Tag Archive: fresh food


Eating Sleeping Breathing Soap

This is what happened when I learned to cook. I remember it. I was 19 years old and sharing a flat with my childhood friend. One day, on my day off, a chef I worked with came over and I cooked him baked beans on toast for lunch. On a day soon after that, he taught me how to make mushroom sauce for steak. I liked it but I decided that for my own taste, I wanted to tweak the recipe and so, the next time I cooked, that’s what I did. So began a lifetime of making food according to what I think tastes good, rather that following someone else’s recipes.

There were some disasters along the way but overall, the enthusiasm and feelings of creativity have meant that there have been more successes than failures. And I love it. It’s relaxing, therapeutic, colourful and calming. It’s also exciting and thrilling to take beautiful, fresh foods and assemble them into a cohesive, tastebud-tingling meal.

Speaking of food. At my dreaded weigh in last week, I had indeed put on rather than lost but it was less than I’d been afraid of. 1.5kg over a period of three weeks. There’s more to say about that but I’m not sure what it is yet, so I’ll come back to it.

The same sort of ‘awakening’ as happened with cooking has happened with soap making. It’s such a simply fulfilling, nurturing, creative thing to do. It speaks to nourishment of a different kind and at the end of it, there’s no danger of me eating the result 🙂

I’ve been experimenting with natural colours and scents, shapes, sizes, recipes. I’ve included local honey and beeswax in some. Avocado oil or Macadamia oil in others. I’ve learned how to use a lye calculator and which oils will create which properties in my soaps. I’m just at the beginning of learning but I have three new recipes so far and each batch of those has different additions. Sometimes tea leaves, or cocoa, or indigo or salts, sometimes infused oils or clays. I have new box of beautiful essential oils and lots of silicone molds. I write a journal, detailing each soap; the recipe, what I added, how it turned out…and when it’s cured, I’ll go back to each and document the way they feel on my skin and on the skins of my family and the few friends I’ve given some to.

The corner of my kitchen, furthest from the space where I make food, is filled with ingredients for soap. Jars of oils being infused with calendula, rosemary, turmeric, thyme and other things, sit on my window sill, warmed during the day, by the gentle sunlight refracting from the glass. pots of clay, paper bags filled with dried flowers. In my study there are drying racks filled with beautiful bars of mildly scented soap and the haul from the second hand shops I visited today. It all feels so grounding.

I’m barely using moisturiser any more, despite it being winter. My skin is loving these moisture-rich soaps.

I hadn’t realised that commercial soap makers take the glycerin from their soap and sell it to cosmetics manufacturers. Essentially, this means that we wash our skin with detergent and then add the moisturisers later. That’s crazy! There’s something so….earthy and authentic and just….good about using something that only contains ingredients that I recognise.

As when I was learning to cook, there have been a few mishaps. Like the most recent salt soap, coloured a soft green with a teaspoon of indigo powder and swirled with clay. It should have been gorgeous and it is…but I left it too long before I cut it and it crumbled into pieces when I tried. The next few days will be ultra busy at work but as soon as I have the chance, I’m going to try that recipe again and make it work this time. 🙂

 

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I didn’t write yesterday. It was soaping at my sister’s day and afterwards she and I went out for dinner, so by the time I got home, it was all I could do to shelve my soap before I got ready for bed. It was a great day. We each made a batch of soap and much measuring and pouring and mixing and talking and laughing was done. Also some eating of cake and drinking of tea.

I took lots of photos of course.

Welcome!

Welcome!

Mum and my sister in the prep stage.

Mum and my sister in the prep stage. 

oils and equipment everywhere.

oils and equipment everywhere.

miscellaneous things

miscellaneous things

Mum's friend in her funky soap-making smock.

Mum’s friend in her funky soap-making smock.

Mum's groovy (and very protective) boots

Mum’s groovy (and very protective) boots

Careful measuring

Careful measuring

mixing the oatmeal into the oils

mixing the oatmeal into the oils

soap in moulds

soap in moulds

Fresh soap

Fresh soap

My pure oatmeal soap, setting.

My pure oatmeal soap, setting.

It was very good fun, and then today, I unmoulded my soap and cut it into chunks. The container I used made for thick chunks and I couldn’t decide whether to have short, fat blocks of soap, or longer, slimmer soaps, so I called for help from Andy and the kids. It was a tied vote, so I did half of one and half of the other. We’ll know which is best in practice when we use them I guess.

I love how creamy these look.

I’m imagining how soothing these will be on our skin.

All the soap, curing in the cupboard. Just so satisfying :-)

All the soap, curing in the cupboard. Just so satisfying 🙂

 

Today was a fairly relaxed day. Late in the afternoon, we harvested some more of the endless supply of cherry tomatoes growing in our garden.

They're rampant and show no sign of slowing down. This is just a portion of what is a tomato jungle. Some are propped up with stakes, others have just taken over whatever they've been able to scramble up.

They’re rampant and show no sign of slowing down. This is just a portion of what is a tomato jungle. Some are propped up with stakes, others have just taken over whatever they’ve been able to scramble up.

But the tomatoes taste fantastic.

But the tomatoes taste fantastic.

 

 

Anniversary Dinner

Dinner in a dimly-lit restaurant with the tiniest menu font but oh the food was lovely….

Glasses of wine, laughing, talking, seeing each other properly again (despite the lighting)

Tall bald waiter, view of the kitchen, efficient, relaxed chefs.

Crispy Barramundi, zucchini salad, prawn polenta….pink lamb and nutty quinoa

Home to my beautiful sister, holding the fort for us. Coffee, cuddles.

Lovely night. x

Almost raining, grey day, waves reaching the shore and almost wetting our feet (again). The sand shifting under my feet so that I puff and pant, trying to keep talking. The way back is easier this time and our laughter comes in short bursts, whipped away to sea almost as soon as it leaves our mouths.

Home then, buying grapes on the way and picking, washing, bagging.

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Then, exercise done, lunch and a visit with my awesome friend….Yay 🙂

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