Cleaning Up the Crockpot

Well, my crockpot has been on overdrive lately. First, there was the bushel of apples I got from our CSA. At least a third of which became applesauce or apple butter.

Then, I 'funcycled' [which is a contraction of 'fun' and 'recycled'] crayons. I went through the kidlet's crayon bucket and took every single broken crayon out of and striped the paper and put the various colors into my muffin molds in the crockpot. I'm not creative enough to have thought of this myself. Hop on over A Year of Slow Cooking and read how it should be done.

I did it in my silicone mini muffin cups and this was a slightly flawed idea. I think it would work well in good quality silicone but mine weren't. They worked okay but I had one rip in each batch. The cute part is that the crayons are a nice size for my kids little hands.

After a month of hard work my white porcelain crockpot was stained. I got the soap and scrubbed but nothing worked until I thought about how I clean my sink. I use Barkeeper's Friend.  Ah, this worked wonders. It removed the build up of sugar from the cooked apples and the spilled wax from the crayon projects. The only sad part was that I hadn't thought of this years earlier!! So, save yourself some time and elbow grease and just get some Barkeeper's Friend. It's amazing stuff. In fact, I'm not sure there's anything it can't do.

Last Minute Purchases

We're very lucky for the most part that our kids don't ask for snacks and toys in the checkout aisle. Well, not in earnest. They are at an age now that they notice these items and they will mention them to me but since we've never started the habit of buying them they don't expect me to do anything about it.

The exception is the Farmer's Market. I let the girls help pick out our purchases during the CSA season at the Market and I see no reason to change now that the season is over. Well, except that it's real money so I have to be prepared with actual currency before we go shopping.

The good news is that these impulse purchases are for things like eggplant and raspberries. Isn't that amazing! My kids are begging me - yes, begging me for eggplant. Mind you, they haven't begged me to eat it yet:) but they know what it looks like and they wanted to take it home. I figure that's the best first step to getting them excited about eating it and there's something tremendously cool about that.

Local Honey

Each year we buy our honey at the Virginia State Fair because it gives us the opportunity to taste different varieties and support local apiaries. We've done this for almost a decade now and we've learned which flowers we like our honey to come from and which we don't. This year we decided to try something a little different. After we picked the varietal we wanted we decided to make sure it came from an apiary in a zip code local to us.

Why? Our family suffers from season allergies in varying degrees and our doctors have mentioned that taking a teaspoon of local honey a day can help build immunity to our local pollens - which in central Virginia are many.  We've only just started this but I've already seen an improvement in Comfort's seasonal allergy issues and for that I am very grateful.

There are other medicinal uses for honey, of course. When I was little I got honey for a sore throat. For some reason Moms stopped doing that when 'better' medicine came out. It turns out that honey is just as good - so say the new docs. And article in last month's Parenting Magazine included this dosage information:

Honey can also help relieve coughing. A study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that honey at bedtime was more effective at quieting coughs than honey-tasting cough medicine (flavored so the kids wouldn't know which they were getting). The AAP recommends half a teaspoon for children 2 to 5 years old, a teaspoon for ages 6-11, and two teaspoons 12 and up. (The brand of honey "doesn't make any difference", says Dr. Fisher, but make sure your child has fluids or brushes her teeth afterwards to avoid letting the honey sit on their teeth). Never give honey to babies less than 1 year old.

So, honey - it's a lovely, tasty treat that has many uses. If you can try to buy local honey so you can explore the flavors from the land around you and take advantage of extra health benefits 'cause I just happen to think this is a super Cool Idea!