Tag Archives: Easy recipes

Lotion bars

As a beekeeper, I tend to have a lot of beeswax on hand. Every time I harvest honey, I render the cappings, but I rarely get around to using them for anything.

Last fall, I used some of my surplus beeswax to make a batch of mini lotion bars to hand out to my colleagues at school. I ended up with way more than I needed, so I stored the leftovers in the freezer. They’ve been a godsend since we started washing our hands approximately nine million times a day to ward off coronavirus.

I realize normal people don’t just have chunks of beeswax lying around, but if you can put your hands on some, you can make your own lotion bars with just a few minutes’ worth of work.

For the basic bars, I used:

1 part beeswax
1 part coconut oil
1 part olive oil

A lot of recipes say to melt your beeswax in a double boiler to reduce the risk of igniting it, but I’ve melted beeswax in the microwave for years and never had any problems. The trick is to use a Pyrex measuring cup; cut the beeswax into thin slivers; and watch it closely, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent hot spots.

(If you ever do have a fire in your microwave, just unplug it and leave the door shut until the fire burns out. It shouldn’t take long, because there’s not much oxygen in there.)

When the beeswax was mostly melted, I added the coconut oil and continued nuking and stirring until it was all melted together. Then I stirred in the olive oil and enough wintergreen and peppermint essential oil to make it smell nice, poured it into silicone molds, and stuck them in the freezer to harden. Once they solidified, I wrapped them in candymaker’s foil and stored them in an old sherbet tub in the freezer.

To use, hold a bar in your hands until it softens up, then rub it over your skin. It takes a while to soak in, but it’s a good overnight moisturizer that doubles as an excellent lip balm.

Emily

P.S.: Hat tip to Mom Makes Joy, who posted the recipe I used as the basis for mine.

Vegetarian Friday: Kettle corn

One of the foods I always associate with fall — along with hot cider and caramel apples — is kettle corn, which shows up at a lot of county fairs and harvest festivals.

I’m sharing the recipe now because I’m thinking of it, but you can make kettle corn at any time of year, and it’s way easier than you’d think. Cheap, too; I used to make it for our scholar-bowl team at Webster, and a batch big enough to feed two teams and all their alternates took about 50 cents’ worth of popcorn and sugar. The kids loved it and were disappointed if I let a game slip by without making it.

The big trick with kettle corn is having all your equipment ready so you can move fast once the oil heats up.

Equipment
Big saucepan or small stockpot with a lid
Big spoon
Oven mitts
Big bowl
Measuring cups

Ingredients
About 1/3 c. popcorn (use Orville Redenbacher, not the cheap stuff)
About 1/4 c. sugar
Enough canola or peanut oil to coat the bottom of the pan about 1/8″ deep
Salt

Step 1: Pre-measure the popcorn and sugar and set them next to the stove, along with the spoon and the big bowl.

Step 2: Pull the battery out of your smoke alarm and turn on the exhaust fan above your stove, because you’ll probably screw up and burn this the first couple of times you do it. It gets easier with practice.

Step 3: Put on the oven mitts. No matter how well your lid fits, oil and steam can escape around the edges and scald you.

Step 4: Cover the bottom of the pan with oil, throw in three kernels of popcorn, and heat on high until they all pop.

Step 5: Dump in popcorn and sugar — in that order — stir quickly, and cover. Remove from heat and shake vigorously every three seconds, holding the lid onto the pan as tightly as possible.

Step 6: Once corn pops (about five minutes or less), dump it into a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with salt, and enjoy.

If you let it cool down completely and then store it in a sealed container, it will stay fresh and crispy for several days.

Emily

P.S.: The little strings on the popcorn in the picture aren’t hair. They’re strands of melted sugar. The sugar melts into the oil, coats the popcorn, and basically turns into candy as it cools.

Vegetarian Friday: Easy veggie frittata

This frittata goes together quickly and is a great way to use up leftover vegetables. This is more a method than a recipe, as you can substitute any kind of cheese and any kind of vegetable you want and adjust your spices accordingly. If I were making it again, I’d leave out the squash in favor of mushrooms — which have a more assertive texture after an hour in the oven — and add some green chile. Mozzarella and pizza toppings would give it an Italian flavor.

Ingredients:
About 3 cups of chopped vegetables (I used onions, celery, peppers, squash, tomatoes and cilantro)
Olive oil
Handful of any kind of cheese, shredded or crumbled (I used a Mexican blend I had on hand and added some homemade taco seasoning to give it a Southwestern spin)
Four eggs, beaten
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Coat an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or pie pan with cooking spray and set it aside. (I recently bought one of those sprayer bottles that turns olive oil into an aerosol, and it worked very well and didn’t impart any of the weird flavors you can get with commercial cooking sprays.)

Sauteed vegetables are the centerpiece of this easy, high-protein meal.
Sauteed vegetables are the centerpiece of this easy, high-protein meal.

Saute vegetables in olive oil in a wok or large skillet until onions are clear, adding delicate vegetables last. If you’re using any kind of spices, add them now.

Layer the cheese with the vegetables so it doesn't dry out or scorch on top.
Layer the cheese with the vegetables so it doesn’t dry out or scorch on top.

Put half the vegetables in the 8-inch skillet. Sprinkle cheese over vegetables. Cover cheese with remaining vegetables. Carefully pour eggs over vegetables and cheese and bake at 400 degrees until the top starts to brown and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean (about an hour).

Pour eggs over vegetables and bake.
Pour eggs over vegetables and bake.

Frittatas and quiches don’t microwave very well, but they reheat well in the oven for a low-effort meal on a weeknight.

Emily