Monday, August 26, 2013

Peaches Overload

A friend told me she had some peaches from her tree that I could have...boy did she have some peaches!

What to make with all this fresh organic peachy goodness? I knew jam was #1 on the list, then we kind of winged it from there.
First though regardless of what we were to make was to peel and pit ALL of them. The Hubs peeled each one for me...what a guy!! I told him about a method I had read where you boil for about 30 seconds, then put in ice water. For us (him) it was just as easy to half, pit, then quarter and the skins peeled right off easily.

So first up was my jam...I used the Sure-Jell recipe...

Our new favorite dessert is fresh peaches over vanilla ice cream, so we thought we would give peach preserves a try to pour over our ice cream. I used the recipe out of the Ball Blue Book ...we diced the peeled/pitted peaches...

...boiled the fruit with Ball pectin and sugar and processed in the water canner. The peaches seemed to float...I didn't notice this until the last couple of jars, so they have more syrup than fruit, but it will still be great on ice cream.

I have never made peach pie...but as my grandma told me today when I told her this..."it cant be much harder than an apple pie"...and I think she is right...this sure looks good. :)
I made this recipe I found online.

Now whats the old saying...waste not want not? Well nothing gets wasted here, I found this recipe on Hickery Holler Farm's Blog and the skin and pits were put into a pan and covered with water...

...simmered for 30 minutes, then left to sit overnight to make peach skin jelly.
The peach water didn't seem very strong to me so I replaced a cup of the peach water with cranberry juice.
This is my first time making jelly, and I am sad to say it wasn't looking very good...but I gave it a few more days since I had a slow setting jam once...and it may just have worked. It is no longer juice in a jar. :) 

After all of this I had some peaches left over and I thought I would get one more batch of jam out of them, but I lacked like a half a cup of I deemed myself a jam making expert and got creative and added a half a cup of cranberry juice and jammed it up. Cant wait to taste that one. :)

What is your favorite canning recipe?


Friday, August 23, 2013

Soap Crafting with Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie Faiola AKA The Soap Queen, has published a new book titled "Soap Crafting" and I was lucky enough to be asked to try a recipe out of the book and blog about it.

My choice of recipe is from the natural colors section and contains Alkanet Root for the color, and Sweet Fennel essential oil for the scent.

I was delivered a kit containing everything I needed to make this batch. I couldn't wait to get started, but of course I have to over think and plan...and plan some how to do the soap? There are 2 ways to use the Alkanet Root, either straight in the batch for a speckled look, or infuse the herb into the oil for a smooth non speckled appearance. Decisions decisions....what to do....
I decided to go ahead and get my infusion started as I began to plan my design. First step is that I sealed 2 TBL of the herb into a heat and seal tea bag to infuse into 4 ounces of olive oil. (The book calls for sweet almond oil, but I have never used that so I kept with one of my two fave infusing other fave is jojoba oil) 
I simmered this in my double boiler for 2 hours. 

Look how beautiful the color is...sadly I soon find out this does not last.

Now I am ready to begin...and I have my design worked out in my head...lets hope I can make it work. Since I cant choose if I should use the herb either infused or straight...I decide to just be wild and try both methods at the same time...since I am fresh off the mantra swirl challenge I use that as my guide and do a modified modified mantra swirl...instead of columns I decide I am going to layer it.

I brought my soap to a light trace and divided the batch up and added the infused oil to half of the turned grey. :(

Then I added a thin layer of uncolored soap batter...

Next I add the herb straight to the last part of the starts off as such a pretty reddish purple...

 You can see in the bowl the pretty reddish color, and then on the measuring spoon the difference in color when mixed with the soap batter.

I added the speckled layer and took my handy dandy high tech tool here and inserted it into the batch bringing it up and down while moving across the log.

I took some remaining infused batter and swirled it on top of the speckled batter, here it gives you a sneak peek at the difference of the color range the herb gives in the two methods...

...and here is the end result.

I am so happy with how this came out!!!
(that rarely happens) 

Even though I was going for a technical angle to compare the 2 methods, I love that I was also able to incorporate a creative design.

There is a huge difference in looks between the 2 methods, and I don't know which I like better, they both offer a beautiful look to your soap.

I really enjoyed this challenge and I want to thank Alee for contacting me to join, and also a big thank you to Anne-Marie for writing a great recipe in her new book. I can't wait to try more from the book.

What do you think?

Monday, August 19, 2013

White Tea & Ginger Soap

Why o Why did I wait so long to buy this mold. I am really enjoying the wide open spaces to swirly away in.

Today I made White Tea & Ginger. This scent is a lovely feminine fragrance of delicate white tea with a hint of fresh ginger.
I poured too much batter off for the color, so it sort of takes over the top, and I tried something new, not too sure the picture picks it up well, but there are small veins of glittery mica running throughout the top...

And here are the bars the next day, ready to finish curing before making their way to the shop.

I love the shimmery look of the mica...I think I am going to have to try this method again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Homemade Dog Treats

I decided to try my hand at making my own dog treats. Our pups get one each morning when I leave for work, and one here and there when real good. The "good for them" treats are quite costly, and the cheap ones are full of so many fillers...if I like to eat more clean, why shouldn't my pets. So off to pinterest I went and I found this recipe that seemed like a nice easy start.

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs

I put this all into my kitchen aid with the dough hook...

I don't have any cookie cutters...I know, weird right?? So I just rolled into balls and put onto a cookie sheet, then criss crossed the top with a fork.... 

I baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, flipped and baked another 10 minutes.

They smelled very good while I was making them, and I like that I know each ingredient in them...oh and the best part the pups thought they were pretty tasty...their wagging tails asking for more said so. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge - Holly Swirl Take 2

Try #2 at the "Holly Swirl" as this months challenge from Great Cakes Soapworks. My black cherry didn't go so well...lets see how my pumpkin can come out.

Again I used a sample fragrance I received, gathered my supplies...mold, lye, oils, orange and white colorants and this time I have my fragrance oil separate. it will brown the soap batch so I don't want to add it until after I pour off my colors.

This time I refrained from action shot photos to ensure I stayed focused and got the colors more evenly dispersed in the batch this time. Look how pretty my top is....

Here is my soap the next day. You can see how it is already browning, makes for a very pretty fall soap.
Here it is freshly cut, you can see the inside is still white, in a day or 2.... get this pretty result.

I am happy with the results and of course it smells wonderful, but I don't think it is a successful "Holly Swirl". The orange really took over the white...or it wasn't enough of a contrast between the two, so it doesn't have the "pop" it should have, but I will still consider it a success as it looks great for a fall pumpkin soap.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge - Holly Swirl

This months challenge from Great Cakes Soapworks is called the Holly Swirl, created by Holly from Missouri River Soaps. It is an in the pot swirl-swirl.

I decided to soap a sample scent I received, Black Cherry. I went with charcoal for my base color and a red and white swirl.

I brought my soap to trace, measured out my colors and poured the black soap into the mold. In a separate container I layered my red and white soap batters, and now am ready to swirl them into the black. 

Decided to try an action shot and snap a picture of the pour...oh yeah this was not a good idea!!  

I like to start my pours high to get to the bottom and then move the pour closer to the mold as I go...but for some reason I poured the entire swirl...down the center...ONLY! Well this isn't going to come out as planned.

Next I layered on litte bits of the extra soap...maybe I can salvage this batch with a pretty top?

I swirled it around a bit and sent it off to the oven to gel...while I went off and pouted at my silly mistake.

So what do you think??

*sigh* I know it had such potential. Also...I really do not like my new stick blender, this one puts soooo many air bubbles in my soap, which really shows up on the charcoal. :(

The upside here...this soap smells wonderful!! Why have I not soaped this scent before? It behaved beautifully, so I will need to give it another go sometime.

Be sure to come back to see if I had better luck on try #2.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Arnica Balm

We sold out of our arnica balm, and when I went to make more I realized we were also out of the arnica infused time to make everything...First I put the dried arnica flowers into my double boiler...

...and covered them in olive oil and simmered for a few hours.
After straining the oil I am now ready to make the balm...

Combining the infused oil with other oils, butters and essential oils, this wonderful earthy smelling balm helps in relief of sore muscles and bruises.

We pour our balm into these fabulous twist up tubes that hold 2 ounces of product. This handy stick is perfect for mess free application.