Cleaning a Turkey Baster

A turkey baster is near the top of things that are a pain to clean but the other day I had an idea...

The other night I made meatloaf for dinner and there was greasy juice in the bottom of the pan. I grabbed the turkey baster and sucked out the juice but I was left with a filthy turkey baster. I tried washing it in my usual way - dishrag poked down into it with the handle of a wooden fork - but there was still a glob of goo congealed at the bottom that wouldn't give. The dishrag/wooden fork handle couldn't reach it; very hot water, dish detergent and shaking the thing wouldn't work. I finally gave up and set it aside and ignored it. 
But then came Thanksgiving. I went into the kitchen and looked at the turkey baster and thought, "Now I have to figure out how to clean this dang thing!" 
I put it in hot, soapy dishwater and then it dawned on me - a Q-Tip! I grabbed a Q-Tip and it fit perfectly into the small end of the turkey baster and up far enough to cover the areas the dishrag/wooden fork combo wouldn't reach! I scrubbed out the goo with one end of the Q-Tip wet with hot dishwater and then used the other end of the Q-Tip just for good measure and it was as clean as a whistle! 
I went online later to see if I could find out how other people tackle - I mean, clean - their turkey basters and suggestions included pipe cleaners and bottle brushes. Those would be great if one has a pipe cleaner or a bottle brush lying around, but how many people do? But most people have Q-Tips handy - they are great for cleaning other things, too. 
So, if you are tackling the small, grimy end of your turkey baster, just grab a Q-Tip and a little hot, soapy water! 

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and your clean-up a breeze!  

Raising Bread Dough in A Cold House

It was cold yesterday morning - a chilly fingers, dig the fuzzy slippers out of the closet kind of morning, and my thoughts turned to hot, homemade bread. 

Baking bread on a cold day is delicious in itself; kneading the pleasantly warm dough, inhaling the mouth-watering aroma of the baking loaves and rolls. But, when the days turn colder, finding the perfect spot to raise bread dough is a daunting task. Top of the fridge? Nope, that felt too cold. In the oven with the pilot light on? Nope, I don't have a pilot light. Run the cat out of the sun beam shining through the window and put the dough there? Nope, she wouldn't hear of it.

A Great Idea!
Curious how other people raised their bread dough in their cold houses, I searched online and found a great idea - raise your bread dough on top of the clothes dryer. I loved that idea! I hadn't thought about that spot and hadn't really given much thought to how much heat the top of the dryer gives off. 

I'd been doing laundry and had a load of clothes ready to go into the dryer so I piled them in, turned it on, gave it a few minutes to heat up and then touched the top of the dryer to see how warm it was - it was wonderful! I knew the clothes would be drying for a while because they were my hubby's heavy work pants, sweatshirts and quilted flannel shirts, so I thought the dryer top would be perfect to use for raising the bread dough. 

I put the bowl of dough on the dryer and waited. And waited. And grew impatient. So, I decided to improve on the idea and make a cozy, warm place for my dough to raise. 
I poked around in my cardboard box collection (you have one of those, don't you?) and found one about 16" by 12" by 12" and cut one side off of it. What I had left was a three-sided box with three flaps. 
I then put a dish towel on the warmest area of the top of the dryer, put the bowl of dough on top of the dish towel, placed the box over top of the dough and closed the flaps. It was wonderful! The dough raised perfectly while the laundry was drying!

I shaped and readied the dough for it's second raising, then tossed my second load of laundry of the day into the dryer, turned it on, placed my pans into the cardboard dough raising box. By the time the laundry was dry, the dough was raised and the loaves were ready to bake! Perfect!
I am thrilled with this idea! I enjoy baking bread on cold, autumn and winter days and I, like most people, have extra laundry to do during the colder months so this will work out wonderfully! 

So, to raise bread dough in a cold house:
*Plan to make bread on the days you have at least two loads of laundry to do. 
*Get your dough ready while the first load of laundry is washing.
*Find a clean, cardboard box - the one I used was about 16"by12"by12" - and cut one side off of it, leaving a three-sided box with three flaps.
*Toss your laundry into the dryer.
*Place a dish towel on the warmest place on top of the dryer and place your bowl of bread dough on the towel. 
*Cover with the box and wait for the dough to raise.
*After the dough has raised, shape it and get it ready for the second raising.
*Toss your second load of laundry in the dryer.
*Place your pans of dough on the dish towel on top of the dryer.
*Cover with the box. 

A wonderful bread proofing box without the high cost! 

chocolate chip cookies with pretzels and potato chips

Hubby has been on a big ruffled potato chip kick - they have become his new favorite to take for lunch. But, like with most chips, there are always a ton of broken chip pieces in the bottom of the bag. I thought these broken pieces were great to use for a casserole topping or to add to my favorite meatloaf recipe but I found something even better to use them for - cookies! Yep, cookies. I found this recipe from Nestle called Sweet and Salty Nestle Toll House Cookies and omg! Yum! Chocolate chips, pretzel pieces and potato chips all in one cookie!

Usually when I bake cookies it's my hubby who wants them straight off the pan and I have to put a few aside just to make sure I get to taste a couple, but I baked a batch of these and I had to force myself to save some for him!
Image source
Sweet, and yet salty, (I did add the optional salt), these cookies satisfy a slew of taste buds. 
These were so good, I think I might have to crush a few potato chips on purpose! 

Find Sweet and Salty Toll House Cookies and more recipes here - Very Best Baking

Moneysaving hint - make sure to check the promotions and coupons section. You might find a coupon for chocolate chips! 

More Bluegrass Christmas Music

 I am already enjoying listening to some Christmas music and I love bluegrass Christmas music. Trying to find good bluegrass Christmas music can be tough, though. It seems there are a lot of banjo picking, dobro playing musicians out there who do Christmas music but the quality isn't always that great. I must have poked around Amazon for two hours trying to find some great bluegrass Christmas music and found a small collection.  It took some looking, but here are some songs that I found that you might also enjoy - ( if you click the link, you can listen to a preview and/or purchase the song as an MP3 download)

Oh Christmas Candle  by Doyle Lawson

It's Christmas Time also by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and as beautiful as you would expect!

Jingle Bells by Earl Scruggs. A bouncy and fun tune!

Let It Snow by Rhonda Vincent. I had the chance to see her and her wonderful band at the Gettysburg Bluegrass festival a few years back. This is a nice version of this song!

Sleigh Ride by Tony Trischka. This is foot-tapping good!

Christmas Is Near by Ralph Stanley. Nice song. No one sings 'em like Ralph Stanley!

Go Tell It On The Mountain by Larry Sparks. Another singer with a distinctive voice. This is a wonderful song, it always makes me want to sway, clap my hands, and sing along.

Silent Night by The Seldom Scene. When I listen to this, I can hear their hearts in the song. It's just really nice.

The First Noel/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear/Joy to the World by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.The wonderful harmonies of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver makes this terrific medley of songs even more enjoyable!

Children Go by Ricky Skaggs. Not just a Christmas song, this is a catchy, easy-to-sing-along-to tune that will make you want to clap along with the music. The kids might really enjoy this one!

I hope that you find these songs enjoyable. If you discover some of your favorite Bluegrass Christmas songs, please feel free to post a comment and share!  

 A few more of my favorite bluegrass Christmas songs are in this post - "Favorite Bluegrass Christmas Songs"