Check out the Give2Charity App

And noire for a break from your regularly scheduled blog post.

“Join me in making a difference in the world by downloading the Give2Charity app. Click http://bit.ly/1zBKnzr

It seems okay. Let me know if it isn’t.

I also donate a photo a day with the Johnson & Johnson app.

I also love freerice.com and thehungersite.com and have participated in those for years.

Naturally I DO get off my hind end abd volunteer in person, these are just easy armchair things 🙂

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The Blather Lather

After reading Pat Rothfuss’ “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” I wanted to make soap. I had been wanting to use up the ridiculous amount of fat I had saved in my freezer over the last couple years ANYWAY and this book just nudged me into a decision.

We use fat we save for cooking in our cat iron skillet, some in pemmican, some in the dog food I make, but there is still a lot left over. I decided to make soap because it looked easier and more interesting than making candles.

Obviously I forgot how I slept through high school chemistry.

I read several sources online to prepare, including:

http://tonisouth.com/top-10-questions-about-handmade-soap/

http://millersoap.com

http://www.skinandsoulcompany.com/cold_process_soap_making.html

You get the idea. There are a ton of resources out there. I even watched a video and found a couple paragraphs about soap making in a “self sufficient living” book…

After days of cogitating, I felt ready.

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Had to search four places before I found lye at Chase Hardware. It can apparently be found at Home Depot as well but our internet search said they were out. The young lady at Lowe’s gave me a blank look and told me it “didn’t ring a bell.”  How could LYE not “ring a bell”? This is Albuquerque, the home of Breaking Bad, for crying out loud…. Making meth is apparently one reason why it’s so hard to find lye…

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I got out all the various animal fats I’ve saved from cooking the last couple years. We use bacon grease for cooking, so I kept that out. This is rendered chicken fat, beef fat, lamb fat, and pork fat. The lamb is rather stinky.

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I made rose water from our rather pathetic end of season roses. Won’t bother next time, I don’t think any of it made it through the lye process.

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I’m rendering the fats one more time. I love this part. Turning nasty greasy stuff into a smooth, beautiful chunk of creamy purity is amazingly satisfying.

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Strained through a cheesecloth. Look how lovely and reflective it is. Apparently over cooking makes it dark, don’t know which time I did that. I’m not worried about the color anyway.

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I mixed the rose water, which ended up looking like tea, in with the lye, then mixed it with the slightly cooled oils. I think I did this at too high a temperature because I got distracted. Or impatient. We will see if it messed me up or not.

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After a while it started to lighten and thicken. It’s amazing how much heat this process produces. And fumes. I opened up the windows and doors and turned on the exhaust fan and it still made my nose run. Looks like butterscotch syrup. Smells like hell.

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After about forty five minutes I got REALLY impatient and poured it into my molds. Looked like that weird chewy peanut butter candy you get at Halloween.  Could not stop touching the smoothness.

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This is how it looked this morning when I uncovered it. Upon rereading I was supposed to cover it with plastic wrap. Looks like the exposed surface dried out some. 

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I tried popping one out. It’s the texture of butter and while I can’t smell the lye now, it certainly needs to harden up. I need to quit messing with it. Update later.

To be, or not to be

There’s a hen staring forlornly out the coop door, waiting to be set free for the day. Or perhaps fed (extra). Or perhaps she is gazing upon the amazing amount of mulberry leaves that dropped in the yard overnight. What fun they might be to scratch in, discovering all manner of bugs underneath! Especially if the humans have raked them up for compost. Human effort thwarted is a fine and savory spice.

She could be contemplating the simple yet symbiotic nature of her life as a kept hen: eat, poop, eat, lay egg, eat, sleep. More poop. Or even her place in the cosmic order of things, which as a later of eggs and provider of compost must surely be grand.

Nah, she’s probably fantasizing about one of us tripping in the coop and wondering if we are as tasty we seem.

Nasty Chicken

My younger daughter eats about three things in her lunches. Well, not really, but it feels like it. She prefers (strongly) ham, tofu, and occasionally chicken as her protein source in her lunch. Apple slices, carrot or zucchini sticks, raisins or craisins. Applesauce. Sometimes a leafy green thing. Rarely broccoli.

You’d think a kid who doesn’t dip things (no ketchup, no mayo, no mustard; peanut butter is eaten solo, jelly is destined for gluten free toast or waffles only) and eats plain cold tofu by choice would love just about anything flavorsome but no, she’s particular.

On Thursday I saved an especially tender bit of meat from our dinner and sent it in her lunch on Friday.  I did tell her what her lunch was (like I always do), but she was distracted by, oh, probably dust motes in the sunlight or the sound of silence in a paper cup or maybe the color of her eyelids when they are closed. You know, normal kid stuff.

After school she informed me that she didn’t finish her lunch because she really, truly didn’t like it. “That tasted like naaasty chicken, Mom.” Her tone was mildly accusatory. (Perhaps she overheard me discussing life insurance with another mom outside the library?)

“Well, sweetie, that’s because it was pork.” So hard to keep a straight face at times. For her siblings all meat was ham, accompanied by a grabbing gesture, for her, it’s always chicken. Except for steak and bacon. Everyone correctly identifies steak and bacon.

Once she knew it was pork and not rotten, nasty, poison your child and collect the insurance chicken, she ate it just fine. She was so hungry she devoured her after school snack, too. Apparently pork is ok when you are expecting it, a potential murder weapon when you are not. And she’s always starving after school because they have “lunch” at 1030 am and no snacks. I pity the kids who don’t get to eat healthy food and subsist on sugary carby crap all day long. The blood sugar roller coaster must be much more severe.

I still cannot reconcile her pickiness with her absolute adoration of plain tofu. I just cannot stand that stuff. It’s like baked egg whites. Yecch. For a child who cannot eat dairy or gluten, however, and is sensitive to textures, we are lucky that she eats so many things, really. So, she gets tofu, even though I know it is considered a dietary no-no by many. Pick your battles and all that.

More for her. I’ll eat some pork.

Hide and sneak

I came up to the crafts room to hide out and drink coffee work on a knitting project for a friend… This room SOUNDS great but right now is mainly “the room in which we toss all arts and crafts materials indiscriminately like Phyllis Diller’s hairbrush drawer.” “Crafts Room” sounds much better.

Paul was outside working on something involving much banging and clashing and apparently some roof tramping, and Linnae was quietly (!) playing something or other on the computer.

Next thing I know Linnae is up here with me, playing with moldable sand and listening to a Hallowe’en book on CD over and over. And over. And one more time for good measure.

The cat, of course, follows Linnae everywhere.

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My lap has been occupied.

Guess I wasn’t sneaky enough. Sorry, friend, I think your gift is going to take a wee bit longer 🙂