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Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub

Himalayan Salt Scrub | Amy Roth Photo

While this is a cooking blog, I often reach into my pantry for DIY beauty treatments, so I’d love to share one of them with you today. I don’t know if my skin qualifies as “mature” juuuust yet, but it isn’t the grease bomb it used to be, so I’ve started to cleanse my face with oils rather than soap, especially in winter. As a result, I’ve accumulated a nice array of skin-friendly oils like apricot, organic jojoba, argan and vitamin E which I love to combine with sugar for a quick scrub. But it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, so I realized that changing the basic recipe can turn it into a lovely gift.

At its most basic, a scrub can be nothing more than salt or sugar plus oil, which you can then build on to your heart’s content. I kept this one simple, blitzing a cup of Himalayan pink salt in a spice grinder, mixing it with an equal amount of apricot oil, then adding a few drops of one of my favorite scented oil blends — Morocco, from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. But you can change up the base oil to the others I’ve mentioned here or pull some from the cupboard — refined coconut oil is wonderful for the skin, olive oil works well if you don’t mind the scent, and even canola oil works in a pinch! Add honey for a skin soothing effect. Instead of scented oils, you can go without or substitute essential oils — peppermint (energizing), lavender (relaxing), frankincense (a natural toner), geranium (improves skin elasticity), myrrh (a strong anti-inflammatory), and the list goes on and on. This site has a lot of great information on essential oils, if you’d […]

December 4, 2016|Advent Calendar 2016, Beauty, DIY|0 Comments

New Stuff + A Cookbook Giveaway

New Shelves | Minimally Invasive

One benefit of working from home is having the freedom to tackle DIY projects gradually without sacrificing valuable weekend time.

And one drawback of working from home is having the freedom to tackle DIY projects gradually.

Last summer, I jumped into a major house painting project that ended FIVE WEEKS LATER with beautiful white ceilings, walls and trim in three rooms, plus the hallway and stairwell/entry. It was a major undertaking, one I only moved forward with because I’d forgotten just how much trouble the guest bedroom gave me about five years ago. But now that the painting is done, I’m so pleased with it. The space looks open and airy in a way it never did when the walls were a dingy ecru.

Dining Room Reno | Minimally Invasive

But our dining room wall was still bare until a couple of weeks ago. I bought poplar boards for shelves last October, but couldn’t decide if I wanted to stain them (a very dicey proposition), paint them (meh), or…what. I was originally planning to do the DIY Ace Hotel shelves popularized by The Brick House, but thought it would look too imposing in our small room, so I moved to basic white metal Ikea brackets that are rated to hold 33 pounds each.

Because it was too cold to stain or paint anything over the winter, the project languished and my cookbooks remained in […]

April 9, 2014|DIY, Giveaways|9 Comments

Day 21, Rosemary Syrup

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 21

My friend Kasha came over yesterday to hang out, do a little cooking, and help me with styling a few things, but it was one of those star-crossed days in the kitchen — my chicken was dry, the caramel sauce didn’t set before sundown, and the rosemary syrup didn’t make it entirely into the jar. No worries, though; I like a bit of imperfection in my pictures. Also? That dry chicken is nothing a little BBQ sauce won’t fix, and the caramel finally behaved itself long enough to proceed with the recipe. (More on that later.) It’s all about rolling with the punches in the kitchen, as Julia Child taught us so well with her enthusiastically-flipped potato pancake (not a chicken or duck as urban legend would have us believe).

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 21

Be sure to check out Kasha’s blog for a lot of great fresh-from-the-farm recipes and tips for using seasonal produce. She’s also an excellent baker.

recipe after the jump


December 21, 2012|Advent Calendar 2012, DIY, Gluten-free, Herbs|3 Comments

Day 11, Homemade Vanilla Extract

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 11

As promised, homemade vanilla extract! Once you try this yourself, you may wonder what took you so long to get with the program.

The principles are simple — choose a liquor for the base that’s about 40% alcohol, add vanilla beans and wait — but the results are extraordinary. I keep dark rum and bourbon versions on hand, though vodka is what you’ll usually find in stores because it has a very neutral flavor. I made the jump to dark liquors when I realized that either one would shine in nearly any recipe that calls for vanilla extract. Most baked goods would be complemented by them, don’t you think?

Because vanilla beans can be prohibitively expensive to buy in stores, I ordered mine from ebay. Yep, ebay. This store has a great reputation and a broad selection. And it’s a real bounty of beans, at least for a non-baker like me; I’m still working on the shipment I received a couple of years ago.

If you want to give this as a gift, I’ve created two versions of the label in the picture at the top of the post; they’re the perfect size to affix to a Ball jam jar. Just circle the base you used and they’re ready for gifting!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making your own vanilla extract couldn’t be easier or more delicious!

  • 3 medium vanilla beans
  • 1 cup dark rum or bourbon
  1. Sterilize your jar or bottle by pouring boiling water into it and letting it sit for 10 minutes. Pour out the water and continue.
  2. Slice vanilla beans lengthwise with a sharp knife. Tuck beans into the bottle or jar, then fill with liquor. […]
December 11, 2012|Advent Calendar 2012, DIY, Gifts|6 Comments

Day 10, Flavored Salts

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 10

Flavored salts are so easy to make and they’re such a great way to punch up dishes at home.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 10

Cook with them or use them as finishing salts — either way, they’ll impart loads of flavor. I made three versions for you today.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 10
Doesn’t this just look like Christmas with the red chiles and green lime zest? So festive!

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 10
Very subtle smoked flavor with great umami.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 10
My favorite of the three. It’s smoky and spicy with a big hit of fruity orange.

I took the Chile-Lime recipe directly from The Kitchn‘s guide to making flavored salts, but winged the other two with ingredients I had in my kitchen, just to see if I could do it.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 10

Because that took so little time and I was so happy with the results, I created labels for you to download if you’d like to give these to the food-lover in your life. They’d make great little stocking stuffers, don’t you think? You can download the labels here. I affixed them to my 2-oz. spice tins with Scrapbooker’s Glue. (I tried, I mean really tried to do these on printable labels, but the template was impossible to work with. Perhaps it works better if you’re on a PC.)

recipes after the jump


December 10, 2012|Advent Calendar 2012, DIY, Gifts|22 Comments

DIY Ginger Ale

I can’t even remember why now, but earlier this week I decided I needed to make homemade ginger ale and started googling. It turns out to be very simple — just a few tablespoons of ginger syrup + a cup of club soda, so I knocked that out this afternoon, post-nap.

I used Ming Tsai’s recipe for ginger syrup, but the search yielded a bunch of similar results — a combination of ginger, sugar, and water cooked down till somewhat thick. It’s spicy and sweet and so good, I think I could eat it by the spoonful. But the best thing about the recipe is you can set aside the sugary ginger slices to use as an ice cream topping or a drink garnish. Or, if it isn’t summer where you are, you can coat the dried slices in sugar and bake at 200 degrees F for four hours for homemade candied ginger.

June 12, 2011|DIY, Drink, Ginger, Gluten-free|0 Comments