Sunday, October 24, 2010

Herbal Infused Oils - Calendula

Calendula is used externally for its antiseptic and healing properties in treating skin conditions like, infection, cuts, scrapes, burns and chapped or chafed skin and lips. Infusing olive oil with Calendula flowers is a great way to add healing properties to salves, lip balm and lotions. I ordered my dried calendula and cold pressed olive oil from Mountain Rose Herbs.

I measured 2oz of dried Calendula flower by weight on my scale and 16.25oz of olive oil by weight. Basically you loosely fill a jar 1/2 full with calendula and then add olive oil making sure to remove all air bubbles. Keep adding olive oil until it fills jar just below rim. Add the olive oil and calendula flowers to a double broiler on very low heat. Don't let the oil get too hot. Just warm to touch. I turned the heat off and on from time to time to make sure the oil did not get too hot. Let it heat for 90 minutes. Pour flowers and oil into a clean dry jar and let it sit, covered for a few hours. 
After the infused oil has sat for a few hours it is time to strain into a cheesecloth lined strainer that is positioned over a clean dry bowl.  Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and squeeze the dickens out of it.
Put your fresh Calendula infused oil in a clean dry jar and label.

Another method for infusing oils is to fill a jar 1/2 full. Fill with olive oil and then set out in the warm sun for 2 weeks.  After two weeks, strain and add a new batch of dried herbs and set in sun for two more weeks. Strain then bottle.  You can see why I choose the double boiler method. Now you can use your new Calendula infused oil in my Coconut oil lotion recipe, Lindsey's Perfect Body Butter or a salve. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Body butter

So I think I have perfected the best lotion/butter for my family's skin.  My first lotion was a little too greasy for me but my husband liked it for his dry skin. This time I decided to replace some of the coconut oil with cocoa butter. Since I added cocoa butter the consistency is more like a body butter than a lotion. You can add more "water" if you want more of a lotion instead of a butter. I have to say that I love the consistency of the butter more than the lotion.
Lindsey's Perfect Body Butter
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cocoa butter
1/4 cup calendula flower oil
2 grams vitamin E oil
2 grams Grapefruit seed extract
20 drops or more of essential oil
6 tablespoons aloe vera juice
10 tablespoons Chamomile infusion
2 oz beeswax

Follow the same directions as my Coconut oil lotion.

I added the natural preservatives, Vitamin E oil and Grapefruit seed extract to help extend the shelf life of my lotion plus it is good for your skin.

Natural Cleaning Supplies

I have been slowly replacing all of my cleaning supplies with natural alternatives.  I have already been using my own homemade all purpose cleaner for a few years now. It works great. I put it in a pray bottle.

All-Purpose Cleaner

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup washing soda or baking soda
2 teaspoons borax
1/2 gallon water
2 tablespoon tea tree oil

~White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, removes odors, some stains, cleans windows and wax build-up.

~Washing Soda -Soda is a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs.

~Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours surfaces.

~Tea tree oil - kills mold, anti viral, anti bacterial, anti fungal, kills mold smell and odors.

~Magic Eraser - Makes natural cleaning easy.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

 2 cups Dr. Bronner's unscented Castile bar soap or Ivory soap or Fels Naptha soap 
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax 
1 teaspoon essential oil
 (2 tbsp per load)

Grate the bar of soap. One bar of Bronner's castile soap makes about 2 cups.

Measure out washing soda and borax. Mix well with the grated soap.  Add the essential oil of your choice.  I choose grapefruit essential oil since it is a fresh and unisex scent.

I store my detergent in this jar I got from IKEA.  I found the perfect scoop from a kitchen store.  It measure 2 tablespoons.
I keep Costco bulk white vinegar and baking soda on hand for all of my cleaning jobs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Canned Crushed Tomatoes

Vintage WWII canning books I bought from eBay

I found these beautiful vintage canning books from eBay.  All three came together and date from 1939 to1941. It's so neat to see that the big book only cost $.10. Most often the mini pamphlets came free with a purchased item. Maybe with a box of Kerr jars.  Surprisingly these books are in great condition considering their age.  While looking through this piece of history I decided to can something and the only thing that came to mind were the many heirloom tomatoes coming out of my garden.

Heirloom tomatoes from my little garden

Canning is pretty easy.  There are two different ways to "can" food depending on what you want to preserve.  There is the "Hot Water Bath" and the "Pressure Cooker Method".  Jams, jellies, pickles and some types of fruits and vegetables can be canned in a hot water bath which I think is the easiest. These may be Kerr canning books but I grew up with everyone in my family using the Ball canning book and jars.  Both companies follow the same national canning guidelines but they have their own jam and pickle recipes I'm sure. Ball has a great website with canning how-to videos and recipes. 

I followed the directions for canning crushed tomatoes. Very simple. I blanched the tomatoes in boiling water and then dropped them into ice water.  This allows the skin to peel off easily. I then put the peeled tomatoes into a bowl to crush them up.

Using a pastry blender made crushing the tomatoes very easy
Fi1lled my clean jars with the crushed tomatoes and topped them with sea salt
Canning in a hot water bath for the specified amount of time
And the finished product, Canned Crushed Tomatoes
Home canning is so normal to me.  It was a way of life growing up.  We either canned or froze our garden's harvest each year.  Some things are definitely better canned and some are better frozen.  Green beans hold their shape best when canned and butter beans are better frozen. Check out the other things I have canned.