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North Country Soapworks - home to the best all-natural handmade body products. No artificial flavors, no artificial scents, no artificial colors. Never anything artificial and never tested on animals. Artisan soaps, sea salt spa bars, delicious lip balms, skin loving body butter, scrubs and soaks. Your skin will love you.

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Welcome to the Vermont Cowgirl blog where you'll live life in Vermont through the lens of our camera, get sneak peeks of new all-natural products, behind the scenes peeks and much, much more.

Filtering by Category: DIY Recipes

Flu & Cold Bath Salt Recipe

Katrin Mooney

Our house is on medical lock-down as Vermont Cowboy came down with the flu. After whipping up my famous Chicken & Dumplings in addition to a newly discovered Curry/Ginger Carrot Soup, I set out to create a "Pick me Up" bath salt to get him up on his feet a little sooner.

Ingredients: 

Eucalyptus essential oil: it is commonly used for respiratory issues (it's also one of the main ingredients of Vick's Vapor Rub - which also uses camphor (synthetic) as well as menthol). It has been proven to relieve cough symptoms as well as runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, and overall icky-ness so I felt this was the perfect ingredient for this bath soak. Unintended side effect: it also worked in deodorizing the entire house with the smells wafting through - while I wasn't in the bath myself, I felt oddly invigorated - which may or may not have been the effect of the warmer weather (finally!) and sunshine outside.

Clove essential oil: My grandmom used to recommend chewing on a clove bud to ward off infections ...  since we're no longer in Christmas season and out of clove buds, I grabbed the next best thing, clove essential oil. You want to be careful as clove can be a major skin irritant and should never be used on the skin "neat" (undiluted) nor should it be ingested as some MLM companies suggest. It also doesn't cure cancer, HIV or Cholera nor does it vanish cavities (seriously, who makes up these absurd claims?). Under 0.5 % of the overall percentage of essential oils is what you're striving for - meaning if you're making 1000 grams of bath salts, you do NOT want to use more than 5 grams of essential oils total (1/2 teaspoon). 

In any case, clove oil supposedly supports a healthy immune system and is commonly used for respiratory issues. And, as I said, my grandmom said so. So into the mix it went.  

Ginger essential oil: Vermont Cowboy loves ginger. Ginger Kombucha, Ginger Beer, Ginger Soap, Ginger Candies, Ginger Tea ... you get the idea. ;-) Ginger has "warming" properties and I typically use it more in massage oils for sore and achy muscles and bones, I figured it would be a good addition as VT Cowboy just entered that particular stage of the flu - the one where everything hurts. Just like clove, be careful not to overdue it with the ginger essential oil. 

The ratio is 4 parts Eukalyptus, 1 part Clove and 1 part Ginger. As for the actual salt part of this soak, you can use Epsom Salts with a pinch of baking soda and sea salts or just Epsom Salts. And remember: the essential oils should not make up more than 0.5% of the weight of your bath salts. 

The end result: the house smells AH-mazing, Vermont Cowboy doesn't look any worse for the wear and reports that he feels slightly invigorated with a slightly tingly feeling on his skin (as I said, EASY on the clove & ginger there!). Invigorated enough to tackle a giant batch of Kombucha - with, you guessed it: Ginger.

Happy Sunday!

Vermont Cowgirl

It's the perfect day for German split pea soup

Katrin Mooney

Our super senior Jakebert underwent dental surgery today and for a large breed at 14.5 years, this isn't a small feat. Him and Vermont Cowboy headed out to Burlington this morning and with us girls holding down the fort. After staring at my phone for the better part of two hours, we finally got word that the landing party had made it to Burlington safe & sound, just waiting to be taken in for surgery.

I have to admit, I was pretty much useless until I finally heard back that he had made it out of surgery just fine although the surgery had been more invasive as originally planned. Luckily, one of my fabulous friends had given me an awesome idea months ago: to pre-cook meals so we can just pop homemade meals into the microwave on days like this. Not sure why this hadn't occurred to me in close to 12 years of failed house-wife-eyness but there you have it - my friend Stacie is a genius and I had food. Boom!

Today was the perfect day for my patented German split pea soup - which is my grandmother's recipe and simply delicious. I almost felt human again after having a healthy serving. 

In case you'd like to cook along, here's the recipe (in metric since ounces & cups never made much sense to this former Germany. Metric babies! ):

Ingredients:

300 grams organic split peas (dry), 1 liter water (or broth), 300 grams pork belly, 200 grams leek (if in a pinch, you can also easily omit this), 200 grams carrots, 100 grams celery, 300 grams of potatoes (eyeball it), two onions, pepper, broth, Kielbasa

Step-by-step:

Start this process the night before by soaking the peas in one liter of water for 12 hours (give or take). 

Pour the soaked peas into a large pot along with the water they were soaked in, add your broth and bring everything to a boil. Boil for half an hour and make sure that your broth doesn't evaporate. Add more broth as needed so the peas are always covered in water. At this stage, you'll see green/grey foam bubble up - this is perfectly normal, just make sure that things don't spill over.

Cut your pork belly into a couple of not-too-small pieces and add to your peas & broth. Make sure the broth covers the meat. Continue to cook for another half hour. 

Cube & slice the carrots, potatoes and leeks and add to the mix. Cut the onion into cubes and cook in olive oil (or butter) until they're glazing over. Add to the soup. Although I've also skipped this step in the past and added the onions directly to the soup whenever I feel lazy. 

Remove the pork belly from the soup and let everything simmer. Wait until the pork belly has cooled down and then cut it into small pieces. I personally prefer to cut off all the fat because the texture on cooked fat wigs me out but that's personal preference. For us, I only add the lean pieces of meat back into the soup but my grandmother used to use everything. Instead of making this soap with pork belly, you can also use pork hook and follow the same process.

BEFORE you add your pork back into the soup, give everything a quick stir with the stick blender so things blend nicely (there's really no right or wrong here - some people prefer a more "coarse" soup, others a more smooth texture - either one is yummy). Slice your Kielbasa into slices and add to your soup. Add the pork belly. Heat up everything and enjoy!

I usually double this recipe, which feeds the two of us for two meals with plenty to freeze into portions for those lazy days to come. 

Happy cooking!

Vermont Cowgirl

Kat's Facial Cream for Super Duper Dry Winter Skin

Katrin Mooney

I get the driest of dry skins in the winter. The cold and the wind don't treat my face well. Add a fireplace to the mix and you're in for a treat. :-)

So I tinkered around with about a bazillion different oils and butters until I finally came up with the ultimate recipe for soft, smooth, glowing and supple skin. No more dry and patchy skin. Since some of my friends & family members suffer from the same New England winter skin, here's my famous recipe for you guys to try at home. As a former European, I'm using the metric system since grams are so much more precise than ounces (that and I suck at fractions). 

50 grams Beef tallow (you can use Shea Butter for a vegan-friendly version), 10 grams each of Ucuumba Butter, Tucuma Butter and Chaulmoogra, 5 grams each of Andiroba, Black Cumin Seed Oil, Perilla Seed Oil, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Meadowfoam Oil, Kukunuit Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil and Flax Seed Oil. I added a couple of drops of orange, clary sage and frankincense essential oils (under 1% of the oil weight).

Now that I typed this up, I am realizing that these aren't necessarily oils & butters that anybody but a crazed DIY'er who turned their hobby into a business could possibly have sitting around in their pantry. So I guess over the next couple of weeks I'll test a couple of simpler recipes and report back.

In my defense, I whipped up a batch some two winters ago and the jar is still half full (I'm a half-full type of person anyways!) so this really goes a long way.