Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Luxurious Lotion

If you spend some time looking at the labels of lotions you will probably become more cautious about what products you are using on yourself and your family.  When you start to research the topic in more depth you may never want to buy lotion again.  Take a look at this article by the environmental working group Know the Ingredients in your personal care products - it may send shivers down your spine.

What more reason do you need to began making some of your own body products?  If you need them, I can give you a few:
  1. It is fun!
  2. You have complete control over what ingredients you use
  3. Be creative, you can create whatever scents and styles you desire
  4. You have control over how creamy, thick, etc your lotion is
  5. Most importantly you know you are putting a safe product on yourself and your children.

The following recipe is from Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Heath, a wonderful book if you'd like to try making more of your own body care products.  Here is what you need to began.

  • 2/3 cup Water.  distilled water will do, but try  some different hydrosols to add a delicious scent and the benefits of the hydrosol.  I love rose hyrdrosol, which is renown for it's benefits for aging skin.
  • 1/3 cup Aloe Vera Gel
  • 1 to 2 drops Essential oils if you'd like.  But do not use if you are planning on putting your lotion on babies and small children
  • Vitamin A or E for a preservative
  • 3/4 cup Olive, almond, grapeseed or apricot oil
  • 1/3 cup Coconut oil or cocoa butter
  • 1/4 tsp lanolin or 1 T shea butter
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce grated or pastilles beeswax

I get all of my supplies from Mountain Rose Herbs an incredible company, that practices ethical harvesting of endangered herbs and organic herbs and supplies.

I use an organic olive oil as my carrier oil  of choice (other options are olive, almond, grapeseed or apricot).   To get my oil ready for making lotion I fill up a ball jar with my soothing skin herbs of choice.   I always use calendula, an incredible skin herb, I add a mixture of comfrey, yarrow and lavender to name  a few.  Than fill up the bottle with your oil, place it in a sunny windowsill for about 6 weeks and it will be ready to use in your lotion.  Every time I make lotion, I fill up another jar, place it in the windowsill and when I am out of lotion and ready to make more the oil is ready.

When you are ready to make your lotion, you simply pour out the oil into cheesecloth to strain out the herb and  it is ready.   The herbs can than be composted.

Step 1:
Combine the waters in a glass measuring cup.  Set aside.

Step 2:
In a double boiler over low heat, combine the oils.  Heat them just enough to melt.

Step 3:
Pour the oils into a blender and let them cool to room temperature.  The mixture should become thick, creamy, semisolid and cream colored.

Hot oil

Room temperature oil

Step 4:
When the mixture has cooled, turn on the blender at its highest speed.  In a slow, thin drizzle, pour the water mixture into the center vortex of the whirling oil mixture.

Step 5:
When most of the water has been added to the oils, listen to the blender and watch the cream.  When the blender coughs and chokes and the cream looks thick and white, like buttercream frosting, turn off the blender.  You can slowly add more water, beating it in by hand with a spoon, but don't overbeat!  The cream will thicken as it sets.

Step 6:
Pour into cream or lotion jars.  Store in a cool location.

Now you have this wonderful rich lotion that goes on smooth and doesn't feel greasy, and doesn't leave you feeling dry either.   Wonderful!  Enjoy

Oh and hopefully your baby will look like this during the entire preparation :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

First eggs!

Yes, our girls have started to lay!  I was so excited to see an egg in the nesting box when I checked this morning.  A small brown, perfect egg.

I assumed it was Boulder who laid the egg.  She has been doing the rooster dance for about a week now, and spending time in the nesting box.

But, after we brought in the egg and began to fry it up, I heard the egg laying squawk outside.  I hustled back out to the coop which Boulder was just exiting.  She was the second layer of the day - so who was the first?  Hmmmmm  . .

Our little pullet egg, was slightly smaller than a normal egg.

Gage (um, I mean superman) and I decided to fry up our first egg, while it was still warm.  We fried it up by itself so we could truly appreciate the taste of our first egg.   I held the camera and Gage got to work cooking the egg.

The yolk broke slightly from its long decent into the frying pan.  But it was a beautiful orange yolk, firm enough to sit up and smile at you.

So much prettier, tastier and healthier than eggs from confined hens.  Hens that spend their lives inside, in cages or not.  Being inside all of the time makes for unhappy hens and unhealthy eggs.   There is a huge difference in taste as well as nutritional value between fresh egg from a free range hen and confined hen's eggs.

Eggs from hens raised on pasture have:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 4 to 6 times more vitamin D

So if you haven't tried them, find some real free-range eggs from a farmer or friend and try them out.  YUMMY.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Making your own yogurt is one of the easiest and most satisfying things you can do.  Yogurt made at home is creamy and fresh, filled with great living probiotics for your family and sugar-free.  Most yogurt purchased at the store has a lot of added sugar.  When you make your own you can add a little sugar, honey or maple sugar for sweetness and whatever fruit you prefer.  We love berries in our yogurt and fresh nectarines off of our trees.

The first things I would recommend is to start with organic whole milk.  I know we live in a culture that views fat as the enemy, but fat is so important in the flavor and consistency of yogurt.  Low-fat yogurt has added thickeners to make it firm and palatable.  If you try to make it at home with out all of those yucky additives you will most be likely unhappy with the results.  We should always go organic when it comes to dairy products, as they have the some of the highest quantities of pesticides as well as growth hormones and antibiotics.  Too many bad things to mention.  But organic, particularly grass fed dairy is a good addition to our diet (unless, of course you are lactose intolerant).

To get started all you need is whole milk and some plain, organic yogurt with live cultures.  You can buy yogurt starters as well.  That can be a good way to start, especially if you are looking to have a particular style of yogurt.  Different yogurt starters can give you more creamy, thicker or tangier yogurts.  Here is a website with some yogurt cultures

All you need to get started is a double boiler, a thermometer, a spoon and your culture or plain yogurt.

I ran out of plain yogurt, so I used the "plain" part of this strawberry yogurt.  Hey, sometimes you just got to use what you have.  :)  I love the book Nourishing Traditions, it has a yogurt recipe as well as many other useful recipes and advice.  It is definitely a worthwhile book to add to your cook book library.  We get raw milk in these glass containers, I find that raw milk yogurt is the best.  

Place 4 cups whole milk into the double boiler.  Gently heat the milk to 180 degrees and allow to cool to about 110 degrees. 

Once the milk is 110 degrees stir in 1/2 cup yogurt or yogurt starter.  Pour into a glass, enamel or stainless steel container - I use a ball canning jar.  At this point you need to keep your yogurt at about 95 degrees for 8 hours.  The easiest way to do this is in a dehydrator.  I love mine and use it all of the time.  If you don't have a dehydrator you can cover the container and place it in a warm oven for 8 hours.  If it is a hot sunny day, cover it and put it outside out of the sun for the 8 hours.  The other option is to get a yogurt maker.   These range in price from $20 to $60, you can get them at Target or Amazon.  They are an affordable and provide an easy way to make yogurt regularly.

After the 8 hours you should have a firm, smooth, yummy yogurt that you now put in the refrigerator.  Because there are no additives to your yogurt you will see a slight separation of the whey.  The clear liquid can just be poured off before you eat the yogurt or stirred in.   

Yogurt is a fantastic treat to have with fruit or granola.  It may disappear as you make it.  But if you find  you have some left over, try this recipe.  It is my favorite yogurt recipe. 

Brown Sugar-Yogurt Tart in a Nut Crust 
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by:  Deborah Madison (Awesome cookbook!  highly recommend)

Nut Crust:

1/2 cup almonds, pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup white or whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 T light brown sugar
5 T butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla mixed with 2 T water

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  toast the nuts on a sheet pan until they smell good, about 8 minutes.  Cool, then chop half the nuts finely and the other half coarsely,  Toss all the nuts, flour, salt and sugar in a bowl, then cut in the butter using your fingers or two knives.  Add the vanilla-water bit by bit.  Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball.   Line the dough into a 9 inch tart pan or shallow pie pan.  Refrigerate until firm.


1 1/4 cups yogurt, preferably whole mik, drained*
2 eggs
3 T butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 T Flour

Whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar, then stir in the flour.  Set the shell on a sheet pan, pour in the batter, and bake until set and browned, 30 to 35 minutes.  Serve warm.

*(Stir yogurt until smooth, than pour it into a strainer lined    with a double layer of cheesecloth.  Fold the ends over the top and set the whole unit over a bowl to drip.  Let it drip for about 25 minutes to lose a good portion of the whey)

This is a fantastic and relatively easy tart.  A great use for extra yogurt.  Enjoy!!