Archive for August, 2011

Dear T&M: I can’t use all-natural hair products.

Posted on August 31st, 2011 by Tonia 8 Comments

Awesome Dirty Harry poster found here.

You are not alone, GreenMom! I had a really hard time finding an all-natural shampoo and conditioner that I was happy with, too. I even blogged about how I cut my hair short because I was sick of how the biodegradable shampoo made my long hair look stringy.

HOWEVER! A few months ago a friend suggested the Desert Essence brand. I tried it and have stuck with it ever since. It lathers great, cleans without totally stripping my hair dry, and the Coconut Conditioner is thick and creamy and smells like a vacation. I love that I can get it at our local organic food co-op, it isn’t crazy expensive, and it’s biodegradable.

There is another option, too. One of our readers, Shana, makes her own shampoo and conditioner and was kind enough to share her recipes {so awesome. Thank you, lady!}

I gave the shampoo and vinegar-conditioner a try today and took pictures so you could see how nicely it lathers and rinses out {I washed outside, because I was filthy dirty from laying seed and raking our green-manure pasture}. Honestly, I l-o-v-e-d them. They were quick and easy to make, too.

From Shana:

Hi Tonia, Here are my basic shampoo and conditioner recipes. I hope these work for you! Don’t feel like you have stick to the recipe – you can experiment!

1 cup boiling water
1 green tea bag
A few sage leaves, torn up
1 cup liquid castille soap (I use unscented Dr. Bronners)
6 tsp. jojoba oil
1/4 tsp. peppermint essential oil
1/4 tsp tea tree essential oil

Steep tea and sage in boiling water for 30 min. Strain.

Add soap, jojoba oil, and essential oils to water. Mix well, and shake before each use. Apply just as you would normal shampoo.

This shampoo works well for my hair, which is dark brown, thick, and fairly normal (not too dry or oily). For the shampoo that I make for my husband, who is blond, I omit the sage and steep the tea for a little less time. Sage is supposed to be good for dark hair, but can discolor lighter hair.

The essential oils can easily be omitted or substituted. They might have some value, but I like them mostly for their refreshing scent.

The most expensive item on the list is jojoba oil, which is kind of expensive. I’ve been thinking of substituting grapeseed oil, but I haven’t tried it yet. It’s constant experimentation!

2 cups boiling water
1 sprig rosemary
2 Tbls. apple cider vinegar

Pour boiling water over rosemary and let steep for 30 min. Strain.

Add apple cider vinegar and mix well. Shake before each use.

Apply to hair after shampoo, trying to cover as much hair as possible. Leave on for two minutes and rinse out, preferably with cool water.

I know. Vinegar on your hair? This seems like a really bad idea, right? I was skeptical too. But it really works! It leaves my hair smooth and shiny, and relatively tangle free!

You do have to dump kind of a lot of the mixture on your hair – I have very long hair, and I use about half a cup of conditioner per application. It is also important to actually leave it in your hair for a full two minutes or longer, so if you are trying to save water you might want to turn off the shower while you’re conditioning.

Your hair may smell slightly of vinegar when you’re done, but the smell will disappear as your hair dries (and it’s never a very strong smell anyway).

The rosemary can easily be omitted. It’s supposed to be good for your hair, but the vinegar is doing most of the work in this concoction.

If you use the vinegar rinse too often, it can dry out your hair. I wash my hair every other day, and every third or forth wash I try to do a “deep conditioner” instead of the vinegar wash. I apply the conditioner before shampooing because I’m worried that I won’t get all the egg out of my hair with just a rinse.

Deep Conditioner
1 egg
1 Tbls. olive oil
3/4 cup lukewarm water

Beat egg until it turns frothy. Add olive oil and beat some more. Slowly add water and beat until well combined.

Apply to damp hair. Leave in for 15 min.

Rinse out with COOL water (hot water can cook the egg, leading to an unfortunate, albeit retrospectively funny, situation)

Shampoo and rinse as normal.

If you would like to air your dirty secret, email us with “Dear T&M” in the subject line. Please indicate if you wish to remain anonymous.
toniasimeone {at} gmail {dot} com

Pesto Eater

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by Tonia 3 Comments

Look who loves pasta covered in homemade pesto!

While I was away at a friend’s wedding this past weekend, Mike was here at home babysitting our niece. He said he couldn’t believe how much pasta she put away at dinner. This little girl already knows the two secrets of a happy life: Lots of naps, and Italian food.

I wonder how Mike’s first experience with changing diapers went……

Late-August Garden Treats

Posted on August 29th, 2011 by Tonia 7 Comments

These are the sorts of things that have been coming out of our garden recently. They have inspired a bunch of great meals.

I’m afraid we’re getting really, really spoiled with all these fresh-from-the-ground tastes, and it’s about to be a long, hard winter without them.

I already made and froze a bunch of pesto from our basil, and we’re going to have enough tomatoes to preserve as well, but there’s nothing like just-picked basil garnishing raw tomatoes on a slice of grainy bread.

And the peas. Crunchy, sweet, delightful peas! I spent an hour the other day plucking them off the vine, cracking them open and alternating popping them in my mouth and tossing them to the chickens; one for me, one for you, one for me, one for…

Those red peppers might look like harmless sweet little bell peppers, but holycow no they are not. They’re spicy little Italian peppers!! They pack just the right amount of punch to liven up sauces, soups, stir fries, and more.

Blueberries- not from our own garden but from one nearby– that burst in your mouth with a flavor that can only be described as sunshine in berry form.

I will miss them like this: fresh, with maple syrup and Greek yogurt on our hot-cereal every morning. This is how we always start the day.

But at least we are prepared with bags of frozen ones already piled high in our freezer for the winter. Bleeeehck! Let’s not say the W-word again for a long while! It’s still summer, it’s still summer, it’s still summer.

Every night is a new culinary adventure- usually enjoyed on the porch with the stars overhead and the owls hooting through the trees. After a long day of work, food tastes so good.

Last night I had a craving for something savory and nutty to pair with our sweet tomatoes. I found a generic tarte crust recipe and substituted regular flour for almond flour, and added diced rosemary to it.

I blended up some quick pesto, sliced up the tomatoes, and loaded the tarte crust up with both. It got topped off with chunks of fresh mozzarella before going in the oven {I broiled it at the end to get the mozz bubbly and brown}. The extra pesto got frozen along with the rest of my stash.

Mmmmmm! It was perfect- exactly what I wanted. We gobbled it down before I could snap a photo of it, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was a handsome meal and very flavorful. Here’s what I did for the crust:

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the almond flour, salt, and rosemary in a bowl. Whisk together the grapeseed oil and water in another bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Press the dough into a 9-inch tarte pan.

Bake for 15 min or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes. Place in the fridge for about 45 minutes {this helps them come out of the tarte pans easier, without crumbling}. Remove tarte crust fridge, top with pesto, tomatoes or whatever your heart desires. Bake under the broiler until golden- watch the edges of the crust so it doesn’t get too brown. You can cover the edges with tinfoil if necessary. Serve warm with a salad of fresh greens.

What’s on your summer menu?

Apple Eater

Posted on August 26th, 2011 by Tonia No Comments

Our trees are loaded down with crispy, juicy apples. They’re not all the way ripe, but they’re far enough along to start eating for anyone who doesn’t mind a little tartness.

We bought an apple press with our neighbors and the four of us have big cider-making aspirations for the month of October. These are the things that make the end of summer a little less bitter, a little sweeter.

Something inspires the only cow of late

To make no more of a wall than an open gate,

And think no more of wall-builders than fools.

Her face is flecked with pomace and she drools

A cider syrup. Having tasted fruit,

She scorns a pasture withering to the root.

She runs from tree to tree where lie and sweeten.

The windfalls spiked with stubble and worm-eaten.

She leaves them bitten when she has to fly.

She bellows on a knoll against the sky.

Her udder shrivels and the milk goes dry.

-The Cow in Apple Time by Robert Frost

The Official Taste-Tester has been hard at work. He calls it quality control.

Some of them are red, some yellow, some green, and some a mottled mixture of all three.

Some of them are a wild variety, and some of them were planted a long time ago by the other people who lived and loved this place. Thanks, other people.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. I am running off to a friend’s wedding in Minnesota today, so perhaps you will forgive me for not posting the Dear T&M as promised {nor posting the cabin photos…..aakk! My excuse there is that my mother hasn’t sent them to me yet. I used her camera the whole time we were there because Mike needed ours left set up at home for a photo shoot we were in the middle of for a client.} Next week!!