Friday, April 27, 2012

E-Dub meets P-Dub

Yes, the Pioneer Woman's dreams came true.  She met the e-wife!

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But seriously, she is the cutest thing.  Rich & I waited 3 hours in line at Vroman's in Pasadena for a book signing to meet her. She is so wildly popular!  

We were asked to put a little post-it on the opening page of her cookbook, saying who the book was to be written to.  I decided to put e-wife...   she asked who that was and I sheepishly said it's my blog moniker (I mean, how do you say you're a blogger to the PW.  You feel like an idiot.) She asked me how long I'd been blogging and what the name of my blog was... of course I know she ran right to her hotel and looked me up. :-)  Rich's parting words to her were, "I like what you do with butter."   She replied in her sweet voice, "Oh, thank you soooo much.  That means a lot to me."   I think she really meant it.

While we waited, Rich looked through her new cookbook and decided to try making her Oso Buco with risotto.  So, all in all, a successful evening! 


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tomatomania!!

I dream of huge vegetable gardens at home... well, maybe someday.  For now, I am grateful to have a small patch of dirt that I can grow tomatoes in.  There is nothing like a home grown tomato and they are so good for you.  When they are in season, I eat them with every meal!  I've been growing them for about 15 years or so, and over time I've learned how to have good success.


I get my tomato plants each year from an organization called Tomatomania.  Each spring, they tour around to different nurseries and gardens and set up their 150+ varieties of tomato seedlings for sale.  The staff is super helpful in helping you choose what to grow.  Their plants are very high quality and of the most interesting varieties.  Often they offer a formal lecture on tomato growing.  This year, on a recent beautiful Saturday morning, Rich and I went to Otto & Sons nursery in Fillmore and sat in on their lecture - it was highly informative.  We came home with 11 plants - I was so excited!  Last weekend Rich planted them for me.  It's a lot of effort amending the soil, adding a special fertilizer and worm casings, and building the tomato supports. But the amazing tomatoes are always the reward!  Our plants are in and I cannot wait until summer to eat them!  Here are some photos from our beautiful day in Fillmore.  Afterwards, we went out to Ojai to spend the rest of our day with our longtime dear friends, the Wilsons.  We ate lunch at our favorite spot Papa Lennon's, picked up some Ojai Pixie tangerines, and of course visited Ojai Olive oil to get some of their wonderful garlic oil and peach balsamic vinegar.  Ojai is a great place to spend the day or a weekend.  It's extremely charming and beautiful.

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We bumped into Bill Fickett and the Kaya family as well - I think Rich and Bill are talking children's ministry not tomatoes!


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Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's almost soap time... and candles too!

I'm getting ready for another soap sale! And, this time it's a candle sale, too!

Goods will go on sale
Friday, May 4th at 6:00 am (California time). The last few times I've had a soap sale, I've sold out early in the day. It's been exciting... but I hate turning people away. :-( So this time, I made double the soap of what I usually make. Plus, I am introducing a new shea butter soap that I'm really excited about. And that's not all! I also made some mason jar candles, as I get occasional requests from people to buy them. I've been making candles for about 13 years, but have never sold them formally through my blog.

Why so many things for sale? Because I want to raise lots of money!! With this sale, 100% of the money is going to my daughter Emma's fund for her missions trip to Thailand! She is leaving around May 15th and will be gone for
6 weeks! The trip is through the Master's College in a partnership with ZOE International. Here is a summary of what ZOE is all about from their website:

ZOE International Ministries is a Christian organization with the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ and to make disciples of the un-reached people of the world and to demonstrate God's compassion through rescuing and caring for orphans and children from human trafficking. -Mark 16:15-18, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, James 1:27The facts about human trafficking are staggering and heartbreaking. Please take a moment to read some of the information on ZOE's website.

How did this come about? Emma began volunteering with ZOE at the beginning of the school year, as it was a requirement for one of her classes to have an internship with a list of gospel-oriented humanitarian organizations that Master's selected. She chose ZOE and was immediately touched by the plight of children who are trafficked all around the world, and particularly in Thailand. When the opportunity for a missions trip arose, she told us that she wanted to go. For those of you who know my daughter, you know that she is very home and family oriented, so this wasn't exactly in her comfort zone. I am very proud of her for bravely putting her actions to her convictions, and her dad and I are supporting her 100% on this. She will be acting as an intern for ZOE, using her gift of photography along with the 10 other students, who will be working on various projects that range from sewing to marketing to journalism, all to help ZOE's cause.

Emma stated upfront with us that she was willing to cover the expense of this trip from her own resources. I immediately thought of making soap and candles to sell and help offset some of her cost. She was very appreciative of the idea, so I set off to whip up multiple batches for the cause!

Here are the soap offerings this time - a little sneak peek for you of what is curing right now and will be for sale on May 4th (no advance orders, sorry). There is even a nod to Thailand in one of the soap varieties. :-)
Consider stocking up...remember, soap only gets better with age (and my next sale won't be until right before Christmas).There are 15 different soaps to choose from this time - goat milk soap, all vegetable oil soap, and my newest -shea butter soap!

If you're new to my soap, allow let me tell you a little about them (if not, feel free to scroll down and see the soap).

First of all, they are
100% natural. That is why you will find most of the scents to be citrusy, herbal, spicy, or earthy, as I exclusively use all natural essential oils to fragrance the soap. If the soap has a color or a texture, you can be assured that I used only what God has made to accomplish that. :-)

In all the soaps, I use a combination of quality pure base oils (olive, coconut, and palm) to promote moisture and good lathering. The three types I make are:

All-vegetable oil soap This soap contains olive oil, coconut oil, and palm oil, and has distilled water as its liquid. This is the hardest bar, making it long lasting.
Good for all skin types.


Goat milk soap All-vegetable oil soap recipe, substituting goat milk for the distilled water. Goat milk adds alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamins, and minerals to the soap, as well as increasing the moisture (goat milk soaps are a bit softer as a result).
Good for all skin types, particularly good for dry or sensitive ones.


Shea butter soap All-vegetable oil soap recipe, with the addition of 100% pure unrefined shea butter, which makes this soap ultra emollient and luxurious.
This is a very premium soap, super-fatted 5% with the addition of the shea butter. Shea butter can also aid in the relief of acne, eczema and other skin problems as it moisturizes without clogging pores.
Good for all skin types, particularly good for dry or sensitive ones.


I make my soap by the cold process method in small batches, I cut it by hand, and I cure it for at l
east 4 weeks to ensure hardness. These are big bars - at least 4 1/2 ounces each (Ivory soap bars are about 3 ounces). You should know that homemade soap is softer than commercial soap, so be sure to let your bar drain and air dry after each use (don't let it sit in a sudsy puddle). You will find that my soap is gentle and you can definitely feel good about using it on your skin. When you get away from putting detergents and chemicals on your skin, and use an all natural approach, you will feel the difference!

I can do in-person delivery if you are local... and I'm happy to ship if you aren't. More details on that on the May 4th post. Okay, on with the goods. Happy shopping...

Goat Milk Soaps
$3.00 each

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Pure and clean, scented simply with lemon and lavender essential oil. A good choice for sensitive skin or babies.

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Contains ground organic oats for light exfoliation, plus three different citrus essential oils. A great shower bar.

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Made with brewed Chai tea, this yummy almost-good-enough-to-eat bar is enhanced with cinnamon, clove, and anise essential oils. Ground cloves, cinnamon sticks and Chai tea leaves add light exfoliation. A great shower bar.

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This two-toned bar is made with French green and rose clays, which make it a superb facial soap. Clays are known to draw impurities out of skin. It is scented with a combination of tart pink grapefruit and sweet basil essential oils.

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Lavender Oatmeal soap is always a favorite, and this time I've spiced it up with the addition of a spot of anise essential oil. Ground organic oats make this a great shower bar.

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One of my favorite cooking herbs has found its way into my soap. This one is chock full of herbes de Provence (a French herb blend containing primarily lavender, savory, basil, thyme, and fennel) and is enhanced by rosemary and lavender essential oils.

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One of my personal favorites, I keep this by the kitchen sink to remove the odor of garlic and onion from my hands. This soap contains Arabica coffee grounds which scrub hands and neutralize odors. Scented with anise essential oil.


All Vegetable Oil Soaps
$3.00 each

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This bright and sunny soap contains a refreshing blend of three citrus essential oils, plus a splash of sweet peppermint to wake you up!006

Another favorite is soap made with Calendula petals (a variety of the Marigold flower). Calendula is superb for the complexion, but this makes a great shower bar, too. Contains sweet lemongrass essential oil.

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Seaweed is rich in minerals and vitamins, and exfoliates the skin without drying - not many soaps can make that claim. Tea Tree Oil is also naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, helping troubled skin. Scented lightly with rosemary essential oil.

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Yes, a chocolate soap (but please don't eat it)! This soap gets its deep brown color from a good dose of unsweetened dark cocoa powder. Spiced with anise, sweet orange, and cinnamon essential oils. A rich and sweet experience. A great shower bar.

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Clean and herbal blend of peppermint and rosemary essential oils, plus garden rosemary and peppermint leaves added in for light exfoliation.


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Lastly, in honor of Emma's trip to Thailand, is this soap - scented richly with earthy lemongrass and sweet basil. Dried lemongrass adds light exfoliation. A great shower bar.

Shea Butter Soaps
$3.50 each

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Rich shea butter, with sweet orange and clove essential oils.

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Rich shea butter, with lavender and peppermint essential oils.




Can't decide? Try a sample pack! I will surprise you with 8 different soaps in half-bar sizes to try.

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14 oz. Mason Jar Candles
$12.00 each


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My candles are made with 100% soy wax. They contain lead-free wicks, burning slow and clean. 
Each jar burns 80+ hours! They make great gifts for girlfriends' birthdays and are the perfect hostess gift. Of course, treat yourself to some, too. I can ship candles, too. I am offering four different scents - all uncolored.

Vanilla Nut Spice
Nectarine Basil
Blackberry Sage
Pomegranate Pear


Hope to see you all at the sale!

Questions? Contact me at harasick@ca.rr.com.


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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WDW - Goat cheese & leek quiche

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I get a lot of leeks in my farm box. Prior to farm box days, I had never bought a leek in my life, and the only thing I had ever heard to do with them was to make potato leek soup (laden with cream!). Now I'm finding lots of great uses for them. One of my favorites is to just saute them in a little olive oil, season lightly with s & p, and serve with cooked greens. I have come to find out that leeks are very nutritious! They belong to the Allium vegetable family (along with garlic and onions) and contain many beneficial compounds that help protect our blood vessels and cardiovascular systems. They are also quite delicious, many great reasons to try leeks!

I decided to mix it up in the way I serve leeks - so I tried this recipe this week for goat cheese and leek quiche. Winner!! I cheated and bought a frozen whole grain pie crust which made this quiche super fast to get into the oven. If you like goat cheese, you'll LOVE this quiche! I got sun dried tomato/basil flavored goat cheese, which was great in this recipe (I actually accidentally used 4 oz. goat cheese instead of the 2 oz. called for - actually a good oops). I did not have fresh tarragon, which probably would have been amazing, so I substituted fresh sage, parsley, and chives from my herb garden. I am thinking mushrooms would be fantastic in this quiche!

This was a great spring dinner - so fresh and light. Can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch today!


Goat Cheese and Leek Quiche (adapted from Whole Foods)

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 (9-inch) frozen whole grain pie crust (in pie pan), thawed 10 minutes
2 leeks (about 1 pound), trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 eggs
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2-4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prick crust all over with a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Set crust aside and reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add leeks and simmer until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain leeks thoroughly.


In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, tarragon, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Spread leeks in bottom of crust and dot with goat cheese. Pour egg mixture over the top and bake until puffed in the center and lightly browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Set aside to let cool until warm or serve at room temperature.

Nutrition

Per serving (1/6 quiche): 260 calories (160 from fat), 18g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 105mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 17g total carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 6g protein


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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WDW -Banana Bread (with coconut & almond flour)

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So, I mentioned last week that I was going to be trying some new recipes with coconut flour. I just made this banana bread recipe and it's quite good. I like it because it's not ultra sweet, but yet it is moist. Everything about this bread is healthy and it's perfect with a latte for a great breakfast! Of course, if you want it to be a little less healthy, go ahead and slather it with Nutella ... I won't tell.

I'm feeling like mini chocolate chips would be nice instead of the walnuts... also, I might try some shredded coconut in the batter next time.

I got my coconut flour at Whole Foods and I used Trader Joe's almond meal for the almond flour. It's 100% ground almonds - how healthy is that! Enjoy!

Banana Bread (using coconut & almond flour)
from Comfy Belly

3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil (I used melted coconut oil instead)
3 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Whisk all dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

In KitchenAid mixer, combine all wet ingredients and mix well. Add dry and mix just until the mixture is blended. Add walnuts, if desired.


Pour mixture into greased 9 x 5 loaf pan and bake 35-45 minutes or until tests done with a toothpick. The bread does not rise as much as a regular loaf.

Makes 1 loaf - can easily double recipe.

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