May 25, 2012

Rise and shine smoothie | Home-made deodorant

Did you wake up on the funky side of the bed? Feeling a little blah or queasy? Not as voracious an appetite as usual? Maybe you need a dose of rise and shine smoothie to get you back on track. It worked for me. :)

Rise and shine smoothie
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh ginger root, washed, scraped, chopped (I used two teaspoons.)
  • 1-1/2 heaping cups frozen mango pieces (mine were from Trader Joe's)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional but good)
  • almond milk (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • water (about 1/2 cup)
  1. Add the ginger root and mango to a VitaMix or other high-speed blender. 
  2. Add enough almond milk to process, and thin to your preferred consistency with additional milk or water. (I used about 1-1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of water, but your blender may want less or more. You may prefer your smoothie thicker or thinner.) Blend until creamy-smooth. 
  3. You can add a few drops of liquid stevia or other sweetener of your choice if you prefer a sweeter smoothie, but I found it plenty sweet as is.


Home-made deodorant

I was reading a blog post about DIY deodorant and thinking I'd like to make some. Who wouldn't, right? It only had four ingredients, and the most expensive one I already had. If you already have everything on hand, it would be very economical to make, but if you have to buy everything, not so much. But I wasn't making it to be economical, I was making it because I was looking for a more  'natural' deodorant with a minimum of ingredients. Honestly, it works better than the natural deodorant I was buying, and has better ingredients. It contains only coconut oil, corn starch (or arrowroot), essential oil, and baking soda.

One recipe makes enough for several months. The deodorant stays hard when the room temperature is cool, but softens a bit as it gets warmer. In hot weather you could keep it in the refrigerator. I now have mine in four 2-ounce amber glass jars, three of which are in the refrigerator. (I made a bit more than the recipe provides.)

I had no problems with clothing stains while the deodorant was hard, but when it softened, I may have used too much, and I found oil stains on my favorite tee. This only happened with a light-colored tee. (They came out with a LOT of washing.) The stuff smells fantastic, and I really love it so I'm going to give it another shot and pay more attention to how much I apply. It only takes a little to do the trick.

The recipe is based on one I found on the blog, In Sonnet's Kitchen, which, sorry to say, is no longer available.

Homemade deodorant (based on a recipe from In Sonnet's Kitchen)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder (or corn starch)
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree oil
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a small pot over a low flame, or in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. If you use the microwave, set for 20 seconds at a time until liquified. (mine took two 20-second cycles)
  2. Add the corn starch and baking soda to the liquefied oil, and combine. 
  3. Add the essential oils. Mix together thoroughly to remove any lumps.
  4. Transfer to a glass container or two small glass jars.
  5. The deodorant will solidify just fine on the counter top if the room is cool. To speed it up, or if the room is too warm, you can cool it in the refrigerator until solid, stirring every 20 minutes or so. 
  6. I let it harden in the refrigerator, and kept taking it out to stir it while it cooled, because the ingredients tend to separate if you don't.
I like using the deodorant best when it's solid. I just scoop a little on the back of my fingernail and spread it on. If it gets too warm, and the deodorant melts, you can store it in the refrigerator. In Seattle's climate, I keep it in the bathroom cupboard year round. Note that some people have a reaction to baking soda in a deodorant, and get a rash. If you have sensitive skin, this may not be for you.

Update: Although I had no problems using the deodorant for nearly a year, I now find that it irritates my skin. At first, reducing the baking soda helped, but not anymore. 

May 21, 2012

Unexpected surprise at a restaurant

My half-eaten plate of food.
Dave, the coordinator of the Madison vegetarian meetup group just can't seem to organize in only one city. He put me in contact with a former group member who had recently moved to Seattle. After exchanging messages on Facebook, we planned a quintessential "Sunday in Seattle" outing — a walk around Green Lake. The 2.8 mile Green Lake track is one of the most popular walking spots in the city, and we live a few blocks away, so it looked like a perfect way to meet up, get some fresh air and exercise all at the same time.

The walk to and from the lake plus the distance around the lake took about 1-1/2 hours, and it was close to 1 p.m. when we finished. We were all starving, so it seemed like the ideal time to introduce our new friend to Araya's, a nearby vegan Thai restaurant with an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. When we arrived, I asked what foods on the buffet were gluten-free (I already knew some of them were) and was given a rundown of the GF offerings. All the salads, pickled and fresh, one soup, the steamed veggies with peanut sauce on the side, and the coconut curry were all gluten-free, I was told. Even the spring rolls were OK as they were made with rice paper wrappers, though that seems too good to be true. The pad Thai, fried rice and veggie stir-fry all contained soy sauce. I don't know if I would feel comfortable with this if I had celiac, but I took my chances, and didn't experience stomach upset.

We were happily enjoying our meal when the manager appeared with a large plate of pad Thai. "The cooks made you some gluten-free pad Thai," she said. I was so surprised. I was pretty full by then but felt kind of obligated to eat as much as I could, after her kind gesture. Yikes. How nice was that?

In addition to gluten-free offerings on the menu and the lunch buffet, Araya's also has a case of gluten-free desserts near the cash register. I've never tried them but another customer told me they were very good. By the time I get to the register at Araya's, I'm usually too full to think about dessert!

May 17, 2012

Rich and spicy lima bean chowder

I was dining alone the other night which meant my motivation for cooking something interesting was lagging. But I was hungry for spicy and delicious sustenance — and I was craving lima beans. Lima beans are not usually on the "crave" list, but you gotta do what you gotta do. And I wanted limas.

I wanted something easy to make (lazy), relatively fast (short attention span) that made use of what I had in the refrigerator and pantry. Lucky for me, dried lima beans cook really fast in a pressure cooker even without a pre-soak, so the "fast" part was within reach. I already had carrots, and kale in the fridge, potatoes in the potato drawer and a giant bag of organic, frozen Costco corn in the freezer. There was also a partially used jar of Trader Joe's no salt added tomato sauce that needed to be used up, in the fridge. The spices are ones that are always in my pantry.

When I'm trying to think of something to make, I imagine what I want it to taste like. I close my eyes and think about the flavor, texture and appearance, then set about making it happen. The chowder I ended up with exceeded my expectations. It really was great — thick, rich with flavor, satisfying. I ate my fill, then left it cooling on the stove while I went to catch up on the last episode of Mad Men, which I had missed. To make a long story short, when I woke up the next morning, I suddenly remembered the soup was still out. I had to ditch it, though it was painful. Lucky for you, I wanted the soup again so much, I remade it, measuring this time so I could save the recipe. The second incarnation was identical to the first, except it was shared with my husband, who agreed it was something special.

I'm submitting the recipe to Ricki's Wellness Weekend.

Rich and spicy lima bean chowder
  • 1 cup dried lima beans, sorted and washed
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 medium carrots, washed, peeled, cut into a small dice
  • 1 medium-to-large yellow potato, washed, unpeeled, cut into a small dice
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated chopped onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used Trader Joe's no salt added)
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg's aminos (or wheat-free tamari)
  • 2 cups frozen corn (I used organic to avoid gmo corn)
  • 2 cups kale, shredded (I used org. red and green kale)
  1. Wash the beans well to get all the dirt off (limas always seem so dirty compared to other dried beans) and place them in a pressure cooker with 6 cups of water. Bring to pressure and cook about 18 minutes. Bring the pressure down quickly. (follow manufacturer's directions for your cooker.)
  2. Open the cooker and add the carrots and potato. Bring back up to pressure and cook 1-1/2 minutes. Bring pressure down quickly. (follow manufacturer's directions for your cooker.)
  3. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric and chipotle powder. Stir.
  4. Stir in the Bragg's and the tomato sauce.
  5. Add the corn and kale and stir in. Reheat and simmer briefly until the corn is hot and the kale wilted. Taste for salt. (I didn't add additional salt to mine.)
  6. If you are not avoiding oil, drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the soup before serving. Or, add some avocado slivers as a garnish.
Four servings. Can be made in less than an hour, start to finish. See notes below for non-pressure cooker directions.

Cooking and ingredient notes:
  1. I find that if I soak the lima beans for an hour, the dirt is easier to get off. If I don't have time to soak them, I just rub them together between my hands and make sure all the dirt is removed. The cooking time is the same if you give them a short soak.
  2. I cut up my veggies and combine the spices in a small dish while the beans are cooking. The timing seems about right.
  3. Granulated garlic is not the same as garlic powder. I find it much easier to use and store the granulated stuff because it doesn't get hard. If you only have powder, use about 1/2 teaspoon and taste to see if you need more. Or, use two large minced cloves of fresh garlic if you prefer fresh to dried.
  4. Instead of Bragg's or tamari, you could use soy sauce (if you don't care about gluten-free) or just salt to taste, though the Bragg's or tamari add flavor.
  5. I used 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder (not chipotle chili powder) for a moderately spicy flavor. Use 1/2 teaspoon for a less spicy soup. Use smoked Spanish paprika for even less spice.
  6. I cooked the dried beans in a 6-quart pressure cooker, but you could use canned beans (2 cans, drained) instead of dried. If you do, use about four cups of low-salt stock for the water. You could also soak dried beans overnight in water to cover, drain the next day, and simmer for about one-and-one-half to two hours or until they are tender, before proceeding with the recipe. Use about four cups of the cooking water for the soup stock. When using canned or conventionally cooked beans, add the carrots and potatoes to the cooked beans and stock, then cook until the vegetables are tender. Then follow the rest of the recipe (steps 3 through 6).
 October, 2016 update: If I were to make the chowder today, I'd use my Instant Pot! I'll make it soon so I can post an updated recipe, and link to it here.

Have you had a look at the auction Richa from Hobby and More is holding to benefit VSPCA - Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals? Head over to Richa's auction page to see if there is something you'd like to bid on. You'll find books, jewelry, delicious baked goods and other items to choose from.

(Note: this post is from 2012 and is no longer applicable.)


The photographer meets her match in pink

Miss E practices her photography skills.

May 11, 2012

Bare Fruit giveaway — we have a winner!

UPDATE: The winner of the giveaway is ufg8trj. The case of apple snacks is on its way to her as I type. Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter. For those who didn't win, look for discount coupons on the Bare Fruit Facebook page.

I recently posted a review of Bare Fruit Cinnamon Apple Chips, a deliciously crisp, organic dried snack that I love. The folks at Bare Fruit have agree to sponsor a giveaway of their product to a lucky reader of this blog. In fact, they are offering a case of Bare Fruit to one lucky person. (If you missed the review, you can read it here.)

All you have to do to be entered in the giveaway is leave a comment on this post (not the review post, though comments are welcome there, too.) saying you'd like to win, and "like" the Bare Fruit Facebook page. That's just one comment and one like, and you're entered to win a case of Bare Fruit! Here's a link to the Bare Fruit Facebook page.

I wouldn't sponsor a giveaway of a product I didn't like, and I think you'll like this, too. You have until midnight on May 15 to enter your comment. I'll use the random number generator to select a winner and announce the winner on this post. Don't put it off — enter now so you won't forget! Sorry, U.S. only.

May 09, 2012

Shower me with food instead of water

I wasn't planning to write a post just now, I was planning to take a shower, but my next door neighbor is getting a new roof. Usually, there is no direct sight-line into our bathroom window because it faces a ... roof. The window is covered with a thickly gathered gauzy curtain, which adds a nice ambiance to the room, and softens the view without totally blocking the light. I can barely see through the curtain unless I really focus, and today when I focused, I saw the roofer — close enough for a conversation if the window were open. In other words, too close for comfort. So here comes a post I've been meaning to write, cleanliness be damned.

I've been derelict in writing down recipes lately, which isn't to say I haven't been cooking new things. I've just been taking an extended break from the days when I recorded all my ingredients and wrote recipes for the blog. I've been reverting back to my add a little of this and a little of that days, which is why you haven't seen many recipes from me lately. However, I still use other people's recipes, and here's one you might like to try. In fact, you should try it. It's a recipe I found on Ricki's blog, Diet Dessert and Dogs*, and as Ricki cooks it, it's appropriate for just about any dietary restriction you might encounter. I was mainly interested in the vegan and gluten-free aspects, so I took some liberties with the ingredients — not many, though.

Ricki calls the recipe Quizza because it's a little like quiche, and a little like pizza. It has the wonderful socca, which I love, as its inspiration. I pretty much followed the recipe except I added mushrooms, lemon juice and a bit of nutritional yeast. My green veggies were spinach and broccoli, and I used regular chickpea flour and reconstituted home-dried tomatoes, which I already had on hand. I may also have added dehydrated onions. The dish practically made itself, because I had a partial bag of frozen spinach and a bag of frozen broccoli that I wanted to use up, so I didn't even have to wash and chop veggies. I may have gotten carried away with the veggies, though, because I ended up with two casseroles — one 10-inch round glass quiche pan, and a 1-1/2 quart ceramic baker. (As a side note, the quiche came right out of the ceramic dish, but stuck to the glass.)

My husband and I both loved the quizza. It was delicious hot from the oven, and amazing cold the next day (and the next and the next ...). In fact, I couldn't stop eating it, and was quite stuffed for several days. I'm thinking of making it again tonight, with fresh veggies instead of frozen — maybe with asparagus and mushrooms along with the tomatoes and garlic.

UPDATE: MAY 19 — I made quizza again and put a layer of tomato sauce on top, which was delicious. I froze the leftovers, and last night I reheated some for dinner. It tasted great!  

*The blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs no longer exists. I've updated the link to her new blog.


The view through our dining room windows, which makes eating especially pleasant these days.

May 02, 2012

Fab dried cinnamon apple chips

Some time ago — longer ago than I'd like to admit — I was offered a sample pack of dried apples from the Bare Fruit snack company, and, if I liked the sample, the opportunity to offer my readers a special deal on ordering the fruit. I looked at their Web site and saw that the fruit was simply organic, dried fruit, so I said, "yes" to a sample. (They actually didn't even ask me to write a review, just to provide a special offer to my readers.)

I was expecting a small snack pack, but what I received was a giant, 14-ounce bag of really delicious, crispy apple chips made from 100% organic apples and 100% organic cinnamon.

Here's what the Web page says:
  • Made with organic cinnamon for that classic apple and cinnamon taste
  • Grown in Washington state
  • 100 Percent organic and kosher
  • Fat and Gluten free
  • No added sugar, preservatives or additives
  • Available in 14 oz (397g), 2.6 oz (73g) and 0.64 oz (18g) sizes.
I've served them to my women's group, to my family, to a 4-year-old and, repeatedly, to myself. Everyone thought they were delicious. (The 4-year-old loved them until she noticed the skin, which she was unable to pick off. ) The crunchy texture is satisfying in the same way chips are, but minus all the fat and salt. I love them, and think they'd make a great party snack, addition to a packed lunch, or snack for anytime you need a quick, satisfying, crunchy and healthy bite to eat. They would be great to take along on a hike, and I plan to take them on our next long car trip.

What do you think? Have you tried these, yet? Would you like to? If I receive enough of a positive response, I'll contact the Bare Fruit company to see what sort of deal they had in mind. I think I need another bag!

Disclaimer: I received the apple chips free of charge. I was not asked to write a review. I received no money nor promise of monetary gain. I am not an affiliate of this company. All opinions are my own.