Slightly off topic, but since we’re in the kitchen anyway, let’s talk beauty products.
I have sensitive skin. If I look at a product the wrong way, my skin will become irritated and develop a rash or worse. My skin laughs at hypoallergenic products and ‘natural’ makeups…and then gets red and irritated.
So I spend a lot of time looking for things that won’t irritate it. I’m down to about 2 brands of makeup, given up totally on eye shadows of any kind, tint my moisturizer instead of wearing foundation…and it goes on.
This is what has driven me to find alternatives to common products. And where I have found my most successful solutions is in the kitchen.
It started in my early 20s when, after hugging a very rambunctious Golden Retriever, I found myself with a face and neck full of poison ivy. That is when I discovered oat flour. Made into a little paste and applied to my face and neck, it helped the poison ivy to disappear quickly. It also soothed my ravaged skin until the infection was gone. The surprising side effect was how nice my skin looked when I was done. Smooth, soft and better than it had before the poison ivy.
I’ve done twice weekly oat flour masks ever since. Great stuff. A decade ago I added ground ginger (about 1 tsp to 1/4 cup oat flour) to give an extra boost to the effects of the mask. Unlike commercial facial products this all natural solution contained no unknown elements to irritate.
After that came olive oil (extra virgin is the recommended type). This started because living in an arid mountain state makes it difficult to keep skin moisturized. And while I can tolerate Oil of Olay brand lotions, I cannot use them to excess, so an alternative had to be found. I had some hit or miss (mostly miss) with other products – shea butter, baby oil, jojoba oil, other ‘natural’ oils. But consistently the olive oil has given me the softest, most problem free skin. It goes on easily and absorbs quickly, so there is no lotion effect when you’re done. (You know the one, where you can’t open the door because your hands are so slippery.) I use this as an all over body oil and add some to bathwater when I want extra moisturizing. Olive oil has the extra benefit of containing linoleic acid and antioxidants which can be helpful to skin health.
The last few months I added honey to my routine. I’d been hearing it had good properties for skin and thought, since I had some unpasteurized local honey, it would be a good time to try it. I add a bit of olive oil to a bit of honey and spread it over my face, let it sit 5 to 15 minutes and then wipe off the residual. It’s a sticky application, but the results are shiny, bright, smooth skin (weren’t there wrinkles there?). I do it a few times a week.
All of these things have helped me keep my skin from becoming inflamed and irritated, while managing to keep it moisturized, soft and bright. So I thought I would share these kitchen helpers in case anyone else has extra sensitive skin like I do.
Added bonus: about the same time I discovered oat flour, I had a hairdresser who recommended a finishing rinse of apple cider vinegar for my dark, curly and sometimes frizzy locks. She said it ph balanced the scalp while making hair shiny. I rarely miss a day of using it and love how shiny it makes my hair. Now that it is winter, I’ve also taken to adding a couple of drops of olive oil to my conditioner to keep my hair moisturized in the dry, cold weather.
Extra added bonus: all of these treatments cost pennies per application and considering I saw a honey moisturizer at $50 a 1/2 oz, I’d say my savings over the years have been considerable.
Do you have any must-have all natural, straight from the kitchen beauty tips? I’d love to hear them.
I was not feeling it today at work, so my mind wandered to some old recipes I haven’t tried in a while. I don’t think I’ve made this exact recipe in 10 years. I love barbecue ribs, but rarely have the patience to properly slowcook them. I don’t know why, it’s basically wrap them up and put them in the oven and ignore them for several hours. This recipe really stands out because of the citrus glaze which I’ve used on chicken, as well. I think for a quick dinner it would work on pork chops without too much effort. Coat chops with Chinese 5-spice, grill on one-side and turn, then brush with glaze and finish grilling. Glaze again before serving.
Not too early to start planning the July 4th menu so here is the original rib recipe:
Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze
- 4 to 6 slabs baby back ribs, about 10 – 12 ribs per slab
- Chinese five spice powder
- Fresh ground pepper
Season the ribs liberally on both sides with spices. Place the ribs on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side. Remove the ribs from the grill and allow to cool (or if you prefer, you can broil them, 5 minutes per side).
Preheat the oven (or grill) to 325 degrees. Wrap the ribs in foil, tightly, and then wrap in another layer of foil, place on a baking sheet or directly on grill, and bake for 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the oven and allow to cool while still wrapped.
Prior to serving, spoon the Citrus Glaze (see recipe below) over the ribs, liberally coating both sides. Serve with remaining glaze.
4 – 6 servings
- 12 oz orange juice concentrate, not diluted
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 of a 7-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed in the blender or finely chopped (more or less depending on the heat you desire)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup sugar
In saucepan combine ingredients and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted and the sauce has reduced to half and coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Careful, you’ll have to stir frequently and watch to make sure it does not boil over or burn.
Btw, the original glaze recipe comes from Emeril (here) and calls for 8 cups of sugar. I played with it until I came up with this citrus glaze, because I just couldn’t make anything that called for 8 cups of sugar. Seriously, 8 cups. That’s 2 cups per person. Cannot even wrap my head around it, but if you make it and love it, drop me a note here.
UPDATE: So I gave up on work and decided to bring work home and work here this afternoon. That means I could actually make the recipe tonight.
The ribs are in the oven and the glaze is on the stovetop bubbling away. I stir it every once in a while, but I seem to have it at a steady low boil requiring little more from me than I be in the same room with it. I did a couple of tweaks, instead of soy sauce I used a 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1/4 cup Ponzu since I had it on hand and it’s a citrus sauce and at the end I added the juice of 1/2 lime and then since I had the other half sitting there, I used that on the ribs before I seared them. Also, I pureed the peppers with a bit of the orange juice to make it easier. I froze the other half of the peppers in a plastic container.
One of my favorite chicken salads is at Costco. This recipe is pretty close, though I’ve added grapes and tweaked the mayonnaise a bit. The best way to serve this, in my opinion, is to wash and dry romaine lettuce leaves, top with salad, roll up and eat. Bread seems too heavy for this dish.
Sonoma Chicken Salad
- 1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 5 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lbs chicken breasts, cooked and diced
- 3/4 cup pecan pieces
- 1/2 cups dried cranberries (craisins)
- 1 cup red grapes, halved
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds,garlic powder,onion powder, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. When ready to serve, stir in chicken, pecans, grapes, Craisins, celery and serve cold.