As I have promised in my last post, here is the recipe for the whipped shea butter. As it was already snowing outside, it was about time for some nourishing body butter against dry and itchy skin. Whipped shea butter is also supposed to be good for atopic rashes, dry hair and can also be used in the face. It is really easy to make and kind of reminded me of making a ganache. You melt oils together and whip them to a shiny, soft cream. And that is really all to it!
The base recipe is made up of 75% hard oils and 25% liquid oils. You can choose whatever oils you like or have at home like olive-, sunflower- or rapeseed oil. For the hard oils I used, besides shea, some coconut fat and my liquid oil of choice was macadamia. Any kind of ethereal oils can be added to that if you want a different smell and to preserve it longer some vitamin E. Don’t worry if you don’t want to buy E vitamin just for that. Since there is nothing but oil in it will stay good for a long time. If you use coldpressed oils you can make a completely raw body butter. Shea starts melting pretty quickly and together with the coconut I had it completely melted at 37°C.
My recipe contains 100 g of oils in total which makes around 140 ml of whipped shea butter. You can easily double the recipe if you want to give it away as a gift but beware not to make too much. Only really little is needed on the skin.
50 g shea butter
25 g coconut fat
25 g macadamia oil
a few drops of essential oil (I used honey oil)
Melt the shea and coconut together in a bowl in a hot water bath.
Let it cool down for around 20 minutes. After it has cooled down add the macadamia or oil of your choice, a few drops of the essential oil and 4 drops of the vitamin E. Let everything set in the fridge.
Once it has set you can start whipping the oils with a hand mixer. It will get white and shiny! Store the whipped shea butter in little tins or plastic jars.
If you want to prevent bacteria from getting into it, you can use a spatula or spoon for taking it out. It will immediately melt on your skin! The butter will stay whipped so you don’t need to store it in the fridge but I guess it depends on how warm it gets where you live.
Recently I have been starting to use only natural soaps for wasching my body, face and even hair. The difference to regular soap is that natural soaps are almost completely made out of oils. No harsh chemicals, preservatives or detergents. While normal soap often leaves your skin dry, natural soap can moisturize it. It comes it hundreds of different variations. With salt or clay, herbs or essential oils, the possibilities are endless and it depends on the skin type you have.
I have mixed skin on my face. While my forehead is often shiny, my nose, chin and part of my cheeks suffer from big pores and blackheads while being dry at the same time! I have tried lots of products but nothing really made it better. When I heard that natural soaps might help with that I was willing to try immediately.
Compared to my face, the skin on my body is really dry so I wanted a soap that was superfatted a bit more. The term is explained quite well on Chagrin Valley‘s page:
“Superfatting is the process of adding extra fats (oils or butters) when formulating a soap recipe, so there is more fat in the mixture than the lye can react with during the chemical reaction.
Superfatting leaves a portion of unincorporated oils in the finished soap. Superfatted soaps have superior moisturizing and emollient qualities.”
This Rizodermol soap is for dry skin as well as itchy skin and skin that suffers from eczema and acne and is superfatted at 10%. It has a really pleasant smell and feels great on the skin. I sometimes also use it for my face. Since the skin on my legs is really dry at the moment I oil it after the shower with coconut oil. The soap itself is quite soft so you can easily cut of a piece if you don’t want to use the whole bar at once.
Another body soap is the Gardener’s soap (left) by Flow Cosmetics, a Finnish brand. It is antiseptic and peels the skin. To me it smells a bit like fresh laundry. Unfortunately the soaps from Flow don’t indicate the superfat percentage. Just by trying, I would say it is less superfatted than the Rizodermol but that might be just the ingredients working differently on my skin.The bar is hard but you can still cut it well without crumbling.
Another soap by Flow that I own is the face soap Clay and Marine Algea (right)for mixed and oily skin. The smell is difficult to describe but it’s pleasant. It takes my make up off (I use mineral make up) quite well but leaves the skin a bit dry afterwards. At the moment I am still experimenting if my skin is lacking fat or moisture. So for more moisture I put on aloe vera gel after washing and oil with coconut or sesame oil (cold pressed) afterwards.
My main face soap for the evenings is an Aleppo soap with a high percentage in laurel oil against impure skin. It takes aways my make up easily and develops a nice foam. This soap is made after a traditional recipe from Syria and comes as a big bar of 200 g which was a bit difficult to cut. You can use it for your body, hair and face. I quite liked it as a hair soap. Only used it a few times since I am trying the Only Water method at the moment but my hair didn’t get greasy as fast as before. As a conditioner I used a vinegar rinse which left my hair soft and shiny.
I bought it at Genuss im Badwhich has lots of lovely soaps. For the shipping to Finland I paid only 4€ (up to 500 g)! You can contact them beforehand if you want to order to a different EU country but that should always be possible. They replied immediately and soaps were here quickly.
In the mornings I either use ghassoul clay by Logonaor a salt soap for my face. Salt is also great for blemishes and acne prone skin but with some people it tends to dry out a lot. My sea salt soap contains 50% salt and smells like lavender and rosemary. Because of the salt it is more difficult to cut and will easily crumble. Although the salt content is high, is still foamed up well in my hands.
Summary: My face cleaning routine contains washing my face either with a natural soap or lava earth. In the evening I use mostly the Aleppo soap. In the morning either the salt soap or ghassoul clay as a mask or face wash. I always wet my face first and make the soap foamy in my hands since I don’t apply the bar directly to my face. While that is certainly possible with most soaps, it’s not recommended for salt ones.
The ghassoul clay can be mixed with honey, tea tree oil or other oils and leaves the skin really soft but in my case a bit dry on certain areas. After washing my face in the morning I put on aloe vera gel and add a few drops of coconut or sesame oil which is really mild. In the evening I pat my face with rose water as a toner before the aloe and oil treatment.
For my body I use mostly the Rizodermol soap and apply coconut oil afterwards. Under the shower I use the bars directly on my skin.
Conclusion: I am still in the testing phase so before I will change anything I want to observe changes to my skin a bit more. I really like the feeling of the soaps on my skin and the thought of doing something good to it without using all those unnecessary chemicals in most skin product. The blemishes are a bit better at the moment but there is still lots to improve. Next I will test some soaps without olive oil because I’m not sure yet if that might be comedogenic for me.
Yesterday I made some whipped shea butter for dry winter skin that also can be used for atopic rashes. Check the instagram box on the right for a preview! A tutorial on the blog will follow soon.
I also plan on making my own soap these days. One body/face soap and one highly superfatted on (maybe 20%) for the body. As you can see I am quite hooked on natural soaps and want to test a few more. Which are you favourite ones?
Last year Tiia had brought home a small bag of nettles and we decided to make pesto out of them. I have to say that I was a bit apprehensive at first since eating something that stings didn’t seem that appealing to me, but with some prep work nettles can be used in a lot of different dishes. The jar we had was gone in a week because it was so delicious! So this year I wanted to make a bigger batch.
If you want to pick some nettles take some thick rubber gloves with you, a pair of scissors and a plastic bag or basket. The best time to pick them is in spring when the plants are still small. If you go in the summertime and the nettles have grown more, just cut the upper 5-10 cm off. Shake them a bit to get rid of bugs. It doesn’t matter if the leaves a bit dirty, the nettles will be washed and boiled later.
Depending on where you live you might come across the plant below. The white deadnettle (germ. weiße Taubnessel, finn. valkopeippi) looks similar to common nettles but doesn’t sting and despite the looks and name isn’t related to nettles. I heard they can also be used in salads or cooked but I don’t have any personal experience with them and they aren’t used in this recipe.
If you have picked a sufficient amount of the nettles you should wash them at home immediately with lots of cold water. I washed them four times to make sure all dirt and bugs were gone.
Bring some water to boil at the same time and boil batch after batch for a few minutes before letting the excess water drip out in a big colander. After they’ve cooled down you can use a salad spinner to get rid of the remaining water.
Don’t pour away the water you boiled the nettles in! Cooled down it will make a great fertilizer for your plants.
Now the nettles are ready to be made into pesto. You can experiment with how much oil and parmesan you like. I found the pesto quite delicious when it’s not dripping with oil and doesn’t have too much parmesan. I picked around a kilo of nettles and it made a bit less than 2 l of pesto. Some will be stored in jars in the fridge or given away as a gift. I also froze a bit of the pesto for later.
Here is the recipe for a smaller amount:
250 g nettles (weigh the pre-washed nettles)
25 g parmesan (or nutritional yeast if you want a vegan pesto)
20 g sunflower seeds (or cashews)
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves depending on size
freshly ground pepper
Roast the sunflower seeds in a pan without oil until they are lightly coloured and grate the parmesan. Blend the nettles with the garlic and the seeds in a food processor by pouring in olive oil carefully. When everything is really smooth, add the cheese (or yeast flakes) and some salt and pepper. Taste the pesto and add more spices, garlic or oil if needed. If you want a vegan pesto but don’t want to use nutritional yeast I recommend using cashews in the recipe (increase the amount). They give a cheesier flavour to the pesto.
Store the pesto in jars in the fridge. Make sure it’s always covered with a bit of olive oil to keep it from getting mouldy and always use a clean spoon or knife. This way it will be kept fresh for several weeks. Enjoy with pasta, as a dip or on bread!
I have always liked Italian almond cookies. They just go so well with coffee and they last forever. If you can keep your hands of the cookie jar that is!
Both recipes are really easy to make and they don’t take much preparing. The ricciarelli need 2 – 3 hours of resting time but the dough is made really fast.
The cantuccini recipe is a basic recipe (originally from here) you can change up easily. Add chocolate, pistachios or dried berries to have some variety and new taste to them. I put some lemon zest in to add some freshness.
175 g whole almonds, peeled
250 g flour
180 g sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. vanilla sugar
1/2 bottle bitter almond baking aroma
25 g salted butter, softened (add a bit of salt if you use non salted butter)
grated lemon zest from 1 – 1,5 lemons
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line one or two trays with parchment paper.
Cut the almonds a bit smaller. It will be easier to cut the biscotti later when they come out of the oven the first time.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and vanilla sugar. Knead in the butter and eggs until you get a sticky dough. Then add the almonds. Wrap the dough into a foil and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes cut the dough roughly into 6 pieces and roll each piece into long rolls of around 1,5-2,5 cm depending on how big you want the cantuccini to be.
Put the rolls on the tray and bake for 15 minutes. Take them off and let them cool down a bit. I think I waited around 10 minutes as I found it easier to cut them before they were cooled down completely.
Cut them diagonally and put them back on the tray cut side down.
Bake them for another 10 minutes. They should be golden brown. When completely cooled down you can put them into a cookie jar or cookie tin. It’s also a nice idea to wrap them up and give them away as a present.
The ricciarelli are nice and soft in the middle and taste a bit like marzipan. I had been looking for a decent recipe for a while and came along this (scroll to the middle of the page).
300 g almond flour
280 g sugar
150 g powder sugar (100 g for the dough and 50 g for rolling)
1 tsp. baking powder
grated zest of 1 orange
2 egg whites
1/4 bottle of bitter almond baking aroma
Mix the almond flour with the sugar and 100 g of the powder sugar with the baking powder and orange zest. Beat the egg whites in a tall bowl until they’re firm and glossy. You can now add them with the bitter almond to the almond mixture.
Use a spoon to incorporate the eggs slowly. Don’t use a hand mixer since the eggs will lose all shape and the dough won’t be fluffy.
When everything is mixed, form little loaves of around 3 cm out of the dough.
Roll them in the left over powder sugar, put them on a tray and flatten them a bit with your fingers.
They now need to rest for around 2-3 hours before you can bake them in the oven for around 25 minutes on 140°C. They should be soft on the inside, so check them before the time is over since they might take a few minutes less!
These also make nice gifts if you can handle not eating them before. Enjoy!
I made this lemon curd as a filling for my rosemary cake with brown butter frosting. Of course you can also use it for other things like bread or scones. It’s really easy to make, cheap and will last for a while. At least in here the bought lemon curds are quite pricey and full of additives. It’s also a nice gift!
You can find the original link to the recipe in the post about the cake.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp salted or unsalted butter (I used salted)
Mix the lemon juice, sugar, eggs and egg yolks together in a pot over low to medium heat and whisk everything until the butter has melted.
Stir constantly and boil slightly until the mixture thickens up like a pudding. It will take around 10 minutes. When it’s done strain the curd through a fine sieve to catch any remaining egg whites.
You can then put it in a bowl and let it cool down for later use or you can pour it into a jar and serve it with buns or scones. Enjoy!