Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Make Deodorant

I have tried many "safe" deodorants along the way; striving to find one that actually works AND has words I can pronounce. Its not an easy task. I have even considered the deodorant stones that are out there. Not just any stone mind you as now everyone is in on that market and you can get man-made deodorant crystals made from the very substances you were trying to avoid. I experimented with home made products as well. Intrigued by the powders that people claim to use, but never fully happy with the results or the powder floating all over the place. A dear friend of mine uses a similar recipe but adds coconut oil to the mix giving you a cream or salve-like texture. This intrigued me. I could deal with that and if I could find a recipe I like, perhaps I could pour it into an old deodorant stick and have an applicator to boot!
The recipe I ended up with is below. Its simple to make and it works. I apply a pea-sized amount to each underarm each morning. It works. I am pretty sensitive to smells, so if I stunk even the slightest bit, I wouldn't use it. I do not like body odor at all. So far, I have no complaints. Once it is in an applicator, its just like any other deodorant. You can put it in a jar and remove some with your fingers. You may find that using the 92 degree coconut oil is too hard. If so, scrape a little off to apply with a popsicle stick or a spoon. Then apply with your fingers. Other than a change of how you do it, it works quite the same.

Here's the first recipe:

1/3 cup coconut oil(92 degree), melted
3-5 T baking soda
4-5 T corn starch or arrowroot powder
10 drops of essential oil(I used lavender)*

Mix together the baking soda and corn starch in a small bowl. Add the coconut oil and mix well. Add the essential oils and you can also add 1/4 tsp vitamin E oil if desired. Mix well and pour into an empty deodorant applicator or into a small jar with a tight fitting lid and wide mouth. Allow to cool. Use daily as directed above.

Here's the second recipe:

1/3 cup coconut oil(76 degree)
3-5 T baking soda
4-5 T corn starch or arrowroot powder
10 drops of essential oil(I used lavender)

Mix together the baking soda and arrowroot in a small bowl. Add the coconut oil and using a pastry blender, mix well. Should be a crumbly mixture that melts when it comes in contact with your skin. Add the essential oils if desired and you can also add a 1/4 tsp vitamin E oil if desired. Mix well and keep in a small jar with a tight fitting lid and wide mouth. Use daily as directed above.

Let me know how you like it. If you try another essential oil, tell me about it. I picked lavender because I love the scent and because it has some anti-bacterial properties in it. I thought it would help fight odor causing bacteria and also prevent the deodorant from spoiling in the jar. The vitamin E oil was suggested by another friend for healthier skin. You may find you can raise or lower the baking soda, which is the active ingredient in the deodorant. My skin is somewhat sensitive, so I settled on the amount above, but it caused a rash when my mother tried it.

*Essential oil is not necessary and if your skin is sensitive, I recommend avoiding it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quick!! Free food!!!

Go here and watch the Chef Pepparation video to get an email certificate for a free order of chips and salsa at Chili's.

Go here to reserve a free spicy chicken from Chick Fil A.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Our family LOVES mexican-style food. Well, everyone except the oldest rugrat, but she eats it. It is impossible to duplicate authentic mexican food using the products that are on store shelves and the products on store shelves are often filled with preservatives, coloring and are loaded with GMO products. So, I have been making mexican food from scratch for many years. Enchiladas are a favorite of mine but I have yet to make them the right way, using corn husks and boiling them individually for my family. This recipe uses all those flavors and still comes out pretty good. Its quicker to make than individual enchiladas and a favorite at our house. I usually make the sauce early in the day and throw the casserole together in the evening. You can use any meat you want. If you have leftover pork, it makes a great enchilada. Just shred the meat, add the seasonings and use as a filling. I like to use chicken and find that ground beef is equally as delicious. You can also make this with just cheese. Use about 2 cups of cheese and a can of chopped green chilies and add the sauce below.

First you have to make the 
Enchilada Sauce
12 red Chili pods
2 cups boiling water
1 quart chicken stock
1 T cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
2 T flour
1 tsp sea salt

Place chili pods in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over them and allow them to soak for at least one hour. Mash them in the bowl. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a pot and discard the chili pods. Add all the remaining ingredients except the salt. Cook for 2 hours on low, allowing sauce to reduce to about 2-3 cups. Add the salt and use in the recipe below.

1 pound of chicken (or ground beef or cooked pork)
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
2 cups of above Enchilada sauce
1-2 cups of grated cheese(reserve for topping)

Place the meat in a large skillet and brown over medium heat. When cooked, drain the fat and add the onion, cooking till the onion is slightly translucent. Add the seasonings and sauce and mix well. Heat through, bringing to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook on low for about 10 minutes while you prepare the crust.

3 cups masa harina
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups water
2 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl and mix well. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Place the dough, which will be soft and slightly sticky in the baking dish. Press down lightly with your fingers, spreading the dough out evenly over the entire dish, and up the sides about an inch. Pour the filling onto the crust. Top with grated cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crust is lightly brown and cooked through.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Garden Abundance-Rhubarb

With spring comes rhubarb. A plant that many find no use for. To me its a nice departure from the norm and its tangy flavor and crunch makes many different dishes that much better. When most people think of rhubarb, they think strawberry rhubarb pie. Its a good thought, and a good pie, but one can only make so many in a season and then you have to move on. Strawberry rhubarb jam is another favorite but I find that the strawberries run out far more quickly than the rhubarb and so I have an abundance. In the garden, abundance breeds innovation and so we have Rhubarbecue Sauce. That's right, barbecue sauce made from rhubarb, and its GOOD!

The recipe is not difficult. A little prep work and measuring upfront and you leave it to cook. In the end you have a sauce you can use immediately or you can can it. One recipe will produce 4 pints of a delicious, thick sweet and tangy sauce that is really good on grilled chicken, pork and even poured over a pot of mini sausages. Here's the recipe:
chopping all the veggies is the most
time consuming job of this recipe.

Rhubarbecue Sauce

8 cups of chopped rhubarb
3 1/2 cups light packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped raisins
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt

Wash the rhubarb and chop off the ends. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Put the rhubarb, sugar, raisins, onion and vinegar in your crock pot. You do not need to add water as the rhubarb will start to let off water as it cooks. Cover tightly. Cook on high until everything is soft. Use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce. Add your seasonings. As the sauce begins to thicken, turn to low. Stir often to prevent burning around the edges. Vent the lid to allow moisture to escape and speed up the thickening process. Depending on the water content of the rhubarb, the entire process can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. The sauce will be thick when finished and a deep brownish red. The thicker the better, but it should be at least as thick as a store-bought sauce before you use it. You can process it if you wish or refrigerate for up to two weeks. To process, use a hot water bath for 20 minutes. 

The finished sauce is very thick and has a sweet/tangy flavor.

How to make Bagels

the finished product!

Bagels are fun to make. My kids really love them for breakfast and they are a break from the normal slice of toast. They are a little more labor intensive, so I usually double my recipe and then freeze them in gallon bags. That way we can use them when we feel like it and I don't have to worry about any going to waste. Bagels are ridiculously expensive in the store, especially the ones that are good for you, so this is another way to stretch your grocery dollar.

2 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup molassas
1 T yeast
2  tsp sea salt
6 cups hard white wheat, freshly ground

corn meal in a shallow dish(optional)

Combine water, honey. molassas, oil, salt, yeast and a cup of the flour. Mix will and allow to sit till mixture starts to bubble. Add half the remaining flour and mix well. Add the remaining flour a little at a time, mixing until you have a smooth, relatively dry, non-sticky doughball. Knead for 6-10 more minutes to develop the gluten completely. This is key to your perfect chewy on the outside, tender on the inside bagels. Cover and allow the dough to rise until double.

Set up for boiling before you begin. The bowl I mixed my
dough in is on the left with a cookie rack on top for draining
the wet bagels. On the right is my kettle for boiling
the bagels and a slotted spoon for removing them.

dough is shaped and ready to boil

Grease 2 large cookie sheets and set aside.
In a large pot combine one gallon of water a 1/3 cup honey and one tablespoon of baking soda and bring to a boil if you are making your bagels now.(see photos)

each little dough ball makes a 3-4" bagel
make the hole nice and big. It will
close up during the boiling process.
push your thumbs right through
the center of the dough ball.

Divide the risen dough into 8 equal portions. Form each dough portion into a ball and the turn the edges of the ball inward while punching a hole through the center with your thumb. Continue to roll this dough through and gradually stretch it out to a 2-3" hole. Each portion should look like a large doughnut. The holes will close during the boiling/baking process. Place these circles on a greased baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, allowing to rest about 10 minutes to “proof” the dough. At this point you can cover them all well with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator for a day. This will allow the yeast to do its magical work on the dough and will give you a much better flavor. However, its not necessary if you want your bagel now. Since your water bath should be starting to boil at this point you can preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Don't put too many bagels in at once or you will
lose your rolling boil. This is important so the
bagel doesn't get soggy. 

Place one or two bagels in the boiling honey water and cover the pot. Boil for about 30 seconds, uncover, flip the bagel over with a slotted spoon and cover again. The bagels usually sink, then rise in a few seconds. If they don’t, they rested too long, but are still fine. Just turn them over so that both sides get wet. After 1 minutes in the water, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a rack to drain. As you prepare to pull more out of the water, move each of the drained bagels to a small shallow dish of cornmeal, dusting the bottoms to give them a nice crunch, and help prevent sticking then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. 
the dough is now boiled, drained
and ready to bake

Once they have all taken a dunk in the water and have drained, bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes(depending on the size you chose). You can turn the over halfway through cooking if they are not browning on both sides.
Optional: You can brush them with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 2 T water then sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.  after they have their water bath and are dried off. The egg wash makes an ungarnished bagel look shiny as well, but is not necessary.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rainy Days

In the spring, I am usually VERY busy planting and tending to the garden in addition to wrapping up our school year and preparing for canning season. On the days when it is raining, I usually bake quite a bit so that I can "get ahead" for the days when I am outside in the garden all day. The last rainy day we had I decided it was time to use up the shredded zucchini I had in my deep freeze. When I run out of ambition to use the abundant green squash, I pull out my trusty food processor and shred it. I bag 2 cup portions in the economical freezer bags, squeeze out the air, tie them off and then fill the pricier gallon ziplocs with up to 8 of these ready-made zucchini balls.  The two cup portions are perfect for quite a few recipes that I have in my file folder. I made two loaves of chocolate zucchini bread and two loaves of pineapple zucchini bread on Tuesday and I wanted to share that recipe since its such a yummy one.

Pineapple Zucchini Bread
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup melted coconut oil
3 1/2 cups freshly ground wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup raisins
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease two 8x4" loaf pans. Set aside.
Combine eggs, honey, vanilla, coconut oil in a large bowl and mix well. Pour in flour, salt and baking soda and powder and mix well. Do not over mix though. Once you have a smooth batter, incorporate zucchini, pineapple and raisins, distributing everything well, but again, not over mixing. Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.