Friday, August 31, 2012

Mushroom Dip

I've been really missing cheese lately and recipes containing cheese,so I determined to try to make some kind of "cheese substitute"; something thick and rich to take it's place. I couldn't come up with anything that really resembled actual cheese, so I decided to go in a completely different direction and just make something paste-like that would taste so good I wouldn't miss the cheese. Why not real cheese? Sadly, I seem to be casein intolerant, according to my naturopath.... All I know is, my digestion is vastly improved without dairy or beef. I tried different types of milk... raw milk... goat milk....nothing worked. Oh, well.

 I've used this Mushroom dip in recipes where cheese would be in the layers rather than as a topping, it was especially good with rice noodles and greens, tasting much like a Thai dish using bean sauce.

Actually, it's very good just on its own, as a dip.

We ate it all before I remembered to take a photo. It was thick, and gooey, and , um, brown.

Mushroom Dip

3 cups chopped mushrooms
1 chopped onion
2 tsp. spices (I used basil and bee balm)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt if, you need it, to taste

Sweat the mushrooms and onions in the olive oil until they are quite soft. Add the spices and simmer for about 3 minutes more. Add salt if you like, but taste it first, because the onions and mushrooms are pretty flavorful. Let cool a bit. Add the whole thing to a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. I like this better served warm.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Home Grown Corn

It was so exciting to make posole from my own home-grown corn! I still have to work on the nixtamalization process, but it was close enough to eat. This is a process of soaking the corn in a lime material (food grade) to remove the outer layer of the corn and make it more digestible and nutritious. If you ever eat tortillas made from corn you will see lime listed in the ingredients, and this is what it is for. It's an alkaline powder made from sea shells or sometimes wood ash. I grew Painted Mountain Corn from Uprising Seeds; a variety that grows well here in the Pacific Northwest. Last summer I did a post about making a corn dolly from the husks; and also my attempts at dying wool with them.

Now I finally got around to eating them!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

the No-Poo-Doo

I have finally, after a couple of tries, converted to the No-Poo-Doo. What's that? It's about ditching the shampoo habit. Believe it or not, expensive shampoos are not really necessary, like many other "beauty" products and may even harm your health and your hair. Even the so-called "natural" ones seem to always have a bunch of chemical-ly ingredients. The hard part is that I have very fine hair, and have been in the habit of washing it daily with shampoo for years. The problem with that is all those washings strip the natural coating of oils away that the body uses to naturally coat the hair; causing the scalp to frantically produce an overabundance of oil to compensate, thus creating a vicious cycle. It can take a bit of time to convince the scalp to trust that I will not throw those harsh chemicals at it anymore, and that it's safe to restore a natural balance to the scalp. The scalp, which has been used to this cycle of overabundant, quickly produced oils followed by stripping by detergent, can become a bit crusty in the transition period; so it can take some time to convert, in my case, several months. I was determined to follow through this time..... I really want to minimize my chemical footprint; both for my own health, and for the environment, as well as spending less money on unnecessary products.  I'd read several blogger experiences, and the most popular way to do this (because you do actually clean your hair, ha!) is to use baking soda diluted with a little water, followed by a rinse of a little apple cider vinegar in water. This cleans the excess oil out of your hair without stripping it. I personally didn't like the feel of my hair with the acv; my hair is very fine and it felt lifeless, so I opt for a rinse of blackberry leaf infusion (tea) instead, which is lighter and smells good, too. I found this option in Mother Earth News 's newsletter.

I use about 4 tbsp. of baking soda (fine hair = don't need much) and mix enough warm shower water into the jar to form a fairly thick paste that will pour out onto my hair; leave it in my hair while I soap other parts of my body with a nice Ayurvedic soap we found that also happens to be cheap and smells good. After a few minutes I rinse the baking soda solution out and use the blackberry infusion. I let the blackberry leaf tea cool before I use it, because the cool rinse helps close the cuticle of the hair back down and smooths out the hair.

Now, to start out, it was tough. I would go an extra day between washings and kept trying to extend that, till I got to about 3 or 4 days between washings, and if my hair was greasy I put it up in a ponytail or braids so it wouldn't bother me. Once I got to that point, I started watering down my shampoo, and when I finished off the bottle, I switched to the baking soda and blackberry. Sometimes if I have been outside (pollen) or out in a bar or sweaty, or I'm hormonal (you girls know how that goes), I will just do a rinse with the blackberry infusion.

I'm quite happy to be shampoo free. There are a number of products I don't feel are necessary or healthy, that we've been told we need to buy all the time, which I've been slowly giving up. The first was deodorant. About 6 years ago, I had an experience of looking in the mirror and realizing my underarms had turned a weird yellow green color. It kinda freaked me out. So I stopped using deodorant. Unfortunately, it took some time to find something natural that worked on my northern European funk (thanks, ancestors) so, my apologies to everyone for those in-between years. But I'd rather stink than have cancer. I also recently gave up expensive natural toothpaste when I found that just a touch of baking soda on my brush works just as well. Yes, I am having a love affair with baking soda. It works! It's cheap! It's non-toxic! Please don't let me find out it causes cancer or damages the environment.

Me, after about 2 months on the No-Poo-Doo

I did have to get used to a different texture to my hair, there is a feeling of oil to the hair, but it's different feeling than the greasy feeling I used to get using shampoo. My hair has more body and it also seems to fall out ALOT less. (it's normal to have some hair fallout each day, I think, but it used to be ridiculous).