Witch Hazel and Cider Vinegar Astringent

This formula is from Jess’s friend Britt Pruess, from her blog Little Bits by Brit; it works really well!

3 parts witch hazel
1 part apple cider vinegar
Few drops essential oil of your choice – lavender, tea tree, etc. (optional)

Combine ingredients in a glass spray bottle; glass is necessary to avoid having plastic particles break down and combine with the astringent.  Let the bottle sit for a few days to ensure that all the ingredients are fully melded.

To use, simply spray on your face and wipe away with a clean cotton round.

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Elderflower Cooler

Something nice to try on a hot day, from Master Chef Australia:

30 ml gin (Tanqueray)
20 ml (1 tbsp.) elderflower cordial
3 mint sprigs
2 cucumber slices, sliced very thin
Soda water

Fill a tall glass with ice, and add gin.  Add cordial, mint sprigs, and cucumber slices.  Top off with soda water.

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Calming Oil Blend

Recipe from Cindy for a calming oil blend; combine the following oils, then mix one part with four parts of a carrier oil such as almond oil:

Clary Sage
Lavandan Super
Ylang Ylang

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Fresh Tomato Sauce

From Marco Pierre White, via Master Chef Australia.

olive oil
2 onions, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
600 g. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 bottles passata
2 cubes chicken bouillon
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs oregano

Drizzle olive oil in a pan and set over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook until soft but no colour.  Add cherry tomato halves and cook until broken down and juices are released.  Add passata sauce, rinsing out bottles with 1 c. water and adding to the pan.  Add chicken bouillon cubes, thyme and bay leaf and allow to simmer gently until thickened and reduced, about 40 minutes.  Remove from heat and pass through a sieve.  Sauce freezes well if not used immediately.

For an easy pasta recipe, add cherry tomato halves and red chili flakes to the tomato sauce, add chopped basil and serve over pasta; top with fresh parmesan cheese.

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Whole Wheat Bread

Super easy, super tasty loaf.


¼ tsp. active dry yeast
105 g. / ¾ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. cool (60°F / 15°C) water

Mix the ingredients together, should take about 30 seconds or so and have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and put it in a cool place (65°F / 18°C is good) for 12 to 14 hours; overnight is good.  If the temperature is warmer, shorten the time to 8-10 hours.

After the fermenting time, there should be a bunch of bubbles on top, it should be giving off a pleasant acidic / yeasty / alcohol aroma and be about doubled in size.  If not, leave it for a few hours more.

Bread mixing:

Mix the following into the pre-ferment by hand:

1 c. lukewarm water
375 g. / 2½ c. bread flour
2 tsp. fine grind sea salt

If there is any dry flour left, add 1-2 tbsp of water to combine; if too wet, add 1-2 tbsp of flour.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave for 3-4 hours, till at least doubled in size.  Then place the covered dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to a week.

Oil or spray a loaf pan, then sprinkle 1-2 tbsp plain flour onto a work surface.  Sprinkle plain flour onto the top of the dough, and tip it out onto the floured surface.  Sprinkle a bit more flour on top, to keep the dough from sticking.  Using your hands, flatten the dough into a circle; then fold in one side then the other, and then roll into a log.  Place it in the oiled pan with the smooth side up, and lightly oil the top of the loaf.  Tent aluminium foil over the pan, leaving enough space for the loaf to rise.  Leave the loaf to rise at room temperature from 4-6 hours, or in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F / 240°C for at least 20 minutes.  Place the tented loaf pan on the middle oven rack, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil tent and bake for another 20 minutes.  If the top of the loaf is dark, take it out after the 40 minutes; if it is too light, bake for another 7-8 minutes.  Let cool completely before slicing.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Mom’s peanut butter cookie recipe, from a very well used Betty Crocker cookbook. She said she doubles the recipe, and always uses Skippy crunchy peanut butter; unfortunately it’s not available in Australia.

Peanut butter cookies

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Seasoning Mixes

Italian Seasoning

Great for any pasta dish, pizza, or even popcorn!

½ c dried parsley
4 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tbsp dried oregano or marjoram
2 tsp dried minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Mix all ingredients well.  Store in an airtight glass container and label with an expiration date of one year.

Poultry Seasoning

⅓ c dried sage
⅛ c celery seed
¼ c dried lemon peel
¼ c dried marjoram
¼ c dried parsley
¼ c dried savory (either winter or summer savory)
¼ c dried thyme
¼ c dried rosemary (optional)

Combined all ingredients and blend well.  Use a spice grinder or blender to pulverise into a powder.  Store in an airtight glass jar and label with an expiration date of one year.

Basic Seasoning Salt

½ c coarse sea salt
¼ c dried granular kelp
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried garlic granules

In blender or spice grinder, process all ingredients until the mixture reaches the desired consistency, either a coarse grind or a finer powder.  Store in an airtight glass container and label with an expiration date of one year.

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