Disaster in the Kitchen

People tell me what a great cook I am. This wasn’t always true. I cooked very little as a child and young adult. Once I had children, I cooked from a box or can. Hamburger Helper was one of my best friends. Of course it’s also why I struggled with my weight for so many years. But I regress.

Cooking! I never thought I would enjoy it but I do. Even so, I have mishaps that mostly surround taste. I have always been a very picky eater. Food smells and textures get to me. I’ve been told I make the best mashed potatoes on earth but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never tried them. It’s a texture issue and they make me gag.

As far as being a good cook, I consider myself an experimental cook. Like everything else, when you experiment, you have disasters. My latest failure has been making my own Stevia Extract. Twice now, I’ve lacked success but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up.

So, I extracted the stevia for thirty-six hours in vodka and then put the strained product on my stove top to remove some of the alcohol by heating it. While doing this I worried the alcohol would catch fire (we have a gas stove) and burn the house down. Have no fear, I survived. Unfortunately, my stevia tastes like the plant with an earthy aftertaste and it’s still green after filtering three times with coffee filters. I don’t mind the green but others might.

I want clear liquid organic stevia that taste like the stuff I order online. Me thinks there is more processing going on in those expensive little bottles than the manufacturers want us to know. I plan to investigate this thoroughly when time allows.

For now, my question to you is… What am I doing wrong? Have you ever made stevia extract that actually tastes good?


Vegan Nacho Sauce

I’ve been promising to post this recipe for ages. It’s one of my kids and friends favorites. We use it to dip veggies and if we have company I’ll also add a bag of tortilla chips to the mix. My rancher son in law didn’t believe me when I told him it was vegan. My middle daughter lives off the stuff and my grandkids love it too. You might not want to tell anyone what’s in it and keep the fact it’s super healthy a secret!

Vegan Nacho Dip

This is a nacho cheese dip and super tummy. Great on veggies!
Course Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 12


  • high powered blender


  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce be sure it's vegan if you're vegan
  • 2 tsp spicy brown mustard can use regular but spicy is better
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne powder more if you like it spicier. I add 3 pinches
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • peel and dice squash no larger than 2 inch pieces
  • boil squash and cashews until squash is tender
  • once squash and nuts are cooled down enough to handle, place in high powered blender and mix until smooth
  • add all other ingredients and blend for 2 to 5 minutes
  • eat hot or cold and you can also freeze! Sprinkle a little paprika on top for garnish and beauty
Keyword animal free, healthy, nacho sauce, vegan cheese sauce, yummy

Why Give Up French Fries?

One of the things about becoming healthy is all the foods you must give up. I’ve had a love hate relationship with French fries my entire life. My taste buds love them and my hips hate them. Potatoes are something we try to stay away from and there are several reasons but I think the biggest is that potatoes clean the soil by leaching everything around them including pesticides. They’ve long been used in crop rotation when the soil is too damaged for other crops. Sweet potato fries are a healthier substitute but my husband doesn’t care for them. Last night I cooked a vegan dinner for both of us that included cucumber pasta salad and plantain fries. Plantains look like bananas but have less sugar. they also contain fiber and are a good source of vitamins A and C, and potassium. The secret is to buy your plantains when they’re green/yellow and not brown/yellow. No worries though, if your plantains ripen before you use them, you can cut up and freeze to use as pancake batter later. Please fry them in olive or avocado oil and stay far far away from bad oils such as vegetable, cotton seed, sunflower, etc. My husband loves these plantain fries so I consider them kid approved and it’s a vegan dinner he doesn’t complain about 😉

The second part of our dinner was the Cucumber Pasta Salad. My grown daughters are cringing right now because they know we don’t eat pasta (no grains at all) and they’re wondering what in the blazes I’m talking about.

I make the pasta out of an English cucumber. Add the yummy topping, and we eat. It’s thoroughly delicious. Here’s our vegan dinner breakdown:

3 – plantains (serves 2)

2 cups – olive oil (we save the leftover and reuse a few times)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: cut plantain into 3 sections. Slice one side and peal off the skin. Cut into French fry size. Place in a deep pot of hot oil and cook until golden (stir occasionally). Place finished plantain fries on paper towels to absorb excess grease and serve. Yes you can even dip these babies in ketchup.

1 – English cucumber (serves 2)

2 to 3 – small tomatoes

8 – fresh basil leaves

1 – clove garlic

1 – avocado

2 slices – lemon

Directions: spiralize your cucumber and place in a colander to drain, place tomatoes (cut into sections), basil, and garlic into your food processor and blend for about 30 seconds, pour on drained spiralized noodles, top with cut up avocado, and squeeze the lemon onto both servings.


Homemade Soap with Lye Just Like Grandma Made

Soap: Such a wonderful thing but the soap you buy is not so wonderful

I was a Dove soap user for years. Here are the ingredients: Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate Or Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate Or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium Edta, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891).

I don’t know what most of those ingredients are so I’ll just show you one: Tetrasodium Etidronate (better known as EDTA), is classified as a high human health priority and expected to be toxic or harmful. Please don’t get me started on Titanium Dioxide but you can read this article if you’re curious.

Yeah, I’ll say no to that. I don’t even want to take the time to read up on all the other ingredients so I’ll teach you make soap the way my grandmother did it minus the lard. This soap is sudsy and very gentle with nourishing oil for your skin. It’s the only bath soap we use.

Grandma’s Soap Recipe


40 oz – Almond or Olive oil

10 oz – Coconut oil

16 oz – Water

6.9 oz by weight – Household lye (found cheapest at your local hardware store)

Optional – 1 oz Essential oil for smell (I use nothing because I like it natural)


No children in the kitchen, use rubber gloves when handling lye and immediately wash with soap and water if you get any on your skin. It will also burn clothing so wear something old. Now get over your fear because it’s super simple if you follow these precautions.

You will need:

Immersion blender (I love my Breville blender but you can stir with a wooden spoon, it just takes longer), large cooking pot, 2 – wire cooling racks, 2 – silicone cupcake pans, large glass measuring cup (needs to hold at least 8 cups), kitchen scale & a piece of parchment paper


Combine oils in large pot. Fill the measuring cup with 16 oz (2 cups) water. Place parchment paper on scale and weigh (between 6.8 & 6.10 oz). Carefully poor the lye into the water (this is were the lye will burn if you touch or splatter it. Be careful). Mix the bubbling lye well with a metal spoon then carefully poor into oil. Add essential oil if you choose to use. Use immersion blender until ingredients thicken and turn white (saponification or chemical reaction has taken place and the lye is now soap and will no longer burn).

Place cupcake holders on wire racks. I use a small measuring cup to transfer soap into the cupcake pans and fill them as high as they can take. If you have leftover poor into a plastic dish. Leave soap in the pans and on the rack over night so it can harden. The following morning, remove soap from pans and place on racks to cure. Curing will take 4 to 6 weeks depending on dryness in the air. You want your soap good and hard.

  1. Ingredients
  2. measuring lye
  3. lye bubbling in water
  4. blending the oil with lye
  5. filled cupcake pans

*My friend Connie at Connie’s Random Thoughts (fiction writing blog) receives credit for the soap recipe. She invited me to her home and showed me how to make it. Connie grates a cake of cured soap, adds water so it devolves and uses as shampoo. It’s too oily for my hair but it may work for you.

I’ll be posting my lotion recipe next because I make the lotion when making my soap about every 2 months.