I lean over and notice a new scent on my arm – olive oil, extra virgin.
It was supposed to be straight-up olive oil, which isn’t so fragrant. But, extra virgin is all I had. I also catch a hint of frankincense in there, maybe almond oil, and some mint as well.
My sister Sally and her friend Sherrie of Wellington Farm came over last week for dinner. Afterwards the plan was to have a quick workshop on ‘how to make natural cleaners and face oils’. Now Sally is a seasoned homemade beauty products person. She’s been making her own soap and hand cream for years. Sherrie takes it to another level. She makes all her own cleaning products, beauty products and has written several posts on how you can as well.
I, on the other hand, have always bought relatively toxic cleaners and body products, mainly because I liked the smell. But slowly, over the years, I’ve made changes. The incentive varies. There’s health, of course, and the environment, naturally. But mainly, it’s my desire to reuse stuff. And it’s about space. I have a small kitchen. I like to live minimally. Sherrie makes one cleaner that will clean just about everything. I also love pretty glass bottles. So I signed up for Sherrie’s unofficial workshop.
That night I was on dinner. I braised a big pot of red cabbage with apples, onions and spices to serve up with sausages when they arrived. Except, I wasn’t there when they arrived. I was 20 minutes away, parked on the side of the road, 3 kids in the car with one upside down in the trunk trying to wiggle his way into football gear before the coach snapped the team photo.
But that’s where sisters (and good friends) come in. They found the sausages and put them in a fry pan. They pulled the pot of cabbage from the oven. They set the table. By the time I fell through the door, they were puttering around my kitchen, loving the smell of cloves and cinnamon from the braised cabbage. I loved it too. It’s times likes these that I sometimes just stop and say, ‘thank you Lindsay for making something ahead of time’. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, I rejoice.
That morning I looked in my fridge and saw nothing but one big, huge red cabbage. Apples were in the fruit bowl, and onions were in a basket. I reached for Delia’s Vegetarian Collection, a book I must have bought while working in a cookbook shop while living in London. Delia is the ‘Doyenne of British Cookery’; she’s a Martha, I suppose, but in a kinder, more practical way. She says comforting things like: Red cabbage will keep warm without coming to any harm… Or …and it does freeze well so, all in all, it’s a real winner of a recipe.
There it is, up above, going into the oven. What comes out, two hours later, is a shredded tangle of flavourful purple ribbons. The perfect bed for sausages.
There was no time to capture the ‘after’ picture. We had cleaning products and body oils to make! More on that next week… In the mean time, start collecting your favourite bottles with ‘universal’ screw tops, the kind that a spray nozzle can screw onto. (I’ve been stocking up on these brown beauties). Buy spray nozzles at the dollar store. Look for tiny glass bottles for face oil – health food stores perhaps? It’s good to be all set when you fall through the door, ready for an evening of braised cabbage, sausages and natural product making.