Eczema is horrible. It's red, itchy, scaly, painful and ugly. If left untreated it can leave horrible scars. And it is almost as common as the common cold. And like the cold, there really isn't any one successful treatment for this painful skin complaint.
Hannah and AJ both suffer from eczema and have done since they were babies (another reason I MOO washing powder and soap). Over the years we've spent a fortune on creams and lotions, doctors and specialists, natural remedies and some not so natural. And while some of them worked for a short while the eczema always came back and the painful cycle would begin all over again.
Until Hannah found a recipe for a homemade cream and gave it a try. And it worked! Oh joy, oh happy relief!
It soothes and stops the itching, cools the skin quickly and moisturises and softens dry scaly patches. Best of all we had all the ingredients in the kitchen.
Over the years we've tweaked it to the recipe below. It is far and away the best eczema cream we have used and its all natural - not a steroid in sight, no need for a prescription and it costs under $1 a jar.
It only has four ingredients: rolled oats, coconut oil, rosemary oil* and olive oil.
Oats have been used to soften and moisturise skin for centuries. They are know for their anti-itching properties and are an easy treatment for dry skin.
Coconut oil is rich in fats, Vitamin E, proteins and fatty acids. It is renowned for it's moisturising and anti-aging properties. Because coconut oil doesn't go rancid it can be applied to the skin it can work longer without going rancid.
Rosemary oil is know for it's therapeutic properties and is a common ingredient in shampoos and moisturisers for it's purifying properties.
This recipe can be used as a daily skin moisturizer to prevent eczema from flaring up. If by chance it does still appear this helps to nip it in the bud quickly!
You will need:
1/4 cup of oats
3/4 cup of coconut oil
Few drops of rosemary oil* (optional)
1 tbsp of olive oil
A small jar with a screw top lid, sterilised
Step 1. Finely grind the oats to a powder/flour consistency and set aside. I use my food processor but you can use a stick blender, vitamiser, mortar and pestle (if you have the muscles), a Magic Bullet - any appliance that will grind the oats into a fine powder.
Step 2. Over a low heat, melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan until it melts.
Step 3. Add in a few drops of rosemary oil if you are using it. I usually add 8 drops as we like the fragrance and I like the antibacterial properties of rosemary oil.
Step 4. Add finely ground oats to the saucepan and mix until well blended. At this stage the mixture will be quite thin.
Step 5. Now, pour the olive oil into the mixture and stir until blended.
Step 6. Once all ingredients are thoroughly combined remove from the heat and let it cool, absorbing all the goodness from the oats. While it is still semi-liquid pour in to a small, sterilised storage container. It won't matter if you get any of the oats in the jar, your cream will just have a little texture. If you don't want any oats, strain the liquid into the jar. Let it cool and harden for several hours.
Apply to hands and skin as needed and feel the moisturising magic at work!
From Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing
If you use waterless hand sanitizer (I have a little bottle in every handbag, one in the car, one in my overnight bag, one in the picnic basket, one in my desk drawer and one in my briefcase) you'll know how convenient it is. And how expensive.
It is very easy to MOO, and if you have an aloe vera plant with cost around 40 cents to make approximately 275ml. Aloe Vera is a very easy plant to grow, it seems to almost thrive on neglect and is one that should be in every backyard so if you don't have one, get a cutting from a friend and grow your own, you won't regret it.
You will need:
1 cup aloe vera gel
1 tsp rubbing alcohol
2 tsp glycerin
8-10 drops tea tree essential oil* or lavender essential oil*
Simply blend all of the ingredients together and store. To use put a blob about the size of a 10 cent coin in the palm of your hand and rub together. This sanitizer won't melt as the commercial products do, so don't be tempted to squirt a large amount into your hands, you'll be rubbing for hours!
You can use pump bottles or squirt bottles, small pots or even pretty glass jars to store your hand sanitizer as long as they have good lids.
*Please use pure essential oils. They are worth the expense and a little goes a very long way, they will last you a long, long time.
This is a recipe from my mother's recipe book. It was originally in pints and ounces, I converted the measurements to metric when I started making it. It really is as easy as mix and let it steep. I like it because it doesn't have the traditional anchovies in it, but still has a good bite. The longer the sauce matures the hotter it becomes.
2 L vinegar
30g chopped garlic
30g cayenne pepper
30g whole cloves
1 tin treacle
2 large lemons
Mix all ingredients together in a plastic bucket and stir to dissolve salt. Chop the 2 lemons and add to the mixture (skin and all). Cover with a tea towel or a cheesecloth. Stir daily for 6 days. Strain and bottle. Leave at least two weeks in a cool, dark cupboard to mature.
I use the glass 3 litre Ocean Spray cranberry juice bottles to store the sauce and decant into a smaller bottle for kitchen use.
This sauce just improves with age - the longer you leave it, the better it gets.
Semi-dried tomatoes are expensive to buy, over $20 a kilo from the deli, but they are so, so simple to MOO. All you need is the tomatoes, a dehydrator or oven, some herbs and patience - the drying takes a while.
I bought tomatoes this week for just 49 cents a kilo so even with the cost of running the dehydrator to dry the seven kilos I'm way ahead, in fact I'll be able to dry the lot for less than half the price of a kilo from the deli.
To prepare your tomatoes cut them into quarters. Cut out the stem scar and any thick hard part of the core.
Use a teaspoon to carefully scrape the seeds away (if they're your own heirloom tomatoes you can save the seed to plant next year), leaving as much of the pulp as you can.
Make a herb marinade using basil, oregano, salt and garlic. I use a ratio of 1 teaspoon of each herb to 2 teaspoons of salt. Depending on the amount of tomatoes you are drying you may need to increase these quantities.
Arrange the tomato wedges cut side up on the dehydrator trays. Sprinkle a little of the herb mix over each piece of tomato. Set the dehydrator to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees F). Follow the directions for loading the trays.
After 4 hours, use a spatula to turn the tomatoes and gently squash them down with your hand.
Dry another 4 hours. Turn again and gently squash.
Continue drying until they are done to the texture you prefer.
Pre-heat oven to 80 degrees Celsius.
Line baking sheets with silicone paper. Lay the tomato quarters cut side up on the trays. Sprinkle with herb mixture.
Place trays into oven.
Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon.
Turn and squash after three hours.
Dry another three hours, turn and squash.
Continue drying until done to the texture you prefer - this can take up to another 3 - 4 hours.
The time it takes to dry the tomatoes will depend on the tomatoes, the humidity in the air, the efficiency of your oven or dehydrator - they won't all be ready at once.
Check them after the second round of drying, some may be ready to take out then. They are ready if they are dry and wrinkled, but still pliable, a bit like a dried apple or apricot.
Ripe tomatoes are best for this. If they are too firm, sit them on the bench for a couple of days to ripen naturally.
It is important to make sure the tomatoes are dry enough, or they will go mouldy in storage. If you're not 100% confident, then simply pack them in a sterilised jar and top with fresh olive oil. Put the lid on and keep them in the fridge. You can add a few sprigs of basil or oregano to the jar too. The herbs will flavour the tomatoes and the oil, which can be used for cooking or on salads after the tomatoes have been eaten.
Last year the kids gave me a waffle iron for Mother's Day and I love it. I'm not a gadget fan, but this is one that has been well used in the 8 months we've had it.
Waffles are so quick and easy to make, no need to buy a $4 packet of waffle mix.
We have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert - not all at once! With fruit, syrup, ice-cream, custard, jelly, baked beans, eggs, sausages - the toppings are limited only by your imagination and pantry supplies.
1 cup SR flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
Mix all ingredients together, beating until smooth. Heat waffle iron. Pour 1/2 cup batter per waffle into the wafflie iron. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until waffles are golden and crisp.
Save money by limiting the expensive or extravagant items you buy. For example, if you love an exotic, organic cake mix but it’s expensive, buy one every other month. Consider it a special treat when you have it, rather than something you must have every week or two.
Or better still, MOO cake mixes, store them in ziplock bags and you can make a cake whenever you feel like it.
MOO Vanilla Cake Mix
4 cups plain flour
4 cups SR flour
6 cups white sugar
1/4 cup baking powder
2 tsp salt
2-1/4 cups unsalted butter*
Combine all the dry ingredients and then cut in the shortening with a pastry knife until it is very fine. Place in a 4 litre airtight container. Store for up to 3 months in the fridge. Bring the cake mix to room temperature to use it.
*Note: Use real butter, do not be tempted to use margarine.
To make a cake:
4-1/2 cups cake mix
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c vegetable oil
2/3 c milk
Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Grease and flour a 33cm x 23cm cake tin. In a large bowl mix eggs, vanilla and oil. Add the cake mix, stir to combine. Then stir in the milk. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
I love the convenience of mixes ready to go. At the moment I have chocolate cupcakes, tea cake, sultana muffins, cranberry muffins, cream of chicken soup, taco seasoning, spaghetti seasoning, pizza dough, doughnuts, instant custard, white sauce mixes all in jars (I love them too) or ziplock bags. I print the ingredients and method either onto a label or straight onto the jar or bag with a Sharpie so anyone can take a mix and make it. Means Wayne or the children can help me with baking or meal prep without my supervision or even input.
Annabel, over at The Bluebirds are Nesting (Blue Wren in the forum) is doing a series on pantry preparedness. She posts a new topic each week and this week it was mixes.
I love mixes. They are a vital component of my pantry, my stockpile and go a long way towards helping to keep our grocery bill to $320 a month.
I can't remember the last time I bought a cake mix. Hannah bought a couple last year and made them, red velvet cupcakes if I remember correctly. We HATED them - they tasted so fake, had a horrible after-taste and left a greasy, thick feeling in our mouths. And they were expensive.
During MOO Month I shared my go-to chocolate cake mix recipe.
A few years ago I put together a small ebook of mixes, called Make Our Own….Mixes. It's one of the more popular downloads in the member's centre, having been downloaded almost 32,000 times since it was first published! That's a lot of people MOOing mixes, or with the knowledge to MOO them.
Annabel was asking for a Bisquick recipe. Bisquick isn't a common ingredient in Australian recipes, but as the Internet makes it so easy for us to find and try recipes from other countries, and as it is a popular product in the USA and Canada, knowing how to MOO it means we can try these recipes, save money on the packets and keep the nasty ingredients out.
This is my Bisquick recipe. I use it to make biscuits, scones (if we are camping, otherwise I make Lemonade Scones), crumble topping, shortcakes, pancakes, pastry, as the base in impossible pies and quiches - it's very versatile.
MOO Bisquick Mix
6 cups plain flour, sifted
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter
Step 1. Measure the sifted flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Use a wire whisk to blend thoroughly.
Step 2. Cut in cold butter using a pastry cutter until thoroughly incorporated. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 months.
This makes 6 cups of mixture. I pack it in 2 cup portions in ziplock bags in the freezer because I don't have room in the fridge.
I keep most of my mixes in the freezer. Why? Well firstly because I don't have the shelf space for them. Secondly, some of them contain butter or oil and need to at least be refrigerated.
They can be used straight from the freezer, if there are any clumps just break them up before you add the wet ingredients.
Here are two of the ways I use it.
MOO Bisquick Scones
2 cups MOO Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk.
Mix to a dough. Gently press out to about 2cm thick. Use a glass or scone cutter dipped in flour to cut into rounds. Place on a baking paper lined scone tray. Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 12 - 15 minutes or until risen and golden.
MOO Bisquick Banana Nut Bread
This delicious banana bread uses MOO Bisquick as a shortcut. With the addition of cream cheese and walnuts you have one of the easiest and nicest banana breads you've ever tasted.
2 cups MOO Bisquick mix
1 cup sugar
250g cream cheese, softened
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Grease and line the base of a loaf pan. Beat sugar and cream cheese together until smooth (it's easier if you use the mixer for this step). Add in the mashed bananas and eggs, and beat until well combined. Gently stir in Bisquick and walnuts, until just moist. Spread evenly into the loaf pan and bake for one hour. Cool completely before serving.
This is a very moist banana bread, it doesn't rise to a high loaf, and it's just great for using up brown or black bananas. It also makes a great Gift in a Jar - just pack the dry ingredients in layers in a jar, add a label with the ingredients needed and the method. Add a pretty jar topper and a ribbon and it's ready to go.
Mixes are great. MOO mixes are even greater. If you haven't tried to save money, time and energy with MOO mixes, give them a go. I'm sure you'll love the convenience and the cost.
Boxed (or packet) cake mixes are convenient - to a point. You still need to add the wet ingredients, usually egg, water or milk, butter or oil, so what you're paying up to $9 for is basically flour, sugar, a rising agent, flavouring of some kind and then a whole lot of things you can't pronounce and really shouldn't be eating.
That cake mix convenience ends up costing you up to $11!
If you make a cake from scratch you'll use flour, sugar, butter or oil, milk or water, an egg or two, flavouring of some kind and if you didn't use self-raising flour, a rising agent (baking powder or bicarb soda, depending on the recipe). And your cake will cost you under $2!
Now cake mixes are supposed to be convenient time savers because you just dump the contents into the mixer, add the wet stuff and beat for 3 minutes.
If your recipe is a one-bowl mix, like the I've shared below, you do the same thing - dump all the ingredients into the mixer and beat for 3 minutes.
It may take you a minute to measure out the flour, sugar and flavourings so a from scratch cake will take you 1 or 2 minutes longer to get to the baking stage. At a saving of up to $9 a minute or two is nothing.
And they will both take about the same time to cook too, so no saving there.
If you really love cake mixes, and I confess I do, you can quite easily make your own.
When I'm baking a cake I get out a half a dozen ziplock bags and measure out the dry ingredients for 7 cakes, the one I'm baking and 6 to put in the cupboard. The bags are labelled with the type of cake the ingredients will make - chocolate, coffee, butter, sultana, cherry or whatever, a list of wet ingredients and the instructions. I do this a lot so I have marked the bags with a Sharpie. Once the mix has been used the bag is washed and dried and put away ready to use again - and the instructions are already written on it.
This is a quick chocolate cake I make into MOO Cake Mixes.
Quick Chocolate Cake
3 cups SR flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp white vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
You can double, triple, quadruple the quantities (I measure out 7 lots at a time). Put the dry ingredients into ziplock bags and seal. Label the bag and add a list of the wet ingredients and the instructions.
To make a cake add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
One quantity will make 2 dozen cupcakes or two 20cm square cakes. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 - 30 minutes for 20cm cake (or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean). Bake for 12 - 15 minutes for cupcakes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Nutella and marshmallow - what a tasty treat! Buy the hazelnut spread and marshmallows on sale, use generic ricies and make twice the amount for less than half the price!
From the Cheapskates Club No Bake Recipe File
4 cups Ricies
1 small jar Nutella (or the equivalent brand)
2 x 200g pkts marshmallows
3 tbsp butter
Grease a 20cm square cake tin. In a large saucepan, on low heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted add the marshmallows, stirring until they are completely melted. Turn the heat down to very low. Add half the Nutella, stirring until it melts. Add the remaining Nutella and stir until the mixture is smooth and everything has completely melted and combined. Pour in the Ricies and stir until well coated with the marshmallow mixture. Remove from the heat and quickly pour into the prepared cake tin. Press down with wet hands to smooth and firm the mixture. Put in the fridge to set. Once set cut into 20 squares to serve. Store in an air-tight container for 1 week.
500g strawberries, washed, hulled, chopped
1 cup white sugar
1 large lemon, juiced
Place strawberries into a 3-litre capacity heatproof microwave-safe bowl (such as Pyrex). Add sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Microwave, uncovered, for 4 minutes on High/100%. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Microwave for a further 15 minutes on High/100%, (jam should still be a little runny) or until jam reaches setting point. (see note). Spoon hot jam into hot sterilised jars. Seal. Turn jars upside down for 2 minutes. Turn upright and allow to cool. Once opened, store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Note: To test jam: before starting the cooking process place two saucers in the freezer. After 15 minutes, take one sauce from the freezer and pour a teaspoon of jam onto the saucer. If the jam sets and stays when the saucer is turned upside down then it is set. If not cook in 5 minutes bursts, checking each time, until setting point is reached.