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Monday, April 30, 2012

My Attempt to Make Homemade Laundry Powder

I am not the crunchy granola type of gal, in fact I love everything luxurious but when my cousin Vickey pinned a recipe to make homemade laundry detergent on Pinterest, it really interest me. You can make your own detergent for the fraction of the price of store bought ones. My brother Josh has eczema and whenever he's home from CA, my mom would prepare hypoallergenic products for him (laundry detergent, soap, etc...). I thought why not give homemade cleaners a try since it supposedly is better for the environment and people with sensitive skin plus it's CHEAP!

I had to go to three different store today to get all the ingredients I need to make homemade cleaners. I got distilled vinegar, distilled water and Borax from Target. Washing Soda from Stop and Shop. Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile bar soap and liquid soap from Trader Joe. I bought the liquid castile soap because it can be diluted for different cleaning needs. Check out Lived Renewed's blog explaining the different usage.

My first project was homemade powder laundry detergent since it's much easier than the liquid method. I'm not really convinced about using homemade detergent for my darks and bright color clothes so for those I'm going to continue using Woolite but for my lights and whites I'm going to use this homemade laundry detergent.

There are countless ways of making homemade laundry detergent, both powder and liquid. Most of the time the recipe calls fro Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and some sort of soap. The most recommended soaps are Dr. Bronner's, Fels-Naptha, Zote or event Ivory. I'm using castile bar soap since I couldn't find Felz-Naptha or Zote and I didn't want to use Ivory. Don't use any beauty bars because the moisturizers in them. The moisturizers in the beauty bars will stain your clothes and not clean them very well.

Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent
Found this on DIYNatural.com

  • 1 cup grated bar soap
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup washing soda

















Either hand grate the bar soap or use a food processor. Mix well with Borax and washing soda. Store in an air-tight container. For small load, use 1 tablespoon, medium load use 2 tablespoons and large load use 3 tablespoons. Add extra tablespoon if your laundry is really dirty.  This detergent doesn't sud up like the store bought ones because it doesn't have Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is a foaming agent in most detergents (reading detail at LiveStrong.com).

So what is the verdict after my first load of whites/lights using this homemade laundry detergent? It seems to work well. I'm not sure how well it will do on a heavily-soiled load since our clothes/towels weren't very dirty anyways. This detergent doesn't really have any fragrance at all, it reminds me of the natural, fragrance free laundry bar my nanny used to use in Taiwan. I did dry the load with two Bounce sheets which kind of contradicts using homemade detergent because many "green" people argue that drying sheets are toxic but J can't live without that dryer sheet smell so I guess we are stuck with these toxic dryer sheets until J is willing to try the homemade dryer sheet method.
Looks white to me


The collar had light stains on it and now it's gone! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Super Late Post-Allure of the Sea 海洋魅力號

With so much happening in the past 7 months, J and I have not gone on vacation. I know I just got back from my long trip in Taiwan but I was so busy (busy eating, hahaha) during that trip plus J didn't get to go. Our last trip was our cruise on the largest cruise ship in the world, Allure of the Sea in September of 2011. J and I have been on several other cruises with Royal Caribbean but Allure of the Sea is nothing like all the other ships. It's massive! It was a work out just walking from one end of the ship to another. The length of Allure was approximately 3 1/2 regulation size football fields with the passenger capacity of 6300, it's like a floating city! There are so much things to do on the ship you will never be bored.




Monday, April 23, 2012

Souffle Cheesecake

This is not the typical cheesecake Americans are used to. Yes, it's got cream cheese in it but the texture is very light, more like a cross between a soufflé and chiffon cake. It's normally known as Japanese Cheesecake, which you can find it in most Japanese/Korean/Chinese bakeries. This is my first time making this type of cheesecake and the recipe I used is from Banana Bread Blog. I split the batter into two 8 inch pans because I want to make a layered cake. The cake came out a little denser than I want but it was probably because I was in a hurry and did a sloppy job folding the egg whites into the cheese batter. For the filling I just use seedless blackberry jam. Overall I'm pretty happy with the end result, even J liked it and he never likes any desserts I get from Japanese/Chinese bakeries.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing

I've been wanting to make cinnamon buns from scratch for a while. It's so easy to just pick up some Cinnabon at the mall or use the can stuff. I have no problem making a two-tier fondant covered cake but have this aversion to making bread or any recipes involves yeasts. It just seems so long and boring. Lots of kneading and spending hours waiting for the dough to rise.

Since I have lot of time on hand being a temporary housewife plus J wanted cinnamon buns, I decided to tackle my fear today. I Googled cinnamon buns and countless searches popped up. Boy, there sure are many versions of cinnamon buns. How am I going to choose which recipe to use?

I decide  to use the Cinnamon Swirl Buns recipe from Smitten Kitchen as a start. I didn't have whole milk so I used 1% for the dough. For the filling, since I ran out of ground cinnamon, I only used 1 tablespoon cinnamon plus 1/2 tsp nutmeg instead of 2 tablespoons cinnamon (most recipes I found calls for 1 tablespoon cinnamon anyways). I love the combo of nutmeg and cinnamon with my oatmeal raisin cookies so I thought it can't be too bad in the cinnamon bun.

Instead of baking the buns all at once, I only baked one pan. I read online that I can either freeze cinnamon rolls after baking or before. I let both pans rise for another 40 minutes after rolling and cutting but wrapped one of the pans really well with plastic wrap and aluminum wrap before putting in the freezer. I'm hoping freezing the unbaked cinnamon buns will turn out well since nothing beats smelling cinnamon buns on a weekend morning without having to wake up at crack of dawn to make it.













Friday, April 6, 2012

French Apple Cake

 I was racking my brain on what to make for Easter Sunday. I went through all my favorite food blogs for inspirations. There are tons of great recipes for beautiful cakes and pies but one very simple recipe from David Lebovitz caught my eye. It's so easy that I didn't even need to use the KitchenAid. What I like most about it compare to a lot of other apple cakes is that there are more apple than cake plus it requires very few ingredients. I made some changes to the recipe since I didn't have any dark rum, only light rum. Also I sprinkled some toffee bites on the cake.

Christi's version of French Apple Cake

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples, diced (a mix of varieties, but I used Gala and Granny Smith)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs light rum (or dark rum)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp if using dark rum)
  • 1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup toffee bites (I used Hershey brand)
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.







Butter an 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. (I used two 9 inch round cake pans). In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces. 








In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.






Fold in the apple cubes until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula. After this step I sprinkled the top of the batter with toffee bites. 














Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (If you used two pans like I did, bake for 35 minutes). Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Taiwan Trip Part VI

 This is going to be the last post regarding my Taiwan trip. It will have all the left over pics from my trip.
Ramen in Tamsui
























Bentos: Great cheap eats (these are around $2.50 USD each)
The bento box is made out of wood

















Rice cakes filled with savory and sweet fillings made by my Apo
















You can find a food stand like this all over Taiwan


You can find a temple everywhere inTaiwan
Calpico Alcoholic drink
Mos Burger's Rice Bur


Inside a bakery



















Costco in Taipei: 
Sea Cucumber











Sushi looks amazing, much better than ones in US

Harley Davidson in Taipei:



2012 Taiwan trip Part V

淡水 Tamsui or Danshui (old spelling) is a sea-side district outside of Taipei. To many it's a touristy sea-side town but for me it's home since my Dad's family have been here for hundreds of years. It was occupied by the Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and British in the 17th century due to it being a natural harbor and close proximity to China and Japan thus great for being a trading port. By the mid 19th century it became the largest port in Taiwan but by 20th century most of port operations moved to Keelung and it reverted back to being a fishing village because due to accumulation of sediments in Tamsui River, larger ships were unable to enter the harbor.
Since the completion of the Taipei Metro's (MRT) Tamsui Line, it became a popular destination for tourists. The first part of my Taiwan posts you will see pics of famous Tamsui eats such as A-Gei and fish balls. Tamsui is also famous for Iron Eggs and Fish Crisps. You can find all the famous foods at Old Street which is right next to the MRT station. Across the river from Tamsui is Bali District so a lot of tourists will take the ferry across the river to Bali, I think it was around $45 NTD for a round trip ticket 

Tamsui:



Tamsui Cultural and Art Center
Tamsui Cultural & Art Center.

View of Tamsui MRT Station from Bali
Bali:
View of Tamsui from the ferry to Bali