Wednesday, June 29, 2011

scary soapmaking

Two things scare me about soapmakers. (novice soapmakers)

1. when they tell me their recipe calls for 1/2 cup of lye

2. when they want to start a business and sell soap but they haven't actually MADE any soap yet.

I'm not trying to say that soapmaking is hard....but it does take a bit of practice to get it right and make a product worth selling.
AND if you don't know that all ingredients for accurate soapmaking have to be measured by WEIGHT...on a GOOD SCALE...they you shouldn't be making soap.

A customer once called me to ask why her soap was coming out crumbly and dry. (A sure sign of too much lye) She said she had taken a soapmaking class and the instructor taught them to measure ingredients using tablespoons and cups. Uh Oh....not good! I told here she needed a scale...and fast.

Today a potential customer called to ask about our molds. She was starting a business and as we talked told me that she dissolved her lye in oils. LYE dissolved in OIL? I don't think so. Ever.
Lye dissolves in water. COLD water. Actually I don't think she had ever made soap, because you can't dissolve lye in oil.

So...lets face it. There is lots of misinformation out there on the 'internets'
And, a lot of folks making and teaching about soap who don't have their facts straight.

I've been making soap for about 15 years. You're welcome to ask questions in the comment section here and I'll post the answer....or email me.

And, while you're browsing the net, here's a reliable site about soapmaking!

Kathy Miller's Soap Pages

And if you really want to learn about all aspects of soapmaking, join the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and attend one of their annual conferences! This is the best way yet!!

Remember...there is no soap without lye...but you need to be very careful with that lye. It's caustic until you turn it into SOAP!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

wine in the afternoon....

I taught soapmaking in the late 90s through the continuing education program in my school district. It was delightful to teach adults and I met wonderful people who took to the art of saponification like a ducks to water.

Victoria was one of my students. She went to live in Paris 8 years ago, and I haven't seen her since Sarah and I were in Paris in 2005. She has returned to the states and we had some leisurely time to catch up and have lunch yesterday.

She is now working as a LMT, but coming from 8 years in France, I knew I needed help choosing the best wine for lunch. I called ahead to the wine store and asked for recommendations before sending Pentti off to make the purchase.

So...2 bottles of Greek wine, Greek salad, and grilled sausage...and interesting conversation and a lovely day was complete.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

3 week of CSA....

and what to do with Mustard Greens?

I started with this epicurious recipe for Simmered Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings.

Instead of slab bacon, I used about 3 slices...sauteed with onions and garlic...and then added some water and proceeded as written.

I made the dumplings as the recipe was written....and they came out scrumptious! Comfort food for a cool spring night.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

a cool day in June

and I'm looking for two things:
  • Something to warm me up (it's 66 degrees here, but feels cooler)
  • And a way to use the mustard greens that came in our first CSA share this week

Both accomplished with Simmered Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings!

With a few adaptations!

I used 3 strips of thick cut bacon, 1 large vidalia onion, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Sauteed and then added 2 cups of water. Right now it simmering on the stove, waiting for the greens.

I'll chop the greens and add them after about an hour of simmering the 'pot likker'...and cook them about 30 minutes more. Then do the dumplings!

Hope it's as good as it sounds to me right now.
Will report back later.
I'm off to get a sweater!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

about being a soapmaker

Everywhere you go people think you smell good. In office max today, the clerk wondered what smelled so good when she was ringing up my order. I told her it was me...that I'm a soapmaker.

The bank teller says my deposit slips always smell so nice.

When I get into someone's car they ask...what is that perfume? I don't wear any....

It has its perks. We always have soap, though you'll catch us using tiny slivers when we could have a full bar!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My new favorite

Sarah planted this last summer. Mock Orange. Philadelphus Virginalis.
We put it right by the screened porch so all could enjoy the fragrance.
What a lovely bloomer....hundreds of pure white flowers filling the air with their sweet smell!

I want a couple of more to put right into that bed of pachysandra.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

does it take this kind of village?

OK. This came from a retired friend who's trying to decide where, in Florida, she will settle down. She's trying The Villages right now.

I'll be staying in NY State!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Game of Thrones

Watching the HBO series while reading the book....the TV version can be confusing. The book helps to fill in the details. I'm loving both.