Homemade Tomato Sauce

Bought too many tomatoes for a recipe and it was starting to get mushy. So, I turned it into basic tomato sauce.

Recipe

  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Sliced Garlic (however much you like)
  • Herbs / Seasoning (whatever you like)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  1. Slice the garlic thinly and put it in the pan with some olive oil. Turn on the stove and let the garlic infuse into the olive oil. Do it until the garlic starts to brown.
  2. When the garlic starts to brown, add in the diced tomatoes. I chopped up the tomatoes with the skin to eliminate food waste.
  3. Bring the tomatoes to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  4. Add in salt, herbs and whatever seasoning you like. Sometimes it’s just salt. Sometimes I like it spicy so I add red pepper flakes. Sometimes I add dried oregano because that’s what I have. Add whatever you like. It is your tomato sauce.
  5. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes and taste it. If it is too tangy, add a little bit of sugar until it is to your satisfaction.
  6. If you like your tomato sauce smooth, feel free to blend it in a food processor or with a stick blender. I’m too lazy so I leave it chunky sometimes.
  7. After 15 minutes, the sauce would have thickened a little and all the tomatoes would have liquified. Pour into glass jars and let it cool.

What now?

Tomato SauceTomato sauce is not just for pasta. You can use it to make so many things such as:

  • chicken cacciatore
  • steamed / baked fish with tomato sauce
  • shakshouka (eggs poached in tomato sauce)
  • tomato rice
  • meat sauce or ragu
  • omelette topped in tomato sauce
  • dipping sauce
  • lentil curry
  • chicken / fish curry
  • baked / steamed shellfish with tomato sauce

 

 

 

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Homemade Apricot Jam

A friend gave me a bag of apricots. Since it was getting too ripe, I decided to make apricot jam with it. All you need is apricot, sugar and some lemon / lime juice. The ratio of apricot to sugar is a minimum of 3:2. This means for every 3 portions of apricot, you need 2 portions of sugar. I read somewhere there it does not qualify as jam unless 50% or more of it consist of sugar.

Method

Apricot Jam

  1. Cut the apricots into small chucks and remove the seed.
  2. Put the apricot and white granulated sugar in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Once it is boiling, reduce it to a simmer on medium to low heat. If you see foam, remove the foam.
  4. Let is simmer for about 30 minutes and make sure that you stir occasionally to avoid it from burning at the bottom.
  5. Take a spoonful of the liquid jam and set aside to cool. When it cools, test if the consistency is to your satisfaction. If so, the jam is done.
  6. Turn off the heat and add about 1 tablespoon of lemon and mix it into the liquid jam. Pour into glass jars and let it cool.

Tips

  1. There is no need to add water to the apricot and sugar because the apricot will liquify.
  2. If the apricot is bruised, it is important to remove the bruised portions so you can maintain the color of the final product.
  3. Taste the liquid from time to time to make sure it is the sweetness is to your satisfaction.
  4. It is important to let the concoction simmer for at least 30 minutes so that it thickens into jam consistency when it cools down. I tried being lazy and let it simmer for a few minutes and when the concoction cooled down, it had a runny consistency. When that happens, transfer it to the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
  5. If the liquid gets burnt at the bottom, don’t scrape the bottom. Instead, transfer it to a new pot and continue the process.

 

Bone Broth in Slow Cooker

What do you do with the roasted chicken carcass when dinner is done? What about the chicken wings that nobody wants? I usually save all the bones and freeze them until I have a container full of bones. Sometimes I freeze carrot, celery and mushroom bits too. I don’t eat as much meat as I used to so it usually takes a few months for me fill up the container with bones.

Bone Broth 1
You can see some from frozen bones and celery sticks in the slow cooker.

Recipe

  1. Dump all the bones and frozen vegetables in a slow cooker and cover it with water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
  2. Add seasoning such as salt, bay leaves, peppercorn, garlic, herbs and whatever you like.
  3. Let it cook on low for about 24 hours.
  4. Sieve the contents and store them in different sized glass jars.

Bone Broth 3

Tips

  • If you use raw bones, blanche the bones first before roasting the bones. Blanching the bones will remove impurities and make the broth clearer. Roasting the bones before adding it to the slow cooker will give it better flavor.
  • I accept all bones. I don’t discriminate.
  • I prefer to cook my bone broth in a slow cooker so I don’t have to watch the fire over the stove.
  • Adding a tablespoon of vinegar (any type) is suppose to help breakdown the bones to extract more flavor from the bones.
  • You don’t need as much vegetables as you typically would use when making a stock. The broth is more concentrated than a stock.
  • Use the largest stockpot or slow cooker that you possibly have because the bones takes up a lot volume. You will be surprised with how little bone broth you will get from such a large stockpot but then again, the flavor is much concentrated.
  • When the bone broth becomes gelatinous at room temperature, you know you did it right.
  • It’s good to store the bone broth in different size jars because some recipes requires less or more bone broth.
  • When you are done, bury the discarded bones so it becomes compost.

How to Use Bone Broth

  • Drink it as is.
  • Use it when cooking quinoa, grains and rice.
  • Use it as the soup base for noodles and congee.
  • Use it in place of stock.

 

Poor Man’s Recipe

I call this the poor man’s recipe because all you need is rice, egg and soy sauce. This recipe is made from basic items that I usually have in my kitchen.

Egg and Rice.jpg

Recipe

  1. Cook rice according to instructions. For this recipe, I prefer starchier rice but I suggest you work with what you have.
  2. Cook an egg sunny side up. I was starving so I cooked 2 eggs. It’s important for the yolk to remain runny because the yolk is the sauce.
  3. Season with soy sauce. Use as much as you like.
  4. Optional: Sprinkle furikake over the top. Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning. There are many flavors out there. I bought the Nori Komi Furikake because it was sold in glass jars.

Alternatives

There is a Japanese version of this but it’s slightly different. Raw egg is mixed into a bowl of steaming rice with soy sauce. As much as I love runny yolk, I am not a fan of raw eggs and that is why I cook my eggs sunny side up.

***

This recipe has saved me so many time when I was starving and there was barely anything in the fridge. Maybe one of these days, this recipe will save you too.

Buddha Bowl Recipe

This is the ultimate recipe for someone who can’t cook unless they are following a recipe. This is the perfect recipe to clean out your fridge or pantry and it can be served cold or warm. There is no real measurements, it’s whatever you like. If you like more vegetables, add more vegetables. If you like more meat, add more meat. It’s your recipe to personalize so just give it a go.

Quinoa Bowl
Quinoa, brown rice, raw lettuce leaves, chopped tomatoes, roasted beets, roasted chicken and caramelized onions.

Recipe

  • Grains (quinoa, brown rice, white rice, lentils etc)
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Optional Ingredients
  • Salad Dressing
  1. Choose a grain and cook according to instructions. 1 cup is usually enough for 2 portions.
  2. Chop the vegetables into bite size portions. Leave it raw or cook your vegetables. You can steam, stir fry, grill or roast your vegetables depending on what you like.
  3. Cook the meat or use whatever leftover meat you have. If you don’t have any meat, top the bowl with an egg. I like my egg poached, over easy or sunny side up. If you are vegan, skip this step completely.
  4. If you have nuts that you want to get rid off, you can add it to the buddha bowl. I recommend toasting the nuts first. Add cheese if that’s what you like. I like small mozzarella balls.
  5. Make a simple salad dressing or use whatever dressing you have on hand. See basic salad dressing below.
  6. Mix everything evenly in a big bowl and serve.

Buddha Bowl

Basic Salad Dressing

This is the simple dressing that I use frequently.

  1. Add 3 parts olive oil into a small jar / jam jar.
  2. Add 1 part acid (lime juice, lemon juice, any type of vinegar (white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, plain vinegar)) into the jar.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Close the jar and shake it until the concoction is emulsified.

Optional steps:

  • If you like a bit of spiciness, add a teaspoon of mustard.
  • You if have fresh herbs, chop the herbs finely and add to the concoction.

The good thing about making the salad dressing in a jar is that you don’t have to use all of it at once. Just use what you need and save the rest for another time.

***

If you can’t figure out what to make for lunch or dinner, check your fridge and pantry. Consider making a buddha bowl and you might just be surprised. Challenge yourself and make a meal out of what you already have.

DIY Deodorant

Commercial deodorant is bad for you. It’s full of chemicals blah blah breast cancer blah blah Alzheimer’s blah blah. I usually take the position that I should use up whatever item I have before moving to the zero waste option but deodorant is the exception.

Detoxify Your Armpits First

Before starting with natural deodorant, it may be a good idea to detoxify your armpits first. Here is a simple recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon of water

Mix all ingredients until it is of smear consistency. Apply on your pits and wait for 15 to 20 minutes before washing it off.

Detox Tips

  1. Mix it is a glass jar. It’s enough for at least 2 applications.
  2. Do not use metal or stainless steel when dealing with bentonite clay. Use plastic or wooden spoon instead.
  3. It’s easier to wash off in the shower.
  4. You can stop doing this when you no longer get irritations when using natural deodorant.

Recipe

DeodorantHere is the recipe I use for my deodorant. I copied it from Kathryn K of Going Zero Waste. I like her formula because it’s simple and I’m lazy. Once I hear double boiler, it’s game over for me. However, if you are willing to go the extra mile, please check out Lauren Singer’s deodorant recipe.

  • 2 oz of boiled water
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of himalayan pink salt

Mix everything before pouring it into your vessel. I saved the spray nozzle from a lense cleaner and it fits this glass bottle perfectly.

Tips

  1. I recommend mixing the mixture in a measuring cup. It makes it easier to pour it into the bottle.
  2. Shake the glass bottle before spraying it.
  3. Feel free to add a few drops of essential oil.

1 Ingredient Recipe

If you don’t have sensitive skin, you may wish to consider brushing baking soda or arrowroot powder directly to your pits. I’ve tried it before but I find it a little too messy for my liking. There are dust particles around the sink and my clothes and I’m not a fan of white pits.

Where to buy?

If you’d rather purchase deodorant. Here are some options to consider:

  • Schmidt’s
  • Primal Pit Paste
  • Erbaviva
  • Organic Essence
  • Meow Meow Tweet – Available in jar or tube
  • Crystal Deodorant – Most crystal deodorant comes packaged in plastic and I have not been able to find one without plastic packaging.
  • Etsy – There are tons of options available. Search pit paste and buy from someone local.

Other Things to Consider

If you still have some concerns about your body odor, you may want to consider the following:

  1. Change your diet because what you eat does affect the way you smell. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Cut out caffeine and alcohol.
  2. Drink more water. It helps remove toxins from your system.
  3. Wear natural fibers.

Garbanzo Curry

I made this for lunch today. It’s my kind of comfort food.

Garbanzo Curry

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • oil
  • 1 whole onion (diced) – I used spring onions because that’s what I have.
  • 8 cloves of garlic (diced)
  • 1 tomato (diced) – I used roma but any tomato should work.
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp of tumeric
  • 1 tsp of ginger powder – If you have real ginger (about 1 inch), slice it thinly and add it with the garlic.
  • 2 tsp of curry powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans – drained and rinsed. I rinse it because the water has sodium and I’m trying to cut down on that. Looking into using dried beans next time.
  • 1 cup of water / stock – another reason to add another layer of flavor. You can add more or less depending how thick / watery you want your curry to be.
  • yogurt / coconut milk
  • a bunch of soft leafy vegetable (chopped). I used arugula because that’s what I have but it would be great with spinach and coriander too.

Method:

  1. Heat up wok (any bowl like cooking instrument will work including a medium sized pot) and add oil. When oil is heated, add onions, a pinch of salt and let it soften. Subsequently, add garlic and all the dry spices to toast. Add more oil if you think the mixture is going to burn.
  2. When you can smell the spices, add tomato and salt. Stir for a few minutes and let it dry out.
  3. Add garbanzo beans and water / stock and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. If you use canned garbanzo beans, it’s already cooked so it is a matter of heating it up.
  4. If the curry is too watery to your liking, let it simmer until desired amount of liquid. Taste and decide if you need more salt.
  5. Add yogurt / coconut milk at this stage and mix well. I prefer coconut milk because it makes the curry creamy and it improves the color of the dish. Since I did not have any, I used yogurt. If you use yogurt, the liquid has a spotty look.
  6. Add green vegetables and let it wilt.

Ta da! It took me about 20 minutes to make this dish from prep to cleaning up. It goes great with rice and I hope you will give it a try.

Pickled Vegetables & Jalapenos

What do you do when you have extra vegetables that you need to use up before it goes bad? What do you do when you need to leave on vacation and your fridge is still full of perishables? I usually pickle my vegetables and save them for later.

Recipe – Pickled Vegetables

You can pickle almost anything. If it is done right, it keeps the vegetable crispy. There are so many recipes out there but here is the recipe that I use to make my brine:

  • 1 cup of vinegar (any kind)
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt (any type)
  • any type of herbs or spice you like
  • any type of vegetables
  1. Pour the vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Cut the vegetables and pack it into the jar. In the photo above, I have carrot, green beans, red peppers and onions. You can cut in strips, chucks or dice. Whatever you like.
  3. Add the herbs or spice.
  4. When the brine is boiled, add it to the jar and ensure that all the vegetables are submerged.
  5. Close the jar and let it cool a little before putting it in the fridge. Let it sit in the fridge for at least a week before trying it and see if you like it.

Recipe – Pickled Jalapeno

I love pickled jalapeno. If I had to choose only one condiment, it would be pickled jalapeno. I have it with rice and noodle. Husband doesn’t like the pickled jalapeno but he loves the brine.

Here is the recipe I use for pickled jalapeno.

Resources

  • From Food & Wine – The science behind vinegar pickling

 

 

Salted Eggs

Salted eggs is an Asian thing. Turns out that it is super easy to make salted eggs. I usually serve it as a side dish with rice if it is not too salty and if it gets too salty, I would serve it with congee.

RecipeSalted Eggs

To make salted eggs, you need eggs, salt and water. The ratio is 20% salt to 80% water. In this case, I actually prefer to weigh the salt instead of measuring the salt by cups.

  1. Boil the water until the salt dissolves and let the salt water cool.
  2. In the meantime, slowly arrange the raw eggs in a jar. Check the eggs and make sure none of the eggs are cracked.
  3. When the salt water cools down, pour it into the jar so the eggs are submerged in the brine.
  4. Seal the jar and leave it for 30 days. After 30 days, take one egg and boil it like you boil a hard boil egg and have a taste. If you like the way it taste, you can boil the rest of the eggs the same way and keep it in the fridge. If you prefer it to be saltier, leave it in the brine for a few more days. I personally prefer to keep the eggs in the brine for 50 days.

Tips

  1. Typically duck eggs are used. Since it is hard for me to buy duck eggs, I usually use chicken eggs and it works fine.
  2. Adding a tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine (Shao Xing wine) is suppose to make the egg yolk darker. Add the wine once the salt water cools.
  3. If the salt water is too hot, it may crack the egg if the eggs are still cold.
  4. It may be a good idea to put a reminder in your calendar so you remember to check your eggs after 30 days or so.

 

 

DIY Toothpowder

ToothpowderI brush my teeth with toothpowder and here is the recipe:

  • 1 part bentonite clay (Tip: Use plastic to scoop out bentonite clay. Something about metal affects it)
  • 1 part baking soda
  • 10 to 15 drops of peppermint oil

Mix everything in a small container and shake the container until everything is mixed evenly. Bentonite clay is suppose to help remineralize your enamel. I prefer to use this glass spice container because it is small, long and you can easily apply the toothpowder to your toothpaste by tilting the container at an angle.

I wet my toothbrush and dip it in the glass container before brushing my teeth. Since I use the dipping method, I recommend that everyone have their own toothpowder container. Some people use a parmesan shaker to apply the toothpowder on their toothbrush but I find too much of the toothpowder gets wasted.

The thing about bentonite clay is that you will find light brown spots around your bathroom sink. You can probably fix this problem by adding coconut oil to your powder mixture because the coconut oil will hold all the powder together. However, I’m not a fan of using coconut oil so I avoid it.

Transitioning to toothpowder felt weird at first but now I prefer it to regular toothpaste. I feel my teeth is much cleaner and it does not have that film-y feeling that you get from using regular toothpaste.

It has been a year since I switched to toothpowder. During my dental checkup today, the dentist said that my teeth are great. He even mentioned that the toothpowder is clearly working for me because there are no cavities and my enamel is thick.