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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Recipe: Bibimbap (Vegan Option & Meat Option) GF, Soy Free)

Vegan, Soy Free, and Gluten Free
With meat and fried egg added
This recipe is for two adult portions, plus leftovers for about one serving the next day

To add a little extra love to this dish, make my Homemade Hot Sauce recipe  to serve with it


Veggie Ingredients:
2 cups Long grain white rice, cooked in rice cooker
1 large red (or yellow) bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
2 cups green onions, cut into two inch pieces
About 2 more green onions, thinly sliced and set aside for garnish
One large cucumber, seeded, and sliced matchstick style
2-4 cups of sliced mushrooms. You can use any mushroom you like. Shiitake is ideal, but I typically           go for a more affordable option like creminis. This measurement of 2-4 cups will vary depending on if you are using mushrooms as a substitute for meat. If you are using meat and egg, two cups of mushrooms is sufficient.
1 small zucchini, cut in half and then sliced into thin pieces, lengthwise

Mushroom or Meat Marinade
1/4 c. Soy Sauce (or Soy Sauce Substitute; find my recipe here )
2 Tbs White cooking wine or Rice Wine
1 tsp. Rice Vinegar (Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice would also work OK)
3 Tbs Raw Cane Sugar (Honey, Brown Sugar, or your favorite sugar substitute should work)
Optional, but highly recommended: 2 Tbs My Homemade Hot Sauce (or Korean Gochujang Sauce, or Sriracha)

1.5 lbs of beef or pork sliced very thinly across the grain, into bite sized pieces
One egg per bowl

1. Make sure to prepare ALL of the ingredients before turning on the stove (This includes cooking the rice)

2. Make the marinade. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients, set aside.

3. Slice the mushrooms and cut the meat. Place the mushrooms in a shallow dish, and the meat in a separate dish. Pour the marinade liquid over the meat and mix it around; use just enough liquid to coat the meat, pour the rest of the marinade onto the mushrooms and toss gently. Set these aside.

4. On a clean cutting board, start slicing the vegetables. As you slice the veggies, place them on a platter or into seperate bowls so they don't get mixed together. You will be stir-frying each type of veggie on it's own, so make sure the carrots stay in their own little pile, set the onions next to them, and the peppers next to the onions, and so on, not mixing them together. (Slice the cucumber into matchsticks, and thinly slice two of the green onions, set aside for garnish)

Keep your veggies separate, unlike a regular stirs-fry
5. Once all your veggies are prepared, and your meat and/or mushrooms are marinading, heat up a couple tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. You can use sesame oil if you wish, but keep in mind that it will drive up the cost of this meal significantly, as you will be adding oil to the pan for each vegetable. I use grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil, as they are all more affordable, and I add sesame at the end as a flavorful garnish.

6. Get the oil nice and hot, but don't let it get to smoking, if you toss in a grain of rice and it sizzles, the oil is ready. Put in the zucchini slices (or your lightest colored vegetable) and stir-fry until cooked. Remove the zucchini from the pan and place it back on the platter. Next add some more oil and the green onions, or yellow pepper, or whatever the next vegetable is. It is recommended to stir fry your veggies starting with the lightest colored ones, and ending with the red or dark colored ones last. This will keep your carrots and red peppers from staining the lighter veggies, and give your plate the freshest look! Cook the green onions and place them on the plate as you did with the zucchini. Continue this with all the veggies (except for the cucumber, which will be served raw) until they are finished.

7. Next, do the mushrooms. Add them to the pan with a bit of the marinade liquid and stir fry just until they are soft and darkened, it should only take a few minutes.

8. Now comes the meat and egg. But first, I recommend plating up the bowls so that the fried egg can be added directly to the top. Put some rice into the bowl, and add veggies around the edge of the rice. If the dish is meant to be vegan, put the mushrooms in the center top; like this:
Vegan Bibimbap ready to eat! Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil, cucumber slices, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and sliced green onion

If you are preparing a bowl that will have meat and egg, leave a hole in the middle on top of the rice, and after cooking the meat you will place the meat there, with the egg on top.

9. Clean out any veggies from your pan and add the meat, stir fry just a few minutes until cooked. Place it on top of the rice in the center of the veggies. Heat some oil in the pan and crack an egg into it, pour about 1/4 c water into the pan, carefully, and place a lid on. This will steam the top egg white so that you will have fully cooked white part, and a nice runny yolk. Once all the white part is cooked, place the egg on top of the meat in the center of the bowl. If you wish to add egg to a veggie bowl with no meat, simply fry that egg before stir frying any meat in the pan.
Meat bowl. The meat is in the center, on top of the rice, hiding under the egg.  Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil, cucumber slices, green onions, and sesame seeds.

10. To eat the Bibimbap, break the egg yolk and mix all the ingredients together with the rice. You will want to eat and eat and eat! This is a great comfort food and oh-so filling! Add some Gochujang or My Homemade Hot Sauce to the bowl for a little kick!


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Experiment: Chamomile to Lighten Hair

I had a fun experience lightening my hair using chamomile flowers from my garden, lemon juice, and honey. You can do it with chamomile tea bags, or loose leaf tea, if you don't already have flowers. I really loved this process and hope it works for you too!
Before chamomile treatment (L), and After two applications(R) (more updated photos coming soon!)

This recipe is very adaptable. You can add moisturizing ingredients like argan or coconut oil if you wish, or you can dilute it by using more water. I've also heard that Calendula (Marigold) has lightening effects, so maybe that could be tried if chamomile is not available.

Notes about my ingredients:
(Chamomile) I used whole, dried chamomile flowers that were grown in my central California garden last summer (2016). I used about 3 Tbs of flowers, which (if my googling is correct), is equal to approximately 4-5 chamomile tea bags. If you want to do the application exactly like mine, I suggest using whole dried flowers. These can be bought at many natural food stores. I know they are often sold in bulk where high quality teas are sold. If that is not an option for you, give the tea bags a try! But remember that everybody's hair is different, and test it on a small patch of hair before going crazy with it. 

(Honey) I added honey into the mix because it tends to have a softening effect on my hair, and I wanted to balance out any possible dryness that the lemon juice may cause. I used wildflower honey. Any kind of honey will do. Just make sure it is, in fact, 100% real honey. There are a lot of dupes at the supermarket!

(Lemon Juice) I used the juice from one small lemon. Lemon juice can dry out the hair, but it also greatly increases the lightening effects of chamomile. So I went for it. If you are concerned about damage, or if your hair is damaged already, skip this ingredient! You can always do more applications of a gentler mixture, but you can't undo damage once it's done.

(Boiling Water) I used plain old tap water to steep the tea

(Rose Water) I had a bottle of "Heritage Store" brand Rose Petals Rose Water in my cupboard. I love this stuff, and I used it to dilute the chamomile mixture (at the very end of the process), simply because I enjoy the smell of it. You can also use just plain water.

Ingredients (Measurements)
3 Tbs Whole, Dried Chamomile Flowers (if using tea bags, see my note on Chamomile above)
1 Tbs Honey
Juice from one small lemon (about 1 Tbs)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup room temperature water or Rose Water

Making the Hair Lightening Mixture
1. Put the chamomile flowers (or tea bags) into a coffee mug or small heat-safe bowl
2. Pour the 1/2 c. of boiling water in, and mix gently if necessary just to push any floating flowers under the surface of the water. Cover and let steep until cooled
3. Strain the mixture into a small mixing bowl, using a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Push gently on the flowers with the back of a spoon to squeeze out any excess moisture. (If using tea bags, just remove the bags from the water, and squeeze out any excess)
4. Once you have your very strong chamomile tea in a bowl, add in the honey and lemon juice, and mix well. It will smell delicious. I tasted mine, and it was really good!
5. Add 1/3 cup of rose water (or plain water) and pour the mixture into a jar or bottle. Read the application method (below) before deciding on what container to use.

Application Methods
(Spray Bottle)
If you're planning to apply this all over your hair, then a spray bottle may be your most efficient method. I have the worst luck with spray bottles, so I didn't use that method, because for some reason  the cheap little pump sprayer thing always seems to quit on me halfway through whatever I am doing. Also, after straining my chamomile flowers, I noticed tiny particles in the final solution. Several layers of cheesecloth and a second strain would probably remedy this, but, I didn't have that. Because I wasn't planning to put this in a pump sprayer, I didn't worry about it.

(Bottle and Cloth)
I keep my mixture in a small bottle, and when I want to apply it, this is what I do: I fold a dry baby wash cloth into quarters, and holding it in my right hand, I dip the cloth into the solution. Next, using my left hand, I grab one inch sections of hair and I wrap the saturated cloth around the hair section, squeezing gently as I run it down the length of hair. It's sort of like painting. Except the mixture is too runny to use a brush.

How long to leave it on, and to sun, or not to sun?
Ehh, I'll be honest, I have no set answer on this. I've heard that going in the sun with lemon or chamomile in your hair makes it blonde. I've also heard that it works with just plain heat (like a shower cap) and I've also heard that it works regardless of the aforementioned variables. I have no idea if increasing or decreasing the amount of time will make a difference in it's effectiveness. I'm not sure if it continues to work after it dries, or if it is only processing while it is wet. I also don't know if leaving it in longer can cause damage to the hair. This was just a big experiment, I'm not an expert.

I tried to find out via the all-knowing Google, but there are people who say "throw a showercap on and leave it in overnight" while there are others who say not to leave it on for more than 30 minutes! So what's a girl to do??? As you can tell, this is all very experimental to me, but I did have several requests for details after posting my before & after pics on IG, so you were one of them, I'm sorry lol, but this is all I've got for you.
While I don't know a whole lot about this process, other than what I've learned on my own so far... I do know this: once you put this crap in your hair, it's going to
B. Get incredibly sticky while wet, and "crunchy" as it dries
C. Possibly attract bees and other bugs if you go outside

SO, having said all that, I will just tell you what I did to get my current results, then you can decide for yourself what to do.

The first time I applied it, I let it sit in my hair for close to 4 hours (oops). I honestly forgot about it. I put it on my hair and left my hair down to air dry. It very much resembled that crunchy 90's gel "scrunched" look, where your hair appears to be wet, but when you touch it, it feels like dried ramen. (see photo, taken at the end of 4 hours)
Mixture still in hair (dried) after 4 hours, first application. No clue if that was a good idea or not, but I was multitasking and it sort of just got left there until I had a chance to wash it out. 
I worked in my garden (in the sun) for 2 of those 4 hours. About halfway through, I managed to wrangle the mass of crunchy, tangled, ramen noodle hair into a pile on top of my head a la "messy bun" to keep it out of my face. The jury is still out on whether or not I would go out in public that way.
I decided to do this experiment on a day that I was already planning to wash my hair, so after working in the garden (obviously well after Theodore was in bed for the night) I washed my hair as usual.
Presto! I noticed immediate (although very subtle) results.

2. The second time I applied it, I did the same thing, except it wasnt sunny out, and I only kept it on for about two hours. I gave my hair a good rinse and scrub, but I didn't fully wash it afterwards. Once my hair was dry, I took my "after" picture, which I posted on Instagram as a side-by-side with the "Before" pic.
Before adding any treatment to my hair

After the second application

As you can see, the results are very subtle. But I've also only applied the mixture to my hair twice. I think I will see greater results after a few more applications. I will be sure to post updates on here, and on Instagram, as I continue with this experiment. If you use my Hair Lightening Recipe, PLEASE let me know how it works out for you, and post pics to the hashtag #mintedrecipes! Good luck, and have fun!!

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this is going to work on your hair. I'm just being real here. This is a natural ingredients experiment that I did on myself, and I got a few requests for details. The strength of the ingredients I used may be vastly different than the strength of your ingredients. Also, everybody's hair is different, so results are not going to be the same for everyone. That being said, I think this is a relatively gentle process, and pretty harmless compared to most chemical processes. If you decide to do what I've done, I highly suggest doing a "patch test," testing this process on a small bit of hair before applying it all over, to see if you like the results. I am not a hair care professional, I have just been using natural hair care methods on myself for many years and I really enjoy it. I have many like-minded friends and I want to share the process for those who are interested.


Recipe: My Homemade Hot Sauce (Vegan, Allergy Friendly)

This hot sauce recipe is a mashup of different Korean Gochujang inspired recipes. I tried a few and I learned a couple of things:

#1. I really LOVE gochujang as an ingredient.
#2. It can be really difficult to find gochujang in most grocery stores!

So, I took my favorite elements of the different recipes I tried, and experimented using easy to find ingredients. After a few trials and tweaks to the recipe, I think I've created something you're really going to love! It's a little bit sweet, with a mellow sesame flavor, and you can adjust the heat according to preference.

I tried using ingredients that can be found at most grocery stores with an Asian food aisle. I even adjusted some of them to be non-Asian ingredients for those who just don't have access to that kind of thing. So good luck! And if you make this recipe, please post a pic on Instagram and tag me! 

A few important notes:
You'll need a food processor or high speed blender. I use the single serving blender option on our ninja... it's quick. Also, you'll need to blend this once, let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two, and then blend it again. So if you're planning to use it for a specific meal, make it the day before, or at least get it started well before dinner time. 

3 medium cloves garlic
1/4 of a sweet apple (pink lady, honey crisp, gala, Fuji are all good options)
1/4 of a small white onion
2 Tbs of soy sauce OR My Soy Sauce Substitute
1 Tbs Rice vinegar (you can use lemon juice or 1 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 Tbs Mirin OR regular white cooking wine
2 Tbs sugar (we use raw cane sugar but regular brown sugar works great too!)
3 Tbs sesame oil 
1-3 Tbs of crushed peppers (also called red chili flakes, you know, the kind you put on pizza!

Note: if you want a more mild sauce, use only one Tbs of chili flakes, and follow the recipe, tasting when done. If more heat is desired, add another Tbs and repeat steps 2-4 until the flavor suits your palate. You can always make it spicier, but you can't take away heat once it's there. 

1. Put all the ingredients into a high speed blender
2. Blend until smooth or almost smooth.. it's ok if there are still red pieces of chili flakes, they will break down after they soak up some of the liquid
3. Place the sauce in the fridge for 1-2 hours. 2 hours is ideal but less time will be ok. I usually just put the lid on the blender and stick the whole thing in the fridge.
4. After allowing the mixture to sit, blend again until very smooth. 
5. Use the sauce in marinade recipes, as a dipping sauce, or drizzle it on top of your favorite dishes!

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