Archive for December, 2011

Making Soap

I love making natural products.  I started out by making herbal healing salves, then some lip balms which is similar to the salves.  I’ve tried making “very close vein” (aka varicose vein) salves, and even an arthritis rub.  Then I moved into lotions, which is super easy you just have to get the right blender.  I have found that a stick blender is perfect for this.  These were my adventures in natural products.  I have figured out easier ways to do the processes, I can teach people to do them, I feel 100% confident in herbal salves and lotions.  Still when I bought my soaps, I felt a bit perturbed.  I mean how hard can soap making be?  I should be able to do this, if I can make lotion, I could certainly make soap!

If only it was that easy.  I started with the wonderful lady I was buying my soaps from.  She has an Ebay store and I was buying her organic shampoo anyway, so I bought her soap too.  She had amazing scents, and even emailed me to tell me how to do it.  Although she did suggest I go to a soap making class.  Then I got a series of DVD’s called Homestead Blessings (two thumbs WAY up on them! Highly recommended) and they have one called Soap Making.  So I watched it, over and over and over.  They make cold process soap (aka lye, and not a melt and pour glycerine soap) and then make a remilled soap, which makes a harder bar they say.  They don’t even wear gloves!!  If they can do it, I can do it right?

I joined soap making internet groups, I read about it, and I even found a woman who was selling all of her soap making materials on craigslist for cheap, which included a soap making book, VERY helpful.  I had everything I needed to make soap, what was stopping me!?  Well… I finally bit the bullet this weekend and did it.  Turns out I was terrified of the lye.  I’m a klutzy person, I fall on nothing, I don’t pay attention and I knock something over with my elbow, I was so afraid of going to the ER (which I might add, we don’t have in our town… I would have to drive 30-45 minutes for one) with massive lye burns all over my body.  Fear is not of God, Corri… get it together!

So after putting the soap off for way too long, here is my story.  I was alone, so that didn’t help my fears.  First off I recommend having help.  The West Ladies (Homestead Blessings) had help, one was stirring while the other added oils, this would be helpful until you get the hang of it.  First you add your lye to the water (I used tea… water with camomile and calendula infused in it), not the water to the lye.  I wasn’t interested in finding out what happened when I did that wrong, so I didn’t.  I had 4 windows open and my back door, which is right by my kitchen.  I had an apron on, big goggles, big yellow gloves and a doctors mask, goodness the new neighbors must think I’m an odd duck. 😉  I did look pretty funny.  But I didn’t know what to expect!  Plus this was all in the kit I bought on CL so figured the girl must have known what she was doing.  I stir the lye in, next thing I know I get this whiff of something, something nasty.  I instantly back away, so the fears of being poisoned by the lye odor is not going to happen.  No one in their right mind would WANT to smell this stuff, and I like the smell of gasoline.  This was not pleasant.  I start to see the steam (is it steam?) come off the water, the water gets hot so I suspect it’s steam, that and lye.  Let me say that everything was weighed out BEFORE I started, and I had garbage bags on my counters, just in case.  I start to add the oils, coconut and olive and palm.  The coconut and palm are solid at room temperature, but the lye water is hot so it dissolves it.   Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get it totally mixed and I have a couple small chunks of oil in my soap, but this would have not happened had I had a buddy, I’m convinced.

After all that is done, then take a stick blender and CAREFULLY blend your mixture.  You blend it until it traces on top, or leaves an impression or line on top of the liquid.  I think I blended mine too much, or started too early because of the oil not all dissolving, but it was only a little so I’m still calling this a success.  It started to get thick, and it seemed to happen faster that I expected.  I worried about one big pot of soap if I didn’t get it into my mold.  So I poured the soap in to the mold that was lined with wax paper.  The West Ladies use a container that looks like a cat box bottom.  Mine is actually a soap mold that I got in my kit.  The West Ladies say to check it every half hour to make sure it doesn’t get too hard so you can’t cut it.  If you are using a wood soap mold, DO NOT do this.  I thought I ruined mine when I lifted the lid and half the soap came up with it!  I left it for the evening after that.  Periodically I would go and feel the side of the mold which stayed warm most of the evening, but I kept it insulated with a few towels so it would slowly cool.

The next morning I couldn’t wait to get up and check out my soap.  Other than some of the wax paper attaching to the soap (and couldn’t get it off and you can see at the top of the soap below) it was quite the success! Here it is before I cut it.

Then I cut it (again everything I bought was great and it had a soap cutter with it, but a knife would work) it was still really easy to work with, so it probably could have gone longer, but better to be safe than sorry.  I cut all the soap, lined an oven rack with a paper sack (writing down or you’ll have writing on your soap) and left it to cure in a closet.  It has to cure 3-4 weeks, a bit unfair since you want to use it right away, but patience is a virtue.  When it is all done I’m going to remill it.  Which means you grate it with a cheese grater, put it in a pot with some liquid (coffee, tea, water, goats milk) and then you can remold it.  It will only take a short time to get hard again (in the freezer this time) then your soap will be harder and last longer, or so the West Ladies say.  At that point I’ll add my fragrance/essential oil.  I will try a batch where I add my essential oil before I mold it, but I wanted to try remilled badly this time, so that is my plan with this batch.

Here’s the finished product.  I faced my fears and made soap and lye wasn’t hardly as frightening as I gave it the power to be, isn’t that the way with most things in life?

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We grow much of our own produce in the spring and summer.  It is such a blessing to go out of your home, pick something that you grew and go inside and make something tasty and delicious with it.  We get so accustomed to it, that when winter rolls around we forget that we actually HAVE to go to the grocery store and get produce.  By produce I mean, greens.  Last week I was feeling “green deficient.”  We harvested apples and pears and made wonderful things with them, pear sauce, raw apple cider etc.  We have canned veggies, but most of them are pickled, and the fruit and pickled veggies were not enough, we felt we needed more.  So I went to Whole Paycheck and grabbed a big container of organic spinach and a couple of heads of broccoli.

Suffering from green food deficiency (I made that up) we decided to go with a nice spinach salad for dinner.  We have quit buying salad dressing in our home.  Which has been hard because I was a strictly a ranch type of girl, luckily when you start to eat different you get use to it.  So without further ado, here is the easiest (probably cheapest too) salad with non purchased salad dressing, which is all preference and your taste, so play around with it.

Large bowl of spinach greens (individual servings)

Lightly sprinkle olive oil on top, to taste

Lightly sprinkle Balsamic vinegar (we use a sweetened with honey and thyme vinegar, but have also used balsamic MANY times), to taste

Lightly sprinkle with Bragg’s Amino Acids (this might be the “secret weapon” it adds a salty taste and you get amino acids), to taste

Sprinkle with brewers yeast/nutritional yeast

Slice smoked gouda cheese in very small pieces and sprinkle a little over the top.
The flavor will explode in your mouth!  The Gouda adds a wonderful smoked flavor, I think it makes the salad.  Feel free to try other smoked cheeses, we get our smoked Gouda at Grocery Outlet and for CHEAP, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a great tasting salad.


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Every kid I know would gobble up some of these deep-fried “treats” but the million dollar question is what part of the chicken exactly is the chicken nugget from?  Seriously guys this is not food.  Nuggets contain cancer causing agents, Dimethylpolysiloxane which is a type of silicone that is used in breast implants, phosphates and more.  This stuff is NOT made from God.  This is human “experimenting” at its worst and people feed this to their growing children, so their teeth are going to be made from silicone?!  What is food?  It helps us grow, and regrow.  It makes skin and cells and teeth…  The next photo is disturbing… this is what a chicken nugget looks like before it looks like a chicken nugget, brace yourself.

Why is it pink?  And not flesh pink, that is cotton candy pink.  GROSS!

Have you ever seen a chicken being slaughtered?  Have you ever been part of where your food comes from in that way?  If not I seriously recommend it.  Chickens are easy to start with, honestly they aren’t the smartest of all of God’s creatures, sorry chickens.  But this is all coming to you from a “city girl” in fact I went vegetarian for a year because I felt it was so wrong to not be able to kill my own dinner.  Vegetarianism ended for me with a beautiful grilled steak.  😉

In 2009 my husband and I moved from Portland, OR (“the big city”) to a small town about 45 minutes from Portland.  We had a landlord who wouldn’t allow us to have a garden, and if we did everything had to be in containers which then had to be completely cleaned up at the end of the growing season.  We saw a movie called Faith Like Potatoes, if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.  In the movie (which is based on a true story) a farmer in South Africa grows potatoes, and had to put his faith that God would provide a good crop.  See when you plant a potato they grow underground.  It isn’t until harvest that you actually see the fruits of your labor.  Will you have potatoes at all?  Will they be big? Small?  You have to have faith that God will provide you a good crop.  Hubby connected with that and his desire was to grow potatoes.  So when we moved from Portland, he asked our landlords if he could grow potatoes.  They agreed.  After that he wanted to have chickens for eggs.  Then agreed.  And slowly we started getting into growing our own food and truly knowing where it all comes from.

We became fast friends with our feed and seed.   Some employees there were raising meat chickens, when it was slaughter time they called to us for help.  In exchange for the help we would get to take home some freshly butchered chickens for our freezer.  I had never witnessed a life being taken like that before, in fact I wasn’t sure how I was going to respond.  There were others there, other customers who wanted to see what it was all about, some people wanted to get their hands dirty and learn how to do it.  Our friend that lived there has kids, and her little girl was up the hill crying because she knew we were killing chickens, oh the innocent little heart!  But when I looked up the hill, I could see her inching closer and closer for her to get a glimpse of what we were doing.  Even she had a curiosity about the process.  Seriously though, chickens are easy.  You put a couple of screws in a wood round, stretch their necks out and guess what?  If you let go, they just lay there, there isn’t a fight or a struggle… they just keep their head there.  Chickens are pretty stupid.  Our laying hens will come when called and they know us, but they peck their own poo… come on, can’t be too smart when you peck your own poo. 😉

So guys were the ones picking up the chickens and cutting their heads off.  They then threw the flailing birds into the bushes until they stopped moving.  Yep, they could run with their heads cut off!  Then they are picked up by the feet and dunked into a large pot of boiling water so that the feathers come off easier.  Then there is a group of people who remove the feathers (they have since upgraded to a plucking machine, which spins the bird around a container with plastic knob things in it to remove the feathers).  Next the feet are chopped off and they go into a bucket (to keep and make chicken stock for soup), then the insides are cut into and the good organs are kept and put into ice water.  There are a few organs that you don’t keep and those go into a slop bucket, but things like the liver and heart and gizzards… those you keep and EAT.  The chickens are then washed with a hose, and then they are put into ice/ice water until you can wrap them.

I want to take a little side note to talk a bit about the organs.  I actually have really bad teeth, and no dental insurance go figure.  In my searching of natural medicine/foods etc. I found a book called Cure Tooth Decay With Nutrition by Rami Nagel.  He uses a lot of research done by Winston A Price for the basis of his book.  Basically Dr. Price found that in cultures that were industrialized they had higher cases of tooth decay, and in places where they drank raw milk from grass-fed cows, and they ate all of the animal that was killed, there were significant reduction in tooth decay, some never saw a dentist ONCE in their life!  In our industrialized society we are in the same boat, we are not eating naturally, we are not eating what God gave, but processed garbage then expecting our body to run optimally on junk.  The below people all have strong healthy teeth because of their diet, not because they had root canals and fillings and whitening treatments.  Check out Winston A Price’s book for more info, Rami Nagel’s book for more info or the Winston A Price foundation.

The experience of butchering a chicken wasn’t as horrible as I thought.  I didn’t chop a head off though, but I had a lot of blood on me.  We asked for a bunch of the organ meat, we got some chicken and our last time even all the chicken feet.  (which are still sitting in my freezer, shame on me!)  Now butchering meat rabbits, that is a whole different story.  We tried that for a while, but we are too sensitive for that (they scream, ugh).  We were so proud to know where our chickens came from, who took care of them, how they lived, how they died.  God gave us dominion over the earth but he never said we should be cruel to his creation.  Chickens should be able to roam free, not stacked on top of each other or fed horrible growth hormones.  Please watch Food Inc if you haven’t.

BBQing up a freshly butchered chicken, I tell you there is nothing like it.  Knowing you worked for your food, again there is nothing like it.  The last thing that I think most of us “industrialized” folk don’t do is make a bone broth after your done with your food.  Right now I’m drinking turkey bone broth soup from our Thanksgiving bird.  Don’t let your food go to waste!  There are important minerals, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in there.  Things we need.  These are leached out of the bones when you cook them in water.  If you are doing beef, you need to cook them in the oven for a bit first.  This was told to me by a naturalpathic doctor that I was seeing once.  She said that the beef bone is harder and in order for it to work right and get the most nutrients you need to cook the bones a bit.  Which sounds weird because you have probably already cooked your beef, but it couldn’t hurt to cook the bones alone right?  I google searched it and you are to bake the bones for 30-40 minutes on 400 degrees  or an hour on 350 degrees.  Chicken and turkey is much easier, eat the meat, leave the stragglers and put in a pot on your stove to heat.  I usually turn the stove on low and just walk away, easier still it can be left overnight, and you can use a crock pot if you don’t want to leave your stove on all night.  Once it’s done, let it cool, strip the bones clean (toss them or compost them as long as you don’t have dogs) then save the broth.  You can add whatever you want, carrots, celery, potatoes, rice, beans… whatever floats your soup boat.  Just get that nutritious stuff into your body.  In our home if you have meat on the bone one night, then you better believe dinner the next night will be soup.  Start making that a tradition in your own home, and lets get this temple healthy!

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