Monday, March 30, 2009

Homemade Conditioner for Your Hair

I've been making our own conditioner for over a year now. While I played around with the "recipe" for a bit, I've finally figured out a good base recipe. I decided to post this here, as it is something you make in your kitchen; kitchens and cooking aren't just for food!
So here is my recipe for Homemade Conditioner:

I use a 1/2 gallon glass milk jug to hold the conditioner. The first thing I add is some apple cider.

As you can see, I fill it up to that base line. If you're using a different type of glass jar, you can guess-timate, or add about a cup worth of apple cider vinegar (err on the less side).
Depending on the season, I will also add up to a 1/2 cup of lemon juice to help lighten up my hair some. I didn't do it this time as I am currently plenty blonde. This would be where you could add other herbs or juices to help infuse your hair with extra color if you wished.

This next step is optional. As you can see in the above photo, I add one tea bag each of Chamomile & Lavender tea and Nettle tea. Chamomile tea is a good herbal conditioner in and of itself ~ I chose the blend just because I liked the scent. I use Nettle tea as nettles are also very good for your hair and scalp. You don't have to use any tea, you can just use plain water if you'd like - it's your choice. However, if you DO use tea, heed this: "warm up" your glass jar first by swirling some hot water inside it and also on the outside (it will feel warm to the touch, just as a nice mug would) -- if not, you run the risk of the glass breaking when you pour boiling water in! I put my tea bags directly in the glass jar and get some water boiling. I will pour the water in after the next step.

Yes, that is beer. Preferably, you want the beer flat. Mainly because then you don't have to worry about waiting for the head to die down. Drink half the beer, pour the other half into the jar. Although you don't have to use beer, this is the ingredient I consider the *key* ingredient. Beer is wonderful at conditioning your hair and I've noticed a great change in my hair since I started adding the beer. Any beer will do. We homebrew, so I use beer I like (you might as well). This was a brown ale, and it has worked quite well. Last time I made conditioner I used some of our Stout beer. It was pure heaven!! The scent was stronger (though it does NOT stay in your hair - you can just smell it while you're in the shower, then it is gone) and this was something I really liked, but that was more thanks to the stout beer than anything else. I wouldn't use miller lite or budweiser, but then again I wouldn't drink that stuff either - I'm a beer snob. But you can use any type of beer. I have a feeling that the heavier beers condition your hair better, but no proof yet to back that up.
After I add the beer, I add the hot/boiling water. I do this over the sink, somewhere where I don't have to have my hands on the jar. I tend to burn myself otherwise. Fill up the jar with the water. You're pretty much done now.

The bottle beside the glass jug is what actually stays in the shower. It isn't anything special, but the top works great for dispensing the conditioner. You could use an old shampoo or conditioner bottle, or even an old sport drink/water bottle. That little pull-up top is what I like, it keeps it all from coming out too fast (this isn't cream rinse!) for me. The bottle is a different color in the photo only because I didn't need to actually fill it up, but took it out of the shower so I could have it in the photo - I had used a different beer last time, hence the different color. You can fill up your bottle right then, or wait till it cools down some. I store the glass jug in the fridge and just fill the bottle up as needed. It has never "gone bad" and is extremely economical!! This is some really good stuff here, we have great hair and no complaints. The only difference I've noticed is that my hair doesn't feel as "instantly" silky as it did with the store-bought stuff, but after my hair dries that goes away. I think I can live with that.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Crock-Pot Sloppy Joe's

Above is a photo I snapped of the finish product, after we had already eaten it down quite a bit (two sandwiches per person if I remember correctly!). I can't remember the last time I made homemade sloppy joes, but I do know it will be a summer staple now. And, as usual, there is NO GOING BACK to store-bought cans of sloppy joe stuff. blech.
If you aren't completely in love with your Crock-Pot (aka - slow cooker) yet, you're really missing out on a wonderful and lifelong relationship opportunity! I made this dish up on March 7th. Even though we had snow on the 2nd, by the 7th the temperatures were up in the upper 70's here and so that Saturday we were busy bees out in the yard. Cooking dinner wasn't high on my list. Viola - my Crock-Pot to the rescue!!
This recipe comes from a wonderful cookbook: Crock-Pot ~ Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes. It was given to me as a gift and is definitely one of my staples now!

Suzie's Sloppy Joes

*3 pounds 95% lean ground beef (I used 1 lb. ground beef, 1 lb. sausage, and 1 lb. ground deer meat - all pasture raised - wonderful results!!)*1 cup chopped onion
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*1 1/4 cups ketchup (I used 1/4 cup organic store-bought ketchup, then switched to some homemade ketchup for the remainder cup)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (I omitted this only because I was out)
*1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
*1/4 cup dark brown sugar
*3 tablespoons prepared mustard
*3 tablespoons vinegar (I left this out only because the homemade ketchup I used has a lot of vinegar in it already)*2 teaspoons chili powder

~Cook and stir the meat (really, using the blend was awesome!), onion, and garlic in a large, nonstick skillet (I used my good ole cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain fat if needed -- since I was using pasture-raised organic meat there is never much fat to drain off, so I skipped this step (not to mention, the extra fat melded the flavors of the 3 meats like a champ). I also added several tablespoons of ketchup & a couple of the Worcestershire sauce directly to the meat, onion, and garlic mixture while it cooked.
Combine ketchup, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, mustard, vinegar and chili powder in Crock-Pot slow cooker. Stir in meat mixture. Cover; cook on LOW 6-8 hours. To serve, spoon mixture onto hamburger buns. ~~ Freeze leftovers for later!! YUMMY!!

For a side, I cooked up some fresh green beans, as you can clearly see. We did add some cheese to the boys' sloppy joes, but we are a cheese-addicted family!! :) This was definitely a nice dinner to come in to after working out in the yard all day. The best part was the kitchen wasn't all heated up from cooking too! YAY!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Pancakes

Not your most Irish of dishes, I know. But, our kids LOVE pancakes!!! If you ask Shannon what he wants for dinner there is a pretty certain chance you will get that as an answer. And, like so often happens, I had promised to make them Monday night .. and then forgot .. so, St. Patrick's Day pancakes we had!
First, if you've never made pancakes from scratch you're missing out. Now that we've been making them from scratch, I can't even begin to fathom eating them any other way!! IHOP and Denny's commercials make me sick & angry .. their pancakes (and eggs, and bacon, and so on) look plastic and fake .. not the least bit appetizing! Making them from scratch is so easy!

Here is the recipe. Like so many of my favorite recipes, it comes from my Grandmother's Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. If you don't have one, go to a yard sale, the Goodwill, or wherever and find yourself a copy from about 1963.

Favorite Pancakes:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

~ Mix all ingredients well & bake on a hot griddle.

I'm not too fancy here. I don't sift my dry ingredients in one bowl, mix my wet ingredients in another and then blend .. I mix 'em all at one together in the same bowl. The batter will be lumpy, and this is ok. I use butter in lieu of oil, although I have been known to use a little bacon fat if I happen to have it. Of course, my butter is my homemade butter, my bacon fat comes from pasture-raised bacon. Our milk is raw milk, the flour usually locally grown and at least 1/2 whole wheat, the sugar is turbinado, and the salt is Real Salt (
I DO cook them (as you can see in the photo) in a cast-iron skillet, and I HIGHLY recommend this!! I pre-heat my skillet on medium or medium-high, but as I am cooking I can usually turn it down to medium-low. I LOVE being able to cook on such a low heat without sacrificing anything!! Check out the bottom of my blog for more info about cast-iron cooking and cookware.
For the green coloring I will admit to using green food coloring. I've been reading some about making your own, all-natural food coloring and am VERY interested in this, but it was dinner time, the boys were hungry, I had it on hand.
And there you go, our St. Patrick's Day dinner for 2009. We even had company (Uncle Matt), and everyone left the table happy & with a full belly.