Friday, January 25, 2013

Homemade Herbal Wine

I have been wanting to make my own wine for years!  Not the nitrate-ridden, chemically enhanced wine you buy at the store, but naturally-fermented, organic wine that I have made without any added crud.  When researching online for wine recipes, I had a very hard time finding anything that didn't call for "yeast and nutrient", "enzymes", or "Campden tablets".  All I want is old-fashioned wine, is that too much to ask?  Way back when, they didn't have all those fancy additives, and I don't want to use them.

I discovered that my favorite online herb store, The Bulk Herb Store, carries a product called Berry Herbal Brew- a naturally-fermented herbal wine mix!  I was curious and wanted to try it for myself... I already had a few cups of organic, homegrown, wild muscadine grapes that I picked on our property- that was a good start!

The directions for Berry Herbal Brew called for ingredient in "parts":  one part herbal mix, three parts water, two parts seeded grapes, one part blueberries, one and one-half parts sugar.  The ingredients in the herbal mix are listed here- nothing artificial, no commercial yeasts, no crud!  \

The final product is a non-pasteurized, no-nitrate wine that is fruity, tasty and full of herbal goodness!  I let mine brew for three weeks and finally strained and bottled it today.  It filled an empty wine bottle I had saved for this purpose, plus there was about a glassful left over to sample :)  I am amazed that my first attempt at homemade wine turned out so well!

So, if you are interested in making your own homemade wine, don't settle for those recipes calling for extra crud!  Wonderful homemade wine can  be made from  nothing but fruit, herbs and sugar.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Homemade Henna Shampoo Bar

A few years back, I found and printed out a recipe for a shampoo bar.  It interested me, but I had my favorite store-bought shampoo and was unwilling to give it up... now, after trying my hand at liquid shampoo, I am ready to take it to the next level :)  Although I was satisfied with the liquid shampoo,   I was curious to try a shampoo bar on my fine, thin hair.  With the liquid shampoo, my hair is left a bit heavy, like I used a little too much product when styling it- even when I let it air dry with no product whatsoever. 

With the shampoo bar, my hair is shiny, light, soft and manageable!  Here's a picture of what my hair looks like after washing with the bar, using a vinegar rinse, and air-drying (keep in mind that I have not been kind to my hair in the recent past):

The original recipe that caught my eye so many years ago was from the Snowdrift Farms website, which has since shut down.  I changed the oils to suit my needs, and added henna leaf powder and coconut milk to improve the health of my abused hair and scalp.  Here is my revised shampoo bar recipe (oil and lye measurements are by weight, milk and water are fluid oz.):

15 oz coconut oil
12 oz macadamia nut oil
6 oz castor oil
4 oz palm oil
3 oz jojoba oil

Lye (NaOH)
5.5 oz.

5 fl oz coconut milk ( I used canned., organic milk)
10 fl oz water ( I froze the water before adding lye)

At trace, I added:
1 oz henna leaf powder
0.4 oz chamomile flower powder
0.4 oz silk protein liquid
splash rosemary essential oil

While the ingredient list is extensive, this recipe is well worth the trouble!  
You make the shampoo bar just as if you were making lye soap.  

**If you need detailed directions, please see my other post on making  goats milk soap.  The only difference would be that I added the coconut milk directly to my heated oils and mixed the lye with the ice/water.**

I am so happy I found a more natural way to make my hair look healthy.  No more crazy, long chemical names on my shampoo bottles- and no more bad hair days, either!  Enjoy!

For other shampoo/conditioner recipes, chose a type:
hot process liquid shampoo and cream conditioner
liquid shampoo and vinegar rinse

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Homemade Almond Flour + Cake Recipe!

I have been using a lot of almond flour recently.  Since I am trying to cut out grains, almond flour is my go-to ingredient when it comes to baking.  My kids seem to enjoy it, although they really miss soft wheat bread...  almond flour bread has more texture to it, but the taste is great!
Since the almond flour at the store is over $11 per bag (Bob's Red Mill), I have researched and learned how to make my own at home.  Although it is not as clean-looking as the store-bought kind (I use whole almonds with the skin on), the end result is just as light and fluffy.  And, my recipes turn out fantastic :)
What you'll need for your own homemade almond flour:
Raw or soaked/dried almonds
A powerful food processor (I use a Magic Bullet mixer)
A metal colander (see picture below)
Put about a cup of almonds into your mixer and process for about 10-15 seconds.  Do not process too long or the oils in the almonds will make your flour clump.  Don't worry if you notice chunks of almonds- we'll get rid of those shortly!

Here's the metal colander that I use as a sifter.  Do not use your regular flour sifter because the almond flour will clog it up! I just hit the colander gently against my hand and the small soft almond pieces fall through.  What you are left with can go back into the processor for another round of grinding:

The end result is very finely ground almond flour! 

What I don't use in the following recipe goes into a jar to be stored in the refrigerator.
Homemade Almond Flour Cake
2 1/2 c almond flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
6 T honey
1/4 c liquid coconut oil
1 T vanilla extract
1 t lemon juice
3 large eggs, separated
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together first 3 ingredients.  In another bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients, excluding egg whites. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold them into the other mixture.  Mix thoroughly but gently.
Pour into small, greased glass pan (for cake) or muffin tin (for muffins).  I used a buttered cast iron corn bread pan :)

I found that this recipe is perfect for 8 wedge-shaped "cakes" in my cast iron pan!  Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on the type of pan you use (less for muffins, more for cake).  My "cakes" took approx. 18 minutes to cook to golden perfection.  They are done when browned and center is set.

These "cakes" are moist and sweet!  No need for any glaze or topping.  I think this recipe would also taste amazing with additions such as raisins, chopped nuts or apples.  Enjoy!