find the stuff you want. It might be a natural food product or a weird pocketbook item that probably does not exist. So what do you do? Make it yourself! I promise—you can DO these crazy things. I know because I do them. You don’t even have to be crazy. Although I am. 2013-05-21 17.32.06

Isn't she so slumpy?

For instance, I have an old, ugly bag I bought about 10 years ago. I am very attached to this bag. Yes, it’s rather unshapely and dingy, unstylish and lacking in anything couture-ish, but it has useful pockets all around the outside and can fit lots of junk in it. The only drawback is that it does not have inner pockets for all the little things that inevitably fall to the bottom and get lost and difficult to retrieve and then when in an emergency I need a band-aid or a nip of bourbon, I can never get my hands on the required item quickly enough. My solution? Weird but useful pocketbook organizing thingy!

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Useful AND oddly shaped!!

One long mini-bag with separate areas for all those little things I need somewhere between always and never. But just because you never use something is not reason enough to stop carrying it around, right? Exactly.

Here’s the thing, if you have some need that must be fulfilled but you can’t conceive of its solution on your own, you can use the Google to find anything and then tweak it until it is perfectly your own. For me, that is quite often a food item because ingredients of a questionable origin or nature totally freak me out. So, the choice often boils down to eliminating certain foods from our diet or paying crazy high prices for the natural version. Then I figured out I could simply make those things myself! I know—brilliant! Here is a sampling for you.

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What is this? WRONG! It's vanilla syrup!

vanilla and chocolate syrups For milk! Or whatever. I won’t restrict you. I am generally really stingy with sugar, but a little here and there in reasonable doses makes them stop bothering me. And then everyone is happy.

chocolate syrup ¾ cup cocoa powder ¾ cup sugar pinch salt ½ cup water ½ teaspoon vanilla

Boil it all up (except vanilla) together in a pan on the stove or over a fire in a cave, whatever, lower heat and let simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool, pour it into a jar and refrigerate.

vanilla syrup 1 cup sugar 1 cup of water ½ teaspoon vanilla

Boil it all up (except vanilla) together in a pan on the stove or over a fire in a cave, whatever, lower heat and let simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool, pour it into a jar and refrigerate.

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waffles Yes, I could buy frozen waffles and save myself a lot of time and trouble. But why would I do that? Exactly. These are delicious and you can also make pancakes with the same batter. Make up a big batch of waffles, freeze then toast them for a quick breakfast. You can easily break this recipe in half for a smaller batch of batter.

2 cups whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon of baking powder ½ teaspoon of baking soda 1 cup of buttermilk 1½ cups of milk 2 tablespoons of salted butter, melted 2 eggs 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Whisk all the wet ingredients and add in the dry. Whisk until just blended. Make waffles and/or pancakes. (Did you really need this last bit?)

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ranch dressing Have you read the back of a bottle of ranch dressing lately? Go ahead, I’ll wait... Can you believe what all is in there? You can make some yourself that will take minutes and be so much better.

¾ cup of all-natural mayonnaise (Doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive. Trader Joe’s sells one for cheap and Cain’s, found in any conventional grocery store, is all-natural.) ½ cup of sour cream dried dill, to taste celery salt, to taste black pepper, to taste 2-5 cloves of garlic, minced very finely milk or buttermilk to thin dressing to desired consistency

Mix it all together in whatever bowl you like with whatever implement you like. (You could get really creative here with such loose instructions.) Keeps nicely in a jar in the fridge for a long time. I mean not years, but lots of weeks. Just eat it up and don’t worry so much.

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Obviously I need to make some more...

granola I’ve written about this before but it’s so good and an excellent example of the kind of thing you can make better yourself. And cheap, too! Here’s what you do: combine 3 cups of rolled oats, 3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut, a tablespoon of cinnamon and/or some raisins and almonds—toss the mixture with 3 ounces of olive oil and 3 ounces of maple syrup and bake at 250 degrees F for an hour. Throw in some flax seeds if you got ‘em. Or chia seeds. Or whatever you like. But not gummy bears or anything of that ilk—defeats the purpose of healthy recipes. Or maybe balances things out. I don’t claim to know everything. Do whatever you like—it’s a free country.

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Obviously I need to make some more. Clearly I don't plan out my blog posts very well...

laundry soap powder (Don't eat this. While I'm sure most of you would have that figured out, one can never be too careful when posting stuff on the webs.)

Yes, I DO make my own laundry soap. That environmentally good stuff is expensive and I love a bargain! This has no harsh chemicals or artificial scents and is super-duper cheap!

1 cup Borax 1 cup Arm&Hammer Washing Soda 1 cup baking soda 1 bar of natural soap (I use Kirk’s Castile), grated (yeah, with a cheese grater)

Mix it all together and use 2-3 tablespoons per load. Crazy cheap! You have no idea! I have never calculated it because I am no good with math, but Steve (not his real name) figured it out once and even though I can’t remember what he said, I remember thinking, “Holy crap that is crazy cheap!” So it must be since I have a really good memory. Except for the part where he said the actual amount. But the other part is crystal clear as though it happened yesterday.

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I'm not actually making this today. I am crocking (yes, that IS a verb) lasagna. Know what's going behind the crockpot? Homemade ricotta. No, that recipe is not included in this post.
I really don't plan well...

!!BONUS RECIPE!! honey garlic thighs This is not really in the same category of weird things I make myself or all-natural things I make myself, or non-food things I make myself, but it is tasty and my favorite new recipe. I am blatantly stealing this recipe from somewhere on the vast and great interwebs. I just don’t remember where and I truly apologize—it’s just so simple, I memorized it and now I can’t recall where I found it. Anyhow, make this in your slow cooker, boil up some soba noodles and some frozen broccoli, bung it all together and eat it. It’s delightful hot or cold.

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried basil ½ cup tamari (or soy sauce) ½ cup ketchup ⅓ cup honey

Mix all the ingredients but the chicken in your slow cooker (Don’t have a slow cooker? Come on! Why on Earth not? Go get one now, okay?) then add in the chicken, coat it all around with the sauce, cook on low for about 6 hours, walk away and live your life to its fullest while your supper cooks, come back and shred the chicken, throw it together with the noodles and veggies. DONE.

I hope you found this post useful. Every now and then I like to share some stuff that does not simply leave you wondering why the heck you just wasted your sweet precious time reading it.

(You’re welcome.)