Of salt

After we got settled in our new house, I did a photo tour of our home that I posted to Facebook.  One of the pictures showed my lovely IKEA spice rack that houses some of my different salts and my most-used spices. Then a couple days ago, I got an email from a friend asking about my “salt collection”…what different kinds of salts I had and what I used them for.  It was such a fun email to answer!  Yes, it’s rather silly, but I love talking foodie stuff like different salts.  And when I asked on Facebook to see if there were other salt geeks out there, I got a couple requests to share what was in the email…so I decided to make a blog post about it.  And here we are!

My Salt Collection

Celtic Grey Sea Salt: I love this salt and it’s definitely the one that I use most often. I buy the five pound bag from our co-op, Azure Standard (though I’ve seen it on Amazon as well), and then keep a wide-mouth pint jar of it by my stove so I can easily add it to things as I need it. I use it in most of my cooking from scrambling eggs to sauteing veggies, in some baking, in making most salad dressings, etc. It’s a coarser-grained salt so there’s a bit of a learning curve in regards to how much to use if you’re used to finer-grained salts, but it’s totally worth the trial and error. (Supposedly, if you generally measure your salt, there are certain ratios you can use to figure out how much you need of a coarse-grain salt as compared to a fine-grain salt, but I never actually measure my salt so I don’t know what those are.)

Himalayan Coarse Crystal Salt: This I also get from Azure and it’s what I use to fill my salt grinder for at-the-table use. Therefore, it usually gets used to salt oil-and-vinegar dressed salads or if someone wants their food saltier than it already is. This a very large-grained salt so I would really only recommend it if you have a salt grinder. Otherwise you could end up with big globs of salt in your food!

Fine Sea Salt: I get this at Trader Joe’s and it comes in tall blue and red/pink container. I don’t use it super often since it’s kind of boring and is very white which usually means that there aren’t as many trace minerals in it (one of the big reasons I like using other salts is because they’re a good source of trace minerals). However, the fine grains do come in handy sometimes when I need the salt to dissolve quickly so I use it mostly for making certain salad dressings, for making saline solutions when they’re needed and in this amazing homemade calamine lotion recipe.

Vignalta Sea Salt with Herbs: This was a gift from my mother-in-law and I’m so glad she introduced me to it. It’s a sea salt mixed with rosemary, sage, black pepper and garlic…so good! I’ve used it in many things…herb and butter rubs for roast chickens, on foccacia, etc. My latest use for it is when I want a quick salty and savoury pick-me-up…I toast some sprouted bread, slather it with butter and then sprinkle this stuff on…YUM!

Black Lava Salt: This is the latest addition to my salt collection and I’m excited to try it out. I was ordering some other stuff from Mountain Rose Herbs and wanted to try one of their culinary salts and this was the one I chose…though it was a very hard decision since they have so many fun-looking ones! Since it’s new, I haven’t used it much yet…but from its description on the website, it sounds like it would work great as a finishing salt for pretty much anything.

Smoked Sea Salt: This I also got from Trader Joe’s and I’ve loved it to use as a natural way to add smokiness to a dish. However, I haven’t seen it around TJ’s recently and I’m wondering if they’ve discontinued it. If that’s the case, when I use mine up, I’ll just use their South African Smoke seasoning. That one isn’t just salt (it has some paprika, garlic and basil in it too), but it’s still totally natural and works great for adding smokiness.

Kosher Salt: This is just your basic Morton’s Kosher salt.  I don’t use it much in cooking since it’s still pretty refined and therefore lacks many trace minerals, but I still like to have it on hand for things like salting eggplants, making brines, etc…basically anything that uses a lot of salt, but will be mostly rinsed off or thrown out (that way I don’t have to waste my good salts on that stuff).

I also have a little jelly jar half full of some salt that Aaron’s parents brought me back from Salzburg, Austria. It’s a fine grain mineral salt and since I’m pretty sure I won’t ever get some again (unless I go to Salzburg myself…which would be so much fun!), it’s my “special” salt and so gets randomly thrown in dishes whenever I feel like it.

And that’s it.  Nothing super fancy, but still fun to cook with and add a little variety!


Killing germs…the green way

Mondays are usually my big cleaning days.  I generally don’t clean much over the weekends (except for cloth diaper laundry…that waits for no one!) so that we can spend as much time with Aaron as possible on his days off, and Mondays are the catch-up days.  Cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, etc.  I’ve blogged about natural cleaning before, but I’ve recently changed my “recipe” for my all-purpose cleaner…and as I was cleaning my bathrooms today and leaving them smelling like a herb garden, I remembered that I wanted to share it.

But first some backstory…  A couple weeks ago I was confronted with a really nasty cleaning job.  Our big upright freezer needed to be cleaned out and by the time I got around to it, a couple days had passed since defrosting it.  And it was gross!  Smelled horrible, some old chicken juice pooled on the floor…very “icky yucky” as Cedar would say.  I knew I wanted something stronger than my basic all-purpose cleaner of soap, water and lemon essential oil, but I also didn’t want to resort to using chlorine bleach.  Then I remembered a post I had recently found on The Mommypotamus (a great site full of good info!) that included a recipe for homemade natural “Lysol”.  Using a simple combination of lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil added to water, the post stated that: “This mixture was found, in the French state hospital system, to be as effective as standard hospital sanitizer, but in fact longer lasting, because the oils stay on whatever surfaces they land on longer than the alcohol-based sanitizers.”  I decided to use that mixture as my base and add to it to help up its cleaning and disinfecting power.  I liked the mixture so much that I decided to keep it as my all-purpose cleaner.  Totally natural, germ-killing and smells lovely…what’s not to like?!

The basic recipe is: in a large spray bottle, put a small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap. (I used to put a large squirt in, but have found that since Dr. Bronner’s is so concentrated, that ended up being too much soap and it either required lots of rinsing to get it all off or it left the surface sticky.  So now I use just enough to completely cover the bottom of the spray bottle and not much more.  For the spray bottle I use, that seems to be a good amount: it adds some sudsing action and serves as an emulsifier to mix the essential oils with the water.  Obviously experiment to see how much you need.)  To the soap add 10-15 drops each of lavender, rosemary and lemon essential oils.  Swirl around a bit to mix together and slowly add hot water.  It should stay pretty well emulsified, but it’s still a good idea to give it a good shake or two before using to make sure all the oils aren’t floating on the top.  Use as you would any cleaner…and enjoy leaving your house naturally clean and smelling like a herb garden!


Well, it’s been over a month since my last post and we’ve been in Tennessee for almost four weeks now…I think it’s time to get back to blogging.  I honestly was rather unmotivated to start up again, but I have all these post ideas floating around in my head.  Who knows if they’ll ever get from my head to my blog, but one can hope!

Tennessee has definitely been a change from California — in some good ways, and some bad.  I’m absolutely loving all the green here, though sometimes the trees end up obscuring the horizon…I didn’t realize how much I would miss seeing that.  And I’m discovering that all this green has a price: I made my first acquaintance with chiggers a couple days ago.  The kids and I went blueberry picking with some friends and a couple hours after we returned home, I discovered a large red  itchy ring of bites around both of my calves, right where my capri-ed jeans had ended and my bare legs began.  The bites really are as bad as they say, but thankfully a couple applications of this amazing homemade calamine lotion and regular slathering on of our trusty Miracle Salve has helped a lot.  I’m just incredibly thankful that the chiggers didn’t get the kids (I was wearing Genoa and Cedar had long pants and gum boots on) — I can deal with crazy itchy bites on me, but it would have been really hard on them.

The food culture and situation here in east TN definitely is very different than CA as well.  I miss all the amazing fresh produce we had available almost year round, but here I’ve also been able to find a good source for raw milk…and they deliver only about five minutes away.   And we’re so excited…in about a week, there’s a Trader Joe’s opening up relatively close by…YAY!

So lots of changes to be sure, but we’re slowly adjusting.  And regardless of the hard parts, it’s been confirmed to Aaron and I several times that this definitely is the new path God has for our family.  Being just our little family, in a totally new place, hardly knowing anyone — it certainly has grown us and will continue to, I’m sure.  It’s always exciting to see what our great God has in store.