Rustic Creamy Tomato Soup

>> Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Is your garden bursting with tomatoes? Ours sure is. We actually didn't plant anything this year because we were moving during the prime preparation season. The first day after we'd settled into our new place, we noticed that the previous owners had planted an entire raised bed garden's worth of cherry tomatoes.

We have several pints a day ripening up. And our CSA is proving some heirlooms of all different varieties. Take a look at this bounty! Talk about local color, right?


In the past, I've made Tangy BBQ Sauce to freeze, I've slow roasted tomatoes to marry with warm quinoa salad, and I've even combined tomatoes with white wine for a Boozy + Bold Chunky Pasta Sauce. I've also made various tomato soup recipes, but I've never quite gotten the flavor right. I love Panera's thick and creamy tomato soup, so I decided I'd try my best to replicate it as closely as possible.

I actually succeeded using a lazy roux.

And now you can, too!


RUSTIC CREAMY TOMATO SOUP
Vegan option. Makes 6 cups of soup.

What you'll need . . .
  • 5 cups chopped assorted tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance or butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or substitute)
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
  • salt + pepper to taste
Method . . .
  1. Chop tomatoes coarsely (I left the cores in and skin on, hence the "rustic" title) and put them in a large, non-reactive stockpot with the onions, garlic, water, and soy sauce. 
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling, then bring down to a simmer and cook for 15-30 minutes, smashing with a spoon to release juices and break up fruit.
  3. Let cool and then transfer to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. (It will still be somewhat chunky because the skin is in there -- but that's good!)
  4. In you stock pot, melt the Earth Balance or butter and combine it with the flour. Whisk and then add in the milk a little at a time until it makes a thick paste. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Then add your pureed soup in batches, whisking to combine with this roux.
  6. Then add in your Parmesan or nutritional yeast.
  7. Let cook on the stove and have the flavors mingle for and 15 minutes or so. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with delicious crusty no-knead loaf.


My soup turned out orange because I used so many different color tomatoes, but yours might be a rich red, a bright yellow, or even green, depending on which fruits you use. Whatever the case, we ate one Ball jar up right away and froze the other (after letting it cool completely in the glass jar) to eat later.

Which reminds me! I'm doing another freezer month of dinners and other foods, hopefully in time for September. I'm planning my big cook for this weekend, and I hope to share the recipes in the weeks following. It's that time of year when the days are getting shorter, the weather's getting cooler, and having some extra meals stocked up just makes sense.

What's your favorite way to use up tomatoes?

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DIY + Natural Lotion Cubes

>> Monday, August 25, 2014

When I was a teenager, I was absolutely obsessed with lotions and sprays from Bath + Body Works. I'd cover myself head to toe in all their smelliest concoctions even if my legs burned from the lotion after shaving. As I've gotten older, I've decided against all the chemicals in those types of products and -- instead -- skipped lotion in my routine.

My friend shared her homemade lotion recipe with me several months ago. I've been hooked on making variations ever since. Seriously! Making body care products at home is as easy as it is satisfying.

Note: I used tea tree oil in this "recipe" because it's good for the skin. It's naturally antibacterial and also soothing. I'm actually hoping to modify this recipe in the future to make a cube specifically good for acne and/or cuts, etc. Be advised if you have very sensitive skin that you'll want to use fewer drops of tea tree oil since it can cause some irritation -- or substitute in your favorite essential oil, like lavender.


DIY LOTION CUBES
Make five totally customizable 1-ounce cubes.

What you'll need . . . 
* I had considered searching for beeswax locally, but I was pleased to find organic, hand-poured beeswax on Amazon from the nearby Pocono Mountains for around $1/ounce.
** Use your favorite essential oil.

Method . . . 
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place a smaller pot inside (like a double-boiler). You'll melt everything safely in here since the beeswax is flammable and can't take the direct heat.
  2. Drop in your shea butter and oil. Grate your beeswax finely to facilitate faster melting.
  3. Then just stir until everything is well incorporated and take off the heat for a minute or two.
  4. Add your essential oil drops and whatever other add-ins you'd like.
  5. Pour into molds and transfer to your refrigerator to fully set. Then pop out of molds and store in a baggie or airtight container.

I know shea and coconut oil can be used AS-IS for moisturizing skin -- but it's fun to have them in bar form. They'd make great gifts, so I'm going to keep fine-tuning in time for the holidays. Oh, and now that I have some beeswax on hand, I can finally make my own lip balm and a few other projects (candles, etc.) I've been wanting to try.

Have you ever made lotion at home?

// RELATED

Powerful DIY Laundry Detergent
5 Green Cleaners That Work
5-Minute Homemade Deodorant
8 Ways We've Eliminated Plastics
Cleaning Produce The Natural Way
Chemical-Free Clean With Castile Soap

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Powerful DIY Laundry Detergent

>> Thursday, August 21, 2014

I've tried lots of DIY laundry detergent recipes. Some of them have worked. Some of them haven't. A month or so ago, we ran out of Charlie's Laundry Soap, which is what we had been using, and I wanted to give the whole homemade route another try before buying more (though Charlie's works beautifully on clothes AND cloth diapers!).

Here's the best detergent I've ever made!


// DIY LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Enough for around 60 loads, use 1 cup detergent per load.

What you'll need . . .
* You can also use standard Fels-Naptha soap. I use Dr. Bronners because it has the essential oils in it already and I just like it better.

Method . . .
  1. Grate your bar of soap (way easier than it sounds). Then pour 6 cups of water into your stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and melt soap -- stirring often.
  2. Pour the rest of your water into your bucket or container and dissolve the borax and washing soda. Then pour in your soap and stir well.
  3. Let sit for 12 to 24 hours before using. 


// NOTES

  • We store our detergent in an old Igloo 5-gallon Jug. It works wonderfully!
  • You'll want to stir around the detergent from time to time because it will separate just a bit. Lumps are OK. They will dissolve during the wash cycle.
  • To wash nasty running clothes, we toss in a scoop of OxiClean Free for good measure and extra smell-fighting power.
  • We have a water softener, so I'm not sure how this detergent works with hard water. You may wish to add some salt to your mix?
  • My clothes are just slightly more stiff after washing with homemade detergents, so -- long ago -- I invested in a pair of those dryer balls. They fluff laundry the natural way without dryer sheets.
We've had great success using this detergent at home. It cuts through stains just about as well as the other detergents we've used, but at a fraction of the price (this is less than 10 cents per load!). I suppose I could make a more concentrated version of it, but -- for now -- I'll stick with what's working.

What's your favorite homemade laundry detergent recipe?

And for more healthy ways to green your home + save money, check out our Homesteading section. I'm really excited to put some focus on this area of our lives. We learn as we go, but the experiments have been well worth the results!

5 Green Cleaners That Work
5-Minute Homemade Deodorant
8 Ways We've Eliminated Plastics
Cleaning Produce The Natural Way
Chemical-Free Clean With Castile Soap

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...
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