Repurposed Sheets and Fort Kits

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Our home is small.  Back in the 40’s when it was built, I’m sure it was considered a decent size.  And even after a bedroom and larger bathroom addition, I bet they thought it was grand.  But when you put three kids and their parents, a dog, and two home businesses into 700 square feet, you get some very tight moments.  I’ve tried to section off the house when I’m working.  The kids can play in this area, and as long as they clean up, they can do pretty much any crazy imaginational play they want.  The routine has been to play school time, craft time, snack time, ninja sneaking/ballerina dancing time, and fort time in that order.

fort play

And almost always forts are the hardest thing to clean up.  Tears!  Tears ensue because of all the work putting it up and their expectations of sleeping in it for the night.  I never said they could sleep in it, mind you, it’s just those high hopes.

fort kit bag

So my high hopes this year was to make them a fort kit.  It was such an easy process to sew Tshirt yarn ties to the ends of sheets, I started making more and using up my vintage fabric stash.  I’ve got an etsy shop and I thought I’d test the waters to see if they’d sell (which they’re selling wonderfully).  So here’s my shameless plug for my shop, or if you’re so inclined, inspiration to put a kit together yourself.  It’s been very worth it for our tiny home.

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The idea of repurposing sheets to be used in kid play makes my heart happy!

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Camping Donuts

Happy Camper

Recently while camping, I attempted to make donuts.  By SHEAR LUCK, it was a success.  I’ve had a lot of baking moments flop on me this last while, so I wasn’t holding my breath with these.  But the three things I had in my favor were: 1-butter 2-sugar 3-the “fry” factor!  Anything’s better fried!  jiffy donuts

There are a couple of ways to do this.  The easy way is to pack some jiffy dough, oil and frosting.  We used some vanilla pudding to make them more “eclair-like”.  But whatever suits your fancy.  I bought the croissant version which was quite heavy with oils.  Don’t get me wrong, it was gooood, but we had to sit down afterwards and work on our digestion.

cup cutter

At this point, all you have to do is roll out your dough with a cup or jar.  Cut the rounds with the same jar.  And fry them up.  If you’ve never fried dough before, check out the end of this post for frying tips.

To make the dough from scratch is really easy and a much healthier alternative.

“Healthier?  Really?  These are donuts, Ju!”

Well then, healthier… for a donut.

butter

Ok, so here’s my process:

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbs. yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Let soak and proof about 10 minutes

Then add

  • 1 Tbs rum
  • 1  cup whole wheat
  • 4 cups white bread flour
  • 1 cup room temp butter cut into small chunks

Add the flour and butter in 1/2 c. batches while mixing in between.

butter chunks in dough

Now mix the batter for a good 10 minutes helping the gluten to stretch.  The most important part is not getting your batter too thick.

It should be sticky!  See in picture below:

super sticky dough

Before any rising time.

I allow two rising periods.  Make sure it’s doubled in size (about 30 minutes) then punch down and allow to rise a second time.  These two rising periods cause the gluten to stretch and the batter will become less sticky.

After two rising periods with no extra flour added.  Notice the stickiness is stretchy not gooey.

After two rising periods with no extra flour added. Notice the stickiness is stretchy not gooey.

After it’s done rising, lay down a bed of flour, pour your dough out on top, sprinkle more flour on top and press out.  Keep the dough coated in flour being careful to not let it stick to the counter underneath.  Roll out ’till it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick.roll out doughAt this point, you can cut the dough into squares, circles, or traditional donut rounds.  I used a biscuit cutter and a decorators’ tip.

improvised donut cutter

Save the small holes for donut-hole treats!

Lay out all your donuts in sheets to freeze.  Once frozen, place in a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer ’till your ready.

frozen donut sheetsNow to take them camping:

I put the ziplock bag of prepared donuts with my frozen foods ’till I was ready.  The night before I put them in my  unfrozen cooler to thaw.  The morning of, set them out on a floured paper towel strip to rise for 30 minutes.  Place another paper towel strip over top to keep the bugs off.  Bugs like dough.

small dough in oil

I loved how quickly this enamel pot heats the oil up.  The cast irons take forever and it’s harder to cool off if the oil gets too hot.  You don’t want it too hot or they’ll burn.  So with the propane (where it’s all or nothing) keeping the oil at a good temperature was tricky.  Once I turned the heat on, I stayed with it and would throw little tester dough balls (like the one pictured above) in the oil.  Those are the bubbles you want.  Small quiet ones.  Once I get this effect, I turned my propane down as low as it would go.  That seems to do the trick.

chock stick fryersChopsticks work great for flipping the dough.  Let one side fry ’till you can see the golden color, then flip, about 1 minute on each side.  Make one, then test to see if it’s still doughy on the inside.  Don’t be afraid to let it get darker in color, so the inside can cook all the way through.

perfect homemade donutPlace on a paper towel and let cool.

donut holesThe kids loved the little donut holes.

homemade eclairSome we filled with vanilla pudding and topped with fudge frosting.

And some we left traditional.

homemade donut

Donuts and coffee for breakfast is my kinda camping!