Saturday, January 31, 2009


Wouldn't you think I'd made enough butter cakes to know that you add the sugar to the creamed butter FIRST, then add the eggs one at a time...I don't know what I was thinking!
Anyway, the eggs went in first...then the sugar. We'll see if it affects the finished product tomorrow after church during coffee hour. The raw batter tasted great!

I looked all over the internet for the I wouldn't have to type it all in here. I can usually find every recipe that way. But not this one and it's one of my favorites. So here goes. Copy this down Sarah. You'll want to make it someday when you get tired of my Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake! (This link is the exact recipe I've been making since I was in high school)

Poppy Seed Cake
2/3 cup poppy seeds (don't buy them in the little jar..get a bag full at the health food store)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 1/4 cups cake flour ( I use 2 c. plus 2 T. all purpose)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks butter)
2 cups sugar (divided)
4 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

1. Put poppy seeds and boiling water in blender and blend 1 1/2 min. Cool.

Make a meringue with egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside.
(I do this first so I don't have to clean the beaters....just use them in the butter

Sift together flour, soda and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter with 1 3/4 cups sugar. Add yolks 1 at a time. Beat well.

At low speed blend in poppy seed mixture and vanilla. Add flour alternately with buttermilk. (starting and ending with flour. Then fold in meringue.

Pour into a 13 x 9 inch greased and floured baking pan. Bake 30 - 40 minutes.

I frost this right in the pan with a really good butter cream. Read that...lots of butter with 10X sugar.

Yummmm this is one of my favorite cakes. Right now I have 4 favorites:

Brazil Nut Cake (I couldn't find this one either....every one I found had dates in it....and mine doesn't) and Carrot addition to the 2 above. I need a new cake....but I'm fussy.
Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Ok, so here a report on NY Gift:

First an aside about the trip. I have a 45 min. train ride to NYC. I haven't taken the train for awhile, and I always forget how much I like it.

From Peekskill, its a ride right along the river.....lovely any time of year. Many abandoned factory buildings remind me of how we used to MAKE things....and now we are so much more CONSUMERS.

The fair was exhausting. all day walking around the Javits Center and 2 of the three piers.
We concentrated on these sections:
  • Handmade
  • Accent on Design
  • Extracts
  • General gift (just for Midori ribbon)
  • New York's Newest
  • Extracts is back in the Javits center finally! After several yrs. of being relegated to a far distant venue.
  • New Yorks Newest (at Pier 90) didn't have anything was actually pretty lame
  • SunFeather was NOT in handmade (where they usually are)....or anywhere else.
  • The fair did not seem as well attended as in the past, an observation verified by some vendors.
  • Accent on Design is fun to browse and there we found our friend Lisa from The Soap and Paper Factory!
In addition to a slew of ribbon from Midori, we bought 2 new 'handmade' items to retail at Saipua . Hopefully Sarah will post about the new items as soon as they arrive at the store. Here's a clue: we bought some metal, some thread.

It's always an exhausting, yet fun day that ends with dinner at some great NY restaurant.

Snow Day

So I should be telling you about the Gift Fair yesterday, but we're snowed in and I've spent the morning watching muppet videos on YOUTUBE

I happened upon Beaker doing Ode to Joy...and took it from there. I love the muppets.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Big Apple Gifts.

I'm off to the city this AM for NYIGF at the Javits Center.

We used to exhibit our soap at this show, but haven't for a couple of years.
Now we go as buyers to see if there's something we 'must have' for our little shop in Brooklyn.

This show is SO HUGE that you cannot do it all is a day. Some buyers are here all week.
Between the Javits and 3 of the ship piers, you have to be selective.

We plan to do:
  • Handmade
  • Extracts
  • Pier 90: New York's Newest
Are trade shows what they used to be?

Are buyers finding new ways to scout out new and distictive resources?

How has the internet changed the way we buy?


Reporting back later.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I make soap. I have access to hundreds of bars of soap in the workshop.....

yet my soap dishes often have just a small sliver of soap, which I tend to use until it can barely be held.

Think on that, Jack Handy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a Brand New Day

I had to stop working just before noon to see the inauguration live on TV.

President Obama's (oh, I like saying that) speech thoughtfully laid out the work we have ahead of us as a country....and reminded us that we are all in this together and that we all need to be involved.

Here is a quote from Barack:

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We
are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

And just in case you didn't see his historic inauguration:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

testing recipes part 2

After my soap testing earlier today, I decided to test a recipe from Martha Stewart Living
In the Feb. 2009 issue: Champvallone

As Martha says: Lamb + Potato Gratin = Champvallone

I used my mandoline to slice about 3 russet potatoes. Potatoes are tossed with a bit of olive oil.

Lamb cubes (from a pastured lamb steak I had in the freezer) browned in olive oil with onions, garlic and rosemary. Then simmered with some chicken stock. 1/2 of the potatoes layered in the bottom of the dish. Then topped with simmered lamb, then remaining potatoes. Into a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour and:


It was crusty, savory and delicious!

FYI: when i googled Champvallone all of the recipes called for using browned rib lamb chops instead of the cubed lamb. I think this was easier to make and serve.

testing recipes

In the soap kitchen today testing new fragrances for spring. I've had these fragrance blends in dark bottles for a couple of weeks now...letting them 'mellow' together.

They smell good...but now it's time to try them in soap. Sometimes that alters the way they smell. So....I get everything ready first. I have these nice little 2 lb. molds that we make for Creekside Soaps that I like to make test batches in. They're all lined and ready and the measured amount of fragrance is ready for each batch.

I'm making just 6 lbs. of soap and dividing it for the test. Sometimes there isn't much time to mix in the fragrance and pour so I like to have everything ready so I can work quickly.

Here is my 6 lbs. of soap divided into 3 - 2 lb batches. Add fragrance to each and some fun orange peel in the lavender/rosemary/orange soap...and pour into the molds.

Tomorrow, I'll unmold and cut into bars. Then Monday I'll take bars to Sarah for evaluation and suggestions. If they don't pass the test, it'll be back to the soap kitchen for me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hotlanta....isn't so hot

but it's a heck of a lot warmer than NY right now.

And, Jessica is here and we're having a great visit.
It's fun to help her furnish her new apartment.

Now it's Monday AM and I've shopped
more in the last 2 days than I do
in 6 months at home.

Ikea, Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond.

....I draw the line at WALMART.
Here are a couple of links as to why: Walmart Watch and Store Wars: When Walmart comes to Town.

Don't get me on that soap box....I haven't been in a Walmart (though we have one a mile away) in 10 years...

I also spent some time yesterday at America's Mart. We have our soaps with a sales rep there in a permanent showroom.

But Jess and I also walked through the temporary booths in Body and Soul (bath and body stuff) and Handmade. This is a HUGE show...and not to be done in high heels, huh Jess!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

i'm all undone

Time to undo all of the Christmas decorations.
At this time, I'm always glad I don't put up too many.
Poor kitties....have to give up their favorite resting place.
They think we can't see them under there....
Now I'm ready to receive the seeds I ordered from Tomato Bob last week. Sarah and I conferred on the varieties we would plant this spring. She starts the seeds in Brooklyn...and then I put most of them in the garden up here. We are both ready to think about planting!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Buddy Sunday

It was only a month ago that Buddy paid us a visit....and he arrived this morning just as I was going out the door for church. I had Pentti hold him captive in the house until I got home.
I guess he wasn't too happy about that, but he's still here and not scratching at the door to get out.

Come on, Bud...move back home for good!

Friday, January 2, 2009

resolutions: #1

So one of my goals for 2009 is to rid myself of unnecessary flotsam. We've been 37 years in the same house, so there is a lot of accumulation.

I fear that if I don't pare down....I could end up with stuff gushing out of my garage and they'll come and put yellow tape around my whole house.

I am not a hoarder...but I just want less 'stuff' around.

There might be more resolutions, but I don't know what they are yet.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A new year begins

I've been counting the last few much soap in inventory, etc....and today I counted how much soap I made last year....I think it was about 34,000 bars. Whew!!

One small batch at a time....

I made this peppermint pumice yesterday. My last batch of 2008. It's one of our longtime favorites...and I still do 30lb. batches like this.

Sometimes we use the 'big kettle' and d0 a 120 lbs. all at once....but I still love stirring the small batch and watching it 'turn into' soap!

Here's to another year of soap, gardening and food with friends and family!

Happy New Year!