herbs

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Get the most out of your store-bought celery: grow it yourself and other inexpensive kitchen food discoveries.

Published May 14, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

celery leaves drying for aloe vera blog

 

And that was another very easy nearly ‘free’ food I found out about two years ago. Surprisingly my first attempt yielded celery during the first freeze we had last year (before winter set in, that is). Now the celery chutes don’t get terribly huge when going form the container growing method. My first celery stalk growing experience left me with small, slender stalks that were young and still went great in soups and salads. They also froze extremely well.

 

Living on a shoe-string budget is tough and wherever nearly free food can be discovered, grown at home, frozen, dried (think in terms of long-term prepping), or even so insanely easy to re-plant and grow I find myself scratching my head thinking, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner? This is so easy!”

 

And my first celery stalk was chopped off mid-way and sat in a bowl of tap water (before I became wise about the fluoridation) on my kitchen window sill. I didn’t hold out any hope and thought my efforts would be a waste of time. Yes, my celery stalk had to share space with my beloved (although somewhat hearty soil-bankrupt) air purifying airplane/spider plant that’s been the dominant houseplant going on five years. I was surprised when I noticed leafy greens sprouting up from the lopped celery stalk. I can’t remember if I changed out the water or if that’s a necessary thing to do. Since my first celery stalk died during the winter and I had no place to bring it in out of the harsh weather, it didn’t last. Yet, I managed to re-grow enough celery from that first stalk to fill a large zip lock bag and I didn’t need to buy celery at the store for the whole year. When frozen about all celery is good for is using in stir-fry, soups and stews. I never had any success using frozen/ thawed celery in leafy green salads. But frozen celery goes great in my freshly prepared plain cucumber salads which means I don’t slather my cucumbers in any type of oils, mayonnaise, or commercial salad dressings since those don’t agree with my system. I make my own mustard-onion dressing that I will share in this post as well.

 

And a year later, I’ve nearly finished off my entire bag of celery. I haven’t tried to grow any celery stalks in the garden. I like to plant them in patio containers and snip off the stalks as I need them and allow the celery to re-grow more chutes. I have two more celery stalks that I re-grew using distilled water and was surprised when they appeared greener and more heartier. I transplanted those to outdoor containers recently and started on my third celery stalk in distilled water. Hopefully it will grow as well as the others.

 

How to make my onion-mustard cucumber salad dressing:

 

Wash, cut and place green onions in a clean mason jar. I like to use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the onions. And other times I will go out to my garden and cut off a large onion leaf. These are very potent and a little bit goes a long way. I also use the small onion bulb as well and chop that up. Next, I mix equal parts of Dijon and Spicy Brown mustard and add that in with my onions. I stir this concoction and leave it in the fridge while I prepare my cucumber salad.

How to make my cucumber salad (no-dressing or oil variety):

 

Wash, peel and slice up the cucumber if its store bought. Believe me, you don’t want to ingest the wax they use on the veggies. I’ve heard horror stories that the wax used is no different than what they use to wax floors with, Yeesh! And if it’s true, that’s a dirty little inside trick to make veggies appear delicious and ‘preserve’ them, I suppose. If you can grow your own cucumbers and don’t use pesticides, you could skip peeling off the outer skin. Since I don’t use pesticides on my garden for the very reason they can be toxic, I don’t have to worry so much.

 

There’s no wrong way to slice a cucumber. If you like thick slices, got for it. If you prefer small, thin slices, that’s excellent too.

 

Next wash, and slice one or two red tomatoes. Again, if they’re store-bought tomatoes they may have been gassed in order to ‘ripen’ them while their still green, and eating green tomatoes is okay too. Ever hear of the old 80’s movie, Fried Green Tomatoes? Anyways, if your tomatoes are home grown, then your assured of the safety of your own produce. Place the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl and set aside. Next slice up some red, white, and yellow onion (if you have any on hand and this is optional). I’m kind of basing this on my late grandma’s recipe but without the dressing. My grandmother used to use white onion cut into rings.

 

I also like to spice things up with a fresh cut Japeno and throw that in with the cucumber and tomatoes and mix some crushed red pepper as well. I then give this salad a soak in a little Apple Cider Vinegar/ distilled bath just for good measure, rinse and return to the bowl. I like to finish off with a few snips of fresh Kale (the yellow blooms will produce a delicate sweet taste, too), Parsley, Chives, Peppermint, Spearmint, Pineapple Sage leaf, one leaf of cabbage and fresh Brussels sprouts (never the canned or frozen variety for me). So technically its not a straight cucumber and tomato salad, rather an actual salad. Eh, sometimes I enjoy a change of pace.

 

What to do with those celery leaves: don’t throw them out! Wash them off really good and dry them. I say this because the cost of buying celery either in seed, salt, or even the crushed leaf variety can be expensive. Since I don’t have a pestle and mortar I can’t grind the leaves  into a powder so it’s the very old-fashioned ‘drying’ method by placing the celery leaves (preferably washed, dried off, and place on a cookie sheet or in my case a pie pan lined with a coffee filter will do. Allow the celery leaves to thoroughly dry for two weeks or a month or so. When they’re completely dry (and some might be curled), then you can store them in a spice jar or use them immediately in soups, stews, stir-fry, etc. I had great success drying two bunches of half priced cilantro for a month and yielded two huge batches to last me a year or better. Cilantro goes great in homemade pico de gallo (Mexican condiment/ salsa).

Hope my shoe string budget kitchen tips help. Thanks for liking, re-blogging, commenting, sharing, tweeting, I truly appreciate it. 🙂

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My homemade skincare/ hair care aloe vera lotion: a how-to guide with step-by-step pictures:

Published May 14, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

It will cost about a dollar or less for the aloe vera leaves depending on your geographical location, and if your supermarket stocks these huge leaves since they might likely be considered a ‘specialty’ item and hard to find/ purchase. I know before we got a new grocery store, I had no idea aloe vera leaves were sold fresh much less grown for their edible purposes as well. In fact, I had never seen a large aloe vera leaf in person until I popped into the new grocer to see what all the hubbub was about. And what I found was some very new and somewhat exotic edibles such as aloe vera and cactus leaves (when boiled cactus leaves are very similar to green beans and freeze well, too) which I’ll blog about here in a little bit in a separate post.

 

Before I spent any money on the aloe vera leaves, I did my research. I scoured youtube to see what others had to say about fresh aloe vera leaves. It turns out I learned of the many benefits of aloe vera and cactus leaves. I had seen whole cactus leaves being sold at some other grocers between $5-7 dollars and you only received two small cactus leaves that you had to then go to the trouble to de-thorn, slice, chop—essentially ‘prep’ the old-fashioned way. I watched several youtube videos on how to cut up a cactus leaf and the thorns fly everywhere even when using a plastic bag and scrapping them with a paring knife. Sounded like a potential whacking off a digit accident waiting to happen.

 

I did more research late at night while waiting for my [then working] off-balance washing machine to finish thrashing another load of laundry. After watching about ten ‘how to’ cut aloe vera leaves and boil cactus leaves youtube videos I decided to give both the aloe vera and cactus leaves a try.

 

Are the aloe vera leaves edible? Yes, the gooey clear gel is edible. However, if the slime is yellow this will act as nature’s laxative and it’s highly recommended to discard the yellow stuff. In small quantities the aloe vera leaf gel can be blended into smoothies, chopped up and frozen for later use for skin application and/or used in DIY olive, coconut, and argan oil hair mask treatments. I even found a use for the aloe vera leaf itself and like to cut it up, bag, label and freeze them for later use when dry shaving my legs or whenever I might need something quick and handy for rubbing on my skin or through my hair to make it soft. I usually run on a very erratic schedule, so yes, there’s going to be prep work involved which should take about 30-35 minutes and you’ll have to set aside time to cut the aloe vera leaves. I find that I can make this aloe vera gel last me about a month (conserving it that is) and stretching it with some steam-treated distilled water. Never use city tap water as that can contain bacteria and other nasties that can’t be filtered out in a city water treatment facility try as they might, plus if the city fluoridates their water or its hard water that’s really yucky!

 

“Make sure it’s steam-treated [distilled water], not the other kind,” That was sound advice from my dear dad a year ago. He’s been a health nut long before I was ever born.

 

Here’s the steps I use for making my homemade aloe vera lotion. Oh, and this must be kept in the fridge or else it will go rancid if sitting out since there’s no preservatives whatsoever when I make my aloe vera lotion.

aloe leaves for hair care

Step one: Wash the aloe vera leaf with some distilled water (never tap water) to give it a quick rinse. Drying the aloe vera leaf isn’t necessary unless you want to do this extra step.

aloe vera step2

Step two: Make sure you have a bowl or other container ready. I find that placing a bowl in the kitchen sink helps and I just scrape the gooey goodness into it from the cutting board. Use a serrated knife and a cutting board as well. Also, be extremely careful when slicing these aloe vera leaves. The gooey stuff is slimy and will be the consistency of egg yoke and it gets over everything and makes work surfaces and the knife you’re using very slippery. So, do exercise caution when cutting the aloe vera leaves with a sharp knife and take your time.

aloe vera step 3

Step three: I like to cut off the tip and end and discard those in my compost container that I plan to empty into my garden. Next, I slice downward to remove the prickly thorny sides of the aloe vera leaf. Sometimes they’ll yield a very tiny amount of clear gooey stuff and I’ll cut those into slices and place them in my freezer bag for later use. When I can help it I don’t like to discard a lot of stuff until I get as much use from it as humanly possible.

aloe vera step 4

Step four: Transfer the clear gooey stuff from the bowl and pour it into the blender. Blenders will vary and I like to start blending with the ice crushing option, then whip and puree. At this point the clear aloe vera gel should turn frothy and foamy. This is normal and the foam will settle. To make this stretch further I also pour in about half a cup of distilled water and blend it some more. Again, this will turn foamy and it will settle. I then make sure my aloe vera jar is handy and fill it. After screwing the cap on it I like to give the contents a good shake then place it in the fridge.

 

Shelf life of my homemade aloe vera lotion is about one week in the fridge. However, I’ve been able to make my aloe vera lotion last for about two weeks even a month if I’m conservative with it and haven’t noticed it going rancid in the fridge. And always whenever I remember I will pick up one or two aloe vera leaves and store them in my fridge until I need one this way I have a constant stock of them on hand. And look for the discounts. Sometime aloe vera leaves will be sold by the red tape bundle at a discount if they’re wilted. This I’ve discovered doesn’t matter much to me since I don’t use the wilted aloe vera leaves for smoothies. I use the wilted aloe vera leaves for my skin and hair care lotions. I use the good aloe vera leaves for the smoothies which I seldom make except once-in-a-while due to their cleansing/ detoxing properties.

aloe vera step 5

Step five: pour the aloe vera lotion in a glass jar. I have heard that plastic containers can leach out chemicals into food and drinks so I re-use a 10 ounce glass green olive jar for my homemade aloe vera lotion (pictured).

 

Hope this how-to tutorial helps for my fresh homemade aloe vera lotion. I never use any preservatives when making this. When it settles it will feel like a raw egg when applying it to the hair and skin. But no need to panic, the skin absorbs the aloe vera gel rather fast and leaves your skin feeling velvety smooth. Sometimes there might be some gel sediment that adheres to the skin and hair. I use a soft-bristle natural foot brush to whisk this from my skin and hair. When applied to the hair (a little bit goes a long way), wrap your hair in a silk or cotton scarf or any soft large light-weight material will do and keep it on for an hour, then remove the scarf and gently comb your fingers through your dry hair. Doing this step after you’ve washed and towel-dried your hair works great and makes your hair feel extremely soft and gives it some shine. I found this to be a huge relief since my area is hard water. And since I quit exposing my hair to all the fluoridated city water recently, I noticed my hair is not as limp, weighed down, greasy or unhealthy or ‘unwashed’ in appearance. Also, I don’t wash my hair daily into overkill like I once used to do years ago and saturate my poor hair strands to chemically-laden shampoos and conditioners (whatever was cheap at one time). I also re-use my fresh fruit/ fresh veggie distilled rinse water and make my own Camomile sun tea on occasion to give some high lights to my hair. Other times I keep a large pickle jar in the fridge filled with part distilled and bottled drinking water (supposedly non-fluoridated when I checked).

DO NOT use a plastic comb to brush out your hair when applying this aloe vera gel into your hair. Sometimes it will leave microscopic gel balls that can tangle the hair, so go easy when brushing your hair. This hair care process shouldn’t be rushed as I found out in my early trial and errors.

Recently, I’ve heard from many folks that strive to grow out their hair and keep it healthy advise to ditch the plastic hair brushes and combs completely, and if at all possible, do not wash your hair with city water unless you have a water purifier/ filtration system that can filter out heavy metals, contaminants and some traces of fluoride. Another hair care top: opt for boar hair bristle hair brushes/combs. And those are difficult to find unless they’re antique. I saw a ‘made in China’ boar hair shower brush at Big Lots a while back, but inset in the middle of it was a chunk of plastic as a faux loofah sponge. I’ll pass thank you very much even though I realize getting rid of all plastics out of my life is nearly impossible although little by little I am making snail pace strides to natural vegan materials as I can afford to do so.

When I need to brush my hair I use an itty bitty antique celluloid comb. The rest of the time I use my antique hair/ clothing brushes since they were made during the 1850’s/ 1900’s and have real hair bristles (not nylon even though it was produced back in this time frame). Since using the antique hair/ clothing brushes to brush my hair vs. using plastic hair brushes has made a huge difference. I haven’t dealt with many tangles when brushing my hair after it’s completely dry, that is. And I haven’t felt any knots or painful tangles in my hair either like I used to get often when using a plastic brush and comb. And I quit combing my hair while its still wet. This is when the hair is most fragile and elastic-like. It can snap, strands can fall out (often referred to hair fall out) when brushed wet, tangle and knot like it’s nobody’s business, and did I mention all of it painful if you have a sensitive scalp? It is.

Thanks for re-blogging, liking, commenting, sharing, tweeting and especially to all of my subscribers. I truly appreciate your likes, shares, etc.! 🙂

I’ll be posting some budget gourmet kitchen how-to goodies from how to grow your own celery on your kitchen window sill, drying your own spices from fresh store-bought/ patio-grown herbs, making cinnamon-flavored toothpicks, and my almost “sugar free” dessert. 😀

 

 

 

 

Rosemary and Basil: my new best herbs for hair care:

Published June 13, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

It’s been known that using Rosemary in your home made hair shampoo will help your hair retain its natural color longer and prevent noticeable gray hairs. I sincerely believe this is true because I’ve made my own Rosemary-scented hair wash going way back to 2005. Now I haven’t used it religiously like I should have all that time simply because I was buying Rosemary in its dried form from the health food store and it became costly. Little was I aware back then though Rosemary is also an herb used in cooking and could be found at my local supermarket for a lot less. Live and learn as the saying goes.

Now Basil, other than it’s an herb used in cooking what other uses does it have, especially for the hair wash? It helps to strengthen the hair roots and shaft. Plus it gives off a nice, pleasant scent when steeping. I recently bought the last Basil plant my local supermarket had and planted it out in my garden. I did try adding it to my hair wash and used it last night with amazing results. Oh, and I have officially kicked the city water to the curb since the difference between that and using distilled are vastly different.

With city water (and ours tends to be heavily laden with chemicals, chlorine, fluoride)… yuck! And on a related note, our town voted to keep adding fluoride a few months back as well and who knows what else. All I know from drinking the city water is that it has a very faint sweet taste to it plus the chlorine will make you gag when they flush the lines. And the water is discolored and filthy on those line flushing days every so often. So not only is doing laundry out of the question, but so is consuming the city water even though the circular they send in the mail states it’s “safe to drink”… yeah, right. I don’t want anything resembling a kidney infection in my glass. That’s nasty!

And here again, irritation drove me to find a better solution. I also noticed that drinking the city water will cause pressure on the bladder (and no, I don’t have a bladder infection). I know from past experience what those are like. I suspected what I kept feeling was coming from the city water’s supply, but couldn’t be certain about it until I switched over to drinking strictly distilled water. And now I won’t even rinse my fruits or veggies without distilled water. I won’t cook without it either. I found relief at long last when I switched over to distilled and never looked back. Also, whatever is in the city water will make you get up and heed nature five times a night, so you know even when you haven’t guzzled a ten gallon oil drum of water before bedtime, and you really gotta go like a race horse, then you start questioning, “What do they put into the city tap water?”

I also noticed that my hair is healthier since washing it with distilled water instead of washing it under the tap, and ta-da! I might have answered my own question as to why my hair constantly felt brittle like all the nutrients had been sucked out of the roots and hair shaft even after spending a boat load of money on vegan hair care products with very little results. Plus I noticed a decrease of stray hairs winding up in the drain, too.

Ah-hah!
What else is alarming about the link between fluoride and city water other than conspiracy theorists will debate that it dumbs us down it can be a key to hair loss in women and not just when the elderly, but young women are experiencing this more and more. And it’s very creepy! Now I know how men must feel and balding isn’t just a gender-specific issue nowadays.

And city officials agree to keep adding fluoride to the water supply? Then again, they likely don’t consume the city water. They’re probably better off financially to have purified water trucked into their homes or have access to untreated well water. It appears this goes way back to as early as 1965 when they began adding fluoride to the city water because of its ‘anti-cavity’ properties that don’t do a thing to prevent cavities from what I’ve read and heard about on the radio.

Perhaps I’ve become heavy metal sensitive—and I mean to the extreme where if it doesn’t cause me a rash or some break out, then it will sicken me in one form or another.

Do I still want to take a leisurely swim at my local Y? They use city water and from what I’ve noticed the two times I did go there was that my beautiful hair had again turned thin, limp, brittle and a few strands wound up on my swimming suit.

The Y also requires you to shower before and after you swim which makes sense. I just wish they’d find alternatives for a water supply that doesn’t have anything less other than chlorine in the water and that’ll never happen. I might go for the exercise equipment, but I don’t know if I want to subject my hair to anymore fluoride treatments. I do care about my hair and strive to find ways to keep it naturally clean. And I never ever brush it when wet. This will cause it to tangle and break

Well, it’s a long a** cross-country hitch-hike to get to Arkansas where they supposedly have hot spring pools and the other closer location would be in Colorado. However, whether or not they pump their water full of fluoride remains unknown. I have heard health benefits of soaking in hot springs (naturally fed from spring water in the earth) and have experienced therapeutic relief in my sense of being and spirit since I’m light years away from developing arthritis at my age when I did live in Colorado.

Yes, I went way off topic, some how the fluoride, city water and my home made hair wash do correlate, I suppose.

I use fresh Rosemary picked from my garden and I also dried it when the actual plant is on the verge of dying for the winter. Then I grind it up and sometimes I’ll leave it attached to the branches. From there I keep it in glass jars with secure lids. I use mason canning jars and label what’s in it and when I harvested the plant. I also do this same thing for my Lavender and peppermint as well.

To make the Rosemary hair wash:

Bring a large pan of distilled water to a boil. Place in your dried herbs (or fresh) and keep an eye on it. As it begins to boil, the water will become dark like steeped tea. You can then add in Castile soap shavings, or omit these entirely. I have long since not relied on the soap shavings because a suspicious ingredient, “fragrance” is now added and that could mean anything toxic.

Then I turn off the burner, allow the Rosemary hair wash to cool down entirely, then using a strip of white t-shirt cloth, I stick that over the mouth of the container (held taut with a rubber band) and use a funnel to pour the contents into the container (a milk jug works) going very slow to prevent an overflow. The t-shirt material will act as a strainer if you don’t have a tiny inset sink strainer on hand. Remember to label the container and keep it in the fridge.

When you’re ready to use this hair wash just take it out of the fridge. I’ve used ice cold water (no ice cubes) on my hair to keep it soft before and it does work, but it gives me an equivalent to an ice cream headache if poured over my head too fast. Therefore, I take it slow.

I don’t know if this would work for any color-treated (dyed hair) or anybody that might have light-colored hair. For example, I have no idea if this would change the color of the hair or not. I don’t notice a difference for myself personally, but everyone’s different.

Also, just about any spice/ herbs can be used when making Rosemary hair wash. I’ve also tried adding in some Herbs de Province which have Rosemary, Sage, Lavender and other spices. Again, this mixture will need to be strained out after steeping for five minutes or so. I don’t know if there’s any added health benefit to using Herbs de Province, but it was something I used on a whim.

Oh, and I seldom follow instructions when cooking, baking, or doing anything kitchen-culinary-related and have recipes that do turn out good. And those are usually the ones I write down later and they don’t turn out as spectacular the second time around or even the third. I call them “whim” or ‘winging it’ cooking which seems to work for me.
I know I likely covered this in my first hair tutorial. I don’t remember Bernarr Macfadden ever covering using Basil or Rosemary in the hair washes he mentions in his hair care guides, so those two ingredients are likely far removed from his own hair wash recipe. Thanks for reading, liking, re-blogging, tweeting, etc. I sincerely appreciate it.