Out from Under
Blogging has been sparse over the past several weeks. But now that I’m out from under the big pile of extra work that I was doing, it should be back up to speed.
In order to celebrate my having completed the enormous pile of extra work (affectionately referred to as The Translation That Ate Chicago), I made a batch of soap—my most ambitious recipe to date. All was going well until I made the mistake of taking it off the flame too early because I thought it was done. (I plead being a novice.) So now it’s back in the pot, continuing to cook until it turns from a mess of alkaline goop into usable soap. For the soapers out there, I probably could have treated it like cold-process soap and let it sit for a month, but I do want to get it done.
I’ve been giving out samples of my first batch to some friends and co-workers, and so far the reviews have been excellent. It’s Castile soap—or, for the purists, 95 percent olive-oil soap with five percent castor oil added for a good lather. (Castile soap is, legally speaking, a soap that contains at least fifty percent olive oil, but some soapers say that only one hundred percent will do.) I’ve used it myself and at the risk of tooting my own horn, I think it turned out well. Further good news on the soapmaking front: one of my friends liked the samples so much that he has ordered a bunch of bars for himself and his family! Looks like I’ll be whipping up a big batch of Castile this week, and I can’t wait.
One funny thing happened, though: I left a small bar of the soap for a co-worker who would be coming in the next day, when I wouldn’t be there. Because of its color and fragrance, she thought it was chocolate and bit into it. I’d thought someone would be there to tell her what it was, but that didn’t happen. Oops!
Back to the current batch: I was pretty worried that I had ruined it. It’s my first attempt at using cocoa butter in the mix, and I’d been hoping that it would turn out well. I e-mailed my teacher in a bit of a panic, thinking that I had spoiled it beyond repair. What a relief it was when she told me that the only way to ruin a batch is to burn it. Fortunately that’s not happening; I keep a very close eye on my improvised double boilers.
And that reminds me: time to check them again.