Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is actually a “recipe” making the rounds in e-mail sharing.  I do not know the original author.  If you do, please, please tell me in the comments and I will give credit to them!  But this was too great of a recipe not to share with you.

When someone sent this to me, I was a tad bit skeptical and didn’t really look at it closely.  I figured it was just something silly making the rounds.  It looked to simple to actually work.  Then Aunt Kathy sent it to me with a glowing personal review.  Hmmm….maybe I should pay attention.  I looked at the cost projected for a batch and decided it was cheaper than a lot of things I waste money on, so why not try it?

I chose to use the Fels Naptha soap since that is what Aunt Kathy used and I wanted to make sure mine worked.  (I’ve since heard reports that any soap works well and will try that next time, because I’m pretty sure that most commercial soaps not from the health food section or store contain animal fats.)  I am not a fan of using my food grater for soap, so I slivered the soap with an old knife.  I didn’t really want to use any of my good pots in which I cook food, so I used the base of my double boiler (which is actually an old pan with it’s Silverstone coating peeling off.)

I bought a bucket and lid from Home Depot for less than $5 to store it.  I scoop it out using an old measuring cup.

When my old laundry detergent ran out, I nervously opened my new bucket full of homemade soap.  Would it work?  As I went through the piles of clothes, running them through the washer and drier, everything seemed to be coming out clean and fresh.  The big test still waited.  When hubby came home from work, I would need to wash his pile of work clothes along with the ones he was wearing….from roofing that week.  (For those of you who don’t know, roofing work clothes smell like tar and are grubbier than grubby with filthy knees from being on them and thighs because he wipes his hands there.)  How would they come out??  This was the acid test for me. Usually it takes 2-3 washings after hubby is finished with a roof for his pants to smell normal again.  That tar smell just sticks around.  Thankfully he doesn’t roof all of the time.

I always use extra soap when I wash this load.  I used the 2/3 c. for my extra-capacity machine, plus I scooped another 1/3 c. for good measure.  These were filthy and smelly.  When I pulled the clothes out of the washer I gingerly sniffed at them from afar.  Hmm…not bad.  I went in closer.  My mouth literally dropped open.  I could smell nothing but the clean smell of the soap!!  I examined the front of the jeans…and they were cleaner than I’d seen them in a long time (although work jeans are usually so stained that nothing EVER could make them truly “clean” looking again, but these were as good as I could expect.)  After they came out of the drier, I smushed them against my nose to smell them one more time.  I have the world’s most sensitive nose, according to hubby ~ who can smell next to nothing ~ and there was not any odor of tar to be smelled on them!!  I was amazed.

So, this recipe comes to you highly recommended.  It costs very little to make, except some of your time.  The 3 main ingredients can be found at Walmart just about right next to each other across the aisle from the Tide, Cheer, etc.  I believe my total cost for the 3 items was $10-12.  I have enough Fels Naptha to make 2 more batches and enough of the other 2 ingredients to make 10 or more batches!  My 5-gallon Home Depot bucket was about half full when I made the batch.  That is going to last me for a very long time.  Even if the half bucketful was only as much as 2 of my regular jugs of laundry detergent, just one batch costs half of what my Cheer normally does.  If I bought enough Fels Naptha to match how much of the other 2 ingredients I have, it would cost another $3.  I could then make 12 batches for $13-15.  If each batch makes a minimum of 2 jugs worth of the Cheer/Tide/etc., I would be saving at least $117.  (And I believe it’s more, because I think a batch would fill more than 2 of my empty jugs if I had a funnel to do so.)

Addendum:  A single recipe of this lasts my family of 4 (2 adult-sized teen boys included) for about 2 months.

Use this exactly as you would use your regular detergent.  If you add baking soda to your load normally, then do it with this.  If you use bleach or bleach alternative, then continue to use it with this.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

You will need a bucket or large soup pot that will hold about 3 gallons.

  •  1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap – grated (or other soap)
  • ½ Cup 20 Mule Team Borax
  • ½ Cup Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)

Place grated Fels Naptha (or your choice of soap) in sauce pan with 6 cups water.  Heat until soap is melted, stirring constantly.

Add Borax and Washing Soda, stir until they are dissolved. Remove from heat.

Place 4 Cups HOT water in bucket or pot.  Add dissolved mixture and stir well.   Add 1 Gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir well again.

Cover and let sit over night.  Mixture will be a semi-gel like substance.*  Soap will have a light fragrance and you may add a few drops of any essential oil you prefer.

Use about 1/2 c. per load.**  This is a low-, non-sudsing soap and can be used in front loading machines (the bubbles are NOT what cleans your clothes).

*Mine didn’t gel up much, although it did thicken a little.  Perhaps that’s because of our extremely hard water.                                                                                                            **I have a large capacity machine and use 2/3 c.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

I love pudding.  Usually I make chocolate pudding though, because I’ve always been a bit timid to try to create a vegan vanilla pudding.  I was afraid it just wouldn’t meet expectations.  I’ve made the Mori-nu mixes and they are okay, but fairly expensive ~ and there is a hint of a tofu taste with the vanilla, in my opinion.  It was just easier to make chocolate.  Chocolate covers just about everything.

I have to admit, I was a Jello pudding fiend growing up.  When we gave up dairy for allergy’s sake I tried to make Jello pudding with soy milk.  What a disaster.  If I recall, I sat down and cried.  (I told you I was crazy about it.)  I didn’t think I’d ever get pudding again.  (This was before finding a chocolate recipe.)  I still have micro-pouts about the pistachio.  I am not sure I will ever be able to make that one happen, especially since the flavoring probably has more to do with chemicals and food coloring than the nuts.

This time, however, I just wanted vanilla pudding.  I decided to be brave and experiment.  I made a big batch ~ hey, if it came out well, I knew I’d have to share!  ;D  It was pretty tasty.  I do think that using your favorite non-dairy milk is key.  If you like the flavor of that milk, then you’ll like the flavor of your pudding.  I’ve recently gotten a new soymilk for hubby ~ the boys and I rotate between it, almond milk, and coconut milk with all of us having our favorites ~ and I’m not sure I am as fond of its flavor as I am of Silk’s vanilla…but all Silk isn’t organic anymore and this one was…and it was cheaper.  I think a better tasting soymilk would have made the pudding top notch.  Anyway…use what tastes good to you.  Your pudding will reflect that.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

  • 3/4 c. (12 T) packed cornstarch **see note below
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1 c. evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 1/2 tsp. uncut stevia (may use 1/2 c. more cane juice crystals)
  • scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. vanilla

Mix cornstarch with enough milk to measure about 2 c.  Set aside.  Thoroughly mix remaining milk, cane juice crystals, stevia, and salt in a large pot and heat until nearly boiling, stirring constantly just until the cane juice is dissolved.  Stir cornstarch mixture into the milk, stirring constantly until pudding begins to bubble and thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into serving bowl or individual bowls.  Place plastic wrap over the top, allowing it to touch the pudding, to keep a skin from forming.  Cool on rack for an hour or so.  Then chill completely in refrigerator.

Makes about 8 cups.

**A word about thickening with cornstarch….it can behave in a wacky way.  Sometimes it seems to thicken just right and other times it can leave things anywhere from runny to downright sliceable!  I think I’ve figured out that it comes down to how I measure it and how long I cook it.  You can have a lightly fluffed cornstarch tablespoonful, or you can have it packed into the measuring spoon.  Therefore, I have indicated a packed amount of cornstarch in this recipe.  Then you can be certain how I measured it.  I also have indicated that you need to bring the pudding back to a boil for proper thickening and no guesswork.  In this case, I used 3/4 c. (I know, it sounds like a lot of cornstarch doesn’t it?  But it’s really only 12 T ~ there does that sound better? ~ and it thickens a half gallon of milk.)  The resulting pudding was very thick ~ not quite stiff enough to have made a pudding pie with it, but almost.  In the picture, I used the back of a spoon to squish any stiffer portions into a more picturesque texture.   Next time, I’ll reduce the cornstarch to 2/3 c. for a softer texture.  Let me know how it works for you!

Chicky Strips

I can tell it’s summer.  Not only am I not doing as much cooking and creating of new recipes, but I’m not spending as much time on the computer, either.  I want outside!  I want to go swimming!  I want to play hookey from all my tasks!  (Think Spring fever, only worse.)  So, if you don’t see quite as many posts as in the past, you’ll know it’s because I am off having fun instead.  😀  Actually, this post might not have made it today if my swimming plans hadn’t fallen through.

Last night I wanted a simple supper.  I made a huge salad with lots of add-ins.  One of the add-ins needed to be something hearty to make the salad a meal for the guys.  I chose to make these Chicky Strips.  Now ordinarily these end up hot on top of a stir-fry dish, but if cooled a bit they make a marvelous, chewy, salty “chicken” for a salad!  (Although I did see hubby just eating them plain…and other family members ~ who shall remain nameless ~ snitch them from the frying pan while they cook.)

This recipe is similar to my Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces, but it takes things a step further to obtain a new texture and purpose.  It also increases the amount made, because they tend to disappear fast!  I just love the variations available with soy curls!  For more information on Soy Curls, please see this recipe ~ BBQ Soy Curls.

This may look like a lot of food in the frying pan, but as they brown, they begin to cook down into a smaller amount.

Chicky Strips

  • 6 c. soy curls
  • 2 c. water
  • 2-4 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, depending on how salty you want the finished product
  • 3+ T. chicken-style seasoning, again depending on the saltiness you wish to obtain

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium-high heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Continue cooking, not stirring the curls as often to allow them to brown.  Cook until most of the soy curls are toasty browned in places.  They won’t get completely browned unless you decrease the recipe significantly so that they can be spread out thinner on the pan.  If they get too browned, they become tough.

Serve hot with stir fry, or serve cool/cold on salads.

Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada Fizz

While I was trying to make a pina colada pudding of some sort, I was doing some tasting as I went.  (Hey, I had to make sure everything was good, right?)  At one point, the creamy stuff in the blender began to taste so yummy that I kept tasting and knew I needed to stop!  Finally, a light bulb went off and I poured a smidge into a small cup and started to play with that, too, in order to make a virgin pina colada.  (I figured at least one recipe was bound to turn out well.)  Just in case it was all in my imagination that my creation tasted amazing, I fixed a similar smidge for one of my willing taste-testers.  When he gave it the thumbs-up, I was content.

Later that evening, my son-in-law was over who likes all things “fancy non-alcoholic drink” and I told him about it.  He burst my bubble.  He told me that pina coladas don’t have anything fizzy in them.  Well…bummer!

It was late that night when I got my next light-bulb moment.  Why not just change the name?  Who cares what it is “supposed” to be ~ this was good and I wanted to share it!  😀  So, here you have it….although, if you don’t want the fizz, just leave it out.  It is decadent and delicious without the sparkling water, too!

Pina Colada Fizz (non-alcoholic)

  • juice from 1 small organic lemon
  • 2 cans Thai organic coconut milk (I used the full-fat version), chilled
  • 1-2 cans pineapple chunks*, undrained, preferably chilled
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Canada Dry sparkling seltzer water, raspberry flavor, chilled, optional

In a 56-oz blender, whiz the first 5 ingredients together until very smooth.  Serve in glasses mixed with the sparkling seltzer water to taste. You should probably run a taste test to see what proportion you like best.  Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges and little umbrellas, if desired.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of these pretties on hand.)

The cream in the blender makes about 7 cups if you use 1 can of pineapple.

*If you wish to use fresh or frozen pineapple, you probably will want to decrease or omit the lemon juice, because it will be tangy enough without it.  In making a half recipe, I threw in 1 1/2 c. of fresh pineapple.  It was very good this way.

Agave Syrup Concerns

You will notice as you look over the recipes I post on my blog that I use a lot of different sweeteners (maple syrup, evaporated cane juice crystals, pure stevia powder, and, yes, even honey – which I include in my diet, even though some don’t consider it vegan.  I also wear leather shoes, but that’s another story.)  What you won’t find is any mention of agave syrup.  Why, you ask?

Well, when I first heard about it, I was cautious.  What exactly is an agave plant?  (I live in the Midwest, so we’re a bit removed from first-hand knowledge of plants from Mexico.)  I’m just naturally concerned about new things, because some new things have turned out to be very bad for you (aspartame, anyone?)  It turns out that I may have been right to be slow to jump on the agave syrup bandwagon.

In a lengthy article, Dr. Mercola explains in detail the varied reasons that agave syrup is a problem medically.  Even if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, I highly recommend you at least scan it and glean information.  {Addendum:  Since writing this, it has been brought to my attention that what Mercola has to say may not be scientifically driven as he is said by my source to have a questionable reputation concerning documentation and beliefs.  The rest of what I found seems to still stand.}  As I continued some internet research, I read several websites that shared that the Glycemic Research Institute has banned the continued studies on agave, because of the severe reactions that diabetic participants suffered from it.  However, any links to the original full post about the trial being halted come up with “page not found.”  That isn’t very helpful ~ and I am concerned about any possible reasons for it being removed.  Here is the only blog I found with the full print-out of the original article.  (I have not checked out the entire blog, so this is not a recommendation of it here, just a re-posting of this single page they shared.)

Also found were many articles/blogs arguing that agave syrup is fine, safe, and helpful.  I understand some were written by the makers/sellers of agave syrup.  I saw no particular scientific research touted in any of the ones I perused.

Overall, I believe I will avoid using it.  You will see no recipes on my blog containing it.

Here are two different articles (same author) with many informational links within them that I particularly appreciated ~ this one and this one.

Do your own research.  Make your own decisions.  It is your health and your body.  Don’t just follow the crowd in your choices.

And if I find out any other information, I will continue to update this page.  Please feel free to share any news that you find on this, as well.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

I told you we had a lot of birthdays right about now!  This is a favorite cake in my family.  They often request it for special occasions.  This time I happened to make it with spelt flour, but King Arthur’s white whole wheat (or Trader Joe’s) works marvelously well, too.

In the beginning this recipe was a muffin recipe from a book called A-Z Muffins that I borrowed from a library.  It wasn’t vegan and it wasn’t particularly healthy, either, with loads of oil.  After I turned it into a vegan creation with more healthful ingredients, I made it as muffins, but decided that it made a wonderful dense cake instead.  (Quicker and less clean-up, don’t you know….Does anybody like washing muffin tins?)

{I’m still learning R’s camera and didn’t increase the shutter speed, making this a little blurry.  I also tried to capture an artful picture of a piece of cake on a plate, but the piece I put on there was somehow a little smushed and didn’t look pretty at all.  So, you get a shot from a piece still in the pan.  Realism…at it’s…finest?}

Usually, we don’t serve banana chocolate chip cake with frosting (only on birthdays) because it is just so moist and marvelous on its own.  Plus it has all those chocolate chips…mmmm.  You see, my family has learned a crazy habit ~ from me ~ of putting milk on the cake in a bowl and eating it that way.  (Didn’t you ever hear Bill Cosby’s comic routine about cake for breakfast?  Flour, eggs, milk…all healthy ingredients, right?  {or so I thought at the time}  Yes…yes, that is how it all began one morning when as a teenager I ran out of cereal and nobody was there to stop me from eating cake in my bowl instead.)  Thus, we don’t usually need the frosting.  My poor son-in-law just shakes his head and quietly eats his on a plate with a glass of soy milk beside it.  😀

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 4 c. white whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder, sieved to remove lumps
  • 2 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 7 medium-sized, very ripe bananas (with speckles…or turning brown, if you must)
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2/3 c. applesauce (or 1/2 c. melted coconut oil, or combo of the two)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Spray 9″x13″ pan with oil.

Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl.  Mash bananas with a pastry blender or potato masher in a medium-sized bowl.  Mix in the remaining wet ingredients with the banana.  Add banana mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together until there are no dry spots.  Scrape into prepared pan and smooth out batter.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (look out for chocolate chips!)  Cool on rack.  (I have never tried to turn this out of the pan to place on a platter.  I have only served it directly out of the pan.  I suggest parchment paper in the bottom if wish to remove it from the pan.  I also think 8″ round pans would work better for that purpose.)

My daughter, K, with her birthday cake.  Only 2 candles?!  What’s up with that?  😀

Summer = fruit flies

It is lovely weather.  The windows are open and a breeze is blowing through the house.  I love to bring home marvelous fresh fruit from the grocery store after a winter of apples, pears, and bananas.  Unfortunately, it would seem I also bring home fruit flies from the market.  Or perhaps they come in through the screened windows.  Whatever the case, I am not impressed!

Last year a friend told me her secret to getting rid of fruit flies.  It works so well that I thought I would share it with you.  Certainly I can’t be the only one slapping at the little buggers.  Man, they are fast!

Get out a small glass jar and put an inch or two of apple cider vinegar in the bottom.  Place plastic wrap over the top of it, fastening it with a rubber band.  Poke some small slits in the top.  If you find the fruit flies are not attracted to this, your holes need to be enlarged.  If the fruit flies are escaping, then your holes are too large.

Let me know how this works for you.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

There is nothing like the end of May and the first half of June in our family for needing to bake birthday cakes!  (Not sure how we ended up so many of them in a row, but it does nothing for my weight.  Well, at least nothing good.)  This year poor hubby got an awful version of a gluten-free cake that I tried for his birthday in May.  We won’t be trying that one again.

For R’s birthday celebration last night, I took my tried-and-true chocolate cake recipe and tried it with 100% whole spelt flour.  It worked amazingly well!  (It is not gluten-free, but if you are avoiding wheat it works.)  If anything, it was lighter than my usual wheat version.  I like that!  (And there are leftovers for tonight ~ his actual birthday.)

I just frosted it using my Betty Crocker recipe with vegan ingredients (Earth Balance “butter” and non-dairy milk.)  Oh, and sprinkles are a must for R’s cakes.  😀

Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • 3 c. flour (I have always used King Arthur’s or Trader Joe’s white whole wheat, but now I know that 100% whole spelt flour also works well.)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda (sieved to remove lumps)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 T. cocoa powder, sifted if possible
  • 1 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 1/4 c. extra light olive oil (flavorless)
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 2 tsp. coffee substitute powder (Roma, Cafix, Pero, etc.) ~ optional

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray 9″ x 13″ pan with oil, or if you don’t want to cut and serve the cake directly from the pan in my lazy way, cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and spray the paper and the sides of the pan.

Whisk in large bowl all of the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients.  Scrape the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry and whisk until there are little bubbles forming in the batter.  Scrape into prepared pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Cool on cake rack for 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove from pan.

Optional pans:  I have made this with round 8-9″ pans in the past.  I decreased the time and watched it closely near the end, checking it with a toothpick.

If you wish to make just an 8″ x 8″ square smaller cake, cut the ingredients in half.


Barley Flour Biscuits (wheat free)

These are simple drop biscuits that I like to use as a base for strawberry shortcake or under a tasty gravy.  They are not a light, fluffy, Pillsbury pop-out-of-a-can biscuit copy.  They aren’t bricks, either, but are full of whole-grain goodness that gives sturdiness to a simple meal of strawberry shortcake.  (Whole wheat flour ~ I especially like King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour ~ can be substituted for the barley and coconut flours, though you may wish to decrease the milk and baking powder a little.)

I like drop biscuits, because I’m more likely to make them if I don’t have to roll out dough and clean up the counter afterward.  Some people are really into the process of making food ~ and I applaud them.  We need those chefs and marvelous in-depth homemakers/bakers/cooks.  I love to cook and love good tasting food, but if it takes too long to make, I tend to skip it entirely!  There are just too many things clamoring for my time.  When I learned that my family didn’t notice a difference in drop biscuits vs. rolled-out ones, I never rolled out another biscuit.

The 2 biscuits pictured show 2 options – spooning up and treating the dough like a huge drop cookie (left), or taking that same amount of dough in damp hands and forming it slightly into a smoother, somewhat formed biscuit (right.)  If you use more dough, you can form the biscuit so that it has a higher profile so that it can be split in half more easily.  I am going to do that next time.

Barley Flour Biscuits (wheat free)

  • 1 1/2 c. barley flour
  • 1/4 c. coconut flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. evaporated cane juice crystals (optional – use for shortcake biscuits)
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil OR 1/2 of an Earth Balance vegan buttery stick
  • 1 c. non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 450° and cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut in coconut oil (if it is warm at your house and the oil has liquified, you can either harden it up in the refrigerator before hand, or you can melt it and whisk it into the non-dairy milk that has been brought to room temperature) OR vegan butter substitute into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until everything begins to look a bit crumbly and like there are tiny clumps that easily break apart when mashed with the blender.  Stir in the milk all at once with a fork, making sure that you get the flour in the bottom of the bowl that tends to hide there.  It will look way too runny at first, but it will firm up.

Drop or form into approximately 10 biscuits on the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and the bottoms are golden brown.  Serve right away under gravy, or cool for strawberry shortcake.