Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spicy Rice


Spicy Rice
(Makes about 4 servings)

1 cup converted rice (not instant)
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 tsp. Creole seasoning of your choice (or more, earlier recipe used 2 tsp.)
1 tsp. chile powder (or more)
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (or more)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (can be canned broth)

Directions:

Use a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid. Heat olive oil in pan, then add rice and sauté until slightly golden, about 5 minutes.

Add spices and sauté 1 minute, then add chicken stock, one cup at a time. (It will sputter, so be careful). Let the stock come to a boil, then reduce heat to a very low simmer, cover pan, and cook without lifting lid for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, check rice. If it is not done or broth is not completely absorbed, cover and cook 5 minutes more. When rice is done, turn off heat and let rice sit 5 minutes still covered. (If you're not careful to have the heat low enough, the rice might stick a little to the bottom of the pan, but it will loosen when it sits for five minutes.) Serve hot.

This freezes well, so you might want to make extra and freeze it in dinner-size portions.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Spring Cleaning the Green way

Previously I mentioned a few naturally available cleaning agents that you can employ to make your own cleaning materials.  Now I will expand on that list to include a few more items you can use and how to use them.

In the first post I talked about baking soda, vinegar, borax and castile soap along with herb essential oils.  This time we will add a few more.

Baking soda. It's the grit. When you're scrubbing, you sometimes need to be like Mike--mildly abrasive, but in a good way. Baking soda also fizzes when you mix it with water, vinegar or lemon, and that can speed up cleaning.

Borax. Even without the twenty mules, this helpful cleaner disinfects, bleaches and deodorizes.

Distilled white vinegar. This natural disinfectant also breaks up dirt. Apple cider and red vinegars work, too, but they can stain. All three do windows. Vegetable based (liquid castile) soap This is a non-petroleum cleaner you can use for all kinds of jobs. 



Hydrogen Peroxide. Put the 3% solution you get at the drugstore into a spray bottle and use it instead of your usual kitchen and bath cleaner. It cleans, disinfects, and bleaches.

Lemons Lemon juice is a good grease cutter. Bottled works almost as well as fresh squeezed.

Olive oil It's a furniture polish. No need to use extra virgin.

Washing soda It removes stains and helps unblock pipes, but it is caustic. You need to use care and gloves.


RECIPES



Fruit & Veggie Wash 
Wash vegetables and fruits with hydrogen peroxide to remove dirt and pesticides. Add 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide to a sink of cold water. After washing, rinse thoroughly with cool water.

 

Food Stain Dissolver 

Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans. Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked-on stains will lift right off. 


All-Purpose Cleaner with Lavender

You can bump up the intensity of the lavender scent, use a castile soap that is already imbued with lavender.  This spray is perfect in a spray mop.

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon borax
Distilled or purified water
1/4 cup lavender liquid castile soap
10 drops lavender essential oil 
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix vinegar and borax in a 16-ounce bottle. Fill the bottle 3/4 full with hot water. Shake until borax is dissolved. Add the soap, essential oil and lemon juice. Shake well.




Antibacterial Soap Spray 

16 oz. spray bottle
14 oz. water or rosemary hydrosol
3 Tbls castile soap
15 drops of tea tree essential oil
15 drops of oregano essential oil


Use this cleaning spray to disinfect your bathroom surfaces. You can use the Super Surface Spray to rinse away any residue left behind by the castile soap.



Thyme Counter Cleaner

This recipe makes cleaning your counters a breeze! Castile soap lifts dirt and grime, while the water helps rinse it away. Germ-busting thyme is infused into common isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, which helps the spray dry to a non-streak shine. If you’re sensitive to the scent of rubbing alcohol, try using clear vodka instead.
 3 tablespoons (45 ml) isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
 2 teaspoons (10 ml) liquid castile soap
 2 tablespoons (1 g) dried thyme
1 cup (250 ml) water
Thyme Infused Alcohol - place the thyme leaves in a small cup or jar and pour the alcohol over them. Cover, and infuse overnight. Visual bonus: the alcohol will turn a pretty shade of green.

To mix counter cleaner - Fill a spray bottle or jar with the water, then gently stir in the castile soap. Pour the infused alcohol into the mixture and stir once more. Be sure to label your counter cleaner, so no one mistakenly thinks it’s an herbal mixture that can be ingested, and keep it out of the reach of small children.
To Use: Shake gently before each use. Spritz over your counters, paying extra attention to especially dirty spots. Use a rag or paper towel to wipe and buff dry.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Chicken Gumbo - Weekend Recipe


Gumbo

1 2-3 pound whole chicken
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, diced
1 cup chopped celery
2 medium bell pepper, deseeded and diced
2 cups sliced okra
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound smoked Polish sausage, cut into 1-inch slices
1 cup diced smoked ham
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with peppers, with juices
1 (10-ounce) can Navy beans
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning or Backyard Patch Do-It-All Seasonings
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound raw small shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cleaned
4 cups cooked rice (optional)

Directions:
Wash chicken and place into a large Dutch oven. Cover with water plus about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Remove chicken from water and set-aside to cool. Add butter, onion, celery, bell pepper, okra, and garlic to chicken stock.
Pull chicken from the bone and add back to the stock. Add in Polish sausage, and ham. Cook for about 10 minutes to allow all the juices to incorporate.

Pour in diced tomatoes and diced tomatoes with peppers. Smash Navy beans with a fork while in the can and then pour into the Gumbo along with Ole Bay seasoning and bay leaves.
Bring Gumbo to a boil and stir in additional chicken stock. Cook for 10-15 minutes and then stir in shrimp. Cook until shrimp has turned pink, about 5 more minutes.

Remove bay leaves from the Gumbo and the Dutch oven from the heat. Serve Gumbo over rice (optional) or by itself. Serves 10.

Notes
Alternately, you may use a rotisserie chicken rather than cooking a whole chicken, if desired. If doing so, I recommend the following changes to recipe: Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Melt butter and add onion, celery, bell pepper, okra and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Continue with remaining steps of the original recipe and add 4 cups of chicken stock to Gumbo when recipe calls for 2 cups. Using rotisserie chicken will reduce cooking time by 2 hours.

Each month a theme is chosen and a number of recipes on that theme from my massive archive will be shared.  This year we have 12 new topics, different from the topics of last year.  To find the recipes of last year, check out this recipe link or search the blog with the topic Recipe2018

You can search the monthly theme by looking for the theme keyword in the search box and it will pull up the recipes on that theme as posted, so look at the bottom of the recipe in each posting for the KEYWORD in the () to search for each  month.  All recipes this year will be tagged Recipe2019 so you can find them all.

The themes are:
Jan 2019 – Chicken and Dumplings (CDumpsJan)
Feb 2019 - Pasta Dishes (PastaFeb)
March 2019 - Edible Flowers (FlowerMar)
April 2019 - Seafood Recipes (SeafoodApr)
May 2019 - Cajun And Creole (C&CMay)
June 2019 - Vegetarian Dishes
July 2019 - Zucchini Recipes
August 2019 - National Mustard Day – mustard recipes
September 2019 - Quiche
October 2019 - Crock Pot meals
November 2019 - Pies
December 2019 - Mocktails

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cleaning with Natural Products - Starting out

The pleasure of working with herbs, not only in the garden but in my home, everyday give me tremendous fulfillment.  From cooking with herbs, to herbal teas, to bath items I can use without worry, they are everywhere in my life.  

This time I year I really enjoy the fact that I can create herbal recipes to sweeten, freshen and disinfect my home.  Herbs, along with essential oils, have been part of my cleaning ritual for so long I cannot imagine not using them.  I’ve added herbs to bath and shower disinfectants, floor cleaners, and carpet fresheners.  

I have done a number of different herb programs, but one of my most popular is a “Green Cleaning” program that details ways to clean, disinfect and freshen your home using herbs.

I recommend starting your natural cleaning supply shelf for your herbal natural cleaning recipes with... a bottle of Castile Soap, some straight borax, baking soda, vinegar, ammonia, and the following essential oils: thyme, pine, lavender, tea tree, and a citrus oil like lemon or orange.  With these and a few other ingredients you can craft simple and effective cleaning supplies for little money and with little effort.

At the bottom of this post and several other times this moth, I will share a few items you can craft at home.  This starter article with give you the details for what supplies you need and where to find them. 

Where to get your Supplies

Borax is available in the cleaning aisle of the grocery store as well as at the drug store and sometimes the hardware store.

Baking soda is most commonly used in cooking so look for it not only in the laundry aisle at the grocery store but also with the baking supplies like flour and baking powder.

Vinegar is in the salad dressing aisle of the grocery store.

Castile Soap which is a vegetable-based liquid soap is made by many companies the most common is Mrs. Meyers and Dr. Bonners.  I some areas you will find these only in specialty health food and whole food stores, but in other more urban areas, you will find it in the soap aisle, laundry aisle or the beauty aisle of your local hardware or Walmart.

Herbs and Essential Oils to Use

The herbs and essential oils that you’ll find most useful for various household tasks include those that inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. Others are also good for cutting grease and removing stains. You must obtain your essential oils from a reputable source and there are many,  If you want them reasonably priced and of good quality, I recommend NOW brand, founded in 1968 they are one of the only companies to be doing this for more than 50 years.  Located here in Illinois with me, I can find now in the local Fruitful Yield chain, but they are also available in health food stores nationwide and online.  The following lists of herbs is a guide to making your own formulas.

Herbs that inhibit microorganisms: basil, bay, benzoin, bergamot, camphor, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, eucalyptus, fir, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, meadowsweet, myrrh, myrtle, nutmeg, orange, oregano, patchouli, peppermint, Peru balsam, pine, rose-scented geranium, rosemary sage, sandalwood, savory, spearmint, spruce, tea tree, and thyme.

Herbs that work on dirt and stains: balsam. cedar, cedarwood, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, orange, pine, rosemary, spruce, thyme

RECIPES

Essential Oil Scouring Powder

This scouring powder works wonders on tile grout stains, bathroom & kitchen sinks, and showers.  A soft sponge will work on mild stains and a nylon scrubber used with this will lift tough stains. Adding essential oils gives it the power to cut greasy dirt, battle microbes, while adding an appealing scent.

1/2 cup borax 
1/2 cup baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons each essential oils of lemon, orange, and grapefruit

Pour the borax and baking soda into a glass bowl. Stir in the lemon, orange, and grapefruit oils, mashing any lumps with a fork. Store in a glass or metal jar with a lid. Wear gloves when you use this cleanser.


Herbal Rug Fragrance

When our living-room rug smells musty, I hear about it right away from my husband, who does his morning exercises on it. Here’s a simple herbal solution. (If fleas are a problem in your house, add 2 cups of chopped, dried orange peel or pennyroyal leaf to the recipe.)

3 cups dried lavender flowers or leaves
2 cups dried rosemary leaves
3 pounds baking soda

In a large glass, earthenware, or stainless-steel bowl, blend the lavender flowers, rosemary leaves, and baking soda. Sprinkle the mix over a freshly vacuumed rug and leave overnight. Then vacuum again. Makes enough for an 8- by 11-foot rug/room. 

Herby Soft Scrub
12 oz glass jar with lid
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup castile soap
15 drops of antimicrobial essential oils like rosemary and sage

Mix well until you have a nice consistency like cake frosting. If you have leftovers, add 1 tsp vegetable glycerin to keep the blend nice and moist.


Mop-It-Up Formula
1/4 cup castile soap
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
20 drops of tea tree essential oil
20 drops of sweet orange essential oil


This is the perfect liquid cleaner for tile floors, vinyl, or linoleum.  Mix the ingredients together in a glass jar, then add the entire solution with 2 gallons of hot water and use it to mop away dirt and grime on all types of floor surfaces.




WORD TO THE WISE (DANGER)
When making your own cleaning supplies you must still remember the rule NEVER mix cleaning products.  Mixing anything that contains chlorine bleach with cleaners having vinegar or ammonia will create toxic chlorine gas 


I will be giving a few more tips on herbs and oils to use, a couple specialty recipes and several other cleaning recommendations in the coming weeks.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Cocoa Butter Lip Balm - Monthly Bath Blend


I did a program on using botanicals to create body and spa items for the Schaumburg Library back on May 1.  The program was designed for 50 people, but enrollment filled and we expanded it to 75 people.  I think there were still a few more that wanted to get in, proving there is a desire to know how to make beauty items with herbs.  Every month I share a bath related recipe and thins month I thought I would do something similar to the one in the program.


Then, because of the popularity of Body Botanicals, I thought I would share a few recipes and also go though, in the next few months, how to use your fresh herbs to create bath related items.

Look for a series later this month I am calling "Getting Started Using Herbs." 

Cocoa Butter Lip Balm

1 Tbls jojoba oil
1 tsp cocoa butter
1 tsp beeswax
essential oil


Melt the beeswax along with the oil and butter in a double boiler. Add any flavoring you might like at this stage. Pour into small tubes, pots, or slip-tins and allow to set-up.

A drop of lavender is really nice on chapped lips! Alcohol based flavorings will not incorporate. A drop or two of various essential oils will. Rose, lavender, orange, grapefruit, or lime all work well.




Thursday, May 2, 2019

May Recipe theme - Cajun and Creole Recipes


This month the recipe theme is Cajun or Creole. (see below recipe for more.) I have a few easy to prepare recipes in this category, but if you are looking for a great red beans and rice check out this one on amazingribs.com.

Cajun Chicken & Rice

1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups water or chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Cajun or Creole Seasoning (I recommend Backyard Patch N’Orleans Spirit)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups diced onions and bell peppers
1 (10-oz) can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
Combine rice, water (or broth) and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 14 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside when done. Keep covered.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, about 1-inch cubes. Season generously with Cajun seasoning. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the chicken in a single layer. Brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, increase heat to high, and when the oil is hot, carefully add the onions and bell peppers. Add more seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and browned.

Add the tomatoes to the onions and bell peppers, then add the chicken back in, along with any juices that may have collected on the plate. Add the cooked rice and stir until well combined. Add the cheese if desired and stir well to combine. Makes: 4 servings.

RECIPE THEME:
Each month a theme is chosen and a number of recipes on that theme from my massive archive will be shared.  This year we have 12 new topics, different from the topics of last year.  To find the recipes of last year, check out this recipe link or search the blog with the topic Recipe2018


You can search the monthly theme by looking for the theme keyword in the search box and it will pull up the recipes on that theme as posted, so look at the bottom of the recipe in each posting for the KEYWORD in the () to search for each  month.  All recipes this year will be tagged Recipe2019 so you can find them all.


The themes are:
Jan 2019 – Chicken and Dumplings (CDumpsJan)

Feb 2019 - Pasta Dishes (PastaFeb)
March 2019 - Edible Flowers (FlowerMar)
April 2019 - Seafood Recipes (SeafoodApr)
May 2019 - Cajun And Creole (C&CMay)
June 2019 - Vegetarian Dishes
July 2019 - Zucchini Recipes
August 2019 - National Mustard Day – mustard recipes
September 2019 - Quiche
October 2019 - Crock Pot meals
November 2019 - Pies
December 2019 - Mocktails
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