Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Am I Nuts? I Love Soap Nuts

A while ago I heard from a few online friends about soap nuts. Seemed like a pretty wacky idea to me. How in the world could these things even compare to detergent? I mean really, even for was out there.

Well, the company I order most of my bulk herbs from had them. I contemplated about it for about 30 minutes. Should I? Is it even worth the trouble.

But I thought, for $2.25, I was willing to take a gamble. They arrived and I just looked at them for quite a while, waiting for the perfect load to try them out on.

Just in case they were going to ruin a whole load or something, I thought I better wait for something I wasn't too in love with....a load of old towels.

So, I wrapped up 5 of them in a square of muslin and tossed it in with the towels. What do you know, they came out pretty good, and the soap nuts emerged intact and didn't ruin a thing. But, then again, the towels weren't that dirty to begin with.

Then I realized that there was a pail of dirty cloth diapers that my baby had out grown that I had forgotten about for over a month. I know, ew is right. But, this would surely be the deciding factor on of these things really worked.

I crossed my fingers and gave it a whirl. What do you know....the diapers came out better than with my regular detergent. AMAZING!

So, what are these things? Where can you get them? How do you use them? How long do they last? What do they cost?

According to my herb website:

Soap nuts contain saponin, a natural detergent. The soap nut shell absorbs water and releases the saponins which circulate as a natural surfactant in the wash water, freeing dirt, grime, and oils from clothing. Soap nuts are found in both the eastern and western hemispheres, but are native to India and Nepal. They have recently become a popular environmentally friendly alternative to chemical detergent, and are a gentle option for those with allergies to chemicals in regular detergents. They have traditionally been used as an expectorant, and in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis.

Just a few nuts (4-6) in a cotton muslin bag should work for an entire load. There will be little or no bubbles during the wash cycle, and it will smell lightly similar to apple cider. They can be used several times and then composted afterwards. They will be slightly soft and grey when they need to be changed - I find I can do 5 heavy loads with 5 nuts. They can also be used in a powder form as a cleansing cream by adding a small amount of water.

20-25 nuts come in a 4 oz bag from Mountain Rose for $2.25. Believe me, though, I will be buying these in bulk for cheaper per ounce. So, give it a try! you'll like it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Throwing a Party W.O.W. Style

My 8 year old (today!) is getting baptized this Saturday and we wanted to throw a nice shin dig for her after the event. It's been muy years since I've thrown an adult party, so I had to dig deep to figure out what to serve for the brunch. Baked potato bar? Seemed too heavy and a little boring for my Sage. Salad theme? We could do the fruity quinoa salad, a nice waldorf salad, the tuscan bread salad...sounded great to me. But not Sage, this was a party for a kid afterall. Then I got it!

A Crepe Spectacular!

I'm so excited for this party. I super love crepes (recipe below). Or in my house growing up, it was Swedish pancakes....don't you dare call them crepes! We Swedes are racist like that I suppose. First off all, you've got to do the crepe right. I made about 100 of probably the healthiest crepes ever today. Organic whole wheat flour, free range local eggs, raw grass fed milk, real salt.....just thinking about it makes me smile. Anyway, you could do it just like everyone else does, but if you have the good ingredients, use them. It makes for fuller bodied taste, not to mention healthier of course. Yum! The beauty of doing a crepe buffet is that you can make the crepes up days in advance and not sacrifice quality. The other beautiful thing about a crepe party is that the fillings are endless.

In my cookbook I have a recipe for spinach mushroom crepes. Oh,'s one of my favorite meals. And there is the standard dessert fruit crepe, but what else can you do with crepes?
Here are the fillings we have planned, and I'm making them all up ahead of time :

Egg Salad


Cream cheese


Various fresh fruits ie strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pineapple, bananas

Apple-cinnamon-sucanat ('sauteed' in a pan)


Orange cream cheese blossom

Fresh mint

Peanut Butter

Lemon and lime wedges

And of course maple syrup, jams, and fresh whipped cream!

Basic crepe recipe:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
3 eggs

Heat a medium size skillet on med high and put a small pat of butter in and wait till it sizzles (this is how you know the heat is right). Pour in approx 1/4 C of batter and swirl around till you can't swirl anymore. Let cook until the edges brown and then flip with a narrow spatula. Brown other side and transfer to a plate. Repeat over and over again till batter is gone. Store covered in the fridge for days!