Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Soap: It's What's For Dinner!

Can you hear that little musical ditty they play along with the "Beef, it's what's for dinner" ad in your head? After an afternoon out, City Boy and the kids walked into our house and, with one quick whiff, they could hear it. They got all excited, too. "Mom's cooking!" the children cried in thrilled, yet astonished, amazement. City Boy was hesitant, and yet it appeared to be undeniable when he walked into the kitchen; mmmm...mouth watering pot roast.

Or so they thought.

Dreams and hopes were dashed immediately when they found I was rendering down tallow, the fat from a cow, for soap instead of preparing a hearty meal for my family. But they should have known better. I do not cook. I hadn't meant to get their hopes up, but come on, why would I be cooking? They know my motto by now. Soap: It's What's For Dinner!

The wisest thing my father in law ever did was insist that his boys grow up learning to cook. Their mom was a fantastic cook, and their dad (obviously capable of seeing the future) told them that if they married a woman who didn't know how, it would be wise for them to learn. A couple weeks after marriage vows were exchanged, City Boy realized just how right his father had been, and he gave thanks to his mother for all those lessons in the kitchen. Why is that? Well...since you asked..

I was going to try a recipe that was some form of casserole. I don't really recall what it was, to be honest; I just remember it needed pork. I didn't have any, so I got all creative and found something I thought would be a good substitute. No, it wasn't chicken, just sit down and I'll get to that. I think there were beans and rice...green beans, not those mushy brown beans. That would be just gross. City Boy was due home and I just wasn't into the whole Betty Crocker or Martha thing...but I did know he expected dinner when he came home so about ten minutes before he got there, I began tossing stuff into the casserole dish and got it into the oven. Smelled pretty good, too. But smells can be deceiving.

City Boy came home with a smile on his face. I handed him a plate as he grabbed a soda out of the fridge. He sat down and scooped up some of the green bean and rice dish, and without thinking about it, stuffed a heaping forkful into his mouth.

You know, after raising two children, I still never saw anything exit the mouth as quickly as my green bean and rice dish exited City Boy's mouth that evening. "What's wrong?" I asked. "What the @%#^& did you put in this?!" Well, there's beans, and rice, and hot dogs...

Needless to say, City Boy's father's prophecy was fulfilled.

Okay, so you already knew I wasn't some super cook after the whole cake incident last week. I do, however, know how to make a loaf of soap! Wanna see? Set yourself down and I'll walk you through it; not the details so much as the basics.

First things first; measure out your oils and lye, have all your utensils handy, and make sure your mold is lined.

Lye is caustic; make sure if you handle it to be wearing gloves so as not to burn yourself.

I line my mold with freezer paper, shiny side up. This allows the soap to be removed easier.

I needed 36 oz of water. For fun, I added the color to the water first. I added a liquid color called brilliant blue along with a powdered violet.

Pouring in the lye; note the reaction of the color. Blue rarely stays blue in soap, it almost always turns to a purple shade once the lye hits it.

Pouring the lye water into pre-measured (and melted) oils.

Some of the oils I use are solid at room temp, such as coconut and palm. They need to be melted down first. You can see by this pic that there's still a chunk not melted. That's why I'm hand stirring at this point; lye water is hot and will finish melting the oils.

A girl's best friend is her stick blender!

With oils melted, I begin using the stick blender. Notice how it's beginning to thicken up?

The soap is getting opaque looking, but still not at 'trace'. I add a bit more powdered color for good measure :)

This is what 'trace' looks like; whatever you're stirring with will leave a trace behind it as you're stirring.

Once at a light trace, I add my fragrance oil. Some fragrance oils will cause your soap to accelerate trace, or even sieze, so it's best to test new FO's in small batches.

Now it's time to pour into the mold. This fragrance accelerates trace a bit, leaving me with a rather chunky look. That's okay...embrace the difference!

Unless you've used honey or milk, you'll need to insulate your soap. I put down freezer paper, then cover with a couple of towels. You then set your soap out of the way and leave it for 24 hours.

The most important thing you'll learn (aside from how much lye to use) is how to clean up. This is raw soap...very oily and still caustic if you touch it. If you make soap, you're hereby granted a 24 hour break from doing the dishes. Tomorrow this will be soap; it will wash right out with no problem.

Now....the soap must sit overnight and you must wait until tomorrow to see the finsihed product! BTW...this is the soap that Laura and Rosmeary have won :)


Sue said...

I envy you, I've always wanted to learn to make soap, but working with lye just scares me and I can't see how it can be good for your skin either? I love homemade soap, esp. goat milk herbal blends!

PEA said...

I soooo enjoyed this! I've never seen soap being made and I was quite fascinated with all the steps. Before Christmas I had won some homemade soaps from one of the bloggers and I just LOVE it...so very different from the bought stuff!! I can't wait to see the finished product now:-) xox

smilnsigh said...

Hot dogs instead of pork. Well Darlin' I can give you one better.

How about leaving the eggs in some weird sort of fish... smelts I think???

How about using the tablespoon instead of the teaspoon, when putting curry in a dish?

Ahem, methinks City Boy got off easy, with the hot dogs instead of pork. -grinnnnnnnnnn-

And yes, now that he's semi-retired and not working so much, husband is the Chef Of The House. He likes doing it and I don't like regular cooking. {Baking is another matter but...}

Shhhhh, don't tell on me, though. I might be *drummed out* of some places, in 'My Pretty Blog Land." ,-)


Betty said...

Thanks for dropping by to visit me and for the nice comments.

Your blog is hilarious! I'll be back....

I made soap once in chemistry class in high school. We rendered the fat and added White Shoulders Cologne...didn't turn out too well.

We add sheep for years and I would love to have another flock..

Kim said...

I'm from MJ's Farm site. I love your photos! Someone else who likes to take pictures in cemetaries besides me!!

I have photos of barns all over my living room. I've always thought of publishing a books of Disappearing Barns in the Midwest.
How about "Majestic Barns"

Shop girl said...

I make soap too. Don't you just love the end product.
I just love looking at your animals. I don't have chickens right now and I miss them. The dog down the road killed all 21 of our little beauties while we were asleep. I will have more.
are so right, we can't make all the people happy about who is president...it's just how things are. I am so glad you came back to my site...Mary

Tracey said...

MN...you may have me beat in this category! I'll be sure to have City Boy read the comments here tonight :)

Shop Girl, so sorry to hear about your chickens! I've got someone here who'd like some of my chicks this spring. Hey, perhaps I ought to put them on the What'll U Give Me blog, eh?

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by today :) I always love reading your comments and am so happy you're finding joy here!

Tina Leigh said...

Hey that is really neat....Dial & Ivory aint got nuthin on you sister!