Saturday, September 25, 2010

CrockPot Hot Process Soap: Attempt 2

I recently decided that I was going to make my own soap, preferably castile soap (soap make from 100% olive oil). I did A LOT of online research and talked to a few people, it was time to take the plunge. I will admit that I was scared but I did it. I decided to make castile soap because I usually buy Dr. Bronner's (even though Dr. Bronner's isn't true castile soap) and I can get olive oil for cheap. Cold process soap has a 2-3 month wait before the soap could be used.........I don't have the kind of time, Christmas is exactly three months away and people are getting soap this year! I found three good posts for making bar soap using the crockpot hot process method that I followed (liquid soap is another day), they were from Soap-Making-Essentials, Such Treasures and Orthogonal Thought.

So I setup my lye prep area. Professional soap makers will probably laugh at me but hey, it's my first time.

And I setup my mixing and cooking area

I mixed my lye together and let it cool. In my research I found that the temperature of my lye didn't really matter. There's an ideology about soapmaking called the room temperature method, which basically says that I can mix my lye the night before, leave it overnight and use it the next day. I don't have children, so this is a great option for me. I really didn't want to fool with taking the temperature of the lye solution and the heating the oil. If you have kids and/or pets, but don't have a room that you can lock them out of this would probably be a bad idea. I've read a lot of horror stories about kids that accidentally poured lye on themselves.

I measured out my lye and water, I find out how much lye and water I needed at SoapCalc
Poured the lye into the water while stirring, and continued to stir until the water turned relatively clear again. I don't remember anyone saying that the water would get cloudy, so I was a little freaked out when the water turned white. You MUST do this in a well ventilated area. This chemical reaction kicks out A LOT of heat and A LOT of fumes.  
After the lye solution cools down, pour it in the oils (I'm using all olive oil so it didn't need to be heated). It immediately started to saponify, which is what made the light color under the oil. 
It took me 15 minutes of blending and stirring to reach trace. I hear that it takes longer to achieve trace with 100% olive oil soap, than with mixtures of oils. When I made Attempt 1, I used 85% olive oil to 15% coconut oil, I think it traced in about 10 minutes.

From here I turned the crockpot on low, put the lid on and let it go for about an hour or so. While I was waiting I cleaned everything in hot soapy water with LOTS of vinegar and started making oreo cookies (that's the next post). After an hour, I stirred my soap and it looked like this:
It wasn't quite done it, it was still soupy, kind of the texture of applesauce. So I put the top back on and let it for another 30-45 minutes or so. At that point I achieved the mash potato stage, which means my soap is done cooking........YAY!

I spooned this into a glass loaf pan that I covered in plastic wrap, during Attempt 1 I used unlined muffin pans but I had a very hard time getting the soap out. It works's just not the prettiest because of the skewer marks from digging the soap out. Anyways, this is what the soap looks like now:
I'll come back tomorrow once I get it out the loaf pan. It's interesting because at one point last night it turned a really dark green. I think this is because I used really good extra virgin olive oil for this. I know what you're thinking why would I use high quality olive oil to make soap? Well, the gourmet market by my house sells it for $2.99/lb so it was the most economical option. I haven't gotten to adding fragrance and color yet but soon.

I'll post more on this tomorrow. Until then.....

Homemade Cream of Wheat (or Farina)

I love to eat......LOVE IT, and I have very fond memories of waking up for church on Sunday mornings at my grandparents' house and eating Cream of Wheat. I love Cream of Wheat, don't ask my why but I think it's delicious. I didn't realize how much it cost to buy it from the store however. I've been eating Cream of Wheat all my life and when I went to college my great grandmother (yes my great grandmother was alive, well and living in her house by herself until about 5 years ago) would send me boxes and boxes of Cream of Wheat. When she died I stopped eating Cream of Wheat and honestly I didn't realize that until about 3 weeks ago when I got a SERIOUS craving for Cream of Wheat. So I headed to Kroger to pick some up, I so happy to be going to get some until I got there. A small box is like $3.69. My thoughts were this exactly, "THESE PEOPLE ARE SMOKING CRACK ROCKS!" The box also says that it has some sort of chemical in it for quick cooking. They put that on the FRONT of the box, so just imagine what's on the side of the box. I couldn't do it, I just couldn't.  I immediately ended my phone conversation and launched my internet browser on my phone because I was determined to find how to make Cream of Wheat from scratch. I do have 75 lbs of organic wheat don't I?

I got home and after a little digging on Google I found this post on The Fresh Loaf (which is a really cool website by the way). I tweaked his recipe a little, the one person portion he made was just WAY too much. I ate it because I was excited but I couldn't eat anything else all day.

Homemade Cream of Wheat

1/3 cup wheat (I used hard white wheat)
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water

1) Mill wheat to medium coarseness, you can actually do this in a regular blender if you want. I just wouldn't suggest using whole wheat'll end up with paste.

2) Add milk and water

3) Set timer for 15 minutes and stir occasionally

4) At exactly 14 minutes it'll be done. I stir in butter and honey for the last minute but that's just how I like mine.

So tasty and delicious. I love this because you can make it in any quantity, just decide how much wheat to use then add double that amount in water and milk. It's that simple. I calculated that it probably costs me about $0.20 per serving to make this and it's good for me. Check it out:

Nutrition Facts

Homemade Cream of Wheat

  Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
  Total Fat7.9 g
     Saturated Fat4.7 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.3 g
     Monounsaturated Fat2.2 g
     Trans Fat0.0 g
  Cholesterol23.8 mg
  Sodium71.4 mg
  Potassium23.1 mg
  Total Carbohydrate71.2 g
     Dietary Fiber4.9 g
     Sugars42.0 g
  Protein10.8 g
  Vitamin A9.1 %
  Vitamin B-120.1 %
  Vitamin B-60.5 %
  Vitamin C0.9 %
  Vitamin D16.5 %
  Vitamin E0.0 %
  Calcium19.5 %
  Copper1.3 %
  Folate0.0 %
  Iron1.3 %
  Magnesium0.6 %
  Manganese1.7 %
  Niacin0.3 %
  Pantothenic Acid    0.3 %
  Phosphorus    0.3 %
  Riboflavin1.0 %
  Selenium0.6 %
  Thiamin0.0 %
  Zinc0.6 %

This calculation includes the butter and honey. Can't tell me this isn't a good breakfast.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cloth Toilet Paper AKA Family Cloths: Thoughts and a Tutorial

So in the quest to get rid of EVERYTHING disposable in my house I recently came across this Walk Slowly Live Wildly blog post about cloth toilet paper. I right away thought it was super cool and wanted to try it right away, I'm weird like that. But I had to convince Dj that this was a good idea before I actually tried it. Surprisingly he said he also thought it was a good idea and was willing to give it a try (I was shocked). 

I looked online to see what these things were selling for and I was a little shocked. Not to hate on anyone's hustle but these people CANNOT be serious. $11 for a dozen? I think not, especially not when I have SO MUCH fabric already at home. 

I have a quite the fabric stash, mostly because I love to buy stuff on sale. So I used this reduce, reuse, recycle flannel that I got from JoAnn's on super sale for $1.50/yd. I've had it for a while, I was initially supposed to make cloth pads out of it but hadn't gotten to that part of the stack yet.........o well. 


After washing and drying the fabric it obviously needs to be ironed. Could you skip this step? Yes. Would I suggest it? No. Do you honestly need to wash the fabric first? YES!

After ironing out the wrinkles fold the fabric together like a hot dog bun (selvages together in the center, rough edges on the ends). Iron on the fold. Again, could you skip this step? Yes. Would I recommend it? No. 
Next measure your fabric (it shrunk in the wash) and decide big you want each wipe to be. I don't like to waste fabric so I divided my fabric evenly into 6 in wide strips. It really helps if you have a rotary cutter for this. (If you don't have one but want one, look on eBay. I bought a Gingher rotary cutter and spring loaded shears for $15.)
I then turned each strip and cut them in half, which  ended up being 10.5 inches. If you're making 2 ply wipes you don't need to cut the areas that are on the fold but if you are making 1 ply cut the strips on the fold in half. I'm making 2 ply.
The yard of fabric yielded me a dozen wipes.
Next sew the two pieces of fabric together. I have a serger so that's what I used but if you don't have one you can use a regular sewing machine. Below is a great video on how to do this:
Now that you've sewn the wipes together you have two choices you can either wet them and put them in some sort of container to use for wet wipes OR leave them dry and just set them out. I did both so I have wet wipes and dry wipes. 

For the wet wipes, I filled my bathroom sink with water, added some essential oils, put the wipes in and then put them in the a diaper wipe warmer (that I got off craig's list for $5).
For the dry wipes, I found a cute yet simple box, folded the wipes (a little haphazardly) and threw them in.
I found this plastic office supply box to put the used ones in until wash day. And that's it.

I literally just did all this today so I haven't actually tested everything out yet but I'm excited. I'll be sure to update on the progress. 

Here is some additional info about cloth toilet paper from other bloggers:
Cloth Wipes Q&A Part I and Part II

I am going to email Deanna @ Crunchy Chicken to see if she's doing the Cloth Wipe Challenge this year as well. 

Until next time...........