Ghee for the skin

baby Krishna stealing ghee

Baby Krishna stealing ghee

Ghee, a form of clarified butter, is a well known cooking fat. What is less known in the West is that it is also used for skin care and as medicine in Ayurveda. In fact, it’s basically a panacea in Ayurveda. I’m no expert in Ayurveda, but it is interesting to know that it has such a long track record in India as a topical treatment.

What I have discovered so far is pretty neat. It is in the nature of ghee to sink into the skin rather than sit on the surface. This makes it a really excellent moisturizer. It is not the type of moisturizer which seals in moisture, or protects you from the elements, but it immediately soothes dry and chapped skin.

For instance, during my last head cold, I used it on my much-abused nose. The ghee saved my nose and my lips from a terrible case of chapping. I always keep my lips and nose balmed-up during a cold, but the ghee worked better than anything else I’ve ever used, in terms of absorption, relieving discomfort and quick healing.

Since then, I’ve been using it on my face and hands to fend off the dry, itchy skin of winter. Since it sinks in so fast, it helps to use it in conjunction with another moisturizer, one which stays on the surface of the skin, to seal everything in.

Color me totally fascinated with ghee. There’s much research to be done on it here at Root Simple.

Here’s an interesting fact: ghee doesn’t go bad. Ever. In Ayurveda, aged ghee is particularly treasured.

See, butter becomes ghee when you remove the sugars and proteins and water, leaving only fat. Without that other stuff in it, the fat alone can’t go bad. Ghee’s only enemy is water–which is true of all fat-based foods and cosmetics. Water sets up conditions for bacteria to breed. So keep your ghee dry.  In fact, you should never store it in the refrigerator, because this may cause condensation inside the jar, which will lead to spoilage. Just keep it on the shelf, and scoop it out with a dry spoon, and it will keep until it’s all gone.

That’s all I have to say on ghee, so far. I don’t know much yet, but I like the way it feels. More will follow, I am sure. I’m going to experiment with making body butter and lip balm with it.

Do any of you use ghee for medicine or skin care?

(Also, I’ll be making my own ghee soon, and will post on that, but in the meantime, there are loads of recipes for it out there. It’s basically just boiled butter–anybody can make it. You can also find it ghee in many “regular” super markets these days, as well as in health food stores and of course, Indian markets.)

Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities

CTsample3Neither Al Gore nor the US Government invented the internet. The team behind the Whole Earth Catalog, published between 1968 and 1998 are the true inventors of our electro-global village. The Whole Earth Catalog was a thick book of crowd sourced reviews that, in terms of its content, felt a lot like a print version of what we used to call the World Wide Web.

Catalog editors included NoCal luminaries Stuart Brand, Kevin Kelly and Lloyd Kahn among many others. In addition to inventing the interwebs, they also managed to define the eclectic topics contained within the urban homesteading movement. A confession here: when it came time to write our two books, Kelly and I leafed through our old copy of the Whole Earth Catalog to make sure that we didn’t leave any topic out.

Kevin Kelly kept the Whole Earth Catalog ethos alive through his Cool Tools review website. That website has morphed back into print in the form of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities. This new book is just as addictive as the Whole Earth Catalog.

The gadgets, books, websites and ideas that qualify as Cool Tools are carefully chosen, useful and often inexpensive or free. Some things I picked up from thumbing through this book for just a week:

With both Cool Tools and the Whole Earth Catalog, there’s also a lot of stuff that fits into the fantasy category: fun to read about but I’ll probably never do. I’d include igloo making, boat living and camouflage here. But you never know . . .

And, thanks to Cool Tools editors Elon Shoenholz and Mark Frauenfelder, you’ll find a few Root Simple reviews tucked into Cool Tool’s 463 pages. And, yes, one of the first items mentioned in Cool Tools is a book on decuttering, perhaps as a caution to use Cool Tools as a guide to what is useful, not an invitation to collect stuff.

How many of you spent the 90s (or an earlier decade!) like I did, thumbing through an old copy of The Whole Earth Catalog?

035 Local Flowers with Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms

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On the Valentines day episode of the Root Simple podcast, Tara Kolla, owner of Silver Lake Farms discusses why you should care where your flowers come from. Tara grows and sells flowers right in the heart of Los Angeles. You can find her flowers at the Hollywood Farmers Market and at a pop-up that will take place at Valerie in Echo Park on February 13th and 14th. During the podcast we discuss:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Earth Building Classes!

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Root Simple received the following announcement from the fine folks at Adobe is Not Software, providers of amazing earth building classes:

Upcoming Classes

  • March 27-29 – Joshua Tree Earthen Finishes Class: We have a great Earthen Finishes Workshop coming up just in Pioneertown, California not far from Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park.  Taught by Kurt Gardella. the class is will teach clay paints, interior and exterior earthen plasters, stabilizers and clay-based techniques for improving the thermal performance of conventional frame buildings and cabins. Register before March 1st for a $30 discount!
  • Various Dates & Locations, Some Real, Some Virtual: The great folks at Adobe in Action more great online classes this spring!  For folks whose lives and locations make on-site learning difficult, Adobe in Action’s online classes are an incredible resource.  For those in New Mexico, head up there and take a live class on adobe conservation and restoration.
  • More Classes: Stay tuned for additional classes coming up in the fall – we’re looking to reprise our popular adobe basics class which will cover brick making, codes and basic adobe wall masonry.  We are also looking at having an horno workshop in Los Angeles sometime this summer.

Events

  • October 2-4 – EarthUSA 2015, Santa Fe, NM: A reminder that EarthUSA, the premier North American earthbuilding community event is coming up this October. The event brings together expert practitioners, historians and conservation specialists from all over the world for lectures, classes, and field trips in the center of American adobe culture. Interested in presenting?  A call for papers is out… submissions due on April 10th.

Elsewhere in California:

  • Buying Adobes in California: As a reminder, San Tan Adobe and New Mexico Earth are both shipping bricks to California. If you need adobe bricks and can’t make your own, both adobe yards will be happy to help!  San Tan’s adobe are also available in some San Diego area masonry yards.  We are also hearing tell of a new possible source near Joshua Tree – stay tuned!

Stuff we’ve recently gotten done:

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  • Waverly School Oven: Last summer, we finished a very handsome adobe and earthen horno with Pasadena’s Waverly School at their Farm.  All of the adobes were made on site by students using native soil, and they’ve been baking bread and making pizza with ingredients grown on-site!  It was great to work with such an enthusiastic group – cooking with dirt is more than mud pies!

Got something going on?:
Drop us a line!  We’re anxious to hear about new projects, preservation efforts, classes and folks doing recreational or professional adobe work in California.  There’s a lot of people in our community that we have yet to meet!
-AiNS

Submit your questions for the Cat Doctor!

cat at computer

Go ahead, tap on the bright box. It’s all you do anyway.

At the end of this week we will be interviewing Dr. Tracy McFarland  for our podcast, and we are absolutely thrilled.

Dr. Tracy is an top-notch vet who specializes in the care of felines. She’s also our very own vet. We’re going to talk about all things cats, and hear her advice on cat care, including feeding, vacinations and the perennial indoor or outdoor question. At the end of the conversation, if there’s time, we’ll pass on a few questions from our reader/listeners.

So please leave your cat-related questions here. We can’t guarantee they’ll be answered, but we’ll try. It’s best not to leave questions about specific cases (e.g. “My cat Mr.Muffinpuff has a purple spot on his ear…”) because this simply isn’t the correct forum for such things. Keep it general.

Cats!

FlicFloc Flak

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My review of the KoMo FlicFloc grain flaker was featured on Cool Tools and, in the comments, got some push back on the price. At $169 USD (from Pleasant Hill Grain or The King’s Roost), it’s a fair objection.

A number of commenters pointed out that you can buy grain crackers such as the one on the right for around $20 to $30 USD. I had one of these crackers for years (it’s headed to the thrift store on account of our recent decluttering). I’ve never liked it. It’s poorly made. The hopper never fit onto the rest of the unit. It must be disassembled to clean.

Most importantly, here’s the difference when flaking oats between my inexpensive grain cracker and the FlicFloc:

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On the left are some oats run through the cracker versus oats, on the right, run through the FlicFloc. A cheap cracker is fine for cracking corn for chicken feed or making a course grind of rye for a Scandinavian style bread, but it does not make either flour or truly flaked grains. The FlicFloc flakes oats and cracks wheat and rye and it’s easy to clean.

I’ve never regretted paying more for a tool that will last a lifetime. I have regretted, many times, buying cheap tools. The FlicFloc broke my Grape Nuts addiction. It will pay for itself.

Saturday Tweets: From Archery to Jaywalking

An indispensible urban tool: the titanium spork

titanium spork
 

One of my best allies in my effort to cut down on my use of disposables is a titanium spork. It’s strong, pleasant to use, and weighs virtually nothing. I bought it many years ago in preparation for a long hiking trip, but it soon proved its utility in the urban environment. It’s always in my bag, a permanent part of my “everyday carry”, and I use when I’m eating food from home as well as in situations where I’d otherwise be forced to use plastic flatware.

I love its simplicity and utility. The prongs of the spork are substantial enough to work as a fork, but aren’t hard on the mouth when it’s used as a spoon. I have another so-called spork, not a true spork, if you ask me, but a Frankenstein’s monster with a spoon on one end and a fork on the other. Do not be tempted by the promise of having a full fork and spoon in one utensil–it just doesn’t work. When one end is in your mouth, the utensil on the opposite end threatens your nose and eyes, not so much literally, but psychologically. That’s disturbing, so it remains with the camping gear. (KonMari will want me to set it free soon.)

My true spork, the REI Ti Ware spork, is a perfect blend of form and function. While I bought this spork many years ago, REI is still selling a version of it which looks identical, except for having a more prominent logo.  REI no longer carries this particular spork, though it carries other titanium sporks. There’s also a very similar looking titanium spork over at Amazon, produced by Toaks.

Some of you may wonder whether I need a knife, and the answer is I don’t need one in most situations. I usually carry a pocket knife, and I can bring that out if I need to slice something like bread or cheese, but 95% of the time the spork alone is sufficient. Also, it’s sturdy and thin edged, so the side of the spoon can cut through softer foods.

I’ve heard that back in the day people did not expect to be provided with eating utensils in public establishments, so travelers carried their utensils with them. Today this might seem crazy, but to me, if anything is crazy it’s the idea that we have the God-given right to be provided with a set of plastic flatware which we will use once and only once, for the approximately ten minutes it takes us to down a combo platter, and then consign that set of plastic utensils to an immortal afterlife in a landfill. Meanwhile, I imagine that I’ll request that my spork be buried with me, along with the rest of my grave goods.

 Addendum: I just found a cool titanium spork, the Apocalyspork, which is more expensive than mine, but is handcrafted in the US out of aerospace scrap. In addition, the handle is tricked up with a bottle opener, a hex key and who knows what else.

034 Decluttering

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On episode 34 Kelly and Erik discuss their experience decluttering the house using the methods of Marie Kondo. During the discussion we mention:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.