In the usual order of things around here, instead of the planned pantry or refrigerator inventory and writing a meal plan, yesterday I had insomnia, and made soap and sorbet.
Soap is something I have been making for several years now, and haven’t really gotten around to writing about because… I am not actually sure why, but I have a vague feeling it has to do with to do with my huge aversion towards ‘crunchy’ people and their diy-everything blogs, and not wanting to come off as one of them. And for the record, in case the angry rant a few days ago didn’t make it clear, I am pro-vaccine and anti-bullshit. And that bullshit happens to include people who publish recipes for ‘essential oils cure anything‘, ‘you totally don’t need any preservative!‘ (you do), and ‘you can really diy a deodorant that will work and not irritate your skin (just buy our essential oils)!’
So, due to my more-than-mild aversion to the very thought of being associated with those people, I haven’t actually mentioned the fact that I make most of the cosmetics used in this household – soap, hair soap, stain remover laundry soap, face creams, lip and hand balms and body butters/lotions. But I do, and I obvioiusly do it with science and without woo.
The reasons why I mention this now is that I have resolved to talk about it on the blog at some point, and the sooner I get it out here, the better. Which brings me back to the making of soap with a friend of mine, it taking up the time of day during which I wasn’t too tired, and then me being too tired (because I hadn’t had enough sleep) to do the inventories. So those will get done later, and instead you can have a pretty photo of the gloriously sweet-scented soap, which smells like summer in the Mediterranean because of what we put in (and on) it.
While the lavender is quite obvious, what you can’t see too clearly in the photo is the major contributor to the scent – pomegranate seed oil (you can see it a little bit – it’s those light orange-yellow streaks in the soap mass, actually). If you have never smelled cold-pressed pomegranate seed oil, you are in for a surprise, to the point where you might wonder if you were handed a vial of artificial pomegranate flavor. I am not kidding – it’s thick, sweet, cloying and really overpowering. It’s the sort of scent that manages to dwarf the generally strong lavender into an accent note. It smells of sugar and candy. And it’s awesome – it is amazing on dry and fragile skin, I love using it directly on my face, and unlike rosehip seed oil, pomegranate seed oil does not trigger acne, so I am really looking forward to trying it as a soap enrichment. It usually is a bright yellow-to-orange color, which is what makes it visible despite being pretty mixed into the soap – we added the oil blended with powdered milk in after the hot-process cooking of the soap (when the lye is mostly neutralized), so that the precious pomegranate oil and milk protein wouldn’t get hit by the lye.
And yes, I will write about how to make soap at home. While the internet abounds with tutorials, and while some of them are very very good, many of the others are unsafe and full of
bullshit bad advice, and I feel it’d be easier to have my own explanations to point friends to when they want questions answered. So that’s coming soon™.
In the meantime, I haven’t abandoned the freezer eating-out project. I got a couple of suggestions about what to do with some of the meats (interestingly both involving lamb), which are both going onto the meal plan I am currently writing. In the meantime, I’ve made a headstart on the freezer situation by taking out a frozen vac-packed cold-smoked mackerel out of the freezer on the day of inventory – which became a very Scandinavian dinner along with some good cultured butter, grainy mustard, rye bread and pickled cucumber. The mackerel obviously wasn’t on the inventory list since by that point it wasn’t in the freezer anymore.
The unplanned tropical dessert (that sort of thing happens to me) happened because I was thinking about a comment regarding grilling pineapple (which wouldn’t work with pre-frozen though it’s amazing otherwise), and remembering a glorious pina colada ice cream we ate at Figaro for my brithday just a week prior, when inspiration struck me – if pretentious vegans can blend frozen banana in a food processor and call it ‘ice cream’, then surely my food processor could handle the pineapple and I could make something with it! And suddenly I had to go to the kitchen and make it right there and then.
I got the box of pineapple open, took out the block of it (it’s was all ice-welded together of course), and hammered on it with a meat hammer till it went into large-ish chunks (if violence doesn’t solve your problem, you haven’t used enough). Then I chiseled those apart into smaller chunks with a knife and stuck most of it into my food processor. Changed the entry for 1 box of frozen pineapple in freezer inventory to a half-bag. Then I dug out a tetrapack of coconut cream, took a box of milk out of the fridge, and added the entire package of coconut cream and a few good splashes of milk to the food processor, pulsing it gently and prodding chunks of pineapple apart as I went to avoid burning the appliance out. I also tossed in 4 sweetener pills (but I am sure 2-3 tablespoons of honey would work well too), and eventually as it started to come together, I processed it all till it was nearly smooth – then dumped a couple of shots of Malibu Coconut Rum Liqueur in there as an afterthought (I had it left over from last summer’s drunken ‘it’s too hot for anything‘ party which involved said bottle, a bag of ice, a pineapple and a blender).
A bit more blending and the mix turned brighter and nearly white, and smoothed out, at which point I dumped it into a tupperware tub and placed it in the freezer for a few hours, taking it out once to poke it with a butter knife and try to break up the ice crystals. And eat some of it right there and then because let me tell you – it’s like that Pina Colada you had once in a nice Caribbean-cocktail bar and wanted to have again. It’s fresh, it’s delicious, it’s pineappley-coconutey and not at all heavy. In short, it turned out into one of those near-perfect summer desserts that I will have to make again and again – possibly to improve on the recipe, but the idea – it is more than worth repeating.
Regarding the rest of the freezer – I have taken out the 3x lamb shanks that I had unearthed from it, and since they refused to defrost fast enough on the counter, stuck them on a plate into the fridge. The shanks can thaw overnight and become a Friday evening stew tomorrow. This morning I took one of my packets of sliced frozen porcini mushrooms from last fall’s mushroom hunt and made a Russian-style mushroom and wheat berry soup (it’s supposed to be mushroom and barley but I was out of barley). I’ve hung the inventory sheets up on the fridge door with a magnet, and as I take things out as part of the stash-busting program, I get to cross them off the list off the list for extra satisfaction points.
So with that in mind, I am going to sit down, grab my notebook and write that meal plan I’ve been talking about.