Super Emollient Cream

When I started making this lotion, I had no idea it would take off and be so well-liked.  I’m so glad that people love it!   It seems to be doing some people some good, too, which makes it all the better.

As many of you know, I’m studying herbal medicine.  During some research, I came across a recipe for a cream.   Oh no… a tangent.  I don’t know if it was my creative side or my lazy side – but the research  that night melted away and the experiments on the cream began.   I knew there were oils and substances I wanted to include as well as things I specifically wanted to exclude.

I chose to include Calendula-infused olive oil to promote cell repair and growth.  Calendula is also anti-inflammatory and very soothing.  Aloe Vera to promote healing, tissue repair, prevent scarring and tissue damage.  Helichrysum (also known in previous times as “Immortelle”) essential oil and extract to relieve skin irritations and promote tissue regeneration.   Vitamin E is an antioxidant, has a roll in cell signaling and enzymatic activity.

This cream/lotion has no chemicals and no preservatives.   I call it skin food.  One of the best testimonials from a customer also offered a strategy – keeping the cream/lotion in the refrigerator and using a spoon to scoop out the lotion for use.  This is what I do.

The scent is the result of Helichrysum and Lavender essential oils.  For those who aren’t in the ‘know’ about Helichrysum, it’s other name is ‘Immortelle’ – it’s called that because it’s so very good for the skin.  It is also REALLY expensive between $195 and $250 per ounce – this is because the plant doesn’t contain a lot of fatty acids, so it takes an awful lot of the plant to make essential oil.  It is truly a very ACTIVE substance for the skin.

Because most fragrance oils contain some pretty toxic ingredients, I am hesitant to use fragrance oils.   I’ve come so far with my health and don’t want to compromise it.  Additionally, I don’t want to contribute to anyone else’s ill-health!

Because the skin absorbs what is put on it (have doubts?  Look at all the medications now available in PATCH form….seriously, don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t consider eating), I don’t believe it is healthy for the body to use fragrance oils.   There are people who really don’t like the smell of this cream – some pick a favorite essential oil or blend and stir a few drops in.  Others use a fragrance oil they’ve already got and like.

Made with olive oil that has been infused with calendula flowers, sweet almond oil, vitamin-rich avocado oil, Spring Water, Beeswax, Raw Organic Cacao Butter, Organic Coconut oil, Organic Aloe Vera, Helichrysum extract, Lavender Essential Oil, Helichrysum essential oil, Vitamin E, grapefruit extract, rosemary extract.

 

Super Emollient Cream

Cream

4 oz jar – $5.00

8 oz jar – $10.00

16 oz jar – $20.00 – with pump $25.00

Because this item is not shippable during hot weather, please contact us regarding ordering.

Muscle Rub…again

It’s hard to believe that something as good as our Muscle Rub could be improved upon (yeah, it’s really THAT good!) – but we did.

ArnicaArnica is a perennial flower that grows wild in Central Europe.  It’s properties are analgesic and anti-inflammatory.  Traditionally it’s been used externally on aches, strains, bruises and other injuries in which the skin has not been broken.   Arnica is also on United Plant Savers’ conservation ‘watch’ list, meaning that many people go out and pick Arnica without planting more.  Each year, the numbers of plants that grow in the wild decreases.  The climate here in Tucson is nothing like any part of Germany, but Arnica may grow here during the fall, winter and spring months.  It’s not likely that the plant will be perennial here, but it’s worth a try.

In the interest of conserving, we’ve added just a little olive oil infused with Arnica.  Some may notice little tiny flecks in the muscle rub – those are the microscopic bits of Arnica that made it through the filter!  The levels of some of the other oils have been tweaked just a little to further optimize the painkilling action of this rub without irritating the skin.

The Muscle Rub still has the Hot/Cold it always did!   Some of you may notice a rubnewslight ‘boost’ in it’s painkilling properties or maybe it will work faster for you.   We truly hope that everyone who tries it has a wonderful experience with this beautiful substance!

Made without any petroleum products, containing no harsh chemicals to force the pores in the skin open, this is a great rub for sore muscles and joints.  Lanolin helps soothe skin while Emu oil helps escort the pain-killing action right into the affected area(s). Organic Coconut oil, Raw organic beeswax, Raw Organic Shea Butter, Camphor, Emu Oil, Lanolin, Menthol, proprietary blend of Clove, Cajeput, Cassia Cinnamon, Blue Tansy, Wintergreen, peppermint, chamomile, helichrysum, osmanthus, eucalyptus and cinnamon bark.*

Each Tin contains at least 1.6 ounces $10.50

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Bug Repellent

Don’t know if you noticed, but Arizona has gotten some serious rain here lately!  That’s a good thing for the most part.  Getting it all at once like we have really wasn’t a good thing – the ground here gets so dry that it actually repels water.  So, we get a LOT all at once and the water pretty much rolls off – often taking with it the nice top soil we’ve put in or the light gravel we lined our walkways with.   Some folks got catnipcaught by surprise and lost their cars or in some sad instances, their lives.

We all know what extra water often means:  mosquitoes.  As I was out working out on my back porch this morning, I was being plagued by the mosquitoes.  Then I remembered:  Had not put on my bug repellent!  I sprayed myself lightly, went back out and the mosquitoes left me alone.

You do not have to go out and buy expensive anything for this and you certainly do not have to suject yourself to toxic chemicals to keep the skeeters at bay.  :)

What you’ll need

32 oz spray bottle

2 teaspoons Catnip (yes, the green herb you find in the pet department!)

1 cup hot water

1/4 cup rubbing alchohol

50 – 60  drops essential oil(s)
now, this can be one such as tea tree oil or a blend of a few – many, if not most of them can be purchased at Walmart, Sprouts, drug stores, natural groceries, vitamin stores, etc., or you can get them online at Moutain Rose Herbs – they often have organic essential oils and like food, you’re better off in the long run if you can get organic.

Essential oils to try:  Tea tree, Citronella, eucalyptus, cedarwood (either variety), Lemongrass, Lavender, Patchouli, any citrus – orange, lemon, grapefruit,  Catnip essential oil is REALLY expensive!  Really.  That’s why we’re using tea.

NOTE: Yes, there are a few companies that sell essential oil blends that repel bugs.  Some of them are GREAT and they work fine.  PLEASE read the ingredients on some of those blends – often you’re only getting 3-5 PERCENT essential oil, the rest is fractionated coconut oil.  Seriously.  Ingredient lists are important.  If you’re OK spending $20 per ounce for a blend that is mostly coconut oil, go for it.  I am not OK with it. For that same money, I get pure, organic essential oil that isn’t diluted.

I use: 15 drops citronella, 15 drops cedarwood (You can stop right here as those two oils are EXCELLENT repellents on their own, combined they’re a powerhouse, but the smell they create when blended can put some off) , 1 (ONE) drop clove, 10 drops eucalyptus, 5 drops tea tree, 10 drops lemongrass, 5 drops lavender.    This is what I came up with through trial and error that not only repelled the bugs, but the critters could handle being sprayed with as well.  If you’re just spraying around doors and windows and you like the smell of citronella only, by all means use it!

Method:

Basically you’re going to make tea with that catnip herb.  Use an infuser or be prepared to strain the herb out of the water.  Let it steep for as long as you’re able – 20 minutes is good, overnight is better.

While the tea is steeping, pour  1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol into the spray bottle, then add the essential oil(s) and swish it around.  By dissolving the essential oils in alcohol, you won’t have to shake the bottle every time you use this.  I get to moving so fast, I forget to shake bottles, so I nearly always use alcohol.

Add your cooled catnip tea.

Add  1.5 to 2 cups of water.  Shake to blend, then test it in an inconspicuous place on your skin and/or clothing.  I haven’t had any spots that were difficult to launder out yet, but I usually use this when I am wearing work and workout clothes.

Coming or Going??? Yes.

Whirlwind

 On July 10, I brought my mom to Tucson. Mom hadn’t been feeling well for some time. In fact, just a few days before I got her, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and given a steroid and antibiotic.

 The day after we got to Tucson, she needed to go to the ER – she couldn’t breathe. She was given another Rx for antibiotics and sent home. Five days later, we went to Urgent Care and were given a nebulizer. Three days after that, we had to call an ambulance and she was admitted to hospital.  Almost immediately after being admitted to the hospital, she lost use of her legs and was catheterized. She was in the hospital for seven days. On her sixth day there, she was informed that she had stage 4 lung cancer, adrenal cancer and cancer in her bronchia. The oncologist told her that she had a couple of months and that she could double that with chemo.

MomHooverDam

Mom at Hoover Dam

My mother decided she didn’t want to do chemotherapy. She didn’t want to feel even worse for the time she had – not for just a couple of extra months. I honored her wishes and called the oncologist to let her know. The oncologist yelled at me and discharged my mother the following day. Mom had asked to go to Hospice and was transferred.

 Mom was in hospice for five days. She’d been insistent that she didn’t want to come to my home and we were having a hard time trying to figure out what to do to accommodate that wish. I finally just told her it would be easier if she’d just come home with me. She was transferred to my home on Wednesday, July 30.

 The following Monday, she stopped eating and drinking and was mostly unresponsive. I used swabs to get water into her and made sure she was not in pain. The next day, she rallied and was eating and drinking some, her eyes and her speech had changed a LOT, but she could communicate to a degree. She did that a couple times that week, fall into a mostly unresponsive state then she’d rally a bit the following day.

 Friday, August 8, my brother, his wife, my sister, her husband and their baby came. Mom was somewhat communicative – sometimes she’d start a sentence, fall asleep and wake up to finish the sentence 10-20 minutes later. But she did not perceive the time lapse – she thought it was no time at all, so she’d think that someone disappeared. That day, she asked me “When will that man be here?” and “I’m ready to go, where is that man?” I’m certain she was referring to my father, who passed in 1991. Earlier, I’d related to her what I’d seen when I died with my pulmonary embolism and told her I knew dad was waiting for her. I think she was ready to go and terrified to let go at the same time. There were a few times she saw someone standing next to me that I couldn’t see – she’d ask me “who is that?” and I’d look where she pointed. “Who does it look like?” I was not going to tell her “I don’t see anyone there, Mom”. No.

 Saturday, August 9, Mom slipped into a completely unresponsive state in the early evening. While we kept her meds going for her round the clock and gave her drops of water with swabs, it was obvious that she was on her way – there would be no more rallying.

 The following morning about half past 8, her breathing slowed to a stop. One month to the day from when I brought her here. My sister in law, Debbie, was a complete treasure to have with me during this and I will be grateful for her forever.

 Where did that doc get two to three months? I know that it’s a guesstimate to begin with, but seriously – mom lasted two WEEKS from the day she got diagnosed, not two months. This is not expressed with anger or resentment (honest!), but with some astonishment. This has been like a whirlwind.

 For her, I am glad it was quick. Her pain was massive and global – not just in her back, but everywhere (adrenal failure – the little oh-so-important organs couldn’t mitigate inflammation). But quite honestly, it feels so fast to me and so slow at the same time – I think my brain really hasn’t fully processed this yet.

 I’ve completely lost Monday and Tuesday even though I went to a meeting at the funeral home one of those days.

 There are some funny stories that happened during all of this. After that Monday’s drastic downturn, but during one of her rallying days, Mom wanted some dried pineapple. But she couldn’t find the word. She kept saying pumpernickel. Pumpernickel, pumpernickel. No. That’s not the word… It’s small and yellow. Now, Mom had been watching a lot of Spongebob on Roku (her nerves – remember, the adrenals were pretty much gone – so the only thing they were producing, if anything, was adrenaline and she couldn’t move her body to burn the adrenaline off), so when she said small and yellow, I thought “oh, she wants me to turn on Spongebob”. So I asked her “Spongebob?” and she said “no, but he lives in one under the sea”. OH! Pineapple.

 My mom’s dog, Sadie, came along with mom. Now, my mom was not one of those ladies who has a little pooch she hauled around with her. Sadie was born underneath my mother’s neighbor’s house. The house is a rental and the people who lived there at the time had 3 dogs. When the mama dog was gravid, they did not increase her food. Mom didn’t realize that until one day, when a pup dragged itself to my mother’s doorstep – it’s eyes weren’t even open yet. Mom put the pup back under the house with the mama dog and she saw that the mama dog had separated the pups into two groups – the keepers and the can’t-keepers. Mom called around trying to get some intervention for the situation, but no one could or would help. Mom started feeding the mama dog. Even so, that pup dragged herself to mom’s door a second time. That pup was Sadie. She weighs 70lbs today.

 While Mom was in hospital and hospice, I’d put Sadie outside every morning before I left to go visit Mom. Well, she’d decided I’d done

sadie

Sadie – AFTER she’d decided I wasn’t Cruella.

something terrible to Mom and wouldn’t let me near her. She acted as though I was Cruella out to make a Sadie coat. I’d have to pick Sadie up and carry her outside, then make it back to the door before she did. Every single morning. She’d howl the entire time I was gone. Upon my return, she’d smell Mom on me, and want to go out to check the garage and car for where I was hiding Mom.

 One morning, thinking it would help the dog and maybe Mom, I did take Sadie to Hospice. The place caused Sadie to panic completely (maybe she thought it was the vet’s office or maybe it was the aromatherapy they pump into the air there) – she dragged me out of there with so much force I thought she was going to tear my shoulder up. Even after that, though, Sadie wanted to check the garage and car every day.

 The day Mom came home from hospice, Sadie was so happy. She loved on mom, licked her hand and walked over to where I was sitting and put her head down against my knees. She looked me in the eye and I knew she realized what was going on. She didn’t act like I was Cruella again after that.

Sadie stopped going into Mom’s room to visit her on August 7th. The kids take Sadie on very long walks through our neighborhood every day and that’s good for all three of them. :)

 And life goes on…. She wouldn’t want it any other way.

 I love you, Mom.

Momndad

Sunny Lemon Carrot

SunnyLemonCarrotEver find yourself in the kitchen thinking about something to eat and decide to try two foods together you’ve never had together before?  Then it was super yummy?  Yeah, that’s kind of what happened with this soap…   :)  I had an idea of what I wanted to do with Lemon and Goat Milk, then decided to add some buttermilk and carrots right in the middle of things.

A beautiful, low-coconut formula made with silk, goat milk, homemade buttermilk, organic honey, organic red palm oil, puréed organic carrots and the zest & juice of an entire lemon from my brother’s and sister-in-law’s lemon tree!  The carrots offer their vitamins and minerals to the beauty of this soap – they also contribute to the beautiful, sunny color.  The lemon lends it’s share of vitamins and minerals as well as it’s heavenly SCENT!  An abundance of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and probiotics from the Goat Milk, honey and Buttermilk.  The organic red palm oil gives vitamins E and A as well as contributing to the color.  Vitamin-rich Avocado oil infused with Annatto seeds was the final contribution to the color of this soap, making certain the sunny yellow would be vivid.   Top it off with the (I know, cliché) poppy seeds and yowza!

Super fat of about 6%  - this is a gently cleansing, beautiful, beautiful soap.  Each bar weighs about 5.5 oz and is offered at $8.00 here

Skin Loving Avocado

avocadoJust how luxurious can a soap get?

In it’s previous incarnation, Avocado soap was a true luxury, with many of our customers remarking that they no longer had to use moisturizer after introducing the Avocado soap into their skin care regimen.  This is even more – more superfatted, more luxurious.

A fine tallow soap enriched with the flesh of organic avocado, vitamin-rich organic avocado oil, emu oil, organic aloe vera, jojoba, mango butter, shea butter, raw organic cocoa butter, lanolin and nothing less than luxurious mink oil – superfatted to 10% – each bar weighs in at just under 4 oz.   Essential oils of lavender, bergamot and melissa contribute their scent and healing qualities.  This fine facial bar is excellent skin care.

This is a LOW SUDSING formula – because of it’s luxurious ingredients, this soap will not make a big, bubbly suds – but it will clean the skin all the same – well not the ‘same’.  It will be gentler than other, more sudsy soaps.  :)

Remember that these super fatted soaps do have a shelf life – they’re good for about a year after obtaining them, so use them or put them in the freezer.   Offered at $9.00 per bar here

 

Goat Milk Soap

lourdesgoat

Ingredients: Tallow, Palm oil (sustainable), Goat Milk, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, NaOH, Water from Lourdes, Organic Avocado Oil, Raw Organic Cacao Butter, Organic Mango Butter, Raw Shea Butter, Organic Lavender Essential Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Organic Sunflower Seed Oil, Wildcrafted Silk, Kaolin Clay.

Lourdes water is water which flows from a spring in the Grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, France.  People make the trek to Lourdes from all over the world.  They want to touch, drink, and immerse themselves in the healing spring waters.  There have been many healings and miracles attributed to the water and the place.  We’re bringing a little bit of that beautiful healing water to you.  I’ve been making this soap for our household for years, now, and my husband asked me why I wasn’t making it for everyone else, too?

Don’t really have a great answer for that except that I wasn’t sure anyone else would be interested in it.

A solid tallow-based soap with a super fat around 7%, very low coconut (so not a high suds), these bring non-drying cleansing to a new level.  Enriched with healing organic Lavender essential oil, vitamin-laden avocado oil, raw organic cocoa butter, organic mango butter, raw organic shea butter, olive oil, super kind almond oil and nutrient-dense goat milk.  Each bar weighs in at over 5.5 oz.  This soap hardens up pretty well and should last a long time.

Knock Out

knockoutPart of the great improvement in my health has included exercise.  After being told to ‘stay down’ for over a year to heal the adrenals, it was hard to get back up!  All of the adrenal fatigue (dang-near failure!) mess caused a lot of muscle atrophy.  Getting back into exercising caused some serious pain – the atrophied areas had developed ‘adhesions’ and there were interesting lumps and bumps that hurt like crazy.  That pain was tolerable (barely) during the day, but to try and sleep with the pain was nearly impossible some nights.

Enter ‘Knock Out’.  :) My new bff.  This was part of a lesson for my herbal medicine and while I worked the lesson, I realized I could help myself out.  I mixed up a blend that addressed my problems specifically and what do you know – it not only worked, but it worked GREAT.  Because I ‘resist’ relaxation automatically (it’s just a thing I do), I made sure this would be able to overcome that tendency.  Boy, does it ever.

Best sleep I’ve had in years.  Consistently.  I’m going to share my recipe and you can make your own or you may purchase this tea from me here

I use the ‘Simpler’ method to measure.  A part is anything from a hand full to a teaspoon.  If you choose to use a teaspoon as your ‘part’, then do so for the entire recipe.  :)

1 part oats (not instant unless that’s all you can get)

2 parts Chamomile

1 part Hops flowers

1 part Skullcap

2 parts Lemon Balm

1 part California Poppy

Blend herbs together. The rate of usage is 1 teaspoon of dry tea per 1 cup of water. Infuse tea in hot water for a minimum of 10 minutes (15-20 is better), then drink 1/4 cup every half hour starting a couple hours before you want to be asleep. Yes, the entire cup may be consumed at once, but it will be a knock out.

If you’d rather just buy the tea from me, click here

Recipes

Hi everyone!

Just a quick update for you.  We have a lot of recipes posted here on Intrinsic Alchemist.  They’re separated into Recipes 1 and Recipes 2 – if you’ll Creamtake a look at the links along the top of the page just under the header, you will see those links.

Recipes 1 consists of household and cleaning recipes.  Recipes 2 is health, face and body care recipes.  There are quite a few recipes posted so far – as time goes on, more recipes will be posted for use.

Have a great day!

Numero Dos

NumeroDosOK, this is a touchy subject, but everyone DOES it.

Number 2.  Drop a deuce.  Poo.  Hence the name, Numero Dos.  Made with all natural NON-chemical ingredients, this little gem will not only save embarrassment. it won’t poison you or your environment!

Simply spray a few sprays on the surface of the water, go, flush.

But that’s not where the usefulness of this stuff ends.  Deodorize the air, stinky shoes, etc.  Because there are essential oils and glycerin in this, test it on an inconspicuous spot first – the essential oils are strong and, well, glycerin is glycerin – not really an oil, not really water.  They may make spots on certain fabrics or surfaces – they’ll likely be fairly easy to clean.  But you’ve been warned – I’m not coming to clean it if you mess up… LOL   :)

Ingredients: Water, Odor Killing Enzymes, Essential Oils, Glycerin.

Right now, we only have 1 ounce bottles in Lemon Eucalyptus in stock to see how this is received by our customers.   We’re selling these for  here

News from Intrinsic Alchemist

Hi Everyone!

Some things to know about Intrinsic Alchemist:

1.  Not all soaps are going to be available all the time.  If you have found a favorite and the ingredients used are seasonal (such as the Prickly Pear), or you have an idea for a soap that you’d like to have made just for you, please feel free to place a custom order for an entire batch of it.  We will require half of the cost as a down payment, then the balance when the batch is ready to ship.

If you’re ordering a soap that we’ve made for the store previously, YOUR SOAP WILL GET MADE FIRST, the soap for the store will be made after your custom order.  If you think you can use 9 or more bars of soap within a year, this is a great money-saving way to buy your soap.  The minimum is a 2 pound batch (nine 2″ x 3″ bars).

2.  These are high quality ARTISAN soaps.  If you do buy an entire batch, consider keeping them in the freezer or fridge.  They’re going to be fresh for about a year at room temperatures.  Especially ones with a very high super fat.

3.   We are working on rolling out new products.  If there is something you’d love to see, feel free to contact us and ask about it.  Chances are, we’ve already got a recipe in formulation!

4.  Don’t be misled by soaps labeled as ‘organic’.  While we use organic oils, the very best lye available is ‘Food Grade’ (and that IS what we use!) but it is not organic (‘organic’ lye simply cannot be obtained), so the soaps cannot be labeled  ‘organic’.   Soap cannot be made without lye.

Thank you for stopping by.  We’re glad you’re here!

IAlogofbpg

 

Essential Essential Oil Blend

There are many essential oil companies out there that want to sell you their essential oil blends for fighting germs – usually with a name containing the word “shield” or “guard” (hey, maybe we should call this recipe Germ Warrior! LOL) – and each one is a variation on a theme:  Thieves Oil.EO

There are several old stories about how the Thieves Oil blend came to be known – they’re also usually quite similar: during a plague, there was a band of thieves taking the valuables from the homes of dying or recently dead plague victims. The king of the land set his henchmen out to find these thieves – not because of the lucre they’d stolen, but because of the fact they’d been in close quarters with plague victims and their homes without getting sick. The merry band of thieves explained their method to the king and it was this blend that came to be known as Thieves Oil.

In looking around, there are many, many recipes out there for Thieves Oil.  Yes, buying all the essential oils, then blending them is not cheap.  However, in many, if not most cases it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying the premade blend!  Not only that, but so many of them are not organic in any way.  Hello!  Just how much pesticide is one body capable of handling?  Medicinal plants are just as susceptible to pests as any other and if the essential oil is not organic, I’m not inclined to spend my money on it.

The basic elements in Thieves Oil are as follows:  Clove bud, Cinnamon bark, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, and Lemon.

Some take the lemon out and use orange instead (which probably smells and tastes good, but the lemon is a better germ killer!), others add essential oils such as Oregano (anti-bacterial, natural antibiotic, germ killing) to their blend.  Some recipes call for equal amounts of each of the five essential oils.

I’m going to give you the basic, old, Thieves Oil recipe here – this is the one that I believe saved me from the flu in February when everyone else in the household was coughing and sneezing right on me (that’s right – I never caught it! woohoo).  What you add to it to make it work for you is up to you.

Thieves Oil *

33 drops organic Clove Bud essential oil (33%)

30 drops organic Lemon Essential oil  (30%)

17 drops organic cinnamon bark essential oil (17%)

12 drops organic eucalyptus essential oil  (12%)

8 drops organic rosemary essential oil (8%)

Mix into a dark glass bottle.   Other oils you may wish to add:  Orange, lavender, tea tree, cedar.  Start with a smaller batch and experiment – see what works best for you.

– For Encapsulation:  To a ’00′ capsule, add 6 drops of Thieves Oil, press together and take up to 4 times a day.

– Antibiotic Blend Encapsulations: To a ’00′ capsule, add 8 drops of Thieves Oil, 4 drops of Oregano essential oil, 1 drop of Frankincense (if available), press the capsule together.  Don’t over do this one, it’s quite strong.

*I’ve formulated this recipe at 100 drops. A 15ml (1/2 oz +/-) bottle will hold about 250 drops, a 5ml bottle will hold about 85 drops.  The percentages are in parentheses so that you can figure out how much you need of each for a different sized batch. Total number of drops desired x percentage of each oil (do each calculation separately) = number of drops needed of each oil for batch size.

This recipe will be permanently located here

Fresh Batches – Herbal and Laundry

OK, the first soap here is the Herbal Bar – we used to call it the Dog Shampoo Bar, but so many people loved it for themselves, we are just calling it  HerbalBarHerbal Bar.  It is VERY cleansing – which is what makes it great for the pooches!   It is also a great kitchen soap.  To me, the smell is heavenly and invigorating.  This soap doesn’t really have much of a superfat, only about 1 percent.  Enriched with cedar, thuja, spruce, rosemary and sage essential oils as well as aloe vera, jojoba and kaolin clay, this soap takes on life with a full one foot cutting from my organic Rosemary bush!  I love the way the house smells while this soap is curing.

It’s listed for sale here

Instructions for use on dog:  Wet down your dog, rub the bar of soap directly on the dog, rinse.  Repeat if necessary.  Use a washcloth on the dog’s face.  Soap stings the eyes.

Pregnant ladies should avoid prolonged exposure to this soap because of the rosemary.  Rosemary brings on the menses.

 


Laundry Soap is never out of stock.   These recent batches aren’t as white as previous batches – that is because the essential oil that is being used currently has a good amount of color in it.  It still cleans as well as ever, it’s just not pure white.  It’s listed on the Artisanal Soaps Available at the VERY BOTTOM OF THE PAGE – scroll down when you get there.

Coconut oil is great for laundry soap!

Coconut oil is great for laundry soap!

Just One More Thing…..

Anyone who has ever watched Columbo on TV has heard that line (he said it several times per episode).  Columbo used it to aggravate the wiley, intelligent murderer into making a mistake or saying something that would validate the detective’s notion that he knew who done it.   Today, I’m using it in a very different way.  For the last few months, it seems that life has been using that line on me nearly every day!  Schedule changes at jobs, class changes at school, doctors appointments, extracurricular activities, church activities – you name it.  Just when I’d get adjusted and think I had it well in hand, you guessed it – ‘just one more thing’.  It’s been testing, it’s been aggravating some days, but for the most part, it’s all been for very good reasons.    Some of it has been my own doing – deciding to study herbal medicine in the middle of the whole shebang (and not telling anyone because I didn’t want to hear “are you nuts? dontcha think you have enough going on?” LOL apparently not).  But it turns out that reading, studying and writing were all things I could do while sitting in the car, waiting.  So, not a total dingbat idea.  That’s why you got articles on probiotics and the lengthy update on my health (when I’m down, I make myself count my blessings and then I’m not down anymore – my health progress is a HUGE blessing!).

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for all the support and patience – it really was my goal to roll out some nifty and interesting stuff for Valentine’s Day, then by St. Patrick’s Day, I was down in the dumps – wondering if I’d ever have a little time to create anything!   (That’s when I started counting my blessings!)  Some of these beautiful soaps take nearly an entire day to create.  That isn’t even counting the hours spent calculating the recipes from an idea that often strikes me during the middle of the night or in the middle of a conversation.   This truly is a labor of love and one that I take seriously – keeping chemicals out of the equation is, I believe, one of the biggest aspects of my healing.  My thinking is that if I can keep chemicals out of my husband’s and children’s lives and educate them about nutrition, they will never get sick like I did.  And if telling my story and making my soaps available helps even one person, that’s a great thing.

The good news is I’ve gotten some soaps made!  YAY!  Stay tuned… more to follow!

Ten Years (A tale of progress)

I recently turned 49.   I’ve been reflecting on some things and I think they should be shared.foodyoueat

When I was a kid, my beloved Nana (grandmother) encouraged me to ‘eat the rainbow’ of fruits and vegetables, my grandfather grew a lot of vegetables, we hunted and bought beef on the hoof – a LOT of meat. My childhood was healthy physically – I was strong as an ox. However, I was the nerdy kid who read the then-surgeon general’s statement that a certain soda pop and a certain candy bar were perfectly ‘fine’ snack foods. I went down that road, the road paved with the ‘good intentions’ (yeah, right) of the government. Later, I was very interested in the new Food Pyramid (I now call it the Triangle of Tastiness (And I won’t even go into the Grain Lobby and how they worked the govt to get their pet products into the biggest section of the triangle of tastiness)). And to be honest, it seems to me that the closer I followed the ‘recommended’ food intake values, the sicker I got. No, I’m not saying that everyone who follows the ‘recommendations’ will be sick. But I do believe people get hung up on macronutrients instead of micronutrients. Fat isn’t going to make you fat and wheat isn’t necessarily ‘healthy’.

Ten years ago…

- I lived through a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) – this is very often fatal. Indeed, when the clot first ripped through my lung, my diaphragm seized then convulsed and I couldn’t breathe.  Still not sure how I got it to slow down and draw a breath. My extremely anemic state probably saved my life as the clot was only about the size of a nickel.

- I was SO very anemic – my hemoglobin was just over 7 and my ferritin was ZERO. During my stay at the hospital for the PE, a doc walked up to me, put his face so close to mine, his nose nearly touched mine and said “Did you know you’re anemic? I have to ask – How are you walking around upright? I really want to know – people with these numbers are usually not walking around talking.” I then confessed my picas – cocoa powder straight out of the box (no sugar) and very, very hot sauce on everything else I ate. He wrote that down in his notebook and I didn’t see that guy again.

-  I ran out of breath walking to the mail box (and the mail box is not far from the front door!).

- My skin was fish-belly white with a bluish tint, very thin and delicate; had such thin fingernails that they hurt if they got bumped.

- I was losing my hair (seriously – my husband kept asking me if any of my relatives had gone bald!) – my scalp was very visible through my hair.

- My Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune state that attacks the thyroid) had just been diagnosed. When I inquired ‘what can we do about this’, the response was ‘nothing’. Hmmmm… I didn’t believe that.

- Hypothyroid Diagnosis. The first doc checked my labs every six weeks and adjusted my dose nearly every time he checked my TSH. Every time the dose changed, I would have migraine headaches, one after another – the last time, it was 5 in a row and I was so very sick – he’d given me migraine meds, but none of those touched the migraines I’d have with these dosage changes. Found a new doc as soon as I recovered from that 5x migraine.

- Every time I tried to work out, I’d get sick for two full weeks (adrenals/anemia). TWO FULL WEEKS!

- I had many deficiencies, iron deficiency being the worst at the time, but my body was deficient in many minerals and vitamins.

- My hands and arms were constantly ‘falling asleep’ and tingling, sometimes going numb. My research indicated Raynauds, but I never mentioned these to my doc – I didn’t want a diagnosis of MS or Raynauds. I knew in my heart that being diagnosed with yet another autoimmune (because once you have one, you’re prone to others) and then getting a prescription to ‘try’ and treat the symptoms wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to find out what was causing these and then I wanted to heal it, not just treat it.

- I wouldn’t eat much because I was already overweight and didn’t want to get heavier. Two things happened – deficiencies were exacerbated and it caused metabolic syndrome.

- Acid reflux so bad that I would wake up from a deep sleep with a mouth full of acid. Betaine really did help that.

I was in BAD shape. In fact, if I hadn’t made the changes I’ve made over the last 10 years, if I’d stayed on that course, there is no doubt I wouldn’t have lived to see my oldest child turn 16 and go to college. She did them at the same time last year.

But I did change. One small step at a time, one food, sometimes it was as small as one thought. Because my doctors wouldn’t give me IV iron (they didn’t think my veins would be able to handle it – yes, I was THAT FRAIL) and I had leaky gut, I not only took many doses of iron, but I ate liver EVERY DAY FOR TWO YEARS. The empty iron and vitamin C bottles would probably make an interesting display had they been saved.

During my healing time, I experimented on myself and lived with the successes or consequences of those experiments. It’s been a learning experience and I have gained much knowledge. I’ve learned a lot about herbs (especially adaptogens) vitamins and minerals and which systems they affect or heal.  It’s amazing how many disease states can arise from deficiencies.

In early 2009, I gave up wheat. Then, late in 2009 we went on a road trip. After a long day, at the only place for at least 50 miles, we stopped to eat and the only food available (that looked edible to me) was a sandwich and I ate wheat. This was followed almost immediately by an inflammation storm all over my body that lasted a week. I knew wheat was not for me. At the end of 2009, I went to an ancestral diet. My family resisted for years. I can’t take my carbs to an extremely low point – for some reason, keeping my carbs super low just doesn’t work for me (I know some people CAN, but my body WON’T…) so I make sure that my carb intake doesn’t slip below 90 net.

We finally figured out that our daughter had a sensitivity to wheat – however, she also had a complete addiction to wheat products. That was a monumental struggle – I worked so very hard to make foods that were wheat-free that she would eat – she’d gotten so very thin and persnickety – if she didn’t like what was on the table, she simply wouldn’t eat. She could not afford to do that – she could not gain weight. I was so very, very worried. Turns out she is celiac. We’ve had to figure out how to deal with that and optimize food to best nourish her. She hasn’t lost 10-15% of her body weight per year since eliminating wheat from her diet. My husband and son were the last ones to go wheat-free, but they made the change and have fared well for it.

One of the best things I’ve done recently has been an elimination diet. My daughter and I went through this together.   Our health care provider suggested she do the diet to see if there were other foods she had a sensitivity to – even though both of us had made great improvements in our diet and health up to that point. We’ve been primal (similar to paleo) for some years now. I decided to go on it with her for support.

It was shocking to me to discover how many foods caused an inflammatory response in my body. But it was a great time to be able to isolate responses to certain foods such as peanut butter, wheat and white sugar. I did experiment with foods a bit – just to observe my body’s reactions. Some foods hurt me and they hurt me a LOT. The one that caused the most surprise: coffee… ouch. Goodbye old friend.

A few times, people have said to me “Oh, I could NEVER give up my _______ (insert food here)!” I think if it made you hurt ALL OVER YOUR BODY for a minimum of 4 days after eating it, you might rethink that statement. But here’s the sad part: a lot of people DO have that reaction and they hurt all over, but they don’t realize that the food they eat is contributing to or causing the pain.

It is interesting to note that while I’d have my reactions to foods very quickly after re-introducing them, my daughter often wouldn’t have a reaction until a few days after and sometimes not until after having consumed some foods a few times. We had to only introduce 1 food per week there for a while with her. (BTW, I think that a very common mistake after doing an elimination is to re-introduce many foods at once – if you ever do try an elimination, please re-introduce very slowly so that you can clearly observe the body’s reactions)

In 2011 and 2012, I was harshly criticized for ‘letting a disease state define’ me.  Yes, I completely immersed myself in the WHYs of my health or lack thereof. The WHYs led me to the HOW(s) to heal and restore my health.

I cook every meal that is eaten in this house. I make our gluten free and grain free bread one to two times per week. I am ancestral and Grain free, but the rest of my household is currently considered Gluten Free most of the time, but they do eat my grain free stuff, too. I ferment and culture foods, condiments and beverages. There are 2 to 3 places we feel comfortable eating out and we do eat out about once a month. My husband and children have all learned how to read labels and they do so very diligently (it’s amazing how much ‘crap’ can be hidden in innocent looking foods such as tuna, oils or nut butters).

I make our treats, sometimes even ‘candy’ – although people who haven’t given up sugar wouldn’t recognize it as such! LOL

Pre-made foods are very rare in our household. Since my kids are still teenagers, the most often purchased pre-made food is: chips. Yes, whole food, organic potato and sweet potato (sweets n beets) chips. I am mostly OK with it – at least they aren’t those toxic neon orange, chemical-laden chips. My kids eat kale chips and collard greens, they love sauerkraut – with all the super-healthy food that goes on in this house, a bag of sweet potato chips here & there isn’t going to kill and it lets them be…. kids.

At this point, today, my entire family’s health is improving and I feel so good that it is worth every minute of that effort.

But the point of this post is this: it hasn’t happened overnight. There were times I took a triumphant two steps forward only to be knocked back five steps, times I was brought to my knees and times I took half a step forward with no knocks, no negativity, all progress. Hey, half a step in the right direction is always better than stasis or moving backwards!  My own healing is what inspired me to study herbal medicine.

Today:

- My body is no longer making any antibodies, my thyroid is working.

- My hair is thick and curly again. Fingernails aren’t thin, they grow like weeds.

- No more deficiencies

- I work out very hard and don’t get anything but sore, then muscle grows.

- My skin is skin color! LOL Its a sandy brown in the winter and darker in the summer (no, I don’t use sunscreen – I’m more concerned about vitamin D deficiency – vitamin D is EXTREMELY important and the skin is made to make it!)

- hands and arms are no longer tingling and falling asleep – in fact, that was one of the first symptoms to disappear.

- have lost weight. While I’m not at my ultimate goal, I’m within 10 or so pounds and that will go as I get fit.

For ten years, now, I have been rebuilding my physical self. One prayer, one thought, one herb, one vitamin, one exercise, one food, one action at a time. I’m grateful – grateful for my failings because I learned so much more when I fell; grateful for my successes because each one was a step toward true healing and optimal health; grateful for my tenacity because to be sure, lesser souls would have given up long ago, but I believed in myself and knew deep in my heart that I could conquer this.

Becoming Cultured….and fermented (probiotics!) Part 2

As promised, this is a more in depth look at Kombucha and Jun. If you haven’t already, consider reading part 1 here

I meant to get this out earlier, but things have been super busy around here!  The good news is I’m nearly done with my Herbal Medicine studies – if there are no more delays (I know, famous last words, right?… but that’s exactly why I didn’t tell anyone about it sooner!), I could be done by or before the end of this year.  WOOHOO!

Kombucha and Jun are both

Symbiotic
Cultures
Of
Bacteria and
Yeast

aka SCOBY.  They both are basically cultured and fermented sweet tea(s).

Kombucha is usually fermented black tea (although many use a blend, a certain percentage of the tea should be black – I believe it is 25-40%) with sugar (I use a good ‘real’ brown sugar as in not painted and sucanat). I’ve had great success using plain old organic black tea only. If one allows the brew to go long enough, about 7 to 10 days (depending on weather – in a very warm environment, the brewing time could be considerably less), all of the sugar is consumed by the culture.

If you are considering Kombucha, start off with a small amount and see how your body reacts – you’re looking for detox symptoms (headache, diarhea and the like), slow down if you get symptoms and drink a lot of water. There are those who estimate the probiotic count for kombucha to be in the Billion per ounce range, others who say the probiotic count is non-existent – it’s probably more like 1 to 3 Billion per 8 ounces of home brew. Kombucha has been around for about 2000 years or maybe more. In ancient times, it was called ‘Manchurian Tea’. Kombucha is also rich in antioxidants, healthful organic acids, vitamins (B and C), amino acids, enzymes and electrolytes.

Some of the Organic Acids formed by Kombucha include:

Lactic Acid – essential for digestion and assists blood circulation. Aids in balancing acids and alkalines in the body.

Glucuronic acid – detoxifier. When toxins enter the liver, this acid binds with them and carries the toxins out through the kidneys. A by-product of the glucuronic acid is glucosamine, which is associated with collagen, the cartilage in joints – it is this by-product that makes kombucha so effective in people with arthritis.

acetic acid – inhibits harmful bacteria

usnic acid – natural antibiotic

oxalic acid – natural preservative; encourages production of energy on a cellular level

malic acid – detoxifyer – especially for the liver.

Gluconic acid – breaks down caprylic acid and is of great benefit to candida and other yeast infection sufferers.

Butyric acid – also fights candida

Yes, the fermentation process does produce a slight amount of alcohol.

Jun is usually fermented green tea and honey. Jun has an air of ‘mystery’ around it that, of course, I had to dig into further. Who doesn’t love a good mystery? There is not a large body of information regarding Jun, so I read what I was able to find and sought a culture. When I finally obtained my culture, it was tiny and white, with less than a cup of starter around it. My concern was “I’m going to kill it!” but that was silly. The culture is hearty. It multiplies. I’m not to the point where I’m ready to call my cultures ‘tribbles’, but I can see how quickly that could happen.

This is jun. As you can see, the scoby has reproduced - they are always huge for me. Much like asparagus just grows for me, so does Jun... LOL

This is jun. As you can see, the scoby has reproduced – they are always huge for me. Much like asparagus just grows for me, so does Jun… LOL

I haven’t been able to find any information on how many healthful substances there are in Jun. I figure it’s got a similar, although probably not identical, health profile when compared to Kombucha.  All I can tell you is that my children love Jun more than Kombucha. It’s got a gentler flavor.

My health has been returning to me by leaps and bounds. I no longer have antibodies against my thyroid. I’m off thyroid meds at the moment. My adrenals are no longer so delicate that I can’t DO things.  Heck, my eyesight even seems to be changing – I’m constantly taking my glasses off and realized (finally!) that I see better without them (?)!  But much of this will be covered in another post.

After the initial ferment of about a week, it’s time to decant the kombucha or jun. Wash the hands, rinse well, then rinse again. Some rinse their hands in vinegar before handling the scoby. Take the scoby out of the brewing vessel – I use a deep glass pie plate. Ladle kombucha or jun from the vessel over the scoby – about 2 cups. Pour the rest of the kombucha or jun into bottles, then rinse brewing vessels with hot water then vinegar. Now, the vessels are ready to brew again. Remember to let your tea cool off before putting the SCOBY into it.

DON’T USE METAL! USE GLASS OR CERAMIC TO BREW, PLASTIC TO STIR and if you have to cut the umbilical on a SCOBY & baby Scoby, USE PLASTIC.

Because of the bottles I chose from Midwest Brewing, I have to use a funnel in my bottles. Once the kombucha is in the bottles, they need to sit for aJnKbottles while – so many people have so many opinions about this – let them be for a week or three – that is UP TO YOU. The question should be DOES IT TASTE GOOD TO YOU? Yes, you can drink it right away, but it builds more of those healthy acids up while it sits during this ‘second ferment’. It can also build a heck of a FIZZ. If you do let your kombucha sit for a length of time, do not forget to burp your bottles. Just open them up, let the pressure off and tighten them back up again. Not doing this leads to bursting bottles and that isn’t any fun to clean up!

OK, I’m going to share my favorite recipe – it’s really not as exciting as some. I see some folks adding maca to their brews during the second ferment and that’s fine, but I try to keep the kombucha and jun simple, yet tasty.  In fact, we don’t even put flavorings into Jun here, we just bottle and enjoy.  It tastes good added to cooled tea, other drinks such as wine (not kidding – it’s been done). In other words, it’s easy to sneak into foods and drinks this way and that’s just what I do.

We do not keep fruit juices around. We do have fruits, but not commercially canned or bottled juices. So my recipes are somewhat different from others you may find. Celestial Seasonings (there are other brands, CS just seems to be the most ubiquitous brand in my area) makes many fruit teas – they aren’t just ‘flavored’, they actually contain fruit. My family likes the Raspberry, Blueberry, Cherry and Peach teas the best. My all time favorite is Cherry Lemon Ginger Kombucha. Raspberry Lemon Ginger comes in a close second. I haven’t tried Peach tea in Kombucha yet, but plan to.

Raspberry Lemon Ginger Kombucha

To a 1 quart bottle or jar, I add

 - Fresh Ginger Root slices (leave the skin on) – I love ginger and usually slice more than 1/4 inch of root into my bottles. Ginger is an adaptogenic herb that is good for the body in so many different ways – it’s calming for the stomach and gives me a burst of energy (adrenals)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (for flavor, the medicinal qualities and lemon makes FIZZ!)
- 1 cup of cooled Raspberry tea
- If you like your kombucha or jun to have a bit of sweet to it, add a sweetener that WILL NOT FERMENT here – sugar, honey, etc ferments and will make more alcohol and fizz. Stevia, xylitol, erythritol, etc, will not ferment.
- Fill rest of bottle with Kombucha, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch head space and seal. Because it’s already warm here, I have to start burping these bottles after about 3 days.

* Cherry Lemon Ginger Kombucha is the same – sub in 1 cup of Cherry Tea for the Raspberry.

If you need to take a break from brewing, do so – leave your scoby in your vessel with enough brew to cover it. Check on it once in a while to make sure it isn’t dry. When you’re ready to go again, your SCOBY will be too.

Left alone too long, kombucha and jun will both eventually turn to vinegar. Because I use a good amount of Apple Cider Vinegar in my household – not just for cooking, I have made apple cider vinegar. However, I’ve also taken about 1 tablespoon of ACV with the mother and innoculated a little over a cup of jun that was nearly vinegar. Let it sit with the lid very loose til it didn’t try to fizz up any more. Then let it sit for a good while longer (I lost my notes, so I can’t say exactly how much time passed! sorry!) and the resulting vinegar was beautiful and tasty. Will certainly do that again – maybe even with some kombucha.

Nifty Tips from Kombucha Kamp – Hannah is awesome!

1. If you find that fruit flies are trying to take over your brewing area, put a drop of dish soap into a small bowl, pour an ounce or two of kombucha or jun (it seems to me that the flies like kombucha better) over the soap and leave that near your brewing area – the flies are drawn to it, but the soap won’t let them back out.

2. SCOBY hotel – If you find that you’re getting a LOT of SCOBYs and don’t have a lot of people waiting in line to take them off your hands, make a hotel. Get a good sized jar (1/2 – 1 gallon), put your spare SCOBYs in the jar, then pour kombucha (or jun) over them til they’re covered. Hannah suggests putting the lid on the jar, and that the SCOBYs will be fine for up to a year without brewing. She recommends putting the SCOBYs in hotel rather than bagging and refrigerating. Some say that some of the bacteria go dormant and may not reawaken. That being said, I’ve frozen cultures (NOT Kombucha or Jun…yet) and they’ve worked just fine after the thaw. So I don’t know which way is BEST.

Now, I don’t know EVERYTHING there is to know about either kombucha or jun. My purpose for posting this is to help other people realize that it isn’t intimidating or impossible to keep up with – that anyone can brew their own booch and jun and even take breaks from it when they need to. It is my sincerest wish to aid others in achieving optimal health and helping others learn how to help themselves.

Muscle Rub

musclerubMMMMMM….. The hot/cold soothing of muscle rub.  To some pains, it’s just the best thing ever.   I’ll admit to formerly being a pretty regular user of the muscle rub that has a big cat in the name.  Then I read the ingredients and wrinkled my nose.  Surely there had to be a better way.

An acquaintance shared the recipe for a homemade muscle rub remedy she’d found online.  I looked that over and gave it a try, but it was really not what I’d become accustomed to.  So I got busy and made my own.

Through trial and error in small test batches, I pushed the limits of just how much of the active ingredients one could put in a single tin of muscle rub.  Made without any petroleum products and containing no harsh chemicals to force the pores in the skin open, this is a great rub for sore muscles and joints.  Lanolin helps soothe skin while Emu oil helps escort the pain-killing action right into the affected area(s).  Organic Coconut oil, Raw organic beeswax, Raw Organic Shea Butter, Emu Oil, Lanolin, Menthol, Cajeput, Cinnamon, Blue Tansy, Wintergreen, Camphor, peppermint, chamomile, helichrysum, osmanthus, eucalyptus and clove.  Each Tin contains at least 1.6  ounces  $10.50  Buy Now

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Becoming Cultured……. and Fermented (Probiotics!)

I’m sure that any one who has watched as little as one show on television in the past week or two has seen an ad for either probiotic laden yogurt or supplements (maybe even both!).  These ads are in magazines, too.   There is a lot that isn’t being said.foodyoueat

Basically, the gut is a ‘biome’ – an environment of it’s own.  There are good bacteria and bad.  If you’re eating well, the good bacteria are likely outnumbering the bad.   However, if you’ve had antibiotics in the last couple years, your gut may be lacking.  The gut biome is currently the subject of much research and discussion.  It’s looking as though the good health of the gut reflects in the good health of the body and vice versa.  See for yourself, do a search on ‘gut biome’.

I’m not going to shoot down anyone’s efforts to better their health through taking probiotic preparations and eating commercially available yogurts.  However, I will say this:  ONE serving of fermented vegetables contains more probiotics than an ENTIRE bottle of probiotic supplement.   Yes, one serving of home cultured or fermented vegetables has more probiotics than an entire bottle.   And, for what one bottle of probiotics cost, about 10 QUARTS of fermented organic cabbage (sauerkraut) can be made (in some instances, even the purchase of an entire dozen jars, 12 organic heads of cabbage and a full pound of sea salt all together wouldn’t cover the cost of one bottle of probiotics… seriously)!  That’s a LOT of food and money in my book.

But probiotics aren’t limited to fermented vegetables.  For about $15 (after shipping), a good, perpetual, heirloom culture can be obtained for making buttermilk, yogurt  or kefir.  I have four cultures:  vegetable, buttermilk, yogurt and kefir.  Now, I am not going to suggest that you run out and buy them all right away.   Each one has many benefits.  Choose one and learn it well.  Then consider another.   Learn that one as well as the first, then consider another.   For instance, I like the taste of the buttermilk culture just as well as the kefir culture, so the kefir culture really wasn’t a MUST have in my household.    A culture is not absolutely necessary for sauerkraut, but it does get the fermentation going quicker.

There are several types of cultures.  Direct set, perpetual, mesophilic, thermophilic.   I’m going to explain these real quickly, then we’ll move on.   Direct set = a culture that you use each time you want to make your buttermilk, yogurt or cheese.  You have to buy more when you run out.  Perpetual = a culture that you use to make a “mother”, then use a little of the mother each time you want to make buttermilk, yogurt or cheese.   Before you run out, you use some of the mother culture to make another batch of mother.  OR, as in the case of my buttermilk culture, it simply gets cultured every 7 days and a mother culture isn’t necessary (although I keep cubes in the freezer as a backup and to share).   Mesophilic basically needs room temperature while thermophilic needs a constantly maintained warmth.   There’s a little more to these two definitions sometimes, especially if you’re making hard cheeses, but for where we’re going in this post, my definitions above are enough.  I prefer perpetual cultures that I don’t have to purchase over and over.

krautThe vegetable culture I chose is this one - because it can be used to culture many, many vegetables, not just cabbage for sauerkraut.  Sometimes, I let us run out of kraut and then I get so very hungry for it that I just can’t wait 3 weeks.  I’m trying very hard to break this habit.  However for the probiotic count to really be up there, I try to take the time and culture my sauerkraut for a minimum of 3 weeks instead of the 1 week a culture requires.   At the 3 week mark, you can use the sauerkraut like a condiment instead of in big servings and still get a LOT more probiotics than you think!  Just don’t microwave it.  Ever.

When I run out of vegetable culture, I intend to try this one.  Not because the other one has let me down in any way whatsoever – it’s great – I just want to learn them both.  Then I will decide which I prefer.  When I make my sauerkraut, I use a couple of cabbages, a few onions and a couple of carrots.  This makes for a very, very tasty sauerkraut.  I like it made with just cabbage, too, but I prefer the flavors that are added with the onion and carrot.  I very much like kimchi, too, but my family isn’t crazy about it.  When I do make kimchi, I make small, 1 quart batches and I usually end up eating the whole thing by myself. That’s OK, but sometimes, space is at a premium in our fridge.

I ferment vegetables in canning jars, I weight the vegetables down using a big ziplock or plastic bag filled with water.  Airlocks like The Perfect Pickler make it very easy and I may try one some day.  So far, however, I haven’t had a problem with the method I use whether it’s summer or winter, spring or fall.  Here’s a simple recipe for a small batch of sauerkraut to try if you’d like!  Sauerkraut  (It is a PDF and is printable).  Try to use organic vegetables when you can.  They don’t have the pesticide residues in them.

The buttermilk culture I chose is this one - because it needs to be cultured every 7 days, I use the buttermilk in our gluten free/grain free  bread and biscuit recipes as well as other cooking.  Sometimes, I strain it through butter cloth, add some sea salt and we eat that like cream cheese.  It’s very tasty.  I like the buttermilk with a little honey mixed in – I drink it as one would kefir.

This culture can also be used to culture other milks such as coconut or almond, but the thing to do with that is make a quart of the culture in milk, freeze that into ice cubes and then use part of a cube each time the coconut milk is cultured.  When the cubes get low, culture more milk.  I’ve tried to perpetuate the culture in alternative milks and it can be done for a time, but it’s VERY time consuming and one extra hour is death to the culture.  Only about 1 teaspoon of this culture is required to culture a quart of milk, coconut milk or almond milk.

The yogurt culture I chose is this one.   I chose it because it’s perpetual and because it’s mesophilic.  I do not need to buy an appliance to culture this yogurt.  It’s also got a very mild flavor, which my family prefers, and it cultures well in whole milk with extra cream in it.  The kids like to eat it with a little maple syrup in it.  But I also add a cup or two (depending on the size of the batch) to my home made ice cream.  They can’t taste it and they’re getting probiotics with every bite of what they think is pure decadence.  It hides especially well in organic strawberry ice cream.

The kefir culture I have is from a friend who has cultured kefir for many years.  However, if I were to have to buy one right now, I would probably get one of these.

I’ve also made fermented ketchup, mayonnaise and salsa, so far, and I have a few more recipes I’d like to try.   Homemade fermented condiments are SO yummy and frankly, the commercially available versions pale in comparison.  Most of the fermented condiment recipes call for whey.  The whey can come from either buttermilk or yogurt, simply strain either one through butter cloth in a cool spot for 8+ hours.  The liquid that drains out of the yogurt or buttermilk is the whey.  I save it and freeze it in ice cube trays.  Believe it or not, the whey is still viable after freezing.

My most recent investments have been for fermented tea. Since quitting coffee back in April, I’ve become a tea lover and fermented tea is a perfect fit.   There are two, kombucha and Jun. I’ll cover these more in a later post.

In my opinion, one of the most important investments in this is the canning jars.  While I don’t have the collection I’d like to have, I obtain more here & there.   The bare bones investment if one were very committed to trying fermenting and culturing would be  quart canning jars.  They’re very affordable at places such as WalMart.  A gallon jar and one or two half-gallon jars are also handy if you decide that it’s more efficient to make large batches at a time.   For fermented condiments, small jars, such as pint canning jars, are very handy.  I try to get only wide mouth jars, then I buy the wide mouth plastic lids.  I don’t really like to have a metal lid on a jar when fermentation is in progress.  However, if there is a layer of plastic (such as my water-weighted bag) between the ferment and the lid, it doesn’t bother me a lot.  However, once the ferment is done and the bag comes out, if I don’t have a plastic lid for my gallon jar, I move the ferment into quart jars with plastic lids, then into the refrigerator.

OK, now that is a pretty good bit of information for you to get started with if you are interested!  Have a great day!

New and Improved Herbal Antibacterial

herbsntibacterialHi everyone!   It took a little effort, but it’s true:  the Herbal Antibacterial soap is more antibacterial than before!  The color is different, however, due to one of the minerals we’d used previously being discontinued by our vendor.  We’re still looking for a new source of that particular mineral.

It’s properties include:

 - It’s quite cleansing.

 - It can be used as a solid shampoo.  The beer included will be good to the skin and hair.

 - Enriched with complexion correcting Rhassoul clay (red), activated charcoal (black) and witch hazel, it is good for oily skin and acne-prone skin.

 - While the predominant scent in this soap is Cedarwood, the proprietary blend of essential oils includes several oils that are anti-bacterial in nature.

 - Lauric Acid in the form of coconut oil added as a super-fat at the last possible moment contributes to the microbe-managing properties of this beautiful soap.

 - Raw, Organic Honey has been added to this formulation to help in the anti-bacterial properties.

Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear FruitAnyone who’s been up around 4 in the morning looking for something on TV has seen the ad for the super juice made from the fruit of the nopal cactus.  Well, that’s prickly pear.  They grow in my front yard.

We pick the fruit with tongs, then burn the spines (spikes! LOL) off with a torch.  Then we put them in a bucket.  Once we’ve got as much as we want or need (depends on what we’re doing), we take the bucket inside.  I don my kevlar gloves – even though we’ve burned the ouchiest parts off them, there can still be little tiny spines that will burrow into the skin – and peel the fruits.   Each one has many tiny black seeds inside.  Those seeds are hard as rocks!   Once the fruits are peeled and seeded, they’re edible.  To me, they taste a little like melon.   I think they make pretty good syrup for our gluten free/grain free pancakes and waffles.  They also seem to make pretty nifty soap!

pricklypearEnriched with prickly pear fruit, goat milk, aloe vera, beer, jojoba oil and avocado oil, with a super fat of 7%, this is a super bar of soap.  It also has meadowfoam seed oil and can be used as a solid shampoo.

The fragrance is a blend of phthalate free fragrance and essential oils.  It’s quite a sweet floral, but to us it isn’t cloying.    This is a low coconut formula, meaning it will cleanse, but not be too drying.

As always, the colors are natural minerals and there is a little smidge of cosmetic grade glitter on top for fun.

  Click here to purchase

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