Almost every kitchen has a bottle of olive oil. Even though America is a little late to the olive oil game I'm so glad that it's become so common and that even in such an unexpected state such as Arizona I can find local olive oil (some of the best I've ever tried).
I use olive oil daily. Not just for cooking, but whenever my hands are dry from doing dishes, or gardening I just grab the bottle of olive oil and they are saved. I use olive oil when I make batches of lotion or scrubs. People for centuries have been using olive oil for beauty products and I decided that I'd much rather rub this all over me than something with a list of ingredients miles long that I have no idea what they can do to you.
Olive oil is very high in antioxidants and vitamin E. Both are great for the skin and will help reduce the effects of cell damage. You may think that olive oil is too heavy for your skin or too greasy, but you may be surprised. A small amount goes a long way and even the oiliest of skin still needs hydration. One of my favorite ways to use olive oil for my skin is in an exfoliator recipe that I found in a magazine years ago. It has lemon juice which is great for removing oil and adding vitamin C, but can be irritating so I only use it once a week. The honey in this recipe is great for acne because of it's antibacterial properties. The salt gently scrubs dead skin away and the best part is the soothing olive oil. I usually use this at night and after I rinse it off I'm ready for bed, no night cream. My skin is nice and dewy in the morning.
Honey Olive Oil Scrub
enough for one use
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt (or sugar)
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. After cleansing face gently rub this mixture all over your face (be careful of your eyes). Rinse with warm water, then cool water. Pat skin dry.
When I was little hot oil treatments for your hair were all the thing. My mom bought me one for my birthday and I was in heaven with the scent of the oil and the way my body was like jello after a few minutes of someone rubbing my head. I don't even remember how my hair looked or felt after.
I use hot oil treatments for my daughter's hair about once a month. She has curly dry hair that is sort of a chore. These treatments have helped, but honestly it's just a nice and relaxing evening for both of us. I usually make a bit more oil and rub it into my own hair after hers is done. The method couldn't be easier and I love to add some sort of fresh herb for fragrance. I've used rosemary, lavender and basil and all are great.
To make the hot oil treatment I add about 1/2 cup olive to a plastic bag and add whatever herbs I have on hand. I heat up water almost to a boil and add it to a large bowl and weight down the the bag so it is submerged in the water. When I'm ready to use I cut a tiny corner off the baggy so I can use it to pour in her hair where I want and it comes out slow. I comb it through her hair and then let it sit for 20 minutes before shampooing it out.
Olive oil is my favorite homemade beauty ingredient and I'm always looking for new ways to use it. Do you have any good ideas?
I've said it before, but bloggers seem to be just the nicest folks. I've seen some amazing things the past couple of years that I've been browsing around blogs. I've seen people participating in virtual bake sales to help people with surgeries. Auctions of home made goods to help a family through a terrible accident. People making donations because a family lost everything but each other in a house fire. And this Christmas I saw people connecting in the comments of a blog giving, and some who really needed to be given to. That one restored my hope in humanity.
I think most people who have met me think I'm a pretty optimistic person, and those who really know me have seen the side that is entirely fed up with and down right cynical about the whole of society. I don't wear this part because I don't believe that it is productive or inspiring, but in all honesty I don't see a lot of good in people most of the time. I like to think that helping out our fellow man is a good reason to get up in the morning, but the truth is that isn't easy and doesn't always happen.
My husband has worked in an area where he sees exactly what human is capable of, and how much of the world walks around doing. It ain't pretty listening to 911 calls all day. I worked in retail long enough to know that a small and trivial thing, that should be viewed as a luxury, can send a person into a spiral of hate so deep that they pretty much will put a curse on you and everyone you know with out batting an eye.
If there's one thing that we've both learned while becoming very cynical, is that there needs to be a light in all the darkness. You cannot let the world turn you in to what you find so awful. That seeking out the sparks of good allows you to tolerate the times of gloom. I'm so thankful for these blogs. The times when I'm overwhelmed by the good in people. I don't believe giving is totally dead in people. It's unfortunate that I notice it most when it's needed most, like after Haiti or Japan, or someone goes through such terrible times. But after all, that is when it is needed most.
The giving nature of Foodbuzz is another reason why I love being a part of their community. Electrolux and Foodbuzz are teaming up to help fund Ovarian Cancer research. They are planning a Top 9 Takeover on Friday, it's all about the tea party. Every featured publisher that enters a tea party recipe Foodbuzz will donate $50 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. How generous is that?
If you want to help out you can hop on over to Kelly's Tea Party and play. When you play Electrolux will donate a dollar to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Everyone gets to give, and if you are looking for a great recipe for your own tea party, look no further.
I'm a huge tea lover. Every morning I start my day with a nice cup of tea with very little posh or party. Just a mug of good strong milky sweet tea. Some days it's nice to break out the dainty dishes and bake up something worthy of a nice little tea party. I made some gluten free lemon scones, with out gums. It was one of those perfect days, to have a bit of drizzle outside and nice steamy cup of tea and lemony cake at the kitchen table. It made me feel so blessed and down right happy with the world.
FYI - you could easily make regular scones using the recipe from Pioneer Woman's cookbook for maple scones, but just replace maple with lemon zest and add the candied lemon peels to the top. I've tried her recipe swapping out flavors and they are lovely.
Gluten Free Lemon Scones
1 lemon sliced very thin horizontally to form rings
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons flax meal
1 1/2 Tablespoons chia seeds
3 Tablespoons boiling water
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter, cold cut into small pieces
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup buttermilk
In a medium sauce pan add the sliced lemons and cover with water. Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes, drain and remove the lemon slices to the side. Add the 1 cup fresh water and 2/3 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced lemons to the sugar water and simmer gently for 40 minutes. The lemons will become tender and it will reduce and thicken slightly. Set aside to cool. (can be made ahead and left in the fridge. I leave the lemons in the sugar until I'm ready to use. I also like to use the leftover sugar gel and stir into my tea).
In a small bowl mix together the flax, chia seeds and boiling water. Set aside while you prepare the scones (it will get thick and pasty).
Preheat oven to 350º.
In a large bowl stir together sweet rice flour, corn flour, potato starch, brown rice flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or 2 forks until the butter is the size of peas. In a small bowl add the buttermilk and whisk in the 2 eggs and the flax and chia mix. Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour and mix well. The batter will be loose. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet into 3 inch wide and 2 inch thick circles. These will spread, but it's ok you can cut them to shape. Top each biscuit with one round of candied lemon. Bake for 20-26 minutes or until it starts to brown on the bottom. Cut into servings and serve while warm.
I tried to find Devon cream to go with these, but it's not easy to track down. If you have never had it I highly recommend at least once in your life trying it. Whole foods was out, but was also selling a tiny container for $7 - yikes. I did find this recipe for a mock devon cream that I'm going to try.
Thank you much for making this little place such a happy place. Thank you for listening and reading, for sharing and for participating. Thank you for changing the world with happy blogging land. Tell me, what would you make happy with bloggy goodness if you could?
******Post tea party find******
As with a lot of gluten free items I've found that these scones are best the day of. I felt I should warn you NOT to make these in advance. I tried them for tea the following afternoon and I had to put some serious heat on them. If anyone has any advice for gluten free leftovers please share!!
St. Patricks day is just a glimmer of a holiday around here. I am not any sort of Irish, that I know of. I've seen some pictures of my grandmothers family and someone was wearing a kilt, but I'm pretty sure they were Scottish. All I really know is they were on a Canadian water polo team which sounded chilly.
For all of my lack of Irish-ness it's always been a tradition to make corned beef and cabbage some time in March. My mom always told me it was for good luck for the year. Sure, I'll eat corned beef for luck.
Through the years I've fussed and tweaked my recipe. I've even just tried nothing but water to boil my corned beef, thinking that pure and simple must be it. A few years ago I found the leprechauns gold (or recipe for the best corned beef ever). As soon as I tried my first Guinness that was for sure going in the pot, but it was a happy accident that I was entirely over run with dill and some made it into the pot that things changed. It brought a nice herbaceous tone to the hole dinner, something that let's face it boiled meat sort of needs. I also started to purchase my corned beef form the natural food store and I really think that has made a difference as well. These seem to be far less salty with much more added spices.
So for your St. Patrick's day needs I have a tried and tested corned beef recipe for you, and a little treat to go along side.
Best Corned Beef Ever
1 corned beef (I usually get a rather large one because they shrink and I love leftover sandwiches)
1 cup Guinness or any Oatmeal Stout beer
2 cups beef stock
1 onion sliced into large chunks
2 carrots sliced into large chunks
1 celery cut into large pieces
2-3 sprigs fresh dill
2-3 whole cloves
1/2 Head cabbage, sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
5 potatoes cleaned and sliced into large pieces
3 Tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
In a large slow cooker, or even a dutch oven add the beer, stock, onions, carrot and celery. Place the corned beef fat side up into the slow cooker. Add the packet of spices that came with the beef and the cloves. Place the dill on the top of the beef. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 1 hour then turn down to low for 5-7 hours. If you are using a dutch oven I would bring everything to a boil then place in a 250º oven for 4 hours and check every couple of hours to make sure there is enough liquid.
Just before serving the corned beef add the potatoes to a large soup pot set up with a steamer. Start steaming the potatoes and after 2-3 minutes add the cabbage on top and continue steaming for about 6-8 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Remove the cabbage and potatoes and add the butter and salt and pepper.
Remove the corned beef from the cooker and remove the dill and any other seeds stuck to the surface (try not to take any precious beef with it). Slice the beef into thin slices against grain. Serve with potatoes and cabbage and dijon mustard - don't forget the beer!
This year because I couldn't resist and curiosity was about to kill this little cat, I tried an oatmeal stout shake. You could use Guinness or any other dark beer. One with malty or chocolaty undertones is highly recommended and so is this drink. I was scared, but it was infinitely delicious and was the best dessert for this meal. Also 2 ingredients makes this the easiest and most entertaining thing I've eaten all day.
It's really just equal parts stout to vanilla ice cream, so for one shake I used a little over 1/2 cup for each.
I feel so festive now and while not nearly Irish it never hurts to wear a little green now and then. What's your St. Patty's day custom?
I am back head first into reality. I spent ALL of last week on the planet flu and it was terrible. It wasn't just me, it was the entire house. Not a member was left behind and I have to say it was probably the worst week I have ever had. After a week like that everyone is anxious to get back to normal. The whole house has been buzzing with all the plans that were laid to the side. Spring greeted us just as we were coming out of our fog and the out of doors is where everyone wants to be.
The kids have been begging me to go to the park, ride their bikes, plant more vegetables and go on a million walks. It's so hard to say no after we've spent countless hours laying in bed. Every project I started the week before is calling my name and I feel like all that time left me with more ideas running through my head waiting to be made.
Spring holds such promise and I decided to start checking off some things from my 2011 blog to do list. I wanted to ensure that I would try new things, so I decided to start a new monthly feature around here. Once a month I will make sure to either cook an entire dish that is completely foreign to me, or use an ingredient that I've never ever used before.
Some items or dishes may not seem foreign at all, but they are to me. This is all about getting out of a comfort zone and teach my kids to keep an open mind about food, cultures and ideas. I hope to find a way to bring in lots of participation from readers along the way.
I decided to just dip my toe into this exotic waters and try making something at home that I've only had out places. I took my daughter to the Chinese cultural center for a field trip and there were so many interesting ingredients that I could hardly choose. Then there in the cold section was waiting for me was supplies for bubble tea. Some of you may know it as boba tea. It turns out to be so completely easy to make that as long as you can boil water you can make this at home.
I just followed the directions on the package and boiled the large tapioca pearls until they were completely cooked. It turned out to be a bit longer than on the package, but this is the most complicated part of the recipe. Everything else is entirely up to you and your tastes.
I made a nice little honey simple syrup. I melted honey in equal parts warm water and poured this just to cover my cooked tapioca pearls. I let these cool in the fridge and many recipes I read online said this is probably one of the best tips to making good boba tea, letting the pearls soak in simple syrup. I then made some very strong green tea and let that cool overnight as well. The next day I simply scooped out 1/2 cup of tea with the syrup into a cup, poured the tea over top and added milk to make it nice a rich.
You can make these a million different ways with different color tapioca pearls, different flavored teas, juices and even coffee. The pearls make this drink into a nice little after school snack and just add a textural surprise. Of course you will need an extra wide straw (or just use a spoon) but slurping up the beads is so fun. I've also tried this with some extra strong earl grey tea and coconut milk recently. It was heavenly.
This drink is perfect for birthday parties and you can color coordinate the drinks and straws. No one would expect it and everyone would be talking about it.
Now I can check off one of my things to do, and start gearing up for many more exotic dishes and ingredients. If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear from you and add it to my list!