Blog Archives

I have food on my face. (Mocha-Frappuchino Facial Mask)

I may have mentioned that Crunchy Betty rocks.

Today, since I had the ingredients all in my fridge, and since I was going to work from home this morning anyway, I decided to try her Mocha-Frappucino Facial Mask.  My face has been getting sort of dull and oogy, and since ditching most of the commercial products I haven’t really settled upon anything new to keep it life-ful, so I figured what the heck. So here I sit, with a sort of odd mixture of coffee grounds, cocoa powder, yogurt, and honey on my face. Feels sort of weird, but no weirder than any other mask I’ve ever used–what’s more bizarre is the delightful smell surrounding me–yes, this is food I’m wearing on my face.  It’s scary-easy to make, just mix equal parts (I honestly made way less than her recipe) coffee grounds, cocoa powder, and plain yogurt, with half-a-part honey (I did a teaspoon each of the first three and then half a teaspoon of honey, which was plenty for my face for one use), schmoosh them up good, and smear them on your face. Wait a bit, rinse off, while gently rubbing the coffee grounds around to exfoliate. Which I’m going to do now…hang on for a few minutes, okay?

VERDICT: Holy ever-loving Mother of God. I mean, with full out Hail-Mary-full-of-grace-thank-God-for-my-amazing-feeling-face.  (I don’t mean to take her in vain or anything–I’m sure if she had access to this facial mask she’d be just as blown away.) Wow, I totally didn’t expect it to be this unbelievable.  It took me longer than I expected to get back to my computer just because I was standing up there just sort of touching my skin for a few minutes, not quite believing what it feels like. Pores closed up, nice and smoothly consistent all over, no scary tingles or burny feeling or anything. Just plain…lovely.

A couple of notes: First of all, I didn’t take Betty’s advice on two fronts: one, she said if one is going to use recycled coffee grounds one should use ones that were very fresh, like within 20 minutes of brewing. And that due to mess, one should probably rinse it off in the shower.  I did not take these pieces of advice for one basic reason: I didn’t want to try this while my family was home, and sit there with a brown lumpy face at breakfast while I drink my coffee and have them give me crap over it.  So I waited till they were gone, then used the grounds, and washed in the sink.  I do not feel particular caffiene jitters at the moment, and I did not make a huge mess in the bathroom…but one of these days I should try it with non-used, freshly ground beans instead and see what comes of it.

All my friends whom I love–the next time you feel tempted to go out and buy some expensive facial mask or wash or whatever, please, please try this first! Do it when your loved ones aren’t home, you don’t have to tell anyone, just give it a shot. (Er…make sure you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients first, okay?)  It’s incredibly cheap, is ten times better than any store-bought mask I’ve ever found, and believe me I’ve found a few, and it’s AMAZING.

Okay, time to start working. With this lovely smell of chocolate still all around my face…

Another lovely dinner–Chicken Fajitas recipe

We had another really nice dinner tonight, that took maybe 15 minutes to cook and left everyone happy.

Al had bought a rotisserie chicken the other night (this is what happens when I don’t have time to go shopping, he goes when he’s hungry and buys all this stuff I wouldn’t buy…on the other hand, we got two good meals out of it, family of four.) and there was about one breast and most of a thigh worth of leftovers. 

Chicken Fajitas

Toss in a skillet on medium high heat: a little oil, some sliced onions, some sliced bell peppers; saute till just beginning to soften.
Season with a little cumin, garlic, fajita seasoning, whatever you’ve got.
Toss in cooked chicken, cut into strips. Throw into skillet.
Lower heat, cover and let sit till chicken is heated through.

Serve on tortillas (corn or wheat–we prefer corn) with salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, grated cheese, yogurt cheese or sour cream, and other fixins.

(Our kids ate quesadillas, tortillas with melted cheese, because they are too picky to eat anything else…)

Then for dessert I pulled out the ice cream maker and we had homemade chocolate frozen yogurt (i.e. I squeezed chocolate syrup into the plain yogurt) and raspberry sauce (recipe at greenmama.dreamwidth.org/10198.html ) for dessert.  Everyone was happy.

And our Roma plant has about 9 little tomatoes growing on it, and the cukes look like they’re doing well…

Pesto Yogurt Dip

Yummy dip for veggies…pretty healthy too!

1 cup yogurt cheese (make this by placing plain yogurt in a cheesecloth or muslin-lined colandar for several hours or overnight)
1/8 to 1/4 cup prepared pesto sauce (depends how much basil flavor you want!)

Mix. Dip.  That’s it. And if you make your pesto without much oil in it, this is a really good-for-you way to be all indulgent with creamy dippy goodness.  It makes a nice sandwich spread, too…

–J

Fruit in the homemade yogurt

Okay, so here (greenmama.dreamwidth.org/3862.html ) I talk about how to make your own yogurt in the crockpot.  Easy, fun, and if you’re not all Buy Organic Milk like me it’s probably way cheaper than the store-bought stuff, especially if you go through it at your house like we do here. 

This is just an easy addendum recipe that I tried last time I made the stuff: the next challenge after making homemade yogurt is of course to flavor it.  The easiest way is honestly to just drizzle a little honey and cinnamon, or maple syrup, or hell even chocolate syrup over it.  Yummers.

But I really was curious about trying to do the whole fruit yogurt thing.  So this is what I did:

Place in a bowl a pound of fresh-frozen fruit. (I used triple berry mix.)  Sprinkle maybe 1/4 cup sugar over it  and maybe a tbs. lemon juice (opt) and stir. (Different fruits and different tastes will obviously have different ideas here about how much sugar to use, and whether to use the lemon juice!)  I also add a sprinkle of cinnamon to it.  Just let it sit there at room temperature until the fruit melts and gets all mooshy with the sugar. 

That’s it.  Easiest thing in the world.

This stuff was amazing–just perfectly sweet, incredibly fruit-y.  Very runny, of course, and you could cook it over the stove and mix in a little cornstarch-or-flour-and-water mixture to thicken it, but for my purposes it really didn’t need it.  I honestly don’t know if it would work the same with fresh fruit, and I’m inclined to doubt it, because I suspect it’s part of the frozenness that breaks down the fruit enough to behave like this.  But honestly, when I get fresh fruit I’m not likely to cook or moosh it up; we eat our fresh berries straight.

Drizzle to taste over your (strained and thickened) yogurt.  Or…well, you can also stand over the bowl with a spoon, like I did, but that sort of defeats the purpose. 

Alternative: mix to taste with the yogurt and then freeze in an ice cream machine for frozen yogurt.  This should be delish.  Try it with raspberries, and then drizzle a little chocolate sauce over it when you serve it.
 
(EDIT: Just to note, I probably won’t actually mix and store the fruit and yogurt together, although once the yogurt is strained well it’s fairly easy to do that.  I’d rather just keep plain gurt in the fridge and have an assortment of things to treat it with, way more flexible…)

Man, this weight loss thing stinks…I mean, yes, it’s working, but I just once want to have a Big Pig Out, eat as much as I want of something…anything…

–J

Yogurt in the Crockpot

Those who read my blog with any regularity are probably sick of hearing me sing the praises of Stephanie the Crockpot Lady —-I don’t know if I’ve ranted much about her here on wordpress yet, but there ya go.

A month or two ago I became intrigued by her method of making yogurt in the crockpot.

The first time I tried it, it worked well, although it was very runny and didn’t strain well. (That was the time I followed her directions pretty much to a T.)  The end result was better suited to “kefir” (that yogurt drink you pay an arm and a leg for at Whole Foods) than any more traditional yogurt.

The second time I tried it, I made a gallon instead of a half gallon and threw in some powdered milk as well–the basic method I used:

  • heat a gallon (Stephanie did 1/2 gallon, so I’m adjusting) milk in crockpot on low for 2.5 hours
  • unplug crockpot and let sit another 3 hours
  • whisk a cup of plain yogurt in a bowl; whisk in a cup or three of the warm milk till it’s nicely mixed, then pour back into the crock. (Here I added a cup of powdered nonfat milk.)
  • Cover the crock, drape a couple of heavy towels over it for insulation, and let sit unplugged overnight.

This second time I let the yogurt incubate a lot longer–10-12 hours rather than the initially suggested 8. (Perhaps longer than safe…the greenmama is not responsible for your kids’ stomach upsets if you follow any bad advice I give on this blog.  I tried it, I felt fine, it tasted perfectly good, my kids ate it, all was okay.) This time it strained like a dream.  Turns out (thank you, internet) that once the yogurt incubates past a certain point, the whey and curd naturally separate, so the gelatinous fragility of lots of store-bought yogurt actually intensifies, and it just starts to “leak”.  (This happens with bigger containers of store-bought yogurt too, after you’ve cut into them with a spoon, you’ve probably noticed.)

This time I immediately strained it, putting a piece of natural muslin (from my fabric stash, prewashed of course and dampened before dumping the yogurt in) into a vegetable strainer over a big pyrex measuring container–I used a measuring container because I was curious about how much whey would actually drain out.  Also, every 10 minutes or so I scraped the muslin with a spoon, to clear away the already strained stuff and make room for more; not sure how big a difference this made.

The strainer held about a quart of unstrained yogurt and over about half an hour abandoned about a cup of clear whey, leaving a nice thick creamy yogurt in the muslin.  I did this three times, transferring the finished strained yogurt into old saved yogurt containers.  The kids took this to lunch and ate it for snacks, and we went through 2+ quarts in maybe a week.  I would put some of the yogurt into one of those little cup tupperware things and drizzle some honey or maple syrup or even chocolate sauce over it.  I bet apple butter would be yummy too. 

The last of the unstrained yogurt (1 gallon=4 quarts) I put in the muslin/strainer over the pyrex again, but this time since it was time to go to work I put it all into the fridge and let it drain for 6 hours or so.  By the time I got home it had given up just over 2 cups of whey, and  was honestly “yogurt cheese,” a thick stuff about the consistency of cream cheese.  I’ve made dip with it, or used it as a mayonnaise substitute on sandwiches.  Good stuff.

Cost Analysis: Okay, a quart of organic yogurt at Trader Joe’s costs about $3.  To make this, I needed a gallon of organic milk ($6–obviously WAY cheaper if you get conventional), a cup of regular plain yogurt ($1-ish, but once you’ve made it once you can keep using the starter for subsequent batches), and the powdered milk (hard to gauge, since I bought a giant box ages ago that I just keep around).  So, assuming I’d’ve gotten about 3 quarts of plain yogurt out of this, that comes to about $2 savings, which isn’t much.  Again, using conventional milk and yogurt starter would drop the cost of making my own dramatically.  Plus…well, it’s sort of fun.

I’m told that one can use instant gelatin in the milk to help it set a bit more, though I haven’t tried it.  And apparently when the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts get made, they actually put the fruit in first, then the infected milk, and let it incubate right there over the fruit, so that’s how it keeps its nice still gelatin texture in the commercial brands.  That’s also, I presume, why the “yogurt makers” you buy use all the little cups instead of doing one big Vat of yogurt like the crockpot does. 

So…bon appetit!  It’s fun! And healthy! And reduces your footprint by not going through (as I do) 2 plastic quart containers every week!

peace,
J

(UPDATE: I’ve upped my total amount of GOOD usable yogurt to 4 quarts from a gallon of milk simply by paying attention to temperatures: the initial heat-up needs to get to 180 degrees; after cool-down, it should be back down to 116 degrees.  I think my crock wasn’t letting it cool enough and so when I dumped the yogurt in to innoculate the milk, the heat killed most of the yogurt culture and that’s why my end result was so runny. I’d recommend trying it once with an actual thermometer, if you’re having trouble at all, and then see what happens! When I made the yogurt with a cup of powdered milk to a gallon of liquid 1% milk, and observed these temperature guides, I got nice thick yogurt that didn’t need to be drained at all.  Which of course alters the cost-effective question a lot–I’m now getting twice as much finished product from the same outlay, i.e. 4 quarts of yogurt for $6 of milk plus a cup each plain yogurt and powdered milk, which I get in larger amounts anyway…that’s about half off from what I’d pay for organic plain yogurt in the store.)