Friday, March 30, 2012

Product Review: Dr. Woods Soap

Recently Dr. Woods sent me samples of two vegan soaps from their line of products, Ginger Citrus Castile Soap (bar) and Lavender Castile Soap with Shea Butter (liquid). Now that I've tried both I'd like to share my thoughts on them.

I'll start with my favorite of the two, Ginger Citrus. I don't really smell the citrus in it but it definitely has a delightful ginger scent. It isn't overpowering, just pleasant, and it doesn't linger on skin after washing so I can enjoy the scent while bathing without smelling like it for hours afterward. For a bar soap, Dr. Woods Ginger Citrus really gives a lot of nice, rich lather, the lack of which is usually my biggest issue with bar soaps.

The Lavender liquid Castile soap I found less exciting. The scent is much stronger and I think the lavender stays on my skin after use, not necessarily a good thing in my opinion but if you want lasting scent then this is a good choice for you. It also doesn't give as much lather as the bar soap.

Overall I think both soaps are good, with the Ginger Citrus being the better of the two. If you are interested in trying Dr. Woods soap and you want to start with just one kind I would definitely go with a bar soap. Not all products from Dr. Woods are vegan but they do offer many that are so you'll just want to read the ingredients before purchasing.

You can find Dr. Woods on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Breakfast Potatoes **

When I was a kid my mom would sometimes make breakfast potatoes, seasoned and cooked with onion in a frying pan. Although pancakes are my favorite hot breakfast this is definitely next on the list! I decided to add some protein to my version with black beans and I actually think it tastes better with them.

This recipe doesn't photograph so well but I promise you it is delicious! In this photo I've made it with the addition of some Field Roast brand veggie sausage.

2 cups chopped onion (a sweet onion will work best)
2 cups shredded potato (if you are using frozen potato allow it to thaw first)
1/2 TBSP safflower oil plus more as needed
1 cup prepared black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp salt plus more to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper plus more to taste

Optional ingredients:
1/2 to 1 cup cooked veggie sausage, cut into bite-size pieces (note: if you are avoiding soy or gluten make sure yours gluten/soy free!)

Heat a large frying pan over medium and add oil and onion. Cover the pan and cook until the onions are soft and translucent or slightly brown if desired, stirring occasionally. Transfer the cooked onion to a bowl and add a little more oil to the pan before spreading the potatoes evenly in the bottom and replacing the lid. Watch carefully to allow the potatoes to brown a little before turning them over and letting them brown on the second side. After the potatoes are cooked put the onion back in the pan with them and add the black beans (and veggie sausage if using). Sprinkle the salt and pepper on and stir everything together. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Peachy Oolong Iced Tea with Peachy Syrup *

I love tea, both hot and iced! It is a nice little treat any time of day and I could happily sip it all day long. In the winter I choose hot tea but once warmer weather rolls around I find it is nice to make iced tea by the gallon and keep it in the fridge, ready to drink whenever. I make a variety of different iced teas but this one is an especially summery treat. The nice thing about making a syrup instead of sweetening the tea is that you can choose just how sweet (or not sweet at all) you want each glass to be.

If you keep some frozen peach slices around dropping them in your tea in place of ice cubes is a nice little touch when you have a guest.

For the tea:
1 gallon water
5 or 6 oolong tea bags, 6 for stronger tea
5 herbal peach tea bags (I use Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion)

If the tea bags have tags remove them. In a large pot bring the water to just a boil and then remove it from heat. Add the oolong and peach tea bags and stir a few times with a slotted spoon to ensure they steep properly and don't cluster together too much. Allow the tea to sit with the teabags in while it cools. Do not remove the tea bags for at least 10 minutes! It is actually best to leave them in until the tea has cooled to room temperature; unlike standard black tea the oolong tea won't become bitter if left in for a long time. Once the tea is cooled to room temperature use the slotted spoon to drain and remove the tea bags. Pour the tea into a pitcher or gallon jug (using a funnel will aid with the latter) and store it in your refrigerator. This makes a bit less than a gallon of tea due to evaporation and the moisture the tea bags take with them when removed.

This syrup won't have as strong a peach flavor as commercial peach syrups, but it also doesn't have artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, or high fructose corn syrup, and you can make it with organic sugar if you like.

For the Syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sliced peaches, fresh or frozen

In a saucepan combine the water and sugar over high heat and stir until somewhat dissolved. Add the peaches and allow to cook until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid is clear. Cover the pot and turn the heat off. Allow the peaches to sit in the syrup until cooled to room temperature. Remove the peaches (they will be very sweet but you can save them if you like) and pour the syrup into a container you can seal. If you don't want little bits of peach in your syrup you will want to pour it through a strainer before storing it. Unless you like your tea very sweet this will probably be more than enough syrup for one batch of tea.

NOTE: You can always just sweeten all of the tea, either by stirring syrup into the whole amount or by stirring sugar in before the tea cools if you prefer not to sweeten by the glass.