Monthly Archives: July 2015

How to Make (Real) Soap

I’ve had many people tell me that if they were stranded on a deserted island, I would be their first choice of a partner. It’s not because of my charm. It’s because… there’s a bit of MacGyver in me. I was the kid who dismantled broken clocks, watches, appliances… and as an adult was able to put some of them back together, without any many parts left over. Just ask Wendy, my old roommate. 🙂 I’m always learning how things are made, and usually try to make them myself. Just because.

I made soap for the first time about 20 years ago. Of course, I had to buy beef fat to render into tallow — no wimpy bottled oils for my soap! It was fun and successful enough for me to repeat the process. But then life got busy and I left soap making for my future.

Which came about last year, when I challenged myself to make, from scratch and with safe and natural ingredients, as many household and personal products as I could. I found a really nice bath/body bar soap recipe and love the gentle, moisturizing soap so much that I’ve stuck with that same recipe ever since. This recipe happens to be mostly vegetarian (depending on how you view beeswax) and I use all organic, food-grade ingredients. Well, except for the lye. Lye is… lye.

Making soap is EASY and will be successful if you follow the directions. The most important thing to remember is that there is chemistry behind the “turning fat into soap” process ( Saponification ) and so the ingredients must be measured accurately. Lye can also seem scary to people, but if you are careful and smart about handling lye it is not a problem. Get careless and you could burn a hole through your flooring, counter top, clothes, skin… you get the idea.

So here’s the process. You can skip directly to the recipe if you’re experienced in soap making. Continue reading

Milk Kefir Recipes

milk kefir and raw milk

Raw milk (L) and kefir (R)

Milk kefir: Milk that has been cultured (fermented) into a thick, creamy, tangy-sour, probiotic-filled smoothie.

Most people don’t know what milk kefir is, but with the growing movement towards whole foods and probiotics, kefir is coming into more public awareness. So much so, that it can now be bought in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores.

Lifeway (lifewaykefir.com) makes kefir in a variety of flavors and styles (low fat, whole milk, Greek, “green”), all containing pasteurized milk. My preference is for raw, unpasteurized milk because of all of the nutritional benefits (see my post on raw milk) that end up being killed by pasteurization. But you would have to culture your own raw milk in order to have raw milk kefir. If you are willing to make it yourself, it’s very easy. Continue reading