Lavender Chamomile Pillow Mist

I didn't think I was a pillow mist person but then I made this stuff and it pretty much follows me around the house. I definitely don't need it - I typically fall asleep around 10pm without fail because I'm old/boring and prefer to get up very early - but I like it. It smells good and is super calming. It's also non toxic, safe, natural and homemade. 

This pillow mist smells great. It's super calming thanks to chamomile and lavender. You can also use this as a face mist, which is what I've been doing. Throughout the evening, I'll give myself a little mist just because of the lovely scent. Ah, aromatherapy. So great. 

Super Calming Mist

2 oz witch hazel

1 chamomile tea bag

about 20 drops lavender essential oil

Add tea bag to witch hazel and let steep at room temperature of 24 hours. It should be very fragrant at this point. Discard teabag. Add lavender oil. Feel free to add more drops as needed - you want a nice balance of both chamomile and lavender. Pour into a mini spray bottle and spritz away. 

DIY Beauty Mask

How's your skin doing? Mine has been crazy lately - bumpy forehead, dry parts, oily forehead. What's going on? I think it's the weather.

I knew a mask was just what I needed. I waited until Cameron left the house and raided the fridge and pantry for a quick DIY homemade face mask to help get my skin back in order. 

This one is a winning combination. It has an egg white, honey and rose hip oil. Simple! The egg white  will make your pores happy and tighten your skin. Honey is a natural humectant and has antibacterial properties and is full of antioxidants. It's great for acne prone skin, too.

Rose hip oil gets it's own paragraph because it is my new favorite thing. I bought this one because it's pure, organic and not treated on animals. It has really changed my skin. Each day, once I know I'm home for the night, I wash my face and rub about 5 drops for rose hip oil into my skin. It's helped my forehead be less oily and bumpy. I think it's also helping with any old pimple scars - generally my skin seems very happy since I've been using it. Rose hip oil is bright orange but it will absorb into your skin and does not stain. It's full of fatty acids and a natural anti aging product. 

Makes enough for two masks. 

DIY Beauty Mask

1 egg white

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon rose hip oil

Whisk egg white, honey and oil together. Apply to face, avoiding eyes, nostril and mouth. After about 5 minutes, when it begins to dry, apply a second coat. Get comfortable and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with mild cleanser and water. Pat dry and moisturize. 

Homemade Peanut Butter

Put the jar of JIF down!  Peanut butter is super easy to make - you just need a food processor.  Substitute almonds, cashews or hazelnuts for the peanuts.  

Use raw or roasted, shelled nuts.  Raw nuts will need to be roasted.  Heat oven to 300 degrees and spread nuts out onto a baking sheet.  Nuts should be stirred at least once during roasting.  Peanuts will need about 30 minutes and almonds about 20.  The best part of roasting your own nuts is that the level of roastiness (not a real word) is up to you.  Do you prefer dark roasted peanut butter or a super light roast?  

Peanut Butter (or nut butter)

2 cups shelled roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons peanut, almond or olive oil

pinches of salt, to taste

Place nuts in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Process nuts until they resemble a course nut flour or meal.  Pulsing can be helpful for this step.  The finer the nut crumb, the smoother you nut butter will be.  With processor running, pour in oil in a slow stream. Process about 2 minutes or until a smooth, peanut butter like consistency has been achieved.  




Fresh, Home Made Butter

Something to smear all over those everything bagels.  

So, as mentioned in my previous post, I used my new stand mixer for this but a hand mixer, immersion blender, blender or small capacity food processor would work just as well.  

Home made butter is great but is only as good as the cream you begin with,  Farmer's markets and dairy farm stands/stores are a great for finding high quality cream. 

Makes about 1/2 cup.


1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add heavy cream and salt.  Begin on a low speed, once cream becomes thick, like whipped cream, bump up the medium speed.  

Basically, we're over whipping the cream so it breaks.  After about 10  minutes of whisking liquid will release.  (I like to drape dish towels over the mixer and just wait til I hear splashing.)  Once the liquid and solids separate, stop the machine.  The butter solids will be stuck in the whisk and the buttermilk liquid will be in the bowl.  The buttermilk can be saved and used to make crazy perfect corn bread or pancakes.  It's going to be very salty so don't add salt to what you end up making. 

There's  going to be a lot of liquid still in the butter that needs to be removed.  Chill your hands with ice or cold water.  Squeeze all the liquid you can out of the butter,  Next, rinse the butter under cold water until the water runs clear.  Squeeze as much water as possible from the butter. 

Butter is now ready to use.  I like to rewhip it for better consistency but that's optional.  Butter may be left at room temperature for no more than 1 week or in the fridge for no more than 2 weeks.  

We enjoyed it heavily scraped over the homemade everything bagels posted a couple days ago.  I think this would also be a great thing to bring to a holiday dinner or potluck.  This summer I plan to make it with cream from my favorite local dairy and mix it with chopped herbs from fire escape garden.  (Summer Savory herb butter smeared over grilled corn on the cob, anyone?)  

Focaccia + Roasted Tomatoes + Ricotta


Do you ever get stuck on a food and somehow can't manage to stop eating it?  Well, I've had pizza for what seems like many days in a row.  (And granola, too. See previous post.)  It started with a pizza restaurant down the street and has continued with this focaccia and it's leftovers.  

Use any type of flours you like but I have to say the rye really adds a great flavor and texture.   

Serves 4. 

Focaccia Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes + Fresh Ricotta

For the focaccia

1 packet yeast

1 1/4 cup very warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups rye flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1/8 cup + 1/4 cup olive oil

large handful fresh basil leaves, chopped


red chile flakes

grated hard cheese like pecorino, parmesan... 

6 plum tomatoes, cored and cut lengthwise

8 cremini mushrooms, sliced

for the ricotta

4 cups whole milk

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon or less) 

For the focaccia:   Combine water, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl and let sit a couple minutes.  There should be bubbles or foam which shows that the yeast is active and working.  Add flours, salt and 1/8 cup olive oil.  Mix to form a dough and knead for 10  minutes.  Transfer to an oiled bowl and lightly oil the dough to stop any dryness or crust from forming.   

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.  It will double in size.  Stretch onto a baking sheet and let rest 20 minutes. Poke/dot dough's surface with fingers.  Pour remaining olive oil over dough.

Heat oven to 400.  Bake 25 minutes.  

Top with lots of ricotta then chopped roasted tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, salt, chile flakes, fresh basil and grated hard cheese.  

Prepare ricotta while dough is rising.  Roast tomatoes at the same time your baking focaccia.  

For ricotta:  In a pot, combine milk, cream and salt over medium high heat.  Heat to 195 degrees (about 12-18 minutes).  Stir frequently.   

Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.  Milk will curdle.   

Pour everything into a colander lined with cheese cloth and let it drain for 20 minutes.  Transfer ricotta to a bowl and chill until ready to use.  

For tomatoes:  Toss tomatoes in a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast 15 minutes, cut side down.  Remove from oven and chop.

 For the mushrooms:  Saute in a dash of olive oil over medium high heat, about 7 minutes.  


Vanilla Ice Cream Base Recipes


Here are two different ice cream recipes which can be used as base recipes for all of your ice cream making needs.  Both are vanilla but one recipe has eggs and the other does not.  I know most custard based recipes call for 4-8 egg yolks but after some testing I feel 2 makes a rich, creamy ice cream.  Egg based ice creams are richer and creamier with a traditional ice cream flavor and mouthfeel.  Non egg based ice creams are a little different, milkier and almost more of a frozen yogurt texture.  Both are better straight out of the ice cream maker but will also freeze to an easy to scoop consistency.  

Each makes about 3 cups of ice cream. 

Vanilla Ice Cream (custard based) 

2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream

Whisk egg yolks with sugar until bright yellow in a non plastic bowl.    

Heat milk in a small pot until it steams but doesn't simmer or boil.   

Pour and small amount of hot milk into egg and sugar mixture.  Whisk.  Slowly add remaining milk and whisk.  

Pour this back into the small pot and return to the stove, cook over medium low heat stirring until mixture thickens and coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes.   

Pour mixture through a sieve.  Add vanilla and salt.  Slowly whisk in heavy cream.  Chill in fridge until cold.  Process in ice cream maker as per machines instructions, usually for about 20 minutes.


Vanilla Ice Cream (Egg free) 

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

pinch salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups whole milk

Heat cream, sugar and salt in a small pot, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. 

Add vanilla and milk.  Chill in fridge until cold.  Process in ice cream maker as per machine's instructions, usually about 20 minutes.    


Cherry Pie


I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Part of mine was spent cherry picking at Darlymple Farm in Hector, NY.  It's a beautiful farm perched high on a hill over looking seneca lake.  After picking 10 lbs of cherries it was evident some baking had to be done.

Cherry Pie

for the crust: 

2 1/2 lbs all purpose flour

2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

2-6 tablespoons ice cold water


for the cherry filling: 

5 cups pitted fresh cherries

2 tablespoons cherry juice or cassis liquor

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch


for the egg wash: 

1 egg yolk

splash milk

In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar and salt together.  Add butter cubes and rub into flour with fingers until it resembles a course crumb.  Add tablespoons of water until mixture will hold together as a dough.  Divide dough in half and form each into discs.  Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.  Roll each out in between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment paper.  Fit one into a greased 9 inch pie pan.  Cut the other into strips.  Set aside. 

Heat oven to 400 degrees and move rack to lowest position.  Place pitted cherries in  a bowl and strain, reserve 2 tablespoon of cherry juice.  In a small bowl, whisk together cherry juice, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch.  Toss with cherries.  Pour filling into prepared crust. 

Arrange pastry strips over pie, seal and trim edges. Whisk together egg yolk and milk, brush over pastry.  Bake 60 minutes.  If crust browns too fast cover with aluminum foil.   

Cool slightly before serving.   


Potato Chips


July 4th is approaching which means that most of us will find ourselves at a barbecue or picnic very soon and it's not a picnic without potato chips.  I made these three flavors last week as a belated father's day gift.  If you're going to go through the trouble of rinsing, drying and frying then it's not much of a stretch to do more than one flavor.   

When frying, be careful.  Very hot oil is dangerous.  Used frying oil may be cooled completely and poured back in its original container, closed and thrown away for easy disposal.  Canola or vegetable oil are great for frying.  

One good sized russet potato makes 2-3 servings.  

Smoky Barbecue Potato Chips

1 russet potato

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

8 turns black pepper

oil for frying (amount depends on pot size but generally at least a liter


Jalapeno Cumin Potato Chips

1 russet potato

1 teaspoon jalapeno powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

about 1 liter of frying oil  


Salty Vinegar Potato Chips

1 russet potato

1 cup vinegar (for soaking)

1 cup water  (for soaking)

1 teaspoon vinegar powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

about 1 liter of frying oil

For any of the above recipes, prepare as follows:

Rinse and scrub potato.  Peel if desired.  Using a mandoline, thinly slice potatoes crosswise.  Place slices in colander and rinse until water runs clear.  Place slices in bowl of cold water (or half white vinegar/half water for salt and vinegar chips) for 30 minutes.

While slices are soaking, prepare seasoning mix.  You can also get a large bowl lined with a towel and a large pot on the stove filled with 2 inches of frying oil.  Begin heating the oil slowly. 

Remove slices from soaking liquid and slices on a towel, blotting with another.  Discard liquid.  

In a large pot heat, frying oil to 350 degrees.  Working in batches if needed, carefully add potato slices to pot.  Fry about 2 minutes until just golden brown.  Transfer to towel lined bowl. Repeat with any additional batches.  Remove towel from bowl, leaving chips, sprinkle chips with seasoning and toss until uniformly covered.  

Flavored Marshmallows


I feel a bit redundant saying this but some things are better home made and other things aren't.  Marshmallows are mush better when you make them yourself and they are even better when someone else has made them for you.  They can either be cut into squares with a knife or with a cookie cutter.   (Snowflakes are nice for winter time.)   These here are rose flavored but other flavoring can be used (liqueur or extract).  I made peppermint and almond ones last year and I think frangelico would be tasty.  I used a 13" x 9" pan but use a larger one for thinner marshmallows.   

Marshmallows (Rose Flavored)

3 packs gelatin powder

1/2 cup cold water + 1 1/4 cup water

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flavoring extract (rose, cinnamon, almond, peppermint, coconut)

Non stick baking spray, for lining and cutting

Powdered sugar, sifted, for dusting

In your mixing bowl, add the gelatin powder with 1/2 cup cold water.  It needs 5 minutes or so for the gelatin to do its thing.

In the meantime and in a pot, bring sugar and 1 1/4 cup water to a boil.  Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly pour it into the bowl with the gelatin.  The gelatin should have tightened up and formed into something, well, gelatin and almost rubbery.  Add salt and mix with an electric mixer of any kind for 12-14 minutes.  The mixture will be thick, voluminous, white and glossy.  Add flavoring with a quick mix to incorporate.  Pour into a 13" x 9" pan lined with lightly greased parchment paper. Give it a little shake to even out.  Let it set, about 4 hours.  

You now have one giant marshmallow.  Cut it into pieces of any size with a greased knife of cookie cutter. If knife/cutter gets sticky, wipe clean and re spray.  Lightly toss marshmallows in powdered sugar to prevent sticking.  Store in air tight containers at room temperature.