on the menu: banana coconut waffles

On June 12, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

The waffle experimentation continues here chez sphinx. Going strong with my All-Clad Belgian waffle iron.

banana coconut waffles

This time I substituted all of the oil for coconut oil and about 1/4 of the flour for coconut flour, then say 1/2 c of moisture for mashed banana. Buttermilk over milk every time. I also added sparkling water, which, in conjunction with the baking soda/vinegar (from the buttermilk) mix, makes the batter bizarrely fluffy, and the waffles deliciously fluffy (want to try it with sparkling wine later…). I adapted the buttermilk waffles recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, which is often too elaborate for my taste but which is full of good techniques. I didn’t use buttermilk powder, for example, as the recipe suggests, I just used buttermilk.

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c coconut flour
1 T coconut sugar
3/4 t table salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 c milk (to sit with 2 T cider vinegar for a few minutes*)
1/2 c mashed ripe banana
2 large eggs
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/4 c coconut oil
1 1/4 c unflavored seltzer water

*The standard buttermilk recipe is 1 c milk to 1 T lemon juice or vinegar but I love vinegar, so my ratio is more like 1 c of milk to 4 T vinegar…still doesn’t read as vinegar in the final product.

Whisk dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients excepting seltzer, gently add seltzer to wet ingredients, stir wet into dry being careful not to overmix (batter should be lumpy). Can add berries or chocolate chips at this point, or any other debris. Iron away.

banana coconut waffles

Jars Ceramics plate

It’s increasingly rare that waffles go wrong for me.

banana coconut waffles

Now if I could only work out pancakes, with which I find experimentation a risky proposition.

x

almond joy

On March 29, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

There is a definite pattern in my bodycare preferences…

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(and in my eating preferences, too)

It is almond and coconut all the way chez Sphinx, with only occasional forays into other bodywashes here and there (though, come to think of it, I have the Dove nourishing almond oil one, and their nourishing almond deodorant as well) or some alternate body lotion (I like Amlactin, and a number from L’Occitane, like…their almond one…and their almond oil body wash…). Even when I stray from the pure stuff, these ingredients are often in there somewhere.

There’s a definite appeal to raw ingredients, their flexibility and malleability. You can start mixing already complex products but I find the results much more hit or miss, have difficulties getting textures to blend the way I hope, and often, if I like the product, it seems unnecessary. [My sense that it doesn’t always work out, then, may be a result of messing around with products I didn’t especially like in the first place. Hm. By that point I’m convinced I can’t make them any worse, however, so I can really have at them. Example: a body scrub from The Body Shop that I didn’t find scrubby enough, added granulated sugar until I was satisfied. Problem solved.*]

*I have ruined some things, too, but it never serves to discourage future experiments.

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1. NOW Sweet Almond oil—there are other brands but some don’t smell very good, this one has the virtue of not smelling like much at all, absorbs nicely into the skin, acts brilliantly as a carrier for essential oils and perfumes, lovely on the hair as well. Mixes readily with other oils to create still more hair/body options. Edible. Really wouldn’t be without this.

2. Dr. Bronner’s Almond Castile soap—great all-purpose soap. I use it as a body wash and sometimes as a shampoo, and to wash makeup brushes. A touch of marzipan to the scent, which I don’t love but which doesn’t seem to linger. I prefer the peppermint scent (but not the rose one), and have been meaning to try the eucalyptus. Takes ages to finish a bottle. Maybe next year, eucalyptus.

3. Barlean’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil—there are tons of brands of coconut oil around, and most of them seem just fine. This one is especially good to eat, and I use it all over. In my hair as a leave-in or deep treatment, as a skin conditioner, to sautée vegetables, as an oil/butter substitute in various recipes, added to grains to flavor while cooking, just…to eat.

4. Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter—I’ve mentioned this before, and I don’t like it any less now. Has a bit of a chocolatey richness to it that makes it especially delicious. Very thick and moisturizing. Such  great value.

5. Sun Bum Coconut lip balm—think will be picking up some of SunBum’s sunscreen come summer. Smart branding, good, skin-friendly ingredients. Nice to find lip balms with a high SPF. This is cocoa butter, mainly, but with coconut scent, so it’s in.

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6. Raw almonds—I cannot begin to tell you how many raw almonds I consume.

7. Coconut flakes—anyone have a good recipe for coconut macarons? They are the kind of indulgence that is just appealing enough and just expensive enough to make me want to take matters into my own hands. I like coconut milk, too, and coconut water, certain brands of, and that So Delicious (that’s the brand, not my emphasis, though it is really good) coconut milk ice cream. The mint/chocolate one.

I really wish I had some of that now.

smell this: Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess body oil spray

On July 30, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess fragrance has been coming up in a lot of lists of best summer fragrances*, and I am in complete agreement, particularly wrt the body oil spray (which I find richer and longer lasting than the eau fraîche skinscent). This is summer in a bottle. Imagine a nostalgic suntan lotion smell–an old school Coppertone kind of smell–then remove all of the harsh-smelling chemical elements, amp up the coconut, and add a summer flower bouquet. What you get is a creamy base of coconut and vanilla (kept from being too sweet with some subtle vetiver and sandalwood) layered with a variety of citruses, lavender, and delicate white florals: jasmine, magnolia, orange blossom**.

*This one being the best I’ve seen. I am so often in agreement with Guardian beauty columnist Sali Hughes. Her videos are great, too, extremely knowledgeable and well researched. And sensible. I like sensible people.

**You can see all the notes and more on basenotes, which is a great resource if you’re not already familiar.

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They re-release it every summer with the Bronze Goddess collection so the packaging and formula may vary slightly from one year to another. I have smelled it the last four years running, though, and it always smells great (and essentially the same) to me.

There is nothing heavy-handed about this. It is light, effortless, sunny and fantastic. The notes that really stand out on me are coconut, vanilla/amber, and jasmine, all with the lightness that indicates citrus, too, without feeling explicitly like citrus at any given moment. Be warned that it does smell rather like suntan lotion, only really luxurious suntan lotion. I like the smell of suntan lotion anyway. It may smell different on you (some report a cheap vanilla ice cream effect, try everything on your skin first), and for some it’s not interesting enough…but who cares about smelling interesting if you already smell great? I like a complex scent as much as the next perfume maven but there is something to be said for smelling, simply, good.

into: hair oils

On April 1, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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My hair is perennially parched, ultra-absorbent, and scoffs at standard conditioners. The answer: oil. Straight up oil.

I find that oil is the answer to many things.

[Though if your hair is fine, it would probably be disastrous to use the kinds of volumes I am using.]

So, I wash it (if it is a washing day), condition it, do a rough towel dry and then:

1/2 – 1 tsp. of a blend of coconut oil and Vatika, a coconut oil based hair treatment that you can find at Indian grocery stores†. It smells like coconut mixed with lemon and the rich, earthy scent of henna. It is not very expensive, but I blend it with the slightly cheaper coconut oil to stretch it and to up the coconut scent, which I love. These are both solid at room temperature but melt instantly upon contact with skin. Melted between the palms, I apply this generously to all but the first few inches of my hair (onto which I smooth the last remnants), and then comb out.

To the tips I add another custom blend. As with face oils, I just look for organic, 100% pure options, whatever looks good. The blend changes over time, as I just keep arbitrarily filling my little pump bottle (the Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment, which smells awesome and masculine and ambery, but which is not great because it has silicone* in, and is expensive, anyway, so I just use the bottle now) with whatever I have at hand, but it is something like this:

[it turns out I forgot to put a few in the picture…you will have to imagine them, or look at my post on face oils]

macadamia nut oil. 100% pure, the kind you would buy for cooking. This shows up in a lot of drugstore hair products these days, and it is not a coincidence. No distinct odor. This is the dominant ingredient.

sweet almond oil. Because it’s not too expensive and is ultra-nourishing. This is probably next on the official ingredient list, quantity-wise.

avocado oil.  Smells a bit like food…but only a bit. Avocados and avocado oil are good for most things relating to hair and skin. I also cook with this.

olive oil.  Also extremely versatile and generally good for hair and skin. And doesn’t have to be expensive.

apricot kernel oil. Why not? Provided the textures play well together, the more the merrier, with oil blends.

argan oil.  Just a few drops, to give the blend an air of luxury.

sesame oil.  Maybe a TINY bit, because it smells strongly of food, but it is great for skin and hair. Great way to use that inedible sesame oil you accidentally bought from the American supermarket, because six years ago you thought you would be fine not going with an Asian brand. [But it was not fine, was it?] Alternatively you can put it on your feet.

All of this is still cheaper than some high-end leave-in treatments I’ve tried, and I am so much more satisfied with these results.

[Soon I’ll experiment with castor oil as a base for a scalp stimulant. Castor oil is a lot more viscous than the oils above and doesn’t mix readily with them.]

Pin up into the loose, old-lady bun I’ve been doing lately, and air dry [always]. My hair IS actually oily after this. For hours. That is, if you touched it your hand would come away slightly besmirched. It doesn’t look oily, though. It glows with health, and is soft and hydrated. The curls are wonderfully defined and have good integrity (once dry I can move them around quite a bit before they disband into frizz). And I don’t want people touching my hair anyway.

 

† I cannot, however, recommend the jasmine hair oils you can also find in Indian grocery stores. Jasmine is a notoriously animalic, fecal essence (some of the molecules in jasmine and feces are nearly identical), and you will not smell like a flower garden.

* Silicone is not bad, really, but its effects are cosmetic only, and you have to wash periodically with clarifying shampoos to remove build-up. I avoid it because I want a genuine sense of the health of my hair, and I want to nourish it, not just create the effect of nourishing it. It’s in so many products now, though.