Sunday, September 7, 2014

EPIC Kitchen Fail!

The other day, I saw this video, about alternative ways to dry extra herbs you might have from your growing season - it intrigued me. I am always looking for fast and easy ways to do things, and thought I'd give this a try. I set out this morning to try the microwave technique. Here is how it started:

It started out with a bunch of sage.


I cut off the stems from the herb.


I separated them by size so they would process evenly.


I started with the smaller leaves first.


Covered and put in the microwave (excuse the mess in there).


Processed it at 20 second intervals, like the video says. This batch took 60 seconds.


They came out pretty good after 60 seconds. Nice and crisp and the leaves stayed whole.


Ok, next size up.


After 20 seconds, you see it starting to shrivel.


After 40 seconds, it shriveled more. Needs one more go around . . .


Then this happened - it burst into flames!!
 Blurry pic from opening the microwave and taking a fast pic.


"Oh $@#&!!". I panicked a bit as it continued to burn. I closed the door, blocking the air flow and just let it burn.
I opened the door to snap this, closed it quick and went to open all windows 
and turn on all fans.


Done burning. It sure made a mess.


Two sage leaves burnt to a crisp - everything else was gone.


Charred remains.


Microwave turntable waiting to get washed.


So, that was my adventure this morning in the kitchen. I will post on Martha Stewart's site that it did not work, I'll show the burning pic so there's proof that my venture went up in flames. I guess I am going back to my old way of drying herbs - by tying it and hanging it upside down in a cool place for two weeks.

9/7 UPDATE: Because I cut off the stems, I had nothing to tie and hang them with, so I put them on a screen and elevated it off the floor so the air can circulate around the sage. I will leave them undisturbed for 2 weeks and they should be dried and ready for storage to use in the future.


As for the smell - microwave burnt smells are hard to get rid of. What I did and always do when things get stinky is, I put some water in a mug and add some lemon essential oils (about 10 drops) and heated it up for about 2 minutes. That took away most of the smell, the rest will dissipate with use.


Thanks for reading!


Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Please be sure that your email address is sited so you can receive my response. Thanks!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Healing Salves

 

My journey with healing salves started with me always having itchy skin - it was eczema. I had moved to Washington State in 1994 from Hawaii, and for most of my adult life in Hawaii, I always had itchy skin. I could never wear anything with long sleeves. I knew Washington was colder, so just before the move, I bought myself sweatpants and even wearing that was difficult. The fleece side of the pant irritated my legs so bad, I had to wear them inside out. I learned years later that it was my diet that caused my skin to itch so bad.

Fast forward to 1998, a local lavender farm, Purple Haze Lavender Farm was offering classes on making products with herbs. I love lavender and it peaked my curiosity to know that I could learn to make stuff with it. I attended the class and I learned how to make tinctures, salves, and infusions - it was so much fun, I was hooked. My oldest daughter Dawn, was starting Evergreen State College in Olympia around that time. Olympia is about a 3-4 hour drive from where we live in Port Angeles. Every year, we would make the trek up there to spend 1 or 2 weeks with her and got to know the town pretty well. At this one store called Radiance, they sold bulk herbs, books and other goodies that I just loved. During one of my first visits, I came across this book and I bought it. I immediately immersed myself in that book and learned everything I could and started making some of the recipes. That sent me on my way to making and loving salves.

The first bunch of salves I made were from single herbs that had specific healing qualities. At that time, I was having skin issues - I had eczema and would itch all the time. I found out that calendula was great for helping with itch, so the first salve I made was calendula, and I loved it - it worked so well on my skin. The next salve I tried was lavender. Lavender is great for burns and stress and what's so nice about this salve is that the lavender scent never leaves - even after infusing and making something with it, it still has that great lavender smell. I made comfrey salve for cuts, and that was a big hit. I have shared my salves with my family first, then friends and everyone loved it. Eventually I started selling my salves.

There are many carrier oils that can be used with making salve - coconut oil, grape seed oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, and others, but the carrier oil I use is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). It is readily available and if bought in bulk, can be rather inexpensive, and I can get it locally from a natural food store - I always have some in my kitchen as I cook with it, but it is great for your skin also.

Now I'm venturing into making salves with multiple herbs and I have hit upon a jackpot. I make a Healing Salve - my best seller. It has turmeric, comfrey, calendula, and slippery elm. Turmeric is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and is great for fungal issues - it has cancer stopping properties. This spice is very popular in alternative healing. Comfrey as I said above, is also good with bruises, fungal issues, infections and sprains - not for use on infants and children. Along with helping itchy skin, Calendula is great for inflamed skin, fungal issues and is safe to use on infants and children. Slippery Elm has drawing properties that makes it great for acne and boils. I have put all these together into one salve. My husband tried it, he has personal itching issues and he loves it! It got him off of using Noxema. The only issue is staining (underwear), but that outweighs the healing property of what this salve does. I have one friend, Tracey, that I gave salve to as a Christmas present last year, and she has since bought three more for family members back east. They have tried it and wanted to get their own.   


Dawn now lives in Hawaii and has a friend who had a newborn infant and needed something for diaper rash. I researched and found that Calendula and Slippery Elm would work great for babies and I now have a Baby's Salve available. Baby's Salve would work great for adults, as well as infants and children, who have sensitive skin issues. This salve would work great for diaper rash, cradle cap, and eczema. 


I have in the planning, to make a salve for sunburn - which would have lavender and aloe infused in coconut oil and EVOO. I also want to add Myrrh to the Baby's Salve. Myrrh has antiseptic properties and it great for acne, boils and inflamed skin - that will be my Acne Salve. Both of these are on the back burner at the moment and will soon be produced.

All of my salves, along with other things I make (I sew bags and other small things), can be found in my Etsy Shop. Go take a look at what's there and see if anything interests you. Everything I sell has been handcrafted by me - I can custom make most of my sewn items. If you have any questions on my salves, custom orders or anything handcrafted by me, please ask in the comments section or email me and I will be sure to get back to you. Enjoy shopping in my shop and let me know if I can assist you in any way.

Thanks a lot for reading about me and my herbal journey. Hopefully this has interested you in trying one of my salves. I do have samples available and will have smaller sizes soon for sale.

Have an awesome herby day!!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Please be sure that your email address is sited so you can receive my response. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Cut it Again!


My oldest daughter, Dawn recently came home for a visit. I was amazed at how long her hair had gotten so, we took a hair comparison photo.
Dawn is at your left, Heather is in the center and me on the right.

After seeing this pic, I had realized that my hair cutting with the gadget I had made didn't look so good. I really didn't like how it layered at the ends - the bottom was really thin.

I cut my hair by turning my head upside down with the gadget, which creates natural layers, and didn't like how it turned out. I had cut my hair before and it turned out great. After seeing the above pic, I decided that I didn't want layers anymore, just wanted a straight cut. To do that, I needed an extra hand. Last night, kind of on a whim, my daughter Heather was here doing laundry and I asked if she could help me cut my hair. 


 See how thin it is at the bottom?


I've been wanting to go back to just a straight cut for a while, but I needed another person to help me. My husband is left handed, and I didn't think he could manipulate the scissors enough to cut evenly. Since Heather was over, I seized the moment. I asked if she wouldn't mind helping me, and take pictures at the same time so I could write about.


So I wet my hair, and we went at it. We put my hair in the gadget, and Heather began cutting.



I held on to the form and she began cutting about 1/2" longer than the form. She was cutting it longer so she could go back and cut it perpendicular,  like how a hair dresser does - her choice, smart girl!



All cut!


Done! I just had to clean it up on the sides, but that's pretty much it.


After washing and flat ironing it this morning.



How I look from the front (my head tilts to my left naturally, which is why it looks longer on that side).
 I went to see my friend Tracey today and she was totally impressed, especially when I told her that Heather cut it.

What do you think? Am I crazy for cutting my own hair?


Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Please be sure that your email address is sited so you can receive my response. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cutting My Own Hair Again!

This morning I cut my hair again. This time I didn't want a straight cut at the ends - I really don't like straight cuts, I like them curved. Last year when I was researching how to cut my own hair on You Tube, I came across videos women were using with this tool. It was really cool, but I couldn't see myself paying that much for something I could make myself. Mine doesn't have the teeth inside for grabbing your hair, but it held enough for me to cut my hair, and it came out just the way I wanted it.




If you look at the pics in my first hair cutting post, you will see that the ends of my hair is pretty much straight. I did have a cool video link to how I cut my hair like that, but sadly, the video was removed.

Anyways, back to making this cool tool that I didn't want to buy - here is the one I made yesterday, it was so easy.


Here is how I made it:

I took a large piece of paper and something circular that I wanted the shape of the ends of my hair to be - I believe I used a large bowl (I drew the design months ago and set it aside, it might have been a large plate). I drew it about 1" wide and cut out the pattern. I then took thick foam core and taped the pattern to the foam.


I used an exacto knife with a straight, flat blade.


I held the knife straight, and cut down. If I use the regular angular blade, I have a tendency to cut in, which creates an uneven cut.



I went back to the angular blade and cut in between the cuts made with the straight blade - if you overlap your cuts, you can avoid this (I tried, but still had some areas attached).


Ready for the other side to be cut.


Done!


Now, repeat this process to cut another one that's identical.


I used a hole punch and simple office supply brads (shown above) to secure the two together.



Ta Da!!


It didn't feel like it could hold my hair, foam core is not rigid, so I ended up punching another hole in the center for hold.


I did buy a level that's used for RV's and thought maybe I could attach this somehow. That CreaClip has a level on it so you can get a straight cut and your hair won't be crooked, but I don't know if I really need it.


What do you think?


So am I crazy for cutting my own hair? I would love to know you're opinion? The tool is too wide for my hair - I have thinned out over the years, so I will shorten it for next time, which will probably make it hold better. My husband, Jim btw, said it wouldn't work because it needed to have a rigid backing. I will show him my hair this evening and see what he thinks. I bet he'll be impressed.


Thanks for reading!


Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Please be sure that your email address is sited so you can receive my response. Thanks!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Apple Rice Muffins


I've been gluten free since 2007. When I first started out, I was using mainly rice flour for all my baked goods. Years after researching and following many gluten free bloggers, I learned about almond flour and started using it - I fell in love with it. It was so easy to use - I made a lot of recipes with this flour.

Recently, I have been having several health issues and I took a food intolerance test. When I got the results back, almonds were high on the list of foods I should not eat - I was really bummed, I had to figure something out. What can I use? I tried the gluten free mix at Costco, but that has buckwheat, and buckwheat is on my list too. Not as high as almond flour, but it might as well be. I decided to go back to rice flour. I have to scrap all my almond flour recipes and start looking for rice flour recipes. On one of my searches, I found this recipe for Rice Flour Muffins. I also found a different recipe for apple muffins. I decided that I would combine the two recipes and make my own. Here's how I made it.

Take the half of an apple (eat the other half for a snack) and grate it on a medium sized grater in a bowl. Scoop up the grated apples and squeeze it in your hands and let the juice fall into the bowl. Place the apples on a clean paper towel and squeeze whatever is left in the apples. You really don’t want wet apples in the batter, it will make your batter too soupy. Pour the apple juice into a measuring cup. (Please read notes at the bottom regarding grating your apple).



 Add enough dairy free milk to equal 1/2 cup, I used *almond milk - I have also used rice milk in the past.


Dry ingredients in a bowl waiting to be mixed together (I had forgotten to add the cinnamon at this point and added it later).


This is how I do my nuts - I put them on a small baking sheet that will fit in my toaster oven and toast it like I would make toast (on the medium setting) - keep an eye on them, they can burn if your setting is too high. I let them cool on a cutting board. After it's cooled, I take a measuring cup (I used the ¼ cup) and lightly pound on each nut. I find chopping nuts better this way, no chasing after runaway nut pieces. Any larger pieces can just get broken up with your fingers. 


Wet ingredients.


All incorporated.


I used a 1/4  measuring cup so each muffin has the same amount of batter. Last time, I ended up with eight muffins, this time I had seven and a half. If you get less than one muffin cup worth, you can divide it among the other cups, or just bake it like I did.


7-1/2 cups filled and ready for baking.


Testing for doneness - I use a clean barbecue skewer I keep in my utensil caddy for this, when done, just wipe clean and put it back for next time.


Using the barbecue skewer to remove muffins - spraying well helps prevent any stickage. If you spray it well, it'll just dump out on your cooling rack - you don't even have to let it cool, it'll come right out.


Cooling off.


These didn't come out as big as the previous ones, that's my 1 tablespoon spoon (sorry, no pics of those). Each batch I make comes out differently - I do have a tendency to add things which changes the finished product.


They were sure yummy with some strawberry Earth Balance. I recently had a friend give me some homemade strawberry jam and I mixed it with some Earth Balance that I store in a small mason jar (no proportions, just mix the two as desired).
                                           

Printable Recipe   
Apple Rice Flour Muffins    

1 c. rice flour
2 tsp. baking soda           
1 tsp. cinnamon
up to 1/2 tsp. salt (I don't like a lot of salt)
1/2 c. toasted nuts of your choice (I used pecans)
2 tbs solid of melted coconut oil
1/2 a grated apple of your choice (I used a Gala)
1 tsp. honey
1 room temp egg
Apple juice squeezed from grated apple
Dairy free milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray 2 regular muffin tins with cooking spray, can also use a 24 cup muffin tin. Set this aside.

Measure and mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl, mix in nuts and set aside.

In a larger bowl, if your coconut oil is not melted, melt put 2 tablespoons of the solid oil in your bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Let it cool slightly, then add your egg, grated apple, honey, and enough milk to your app juice to equal 1/2 cup. Mix till thoroughly combined.

Dump your dry ingredients into the wet mix and using a spatula, incorporate everything together. You will be looking for a semi chunky pancake batter consistency.

Using a 1/4 measuring cup that's been sprayed with cooking oil, scoop a 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin tin.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, these took 13 minutes. Test the muffins to see if they are done by sticking a toothpick in the center. If there's stuff on it, put it back in the oven for another minute or so. Test again, in a different spot, it's done if it comes out clean.

Immediate take out your muffins (they should dump out easily) and let them cool. I store my muffins in a large zip top bag in the fridge. If you will be eating these everyday, like me, fridge storage is ok - for longer storage, I would put these in the freezer.

In the mornings, I cut them in half and schmear each with some strawberry Earth Balance - three halves do me nicely with my cup of tea.


Faith's Notes:

Don't grate your apples until just before using - they have a tendency to oxidize and that may effect the color of your muffins.

Despite what I said in the beginning about almonds, I recently went back to almond milk. Rice milk is twice the amount of calories as almond milk and I started mixing 1/2 milk and 1/2 water for my tea in the morning. I love the mouth feel of using milk with my Roiboos Chai tea.

In the future, I will just use 2 tablespoons in each muffin tin (half of 1/4 cup is 2 tablespoons), then I won't have to cut them in half and each one will have a nice top to it.

I will try and make these with an egg substitute to see how they turn out - that will be at a later time.


Happy Baking!!


Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Please be sure that your email address is sited so you can receive my response. Thanks!