Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Monthly Bath Recipe - Green Tea Bath Salts

Adding green tea to your bath salts can add a “zen” theme to your bath.  The antioxidant rich qualities of green tea will enhance your skin with anti-aging benefits. Add some quiet moments of meditation or reflection in the bath for a deeply relaxing experience!

Green tea can be purchased in bulk, or by tearing open tea bags. The Epsom salts can be obtained in the pharmacy section and sea salt from the cooking section of the store.

I used food coloring to color half of the salts green, though this part is optional.  To avoid having tea leaves stuck to the tub, I suggest placing the mixture in a bag or square of cloth before using.

You can find muslin bags at a health food or craft store, along with the jasmine essential oil. 

Green Tea Bath Salts  
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup Sea salts
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup bulk green tea, or green tea powder
12-20 drops jasmine essential oil
5-8 drops green food coloring (optional)

Mix well and store in an airtight container. Keep in a cool, dark place, as sunlight can degrade essential oil.

Use 1 cup per bath. Add to running hot water to dissolve.  Sit back and become “one” with the bath!

An alternate way to prepare this bath is to brew 3 or 4 green tea bags in a pot. After 10-15 min, add directly to the bathwater, along with the salts and jasmine.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Breads for Lammas Day - Weekend Recipe

The Celts were great about celebrating seasonal and celestial time periods.  They marked many of these days with a celebration.  August first is the festival of Lughnasadh (Loo-na-sa) it was a celebration of the first loaves of bread from the new harvest.  To commemorate this festival I am sharing a couple of herb bread recipes.

Make them and enjoy your Loaf Mass!


Summer Herb Quick Bread
Adapted from "The Provence Cookbook" by Patricia Wells

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbls. imported French mustard
1/2 cup Swiss Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 cup mint, minced
1/4 cup chives, minced
1/4 cup thyme, minced

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a food processor or blender, combine flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, yogurt and mustard; add cheese and herbs. Pour batter into bread pan and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until firm and golden. Remove pan from oven and invert onto a cooling rack.  Makes 1 loaf or about 12 slices.  It will keep if stored in a zipseal bag at room temp for about 3 days.

Oregano Herb Standard Bread

1 pkg. Active dry yeast
5 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 ¾ cup milk
3 T. salad oil
2 T sugar
2 T minced Oregano
1 t. salt

Stir together the yeast and 2 cups of flour. Heat together all the remaining ingredients except the flour, until lukewarm. Add to flour-yeast mixture and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, followed by 3 minutes on high speed slowly stirring in flour as much as can with a spoon.

Now knead in the remaining flour to make a stiff dough for about 8-9 minutes. Shape into a ball and put in lightly greased pan/bowl, turning once to grease all sides of surface. Cover and let rise for approximately 1 hour or so until the dough mixture is approximately double in size. Punch down dough and divide in half, cover and let sit for 10 more minutes. Shape into 2 loaves and place into buttered 8 x 4" loaf pans. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes Bake in 350 F for 40- 45 minutes and cover with foil last few minutes to prevent over-browning.

Herb Sourdough Bread

If you have a sourdough starter this is a great herb bread you can craft with it.  Try it if you can get some.

1 cup sourdough culture
1 Tbls. butter
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed dried basil
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough Proof
Pour the culture into a mixing bowl. Melt the butter and add the milk to warm. Stir in the salt, sugar, thyme, oregano, and basil and stir. Add the butter mixture to the culture and mix well. Add the flour a cup at a time until the dough becomes too stiff to mix by hand. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and satiny.
Or mix and knead all of the ingredients for a maximum of 25 minutes in a bread machine or other mixer.

Proof the dough overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature, about 70°F, in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap (or leave in the machine pan, removed from the machine, securing the plastic wrap with a rubber band). During this time, the dough should double in size in the covered bowl, or rise to the top of the machine pan. After the proof, use a spatula to gently ease the dough out onto a floured board. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. If marked flattening occurs during this time, knead in additional flour before shaping.

Loaf Proof
After the 30-minute rest, shape the dough. Flatten it slightly, then lift a portion from the periphery and pull it toward the center. Continue this around the dough mass to form a rough ball, then pat and pull into the loaf shape you desire. Place on a baking sheet or in a bread pan and proof for 2 to 4 hours, until it doubles in bulk or rises nearly to the top of the pan. Proof for the first hour at room temperature and then at 85° to 90°F in a proofing box.

Place the pan with its shaped, proofed loaf in a cool oven, then turn the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 70 minutes. Or transfer the loaf to a preheated baking stone in a 450°F oven and bake for 40 minutes. When the loaf is baked, remove it from the pan and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.

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