Friday, October 20, 2017

Uses For Oatmeal Other Than At Breakfast.

Berries, Bowl, Breakfast, Food, Fruit  Oatmeal is something I've had for breakfast over the years.  I usually have it cooked with dried fruit or I allow it to soak in milk overnight for the next morning.  It can be used in other ways just like tea bags, and left over coffee grounds.

It is said if you cover acne with  cooked oatmeal that has been cooled, it can get rid of it.  Be sure to let it set on the acne for several minutes before rinsing off.  In addition, cold oatmeal placed on a burn is said to help it heal.

Don't have any baking soda around for to remove smells from the refrigerator, use oatmeal instead.   People swear if you use oatmeal in ashtrays, it helps to get rid the smell of smoke.

If you grind half a cup of oatmeal in the blender before adding 1/4 cup of milk and a couple tablespoons of honey to make a paste you can use on a sunburn for 20 minutes to get rid of the the itch and it gets rid of irritated skin.  You can also add a cup of ground up oatmeal to your bathwater to sooth your sunburned skin.

The same bath water recipe can be used to sooth the skin of your dog.  Place your dog in the oatmeal water, pour the water over its skin, and dry the dog off after you take him out of the bathwater without rinsing him.

Mix 2 tablespoons of ground up oatmeal with one teaspoon of baking soda and enough water to make a paste.  Spread the paste on your clean, dried face for 10 minutes before rinsing off with cool water.  This a nice face mask.  On the other hand if you use equal parts of ground up oatmeal and baking soda, it makes a wonderful dry shampoo to add body to your hair between washes.

Make your own safe modeling substance out of equal parts of oatmeal and flour, and enough water to make a "clay"  it stays moist for hours but does harden overnight.  You can use food coloring to create a rainbow of colored "clay".

If you place dry oatmeal on spilled oil, it soaks it up nicely so its easier to clean.  In addition oat flour can be used to thicken soups or add oat flakes to your meat loaf.

I hope you found some new ways to use oatmeal in your regular life, other than for breakfast.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Russian Presence in California.

 Most people know the Russians established a presence in Alaska long before gold was discovered.  They came to this state to obtain furs which resulted in Russia building numerous posts for the fur trade.

Unfortunately, the Alaskan climate was not good for growing enough food to support its colonists and the animals trapped for the fur trade began declining.

So in the early 1800's, Russia established a post in California to grow grains for its northern populations in Alaska and to establish a fur trade.  After a search, the Russians selected Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco for its amenities and protection from the Spanish to start their colony.  In 1812, 25 Russians and 80 Aleuts arrived to build the settlement.  The Aleuts brought their skin covered kayaks with them to fish in the sea and to help build a settlement similar to the one found in Sitka.

On August 30, 1812, a special religious service to commemorate the completion of the stockade. They used redwood for constructing the stockade and other buildings. Although between 20 and 40 cannons were installed, the stockade was still considered a commercial not a military venture.  It was named Ross Fortress.  In the following years, the Russians added a chapel, store houses, etc to make it more of a town.

In addition, a windmill, cattle yard, bakery, thrashing floor, cemetery, farm buildings were built while an orchard and vegetable garden were added.  Everyone in the area worked for the Russian American Company.  Although, they were able to hunt animals on an island about 30 miles away, the wild life population dropped during the same time period.

Unfortunately, the amount of grain the Russians hoped to raise for its Alaskan colonies never meet their expectations.  Between the infertile soil, the fog, gophers and mice, they were unable to raise large wheat crops. Fun fact: The amount of barley and wheat in private plots out produced those run by the company.

This caused the Russians to establish two more colonies in the area in the hopes that growing conditions were better but wheat crops never met expectations.  On the other hand raising stock was much more successful so they could send shipments of wool, tallow, hides, salt beef, and butter were sent to Alaska and other destinations.

By 1839, the Russian American company decided to abandon Fort Ross because the sea otter population had declined significantly, the agricultural side could not meet the expectations of the headquarters. Even the shipbuilding industry was not profitable enough for the company.

Alexander Rotchev was charged with selling Fort Ross.  He approached the British, the Spanish, the French, the Mexicans before finding a buy in Captain Sutter, a Mexican Citizen. He purchased the fort but not the land it sat on because the land still belonged to Mexico.  It appears he is the same man who built the mill where gold was discovered a few years later that started a massive influx of people to California.

Have a good day.  I hope you enjoyed this brief history of the Russian influx into California.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

11 Weird Citrus Fruits.

Fruit, Food, Citrus, Pomelo, GrapefruitYears ago, I taught school on a small remote Alaskan Island, accessible by helicopter except for a few weeks when the ocean ice became thick enough to land small planes on.

Although, I'm a math teacher, I had to teach language arts.  Since the island is so remote, most students did not get a chance to taste anything more exotic than oranges or tangerines.

I had a friend send any weird fruit he could find at the local grocery store, then priority mail it out to me for my students.  This way, they had a chance to see something out of the ordinary and they had a chance to taste these odd fruits.

Some of the citrus fruits on the strangest fruit list made it out to the island but many didn't.

1. Buddist Hand or Fingered Citron is a yellow fruit with long finger like tendrils off a central bud that looks like an alien hand.  This seedless fruit emits a lemony scent when cut open.  It does not have juice or pulp but is filled with a pith. It is not edible in the traditional sense but its rind can be candied or used in baking.  It is also considered one of the oldest citrus fruits believed to have traveled from India to China and Japan where they are displayed for good luck.

2. Yuzu is a citrus with bumpy skin and hailing from Japan.  This Vitamin C (three times richer than lemons) fruit tastes like a cross between lemon, mandarin and grapefruit and has caught the imagination of chefs.  Although not as popular in the United States, it has been used for centuries in Asia, it is used in Ponzu sauce often used in Japanese cooking.

3. Pomelos look as if they are a huge grapefruit but they do not have any of the grapefruits bitterness.  This was one of the fruits sent out to me. I remember  it was much sweeter than expected.  It can be used in salads, marinades, cocktails and salsas.

4. Tangelos which are a mix of a Tangerine and a Pomelo or Grapefruit. They are about the same size as oranges but have a sweet juice with a tart after taste.  A couple of these were sent out.  The kids thought they were weird oranges but enjoyed them.

5. Finger limes come from the rain forests of Australia and are known as the caviar of citrus because they are filled with pearls of tart flavor.  Their skin ranges in color from green to black. The fruit is about the size of a gherkin filled with individual globules bursting with a lemon lime flavor and are used in salads, or toppings for other things such as shrimp.  

6. Calamansi limes which look more like oranges due to their shape and orange skins but are quite small.  Its flavor is a mix of lemon, kumquat, and lime.They are used in Filipino cooking.  I've only seen pictures of this particular fruit.

7. Meyer lemons are slightly smaller than regular lemons but are prized by chefs for their sweeter, less acidic flavor. They were brought to the United States back in 1908 by Frank Meyer.   I have heard of them but I've never seen any for sale at the local stores.

8. Bergamont and I am not talking about the herb used to flavor things.  This fruit looks like a regular grapefruit with clear pulp but has begun surpassing blood oranges in its use by chefs.  It originated in Italy as a cross between a sour orange and a lime.  Its flesh is used in marmalade's and jams while it skins are used in pastries.  Chefs love its distinctive flavor.

9. Kumquats are the size of an olive and look like a small oval citrus fruit. whose juice is both tangy and sweet.  It is eaten whole but can be used in salads, jams, or marmalade's. I actually ended up with a couple out on the island.  The students couldn't believe they were so small and so orange. 

10. Blood limes.  yes, you read that right.  I have never heard of these before today.  They are a cross between red limes and the Ellendale Mandarin, specifically created in Australia as a salt resistant crop.  It produces fruit in the winter.  The outside is usually red while the interior ranges from  a yellowish orange to a reddish tint.  It's pulp is said to be full of flavor that bursts in your mouth and is sweeter than standard limes. 

11.  Ugli Fruit or Jamaican Tangelo has a thick wrinkled peel that hides a sweet interior.  They were discovered growing wild in Jamaica about 80 years ago.  One of these was sent out and the kids loved it after they got over the funny skin.  This was one of the fruits they wanted more of.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taking Wax Buildup off of Linoleum Without Harsh Chemicals.

Floor, Wood, Hardwood Floors  A couple years ago, the guy who repainted my apartment began cleaning the wax buildup off my kitchen floor.  The buildup made my floor grey and dingy.

He started it but only got a small area finished before he had to move on to another apartment.  He did it because I know him well and he thought he'd do something nice while he repainted the house.

So he completed a small area and moved on.  The area was small enough to cover with a small throw rug but I'm kind of OCD in certain areas and I can't stand knowing there is a small white area among the grey kitchen floor, even when covered with a rug.

So I had to work on getting the rest of the wax build up off.  I hate relying on chemical substances to do the job so I checked the internet.  Most of the recipes I discovered contained ammonia or used vinegar but required the use of a scrub brush.  I hate ammonia since its fumes can be dangerous and I am scared to use a scrub brush for fear of scratching the original linoleum.

I found three possible recipes that sound safe but require a scrub brush.  One is using club soda directly on the wax buildup, let soak, then scrub before wiping off.  The second is to mix 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 cup cream of tarter, pour on wax, let soak, scrub and wipe off.  Unfortunately, cream of tarter is difficult to get out here.  The third requires the use of Isopropyl Alcohol mixed in a 1 to 3 ratio with water, pour on, soak, scrub and wipe off.  The final method requires good ventilation.

 I don't like the scrubbing part so  I resorted to using boiling water, paper towels, and a scraper designed for I'm not sure what but not for this.  I pour boiled water on paper towels placed over the area I'm interested in getting rid of wax build up from. I let it set for a while and then scrape the softened wax off.  It is slow but I don't have to worry about trying to ventilate the fumes from my house.

I did find a couple recipes which require a person to mop using a solution either vinegar or baking soda mixed with warm water.  They say if one or two applications doesn't take it all off, scrape the remaining bit off.  I still prefer my plain hot water with patience and a bit of elbow grease.

I'd love to hear from others who have experience taking wax buildup off linoleum floors using safe ingredients.  Let me know please.  Have a good day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Fact about Hot Air Balloons.

Hot Air Balloons, Blue, Sky, Sunshine  One morning, many years ago when I lived in New Mexico, I was fortunate enough to crest a hill, just in time to see numerous hot air balloons silently gliding across the sky.  I will never forget the breath taking site.

I can assure you, I will never be up in one.  I love the videos of the view but I am extremely scared of heights.  I can't even step on a chair without trembling.

I have no idea why I'm scared of heights, I just am.  On the other hand, I love watching balloons from the ground and yes I wish I had the guts to take a ride.  Maybe someday, I'll get the guts up to do it.

Did you know, hot air balloons have been around since the mid 1700's when a couple of men sewed cotton cloth to paper to create the balloon part.  The first few went up above 1000 feet but the first manned hot air balloon flight carrying a duck, a sheep and a rooster occurred in 1783 in front of the Kind of France. The first human flight happened just the same year. The first transatlantic flight took place only 2 years later.

Fun facts about hot air balloons:

1.  Louis XVI wanted to use condemned criminals as the first pilots because if they died, he considered it no big deal.  He was talked out of it.  A scientist and aristocrat managed to fly for 20 minutes in the first human flight in 1873.

2.  The scientist decided to be the first man to fly across the English Channel using a new type of balloon filled with a mixture of half helium, half hot air. Unfortunately, 30 minutes into the flight, the balloon exploded making him the first fatality.

3. Champagne after flights came about because balloons landed in their fields scaring the livestock or smashing crops.  The champagne helped sooth tempers. 

4. In 1808, two love sick suitors held a balloon duel over Paris rather than the standard duel at 20 paces.  The balloons took off and at the appropriate height.  Each man fired a blunderbuss.  One man died when his balloon floundered and fell to the ground while the other landed safely.  It is assumed the survivor won the hand of the lady.

5.  In 1794, during the French Revolution, a balloon spend 9 hours in the air with an observer who wrote down his views of the battle and regularly dropped his observations to the ground.  No one knows if the information helped the French win the Battle.

6. During the early years of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of a balloon corps used to observe enemy movements up to 15 miles away. The Confederates made their own balloon out of dress silk but it was captured by the Union. The Union quit using balloons because they were easy to shoot down due to their size.

7. From 1800 to 1900, circuses regularly featured smoke balloons which were balloons without a basket.  A daredevil with a parachute attached himself to the balloon, the balloon was held over a hot fire until it was filled with hot air or smoke and released to rise up into the atmosphere.  When the balloon reached its highest point, the daredevil released himself from the balloon, opened the parachute and floated down to the amazement of the audience.

8. In 2010, an entrepreneur started a service with glass bottom baskets so people could see directly below its location. Its private but there is some talk of allowing the public to use it again.

9. Hot air balloons have no way to steer so they go where ever the wind sends them.  They cannot be used in rain because the hot air can cause the droplets to boil and possibly destroy its fabric.

10.  The longest flight went from Japan to Canada.

I hope someday I get up the guts to ride in one but I don't know if I'll manage it.  I am just scared of heights.  I hope you enjoyed these few facts.  Have a great day.