• Coddled Eggs

    I am one of those people that needs breakfast.  My day starts early and I need something to get me through until lunch.  I always try to have my fruit smoothie when I first wake up and then an hour or so later I have something with a lot of protein in it.

    There are always studies out there talking about how having a healthy breakfast can help you lose weight or hold your weight steady.  I don’t know what the latest research speculates is the actual mechanism.  I have heard that the satiation and mindset of having eaten breakfast prevents overeating later in the day and also that it gets the metabolism stoked up for the day.  I just know my whole day and life is better if I have a good stable breakfast.  I love the old saying that says to breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.

    Sometimes I will do my breakfast sandwich or a taco and some days I do coddled eggs.  Chief isn’t much of a breakfast eater but I like to make him breakfast every morning to keep him healthy. Sometimes I almost feel badly forcing him to chew down a whole breakfast sammie, so the coddled eggs might be better for a light morning eater.

    Coddled eggs is one of my favorite ways for preparing a simple and portable egg breakfast using ceramic egg coddlers.  I had never heard of them until recently, but they are these beautiful little blue ceramic containers.  One of the things I like about this breakfast is that I can continue to get ready in the morning while I’m cooking and then can grab it when it’s done and take them to work to eat after my commute.  To make it, you do the following:

    P1050407

    • Bring a pot of water to a boil.  It should be big enough to fit in as many coddled egg containers as you are cooking.
    • Put a generous dollop of clarified butter in the ceramic container.  I like to wait for the butter to melt by holding it in the hot water and then kind of swirl it around the inside of the coddler.
    • Crack two sustainable, pasture-raised organic eggs in to each coddler and screw on the lid.
    • Turn the burner down to a high-medium heat. You want the water just below the base of the lid so it’s best not to have the burner on really high heat.P1050409
    • Let the eggs cook at a soft rolling boil for about 14 minutes.  You may want to play with the cook time to get the eggs prepared how you like.  Chief likes more of a runny poach-style egg whereas I prefer mine slightly more like hard-boiled eggs, so sometimes I take his out a couple minutes early.

    Then you have a portable, satisfying breakfast in a pretty little container.  Just salt and pepper and eat the eggs out of the coddler with a spoon. The picture below also has a few chives I added from our garden. P1050413You could also always scoop the eggs out and serve on a plate with toast, avocados, etc.

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  • Fly Swatter

    a poem, by Emily Ness

    I apply lip gloss
    Content and quiet

    A noise begins
    A fly attempts escape through glass

    His persistence annoying
    His delusion mystifying

    I feel guilty for his pain
    The pain he brings on himself

    His hopeless situation depressing
    His hopeful action maddening

    I wish he would stop destroying himself
    I wish he wouldn’t make me choose

    I could kill him
    I could flinch with each agonizing thud and buzz
    I could wait to find him shriveled

    So I open the window
    I release him

    Lucky

    Now our lives diverge

    My skin crawls

    Jangled
    Damaged

    Why, fly, why
    did you ever fly in to my house?

  • Kitchen Beautician Shopping List

    Below I have listed some of my favorite natural beauty/health products that can be found at Whole Foods or ordered online if you don’t have access to a natural supermarket.  A lot of the items are components for many of the kitchen beautician recipes I have listed on this site.  Some of the items are useful to have in any kitchen too.

    Hyland’s Homeopathic Smile PRID Drawing Salve : I love this homeopathic drawing salve in the orange tin for two things: 1) first aid and 2) blemishes.  It’s an all-natural salve with sulfur for antibacterial properties.  It is great for applying to any scrapes or cuts.  It also works really well for healing blemishes or ingrown hairs because it helps draw anything out from below the surface of the skin.

    Vanilla Oil in Jojoba Oil – I love this for multi-tasking and always keep some in my travel bag.  It can be added to bathwater or you can add a few drops to a fragrance free moisturizer to scent it naturally.  This also works great to use as an eye cream at night.  The aromatherapeutic property of vanilla is uplifting.  It’s kind of a nice unisex smell that I think both genders find comforting and sexy.  You can even use it as a perfume, dabbing it on pulse points.  Because it comes in a jojoba oil carrier, you can also use it to remove eye make-up in a pinch but it might be too expensive to do that every day.

    Egyptian Magic Skin Cream – I love the ingredients in this skin cream – olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly.  It is an amazing night cream but also can be used as a body moisturizer, eye cream, or like a pomade to smooth flyaways or the ends of hair.  A little goes a long way.

    Body Brush – Body brushing feels so amazing and is great for your health and skin.  I have the details in this post.  I like to keep one next to my shower and also keep a small travel one in my toiletry bag.

    Sore No More – I was first introduced to this botanical formulation when a Jivamukti Yoga instructor applied it on our backs when we were in downward dog.  It really helps to ease sore muscles and brings a pleasant warming tingle to any particular area.  The menthol and camphor also really help to keep sinuses clear so this could be used as sort of an all-natural Vick’s Vapo Rub type of thing.  It’s a wonderful thing to give someone you love a quick rub on the shoulders and neck with.  It has capsaicin from peppers in it for the warming effect so do a test spot first to make sure your skin isn’t sensitive to it.

    Almond Oil – I use almond oil in a bunch of my kitchen beautician recipes including the pumpkin and honey mask and the rose petal bath.  You can also use it to wash your face if you are doing the oil cleansing method.  It’s also a great oil to make a quick scrub out of by combining it with sugar or sea salt and a couple drops of essential oil.

    Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay – This calcium bentonite clay is amazing for drawing out blackheads and just really refining the skin.  You can see how I’ve used it in the pumpkin and honey mask.  I also did an iteration of the same mask the other day when I didn’t have pumpkin at home.  I put in a little bit of vinegar instead and had amazing results with that too.

    Honey (or manuka honey) – Honey is awesome for its antibacterial and moisturizing properties.  I’ve mentioned using it in a milk and honey bath, in various masks, and mixing with vinegar if consuming for getting beautiful from the inside out.  I just keep a bottle next to my bath.  I’ll often just squirt some in to soften and moisturize my skin or smear it straight on my face as a mask on its own.  The bottle I have has become granulated which is kind of perfect because then it does a bit of exfoliation as well as moisturize the rest of the time I sit in the bath.

    Baking soda – I love baking soda for dumping in to the bath (for softness and detoxing) as well as using it as a really simple exfoliator as I described here.  It also works great to dump a bit on your toothbrush after you’ve put the paste on to help polish and whiten teeth.  I also occasionally use it to remove product build-up from hair.

    Vinegar – I’m sorry.  You all know my obsession with vinegar by this point.  It can be used as a hair rinse for shine and in the bath to neutralize pH’s.  I also like using it mixed with the Aztec clay for a clarifying mask or you can dilute it and use it as a toner.

    Sea Salt – I love sea salt for putting in the bath (like the red wine bath) as well as for making scrubs.  I will eventually add some more recipes in the beauty section of the blog for specific recipes but you can generally mix it with a little bit of oil (grape seed or almond) as well as essential oils for a good body scrub to do in the shower.

    Whole milk – Whole milk works great as a moisturizer and also has lactic acid, which helps to exfoliate.  I’ve mentioned using it for the milk and honey bath.  The other thing I really like to do with it is to soak cotton balls in milk and then place them over the eye area to restore moisture.  The coolness of the milk also helps to reduce puffiness.

    Coconut Oil – Coconut oil has wonderful benefits for both internal and external consumption.  It has antibacterial and antifungal properties.  It works great as a body moisturizer all on its own, especially after a day at the beach.  I also love using it as a hair mask.  I just apply it to my hair and then make a hair towel out of cling wrap and put a towel over that and add some heat with a blowdryer or the sun.  You can rinse it out after 20 minutes to an hour (or sleep in it with a shower cap on) and shampoo and condition as usual.  If you’re going to be beachy all day too, it’s kind of nice to apply it to the ends of hair and put it in a loose braid to keep everything hydrated.  It’s also a great natural personal lubricant.

    Rose Water – Rose water works as a toner for slightly dry skin and can also be used as described in the rose petal bath.  I like to keep it in the refrigerator and use it as a really refreshing mist on a hot day or after a good workout.  Orange water works great too and has more astringent properties.  The rose water can also be used in recipes.  The other day we mixed it with sugar to make a simple syrup and then made strawberry rose gimlets with muddled strawberries and gin.

     

  • Dream Land

    Something is happening.  There is a disturbance in my reality.  I can’t understand what but it is irksome and not quite right.  My world is being shattered.  Wait, it isn’t reality that is collapsing, it is reality encroaching.  I refuse to accept it.

    Can I not retain the preferable world, the one where everything being inside out and upside down is odd, yes, but understandable?  I prefer the world where existence is an enigma, incomprehensible.

    I imagine this is how it is in an insane asylum.  The drugged and sleepy state is the normal state.  This world is full of ghosts and potential worlds, possible outcomes.  Potential is the key word.  Reality quickly bores or deflates.  It’s better where everything is garbled.  I can fly and I can bounce.

    There it goes, that sound again, yanking me in to a place I don’t want to inhabit, like police sirens pulling me over.  I beg you officer, let me stay where I know new beginnings lead not to endings but to additional beginnings.  I don’t want to be taken some place where I am forced to adhere to a schedule and a finite space.  I want to keep moving up, eventually bursting through the clouds in to the great beyond. Let me have my own rules.  Let me see a vivid picture and believe my hallucinations.

    There it goes again…disturb me again and I will bash you again.

    And then reality implores me.  It glows and reveals the time.  The minutes in which to properly prepare for my day are slowly being consumed, cannibalizing the life of my dream self.  I long for it again, the nourishing and wholesome deliverance on the other side of my eyelids.

    At first nothing is important and then I realize there is something that might matter.  It’s today’s weather and no matter how comfortable my bed is, it might be a different story on the other side.  I will be kicked out of this warm nest and will need to be prepared for when I go soldiering out there in to the known.  I can forget about the other stuff this day might bring but I can’t escape this.   Is it raining?  Is it snowing?  Is it hot?

    No, none of it matters.  Let me return to where nothing matters.  I can’t. I musn’t.  It’s time to leave.  It’s 6:42!

    What are the four things that I must do in order to leave the house?  I need to get dressed.  I need a bag with things for the day.  I need some food.  I need to do basic grooming.  A pass of the brush will do.  But not the knot on the back of my head.  I want to keep that with me to remember Bed, the world I inhabited earlier.  I hope my dream world doesn’t change much while I am away, unable to shepherd the beasts and defy physics.  I loved it there.

    This is the dialogue I have had with myself every morning for approximately the last 25 years that I have had to awake with an alarm earlier than my body intends.

  • Make Your Own Kombucha

    Have you heard of kombucha?  It’s a really popular drink in the health foodie community but has been consumed throughout human history, beginning in ancient China and spreading to Russia.  It’s a refreshing tonic made from fermented sweet tea that delivers both powerful antioxidant and probiotic benefits.  It has a slight fizziness to it and is tangy and slightly sweet at the same time.

    The first time I tried it I didn’t know what to expect and was really surprised by the vinegary taste (like how you’re expecting milk and you get orange juice?).  Once I learned more about it and went in with a different mindset, though, I found I really loved the taste.  It is so refreshing and energizing. I find myself craving it, especially after a hard bike ride on a warm day or a yoga class.

    The kombucha drink is made by the kombucha “mushroom” acting on the sugar in sweet tea.  The “mushroom” is also called SCOBY (which is Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast).  The process begins much the same as it does in the post in which I described the vinegar process.  The fermentation produces acetic acid (as it does with ACV), as well as lactic acid and gluconic acid.

    Along with these organic acids, kombucha also contains a number of other beneficial components.  It has a spectrum of active enzymes and amino acids that are produced by the microbes in the SCOBY.  The tea contributes polyphenols and the drink has an array of beneficial bacteria (probiotics).

    Because of the actions these constituents have on the body, kombucha has been cited as aiding in the prevention of some types of cancers and other degenerative diseases and boosting the immune system.  It may also help to fight yeast overgrowth resulting from an abundance of sugar in the body (from sugar or alcohol consumption) because of the acetic acid present, which stabilizes blood sugar.  For more information about kombucha helping in the prevention of cancer, check out Tom Valentine’s Search For Health.  Kombucha has also been cited over the centuries as having anti-arthritic compounds and liver-protective detoxifying and cleansing compounds.  There have been various studies investigating exactly how this works  (I won’t bore you with the details) but now most of the evidence is anecdotal.

    So, the only downside of kombucha as far as I’m concerned is the cost.  It usually runs about $4 for a 16-ounce bottle.  To circumvent this prohibitive cost, I began brewing it at home, which has also turned out to be a lot of fun!  To do this, you will only need a few ingredients: SCOBY, tea, sugar, a heat-resistant glass jar and a clean cloth to cover it.  Chief and I have been playing around A LOT with the ratios so the recipe I have below is a simple recipe that we have found to work best but our experiments are ongoing:

    • ¾ liter boiling water
    • 2 liters cold filtered water
    • 1 cup plain white sugar
    • 8 tea bags of organic black tea (or equivalent amount of loose tea wrapped in muslin)
    • 1 cup kombucha (from a previous batch or that comes with the SCOBY)
    • 1 kombucha mushroom (SCOBY)

    Bring water to a boil in a teakettle or pot.  Put the tea and sugar in to a large glass jar.  I usually tear the paper off the tea bags.  It took us a while to find the right glass jar because some were too big and some had the bottoms crack off because they weren’t made for boiling water.  We eventually found a nice 3 liter jar made for heat and canning.

    Empty Bottle Sugar

    Pouring Hot

    Once the water has come to a boil, pour it over the tea bags and sugar, just enough to cover them.  Give a gentle stir without breaking any tea bags and making sure all the sugar is dissolved.  Cover the jar with a clean cloth fabric and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes.

    After 20 minutes, remove the tea bags and gently squeeze them to get out any excess.  Be sure you don’t leave any bags behind.  Fill the jar about 4/5 full with cold filtered water and gently stir.  If the whole batch is at room temperature, gently place the SCOBY along with the cup of kombucha liquid from the previous batch/starter.  Cover with a clean swatch of organic fabric and secure tightly with a rubber band to keep out insects, etc.

    Scoby by Jar

    I have had good luck with the brand Goldfinch for the starter mushroom that I ordered from Amazon.

    Place the kombucha in warm dark place where it won’t be disturbed.  Depending on the temperature and how you like your kombucha, it will take anywhere from 7-21 days for it to be ready.  It should have a slight sourness and some fizz and you shouldn’t be able to taste the tea when it’s ready.  Feel free to start tasting it after the seventh day to see how it’s changing.

     Kombucha on Table

    Once it’s ready, we like to funnel it in to 750 ml growler bottles we get from the local pub that has beers on tap.  It’s a good excuse to try some good beers so you have bottles for kombucha!  After pouring them in to the refillable bottles through a funnel, secure the top and place them in a dark place for about 3 days.  We like to label them as we go along with information about when they were brewed and any variations.  For exmaple, we’ve occasionally brewed some hibiscus tea along with the black tea, or added galangal root we dug out of the garden and ground turmeric root, etc.  Then they can be refrigerated and served once cold.

    If you get too busy or go traveling and forget a batch for a long time, no matter.  It will have just turned to vinegar and you can use the vinegar for cooking/consuming, cleaning or beauty treatments.

    Your SCOBY mother will grow a spongy pancake-like daughter with each new batch.  You can save these in a glass container along with some of the kombucha liquid for additional batches or give them away to friends or give them to your kids to be grossly fascinated with.  I hope my family is getting excited about their Christmas presents 😉

    Please place any questions in the comment section.  I love talking about kombucha!