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Vanilla Coconut Cream Cake

This is one of my favorite cake recipes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup dairy-free butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cup sugar

5 eggs, separated and at room temperature

1 teaspoon coconut extract(optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 cup coconut cream

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 can of dairy-free premade vanilla frosting ( I do, I hate making frosting!)

Instruction

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Empty contents of can of coconut cream into a bowl, microwave for 20 seconds, mix until combined and smooth. Measure your 1 cup of coconut cream once fully mixed.

Technique: Creaming the butter properly is important in the overall consistency of the batter.

In a bowl, cream together the coconut oil, butter and sugar using a standard mixer on low until it is white and fluffy. Incorporate one egg at a time followed by the coconut and vanilla extracts, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix for another 30 seconds.

While mixing begin adding the coconut milk and flour in quarters, mixing well with each addition.

Detatch and clean the whisk attachments for the egg whites.

In another bowl add the cream of tartar to the egg whites. Beat on medium for 6-7 minutes to form soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter in thirds.

pour into a 9x13in pan and smooth evenly with a spatula. I added some food dye in a mantra swirl design.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer in the center area of the cake comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

Fruit Smoothie

Smoothie shops, at least every one I have ever been to has added sweeteners and concentrated flavors to mask the fact that part of what you are getting is just blended ice. Ice, is not an ingredient to a good smoothie, you want frozen fruit so that you need no ice at all.

The basic Ingredients of a Smoothie

Bananas are essential for texture in a good smoothie, they bring the creaminess to the smoothie. I like to peel a few bananas and freeze them in freezer safe zip-lock bags. Freeze them before they start getting spots for the best flavor. They last for about a few weeks in the freezer. Any fruit you aren’t going to use can be frozen for smoothies instead of letting it go bad.

Aside from preventing waste there is pre-packaged frozen fruit from the store. They sell it packaged individually but premixed bags, are my usual go to.

The standard selection of individual frozen fruit that I can find in my region is Mango, raspberry, cherry, peach, strawberry and blueberry. There are also pre-packaged blends of Peach, Pineapple, and strawberry; blueberry, cherry, and strawberry; and blueberry, raspberry and strawberry.

For the liquid portion of your smoothie you can use any citrus juice, or fresh peeled citrus, pomegranate juice, canned coconut milk/cream, apple juice or pineapple juice. I have even used hibiscus and lemon teas in a smoothie because I was out of everything else.

Additional additives, any fresh fruit, canned pineapple, powdered freeze dried fruit, to make it a little less healthy there also the addition of sorbet and fruity alcohols like coconut rum or tanqueray.

The ratio and the rest

(disclaimer: I never actually measure the ingredients, I just eyeball everything.)

1 banana

1 cup of frozen fruit

1/2 cup of liquid

Adjust slightly this way or that to get the correct consistency. It can change slightly from one combination to the next.

Add all ingredients to a blender, you want just enough liquid that it starts to blend smoothly. If things freeze up and stop moving when blending, remove and shake the blender and add another ounce of liquid until it blends smoothly. Continue to blend for about 20 seconds. Pour into serving glasses and immediately fill the blender with about a cup of hot water and a tiny drop of soap, blend it on the pulse setting a few times and pour out the soapy water into the sink. Rinse the blender clean and then enjoy your smoothie.

Here are my three favorites

Mango Smoothie

1/2 cup of canned coconut cream*

1 cup frozen mango chunks

2 bananas

Empty can of coconut cream into microwave save dish and microwave for 15-20 seconds, mix until you get a consistent thick coconut cream in it’s liquid state.

Citrus Berry Smoothie

1 cup frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries

2 peeled seedless oranges

1 banana

Tropical Booze Berry Smoothie

1/2 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup frozen raspberries

1/2 cup orange juice

1 banana, frozen

1 oz coconut rum

Museli Wheat Bread

I took a regular wheat oat bread recipe and used museli in place of the oatmeal.

The museli mix I used contains sunflower seeds, almonds, dried apple, dried cranberry, raisins, coconut, pumpkin seeds and rice crisp to make a very flavorful bread that makes amazing avocado toast and peanut butter sandwiches.

Ingredients

2 cups boiling water

1 cup museli breakfast mix

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

4 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 packet yeast

1 1/2 cup wheat flour

4 cups bread flour

Combine boiling water, museli, sugar, honey, butter, salt and cinnamon. Stir and allow to cool to 110 degrees. (~10-15 minutes)

Add yeast and incorporate flour one cup at a time. Knead until smooth ~10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and rise for 60 minutes or until doubled.

Divide for two smaller loafs or leave as one larger loaf.

Shape bread and rest another 30 to 40 minutes before placing in the oven.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent with aluminum after 25 minutes if needed.

Masala Chai

A lot of people are unaware the word chai literally means ‘tea’ so ordering a ‘chai tea’ is essentially ordering a ‘tea, tea’ but what you get is ‘spiced’ tea or ‘masala’ chai.

Generally in the winter I switch from drinking coffee to drinking spiced tea. I have a really hard time finding a place that serves a good chai. I really enjoy Bangalore Rose Chai from Enjoyingtea.com but alas I ran out. I also enjoy a good sweet coconut ginger tea with vanilla and coconut milk. Instead of reordering I got the chance to ask the magical question…

Can I make my own?

The answer is yes.

What is in chai? Some, but not all of these things:

Core ingredients:

  • water
  • milk (I find milk alternatives blend better with the flavors)
  • sugar or maple syrup
  • black tea
  • cinnamon
  • clove
  • black pepper
  • cardamom
  • ginger

Additional ingredients I found and tried

  • nutmeg
  • mint
  • lemongrass
  • fennel
  • star anise
  • vanilla
  • rose petals
  • corriander

Recipe? Well now. That’s a bit harder, your nose and taste buds will tell you.

There are so many ways to make spiced chai, because people all have different tastes so dont be afraid to experiment and write your own recipe.

It doesn’t matter if you have the whole or powdered version of the spice or some of both, that is completely ok. Using the internet to look up dozens of Masala Chai recipes let’s call the following ingredients the core of the recipe, nearly every recipe I looked at had these ingredients, the quantities and extra additional ingredients surrounding them can change drastically from recipe to recipe… but we have to start somewhere? right?

Actually that lead me somewhere interesting but I wasn’t the right place, not all chai is the same… I went back to square one and looked at the ingredients list of the chai I drink the most and make up amounts of those ingredients, and then tried mixing them around until I was happy with the result.

Instruction:

Using your smallest sauce pan start with about 2.5 – 3 cups of water brought to a simmer and three tablespoons of loose leaf black tea. or a few tea bags. If like me your smallest sauce pan is being used then you may do this via the microwave in a pinch.

My base chai recipe:

2.5 cups water

3/4 cup Almond milk

1.5 Tablespoons black tea (Behora Assam)

1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon

10 black pepper corns

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

2 thin slices ginger

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon corriander

3-4 tablespoons sugar, white granulated

Ok, you could totally stop there if you feel lost but for the adventurous spice users. I find smelling the steam and then smelling the individual spices helps me decide what to add. Once you decide then add in small amounts and taste your way to the correct amount but make sure to write it down.

Let the spices and the tea simmer for about 5 minutes add 1 or even 2 cups of milk, sugar/maple syrup/ vanilla once removed from the heat. steep for a few brief minutes.

Pour though a strainer (or maybe a coffee filter for powdered recipes) to separate the tea and spices.

Good luck in finding the perfect spiced tea!

Curry!!!

I made up a batch of Curry Powder the other day.

  • 2 tablespoons ground corriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Then from that I made Coconut Curry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon avocado or other cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • lemon zest from one small lemon
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • fresh chopped basil or 6 frozen basil cubes

Add oil to pan, saute red pepper flakes and garlic until fragrant. about 20-30 seconds. Add curry powder and stir and cook for a minute or so. Add two tablespoons of coconut milk to a teaspoon of corn starch and mix well and set aside. Add the rest of the coconut milk to the pan along with the lemon zest, soy sauce and sugar. Bring to a simmer and let cook for several minutes. Not all coconut milk is the same and a good coconut milk will turn into a nice thick sauce while some remain more liquid, they both taste the same in the end. Remove from heat and add basil, I used some frozen basil cubes for mine.


Curried Fried Potato Salad = comfort food

  • 2 tablespoons Avocado oil or other high heat oil
  • 1 large russet potato, diced into small bite sized cubes
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 cup cashews, toasted
  • 1/2 cup coconut curry sauce, heated

Heat oil in pan, add potato and onion and cook until crispy and browned, about 10 minutes.

One the side toast the cashews in a pan and set aside (Essentially you are making breakfast potatoes.) Once cooked remove from pan to a bowl, add the toasted cashews on top and pour 1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut curry over the top depending on serving size.


Then the next day I also made Curried Chicken Rice from the same batch of coconut curry

  • 1 cup of dry rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cashews, toasted
  • 1 left over chicken breast, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup coconut curry
  • 1 avocado, diced

Make the rice. While it is cooking chop the chicken breast, toast the cashews in a dry pan, prepare the peas depending on if they are canned or frozen. When the rice is done cooking, mix the rice, cashews, chicken and fully combine, then fold in the peas(gently if they are soft). Mix in diced avocado directly to the serving bowl just before being served.

Bay Rum & Vanilla Soap

This is a hot process soap with a moderate water discount using the following recipe:

lard 40%

coconut 20%

olive 25%

rice bran 5%

shea butter 5%

castor 5%

I blended bay rum with vanilla fragrance, I didn’t try much for a design here as it’s going to darken quite a bit due to the vanilla. I did not do a fluid HP. I sort of smooshed this down into the mold and banged it on the table for a while. I superfated this with the shea butter. I really like the rustic look of hot process soap.

Here is the color transition over a month, I was expecting to get a little darker discoloration from the vanilla than this, perhaps it will get there in time.

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Day 1

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Day 15

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Day 36

Shea & Apricot Lotion Recipe

If you are not using a stick blender I recommend getting one of the cheap ones, but if you are hand mixing make sure you mix it for several minutes, rest, mix, rest, mix some more. I have had a few hand mixed lotions fail to fully emulsify because I thought I had mixed it enough.

heat phase

22.68 g emulsifying wax

8.5 g stearic acid

15 g shea butter

5.66 g coconut oil

10 g Apricot kernel oil

8.5 g rice bran oil

cool down/emulsification phase

8.5  honeyquat

333 g distilled water (hot)

100 g isopropyl myristate

apricot fragrance

1% Optiphen

 

Argan & Nettle Hair Conditioner

I’ve tried a few different variations but this one seems to be my favorite. I prefer Argan oil over jojoba, avocado and hemp seed oils and I prefer nettle over cucumber, lotus and carrot. I’m just going to put my favorite things together into one conditioner. This recipe will make 70 oz and fill 4 conditioner bottles.

Materials

1758 g distilled water

121 g BTMS-50

24 g DL-Panthenol

28 g nettle extract

28 g hydrolyzed oats

24 g Argan oil

.24 g fragrance (optional)

1% Preservative, I used Optiphen-ND

Instruction

In a double boiler, melt BTMS-50 and Argan oils together.

In a mixing bowl heat the distilled water to 150 degrees. Whisk the DL-Panthenol into the water and mix until dissolved.

Add the melted BTMS and Argan slowly to the distilled water while whisking constantly. Using a stick blender, blend in 5 second bursts until well combined. Add the nettle extract, Hydrolyzed oats, fragrance and preservative, blending again as you add each. The preservative should be the final ingredient added. Once all ingredients are added blend in bursts for 1 or two minutes.

Using a pH test strip, test the conditioner, you will want it in the 5-6 range, you can bring the number lower by adding a small amount of citric acid dissolved in distilled water, blend it all again and retest.

Once the pH is to your liking then continue to blend in bursts every 5- 10 minutes until the temperature drops below 120 degrees and it has started to thicken slightly. You want to pour it into bottles before it thickens too much which can make for a messy pour. To prevent condensation let the bottles sit without the lids for several hours, until they are room temperature, before caping.

 

 

 

Infused Butter Lip Balms

It’s become fairly easy to order infused butters, I selected a few that were lip safe and made some samplers to try out. The cranberry and the green tea do not have any flavor or scent in the final product but the coffee and orange scents come through quite strong.

This is a lip balm micro batch recipe. It makes 3 standard lip balm tubes.

For my lips balms I did a combination of cranberry/green tea, a combination of orange/green tea and one with just coffee butter. The orange/green tea was by far the best.

Ingredients

3.5 grams candellila wax

5.5 grams lip safe infused butter

1.75 grams sweet almond oil

1.75 grams cocoa butter

.75 grams avocado oil

Instruction

Melt all ingredients in a double boiler, heat gently and thoroughly. Pour into lip balm tubes. Cap once completely cooled.

Fry Bread

If you drive through Arizona in the American Southwest all of the Indian Reservations sell these along the side of the road and occasionally I get cravings for them.

Ingredients

Honey

4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbs baking powder

1 1/2 cup warm water

oil for frying

 

Instruction

Combine dry ingredients, stir in water, kneed until soft but not sticky, shape into Tenis ball sized portions. Cover them with a warm damp cloth.

In a frying pan heat an inch of Avocado oil to med-high. Flatten out a dough ball to cover an area the size of your outstretched hand, poke a hole in the center.

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Place (one at a time) gently into the oil and cook for 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown. They will shrink and puff up a bit while cooking.

Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain the excess oil. Once slightly cooled the traditional topping is to add a generous amount of honey and to eat them while they are still warm.