Citrus and Chamomile cold pressed shampoo bars

 

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It's been a year now since I've made my first cold pressed shampoo bar. Of course everything started because of my curious mind .and ... having learned how to make cold pressed soap ... I wanted another challenge so ... cold pressed shampoo was next on my list. 

Years and years ago my mother used to make hot pressed soap at home and she remembered how back in a tiny village in Russia, her parents used to use this type of soap to wash their hair as well so I was not surprised to read that it is possible to make a cold pressed shampoo bar. 

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My hair is bleached and coloured and I've never used lots of lotions and potions on it... let's say I am lazy  ... anyway ... the first time I used my bar of shampoo  I was really curious to see what the result would be ... nope I was not scared ....I was curious. Much to my surprise after I washed it, my hair was not at all entangled and dry as before but very smooth!!!! A huge positive as before I was struggling to comb it after washing it! I have also noticed that my hair was shinier and stayed cleaner for longer .... more positives And last but not least, the bar lasts a long time indeed. (by the way once you buy it from me you can cut it in 2 or 3 sticks and it is easier to use and to carry it with you while travelling) Everything I am sharing here is  based on my personal experience. In time,  friends tried it and became customers ... it is a product I love to make and I really believe in. Here are a few more bits of information about the 2 types of shampoo bars  I currently have.  oh and ....The shelf life? This is a good question ... I still have a piece from my first batch and it's really perfect ... and yes it's one year old :) 

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CITRUS SHAMPOO BAR 

COLD PRESSED 

This shampoo bar is scented with a blend of lime, lemongrass and lemon essential oils that not only give a delightful smell but will boost the cleansing power as well. Mango butter conditions the hair while the natural humectant properties of honey add extra moisture and shine. 

CHAMOMILE SHAMPOO BAR 

COLD PRESSED 

This shampoo bar combines the natural goodness of chamomile tea with nourishing honey to create a wonderful experience for your hair. Chamomile is a soothing herb that suits all hair types even the sensitive ones. Mango butter conditions the hair while the natural humectant properties of honey add extra moisture and shine. 

BENEFITS of using SHAMPOO BARS

  1. Very good value for money 
  2. 100% natural ingredients
  3. Better for the environment
  4. Very practical 
  5. Makes the hair healthier 
  6. Great while travelling 
  7. Are multipurpose - can be used as soap bars and for washing clothes while travelling or camping 
  8. Are space savers 

INSTRUCTIONS TO USE 

  1. After you enter the shower, rinse your hair with plenty of water 
  2. Rub the shampoo bar directly onto your hair. Repeat until you have fully covered your hair
  3. Massage your scalp and hair until a good lather forms 
  4. Rinse the shampoo out of your hair 

I have to say that I do not use any conditioner after using the shampoo bar but, in case you need to use it here are a few options

CONDITIONING / CLARIFYING YOUR HAIR 

1. In case your hair needs extra loving, do apply your favourite conditioner 

                                                                Or 

2. It could very well be that you do not need any other products added 

                                                                Or 

3. You can prepare a clarifying rinsing combination of 1 part vinegar to 9 parts water, add it to a spray bottle and keep it in the bathroom.  

After you rinse the shampoo from your hair, do spray the rinsing combination on your hair and rinse again with water. The smell will not stay on your hair.  This my darling is a very old way of rinsing the hair, of making it shine using pure natural products. My grandmothers used it ... my mother as well .... it's an old tradition ..... 


Beehive Cosmetics and a selection of cold pressed soaps and cold pressed shampoo bars

 

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Beehive Cosmetics 

What is our aim

Our aim is to create artisan hand crafted products that you can be proud to use, display in your home and use on your skin. 

Let’s talk about soaps

It’s all about what is in the soaps isn’t it? 

Our soaps contain 100% natural ingredients: coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, mango butter, castor oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil and lots of other yummy oils and butters aiming to nurture, moisturise, rejuvenate your skin with the natural ingredients it needs for a healthy look. 

Cold process handmade soap is gentler and less drying than commercial soap as it retains glycerine as a natural byproduct. 

What we don’t use: fragrances, preservatives. Our products are cruelty free and suitable for vegetarians. One of the other unique selling points is that .. our soaps are long lasting. 

Our soaps are made via a cold pressed processing process in which the active botanicals remain far more intact and potent. 

A few tips 

 

  1. The best way to store our soap is in a drainable soap dish and if being used in the shower, once finished being used, do store it in a watertight soap container between showers to avoid running the bar down too quickly. Rinse it under running water before use and lather up in your hands to use.  
  2. If the actual soap is too big for your palms, just cut it in half and use it in 2 bathrooms. 

 

  1. Gardener’s rescue cold pressed soap (available from May 10th) 

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Ingredients: coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, hemp oil, ground coffee lime/lemon essential oils. 

Benefits:

Exfoliation – Coffee skin care products made with real coffee grounds make great natural exfoliation solutions given the slightly coarse texture of the grounds. You would probably expect this in a scrub since exfoliation is its main purpose, but chances are you didn’t know that a bar of soap could cleanse, moisturise, and exfoliate your skin all at the same time!

Very soothing to the skin. It is designed to be gentle on sunburned skin, winter-reddened skin, or other skin sensitivities plus of course it is a great help for the keen gardeners.! 

 B. Citrus shampoo - available from May 10th 

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Ingredients: coconut oil, mango butter, olive oil, rice bran, sweet almond, castor oil, lemongrass, lime, lemon EO

Benefits: This is a ultra-hydrating shampoo suitable even for sensitive hair. It leaves your hair soft and strong, caring for your scalp too.

Extra notes 

When using a shampoo bar, it’s best to follow it up with a vinegar rinse to help restore the PH and remove any soap residues. This is especially important if you have HARD WATER. 

Dilute the vinegar with equal parts water to make a rinse or for more convenience and less waste, keep a spray bottle of vinegar in the shower and spritz it over the scalp and hair after shampooing. Follow with a rinse of plain water. 

Shampoo bar extra info 

Not everyone’s hair type does well with shampoo bars so if you find that you don’t care for how they work on your hair, use them as hand and body soap. 

How to use 

Gently stroke a few times onto the hair or lather between the fingertips and simply work into the hair for a foamy shampoo. At the  end, just rinse off. 

 

C. Chamomile and honey shampoo  (available from May 15th) 

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Ingredients: olive oil (rose infused), coconut oil, castor oil, avocado oil, mango butter, sweet almond oil, chamomile tea, honey, lemon EO  

Benefits: This is a hydrating shampoo suitable even for all types of hair. It leaves your hair soft and strong, caring for your scalp too. For greasy hair we recommend to rinse the hair with  …… 

Extra notes 

When using a shampoo bar, it’s best to follow it up with a vinegar rinse to help restore the PH and remove any soap residues. This is especially important if you have HARD WATER. 

Dilute the vinegar with equal parts water to make a rinse or for more convenience and less waste, keep a spray bottle of vinegar in the shower and spritz it over the scalp and hair after shampooing. Follow with a rinse of plain water. 

Shampoo bar extra info 

Not everyone’s hair type does well with shampoo bars so if you find that you don’t care for how they work on your hair, use them as hand and body soap. 

How to use 

Gently stroke a few times onto the hair or lather between the fingertips and simply work into the hair for a foamy shampoo. At the end, just rinse off. 

D. Sea Salt bars and Himalayan salt bars - available now  

Himalayan salt bar soap 3

Ingredients: coconut oil, mango butter, avocado oil, castor oil, sea salt, lemongrass / spearmint essential oil. 

Properties:

Salt bars have creamy lather  - because of the way they are formulated they end up having a creamy lather rather than a big bubble lather. This gives a luxurious feel as you are washing and pampering. 

Salt bars help exfoliate the skin - they remove dead skin cells and leave your skin more youthful and glowing 

Salt bars help balance natural oils - when they exfoliate they also nourish.

Salt bars are detoxing - they help to draw impurities from the skin, making for a wonderfully detoxing skin routine that doesn’t require a salt bath to accomplish. 

Salt bars replace natural minerals - they contain many minerals, primarily magnesium, potassium, iodine, calcium and zinc. 

E. Charcoal citrus cold pressed soap - Available now 

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Ingredients: olive oil (calendula infused), coconut oil, sweet almond oil, mango butter, tamanu oil, castor oil, activated charcoal, lemon/ bergamot EO

Enhanced with super-fine charcoal powder, our handmade natural soap offers excellent cleansing and leaves a beautiful feel on the skin.

Why charcoal?

  • Because charcoal’s amazing characteristics keep your skin healthy.
  • Adsorption – Charcoal is super-porous and can adsorb undesirable chemicals, bacteria and odours on the skin.
  • Anti-oxidation – Charcoal is well known for slowing or even reversing oxidation and it works as an anti-aging agent.
  • Cleansing – Fine powdered charcoal gently exfoliates dead skin cells to revitalise.
  • Minerals – Charcoal is rich in minerals, providing useful nutrients to keep your skin young-looking and healthy. 

F. Honey and oats scrub cold presses soap  - available May 15th

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Ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, honey, oats 

 

This is a delightful skin soothing soap, ideal for people with skin related problems including itchiness. 

 

G. Creamy shea butter Bastille cold pressed soap - for extra sensitive skin available now 

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Ingredients: olive oil, shea butter, castor oil, light grapefruit EO 

 

This soap is extra gentle and can be also used by the  loved ones that are going through cancer treatments. Since cancer treatments often cause skin to become more sensitive and fragile, it’s usually recommended that patients use mild products without fragrance, colorants, or exfoliants.

H. Creamy avocado cold presses soap - sensitive skin - Available now 

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Ingredients: cocoa butter, castor oil, coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, lemon EO 

Avocado has many benefits for the skin, whether you eat it or use it topically. The oil contains pretty much the same benefits as the fruit, 

such as healthy fats (like omega 3), phytonutrients and vitamins A, D and E.

It’s also rich in minerals (specially potassium), which helps it penetrate the skin evenly, quickly and deeper than other plant oils, making the skin smooth and moisturised.

Because of the avocado oil used in this soap, the conditioning properties of the finished product and the creaminess are delightful.   

This is a gentle bar suitable for all types of skin including sensitive skin. 

 

I. Strawberry rose and Australian clay cold pressed soap - helpful for acne issues - available May 20th

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Ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran, cocoa butter, castor oil, fresh strawberries, Australian clay 

 

The Australian Clay helps restore the balance to an irritated complexion, it delivers moisture and energy to tired, dull complexion and helps to soothe inflammation while lightly exfoliating skin. 

The formulation of this soap helps keep acne under control without drying out your skin.

Strawberries contain the antioxidant ellagic which not only prevents the destruction of collagen, it can also help to lighten hyperpigmentation. While the acidic nature of  their vitamin C content helps to naturally exfoliate skin, fight acne causing oil and free radicals.

 J. Milk soap -available now 

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Ingredients: cow milk, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, sweet orange EO 

If you are looking for a highly moisturising, nurturing soap this one is for you. Remember that Queen Cleopatra used to take long baths in a milk … although this is not possible for us … the cold pressed milk soap is a reliable and trustful replacement. 

K. Calendula cold pressed soap - for extra sensitive skin 

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Ingredients: olive oil infused with calendula flowers,  coconut oil, palm oil, calendula petals 

This soap is ideal for babies and also for people with skin problems like psoriasis and eczema. It is a very mild and soothing soap. The healing properties of the calendula petals are also perfect for soothing nappy rash. 

The soaps will soon be vailable to buy from www.etsy.com/shop/beehiveartsstudio 

Just in case you would like to learn more about oils, butters and their properties ... keep reading ... 

1. Olive oil 

Did you know what olive oil … 

  • it produces a mild creamy lather and a hard moisturising bar. 
  • Is rich in skin nourishing fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamin E
  • It moisturises the skin and hair
  • Has anti agin effects and helps maintain the integrity of skin cells

2. Coconut oil 

Did you know that coconut oil ….

- it makes a hard bar with great lather and lovely big white bubbles that do not vanish immediately. 

  • it is light, moisturising and nourishing
  • It is suitable for all skin and hair types especially beneficial for dry skin and hair. 
  • It can restore lustre and shine to dry or damaged hair 

3. Castor oil 

Did you know that castor oil ….. 

- is particular useful for making shampoo bars as it assists in rinsing and produces a moisturising lather. 

4. Shea butter 

Did you know that shea butter …. 

  • is a luxurious and expensive butter that gives a hard, silky quality to the bar of soap and shampoo
  • It acts as an emulsifier and provides skin enriching properties 
  • It repairs damaged skin
  • Helps to improve the condition of dry and mature skin 
  • It hydrates skin and helps prevent moisture loss and encourages healing of chopped lips also helps to soften cracked, dry skin 

5. Cacao butter 

Did you know that cocoa butter …. 

  • produces a hard bar with a stable lather. 
  • Is a natural and effective emollient with a distinctive chocolate aroma
  • It provides a barrier against moisture loss and environmental damage
  • Good for dry and damaged skin and helps to fade stretch marks
  • It keeps the skin hydrated 

6. Sunflower oil 

Did you know that sunflower oil …..

  • is very high in vitamin E which repairs and protects skin and is easily absorbed into the skin 
  • It hydrates the skin 
  • The oil is protective and helps to repair sun-damaged skin
  • it can reduce scarring and smooth the appearance of existing wrinkles and fine lines
  • it produces a stable lather, is mildly cleansing 

7. Sweet almond oil 

Did you know that sweet almond oil ………….

  • is suitable for all skin types but especially for sensitive skin
  • Is gentle enough to be used by the children 
  • Helps soothe dry, irritated skin and prevents moisture loss
  • It acts as a natural moisturiser and encourages the healing of dry, irritated skin

 

 


Strawberry foam a desert and lots of memories

 

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Once upon a time, a long long time ago......when strawberries were only available during the late spring and early summer my mother used to prepare a delicious and light desert called “strawberry foam” - I forgot all about it but today, after 15+ years I wanted to try and make it myself .... for the first time .... and the taste ..,, is divine .... it reminds me of my school years in Romania, of long summer days ... days of intense reading and .... eating this divine .... strawberry foam ... yum!

I wrote the words above a few days ago ....posted them on Facebook and was asked for the recipe ... so ... here we are ...  today I made another batch of strawberry foam  because I wanted to document, step by step the process and make it pretty easy to follow. 

First of all ... here is a list of ingredients

300 grams strawberries 

2 egg whites 

100 grams sugar 

2 tbsp lemon juice 

It will take you about 15 minutes to make ... pretty quickly indeed. 

Here it is how 

First of all .. chop the strawberries and add them together with the sugar (see photo) in a Nutribulet or any other blender ... blend for about 2 minutes. (see photo) 

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Once the sugar and strawberries are nicely blended, set them aside.

Put the egg yolks in a pot and start beating them until you obtain a foamy effect (see photo) 

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When the foam consistency is reached add 2 tbsp of lemon juice, drop by drop and continue to beat the eggs. 

Next, add drop by drop the strawberries juice and continue to beat the mixture. 

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15 minutes later ... you are done really ... you can put them in glass jars in the fridge and eat later or ... start eating immediately. I know you will love it as much as I do. If you are adventurous ... start playing with the ingredients ... use strawberries and raspberries or strawberries and blueberries. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy! 

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Calendula soap for extra sensitive skin

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A year and a bit ago I had no clue what a cold pressed soap was all about or melt and pour or  hot pressed  (actually I had a tiny bit of information but very very tiny and this is a story for a future blog). I have learned in the meantime that making soap, artisan soap ... is an ART. Yep an ART with capital letters. When one starts to investigate  (loving Agatha Christie's books helped me big time) one opens Pandora's box. All sorts of things come out  .... the chemicals that the mainstream manufacturing companies add to the soaps, creams, shampoos on top of a sudden realisation of the tons of wasted plastic bottles,  small, medium, big used which end up in piles and piles all over the world from the bottom of the sea to the highest picks of the mountains. Am I suddenly preaching? Nope ... I was and still am guilty of using plastic bottles all over the house BUT, BUT, BUT ... I am slowly changing my habits ... it's been a year since I bought the last liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner ... yep I am pretty proud of myself ... everything starts with a single step. 

OK enough with the preaching and let's go back to the CALENDULA soap ... a soap recommended even to the people with very sensitive skin and even for children. 

Calendula soap bar 3

You might like to know that the healing properties of calendula petals are perfect for soothing an itchy skin as well. Most of the olive oil I use in the recipes is infused with calendula petals or with rose petals. The beauty of calendula petals is that they can be used as you see in the image, even in the mix, creating lovely random designs. The olive oil infused with calendula that has been used in the recipe makes a more moisturising bar, something you skin will thank you for. 

What are the ingredients in this soap? Here they are ... calendula infused olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, distilled water, lye... and yep that's pretty much it. 

Usually the soap needs 4 weeks curing time and it lasts for at least 18 months! 

A little tip 

In order to extend the life of your soap you can cut it in 2 or 3 and use them in different bathrooms. They will soon be available to buy from my new ETSY shop called Beehivecosmeticsshop. 

Calendula soap sensitive skin


What actually is a salt bar?

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I will admit that before buying the "Willow and sage" magazine I have never heard of a salt bar and I have never used one. So yes, curiosity made me try the first recipe and after 6 weeks of waiting for the first batch to cure, I really, really loved the result ... and I still do. It is a very versatile cosmetic product to make, there are lots of recipe variations and I know it will be a product I will always have as part of the Beehive Cosmetics range. 

But let's talk a bit about what is this soap, what does it do and what are the benefits. 

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Let's talk about the Himalayan sea salt bar. Given the name there is no secret that salt is one of the key ingredients in this product. And yes, one can use sea salt instead of Himalayan salt. Himalayan salt crystals contain minerals, small enough for our body and skin to absorb, providing amazing therapeutic benefits to skin, body and mind. The process I am using to make this natural product is called ....  cold pressed. But back to the minerals now .... 

Believe it or not but some of the minerals included are 

Chromium - known to fight cane and reduces skin infections 

Zinc - aids the healing and helps prevent scarring 

Sulphur - keeps the skin smooth and clear, helps diminish dry patches 

Magnesium - great for skin beaus it helps get rid of dry skin. This will also help improve the texture of skin and skin hydration. 

And last but not least Himalayan salt is known as a great exfoliator. 

So, in a nutshell, the Himalayan salt bars

                        - last a long time

                        -  is a great exfoliator

                        - it  moisturises of the skin

                        - it is creamy

                         - it  leaves your skin incredibly smooth

 

A classic salt bar recipe consists of: salt, coconut oil, mango butter. Of course there are lots and lots of variations and I will have quite types  for sale in the next few days from my brand new Etsy shop called Beehivecosmeticsshop. If you live in Eastbourne or in the neighbourhood areas ... you can buy my products from "The Beauty Vault" situated in the Enterprise centre. 

The truth is that a good skincare product does not have to be complicated. My products are eco friendly, cruelty free, natural..... whatever you read on the label is exactly what it is inside! 


Why Beehive Cosmetics?

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So, what is Beehive Cosmetics? What is in a name? Pretty much I can tell you. For me ... it's a connection ... a connection with my ancestors, a connection with my both sides of the family, my Romanian one and my Russian one. My maiden name is Stupu which one could translate .. the one who had beehive. I don't remember my Romanian grandfather but I know for sure that beehives were not part of their lives ... but surely it was part of that side of the family, surely some great grandfathers were beekeepers. I can go even deeper ... deeper down the rabbit hole and say that ... as a Romanian, I come from the Daci and Romans and the land where Romania is nowadays, was called DACIA. It is very well known that the Daci were passionate beekeepers ... the bees were very much revered by them so ... yes my Romanian side has a strong connection to ..the bees.

On the other side, the Russian side I know for sure (from stories) that my grandfather was a keen beekeeper and my mother used to remember time and time again how the honey was stored in huge wooden barrels and during the harsh Russian winters grandfather used to go and cut the solidified honey with a knife and bring it in the house.  

So ... of course when I was searching for a brand name for my cosmetics ... the name Beehive came to my mind .. it actually came during one of my very first days of TM (transcendental meditation) and it is here ... to stay.

OK now that we have an answer as to .. why Beehive Cosmetics ... why am I involved in this activity? Where does this passion to make my own cosmetics come from? 

 

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Simply because about a year and a half ago I came across a magazine called "Willow and Sage" .... I love magazines and I am always with my eyes wide open for whatever is new on the market ... the name attracted me, the design, the idea of recipes for natural cosmetics appealed to me as well. I am a keen cook and a keen experimenter so ... the idea of experimenting with nourishing oils suddenly appealed to me. At the time I was looking for an activity where I was able to simply relax and forget about business, forget about the reality around me ... simply be involved in an activity that is so demanding of ones attention that one is not able to think about anything else ... it is absolutely a way of ... living in the moment. And this is how my journey into cosmetics, natural cosmetics started .. with one recipe ... followed by another ... and another ... and I have started to give it to my friends to try, the positive feedbacks started to come back to me ... and ... here we are some months later ... I am launching my very first products under this umbrella ... the umbrella of BEEHIVE COSMETICS. To be continued .....

 


Introduction to the cold pressed process of making soaps

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I've been making cold pressed soaps for the last 6 months ... it all started out of the blue, after I bought a very interesting and colourful magazine called "Sage and willow". It took me a while to get enough courage to try this technique but once I did my first batch ... I was hooked ...and I still am. It is exciting to create new combinations, to try new recipes and to wait full of trepidation to see the result of your efforts. For this first short blog about the cosmetics I am busily creating in the Beehive Arts Studio I would like to tell you a bit about what is this process all about. So, here we go .... 

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COLD PROCESS SOAP

First of all you need to know that the soaps I am offering are handcrafted in the true traditional cold press method where I  use no heat during production. This means that all the precious, beneficial qualities of the oils are kept intact. During this cold method of soap making, vegetable glycerine [a humectant] is produced naturally during saponification, to enable us to offer the moisturising qualities of naturally produced glycerine soap.

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So, NO CHEMICALS, NO PRESERVATIVES, NO PALM OIL

I  do not use petro-chemical substances, preservatives or detergents. 

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Some of the basic ingredients are: 

Coconut oil Naturally antibacterial, moisturising, cleansing, nourishes the skin, adds creamy lather to soaps

Olive oil 

Skin friendly, generally well tolerated by the majority of people

Sweet almond oil 

High in vitamin E, helps to nourish and moisturise dry skin 

Cocoa butter 

Adds hardness and creamy lather to soaps, nourishes the skin

Castor oil 

Added to help boost bubbles.

More about this interesting process, the soaps, the properties in future blogs. 


Coconut and cardamon sweet potato soup and distant memories


Cardamon and coconut soup For whatever reason I am going to write about another soup, something new, something I've never cooked before. I truly love to experiment with new ingredients, new recipes ... I am never worried I might not like it or my husband might not like it ... the truth is that ... if you don't try  something new... you will be stuck in an illusionary  circle of "safety" and in time boredom and even intolerance (but about this at another time) 

So, cardamon .... the first time I came across it was in 1995 when I started to work for a few traders from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan ..... as it is their custom, doing business is always better with a cup of coffee or tea in front of you and even better over a meal .. something they are very good at organising and cooking. So my first taste of cardamon came while sipping one of their Turkish style coffees with .. a few pods of cardamon or a pinch of ground cardamon. I loved the taste from the very beginning and to this day I use cardamon daily in my coffee..... I love the smell, the taste and also it reminds me of past experiences I really treasure. 

As we've recently acquired a freezer I am eager to try new recipes of soups and not only ... something to cook and store easily for the days when I am too tired  and I want to simply pick something up from the freezer and just heat up. 

The recipe below I have not only tried but loved and it will be clearly part of my cooking "repertoire" and also it will be in a creative book I am currently preparing. 

What do you need as ingredients? Here you are ... 

2 tbsp melted coconut oil or sunflower oil 

1 red /white onion chopped finely 

a small piece of fresh ginger grated

2 garlic cloves grated

2 medium size sweet potatoes peeled and diced 

1 tsp ground cardamon 

400 ml coconut milk

salt, pepper 

750 ml vegetable stock 

juice of 1/2 lemon or lime ( I love lemon in my soups so I use the juice of 1 lemon)

fresh coriander chopped 

roasted coconut flakes (optional) 

What's next? Simple ... just add all of the above in a pot, on the stove .. boil everything until the potatoes are soft ... blend them and ... voila ... start eating ... of course you can add the coriander at the end and the coconut flakes or you can blend them as well. 

Enjoy! 

One last thing about the cardamon ... apparently cardamon has a great stress relieving effect on the body, regulates blood pressure, stimulate the metabolism and improves digestion. 

Actually another last thing from me ....when I cook I always have music in the background or even a talk or a movie on the go ... when I write ...it s the same thing ... today ... I've been listening to a superb qawwali concert -  the Nooran Sisters are superb performers and singers so ... a feast for the ears and eyes ... listen to them. 

 


Zakuska, ajar a tasty Eastern European spread

 

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Although it is only mid August .... the preparations for autumn supplies has already started. I will always remember the smell of the roasted aubergines, roasted red peppers and long red peppers we call "capia" peppers in Romania. Zakuska was made by the majority of women, each using their own recipe, sometimes recipes well guarded as it was part of the family tradition and traditions ... are priceless. 

I've been making Zakuska on and off for a few years, using various recipes, Romanian, Russian, sometimes I added my own touch ..... I love Zakuska and probably always will .. it is not only tasty but it represents a tiny glimpse into a different way of life, slower, simpler .... 

Just in case you also want to make it, here is how: 

 

Ingredients

1kg long red peppers (roasted, peeled, deseeded) 

1kg aubergines (when you grill them ..they need to be pretty well burned ... and you need to keep turning them around) 

1 kg onions (chopped really really in tiny pieces)

1 l tomato juice/passata 

5 garlic cloves 

150ml sunflower oil

2 tbsp vinegar

salt, pepper even chillies if you want 

 

Just a few photos about how the chargrilled aubergines should look like before you take the flesh from inside. 

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First of all, you need to roast the aubergines, leave them to cool down, peel them and again leave the scooped flesh in a sieve for a couple of hours. Roast the long red peppers as well ( I do mine in the grill the same as the aubergines but one can do them on the barbecue ..... the taste is way, way better because it will have a stronger smoky taste) 

Next you need to peel the onions, cut them and put them in the chopper .. until you obtain small pieces. 

Add all of the ingredients in a big pot, stir nicely and make sure that you keep stirring the Zakuska from time to time for the next 90 minutes. In the meantime prepare your jars, fill them in  nicely and don't forget to taste from time to time :) I always do ... I love eating it when it is hot although the traditional way of  eating Zakuska is cold, on pieces of bread or if you are looking after your figure .....on lettuce leaves.  You can also add a few tablespoons on top of your pasta. 

What I do to prolong the shelf life :) is to heat the oven for 10 minutes to 160 degrees. When it reaches this temperature, switch off the oven and put in there the jars filled in with Zakuska without adding the lids .... 30 minutes later, add a few drops of oil in each jar, put the lids on and store them in a cool place.

You can start eating the next day or ... straight away .... bon apetite! 

 

 

 

 

 


Beetroot soup, painting, passion and flamenco

Red ... a colour I love  ... one colour, many shades ... each telling another story ... the beetroot red for me is the colour of flamenco .... deep, passionate, mysterious...... the colour of deep roots coming from beyond the times .... coming with the wisdom of the feminine lineage!

I love listening to flamenco music when I am painting ... I love listening to flamenco music when I am cooking as well .... it is a constant reminder that without passion ... nothing makes sense ... 

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This is exactly what I've been doing earlier today while in the kitchen ... I was listening to ...Miguel Povaeda and cooking  a new soup 

 

Beetroot and red pepper soup 

2 beetroots peeled and sliced

2 red peppers

1 tsp butter or sunflower oil 

1 onion peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove crushed

1 vegetable stock cube

1 later of water 

black pepper and a pinch of paprika

What's next? 

Just cut all of the vegetables, fry them lightly, add a litter of water and ... boil for 25 minutes until soft. That's about it .... liquidise it and .... done .... add a teaspoon of sour cream  and a pinch of zaatar and enjoy! 

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