Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kitchen tip--shallots & Project idea for the kids

Good morning.  Here is some information about using shallots that I thought might be useful.

About Shallots:
The Latin name for shallot is Allium Ascalonicum. The name refers to
Ascalon , an ancient Palestinian city where the shallot is thought to
have originated.
The flavor is a pungent blend of onion and garlic. Their color can vary
from pale brown to rose, and the flesh is off-white and barely tinged
with green or purple.
Shallots burn easily because of their high sugar content. For this
reason, saute briefly over low to medium heat. When using raw minced
shallots in salad dressings, lessen their pungency by reducing the
juice; wrap the minced shallots in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze
the shallots so the cloth absorbs some of their juices, then add the
shallots to the recipe as directed.
Shallots will keep for approximately six months if stored in a
cool, dry location.

 I came across this natural dye information and thought it would make a fun project for Rylie and I to do together.  I'm just going to pick up some white cotton tee shirts and we'll have some fun making natural dye one evening.  Maybe we could even get Samantha to join us. 

We could even buy some plain cotton material to try out different colors and then make a little quilt, or something, from the different colored material.
A lot of the sites I went to said that you needed to set the color using alum or another metal fixative.  However, as I plan to do this with a small child I wanted to keep everything as natural as possible.  So I found one site that said I could fix the color with either salt (berry dye) or vinegar (plant dye) so I am going to use those.
Since some plants may be toxic I am going to try to stick to things I use in the kitchen, berries, spices, etc.  If you want to try some of the plant dyes you may want to make sure they are not toxic first.
Be sure to wear gloves when doing this project as I'm sure you don't want to walk around with blueberry dyed hands.
I found several different directions as how to make and use natural dye.  Basically, it sounds like you boil the color source in water.  Make sure your fabric is clean, wash it first to be sure you are starting with clean and chemical free material, and do the salt or vinegar fixative.  Then soak it until it is a little darker than you want it to be.  Some sites say to soak it, some say to let it simmer in the dye, while another one said to boil it for an hour.  I think I'll try the middle of the road and simmer it for a while.
The following is some information I found at two different web sites.
Native Americans used plant materials to make beautiful, soft colors to dye wool, cotton, and other fibers. They made almost every color, though shades of yellow were the easiest to produce.
Listed below are some of the plants Native Americans used for coloring. Experiment making natural dyes with these or other plants in your environment. As a general rule, if the plant part is hard, like bark or sticks, pound or grind it to loosen the fibers; if it's soft, like flower petals or berries, use it as is.
Wash the plant material first. Then put it, ground up or whole, in a large enameled pot and fill the pot with water. (Metal pots may change the color, though sometimes that produces an interesting result.) Boil until the color is a little darker than you'd like. Strain the dye material out and add a little salt and baking soda to the colored water, or dye bath. For a more permanent dye, add a teaspoon of alum, available from a hardware or crafts store.
To dye wool or heavy cloth, soak it in warm water before putting it in the dye bath. Let it boil in the dye bath for about an hour and then let it cool in the pot. To dye raffia, thread, or thin cloth, soak them in the dye bath for several hours.
Rinse all dyed materials several times in cold water. Then hang them up to dry--away from direct sunlight or heat, which may cause bleaching.
wild grapes, hickory bark, alder bark, dogwood bark, mountain mahogany bark  
larkspur petals, alfalfa flowers, sunflower seeds  
walnut shells, birch bark, cinnamon  
moss, algae, lily-of-the-valley leaves, juniper berries
blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rotten maple wood 
sumac berries, dogwood bark, beets, cranberries  
onion skins, goldenrod stems and flowers, sunflower petals, dock roots, marigold petals, moss, peach leaves, birch leaves, sagebrush

Making Natural Dyes From Plants

Gathering plant material for dyeing: Blossoms should be in full bloom, berries ripe and nuts mature. Remember, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild when gathering plant stuff for dying.

To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain. Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight.

Getting the fabric ready for the dye bath: You will have to soak the fabric in a color fixative before the dye process. This will make the color set in the fabric.

Color Fixatives:
Salt Fixative
(for berry dyes) 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water
Plant Fixatives
(for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar
Add fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.

Dye Bath: Place wet fabric in dye bath. Simmer together until desired color is obtained. The color of the fabric will be lighter when its dry. Also note that all dyed fabric should be laundered in cold water and separately.

Muslin, silk, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes and the lighter the fabric in color, the better. White or pastel colors work the best.  Cottons will produce lighter colors while wool fabric will have a more intense color using the same dye.

NOTE: It's best to use an old large pot as your dye vessel. Wear rubber gloves to handle the fabric that has been dyed, the dye can stain your hands. It's also important to note, some plant dyes may be toxic, check with the Poison Control Center if unsure.  1-800-222-1222

Yesterday I had to run to Wal-Mart to get my prescription filled.  That tiny, but powerful, pin-point headache that starts over my left eye and shoots out through my eyeball, would just not go away.  The last time it started and lasted for 5 days.  So while I was at the store I bought a bottle of Excedrin Migraine.  Hallelujah!  It worked on my nasty headache.  I'm going to carry that little bottle of pills with me everywhere.

Oh and an even happier note...Monday morning I woke up and decided to cut my carbs.  I have not eaten any bread since Sunday.  No pasta, no rice, etc.  I've cut my sugar intake.  I was craving wildly, and did have one banana popsicle and one teeny tiny chocolate kiss.  I'm drinking lots of green tea and more water.  So far, I've already lost 5 pounds.  Yea! 

I know that carbs are my enemy.  I'm really going to make an effort to stick with it this time.  If I want to live a long and healthy life, I'm just going to have to adjust to living on a low carb diet...forever.  More fruits and veggies.  It's hard because I really enjoy baking and making treats...and eating them.  LOL  I'll just have to look around and try to find some low carb recipes that I can make instead.

Have a really great day. 
Welcome to any new readers & hugs to all my friends! 

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