Wednesday, July 22, 2009


We went to Colorado last week for a wonderful vacay. It was our first vacation as a family of five and we all loved it. I'd be lying if I said driving 2400 miles with three small children was the easiest thing we've ever done. All in all, it was great and we'd do it all over again. I will post pics soon. We are enjoying getting back to normal life and seeing all our peops.

In other news, I'm obsessed with Julia Child. My mom watched her when I was a wee tot and I feel like my love for cooking somehow ties back to Julia's show. A really neat movie is coming out August 7 that highlights some of her life and the life of a blogger who took on the task of cooking every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia's cookbook) in one year. I have the cookbook and have already cooked two recipes from it's pages. I sleep with this book under my pillow. I love it. I am also reading My Life in France. Julia wrote this book, with help from an author in her fam, chronicling the time she and her man lived in France. It is amazing. I can't put it down. I need a bigger pillow so this book will fit under it along with the cookbook that is making all my culinary dreams come true. On opening night of the movie, I am planning a small feast consisting of a few of Julia's specialties for my ma, Nana, sisters and my gal pal, Julie, who is soon to become the fifth Alford sister. After dinner we are going to see the movie. I will hopefully have pictures to show the fruits of my labor. The Babydad is not totally on board as he thinks I am crazy. Anyhow, the blog has gotten enough time today and I will post pics lata. Peace.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rum Cake

The first time I ever tasted a Rum Cake was in 2002 when I was working as a waitress at Macaroni Grill. One of the manager’s wives had made several Rum Cakes and they were dispersing them as gifts to other managers. A manager who received the cake as a gift was kind enough to give me a piece of her cake. I had never tasted anything like it. It was extremely moist, not too sweet, not too dense with an out of this world flavor! I went to the manager whose wife had made the cake and told him it was absolutely delicious and that I just had to have the recipe. He refused to give me the recipe saying that it was “in his family”. So, I searched for four years for this recipe. I tried one recipe after another thinking that it would be it with no success.

In the fall of 2007, my family and I had lunch with a couple of Charlie, my step-dad’s, relatives. Somehow we got on the subject of cakes and I mentioned the Rum Cake and my frustration in not being able to find the recipe. Charlie’s Aunt Vi piped up and said she had the recipe and would be happy to send it to me! Within two days, I had the recipe, cut straight from one of her cookbooks. I made the cake that day. Aunt Vi helped me hit the jackpot. The recipe is below. It is amazing, unique and wonderful.

Aunt Vi passed away last weekend. She was in her eighties and had a good life. She loved Jesus and I'm sure she's loving Him right now. Her funeral is tomorrow and I made a Rum Cake tonight for her sweet daughter who will miss her very much.

Rum Cake
½ cup chopped pecans
1 box yellow cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
½ cup light rum
½ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

Grease and flour Bundt pan or 10” tube pan. Spread nuts in bottom of pan. Place cake mix and pudding mix in large mixing bowl; add rum, oil, water and eggs. Mix for 2 minutes. Pour batter into cake pan. Bake at 325 for 60 minutes. Remove cake from oven and immediately pour on Hot Rum Glaze. Hot glaze will cause cake to settle but don’t be alarmed for cake will be yummy. Cool cake for thirty minutes then remove to plate.

Hot Rum Glaze:
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
¼ cup light rum
¼ cup water

Place ingredients in a small saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

After much experimentation I have perfected my recipe for laundry detergent. The recipe along with a few tips and suggestions follow:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

36 cups water
1-1/2 cup Washing Soda
1-1/2 cup Borax
1 bar Soap (grated) I use Dove white

  • In a large pot, heat 18 cups of water. Add the grated bar soap and stir until melted. Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.
  • Then add 18 cups water to the heated soap mixture. Transfer to storage containers. I reuse big liquid detergent or fabric softener containers. The mixture will gel and will need to be stirred or shaken a little before each use.
  • Use 1/2 cup per load.

When I make this I make the whole thing in my huge stainless steel stockpot…it holds about 14 quarts. Do not use a coated or Teflon pan, the borax is a cleaning agent and will strip the inside of your pot. Trust me on this one. A key is really letting the bar soap heat up quite a bit until the shreds are almost dissolved. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just be sure the shredded soap is not in any big clumps. Then, when I add the borax and washing soda (both of which I buy at Kroger in the section with cleaning products), they dissolve quickly.

A few tips to using this detergent:

  • It is not color safe. Do not mix your reds, blacks, or dark blues with any light colors. Tide spoiled me and kept me from really doing the best sorting job.
  • If you are doing a load full of black clothes, add an extra rinse cycle. Occasionally, my black pants will come out with white streaks or spots on them from the soap.
  • When I wash white towels, I will often throw in a scoop of Oxyclean (I buy the Wal Mart brand, Sun Oxygen Cleaner). This is not necessary, but our white kitchen towels get really nasty and need a little extra whitening.
  • The detergent is not perfumed at all. You can add essential oils if you want to go that route.
  • I use Sauvitel fabric softener, which is gentle on my babies’ sensitive skin and mine. I also really like the scent of Sauvitel, so it makes up for that fresh Tide smell that I miss.
  • Making my own detergent has saved us quite a bit of money. Dollar for dollar, I don’t know how much cheaper it is than store-bought detergent. I do know that one box of Borax and one box of Washing Soda (each less than $4) has lasted me nearly a year and I do a lot of laundry.
  • This recipe is very easy to make in smaller quantities. When I first started making my own detergent, I made one third of this recipe and it turned out great.

Below is my huge pot of detergent:

I use a funnel to transfer the detergent into an old container.

Both fabric softener bottles were filled with detergent and the ice cream bucket was a little over half full.

And, the babies: :)