Tuesday, 19 August 2014
It started with a vanilla coffee creamer. Then moved on today to spelt bread, date balls, carrot soup, lentil shepherd's pie, then liquid hand soap, liquid laundry detergent and hand salve.
People, I am burned out. I think I'm done in the kitchen for another month.
We've been living on sandwiches and sausages this summer. The heat and long days out mean I am out of touch with the kitchen, cooking and cleaning only the bare minimum. So I got stuck in with a bang and almost burnt out today, but I'm pretty delighted with my experiments.
The vanilla coffee creamer was inspired by a vlogger on youtube, I've seen it mentioned in quite a few US vlogs, and we don't seem to have anything like it here. I picked up a tin of sweetened condensed milk and diluted it with oat milk (all I had, shoulda used almond for the nicer taste) added vanilla extract (mine, still going strong 2 yrs on) and hey presto. I got about 750mls so I froze it in cartons and will thaw as needed.
Shopping today I was looking for a healthy crusty loaf to do us a few days breakfasts and suppers, I love it toasted with butter and apricot conserve. Anyway my local supermarket had no bread without E - numbers and I'm resolving to only buy good breads or make it myself. So I bought spelt flour and made it myself. Nice.
Ditto with confectionery. I'm noticing more and more the effects of sugar on my body, stiff fingers, creaking knees... so I want to cut down on shop-bought shite and make healthier options the whole family can eat. One bag of organic dates (expensive, 3.75e!) two bags of ground almonds. Three massive tablespoons of coconut oil (semi-liquid in this summer heat, wow!) Some salt and cacao power. Blend it all. Nearly burn out the motor of the blender. Take it all out and chop it. Put it back, smaller amounts this time...20 minutes later cursing this healthier lifestyle, debating chucking it all in but too stuborn to admit defeat. Settle for some bigger date lumps. Knead with hands in frustration. Roll into slimy balls. Tire of that and press the rest into plastic box for freezing, will chop later.
Carrot soup was dinner. A bag of organic carrots, non organic onions and garlic. Paprika, thyme, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cooked the veg in oil stirring and burning slightly for a "roasted" flavour. Haven't tried it yet but dh assures is good. I had noodles and sweetcorn left over from kid's dinner. With butter and soy sauce.
Lentil shepherd's pie. Frozen pre-soaked and rinsed lentils, thrown into pot with olive oil, carton of passata, and all of the above soup ingredients save the carrots. Poured into dish and topped with last nights leftover mashed potato, bulked out with cornmeal and water, sprinkled with cheese. That plus broccoli was lunch and surprisingly one kid ate it all and had seconds. T'other kid put broccoli in his water glass and gave me his shepherd's pie. Then had boobs.
Where's the "witchery" you ask, "you promised witchery".
And so I did.
For days now I've had a vision of myself stirring some non-food concoction in a big bubbling pot over the stove. I hadn't anything specific in mind, I just wanted to make something that would do some good. A spell I suppose. I've been growing medicinal herbs in the garden this year and learning about them, yet none of us are sick (touch wood) so I've no pressing need as such.
In my journey to a more natural lifestyle, cutting down the toxins in our immediate environment is happening all the time, like with the bread above. I would ultimately like us to use no harsh chemicals in any area of our household. Yet I had until today never made a single laundry or dishwasher detergent. A few months back I was sent some samples of Ecover, a liquid laundry detergent and dishwasher tabs. I like them, but they are so much more expensive than the cheapest non-branded ones I buy, I knew I was gonna have to make my own. So I saw a few recipes online for laundry detergent (will tackle the dishwasher stuff when current supply runs out), shopped around for washing soda crystals (in short supply apparently) and bought a beautiful cube bar of Marseilles soap. The soap deserves its own post, I was sorry to unwrap it to be honest. Long story short I grated the soap, boiled it to dissolve it in water, added soda crystals and some lavender essential oil, diluted further with water, and bing bang bosh, my own laundry liquid detergent. And the soap and crystals which cost a tenner will give me about 3 months washing I estimate.
La la la, smug mama here.
The real witchery comes next. We have some lawn chamomile which I absolutely love the smell of, but up to now had no use for it as it's not edible. So I cut some and boiled it in water, infusing the water with its sweet fruity smell (think Juicy Fruit chewing gum). I then added more grated soap and water, boiled until dissolved, hey presto, liquid hand soap to refill the two pumps we keep in our bathrooms. Cost pennies. Stirring these concoctions with their steam and smells is very primal.
And lastly, or rather firstly, because I actually did it first, I made hand salve. Today in the health food shop (where my loyalty card racks up the sloooowest amount of pennies each shop, barely worth keeping track) I spotted a beautiful pot of hand cream, handmade in Ireland, price 8.50e and its only ingredients were beeswax, olive oil and lavender oil. "I can do that", I thought. I bought a bar of beeswax last summer and have been meaning to do something useful with it, but never had the inspiration until today. So at home I melted it in my huge saucepan, added the other two ingredients (guessing amounts) and poured into receptacles. I've decided I'm giving the smaller ones (got about 8 shot glasses and 2 large pots) to my lovely neighbours when I see them, as these ladies are a fantastic community for us. I feel the time and love I put into the hand salve will have a magical effect when they use it, strengthening the sense of supportive women in some invisible yet tangible way. It's solid in the tub yet melts quickly and leaves a slight oiliness, so probably best for very dry skin, or nighttime use, it also works as a cleanser.
There's me witchery for now. I don't want to see another saucepan for a week. And I put on a skanky wash (kitchen towels and floorcloths) at 90° with my homemade detergent. I'll let you know how it turns out. Update: It's good, not as good as the "real" stuff, I'm using half a cupful for each wash, and pre-treating stains.
Nee x (also quite zen from early morning yoga in garden, before toddler decided my cat pose was perfect for breastfeeding and my morning turned toddler-shaped).