25 November 2015

Homemade Soap - unveiled

I waited anxiously for 48 hours. For my soap to harden.

So with bated breath, I removed the insulating towels from the soap tray. A waft of pleasant lavender greeted me. A creamy white substance sat inside my tray. Was it solid or liquid, that is a success or a failure?

Gingerly, I touched it. Woohoo! It was solid. It was smooth and silky.

Everything is looking right with this first batch of homemade and handmade soap.

Now, the next wait will be longer, 4 to 6 weeks for the soap to cure. They are now sitting in my study area.

Shall I order more oils to make another batch of soap?

23 November 2015

Homemade Soap

I made soap today. The cold process method.

It's still sitting in the tray, hardening for the next 24 hours. Only then will I know whether Project Soap is a success.

This year has seen a lot of firsts in homemade products for me, like my breads and rolls, and collagen soup, and now soap.

I saw a few posts on FB regarding hand made soap, and with the drastic decline in the value of the RM this year, our usual soap costs a lot more. We use One with Nature, an American brand that uses Dead Sea minerals. The soaps are mild, and my kids don't step out of the shower with red blotches on their skin like they do if they use other readily-available commercial brands.
Lye solution

So I thought why not try soap making? Doesn't seem that hard. And the attraction for me was the thought of making soap that is all natural and chemical free.

Alas, soap cannot be entirely chemical free. It has to have lye (sodium hydroxide) to interact with the fatty molecules of oil in order to saponify into soap. At least, that is the ONLY chemical in home made soap.

The ingredients for making soap are delightfully simple: water, oil and lye. That's it.

The Youtube videos on soap making give dire warnings of the potential dangers of lye - it is a caustic alkaline substance that will burn you upon contact, and the fumes it produces when dissolved into water are powerful.

So I had to do some psyching up before taking the plunge. I purchased my first soap making kit from Soap Lab and designated my work area outside the house; the patio by the fish pond and bamboo hedge just outside the family room. Perfect.

I achieved trace very quickly
Everything went well today; I set up my work table, I laid out my utensils, I weighed out my ingredients, I suited up with goggles and gloves and mask, and I kept the children and pets away.

Now I wait.

17 November 2015

Bone broth or is it collagen soup?

OK. Is this fact or fad?

Sure, any home made, home brewed, home boiled stuff is good. I believe that. I'm sure you do too.

But it seems in the last couple of years, bone broth is touted to contain lots of minerals and amino acids that may help us look younger, feel younger all on account of the collagen potential.

So much so that there are collagen soup restaurants and take-aways.

So, after a very brief read-through on the net and on FB, I went to the market early, got my stuff and made myself a batch of bone broth.

My bone broth recipe
2 pork knuckles
2 chicken carcasses
1kg of chicken feet
5litres of water

Place everything into a large pot and let it boil on high for 10-15 minutes then lower it to a simmer for about 6 hours.

Remove all bones and allow broth to cool.

I then spooned it into containers and placed into the fridge, waiting anxiously for it to gell. I read that only if the broth gells, have you got it right as the broth then contains enough of the nutrients to become jello.

Well, I'm happy to report that my broth gelled wonderfully. Doesn't it look like a piece of smooth raw fish?

Note: I was told that 6 hours is not long enough to leach out the calcium from the bones. The person who told me this also said that the bones should be brittle and can be broken with a fork by the end of the process - well, my bones were falling apart! Then someone else said that a chef said it's utter nonsense, as one should only boil for 1/2 hour otherwise all the nutrients are destroyed. (I don't believe that chef). Yet someone said you should boil for 24 hours. Oh, and another person said the bones should be presoaked in apple cider vinegar first.

Conclusion: You gotta decide for yourself. But for me, heck I'm not gonna boil for 24 hours. Enjoy!

Baking journey

Wow! Time flies. I haven't been to my blog in a year. 2015 has just flown by.

It seems that with the kids in Form 1 and Standard 4, I am just as busy as when they were babes! Instead of feeding and cleaning them, it's ferrying them to and from classes, guiding them in their lessons and just engaging with them in their lives.

Well, apart from the happy routine of a SAHM, we had a wonderful holiday in Austria this year, and in September, I dug out my Breville bread maker (BM) from storage and gave it its purpose in life once again.

For this, I must thank a friend who encouraged me to bake breads. Looking at all her marvelous photos of buns and loaves, I was inspired to try as she assured me that the BM is a great help. And it sure is!

I hate messes. So it follows that I dislike kneading dough with my hands as my hands get dirty, the counter top gets dirty, the floor might get dirty and so on. Here is where the BM is such a wonderful tool as it kneads for you and you have a wonderfully kneaded and rested ball of dough. So wonderfully clean!

The same friend gave me my first bread recipe, and it was a success.

Happiness Bread Recipe
150g fresh milk
1 egg
300 g bread flour
20g milk powder
1g salt
60g sugar

5g yeast
30g butter

After more than 8 years of not even looking at my BM, to use it again felt great.

With this new-found confidence, I went on to experiment with more breads. I am quite bad at baking, but the BM almost always guarantees success. If you would like to make your own breads, and don't have a BM, I highly recommend you getting one.

The egg bread was next in my to do list, which I paired with a lovely Egyptian beef stew. After that it was Milo buns, banana loaf, cinnamon rolls, Hokkaido milk loaf etc. and the baking journey isn't over.