Perfectly-Peeled Boiled Eggs? Possible!

Look at this egg!  It peeled like a breeze!

Never boil eggs again because a steamed egg peels perfectly every time!

This egg is fresh from our chickens, only a day or two old.  Fresh eggs are usually the worst to peel after being boiled — half the white peels off with the shell.  Store-bought eggs are typically several weeks old by the time you purchase them, and they are sometimes still hard to peel.

Well, no longer! There is a simple solution to your egg-peeling problems!

I figured out this great technique by observing an old egg cooker my mother-in-law bought 41 years ago for $1 at a yard sale.  (Wow, did she get her money’s-worth, or what?!)  She was getting rid of it because we bought her a new one for Christmas.  The old one now resides at my mom’s house after my creative, able-to-fix-anything father tuned it up and replaced a missing leg.  My mother was amazed at how perfectly her eggs peeled when she made her famous deviled eggs for the holidays. (They are so delicious!  Click here to get the recipe.)

old metal egg steamer with black handles and cord

After looking at both of the egg cookers, I thought “I can do this myself without paying for another kitchen gadget!” The keys to easily-peeled boiled eggs, it seems, are a hole in the eggshell and steam.

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Here’s how to properly cook “boiled” eggs, by steaming them instead:

1. Grab stainless-steel pot with steamer basket, which is typically used to cook veggies like broccoli and carrots.

2. Sanitize a sharp object, like a sewing needle (I used an ice-pick tool in a screwdriver set), and poke a small hole in the fat end of the egg (where there is an air bubble between the shell and the inside of the raw egg).

poking hole in end of raw egg before steaming it

3. Add about an inch of water to the pot, place the basket of eggs inside, and put it on the stove at a high temperature until you can see steam coming from the pot’s vent.

steam emerging from the lid vent of a pot full of steaming eggs

4. Close the lid vent, turn the temperature down enough to keep a low-rolling boil, and cook the eggs for 12-15 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.

TIP: Test to see if they are cooked the way you like.  You can test an egg by putting it in a spoon and running cool water on it until it’s cool enough to handle (or place it in some ice water for a minute).  Then peel it and cut it in half to check the appearance of the yolk.

These photos show how the egg dries off in seconds when it is still very hot!

I tested an egg at 12 minutes, and decided the others needed more time.  I like my eggs completely hard-boiled, with no dark or “gooey” places in the yolk, so I will stick with 14-15 minutes from now on for larger eggs.  Smaller eggs would, of course, take less time.

5. Place the eggs in cold water (or ice water) to stop the cooking process at the desired point.  It’s the same idea as rinsing pasta in cool water after you drain it; if you don’t cool it off, it will continue to cook.  Over-cooking will cause the eggs to get a grayish-green coating around the yolk.

6. Peel and enjoy!  Tap a cooled egg on a hard surface many times in different spots so that the shell is cracked all over.  You can even gently roll it between your hands to further crack the shell and help the outer membrane release from the egg.  Start peeling at the fat end where the air bubble is, making sure you are removing the outer membrane along with the shell fragments. (If you look closely at the first photo, you can see the outer eggshell membrane clinging to the peeled shell and holding the broken pieces together.)

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Using this method, our fresh eggs are so easy to peel and so delicious! Yum!

steamed egg, cut in half, on a plate with fried potatoes

I’ve tried many of the touted tricks for easily-peeled boiled eggs:

  • heavily salting the cooking water
  • placing cooked eggs immediately into ice water
  • adding vinegar during boiling
  • using only older eggs
  • etc, etc.

Some of these methods worked fairly well, but none worked great for easily-peeled boiled eggs.  But, in my experience, steaming works without fail!

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Wholesome, Healing, Homemade Toothpase and Mouthwash

For several years now, I’ve been trying to get away from fragrances and strong chemicals in order to improve my allergies and physical health. My desire is to not burden my immune system any more than necessary so I will feel better and have more energy.

Part of my methods include using natural products like vinegar and baking soda to clean our home.  I have been attempting (unsuccessfully at times) to eat better, exercise more, and get at least seven hours of sleep per night.  Certain herbs and essential oils have also benefited me and my family’s health in several ways.

In a previous post I explained how frankincense essential oil has made a positive impact on my health.  It is one of the ingredients in the recipes I’m sharing today.  So, on with today’s topic…

Did you know teeth can “remineralize” (regrow enamel)?  It’s true!  A few years ago, I saw for myself more than once that with careful, gentle brushing and good general health, small cavities that are beginning to form can actually heal and go away.  I’ve read that this is accomplished when your body uses minerals in your saliva to repair tooth enamel.  The recipes below should help speed that process along without hurting your wallet or putting harsh chemicals in your body.

I waited to share this information until I had thoroughly tried it myself.  In the five months I’ve been using the homemade toothpaste, my teeth have lightened several shades…all except for one tooth on the bottom (which gives me a reliable gauge for how much whiter my other teeth have become). This week I had a great checkup at the dentist. The tartar buildup was a little less than usual, and I had no sign of cavities.

I asked the hygienist about the one tooth that did not brighten in color.  She said the dentin under tooth enamel is a yellowish color and that thinning enamel can cause teeth to look either more yellow or more see-through.  (Does that mean one of my teeth is unable to whiten/remineralize?  Why would that be? I have no idea!  Please share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.)

Are you interested in trying the recipes?  I’ll list them for you, along with tips on how I made and used them.  Click the links (words in red) to learn more information about ingredients. (Also, if any of the links fail to work, please let me know so I can repair them.  Thanks!)

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homemade toothpaste by Merry Hearts Medicine

homemade toothpaste basic ingredients list

2 Tablespoons baking soda

Used for cleaning and whitening. Yes, this is safe for your enamel. It is usually the lowest item on abrasiveness scales that compare toothpastes. Here is a more detailed article about how the RDA abrasiveness values are tested and what it means.

2 Tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil

Used for cleaning, whitening, and killing bacteria in the mouth.  This is one example of the many articles discussing the health benefits of coconut oil for oral and physical health.

calcium carbonate and magnesium (I use 4 capsules.)

Used to help remineralize teeth.  See if you can find capsules or powder in order to avoid the fillers and chemicals used to hold tablets together.  The minerals inside the capsules I found were not as fine of a powder as I expected.  For my second batch of toothpaste, I grabbed the spice mortar and pestle from my kitchen and ground the tiny lumps out of the powder before adding it.  (Some people replace this ingredient with drops of liquid trace minerals.)

2-5 drops of thyme essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil contains high levels of thymol, which is one of the main germ-killing active ingredients in most mouth washes. Don’t get carried away with this one because it will sting your mouth.

2-3 drops of frankincense essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil has done a lot for me since I discovered it at the beginning of this year.  It’s an immune booster and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.  A clinical study showed the oil reduced gingivitis inflammation.

15-25 drops of peppermint essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health and for flavor.  Don’t think this essential oil is only for making your toothpaste taste better, it’s a proven antiseptic that kills the bad bacteria in your mouth.

stevia (I don’t use this, but thought most people would want their toothpaste sweeter than mine.)

OPTIONAL — Used for flavor.  This comes from the leaves of a plant containing compounds that are over 100 times sweeter than table sugar.  It does not, however, encourage tooth decay like sugar. It may, in fact, actually help reduce the buildup of plaque.

1/2 teaspoon distilled water

Approximate amount used to get the paste to the desired consistency.  This is the amount I used in the winter (when our house stayed 65-70 degrees) because coconut oil hardens when it cools.  Now that the weather is warming and our house is closer to 80 degrees, I’m thinking I may not need to add water at all.  Filtered water would probably work just fine, too.  I felt like distilled would keep it fresh longer.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Stir your ingredients together (a fork works well) in a bowl and transfer the finished product to a small glass container with a lid.  A smaller container will help it stay moist longer.  If your toothpaste ever does get too firm/dry, stir in a few more drops of water as needed.

Essential oils don’t hold up well when exposed to light, which is why they are sold in dark-colored glass bottles. It’s best to store the toothpaste container in a dark place so the essential oils will not degrade.

I keep a fork in the bathroom to apply it to my toothbrush.  After scooping a pea-sized amount onto the toothbrush, I give the fork a quick wash and dry and leave it in the medicine cabinet near the toothpaste.  (Some people simply dunk their toothbrush into the container of paste, but that grosses out the germophobe in me.)

Don’t forget before you rinse to brush the roof of your mouth and your tongue, too!  The surface of your teeth is only a small portion of your mouth, and other areas need attention as well.  Have you ever noticed a white-looking coating on your tongue?  That is (typically) a colony of bad bacteria that are multiplying happily and adding to halitosis problems.  The essential oils in this toothpaste, combined with the friction of your toothbrush, will help eradicate them and make the surface of your tongue pink and healthy again.

This toothpaste doesn’t foam up like commercial varieties, but it really gets the saliva flowing.  After using my first batch for a month, it suddenly smelled a little bad, so I went back to regular toothpaste for a few days until I could make a fresh batch.  The foaming action of the store-bought paste was unpleasant to me.  I never gave a second thought to the foam my entire life, but now it seems a bit offensive.  It feels like I can hardly brush with all those bubbles in the way.

A little of this homemade paste goes a long way!  When my first batch went bad after a month, I still had close to 1/3 of it left.  The next time I made a batch, I left half of it in the fridge until I needed it and had no problems.  Now I’m on round three.  At the moment, it seems that I will have to mix up more about every two months.

I recommend doing the majority of your spitting into the trash can.  Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, and I wouldn’t want to risk having it build up inside the pipes beneath your sink.

Enjoy your whiter teeth with that slick, fresh-from-the-dentist feel!

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homemade mouthwash by Merry Hearts Medicine

 

homemade mouthwash basic ingredients

1 cup distilled water

Filtered water would probably work just fine, too.  I felt like distilled would keep it fresh longer.

2 teaspoons baking soda

Used for cleaning and whitening. Yes, this is safe for your enamel (see the links to this ingredient in the toothpaste recipe above). This helps create a more alkaline environment in your mouth which reduces plaque buildup.

calcium carbonate and magnesium (I use 3 capsules.)

Used to help remineralize teeth.  See if you can find capsules or powder in order to avoid the fillers and chemicals used to hold tablets together.  The minerals inside the capsules I found were not as fine of a powder as I expected.  For my second batch of mouthwash, I grabbed the spice mortar and pestle from my kitchen and ground the tiny lumps out of the powder before adding it.  (Some people replace this ingredient with drops of liquid trace minerals.)

5-7 drops of thyme essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil contains high levels of thymol, which is one of the main germ-killing active ingredients in most mouth washes.

3-5 drops of frankincense essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil has done a lot for me since I discovered it at the beginning of this year.  It’s an immune booster and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.  A clinical study showed the oil reduced gingivitis inflammation.

15+ drops of peppermint essential oil  (I use 25 drops because my hubby likes extra minty mouthwash.)

Used for teeth and gum health and for fresh breath.  Don’t think this essential oil is only for making your mouthwash taste better, it’s a proven antiseptic that kills the bad bacteria in your mouth.

stevia (I use 2 packets of the powdered type.)

OPTIONAL — Used for sweetening the flavor.  This comes from the leaves of a plant containing compounds that are over 100 times sweeter than table sugar.  It does not, however, encourage tooth decay like sugar. It may, in fact, actually help reduce the buildup of plaque.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

I prefer to store the mouthwash in a glass bottle.  I washed an empty vinegar bottle and sterilized it with boiling water.  Then I poured all the ingredients into the bottle, with the help of a funnel, and shook it for a while.  In my experience, some of the calcium will always settle to the bottom, now matter how much you stir everything together.  I filtered the last batch through a small strainer and liked the end result much better.

I have read that it is best to make it in small batches like this because the essential oil flavors can blend together and change over time.  Also, essential oils don’t hold up well when exposed to light, which is why they are sold in dark-colored glass bottles.  It is best to use a dark-colored bottle for your mouthwash or to store the container in a dark place so the essential oils will not degrade.

Each time you use it, shake the mixture well before swishing an ounce or two in your mouth for 30 seconds or more.

Enjoy your minty fresh mouth!

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Thanks for reading! Please share any thoughts/questions you have in the comments below!

Delicious Deviled Eggs Perfected With Paprika, Not Pickles

Can you say the title of this post five times fast without tripping over your tongue?  It may be a tongue twister, but it’s true in my opinion.  I’ve heard multiple discussions over whether to add sweet or dill pickles to deviled eggs.  I say forget them altogether, and make sure you don’t leave off the paprika!

Paprika is often a overlooked spice: people usually use it as more of a decoration than as a spice.  Actually paprika can nice flavor to dishes such as chili, spaghetti sauce, or anything that would benefit from a mild bell pepper flavor.  A generous sprinkle of this spice on top of deviled eggs can change them from flat to fabulous.

six deviled eggs covered in paprika sitting in a plastic dish

These go so fast at our house that I had to hurry to get this photo.  By lunchtime tomorrow, they will be gone!

On Thanksgiving, I shared my mother-in-law’s mouth-watering recipe for cornbread dressing.  For the Christmas season, I was granted permission to share another of my family’s favorite dishes:  my mom’s deviled eggs.

These are so tasty that pretty much any person who has ever tried them has asked my mother for the recipe.

“Delicious Deviled Eggs”

12 hard-boiled eggs (Place eggs in cool water & bring to a very gentle boil. Cook 12-15 minutes, cool, & peel.)
5 Tbs. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 1/2 Tbs. regular mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
paprika

In a bowl combine mayo, mustard, salt, & pepper; mix well. Cut eggs in 1/2 lengthwise & remove yolks. Add yolks to mixture in bowl & blend well with a fork. Stuff mixture into egg halves. Sprinkle tops of yolk mixture with paprika.

Giving Thanks and Getting Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It’s not about the presents, the candy, or the decorations; it’s about being thankful for what you already have.

The focus of Thanksgiving is love, appreciation, and family.  (And food, which is always a favorite topic of mine!)

Happy Thanksgiving; ceramic pie dish with pumpkin lid with squash and corn around it

Every fall I decorate with this ceramic pumpkin dish, and I bake a pie or put a special treat inside for Thanksgiving day.  This year, my husband has an extra-wide smile on his face because the dish is full of pralines, his favorite dessert!

I was looking back through old photos today and recalling fun thanksgiving memories and family traditions:

  • My daughter and I taking walks to gather pretty fall leaves to display down the center of our table.
  • Setting out homemade decorations like squash and corn from the garden and pretty fall images overlaid with scriptures about being thankful.
  • Spending time outside with our dogs and chickens and jumping into piles of leaves.
  • Gathering pecans in the yard, then cracking them in my Dad’s workshop near the toasty wood stove.  He mounted a heavy-duty nutcracker onto a homemade bench.  A quick flip of the handle, and the cracked nut falls into a container that hangs underneath — so easy!
  • Did I mention the traditional Thanksgiving meal?  Mashed potatoes.  Purple hulled peas.  Homemade pie.  It’s all so delicious!

One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods is my mother-in-law’s dressing.  Hot or cold, fresh or old, it’s so tasty I can eat it as a meal by itself!

People can have strong opinions about who makes the best dressing, but her’s is the one I prefer over all the others I’ve tasted.  She makes it slightly different each year because she doesn’t follow a recipe, but it always tastes great.

A few years ago she tweaked her recipe in an attempt to make it more healthy, and it was particularly delicious to me.  That afternoon, I sat her down while the process was still fresh in her mind and worked out the following recipe, which she is graciously allowing me to share with you.  It’s a little different than typical dressing because it does not contain sage (we have a family member who can’t eat sage).

“Healthy Cornbread Dressing”

Prepare cornbread and cooked chicken before making the dressing.

CORN BREAD:
2 cups white corn meal mix
1 large egg
1 cup milk

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine dry mix & milk, then add egg. Make sure the batter is thick, not soupy.  Put 2 Tbs. oil in 10″ iron skillet & preheat pan on stovetop until oil is hot. Add batter to skillet & bake about 20-30 minutes until lightly browned.

CHICKEN:
Boil 2-3 chicken breasts in plenty of water so you will have lots of broth. Season with salt, pepper, & a little Mrs. Dash Table Blend (contains: onion, black & chili peppers, parsley, celery seed, basil, bay, garlic, etc.)

DRESSING:
Mix:
1 10″ skillet of cornbread, crumbled small
2 Tbs. ground flax seed
1 Tbs. Mrs. Dash Table Blend 
3 large eggs
4 slices dry bread
Salt & pepper to taste

Then add:
Chicken or turkey broth — add enough to make it soupy (If you don’t have enough broth, add canned chicken broth.)
2-3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, or until lightly browned.

 

Want some dessert to eat after your dressing?  Try my best friend’s New-York-Style Cheesecake recipe!  Such a sweet delight!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or treats?

Cheese + Cake = Happy

Today, I want to tell you about two things that increase my level of happiness:

good friends and good food!

friends face problems together

photo from groundreport.com

There is a precious lady who has been one of my best friends since I bumped into her during my first hour as a college student.  She was walking down the sidewalk and saw me talking to my parents as they were about to leave.  Being a kind soul, she introduced herself and invited me to go with her and her friends.

Imagine my poor parents releasing their little bird from the nest as their daughter ventures off into semi-adulthood.  They bring me to the campus, help me lug 800 pounds of clothing and supplies up to the ninth floor of the dorm.  With a wistful look of love in their eyes, they give me a final hug goodbye and prepare to drive back home without their “little girl.”

What do these sweet people receive in return?  A glimpse of the back of their daughter’s head as I skip away, calling over my shoulder, “I love you.  See you later.  I’m going with them–bye!”

A couple of weekends later, I even stayed at my new friend’s house, rather than going home to my parents.  I suppose I was merely enjoying being able to spread my wings a little.

(Wow…I dread when that day comes for me and my precious daughter!  It will be here all too soon…)

So begins a story of true friendship spanning over twenty years.  One thing I quickly discovered about my friend is that she and her mother are great cooks, which brings me to the second source of happiness I mentioned:  food!

a rainbow of foods: strawberries, oranges, popcorn, peas, and berries

The only problem with my friend’s cooking talent is that I had trouble duplicating a few of her delicious dishes.  Why?  She rarely measures ingredients!  Aaah!  (At that point in my life, a recipe was required for me to prepare anything other than hot dogs or frozen pizza. Lol.)

One of our favorite things to enjoy–when we were young and skinny and could eat like hogs without expanding until we looked like hogs–was her homemade cheesecake.  After several failed attempts to recreate the delicious dessert, I made her sit down with me to write out a recipe.

Here’s what I got:  “Well, you need three packages of cream cheese, some sour cream, some eggs, some sugar, and a little vanilla…Then it’s just graham crackers and butter for the crust.”  This did not precisely fit my definition of a “recipe.”

Through mild interrogation of my friend and further experimentation on my own, I developed a very close facsimile of her delicious cheesecake which I am glad to share with you.  May it bring as much joy and delight to your palate as it has to me and my family over the years!

In my special, handmade recipe book, I have this dessert titled as “Cheesecake.”  That’s rather boring and doesn’t do justice to the high quality of the dish, so how about this:

“Oh-How-I-Wish-I-Could-Eat-the-Whole-Thing-Right-Now!  New-York-Style  Cheesecake”

CRUST:
1 1/2 – 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 – 6 Tbs. melted butter

Mix both together & press into bottom of a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish.

FILLING:
3 (8oz.) packages cream cheese (softened)
8-16 oz. sour cream
2-3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt (don’t add this if your butter is salted)

Beat filling ingredients until creamy (about 3 minutes) and pour into baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, then turn off oven (don’t open the door!) & leave cheesecake in oven for one hour (this lets it finish cooking without cracking or drying out around the edges).  It is done when a toothpick comes out clean in center of cheesecake.