Easy Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

easy cold brewed iced coffee

Sitting on the front porch on a warm summer morning with a glass of Cold Brewed Iced Coffee is the best way to start the day! Or get your mid-morning perk during nap time… Or a feeble attempt to survive the afternoon…

Regardless your reason for needing Iced Coffee, it is a delicious treat!

It’s no lie that I’m probably considered a coffee snob. I’m not a fan of cheap coffee that tastes bitter and stale. I need a strong fresh ground dark cup of joe to get my day started. It probably stems from my Coffee Master days at Starbucks.

A hot cup of fresh coffee is usually how my day starts. And sometimes I’ll go for a second one mid-morning or early afternoon. But in the summer heat a cold-brewed iced coffee is much more appealing!

Perfecting the cold-brew is a little tricky. You have to plan ahead just a bit. But like most Real Food meals planning is just a part of the routine! This little cup of heaven is an easy addition to your kitchen routine and the rewards are delicious.

ground coffee

I’ve tried making iced coffee by just pouring regular brewed coffee over ice. But the ice melts quickly and the coffee gets watered down. Instead, the trick is to brew the coffee cold and very strong so that the ice and milk (if desired) don’t dilute the roasty coffee taste.

Choosing the type of coffee for your iced coffee is a personal preference. Some prefer a lighter roast, one that comes from Latin America and has citrus or caramel notes (a lot of the inexpensive coffees like Folgers or Maxwell House are Latin American blends). Those tend to taste bitter to me so I generally prefer a darker roast from the Asia/Pacific region, which has rich earthy flavors. Herbal and floral notes tend to come from the African region.

Once you know your flavor preference, it’s time to make some Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee!

Easy Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

Ingredients

    Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup fine ground coffee
  • 3-4 cups water
  • Milk (optional)
  • Unrefined Sugar or Stevia Extract (optional)
  • Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • Supplies:
  • 2 – 1 qt Mason Jars (wide mouth preferably)
  • Lid and ring
  • Coffee filter and brew basket OR strainer and cheesecloth

Instructions

  1. The first step is to grind your coffee very fine. You can do this from whole bean or you can take already ground coffee and grind it finer.
  2. Place the grinds in one of your mason jars and fill the rest of the way with cold water.
  3. Put the jar in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours (or overnight).
  4. Once the coffee is done cold-brewing, filter it out into your other mason jar. I had trouble using a filter and brew basket because of the fine grind so cheesecloth worked a little better because I was being impatient.
  5. You will end up with a VERY STRONG cold-brewed coffee.
  6. Fill your favorite Iced Coffee cup with ice and fill about 1/3 of the way with milk or cold water. Add your cold-brewed coffee on top. You may need to test the milk/coffee ratio to your taste. I prefer mine pretty strong! If desired add a little sweetener and vanilla extract for flavor.
  7. Store remaining Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee in the refrigerator.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2015/06/22/easy-cold-brewed-iced-coffee/

brewing coffee

You can brew a second or third batch with the used grounds, but it won’t be quite as strong. I usually go for it since it takes a lot of coffee to make cold-brew and I want to be frugal with my fancy coffee.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee is a favorite summer drink around my house. I love to sip on it while rocking on the porch with a good book. (Or have it nearby while chasing my toddler.)

iced coffee on the porch

It’s a great beverage to sip on during the warm days to get a little boost of caffeine. It’s debatable whether coffee is good for you or not because of the caffeine, but in my opinion, drinking it within reason is fine. I know my limits and don’t go for more just because it tastes good. Although..that is difficult with this iced coffee!

How do you like your coffee? Strong? Hot? Iced? Light?


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How To Make Hot Process Soap

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How to Make Hot Process Soap in your Crock Pot

It’s no secret that handcrafted soap is amazing!

Handcrafted soap, also known as Castile soap, is moisturizing, nourishing, cleansing, and all-natural. It suds well and doesn’t leave your skin dried out. There are many recipes available online for hot process soap and a lot of room for creativity!

I love hot process soap because it is easy to make and ready to use right away. Sometimes I go for a basic recipe like I’m going to share with you here and sometimes I like to make herbal, coffee, or coconut milk soap!

Basic Hot Process Soap:

Ingredients:

Supplies:

Note: It is very important to wear protective gear when handling lye. It is a caustic substance and will burn the skin! This is not a good DIY to do with the kids around.

To start your hot process soap, measure your oils by weight and add them to your crock pot. Melt the oils on low.

Measure out your water by weight in a heat proof bowl.

Wearing your protective gear measure your lye into another bowl.

Carefully add the lye to the water (you may want to step outside, it can put off some strong fumes). Stirring as you pour. Note: Never add water to lye, it will cause an overflowing chemical reaction!

Once your oils are melted, add the lye mixture to the crock-pot.

Continuing to wear your protective gear, use your hand blender to mix your soap to “trace”. Trace is when your soap appears like pudding.

soap at trace

Cover your crock-pot and let the soap cook for about an hour to reach neutrality. If you desire you can test the soap to be sure it is between 7 and 10 pH. This is the neutral zone for soap. (You can find test strips here.)

At this point your soap should be starting to bubble over itself. (See the photo, it’s hard to explain!) Add in your essential oils if using and stir well. Your kitchen will smell fantastic for the rest of the day.

hot process soap cooked to neutral

Line your soap mold with parchment paper. Carefully scoop your soap into the mold, it’s hot so don’t get it on your hands! (I speak from experience…)

Place your mold in a cardboard box and cover with a towel. Set it where it won’t be disturbed for 24 hours.

hot process soap in mold

Once your soap is set, remove it from the mold and cut into bars. Hot process soap cooks to neutrality so it is safe to use right away!

For the remaining bars, place them in a cool dry place slightly spaced out from each other. (I use a cardboard box.) This helps the soap to continue drying. Fully dried soap will last longer once you start using it in the bath or shower.

And now you have handcrafted soap!

hot process soap bars

Additional soapmaking tips:

If you’d like to create an herbal soap, simply replace the water in the above recipe with herbal infused water. I like to steep lavender in water to make a skin soothing soap.

For an exfoliating coffee soap, replace your water with strong brewed coffee. Instead of adding essential oils, mix in fine ground coffee to create an exfoliating texture.

Making coconut milk soap is a little trickier. Cut your water amount in half and sub coconut milk for the rest of the liquid. The trick is that you wait to add the coconut milk until the soap is at trace. Mix your half amount of water and lye, add to the oil mixture, blend until trace, and then add the coconut milk before cooking.

The coconut milk adds a nice nourishing softness to hot process soap. It doesn’t smell much like coconut, although that would be nice with a little lime essential oil!

There is some upfront cost to soapmaking, but in the end you are saving quite a bit per bar of soap compared to purchasing handcrafted soaps from shops like mine. If you are a little leery to get started you are more than welcome to try a bar of hot process soap from my shop Southern Vines Soap Company.

Green Tea and Lemongrass

Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions! I love making soap and I make a lot of it. My friends and family are always asking me to bring them soap!

Have you tried hot process soap making?


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How to Make Garlic Oil

how to make garlic oil revisedGarlic is one of THE BEST real food ingredients that you can use to boost the immune system.

It has high antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties to it that will strengthen your immune response and help your body fight bugs. (I wrote more about it a while back on Wellness Wednesday.)

If you have a little one, feeding them raw or honey infused garlic is not the easiest thing! It’s very strong in flavor and not very easy to swallow by itself. A good alternative for use for children (and adults!) is to make Garlic Oil.

Garlic oil won’t be quite as strong in its benefits but it will help nonetheless! It is especially helpful for potential ear infections.

This past week our little man came down with his first bug. It was not fun. He ran a very high fever and indicated a sore throat by his behavior. I didn’t want it to develop into an ear infection and promptly made some garlic oil.

Although little man was very clingy while he was sick, he did lay down and sleep a lot which allowed me to make him some garlic oil! I applied it to his neck and ears to absorb into his skin and help fight the infection in his throat and prevent any issues with his ears.

How to Make Garlic Oil

Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Slice or smash the garlic and let sit for a few moments. (This allows the allicin to react with the air, increasing the strength of its infection fighting properties.)
  2. Warm the olive oil up in a pan to warm but not hot. Add the garlic and let heat for about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cover. Let sit over night. You can use some after a couple of hours if needed, but the longer it sits the more garlic will be absorbed into the oil.
  4. To use: apply oil around ears or topically near potential infection or inflammation.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2015/05/28/how-to-make-garlic-oil/

Don’t worry about the garlic scent being too strong. The scent is rather mild and not irritating at all. It is also not near as strong as essential oils or certain herbal tinctures and should not interfere with the use of homeopathic medicines.

Garlic oil is also useful for other things besides infection and inflammation. You could use garlic oil as a drizzle on salad or bread. Use it on your pet’s collar to help repel ticks, or even in your door frames to prevent pests.

Have you made some Garlic Oil? What do you use it for?

Note: I am not a medical doctor. Please read my full disclaimer here. Consult your medical practitioner if you have an illness.


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DIY Dog Shampoo

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DIY Flea and tick repellent dog shampoo

You know one of the best parts about living in the woods??

We can open the door and let the dog run out, free to explore the woods! Our lab mix, Bella, loves running in the woods. And she is FAST. She’s mixed with something that gives her speed. Like crazy fast speed. It’s hilarious to watch her run.

Bella is fast, beautiful, and loves to roll in the mud. No matter if we are outside for five minutes or an hour hike, she will find the mud. Which means she gets a lot of baths. Thankfully she has a good attitude about it. She doesn’t love them, but she will glumly walk to the tub when we tell her it’s time for a bath.

Just like our human selves, we don’t buy commercial products to bathe and wash our lovely pup. For one, I think it’s a little silly to buy expensive products, like dog shampoo, for a pet. (Don’t get me wrong, she IS part of the family, but she is still a dog.) Also, if I won’t use chemical products on myself, why would I use them on my beloved Bella?

Most of the time if I have a batch of Liquid Shampoo made up, I’ll just use that on her. But lately since we’ve mostly been using Herbal Shampoo Bars, I need something different for her. Partly I don’t really want to rub a soap bar on her and then on me. I love her, but sharing soap is a little over the line.

Another great reason for a separate dog shampoo for Bella, is I can include essential oils that help repel ticks and fleas! We haven’t had many fleas, but we get terrible ticks out in our woods and are constantly picking them off of Bella. They aren’t as bad when she is frequently washed in her own shampoo.

dog shampoo ingredients

DIY Dog Shampoo

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients in an old shampoo bottle or recycled jar. Use as needed on your dog to lather well.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2015/05/18/diy-dog-shampoo/

I’m sure you know how to wash your dog so I won’t go into all the details. But, I can tell you that I have got to get one of these. I don’t know why I haven’t. Using an old cup is terribly annoying.

bella

Bathing our sweet pup is almost a daily occurrence in the summer. Now we double up our bath with a dog shampoo that includes a flea and tick repellent that works great! She still gets a tick here and there, but it is reduced and that’s something I am very happy about.

What do you use to wash your dog?

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DIY Dry Shampoo

This post contains affiliate links.

DIY dry shampoo

You know how it goes. The alarm rings. You jump right out of bed and smile at the sunshine coming through the window. You wander down the hall to the bathroom and take a luxurious long shower. As you finish getting dressed you spouse brings you a steaming cup of coffee, just the way you like it. Then you walk into the living room ready to face the day and smile at the children playing with their toys calmly waiting for breakfast…

Wait, wait, wait, that’s not at all how it goes…

Somebody starts wailing and your spouse pushes you out of bed, so he can hit snooze a couple more times. You find the woken child and try to soothe them as you stumble into the kitchen hoping to find the answers to life somewhere under the pile of dishes you left from last night. Coffee sounds too good to be true and you wonder if you will actually get to take a shower today…

That’s more like it.

Let’s be real. Moms don’t often get to take showers when they need want them. It’s just a part of life. And that season of life will pass quicker than you know. (Or so they say, I’m still in the midst of it!)

Personally, I’m ok skipping a shower most of the time but I feel completely frumpy and out of sorts if I can’t get my hair washed. Granted it’s so much better now that I use natural methods of washing, but after a day or so I get a little oily around the edges. Thankfully, there is a solution to keeping decently clean looking hair when it comes to part time showering.

DIY Dry Shampoo!

The recipe is simple and you probably already have the ingredients on hand. It’s super cheap and is much better than any store bought version. It takes less than a minute to mix it together.

All you need is cocoa powder and arrowroot powder (corn starch or tapioca powder work great too!). An optional addition is essential oils to enhance the scent and nourish your scalp.

dry shampoo ingredients

To apply it to your hair use a make-up brush to dab it on or just sprinkle it on and brush it in. I like using a make-up brush, it goes on with less mess and is easy to do.

The size batch you make is up to you and depends on the size storage jar you have. I use a regular half-pint mason jar. But a recycled jar would be perfect!

DIY Dry Shampoo

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Measure ingredients in to a jar.
  2. Close the lid and shake until well mixed.
  3. Apply to roots with make-up brush or sprinkle it on as needed.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2015/04/10/diy-dry-shampoo/

See? It’s not at all complicated to have clean looking hair each day! Even if you can’t get a shower in, but want to avoid the greasy hair look this is your solution.

If you have blonde or light colored hair you can adjust the ratio of powders. Use more of the arrowroot powder and less cocoa powder to achieve a lighter dry shampoo. (Depending on your skin color, you could even play around with different shades as a facial powder too!)

application brush

So next time you stumble out of bed to tend to the little ones, don’t fret about not getting a shower, your hair can still look fabulous!

Have you tried a dry shampoo?

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The Best Kept Secret to Quick Meal Planning

Best Kept Secret to Quick Meal Planning

The baby is napping, you finally got a shower, the house has been straightened up a tad, you have twenty minutes (give or take) to sit down and make a meal plan before the rest of the day’s activities get going.

How can that possibly be done in twenty minutes?!

I want to let you in on a secret…

If you are anything like me, you have limited time to sit down uninterrupted and map out the week’s meals. Doing anything that requires thinking, writing, or typing means I have to wait until little man is asleep. And since I’m usually doing blog work when he’s napping, my meal planning time is even more limited!

I must make a meal plan. I want to ensure that I’m feeding my family quality food but I know that if I don’t have a plan I reach for the less healthy options that are lurking in our pantry. This seems to be the case for a lot of families. Whether you are busy working, tending to little ones, or have a full schedule of extra-curricular activities, you know the challenge!

You probably know half of the secret to getting a meal plan together: get organized. There are various ways to do so, but I prefer a binder. Well, I don’t really like binders, but it does work better than any other organizational method I’ve tried. Once you have your recipes organized you are much better prepared to quickly make a meal plan.

The one thing that has saved me so much time in cutting my meal planning into an efficient twenty minutes is a Top 30 Meal list. What goes on this list, you ask? The thirty favorite meals that your family loves. Revolutionary, I know!

Here is an example of what our list looks like:

My Top 20 Meal list

Before you start wondering how a list like this will help, think about this: you know your family loves these meals, and you are familiar with the preparation and ingredients. All you need to do to make a quick meal plan is sit down with your list, think about your week’s schedule, and map out meals for each day. Quick and simple!

This has changed my meal planning efficiency by leaps and bounds. I often choose one or two meals that are not on the list to give us some variety. But to have a selection of favorites already written down that I can glance at? Ultimate time saver!

Using a Top 30 Meal list is the best kept secret that I have found in saving time in my meal planning. I am able to successfully feed my family healthy real food without stressing out about it.

You can finally save time with your meal planning and succeed at getting real food on the table by simply creating a similar list. I have more details on how to organize your recipes and make your Top 30 Meal list in my new eBook Planning with Purpose.

Wooden spoon and fork on table

Included in Planning with Purpose is a ready to go Top 30 Meal list. It’s blank, of course, so you can add in your family’s favorite meals. But it’s neatly arranged and ready to print for you to start filling out and streamlining your meal planning session!

This resource will help you save time (and money) in the kitchen. As with most areas of life, there is no better way to efficiency than by planning! You don’t need to struggle any longer in figuring out how to get a meal plan together, create a kitchen inventory, organize your recipes, and still have time for your family. The answer is here.

Now that you know the best kept secret to meal planning…go forth and succeed!

 

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Planning with Purpose – eBook Launch and Giveaway!

Planning with purpose cover

Do you ever struggle with balancing the preparation of real food meals and spending quality time with your family?

The struggle is real. I totally understand!

But there is hope! You don’t have to be overwhelmed with the idea of making food from scratch and providing quality meals for your family. There are a few simple tricks you can utilize to ensure that you are feeding your family well without spending all your time in the kitchen.

The key to success is planning ahead.

After struggling to find balance, I have finally learned some ways to effectively plan my meals and efficiently run my kitchen. I want to make sure and feed my family real food meals that sometimes take extra preparation and aren’t reliant on processed ingredients. But I also want to spend as much time with my husband and growing boy as possible.

Planning with Purpose – save time and money in the kitchen shares my solutions to smoothly run a real food kitchen. It is full of ideas and tools for you to find the best way to efficiently work your kitchen.

A guide on saving time and money? Yes, please!

 

This is a complete resource for you to find the meal planning method that will work for you and your family. Plus you will learn why you should keep a kitchen inventory, make a grocery list, and plan out your food prep.

I briefly shared with you how to do this in my Saving Time (and Money) in the Kitchen series. Now, I have expanded it and included more in depth information on how you can achieve success in your real food kitchen. Plus I have created a collection of printable lists to help you in your planning.

It doesn’t have to be stressful or take all of your time to plan and prepare real food meals for your family. The freedom you can achieve by simply planning with purpose will surprise you! I know from experience that I am a much better wife and mother when I have a plan. You can accomplish this as well once you grasp hold of tools at hand.

Without any further ado, I want to tell you how to get your eyes on this eBook! First off, enter in the giveaway below for a chance to win a free copy of Planning with Purpose! There is only ONE free copy available so get as many entries as possible!

Next, for this week only I’m offering a special launch price for Planning with Purpose. If you purchase this week it only costs you $3.99! That’s less than a fancy latte at Starbucks! Remember: this is a special launch price. Once this week is over, the price will go up to $5.99.

 

Join me this Wednesday for the Launch Party on Facebook! During this party I will answer questions, give tips on planning your meals, and giveaway another eBook! Come and participate for a chance to win a free copy of Planning with Purpose. The party starts at 7:00pm Central time! This is exciting y’all!

If you are ready to save some time in the kitchen, you need this eBook. There isn’t a better time than now to learn how to give your family the food they need without sacrificing precious moments in their company.

Planning with Purpose will save you time (and money) in the kitchen!


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