DIY Face Scrub

image

We’re on Easter holidays at the moment and it’s been lovely to take a break from the usual routine and enjoy some lazy days. I’ve been a real squirrel over summer harvesting and drying flowers for potions and teas and now that I have some time I thought I’d whip up a batch of incredibly easy facial scrub from The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara. It’s called Fairy Face Scrub but I call it Garden Scrub (!) because many of the ingredients came from my garden ūüôā The best bit about this recipe is that I get to use one of my latest gadgets; The Grinder. When I first bought it I loved grinding up all sorts of things. I loved the grrrrr grrrrrr grrrrrr that reduced the substance to dust. Now I tend to grind in large batches. I’ll dry a couple of orange skins and grind them up and store them in a glass jar so I can get a good few potions out of one grinding session.

image

I got these for Christmas from my sister. They are the cutest measuring cups ever and they are dinky sized so can measure spoon measurements. I adore using these for my potions.¬†I only ever make small batches of any homemade potion because I don’t use preservatives so need to measure in tiny amounts – perfect!

Ingredients
2 Tbsp ground almonds
1 Tbsp fine oatmeal
4 tsp powdered dried rose petals
4 tsp powdered dried orange peel
4 tsp powdered dried lavender flowers
4 tsp finely grated cocoa butter
1 Tbsp mango butter, roughly chopped
2 tsp almond oil (or more if a little dry)

The ingredients are just gorgeous aren’t they!

image

These petals haven’t retained their scent as much as I’d have liked but there is still some colour. Apparently the best rose to dry is Rosa gallica officinalis or the apothecary’s Rose which is more fragrant dried than fresh. I’ll be looking out for one next Spring.

image

Here is the beautiful ground up orange peel that made my house smell so delicious as it was drying. I also use dried orange peel (in chunks not powdered) when I make fire starters (more about that in the winter).

image

Oats and ground almonds are probably in your cupboard right now.

image

You just need two types of butter for this recipe; mango and cocoa butter. Mango butter is the large white lump and cocoa butter is the yellow/creamy coloured one.

image

1 teaspoon of lavender going in…. anyway, here’s how I make Garden Scrub. Grind up the oatmeal if it looks a bit too chunky. Then grind the rose petals, orange peel and lavender flowers.

image

Put all the dry ingredients in  bowl.

image

and grate in the coco butter.

image

Give it all a good stir and you will begin to see the texture of the face scrub come together.

image

Add the roughly chopped mango fat.

image

Finally add the almond oil. Give it all a good stir and you will get a thick paste like consistency.

image

Spoon it into a pretty jar and firm down. It looks good enough to eat but don’t! To use, put a small blob into your palm and mix with a little warm water. Rub gently over your face to reveal silky smooth skin! The butters leave your skin really smooth and soft and the scent of orange and lavender will linger to remind you of those sunny days pottering in the garden.

image

Advertisements

One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny, Hot Cross Buns

image

Hot cross buns. Traditionally eaten on Good Friday although these days you seem to be able to eat them all year round just like Cadbury’s Cream Eggs. Anyway, today is Good Friday and together with Eldest Figlet, we made Hot Cross Buns. The Christian reasoning behind the buns lies in the ingredients; the bread being the bread taken at communion, the spices represent the spices that Jesus’ body was wrapped in inside the tomb and the sign of the cross on the top. It’s very windy outside and threatening to rain so a little spicy warmth in the kitchen is just the ticket.

Ingredients

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup milk
25g butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 cup currants
1 sheet ready made pastry or your own

Start by placing 1 cup of flour in a large mixing bowl together with the salt, brown sugar and yeast. Add the milk and boiling water and mix.

image

 

In a separate bowl mix together the melted butter, beaten egg and spices. Add to the yeast mix and stir.

image

Add the currants and stir again.

image

Add a further 1 1/2 cups of flour and begin to bring the mixture together into a soft dough.

image

image

Turn out onto a surface and start to knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and pliable. This is good for toning the upper arms! I had a warm glow about me after this little exercise.

image

Glad I had some help from Eldest Figlet. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm and pop in a warm place for 20 minutes. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t rise much. Now you need to cut the dough into eight even sized pieces and place in the greased 22cm spring form baking tin. They’ll look a bit small and have lots of room inbetween but that’s fine. Cover with clingfilm and return to a warm place until they’ve doubled in size. Preheat the oven in readiness to 200c.

image

Here they are having risen beautifully looking plump and cuddly….

image

Time to bake them now but first each little plump ball needs a pastry cross.

image

Now I didn’t have any bought short crust pastry so I had to Make My Own. It’s not that hard and I simply halved the normal amount I would make for a quiche.

55g flour
25g butter (you can do half butter half lard to make up 25g)
Ice cold water

Simply cut the butter into the flower using a knife. Once it starts to clump up use your fingertips to pinch and rub the flour and butter together to make a breadcrumb texture. Start adding small amounts of ice cold water using the knife again. As the dough starts to come together use your fingertips to coax it into a ball of dough. Be really light and gentle with your dough and it will reward you by being light and feathery!

image image

Start by cutting the pastry into thin strips and then cut to size to fit the top of the bun.

image

You should end up with something like this. Pop them in the oven for 5 minutes at 200c. After 5 minutes turn down the heat to 180c and cook for a further 15 minutes. I cover my buns with greaseproof paper for the first 10 minutes to prevent burning.

image

Here they are in all their spicy, yeasty, wholesome glorious-ness! I sustained a mild burn injury at this point so be wise and allow to cool before easing them out of the tin…. I know it’s hard isn’t it! They smell so delish!

image

Gently ease each bun apart from it’s neighbour, arrange hastily on a plate and scatter with little yellow chicks.

image

Continue to irritate your family by insisting on taking photos and moving plates/flowers/butterdish 5mm to the left and then….finally…..

image  image

….watch the steam curl in an upwards spiral as you tear open a little bun and smother with butter. Happy Days.

image image

 

Lemongrass tea

image 

I recently wrote about my Giant Lemongrass plant that was a giant in every way apart from it’s roots. I contacted Kings Seeds (from whom I bought the seeds) who assured me that it’s roots would fatten up in the next growing year. So, ho hum….what to do in the meantime….! Well, there is a very delicious tea to be made from Lemongrass leaves which is so easy. Now, I’m pretty new to herbal teas. I have tried many over the years and am always disappointed. They always look so promising but the taste is often a million miles away from what it’s supposed to be. The only herbal tea I drink regularly is mint tea which I love. However, with my new found interest in growing herbs and my intent for making a Tea Garden bed I’ve decided to give real herbal teas a try so these posts will follow me on a tea venture to see if I can find some really easy to grow teas that are also Good For You.

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is probably one of the easiest teas you can make. The hardest thing might be finding Lemongrass in the first place. However, if you can get hold of some seeds it’s a cinch to grow. It’s a half hardy perennial grass that is evergreen in warmer climates. It can grow up to to 1 metre in height. It’s leaves are a grey/green colour up to 90cm long and it has beige/white roots that take two years to fatten up (as I’ve found out).

To Sow : In Spring sow the seeds into trays and cover at a temperature of 20 c. Once seedlings sprout, pot on to a larger container if in a cold climate or straight outside for warmer climates. After a year the plant will have developed enough of a mature crown from which to take cuttings. Simply remove some stems from the crown, cut the stem back to 10cm and place in a pot filled with seed compost. Keep it in a warm, sunny spot and pot on once roots have formed.

Division: You can divide Lemongrass but I’d do it fast! After one years growth my lemongrass plant is huge and would require two fearless gardeners to divide it. Insert two garden forks back to back into the roots and gently pull apart. Plant up immediately into prepared site. If your Lemongrass is in a pot simply use your hands or two handforks to separate the plant in two.

Pets and diseases : The rain and the cold are enemies of Lemongrass and can cause rot and mildew. If your Lemongrass is inside over winter keep the soil fairly dry and well away form frost. In autumn it’s also a good idea to give your Lemongrass a haircut to prevent disease and keep it looking sharp. In Spring cut back any dead growth and thick stalks to 10cm.

How to use Lemongrass: Both the leaf and the stem can be used for cooking and medicinal purposes. When used in Asian style dishes, lemongrass imparts a uniquely lemony taste to the dish. The Lemon scent comes from the chemical Citral found in the leaves. This chemical is often used in perfumes, soaps and insect repellents. As for the health benefits….well, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin….

Lemongrass is also known as Fevergrass and has been used medicinally as a way of reducing fever and pain for centuries. It is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial so is useful for gastro-instestinal problems and can also be applied to wounds to kill germs. One of the most exciting magical qualities about Lemongrass is it’s antioxidant properties which help the body to remove toxins speedily. This is a Wonder Herb to all those who subscribe to de-toxing every now and then. It also has anti depressant qualities and can be beneficial for nervous and ¬†stress related issues. ¬†It’s high in Vitamin A so great for clear skin, bright eyes and bushy tails and….it may control excess sweating. Well, who knew? Phew! What a little wonder grass and its growing in my garden!

To make Lemongrass Tea using fresh Lemongrass:

image

Take 2 lemongrass leaves

image

and carefully snip them up into little bits.

image  image

I was lucky enough to be given this rather flash tea infusion set by a lovely garden mad friend of mine. If you live in the UK you can buy them from Sarah Raven. It’s a fabulous way to make tea with fresh leaves. If you’re using smaller dried herbs like chamomile you might find some plant “bits” escape through the holes into your tea. You could of course use a teapot or strain the leaf debris afterwards with a tea strainer.

image image

Pour in enough freshly boiled water to cover the herb and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.

image image

It goes a pretty, light lemony colour after 15 minutes of weaving it’s magic.

image image

This is the first time I’ve ever had Lemongrass tea and I’m drinking it now as I type. It’s refreshing, light, lemony and has a lovely lemon aftertaste. It’s not acidic at all though; very softly lemony. Sometimes I’ve found herbal teabags to leave a bitter aftertaste but this is a delight to drink; no acrid aftertaste at all. I’m already planning on chilling it and adding borage flower ice cubes in the summer. Who cares if I haven’t got plump lemongrass roots when I have the leaves to make tea!

PS Thank you so much Garden Mad Friend for the tea infusion set – it really is fabulous and I think you’ll see it crop up in a few more of these Tea Posts now I have a season of herb growing behind me ūüôā

 

 

Holy Mole

I would like to make it abundantly clear that no moles were harmed in the making of the dish Vegetable, Lentil and Bean Mole that I’m about to blog about. Well of course they weren’t especially as this is a vegetarian dish! Mole is pronounced ‘mole-eh’ like guacamole I guess and it’s a dish from Mexico. This post is wearing a huge sombrero as it’s being entered for the¬†Bangers and Mash¬†Spice Trail¬†Challenge which is all about Mexican Spices this month. It’s also not a bad recipe for increasing your 5+ a day and a great Meatless Monday dish. Phew what a useful post this is!

If you travel to Mexico you may never be dished up the same mole twice. It appears to be a dish veiled in tradition and each family attests that their secret ingredient makes it the best. I love the addition of dark chocolate which cools down the chilli heat. I don’t make my mole too spicy because I want to Figlets to eat it so play around with quantities according to taste.

Vegetable, Lentil and Bean Mole

1 large onion, chopped
1 large red capsicum, de seeded and chopped
1 large red chilli, de seeded and chopped (I used half)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp Mexican Spice Mix (see below to make your own)
3/4 cup dried, green lentils
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can red kidney beans (or any beans), rinsed and drained
250g button mushrooms, washed or peeled
250g kumera, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp dark chocolate, grated
2 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
6 Tbsp sour cream to serve

Mexican Spice Mix

1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp dried coriander
1 Tbsp mild paprika
1 Tbsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

image image

Crush the cumin seeds using a pestle and mortar….

image

….then stir in the rest of the spices. Now you might be thinking that this sound like Hard Work. If you have the spices to hand then it’s really simple and the pestle action quite stress-busting. I love the colours of the spices and was quite reluctant to mix them up. Start by gently sweating the onions in a little olive oil or coconut oil. Add the capsicum, chilli, garlic, Mexican mix and saut√© for 5 minutes or so.

image

Add the lentils and stir well. Then add the beans, tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Finally add the mushrooms and kumera and stir and simmer (covered) for another 25 minutes. Grate in the chocolate and coriander and cook for a further 5 minutes. The sauce should be lovely and thick.

image

Serve with rice and top with sour cream and coriander and slices of avocado if you have them. Of course I totally forgot to add the sour cream. That’s what blogging in the evening does to me I’m afraid! Enjoy your mole and have fun making it your own. Incidentally this makes a lovely Leftover Lunch – almost even better the next day ūüôā

Garden Share Collective – April

image

I always like to read last month’s Garden Share Collective ¬†post so I can see the progress I’ve made. Well, that’s the theory! ¬†Here is my April contribution to Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective from Strayed from the Table.

As we slide into Autumn the pace of growth dramatically changes in the vege garden but there is still loads to harvest and a never ending list of Jobs To do. While I get very excited about the prospect of spring I also feel a kind of relief as I get to Autumn. It’s the comma in a long sentence of gardening effort! A time to take a breath; slow the pace down a little and re-focus.

Last month I wrote a lot about collecting seeds. I think I’m becoming a little obsessed. Seed collecting was high on my To Do List and it is still high up there! I like to go Seed Spotting round the garden. I’ve spent most of my gardening career focusing on growing from seed and it’s only now that I’ve started to become interested in collecting seeds. It’s a very grounding task; a reminder of the cycle of growing our food and why I’m growing it in the first place. Let’s face it, sowing seeds, preparing the beds, making the compost, harvesting, preserving and repeating the whole process requires a huge amount of effort and time. I mainly grow veges to provide chemical free food for my family but the other benefits I’ve discovered along the way include having access to a greater variety of veges, becoming a more intuitive cook (I use what I have and it’s seasonal) and the more spiritual aspects of gardening. There’s nothing quite like getting your hands dirty and creating something meaningful. Anyway, back to seeds….this is what I’ve harvested so far and I have loads more to go….

image

….German Chamomile, Basil Genovese, pink and white Cosmos, Calendular Officinalis and Calendular ‘Porcupine. The Calendular is ostensibly for the Wild Flower garden I’m planning in the paddock but I might keep some for the vege garden too.

image

The Basil balanced precariously on the bowl has been a source of fascination for me. I’ve learnt that you need to catch the seeds before they go brown! As you look at the stems you can see both brown and green seed pods and if you look inside you can see the seeds. It’s a bit of a fiddle to get them out which is why I’m going to let them fall out when they’re ready – I need something better to catch them in than that bowl! It’s a learning curve and one that I am enjoying.

image   image

I also collected some bean seeds from my All Time Favourite little bean “King of the Blues”. He is a beautiful purple bean; very handsome and tasty too so I’m hoping I can grow some from this harvest.

image  image

Top of my To Do list was to plant out/sow some winter veg. I have to admit I bought seedlings from the Farmer’s Market. Not ideal but Needs Must and all that. So I now have Pak Choi, NZ Spinach, Rainbow Beet (otherwise known as Chard which always makes me think of Somerset Auntie C!), Snow Peas and Pea ‘Easy Peasy’.

image

I was also seduced by the celery even though past celery growing experiences have been fraught with disappointment. That’s the optimism of the vege gardener! I’m still busy harvesting. I delay the Big Tidy Up as long as I can in order to extend my harvesting season. Look at my haul from today…..

image image

Beautiful beetroot destined to be roasted and popped into juices and I’m still getting sweet cherry tomatoes and spring onions. I made a few jars of Tomato Relish but I think I need to make more to last us through…

image image

This is the final harvest of the cute little Carrots ‘Paris Market’ and some strong and healthy looking Sweet Fennel and ¬†Parsley. This parsley will see us through winter and into Spring. It’s a Super Food which we add to many dishes.

image

Still plenty of berries to throw into salads from the stalwart spinach strawberry plant. I’ll definitely grow this again next spring.

image image

Now for a little mystery…. Look at my monster of a Lemon Grass bush. I grew this from seed back in October. It’s a giant but the stems are weedy and thin. ¬†There are a few thicker specimens but they are green when they should be white. I’ve double checked that the seeds are the proper Lemon grass Cymbopogon citratus and indeed they are. I’m really, really hoping that the stems will thicken up and whiten in the next few weeks so I can prepare them for freezing.

My To do list for April is to start a mammoth Tidy Up which includes composting or burning old crops, weeding and covering empty beds, mulching and generally putting the garden to bed. I also need to clean the greenhouse and wash plant pots and store. I’m really pleased with the weed free paths in my vege garden (we re-weed matted in the spring here). I have my eye on weedmatting around the greenhouse this winter to create a storage area for the many plastic pots I re-use each year. So, still lots to do and a new seed saving obsession to indulge! Happy gardening and pop over to¬†Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective from¬†Strayed from the Table.