Let’s Get Agitated

washing machineToday we are going to discuss homemade laundry solutions. Had you going for a minute, making you think I was posting pet peeves and spewing righteous indignation. Nope. We are going to come clean in several other ways – detergent, fabric softener and stain remover ways.  I am not making my own products because I am preventing global warming, reducing my carbon footprint or parading for Green Peace.  I am making them so that I have complete knowledge of all the ingredients involved and also because it is so much cheaper. And who doesn’t like cheaper? I have pinterested myself to death over these recipes until I found the ones that work for me.  Mind you, no one reinvented the wheel here.  Your great-grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave laughing at us because these are things she used all the time before industrialized mass production made us all lazy senseless mass consumers. So here are my favorites, with links to the pages attached to the titles.

Powdered Laundry Detergent – This one was tough for me because I do so love the smell of Gain in all its glory.  (Yeah I hear you. Gain has scent beads now, but have you priced them!!!) But looking at it a different way – now the laundry scent does not interact with my perfume.  Mind you, if Gain made a perfume, I would probably wear it.

Now, most people swear by Fels Naptha. Personally, I cannot stand the stuff.  I do not like the smell or consistency.  However, Fels Naptha does seem superior in getting out oil based stains, strong odors and the urishol oils from poison oak, sumac and ivy. So if you have laundry with these characteristics, Fels Naptha may be the soap for you.  I personally prefer Zote, even though it is trickier to grate and blend (unless you buy it pre-flaked).  BTW – according to their website, there is no difference in the pink, blue or white Zote soap other than color. Face it. Pink just looks prettier and we are all swayed by appearances.

The following is touted to be a years worth of detergent for a family of 4. This batch ran me about $28. Without the Purex crystals it would be around $18.

Ingredients:
3 bars Fels Naptha or 2 bars Zote Soap
1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax (76 ounces)
1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (55 ounces)
1 LARGE box of baking soda (4 pounds)
Oxyclean ( 3 pounds generic – it is $3 at Family Dollar)
Purex Crystals (1or 2,  55 ounce containers – purely optional)

Use 2 Tablespoons per normal load. Super stinky or filthy, use 3-4 tablespoons as needed.

Step 1 – Gather all of your ingredients and a ginormous bucket or container – we are talking laundry basket size here folks.  Some people mix it up in doubled black garbage bags but you better have good upper body strength as it is unwieldy and bags may rip.
Step 2 – Grate the soap. Fels Naptha is a hard bar and grates up finer than Zote.  When grating Zote, grate in small batches and toss with one of the powders to coat the strands and prevent clumping.  If you want it finer, you can process the soap grates with some of the powder in the food processor.
Step 3 – Mix it all up.  It works best of you alternate the ingredients in layers, like you would lasagna, to make mixing it evenly easier. Store in an airtight container.  It can clump so I use a rice bag in each large container as prevention.
Note:  The Purex crystals add color and scent to the initial product, i.e it looks prettier and has a scent that you are used to smelling in powdered detergents.  However, I have found that the scent does not stay through the rinse cycle.  So next time I will eliminate this $10 addition for even bigger savings.

Fabric Softener – I liked this recipe because I had some Purex Crystals leftover and it worked very well. Not a strong scent – just softness with a clean subtle scent. The vinegar tones down the stronger scent of the crystals. Note:  If you are really cheap, one cup of vinegar alone in the rinse cycle works well also, but leaves a no scent at all. I think this works better and leaves  just enough scent to say “I’m Clean!”.

1/4-1/2 cup Purex Crystals
1 cup hot water
1 cup baking soda
6 cups distilled vinegar.

Use 1/2 cup per load.

Step 1 – Mix together the hot water and crystals in a glass bowl. Set aside.
Step 2 – Place baking soda in a LARGE LARGE bowl. VERY VERY SLOWLY add the vinegar, stirring until the baking soda dissolves.  If you add to much or rush you will experience Mount Vesuvius spewing baking soda and vinegar to the far reaches of your kitchen kingdom. See chemical reaction here -and you are using a much larger amount.
Step 3 – Add in the dissolved crystals. Mix well and pour in your container. DO NOT SHAKE for a few hours.  Remember Mount Vesuvius. However, do shake prior to each use.
Note:  I have found that the crystals take a long time to dissolve, so I go ahead and add them semi-dissolved in Step 3 and let them dissolve over time.

Stain Remover – I store this in an old dish detergent bottle for easier application. It does tend to separate, so just shake well before each use. This even removed some stains I had left on clothes after using Shout brand stain remover. NOTE:  Do not use on anything you plan to wash with chlorine bleach.

2/3 cup of Dawn
2/3 cup ammonia
6 Tablespoons baking soda
2 cups warm water

Mix well and place in a spray bottle or condiment squeeze bottle. Shake before each use.

There are simpler recipes, more involved recipes, greener recipes, smaller batch recipes and so on.  But these have worked well for me leaving me with clean soft clothes that have not experienced any noticeable fading over the last three months.  So go ahead and take them for a spin.

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‘Tis The Seasoning

seasoningYes, it is that time of year – holiday parties, football gatherings, office pot luck. And what is the most common denominator – FOOD! With all the appetizers, dips and crock pot adventures, many recipes will call for common seasoning packets. If you are allergic to wheat (like me) or sensitive to gluten, these packets are our nemesis.  So, in light of all the gatherings to come, I have rounded up recipes for the most common seasoning packets that are wheat/gluten friendly. I cannot take credit for the recipes as I am merely passing on the ones I have tried and like.  Links to original sites are available on each recipe. So go ahead and make your favorites and enjoy the holidays with a few minor adjustments.

Side Note:  Please make sure you are using gluten free spices. Here is a list of gluten free spice brands for your reference.

Taco Seasoning Mix Courtesy of lifeafterbread.blogspot.com.

2 teaspoons minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Mix together. This makes the equivalent of one store bought packet.

Chili Seasoning Mix Courtesy of lifeafterbread.blogspot.com

1/4 cup gluten free flour blend
1 teaspoon xantham gum
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1 Tablespoon dried minced garlic
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or seasoned pepper)

Mix ingredients. Use 2 Tablespoons per pound of ground beef.

Onion Soup Mix With Bouillon – courtesy of Food.com

3/4 cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup gluten free beef bouillon powder (I use Herb-Ox)
4 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed celery seed
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients.  5 Tablespoons equal one store bought packet.

Onion Soup Mix Without Bouillon (because sometimes I just don’t have it on hand). Courtesy of glutenfreeandaffordable.com and it uses that magical mystical turmeric!

3/4 cup minced dried onion
1 Tablespoon parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Soup or Sauce Mix (SOS) – courtesy of Utah State University (click for recipe booklet)

2 cups powdered nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup gluten free instant chicken bouillon (I use Herb-Ox)
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Recipe makes the equivalent of 9 cans of cream soup.  Use 1/3 cup SOS to 1 and 1/4 cups water. Whisk until well blended. Heat to thicken.

Potato soup – add 1 cup cooked potato cubes
Mushroom soup – add 4 ounce can of mushroom drained
Tomato soup – add 2 cups tomato sauce
Cheese sauce – add one cup of cheese

There are loads of recipes and substitutions in the booklet linked above.

I have not tried any DIY Ranch Dressing packet recipes yet because frankly I don’t need it bad enough to hunt down powdered buttermilk. So far I have survived without it. But if it is a staple for you – best of luck and more power to you!

Well, I hope these will come in handy over the holidays and throughout the year.

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Better Not, Butternut

butternut

Sorry, title is an inside joke, but this is the recipe for my sister Kelly and my Uncle Phil’s favorite soup that I make for them. It has been given as a “get well”, “happy birthday”, and “things will get better gift”.  The spiciness can be adjusted for taste. The 1/8 teaspoon cayenne as shown is perfect for me, but Kelly and Uncle Phil like it a tad more spicy.

The hardest part of the whole process is peeling the darn thing! Butternut squash is oddly shaped and a standard peeler cannot cut through the skin. For the longest time I “shaved” the squash with a sharp knife – effective but dangerous for my fingers! Then my mom bought me a heavy duty vegetable peeler and now it is easy breezy.

This is a perfect fall soup – warm, filling, and colorful. It also freezes well for up to 3 months.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 Tbsp. chopped onion
4 Tbsp. butter
6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
3 cups chicken broth or stock (gluten free like Kitchen Basics or Aldi brand)
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (8 oz.) pkg of cream cheese (works best at room temp)

In a LARGE saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender. Add squash, chicken broth, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook about 20-30 minutes until squash is tender.

Puree the squash mixture and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth.

Return to saucepan and heat through – do not allow to boil.

Serve immediately or freeze up to 3 months.

Hope you enjoy!

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Winter Wellness Wonders

soupWell winter is on its way bringing cool crisp weather, holiday spirits and loads of germs and viruses. Yippee!  This year I plan to be prepared with more natural solutions and preventative measures. I want to avoid that icky over-medicated feeling that so many OTC meds leave you with. I also want to avoid antibiotics and prescription drugs as much as possible. So I have pinned and searched and arrived at what I think is a fairly decent arsenal.  Some may appeal to you while others leave you shaking your head wondering when I will start braiding hemp and singing kum ba yah.  For your convenience, and to give credit where credit is due, I have embedded the links to the web pages of the original source. Please make use of these links as they provide more detail as to the hows of whys of ingredients.

1. Homemade Lysol – thank you Kate!
50 -100 drops rosemary essential oil
10 ounces of water
glass bottle with spray lid

WHY – Have you ever read the cautions on disinfectant sprays? Hazardous to humans and animals? Wash thoroughly off skin?  I, like may others, doused my sheets and pillows frequently with this canned stuff. Not anymore!

2. Hot Toddy!!! (Almost makes you want to get sick).

2 ounces whiskey ( I use Bushmills Irish Honey – triple distilled to avoid wheat allergy)
1 Tbsp raw honey
4 ounces hot water
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix, stir, drink, be happy!
WHY:  Because I like any excuse to drink Irish whiskey (remember my heritage).

3. Tomato Tea Soup
2 cups V8 or tomato juice
2-3 cloves fresh chopped garlic (minimum 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp hot sauce (minimum)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of celery salt

Heat and sip.  Sorry but I have had this recipe for awhile and have no idea where I got it.
WHY – Because apparently burning your intestinal tract kills germs!

4. Elderberry Syrup – thank you again Kate!
2/3 cup black elderberries (again – no control – click here)
3 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp fresh or dried ginger root
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp cloves or clove powder
1 cup raw honey.

Pour the water in a medium saucepan and add berries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 45-60 minutes until liquid volume reduced by half. Remove and cool down.

Pour the liquid through a strainer and into a glass bowl. Discard the berries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When no longer hot, mix in the honey. Mix well and pour into a 16oz jar.

Adults take 1/2-1 Tbsp daily. If you have a cold or flu increase timing to every 2-3 hours.
WHY:  An ounce of prevention blah blah blah. Plus it tastes much better than liquid Nyquil, Dayquil or Tylenol and does not have the side effects and dangers of other OTC and prescription meds.

5.  Healing Salves – thank you Camp Wander, Mommypotamus, and theprairiehomestead, whose ideas and recipes are incorporated below.

Salve base:  fills FIVE 4 ounce jars
1 cup of coconut oil,
1 cup of olive oil and
4 heaping tablespoons of beeswax pastilles or grated beeswax.

Place ingredients in a glass jar and slowly melt in a water bath. Line up jars and fill bottoms with essential oil blends chosen (see below). Then pour oil mixture up to 1/2 inch from rim. Allow to cool and harden then seal tightly.

Essential Oil Blends:

Fake Vicks:  20 drops each of eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary.

Thieves (Plague) Blend:  20 drops clove, 18 drops lemon, 10 drops cinnamon bark, 8 drops eucalyptus and 5 drops rosemary.  Using sparingly on soles of feet.

Allergies – 10 drops each of lemon, lavender and peppermint

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Sisters – A Study in Contradiction

Let me preface this latest blog by stating that I truly love my sister. We may call each other names and make snarky comments to each other, but it is all based in that strange sarcastic and warped love that we share for each other – a total unconditional love that was taught to us by our wonderful wacky family.

As I was working through a migraine today, my sister called to tell me how well her new diet was going. My first thought was not “congratulations”. Far from it. Well, maybe not that far – just one letter back from the “c”. Now my sister can think about a diet and lose weight. I can go on the same diet and gain weight. She was touting the benefits of oatmeal to keep her full (I eat it every morning – it makes me hungrier) and diet water to flush her system. Now all you girls know about this water with the lemons, limes, cucumber, and mint. I tried this for a week. I peed all day and still suffered water retention. I gained 2 pounds. This made me think of how opposite my sister and I truly are, despite sharing the same parentage.

THE PHYSICAL – My sister has mostly Dearing family traits. This means she is tall, willowy and graceful. I fear for her during heavy winds. I am mainly Webb – we are of good stock. This means thunder thighs, large butts and large boobs. Small families anchor themselves to us during hurricanes.

HAIR – My sister has straight manageable hair that can handle any current trendy style – long, short, stacked, you name it. Her gray hair comes in and looks like expensive salon highlights. My hair? Well, imagine Shirley Temple meets Buckwheat….in a wind chamber. And my gray hair comes in spots – like a Dalmatian. Thank goodness for Clairol 7G!!

PREGNANCY – When my sister was pregnant you could not tell unless she turned sideways. She birthed three kids in under 6 hours each, then went home each time to mop the floors for company. When I was pregnant, the National Department of Traffic and Safety installed lights and back up alarms on my hips. I had one child after 32 hours of labor. My floors were dirty and I didn’t give a flying flapjack.

STYLE: My sister has the style and fashion sense of a gaggle of distinguished gay men. She accessorizes her pj’s in case of an emergency evacuation. My sense of style would cause a gay man to run back into the closet – as long as it wasn’t my closet. I consider myself accessorized if I remember my watch.

GARDENING: She knows the names of all the plants and flowers, where they grow best, what insects they attract, blah blah blah. She planted an English Garden in her back yard with a sitting nook. My yard is a cross between The Nightmare Before Christmas and Dune. I planted my butt in the backyard with a lawn chair.

MENTAL: My sister has the Dearing trait of manageable OCD. She is calm, organized and methodical. She could probably plan the perfect murder. Downside – her foods can’t touch on the plate. “I am Webb” – a phrase that could strike fear in a Navy Seal. I could commit the perfect murder. Downside – I break all my plates during Webb fits.

Despite all this, my sister is my best friend, my confidant and my partner in crime. When God created sisters, I think he was working on a yin and yang format. Opposing strengths and weaknesses balance each other out to form the perfect indestructible unit. I just wish that when He planned our sisterhood that it wasn’t Truth or Dare Day – and I was the Dare.

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It’s Okay to be Clustered

granolaOh Granola – How I love thee. Let me count the ways. But thou dost spurn me with thine cost!

Regular granola is expensive enough, but GF granola? Scandalous!  KIND granola and LOVE GROWN granola are the ones I typically purchase as they are relatively easy to find in any grocery at an average cost of $5 for 11 ounces.  So I scoured the internet once again in search of a solution for my dilemma. OMG, SMH, and many more acronyms spewed forth from my lips! Apparently the entire civilized world is furiously creating granola recipes and posting them on the internet in case all granola factories are shut down during the next recession or doomsday apocalypse.

As luck would have it, one of my favorite sites came to my rescue. I love you Gluten Free on a Shoe String! I tried her Copycat Kind Maple Quinoa Clusters recipe. The flavor was very good but I had trouble with the clustering aspect. So I found a solution from  TheKitchn.com.  I also made later revisions based on personal preferences.  Below is the version I use, but by all means, check out the recipe link above also.  It seems granola can be a very personal thing.

Maple Pumpkin Seed Granola

6 Tbsp brown rice flour
1/2 cup of Gluten free oat flour or almond flour
1 tsp sea salt
6 Tbsp pumpkin seeds (OR  chopped almonds, pistachios, walnuts, sunflowers, etc)
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 cup quinoa
3 cups Gluten Free rolled oats
1/2 cup oil (canola, vegetable or melted coconut)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar (coconut palm sugar or light brown sugar)
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp molasses (unsulphured)
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 egg white, beaten until frothy and foamy

(1) In a large bowl, mix together the first 8 dry ingredients. Pour in oil and combine very very thoroughly until all the items are fully coated.

(2) In a medium saucepan on low flame, heat together the maple syrup, sugar and molasses just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

(3) Pour the liquid onto the oat mixture and again mix together thoroughly. It gets very sticky. I found it helpful to use a greased metal spoon.

(4) Beat the egg white until frothy and foamy.  Add to the oat mixture and blend thoroughly.

(5) Pour out onto a baking sheet pan covered in parchment. Press mixture down into the pan with greased hands or a greased spatula or wax paper.

(6) Bake at 275 degrees for 30-40 minutes, turning the tray every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes, then break into clusters. Return to oven for 10 more minutes if not cooked through. (I found 30 minutes to be just perfect and did not need to return it to the oven).  Check the granola frequently to make sure you reach your desired level of “golden brown”.

(7) Allow granola to air dry overnight to ensure crunch. Store in an airtight container (preferably glass).

Now making your own granola can get very pricey if you let it. Your best option is to buy your ingredients from the bins at health food stores and only in the amounts needed.  But if you have a major crush on the clusters, it may behoove you to buy the larger prepackaged bags of the ingredients.

UPDATE:  For a plain and simple but YUMMY granola recipe I recently found, click here. Thank you Wallflour Girl.

Go get granola happy!

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The Growing Gluten Free Market

gf1In the past years, since I have developed a severe wheat allergy, I have struggled with grocery shopping. I was going to numerous stores to complete my grocery list and the cost of my groceries greatly increased. As we all know, eating healthier is always more expensive.

But lately I have been impressed by the growing availability and labeling of gluten-free products. My nearby Krogers (and many other Kroger’s) have remodeled their stores and enlarged their natural food sections. Kroger is also providing their own line of gluten-free foods – most recently their pastas. This is in conjunction with their Simple Truth Line of organic items already being marketed.

Aldi (being international) is very good about labeling their products Gluten Free and has also added new GF baking mixes to their product line. Aldi is growing fast in my area with at least four stores within my reach. They are very reasonably priced, and with limited items and clear labeling, shopping goes much faster for me.

Mueller’s, Ronzoni and Barilla now also offer GF pastas in their products lines. Nature’s Valley Granola Bars now come Gluten Free at a reasonable price. More and more name brands are addressing the gluten-free market. Please jump on board Quaker Oats!!! You have nothing to lose and the market is hot!

This may not seem important to many, but to those of us with food allergies and illnesses it means greater variety, and more importantly…reduced costs. The more mainstream the products and labeling become, the more competition for consumers. Big win for us!

Side Note – Please still read all the labels!  Some will state produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Others may state they are produced in a factory that also produces wheat.  Make sure you are comfortable with the level of protection offered by each product.

I have also found more restaurant chains altering and increasing their menus to add GF meals.  My top safe faves – Chipotle’s, Five Guys (yeah fries!!), and Outback (yeah chocolate cake!!).  These guys cater to the GF crowd and are far from aggravated by your requests and questions.  BUT, wherever you are, always be careful when ordering.  A dish may state it is gluten-free, but preparation may easily cause cross contamination.  Gluten free pasta being boiled in the same water regular pasta was boiled in is ALWAYS a dangerous factor to be addressed. The same goes with items fried in a common fryer instead of one designated for gluten-free use only. Always make sure your server is aware and makes the kitchen aware of your food allergy.  If necessary, call the manager over to make sure the kitchen is informed. It may seem embarrassing to you and a nuisance to the restaurant, but I guarantee it is less of a nuisance than a diner in anaphylactic shock and an ambulance parked in their lot.  As I tell my fellow diners, no food is worth dying for.

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Facial Recognition

oilSince I have already posted on using oil as a body moisturizer, it is time get more specific and address facial moisturizers.  I won’t lie. This can get costly if you do not have essential oils and carriers on hand. However, one ounce can last 2-3 months and there are no artificial ingredients, chemicals or questionable contents. Also, it is about the same price as some of those wrinkle products and retin A products that are so popular. You can adjust the essential oils to your needs – oily, acne prone, dry, or maturing skin. My formula is for a woman of experience (i.e. mature) who is trying to                                                               maintain elasticity, moisture and resist wrinkles.

Facial Oil – 1 ounce ( for mature skin)
Jojoba Oil: 1 Tbsp = 1/2 ounce
Rosehip Seed Oil: 1.5 tsp = 1/4 ounce
Grapeseed Oil: 1.5 tsp = 1/4 ounce
Carrot seed oil – 4 drops
Sea Buckthorn oil – 8 drops
Vitamin E – 1/8 tsp
Frankincense: 4 drops
Myrhh: 3 drops
Lavender: 4 drops
Rose: 1-2 drops

When you start out – start simple. Use a single carrier oil like grapeseed, olive oil,  jojoba oil. Add one or 2 essential oils (using on average 10-20 total drops per ounce of carrier oil). See if you like using oil on your face before investing a lot of money.

Several essential oils are useful in all skin types and you will see them frequently repeated.

Acne: tea tree, lavender, rose geranium, palma rosa, sandalwood
Dry: carrot seed, geranium, lavender, palma rosa, sandalwood, rose
Sensitive: roman chamomile, rose, palma rosa, carrot
Normal: geranium, lavender, rose, ylang ylang
Oily: geranium, lavender, peppermint, ylang ylang, lemon, rose, sandalwood

This is where I buy my essential oils. Since you only need a few drops of the essential oils, you could easily by the $2 and $3 sample packs that contain 20-30 drops and that would be plenty and relatively inexpensive.

If you want to try a pre-made facial oil first, I can recommend the oils sold on the CrunchyBetty website. I thoroughly liked the Royally Flawless oil. I started making my own facial oil so that I could adjust the ingredients to my specific needs.

P.S. – A little trick you can try is to save the brown glass bottles that your extracts come in (like vanilla, almond, etc) that have the hard plastic lid (no metal) and wash them well, sterilize and use for your formulas. Be sure to remove any paper liners in the lids.

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Gluten Free Banana Pudding

banana2I hear most of you saying “of course banana pudding is gluten free”.  Not true my glutinous friends.  The common vanilla wafer or cookie is not GF and, believe it or not, some pudding mixes and whipped toppings say right on the box “may contain wheat”.  But my family thrives on banana pudding so a few simple swaps let us continue to enjoy this traditional southern treat.

cookie

Swap One :  The Cookie.  I have tried several different variations and by far my favorite vanilla wafer substitute is the Kinnikinnick K- Kritter.  It has a great flavor with the pudding and a similar crunch to softness in the pudding that the vanilla wafer usually offers. However, these are very popular and often sell out. So in a pinch, I have used the MI-DEL Arrowroot Cookies.  But be prepared, the MI-DEL cookies, even though sealed tightly, often have a stale texture.  But this is easily masked (literally)  in banana pudding.

Swap Two: I always use JELL-O Brand vanilla pudding.  I still read the label to guarantee my safety.  Many store brands say “may contain wheat” or “processed in a facility that also processes wheat”.  And every time a store label changes, I have to start all over again.  So name brand it is for me.

Swap Three:  I always use Cool Whip brand (KRAFT always lists glutens on their labels) whipped topping for the same reasons as stated above for the pudding.  Now why on earth there would be wheat in whipped topping is beyond me.  But as the adage goes “Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die”.

And here is the family favorite recipe for a 9×13 pan of bodacious banana pudding:

8 ounces of sour cream
8 ounces of Cool Whip – thawed
5 ounce package of JELL-O instant vanilla pudding
2 cups of whole milk (2% will work okay but not skim – this is not health food!)
1 box of Kinnikinnick K-Kritters (plain, not graham or chocolate)
3-4 large bananas

In a large bowl combine the milk and pudding mix. Add in the sour cream and beat until all lumps are gone.  Add in the Cool Whip and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Layer the cookies in the bottom and along the sides of a 9×13 pan. Slice the bananas and place on top of the cookies. Pour all of the pudding mixture on top and refrigerate.

This is best when refrigerated overnight. That being said, I have had no complaints when it only had a one hour chill time.

Hope you enjoy!

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It’s a Slippery Slope

grape3

Today I thought I would address the issue of body moisturizers.  Having sensitive skin, overly fragranced and inexpensive lotions not only irritate my skin, but also fail to provide any true moisture.  Which is a shame, as some of them smell fantastic. I have bought expensive “extreme relief” moisturizers for sensitive skin that supposedly can turn a seasoned fisherman’s skin as soft as a baby’s butt. However, it must be a baby rhino’s butt because they have offered me only a temporary fix.  They feel fantastic for an hour or so but by the end of the day I am dry skinned yet again.  Some swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft oil or any baby oil applied in or right out of the shower. Having tried this I can only compare it to how it must feel to play on a slip and slide covered in Crisco. Not being the best balanced of creatures, I could only see a potential and embarrassing 911 call in my future. Heck, they are on my speed dial.  So what is a girl to do? After seeing news articles, hearing things on tv and searching the web, I decided to try natural oils – yes oils.

Who knew that there was such a thing as “dry” oils – not I.  These oils absorb quickly into the skin and do not leave excess or greasy residue. The favorite dry oil I tried was grapeseed oil (cold pressed extra virgin) that can be found in the common grocery or retail store. Oh me oh my. I applied sparingly and rubbed diligently into my arms first. It all absorbed and my arms felt smooth and soft. Did it last all day – yes! Did I smell like a line cook – no! My daughter even asked if I had shaved my arms to make them that smooth – alas I did not have to go to that extreme. Many people use olive oil but I have found it to be heavier and much slower to absorb – for me personally anyway.

Now that I have forayed into using oil as a moisturizer, I have done what I typically do – I have become obsessed! I have blended different oils together.  I have added essential oils (a love of mine).  I have purchased enough little brown bottles over the internet that I fear Homeland Security is tracking me. Don’t get me wrong, the plain grapeseed oil works great by itself. But I am female – therefore I cannot leave well enough alone.  I must tinker and toy with it.  Don’t deny it – you do too!

So here is the basic recipe I have settled on after many trials. I did not add any essential oils that would fragrance the base oils so that I could wear my favorite perfumes without fear of strange mingling scents.*  However, feel free to experiment – lavender or sandalwood would make great starting points as they smell great and are both very beneficial to the skin.

One 4 ounce amber glass jar with lid
3 ounces grapeseed oil
1 ounce jojoba oil
16 drops carrot seed oil (shake well after each drop)
1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil (nutrient plus it helps oil from going rancid)

*The carrot seed oil does lend a hint of musky scent to the mix, but it is mild and fades.

Store away from heat and direct light.

You could experiment with argan oil, rosehip seed oil, sea buckthorn and essential oils that are great for skin issues. I tend to stick with this basic batch because it is effective and relatively inexpensive. I save the costlier items for my facial oil (which we will get to at another time).

Note:  This is where I buy my essential oils and bottles. The bottles are cheap and I like that I can buy just a little essential oil or a lot as needed. The samples are great when trying new recipes and 20-30 drops go a long way.

Go grapeseed!

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