Non-Vinegar Essential Oil Cleaner

NaturalCleaner_Blog (7)

There has been a ton going on lately, with new calves at the farm, house renovations, graduate school starting back up, and general life. I really have been wanting to start writing again, so I thought I’d start up with something that was a wild ride this winter. I was hoping to come back “full swing” with a more upbeat post, but I decided to go this route because it’s something a lot of people might appreciate. So, let’s go!

Last November, after using some harsh chemical cleaners, I ended up breaking out in chronic hives for the first time in over a decade. In November after using a cleaner my hands got very very red and itchy, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I broke out in hives on my hands. Days later they were showing up just about anywhere in patches. This was not a typical dermatological response to a harsh chemical. These were standard off the shelf cleaners you can find in any store. Brand name cleaners.

My system was already more sensitive than normal for various reasons. The chemicals simply caused a reaction that fueled itself. Eight weeks later the hives were still there. An allergy panel showed no allergies (even ones I used to be allergic to). This led the decades long allergist to tell me that my symptoms and onset were pretty consistent with an immune disorder. Clearly – my body had been attacking itself for weeks. I’d say that was my immune system acting disorderly.

Thanks to some changes and starting some herbs that help with mast cells and immune health, I’m doing pretty good. One of the changes I made was starting to search around for a homemade natural cleaner, and vinegar was out. Andy simply cannot stand vinegar based cleaners. The scent in the house is just too much for him. I too was hoping I could find something that cleaned very well, and had a better scent. A plethora of research ensued and this ended up being the final analysis: good essential oils, a gentle cleaner, water, and a spray bottle.

You cannot even believe how good this stuff works as a general cleaner, and with baking soda for tougher spots. It’s not going to strip your kitchen spotless in no time like a commercial cleaner (kind of the point). What it will do though is clean surprisingly well for every day cleanup. To prove to you the cleaning power of this, I am going to show you something I dare show no one: My stove after a bit of cooking crazy meals that I didn’t wipe down.

Non-Vinegar Homemade Cleaner:

  • Spray bottle (the size does not matter)
  • Dr. Bronners castile soap
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Tea Tree essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Rosemary essential oil
  1. Pour enough Dr. Bronners in the bottom of your spray bottle that it covers, and comes up about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch.
  2. Add about 10 drops of each essential oil. I tend to add just a couple more tea tree oil because of it’s awesome anti-bacterial properties.
  3. Add water to fill up the rest of the bottle. Gentle tip back and forth to ensure everything gets mixed well.
  4. Spray away!

The Fully Unscientific, Non Peer-reviewed, Non-Control Group Stove Test

I fully do not believe in hack science that touts backup when it has none – no matter how good it sounds. I believe in peer-reviewed, control group, scientifically reproducible studies. This is not any of those. This is just what I’ve found works well for me. I’ve reproduced this a few times in my kitchen, but that’s about as scientific as this gets.

Here it is in all it’s glory – my absolutely repulsive stove that I didn’t clean up after cooking for a few days. Hey turmeric rice that boiled over. Hello curry! Also, that totally gross burner has been there for.ev.er. no matter how much I scrub it. Deal with it. I’ve dealt with it for five years.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (2)Looking at this repulsive beast, I then sprayed my concoction all over and let it set for a few minutes. One light wipe down (no scrubbing), and the stove was looking better.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (3)One more light mist and a bit more of a detailed wiping down, and it almost looked presentable. Or, rather, as presentable as I care. We’re not talking a Martha Stewart visit here. Even if it were, I mean, come on – it’s me. Hi Martha, here’s a mason jar full of Coors light.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (4)That one damn burner looks better, but it’s still not good. Scrubbing until I had no cartilage between my elbows left wouldn’t really help. I decided to pull out the baking soda to try and get a better clean. I put a bit more cleaner on, and then doused with the baking soda.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (5)Now, before I give the results here let me say this. After wiping just a little bit, it started getting better but then I got annoyed. Then I remembered about the chain mail scrubber my Dad got me at Christmas for my cast iron. Then I remembered it’s a matter of months before this stove gets completely ripped out in our kitchen renovation and that I do not care if it gets totally scuffed to shit. So, chain mail came out like a knight in shining armor.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (6)I’d say that helped quite a bit. I was satisfied enough to take myself out to breakfast. If you think for a second I was about to cook on that newly cleaned stove, you’re out of your damn mind. I’ll cook on it tomorrow. Maybe.

The point is this, overall, just looking between the first and second photo, you can see how well the cleaner works. Plus, it smells super great.

So, there’s that.

All for now, enjoy if you want. I’ll hopefully be back soon with some more updates!

You know how it goes,

Heather

Disclaimer: Just like any cleaner, this cleaner does not substitute for proper cleanliness, preparation and sanitation in a kitchen, bathroom, etc. Please do not do weird things like cut meat directly on the counter, and then use this spray and expect it to kill bacteria. That’s just very poor judgement. Use this cleaner at your own discretion.

How To Be Classy Like Me: Baking A Bundt Cake

In this installment of “How To Be Classy Like Me” we’re going to tackle baking. There are a few things you need to know before we start. Be prepared for the Queen of England to ask you to make her a cake for her next royal event. This in turn will make you so in demand that you’ll have to open a full time bakery, followed by making millions. So, if you want to make millions and meet the Queen of England then follow my directions precisely. If you don’t, I can’t guarantee you millions. If you do…I still can’t guarantee you millions but I can guarantee you the awe and admiration of all those you encounter that it might at least taste decent.

To be super classy you must start by realizing you literally have almost nothing in your kitchen to bake with. Because you have no butter, and no eggs, you consult a vegan cookbook. Everyone knows vegan baking is what classy people eat anyway.

After consulting Veganomicon you find a coconut lemon bundt cake and realize it’s the only recipe you have everything for. Except for lemons. Minor detail, you have limes. Or oranges. Or whatever.

Next heat your oven up and get your bundt pan out. If you need to grease it so it doesn’t stick, do it. If you have a non-stick one like I do, high-five.

Now look at your ingredients and directions and mix all that shit together. Why? Because it says to. Also, this is the part of baking you don’t totally suck at. You can mix. You can mix with the best of them. Why? You’re classy, of course.

Put that cake in the oven and set the timer. Do not forget to set the timer. You wouldn’t anyway, you’re awesome. Once a knife (or a fork, spoon handle, spatula, whatever) comes out clean your cake is done. Take it out of the oven. Admire it’s beauty. Now let it sit for about ten to fifteen minutes. DON’T TOUCH IT or try and flip it out.

In the mean time get your super pretty cake stand out that you’ve never used before. Or maybe you have, I don’t really know, I’m not in your kitchen. What I do now is that I had never used mine before. I got it over a year ago. That’s how often I bake cakes. At least, that’s how often I bake cakes that I don’t eat directly from the pan with a fork. Don’t worry, it’s a contemporary classy looking fork.

Once your cake cools to the specified time, put your cake stand over the pan and flip it. When it doesn’t flip out because it’s still too hot don’t wait for it to cool further. All you need to do is hit your cake pan like, fifteen times. Classy women don’t loose their cool, so hit your pan with a smile on your face. Even when your non-stick bundt pan totally messes your cake up, you remain calm and collected and do not at all swear or say things like “What the f….”. Also, classy women don’t mess up so make sure you blame your cake sticking on the brand new (year old but never used) non-stick pan, not on the fact that you didn’t let it cool enough. You need to be an accountable woman, you need to take responsibility for your actions, but this was clearly the pans fault. Blame it on the inanimate object you classy broad.

No one will ever know if you carefully pick up the broken piece of of your bundt cake, and then smash it back into the cake. Also, ignore any massive cracks you may have made when you hit the ever loving life out of your bundt pan…and it fell onto the counter instead of your cake stand. You don’t want to upstage other bakers anyway. Being the classy lady you are it’s good once in a while to prove you are also flawed—you know, or at least let other people believe you are (we know you aren’t).

When in doubt, regain that your cake is awesome by taking a photo of the part of it that isn’t cracked. Damn, you’re good.

The next, and final, step of baking an awesome cake like a classy woman is to cover up all of your mistakes with powdered sugar. Or at least try.

When that doesn’t work just cut it into pieces before you serve it. When someone picks up the piece that you smashed back into place and it breaks, compliment your guest on their strength and that you thought it looked like they had been working out.

You are good. You are really good. I’m proud of you, you classy woman. Keep on baking. Before you know it you’ll be making those millions.

Or just eating a ton of cake. Either way, you win.

xo,

Heather

Despite the fact that I do know how to drink wine like the lady I am, I was not drunk when I baked this. I wasn’t even tipsy. I didn’t even have anything to drink. I really am just that bad at baking, and I like to make fun of it. That said, the flavor of this was absolutely delicious.

Also, vegan baking is actually absolutely awesome. I really love it, even more so than normal baking most of the time. Veganomicon is a fantastic cook book to have around and this cake (yes it does exist) is unbelievable, even made with lime. I highly suggest it.

Oh, and if you want to see drunk cooking  I suggest this girl. Her YouTube channel is hands down my absolute favorite. It makes me crack up laughing every. single. time.

Strawberry{licious} Pie

Note: This is the first time I made the Pate Brisee crust on a super hot summer day. Needless to say it got soft very fast from a chilled state, and wasn’t the easiest thing to roll out because of the softness. It’s still delicious but be careful not to get it too thin like I did. Roll it around your rolling pin and onto your greased pie pan. Or, use a different recipe. Or, make pie in the winter. Or, eat up and who cares anyway.

Earlier this summer we picked 12 pounds of strawberries, which I promptly processed and vacuum froze for smoothies. Really though, all I wanted was pie. I have yet to make a single strawberry smoothie but the thought of pie is staring me down every time I open that freezer. Consider it done.

I started off with my very favorite pie crust ever, Pate Brisee. I love it because it’s versatile and delicious. I adapt my recipe from the Martha Stewart version. Her version doesn’t call for any spices in the crust besides sugar and salt. When I use it as a savory crust I like to add a teaspoon of herbs which compliment the filling. When I use it as a sweet pie crust I like to add a 1/2 teaspoon cake or pumpkin pie spice for just a little kick. This is just my preference.

Pate Brisee Pie Crust {adapted from Martha Stewart}

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cake spice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water
Directions
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar and cake spice. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
  2. Slowly add water through the feed tube while the machine is turned on. Pulse until dough holds together. The dough should not be wet or sticky, but should still hold together if squeezed. If it is crumbly, add more ice water a teaspoon or so at a time. I find that 1/4 a cup is sometimes too much.
  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
Ingredients
  • 1 quart strawberries or 1 large package frozen strawberries, thawed and drained (reserve drained juice)
  • 3/4 cup reserved juice, or water
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup reserved juice, or water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sliced berries, fresh or frozen, thawed and drained
  • whipped cream
  • whole berries for garnish
Directions
  1. Combine strawberries and water in saucepan. Cook until just softened, about 4 or 5 minutes. (Let frozen berries thaw; heat but don’t cook them.)
  2. Mix together cornstarch, sugar, and water until smooth; add to hot berries. Cook over medium heat until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.
  3. Add lemon juice; immediately remove from heat and let cool.
Assembling
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Thaw one of the crusts and roll into a 9 inch round. Grease the bottom of the pie pan and lay the crust on the bottom.
  3. Partially bake the bottom crust on 425 F for about 15-20 minutes. Pull out of the oven and fill with the Strawberry filling.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Let cool so it sets up – if you can wait.
Happy Pie Making In A Hopefully Cooler Kitchen,
Heather