Saturday, March 31, 2018

DIY Beeswax Wraps

Every once in a while, I embark on a project that becomes an ordeal.   Like the time I made veal demi-glace from scratch which I realized was a colossal waste of time, especially after I lost it all when the power went out and my freezer thawed.   I just don't really need veal demi-glace that bad, and if I did, I can buy it right from Bob Sparrow at Sparrow's Meat Market himself.    Likewise, you can just buy these from me and save yourself lots of time and money.   I just posted this listing in my Etsy shop.  Here is my tale of how these came to be...

Many of my crafting ideas come to me when I have the day off from work, so last summer, while on vacation, I came across this blog post about DIY beeswax wraps and decided I wanted to make my own.  The ones you can buy locally are $18 for a set of 3, and I didn't want to spend that much, so I reckoned I could make them cheaper.   Plus, I had a long standing dream of making my own oil cloth someday....yes, I realize that is a strange dream....but I get weird ideas like this all the time.    So, instead of just spending $18, I decided to spend $24.63 to buy beeswax, jojoba oil and pine resin on Amazon.   I wasn't sure where I could get pine resin, but I know it is the stuff you put on your hands when you are bowling or playing baseball, so I bought a container.    Many months went by before I actually set out to make this craft.  I got down to it last weekend, and discovered a) I already had a bottle of jojoba oil in my craft room from some other craft I forgot to do and b) sports rosin doesn't melt.  Evidently there's more than just pine resin in sports rosin.     Off I head to the natural food store to try to buy some pine resin, because herbalists use it for salves and ointment.  I even tried the sporting goods store again, thinking perhaps they sell sticks of it for baseball bats.   Yes, but it is pine tar, and it is black.  That wasn't going to enter my friend Dave...

Everyone should have a friend like Dave.   I have known Dave since we were both college students at Michigan Tech, where we worked in the computer center together.  Dave is the kind of guy that when he gets curious about something, he goes and figures it out.  For example, here is how he figured out solar power.    So I figured Dave would know where to get some pine resin....and of course he did, because last year he decided to make some pine resin glue for his boots.  (and you thought I had strange dreams because I want to make my own oil cloth!)  He told me he had some left over that he harvested.   So, I set aside the day of crafting to meet Dave at the Corner Brewery in  Ypsi to pick up his stash of pine resin and have a few beers ($10).   Finally, I set out to melt the resin, and there was just too much stuff in it to make it work for wraps.   I needed PURE GRANULATED PINE RESIN.  Another $19.95  later on Amazon, and now I am ready to start!  Total cost of project is now up to $54.58.

I followed the directions as written in the blog post, and started melting the pine resin in a double boiler.   It takes about 20 minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden skewer.  Pine resin sticks to everything.   Then, I added the beeswax, and the pine resin immediately solidified and the process had to start all over again!  What works better is to just mix the beeswax and resin together from the start.  There is no reason do it separately.   The blog post said that it would make 4 12"x12" wraps, but it didn't for me....maybe because my cloth was thicker, it only made 2. 

Here is the recipe:

DIY Beeswax Wraps
2 T. granulated pine resin  (18 g)
1/4 c. beeswax pellets
1 T. jojoba oil

Preheat oven to 225 F.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Heat resin and beeswax in double boiler until melted, about 20 minutes, stirring regularly.   Add oil and stir.   Paint on cloth until evenly covered.  The wax will solidify as you paint it on.   Place in oven until all wax is melted again, and then take it out of the oven and place other piece of fabric on the top and flip it over.  Use oven gloves, it will be hot!  Press down on new piece of fabric to soak up excess wax.   Remove original cloth and cool on clothes rack.  Repeat with second cloth using remaining wax, softening in oven to insure uniform waxing over surface.

After the resin and wax is melted, add the jojoba oil.  I forgot for one batch and had to throw them out.   They will be too stiff.  Also, don't forget to put the cap back on the jojoba oil or you can spill it all over the counter.   Luckily I had another bottle available ($5.99) .  My hands were real soft, except where the pine resin stuck to them.   Also, had to throw out my brand new Kitchen Aid plastic measuring spoons ($16.65) because pine resin really likes to stick to plastic, I have learned.   Instead, just weigh it out....2 T. is 18 grams of pine resin.  Since I had my scale out now, I noticed my kitchen looked like something out of Breaking Bad.....

Pine resin is flammable, fires love beeswax, and I am standing around my kitchen in my PJs.  How would I possibly explain this to the fire department if I needed to call 911?  Better be careful to keep the flame away from it all.     Hours later, my wraps are now cost of $77.82.  Thankfully, I realized that I should take off my wedding ring before resin attached itself to my diamond and I didn't pour anything down  the sink which would have required a plumber, or these wraps could have cost much more.  I did have to throw away the paintbrush after ($7.00) so the total cost is now $84.22!!!  Good thing I didn't spend the $18 originally!   The good news is now I am selling the wraps for $8 on my Etsy store, so you don't have to make them.   Also, now that I have a lifetime supply of pine resin, I guess it is time to start making pine resin salve.

Happy Crafting!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Buffalo Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago, I was shopping at Arbor Farms, a local grocery store here in Ann Arbor, and I was impressed with a couple salads in their deli.   I posted my take on one of them last month, Olympic Salad, and then I experimented with another one I saw there inspired by buffalo wings.   I love buffalo wings!    I knew I'd have to try my hand at making this salad. 

First, I needed to make some cooked chicken.   I often make some chicken breasts this way on a Sunday and use them whenever I need chicken in a meal.  I put them individually in bags in the freezer and so I can take out however many I need for whatever I am making.   They are great in sandwiches or with salad or in a casserole.     

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1 T dried rosemary
2 T dried parsley
1 T kosher salt
1 c lemon juice
3 T olive oil

Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting them in half to make 2 pieces.  This helps the chicken cook evenly without drying out.   In a ziplock bag, add remaining ingredients, mix well.   Add chicken and make sure it is coated evenly,  marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.   Turn the bag every once in a while. 

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lay the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet, and pour remaining marinade over the top of chicken.  Roast for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Buffalo Chicken Salad
(serves 2)

2 lemon herb roasted chicken breast halves, sliced into strips
1/2 red pepper, seeded cut into 1 inch strips
1/2 red onion, sliced pole to pole
1 stalk celery, cut on the bias
1 peeled carrot, also cut on the bias
1 oz. blue cheese crumbles

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. 

Buffalo Dressing

4 T light mayonnaise (you can use regular as well)
2 T Franks Red Hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy)
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced

Place all the ingredients in a small jar and shake until blended.

Add dressing to salad and mix well. 

It came out wonderful!  The sturdy vegetables held up well so I could make it ahead for work week lunches.  Added bonus:  even with the cheese,  a serving of it is only 3 WW points, if you are counting points.