Archive | May, 2011

Make Your Own Mustache Wax

31 May

We went to visit some friends in West Virginia this weekend, and decided to come bearing gifts.  One of the friends we were visiting sports an impressive amount of facial hair, and the last time we visited we talked in length about Beard Lube, a product which softens and conditions facial hair.  I decided to try my hand at my own beard lube before we left.  I used the following recipe, which turned out to be more of a wax than anything else.  The bearded could use it to soften facial hair before a shave or on a dry beard to add a little glisten…  Honestly, I’m more proud of the beard stamp I carved than the beard lube itself.

Beard Lube

  • 1/4 c beeswax beads
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy milk
  • 10 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 5 drops spearmint oil

combine wax and oil in a small saucepan and heat on medium heat until beeswax beads are melted.  add remaining three ingredients and warm over low heat for 30 minutes.  transfer into a seal-able container and let set before capping.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Apothecary page.


Cocktail of the Week: Spicy Mulberry Cocktails

27 May

When I was child and young adult, I had the peculiar habit of reading cookbooks the way most people read novels– casually at a coffee shop, curled up on the couch with a cup of tea or tucked into bed right before I feel asleep.  Long before “food porn” became a household term, these cookbooks served for me a function very similar to the function porn serves for some of its consumers.  I was too young to have a kitchen of my own or have dinner parties with all my great friends or make my partner a lavish breakfast on a Sunday morning.  I couldn’t do the thing itself, so I figured I might as well read about people who were already doing it and get excited just fantasizing about it.

Because of this early exposure to various cooking methods and tools, good food pairings and a general idea of basic culinary proportions, I find I’m able to create a pretty tasty meal without ever looking at a cookbook.  This penchant for culinary improvisations did not apply to the world of cocktails up until very recently.  I started my cocktail kick a few years ago and began reading cocktail books and recipes in the same way I read cookbooks as a kid, poring over them to learn different proportions and combinations and how they work together.  I’m just now coming to a point where I’m able to create some pretty decent cocktails from what we happen to have around the house.

Yesterday some friends came over, one of them bearing mulberries from her mulberry tree.  We happened to have some watermelon, tequila, ginger beer and a lemon lying around, so I whipped up a spicy mulberry cocktail. What cocktail could you make today with what you have around the house (hint: pickle juice, hot dog and vodka cocktail is an acceptable answer).

Spicy Mulberry Cocktail (makes 2)

  • about 10 fresh mulberries (you can’t buy mulberries in stores because they’re so perishable, but you likely know someone that has one in their yard and is dying to unload their berries on someone)
  • 3-5 1 inch square chunks watermelon
  • 1 Tbs demerrara sugar
  • 4 oz. tequilla
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • ginger beer (the spicier the better. I recommend Goya)

muddle mulberries, watermelon and sugar in a cocktail shaker.  add tequila and lime juice and shake.  strain into a glass with ice fresh ice cubes and top with ginger beer to taste.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

Another Banner Sneak Peek

26 May

I made this one for a wedding this July.  I’m super honored to be a part of this lovely day.  If you have any interest in getting a banner of your own, send me a message at mackeyda [at] or check out my Etsy page.

Make Umami Powder and Smash Burgers

24 May

My sweetheart doesn’t cook all that often, but when he does, he means it.  Whereas I’m more prone to throwing random things we have in the fridge together in a huge pot and calling it stew, Shawn does his research.  He studies the best way to season a cast iron, the best way to brine chicken for frying and the exact goal temperature for the inside of a perfectly cooked burger.

He recently read an article in Food and Wine about smash burgers (burgers formed by forming ground beef into balls and then smashing them to a patty shape during the grilling process) and decided to set about making them for dinner that night.  The recipe called for umami powder, which the recipe said could be made by grinding dried shitake mushrooms, kobu (dried seaweed) and bonito flakes (dried fish flakes). After trips to three different Asian grocery stores, we were able to obtain these.  The recipe said the umami power was optional, and we almost gave up on it after the second unsuccessful grocery store visit, but I’m glad we put forth the effort because this stuff is delicious.  I’ve seriously considered (and often followed through on) sprinkling the stuff on virtually everything I’ve eaten since making it.


umami powder

According to Wikipedia:

Umami, popularly referred to as savoriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami is a loanword from the Japanese umami (うま味) meaning “pleasant savory taste”] This particular writing was chosen by Professor Kikunae Ikeda from umai (うまい) “delicious” and mi (味) “taste”. The Chinese characters 旨味 are used for a more general meaning, when a particular food is delicious.”

You wouldn’t necessary think ground up shitake mushrooms, seaweed and dried fish would be exceedingly delicious, but this stuff is heavenly.  I’m still not entirely sure what umami should taste like– I certainly wouldn’t be able to identify it from a line-up of tastes the way I would sweet or salty, but if this is it, I’m on board.

The smash burgers, with their cooked onions, sharp cheddar cheese and sprinkling of umami powder, were the best I’ve ever encountered.  I could have eaten five of them.  Kudos to Shawn and his culinary dramaturgy.  Sometimes it really pays off.

Umami Powder

Use a spice grinder to pulse 3 tablespoons bonito flakes, 1/2 ounce crumbled dried kombu, and 1/2 ounce dried shitake mushrooms into a powder.

Cheddar and Onion Smash Burgers (makes 4)

  • 16 thin bread-and-butter pickle slices, patted dry
  • Four 4-inch potato buns, buttered and toasted
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef chuck (30 percent fat)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 small onions, sliced paper thin
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
  • Umami powder
  1. Heat a cast-iron griddle until very hot. Layer the pickle slices on the bottom buns.
  2. Without overworking the meat, loosely form it into 4 balls and place them on the griddle. Cook the meatballs over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Using a sturdy large spatula, flatten each ball into a 5-inch round patty. Season the patties with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, until well seared. Press a handful of sliced onions onto each patty. Using the spatula, carefully flip each burger so the onions are on the bottom. Top with the cheese and cook for 2 minutes. Cover with a roasting pan and cook just until the cheese is melted, 1 minute more. Transfer the burgers with the onions to the buns and sprinkle with umami dust. Top with the buns and serve.



For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

Make a Bagel Bird Feeder

23 May

We had a bunch of bagels left over from a work meeting and after a day or two, they started getting pretty stale.  Rather than throw them out, I decided to make them into hanging treats from some of the feathered who like to hang out around our porch.  Using just an old bagel, peanut butter, birdseed and some twine, I made a hanging bird feeder in about ten minutes.  Now I’m sitting back and waiting for them to start feasting.

You’ll need:

  • twin
  • 1/2 of a Stale Bagel
  • 2 Teaspoon Peanut Butter
  • Bird Seed

Cut a piece of string, put one end of the string through the hole in the bagel and tie the ends together to make a large loop for hanging.

Spread the peanut butter mixture onto the cut side of the bagel. Pour the bird seed onto a plate. Press the peanut butter side of the bagel into the bird seed.

Hang that super up!

For more projects like this one, check out the Things to Try page.

Banner Sneak Peek

20 May

My latest commissioned banner, to be displayed at an engagement party.  A google search tells me the phrase is from a David Gray song?

Make a Mini-Bunting Banner from Fabric Scraps

19 May

I’m sorry to do this to you, but I’m going to talk banners again.  Lately I’ve been preoccupied with making tiny banners, so inspired by Just Something I Made, I set out to create a tiny little banner from the many fabric scraps I’ve been accumulating from all this banner making I’ve been doing.

All I did was cut out several small triangles from scrap fabric, then start by running the sewing machine with no fabric in it to create a few-inch length of string to hang with, then I stitched the triangles two at a time (back to back, fabric sides out), leaving just a little space between each (again, letting the machine run with nothing in it), and another few-inch length of string at the end.

It was super easy and the result is pretty charming.  Plus, the variations and possible uses for these little buddies are endless.

For more projects like this one, check out the Things to Try page.