Tuesday, July 19, 2011

wood floor and furniture cleaner (homemade)

remember that post from january about homemade cleaning products? well, i am finally getting around to blogging about them!

i made the wood cleaner in the fall of 2010 sometime, and have been using it ever since. i REALLY love it! it's easy to make, it's effective at removing spots and such from my hardwood floors, and leaving them wonderfully shiny! i use it on my wooden dining table, coffee table, end tables, you name it!!!

you can make this recipe (adapted from the naturally clean home book), and store it in a spray bottle. i did a double batch last fall and just finished up this week (is that a testament to how little i clean?) :)ingredients
2 C lemonbalm tea, cooled (i brew it fresh from lemonbalm, from the farmer's market)
15 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops lemongrass essential oil*

1. combine ingredients in large spray bottle (you can get these at a hardware or home improvement store for about $2 each, or you can clean and re-use a spray bottle from a commercial cleaning agent. i would avoid one that had any chlorinated compounds)

2. spray directly on surface of interest - i do a lot of spot cleaning. it's a good agent at breaking up spots from water, dog drool, baby food goo, etc.

3. go and clean something, and enjoy the fresh scent of lemon while you work!

storage & safety
store in a normal, room temperature environment. i keep it beneath my kitchen sink. generally speaking, essential oils are highly concentrated and can irritate skin, mucous membranes, etc... so while this product won't be toxic in the way bleach would, be sure to keep it away from children and pets.

*i use a different combination of essential oils compared to the original recipe, which calls for 20 drops lemon essential oil and 2 drops thyme essential oil.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

storing baby food

i am a big fan of using these ice cube trays (with covers) for storing baby food. fresh, preservative-free food holds up fine for 2-3 days in the fridge, and about 2 weeks in the freezer. each cube is about 2 tablespoons (1 oz) in volume. as for serving frozen food, i place the frozen cubes into plastic or glass containers each night before bed, so that peanut has enough food for the following day. i recently purchased 16 libbey containers; they are 6.5 ounce glass bowls with plastic lids. they are perfect and hold 2-3 cubes! at 8 months, peanut is eating about 6-9 ounces of food per day. this requires 42-63 ounces of food per week. in an effort to provide a balanced diet with a variety of foods, i often remove cubes from the trays once frozen, and place them into sandwich sized bags. i then place the sealed, sandwich bags into freezer bags (which can be reused over and over), for storage in the freezer. it may be a good idea to label the bags in order to track the age and contents of each bag.


liver is an excellent source of protein for little ones. peanut is 8 months old now, so i have added liver to his menu.

1 lb free range, beef liver (free of antibiotics and hormones)
olive oil

1. heat a few tbsp of olive oil on med-high heat (large frying pan)

2. add the beef liver

3. turn every few minutes (prevent sticking, burning), and continue to cook until blood ceases to pool up on top of the meat (20-30 minutes)preparation
1. cut into small chunks (1x2 inches)
2. place in food processor, and grind or chop
3. add a teaspoon of water if necessary
4. repeat until all meat has been "pureed"storage
1. place in individual containers or ice cube trays (covered).
2. stays for 2 days in the fridge, or 2 weeks in the freezer.

the liver was pretty pasty post processing, so i rolled it into tiny pate-like balls for peanut. he LOVED it - i was truly surprised that he enjoyed it so much.

sweet potatoes

i recently acquired a potato ricer at a yard sale, for $8.50. it's a nice, old, steel one, and i was happy to pay the price tag. i have been wanting one for some time, as it's useful in making gnocchi. now that my peanut is about 8 months old and can handle more texture in his food, i have opted to use the potato racer to prepare his steamed foods, in lieu of a grinder, food processor, or magic bullet.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks
1.5 C water

cooking instructions
steam the potatoes either using a rice cooker or steamer basket on the stove. i prefer steaming to boiling, because i presume that more nutrients remain in the steamed food. don't oversteam - stop when contents are soft enough to deform with your finger.

preparation & storage
1. fill the "basket" of the ricer about 1/3 - 1/2 way

2. press through, and collect the contents on a plate or in a bowl
3. proceed this way until everything has been, um, riced :)

4. place in containers for storage in the refrigerator or freezer. reminder: stores well for 2 days in the fridge, or 2 weeks in the freezer.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

pureed green beans

i've been making weekly batches of foods for my peanut. i made carrots last week, and i made green beans today. you can do this with virtually any vegetable, to my knowledge. here's how you do it, along with some storage instructions.

1 lb of green beans, cleaned, ends removed
1.5 C water
1-2 tbsp boiled water (can be cool or hot)

cooking instructions1. place 1.5 C of water into the rice cooker basin
2. place the green beans into the steamer basket
3. turn to cook! you may wish to remove them prior to the rice cooker completing it's cycle, in an effort to maintain more nutrients in the beans. the beans just need to be soft enough to puree. you want for the beans to keep their deep green color!

pureeing instructions
you can use a blender, food processor, or power blender. i use a small power blender.

1. place beans and 1 tbsp boiled water into the container that you will use with your pureeing device.

2. puree!! if you find that the substance is not being "chopped," add a bit more water (boiled). when using a small power blender, start with 1/3 of the beans, and add more after you puree some. repeat until all are pureed). 1 pound of beans will yield approximately 1.5 cups of puree. the ice cube trays that i received as baby shower gifts for peanut hold about 1.5 tbsp per cube.

storage instructions
- 2 days in the fridge
- 2 weeks in the freezer

i recommend using ice cube trays. you can find them with covers, or you can freeze them in trays and then move them to sealable freezer bags. remember, there are no preservatives. if you were to vacuum seal individual pouches, i am sure it would keep much longer, in the freezer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

lamb and green beans

this recipe is from my husband's co-worker's wife. i have modified the seasonings slightly, and used fresh green beans instead of canned ones per the recipe.

you'll need 2 hours or so for prep and cooking.

you'll need 2 cups of brown rice, cooked. i always use a rice cooker, and start the rice about 30 minutes prior to serving time.

3 halal lamb shanks
6 C water (or more)
3 C green beans (fresh), cut
1/2 head of garlic, pressed
1 large red onion, chopped
1-2 cans tomato paste (4 oz)
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil

2. saute garlic and onion

3. brown lamb shanks

4. add 1 C water

5. cook (with lid on) on medium-high heat for 30 minutes

6. add beans, 1 can of tomato paste, and enough water to cover shanks. stir well

7. reduce heat to a simmer, cook with lid OFF for 1 hour, or until meat falls away from the bone. the liquid should have a thick sauce-like consistency. if not, add another can of tomato paste.

1. place a pad of rice on the plate, and then scoop the lamb/bean mixture over.

2. i recommend serving naan bread on the side. i bought pre-made at whole foods, and just heat it for 2 minutes on 400F in the oven prior to serving.

3. a side of greens would also go well with this dish.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

brown rice cereal (baby)

i am abiding by the book called super baby food in introducing solids to my baby (michael). i recommend this book for any parent who is interested in:

1. ensuring that baby is ready (physiologically) for solids, and

2. providing whole (non-processed) foods for baby, appropriate for a given age.

brown rice cereal recipe

1/4 C brown rice (long grain, dry, uncooked)
1 C water

1. place rice in blender, and chop or grind for two minutes

2. place 1 C water in pan on high heat, bring to boil

3. slowly add the powdered rice to the boiling water and reduce heat to the LOWEST setting.

4. stir frequently with a whisk - ensure good mixing and prevent scorching, for 10 minutes

serving & storing:
1. start with 1 tbsp of cereal, and mix with breastmilk, water or juice to desired thickness (given that i waited until michael was capable of swallowing, there was no need to thin it out - i added a small amount of breastmilk to improve texture)

2. the cereal can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days, or frozen for about 2-3 weeks. (in properly sealed containers)

1. don't stand near blenders/food processors when in use (avoid EMC)

2. ensure that you chop/grind the rice for 2 minutes - it creates extremely fine particles which enable a smooth cereal for the baby. as the baby ages, you may choose to make a more course cereal (chopping less).

3. be sure to provide some water (or breastmilk) for the baby along with solid food (the book "super baby food" provides good guidelines for this).

*i will label all baby food recipes with "baby food" in an effort to segregate them from the conventional recipes on this blog!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

stuffed mushroom appetizer

my roommate from grad school made these once, using greek dressing, and oregano straight from greece :) i have modified the recipe slightly, and regardless of how many variations of this recipe i have made, it's always awesome!!

6 portobello mushroom caps (medium sized), cleaned, stems removed
1/4-1/2 C grape tomatoes, diced
1-2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp fresh garlic, pressed
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

1. preheat oven to 375F

2. place a small amount of olive oil in bottom of small baking dish

3. place mushroom caps in baking dish

4. fill each cap with diced tomatoes

5. sprinkle basil and garlic on top of tomatoes

6. drizzle olive oil & balsamic on top

7. bake for 30 minutes

8. serve hot!

a. sprinkle feta cheese (and/or parmesan) after removing from oven (not vegan friendly, of course)
b. use greek dressing or other vinaigrette of choice, in lieu of balsamic/oil
c. use oregano in place of, or in addition to, basil
d. easy to double, triple, etc. this recipe to serve a dinner party!

millet, mushroom risotto

using millet is a bit less work-intensive than making a traditional risotto with arborio rice.

i made an extra large batch so that i would have plenty of leftovers.

1 tbsp garlic (fresh, pressed)
2.5 C millet
2 qt bella mushrooms, sliced
2 qt veg stock
1 C red onion, chopped
1/4 C olive oil
1/2 C butter
1/2 C parmesan cheese

1. heat olive oil on medium-high heat

2. add garlic, saute for a minute or two

3. add onion, saute until softened

4. add mushrooms, saute until softened

5. add millet, coat well with the liquid/oil in the pan

6. add veg stock. bring to a boil

7. reduce to a simmer

8. stir periodically until all of the liquid has been absorbed (30-45 minutes)

9. remove from heat. add butter and parmesan cheese. mix well.

10. SERVE & ENJOY!!!

*for smaller recipes, simply use 3 C veg stock and 3 C mushrooms per 1 C of millet

**vegan potential: use margarine in lieu of butter, or eliminate completely, and omit the parmesan cheese (or use a substitute, if available).

Friday, January 28, 2011

stuffed peppers

32 oz organic beef broth
6 large sweet peppers (all colors), tops removed, cleaned
2 lbs free range ground beef
4 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 red onion, chopped

1. add broth to crock pot, arrange peppers "standing up," ladle some broth into each pepper, cover, and turn on high.

2. heat olive oil on medium-high heat, saute garlic and onions

3. brown the beef, along with the onions/garlic

4. fill each pepper with the hot beef/onion/garlic mixture. baste with broth. cover and continue to cook on high.

5. bast with broth 1-2 times per hour, for 3-4 hours.

6. serve and enjoy :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

soupy beef stew

i enjoy making soups quite a bit (and will try to do better at sharing those recipes here)! as for my beef "stew," the ingredients are all stew, but i have yet to deal with thickening the broth, and hence it ends up a bit soupy!

CROCK POT version.

32 ounces of beef broth
2 lbs stewing beef (browned, if you prefer - i don't bother)
6 parsnips, peeled and cubed
6 turnips, peeled and cubed
2 cups of carrots (peeled and cubed)

1. place broth, beef, and vegetables into the crock pot on "high"

2. once at a boil, allow to boil for 30 minutes

3. reduce to "low" for an hour or two

*usually takes 4-5 hours total. i suppose you could leave it on low all day while you go to work so that you have an instant dinner when you return home, but i have yet to verify that!

a. add (cooked) noodles (brown rice noodles are gluten free) at the end.
b. add a cooked grain (millet, brown rice, quinoa)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

homemade cleaning products

while cleaning products aren't exactly delectable edibles, they are most easily formulated in one's kitchen :) and hence i have chosen to share my adventures in making and using them here on this blog.

my aunt-in-law bought the book the naturally clean home for me. i have made several recipes thus far, and will share them, and an assessment of them, later. i'd like to dedicate this blog to the supplies i have procured thus far and the costs of each. i was happily surprised to find that most supplies are super cheap!!!

dr. bronner's castile soap (tea tree) $11.99
20 mule team borax (4 lb) $4.29
arm & hammer washing soda (3 lb) $2.89
arm & hammer baking soda (2 lb) $1.99
lavender essential oil* (1 oz) $10
lemongrass essential oil* (2 oz) $7
lemon essential oil (1 oz) $5.89

*bought some of the essential oils a while back, and don't recall the prices with certainty. and, while it may seem expensive to pay several dollars or more per ounce, the quantity really does go a long way. many formulas require only several to twenty drops of an essential oil... they last forever!!

i still need to find soap flakes and/or glycerin in order to make the laundry detergent that i have in mind.

i bought the essential oils at a local natural foods store. the other agents were available at the chain grocery store. surely whole foods and such places would carry dr. bronners products.

i also picked up some spray bottles and small plastic buckets with lids at home depot. the dollar store has spray bottles as well, for half the price of what i paid at home depot. as for the buckets - i bought 1/2 gallon buckets for < $1 each, and lids to go with them, also less then $1 each. these are good for storing powder formulas, such as those for laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, etc.

and with that i will close for now. stay tuned for some recipes and adventures in using them!