My husband is a retired Marine who is truly a “jack of all trades” type of guy. He loves to play his guitar (taught himself!) and he is great at coloring my hair (much to his chagrin) and makes the best steak and baked potatoes. He also is an expert who knows how to turn my frowns upside down. He likes to dabble in things that interest him – like when he was building his own drones and there was a time he enjoyed painting birdhouses. The best thing he has ever done though with his array of many talents is making soap. He is so meticulous in all that he does and unlike me, he is incredibly patient (and this requires patience).
The greatest part of being married to a soap maker is that we never run out of soap and also – we know exactly what is used for the ingredients. Its truly a labor of love for my guy and I am so proud of him for his creativity and passion.
So tonight, I wanted to give you a peek on his soap making adventure and also share with you his own personal recipe (with pictures!)
Vanilla Scented Cold Process Soap
Canola Oil – 23.1 oz
Castor Oil – 12.6 oz
Palm Oil – 69.3 oz
Shea Butter12.6 oz
Lye – 16.35 oz
Water (mixed with Lye) – 38.8
Vanilla scent – 7 oz
Mica White Color – 5 tablespoons
Types of colors that can be used:
Micas, Oxides and ultramarines,Titanium dioxide, Neons
(I used a 9lb soap mold and soap cutter that I purchased from Soapequipment.com)
Suit up in safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves.
Add the lye to the water. Stir well taking precautions to not breathe in the fumes. Set the mixture to the side and allow it to cool to approximately 110F. You can put the lye water mixture outside if you are not in a well ventilated area.
Add all your oils together and melt. Allow them to cool to approximately 110F, or within 5 degrees of the lye water.
Add the lye water mixture to the melted oils, carefully. Stir vigorously until trace occurs. Trace looks like a thin pudding. A stick blender will help speed trace along. If you are stirring by hand, these recipes may take up to an hour to trace.
Pour your traced soap mixture into your molds. Pop out after 3 to 5 days and allow to sit for a full 4 to 6 weeks to cure and finish
After I poured the soap mixture into the soap mold, I smoothed the mixture with a rubber spatula, and then covered the mold with wax paper and let the soap cure for three days before I took the soap loaves out of the mold. I then placed one soap loaf at a time into the soap cutter and cut each loaf into 13 bars of soap, for a total of 39 bars of soap from the three loaves. I then placed the cut bars of soap into a plastic container and covered them with wax paper. I’ll let the soap cure for two weeks, and then it will be ready to use.
While researching on what to make in the kitchen today – I came across a delightful (and easy!) recipe for Gingerbread that was used during the Civil War era. If they could, families of the Union soldiers would often send small care packages of gingerbread, socks, soaps and other food items from home. Since Gingerbread required molasses, it was a popular staple to make being that molasses was much cheaper to purchase than sugar in the Civil War era. This is why Molasses Cookies were also a popular item back in this era.
1 tablespoon of butter (used for greasing the pan)
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/4 cups of molasses*
1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1 cup of very hot water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ square baking pan with the butter (1 tablespoon). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, soda and spices, and cut in softened butter to the four mixture with a fork. Combine molasses, egg and water in a small mixing bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well. Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 9 servings. (Source: http://www.totalgettysburg.com)
*It seemed as if everyone in town was making something with molasses this weekend and after going to 3 stores…I relented and looked online for a molasses replacement (who knew that molasses was so popular in my small town??!!) Here is what I used as a replacement for molasses in this recipe:
1 1/4 cup dark corn syrup (you can also use honey or maple syrup)
We wanted to do something special tonight in the kitchen to honor and remember the wedding anniversary of Abraham and Mary Lincoln who were unitedin marriage on November 4, 1842.
I have read ALOT of books about the lives of both Abraham and Mary Lincoln and what has always seem to peak my interest about these two is how they both came from such diverse backgrounds – she grew up with servants and living in a beautiful home in Lexington, Kentucky while he was born in a log cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky. Somehow they simply found one another and with the trials and tribulations of courtship (their previous engagement was broken off and her family was not thrilled about her marrying someone “beneath” her) they decided that in the end, they simply wanted to be together.
Mary Lincoln made a white cake for Abraham Lincoln while they were courting and it was one of his favorites after they were married. So, with yesterday being their wedding anniversary, I felt it was very fitting to make something that was dear to both of their hearts (and their taste buds!)
The recipe that I used was from the book, Lincoln’s Table, by Donna D. McCreary and was adapted by Janice Cooke Newman.
Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake
1 Cup blanched almonds, chopped in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour
1 Cup butter
2 Cups sugar
3 Cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 Cup milk
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder 3 times. Add to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Stir in almonds and beat well.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Stir in vanilla extract.
Pour into prepared pan and and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack and cool. When cool, sift confectionary sugar over top.
A basic white frosting sprinkled with almonds was also popular.
Today is National Chocolate Day! Here is a fantastic recipe from Mount Vernon for George Washington’s favorite morning beverage: Chocolate Cream. This is very simple and can be made in your own kitchen this weekend – especially fitting with the cool temperatures 🙂
My daughter in law, Alice, and I made Johnny Cakes. What exactly is Johnny Cake? It is kind of like a cornmeal flatbread and you might even be familiar with these other names used throughout history: hoecake, corncake, ashcake and pone. Some think that the name Johnny Cake may have even be derived from the term “journey cake” because the cakes could be taken along on long trips and baked on ones travels. Click here to read more about the history of Johnny Cake.
This was very simple and easy recipe to make. It literally took minutes and you most likely have these ingredients right in your kitchen.
Some of our notes from today:
The cakes were savory than sweet. Salty. Very dense. Kind of like a hush puppy.
Not fluffy. The exterior was very crispy. Interior very moist.
Used unsalted butter. Skim milk.
Made a few small cakes (if you want to make a lot – recommend doubling or tripling the recipe)
It was interesting to make the Johnny Cake in a skillet. I imagine the soldiers would have made this the same exact way – except for over a campfire. This recipe was so simple and so easy to make and if you get the chance, I highly recommending you making it in your own kitchen. It truly is so fun to make (and taste) foods that our ancestors once ate and enjoyed.
We spent a wonderful time in the kitchen today with family and friends as we experimented with using an authentic Civil War recipe to make a batch of Molasses cookies. Did you know that one of the most popular foods of the soldiers were Molasses cookies? Sugar was very, very expensive during the war years as well as sugar was slowly processed. Molasses was an alternative choice due to it being less processed (and less expensive).
“A cup of brown sugar, one of molasses, one of lard, half a cupful of boiling water, one spoonful of ginger, one of saleratus (baking soda with impurities), one of salt and flour enough to roll. Beat the sugar, lard, molasses, saleratus and ginger together; then pour on the boiling water and mix in the flour. Roll about three-fourths of an inch thick and cut with round cutter. Bake in a quick oven (375 to 400 degrees)”
Our notes from today: The recipe called for a “spoonful” of a few ingredients and we had to decide whether to use a teaspoon or tablespoon (teaspoon won!) and because we did not have lard on hand, we used margarine in it’s place and seemed to work just fine. We also used Self Rising Flour so that we didn’t need to add in the baking soda and salt. Also, the recipe said to “mix in the flour” and it was a fun time trying to figure out how many cups of flour to use (we used a little over 8 cups). In the end, the cookies came out fabulous and we were very excited to have made an authentic recipe used in the Civil War era.