Not just a hobby, it's a way of Life

Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Soap Rebatch

In the first batch of soap I made, I used lavender EO for half of it and sandalwood EO (14% dilution – you see where this is going) for the other half.  The lavender smelled wonderful.  The sandalwood – smelled vaguely like shortening.  Have you smelled shortening?  Not a lot to enjoy there.  And since I am all about the scent in this endeavor, this would not do.

Fortunately, there’s a way to fix some things that might go wrong with your soap, and not enough scent is a relatively easy thing to fix by rebatching.  I read a few different sources on rebatching, and more or less followed the instructions here.

First, you need to shred the soap in question.  I started off with about 36 oz.  That was a lot of shredding.  I only got a knuckle right at the end of the last bar.

Rebatching - shredded soap

Kind of looks like mozzarella, doesn’t it?


This was dumped into a five-quart crockpot, dedicated to soaping or dyeing yarn or some other such crafty thing I’m doing.  A rebatch needs liquid added to reconstitute the soap into a less solid form, and the experts say this is a great time to add goat’s milk.  Sounds like a great idea!

Rebatching - shredded soap with goat's milk

I used canned goat’s milk since I didn’t have access to fresh at the time.  I also added in more scent (oatmeal, milk, and honey FO) and a bit of water to get it all moistened.

I let it go for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring about every half-hour.  I did not get a picture of the resulting goo, but it was about the consistency of petroleum jelly.  We then mooshed it into the mold lined with parchment paper.  Schwan’s freezer boxes are awesome for this!  We already have them, might as well put them to good use.

Rebatching - goat's milk with oatmeal, honey, and milk scent

We left it in this for a couple of days, then unmolded and sliced it.

Rebatched bars - goat's milk oatmeal, milk, and honey

Because the soap had already cured and no additional lye was added, the soap is essentially ‘done’, but it does need to dry out.  The soap was rather spongy in texture immediately after slicing, but now that it has been a couple of weeks, it’s much more firm.  I’ll give it another two weeks to harden before using.

And most importantly, it now smells amazing.

In non-soaping news, the lemon soap we’ve made has given us serious lemon cravings.  I baked a lemon cake a few weeks ago, and tonight I made lemon bars.  The modifications I made were to add 1/4 tsp. of salt to the crust and used 2/3 c. of lemon juice for the filling.  Mmmm . . . lemon.

Lemon bars

Life is too short not to drink good coffee

Ethiopia Gera and Panama Hacienda la Esmeralda from La Colombe

Ethiopia Gera (my favorite coffee EVER) and Panama Hacienda la Esmeralda from La Colombe


Raven's Brew coffee - Resurrection Blend, Three-peckered Billy Goat and Deadman's Reach

Raven’s Brew coffee – Resurrection Blend, Three-peckered Billy Goat and Deadman’s Reach

So, I’m a yarn snob and a coffee snob.


Merry Xmas Eve and a bonus recipe

Well, Needleclaus has delivered more presents, so I can share them here now.

Both of these were for my coworker. That’s merino-cashmere-nylon goodness.

Diane's cowl

Diane's mitts

And these are for some folks with cold feets.

Opal socks - Garden without Reason

Jim's socks

In other news, I had made a bargain with myself and The Universe that if I got two As this semester, I would order fiber from a company I’ve been eyeballing forever. I don’t know if you know this, but when you make a promise to The Universe, you had better keep it? Remember those old Chiffon commercials – “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature?” Well, you don’t welch on a deal with The Universe, either.

FCK haul

Fat Cat Knits fiber from left to right: Esther BFL, Rascal merino/bamboo/nylon, Rascal merino/tencel, Lilacs merino/bamboo, and Lotus merino/bamboo/nylon

We celebrated the season with Ramblin’s family on Saturday.  I made a very good, uber-easy soup.

10-can dump soup

10-can (get it?  Tin can – ha!) Dump Soup

1 29 oz. can mixed vegetables

3 cans minestrone condensed soup

2 cans kidney beans

1 can Rotel tomatoes (you pick the spice level – I went with original)

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1 49 oz. can chicken broth

Dump all of that in a large stock pot and simmer.  It’s fantastic for a cold day, say for instance if the National Weather Service was predicting possibly 9″ of snow.  Yes, that would be an awesome meal for something like that.  And for the health-conscious, you could use low-sodium options on any or all of those and still have a tasty, tasty dish of warm goodness.

And Tugger would like you all to know that he’s anxiously awaiting Santa.

Tugger is curious

“Is he coming in the house?! Because I’m going to hide behind the sofa.”

This one’s for you – you know who you are

So, it was brought to my attention that I need to do a post.  I know, I know.  It’s been a rather rough month, but I can still squeak this one in.

There was the little matter of Thanksgiving.

21.91 pounds of beautiful bird

This was my first year of solo bird preparation.  Actually, that’s not true.  Ramblin and I made a great team.  Still, it was a bit sad without Mom.

My uncles all brought stuff as well, so we had quite the feast.  If you will notice, the turkey is surrounded by a moat of lovely dressing.  Turkey is great, but for me, the dressing is the highlight.  Yum.  And soaking in dressing for the whole time means the breast meat is moist and out of this world.

There’s also been lots of knitting, but as some of it is presents, I won’t be showing it just yet.  Just in case.

There’s been lots of research paper writing.  I would show you that, but you would just fall asleep.  Kind of like if you ate the whole turkey pictured above.

December 10 marks the end of the classes I’m taking, and I just have one semester after that.  It will be so good to be done.

Oh yeah, and we’ve sort of planned two trips.  England, Ireland, Wales, and Paris next June and a Caribbean cruise in 2014.  Because that’s how we roll.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back to announce when it’s snowing on the blog.

Class is done!

And I got an A-.  But it wasn’t without drama.

About the time I was embarking on this crazy journey, plans came together to have a girls’ getaway in Asheville, NC.  The timing was going to coincide with the last weekend of the course.  I could get my part done early, but then I had to leave comments on six other classmates’ work as assigned by the instructor.  I requested our lodgings have internet, and it did, so I thought the matter was settled.

Ragged and I set off for Nashville to meet up with our co-funseekers, and we were off to Asheville.  We met up there with another of our group, and the merriment commenced.  I checked the wifi signal on my iPod Touch – loud and clear.  Excellent.  Dinner that night was Pasta Fresco.  Yum.

Saturday morning, we had awesome peach-stuffed french toast.  Before breakfast, I noticed that there wasn’t a wifi signal.  I reset the router, the signal returned, and I wandered off to enjoy breakfast.  Our day’s plans included a trip to the farmers’ market, which turned into a trip to the artisans’ marked, and a trip to Black Mountain.  After spending some time in a most wonderful yarn shop, we headed back to the house for grilled cheese and fresh salads.  That’s when I saw the wifi signal was off.  Not flickering, off.  I reset the router.  No.  I moved the router to another phone jack.  No.  Oh dear.  Ragged put a shout-out to her brothers for some ideas and got the great advice to go to Barnes and Noble to borrow a cup o’ interwebs.

At this point, I would just like to say that I owe my college career not tanking right then and there to Ragged.  She wasn’t feeling great, but she stayed with me, answered questions about topics she had no reason to, and generally supported my addled mind and spirit.  I should have bought much more stuff for her this trip.

Does it even need said that once we returned to the house, the wifi light was cheerfully beaming?  I thought not.

However later when I was able to use the internet, it dropped connection frequently, so I still believe we did the right thing.

That night I made dinner (Elsa’s famous Creamy Eggplant Pasta with Walnuts), and I’m not entirely sure all those wonderful women should have trusted my mental capacities to cook right then, but they did, and it turned out fabulous as usual.  I can take no credit for that.

The next day – I didn’t have to do anything for class!  Wooooooo!!!!!!  We spent the morning grazing, then were fortunate enough to be guests of Ragged’s brother and his wife (and adorable daughter) at their house.  Such creative amazing people.  We got clued into a serious shoe shopping opportunity, so we headed back to the house, rested, regrouped, and went in search of shoes.  Five women, one discount shoe store – guess what happened?

Nary a single pair was bought.  I was on the search for some comfy sandals (I had my eye on some Merrills or Tevas) and found nothing in my size.  Ragged was looking for her dream pair and was also let down.  It was a sad thing.

But then we went to Malaprops!  I love Malaprops!  I bought a hippy-dippy tie-dyed t-shirt and a copy of Bird by Bird.  (shhhh, I’m thinking about wandering back into writing)  It was late Sunday, so we missed several of our other favorite haunts (Earth Guild, Purl’s Yarn Emporium).  However, it made for perfect timing to meet up with Ragged’s brother and family for ice cream!

When the place you’re going to is named “Ultimate Ice Cream”, you kind of have an expectation.  Met and exceeded.  I had a scoop of Belgian Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel.  It was perfect.

Lest you think we would let ice cream spoil our dinner, fear not!  Once again, our own magician in the kitchen (no, not me – I only had kitchen duty one night) whipped up a chicken alfredo that would make you weep.  We retired to the couches for conversation, knitting, and there may have been a movie.

The next day, Ragged and I had to leave our friends early, as we had a long way ahead of us.  The trip back was uneventful, despite the GPS’s best efforts otherwise.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and I’m just now starting to slow down.  Tuesday was spent catching up on the course I’m teaching.  Wednesday was my spinning group and a massage.  Thursday was my mom’s bronchoscopy.  Yesterday was more catching up on the course I’m teaching.  Today was Ramblin’s birthday and a grocery run.  It’s also the kickoff for Tour de Fleece!  (shhhhh, don’t tell the French, or they’ll be after us like the USOC was)  Tomorrow will be a trip to Mom’s for lunch.  We’re bringing taco fixins because it’s twelve million degrees here.

But I don’t have any more homework until August.  :)

Spinning from TDF Day 1
TDF 2012- Day 1a

That’s Amore

Since Ramblin and I have our xmas/anniversary/Valentine’s/birthday trip coming up, Valentine’s gifts really weren’t necessary.  Instead, I decided to make homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  I will guarantee this is the best meal we could have had in our area.

I don’t have a ‘recipe’ per se.  I tend not to use recipes on stuff that I’ve just always made.  The meatballs are ground beef, minced garlic, minced onion, Bragg’s Aminos (I put this in practically everything), and Italian seasoning.  I cook those in a skillet while I’m letting the sauce simmer.  The sauce is tomato sauce, tomato paste, more garlic, onion, Italian seasoning, and some sugar.  We use the Barilla Plus pasta which really keeps its texture even in the fridge overnight.  No mushiness at all.  Love it!

My other project I’m working on today is the Leaving pullover by Knitspot.  All of Anne’s patterns are simply lovely.  I believe I’ve sang her praises before here on the blog.  It bears repeating.
Leaving panel

I’m working on the back, already having knit the sleeves and front. I think the pattern is rather heart-like, so it seems very appropriate for today.

And finally, in other exciting news, I was a giveaway winner from Springtree Road!  Maya dyes beautiful yarns and fibers, and I absolutely love her Muscadine Sock.   Do yourself a favor and go check out the lovelies!  If you’re not a knitter, it may not hold the same appeal, but trust me, it’s good stuff.

Two kinds of toasty goodness

The apple dessert was a big hit.  The best part was it was still just a bit warm when it was served.  Yummmmmm

And Saturday evening, I realized that while I had been organized enough to ensure I had all the ingredients for the dessert, actually getting him a present slipped my mind.  At 10pm, I cast on a pair of fingerless mitts.

Kenny's Smoulder Mitts

And finished them Sunday morning.  This was some yarn I had spun a few years ago, and it seemed like a great color for him.   The temps have even dropped here, to make them even more attractive.