Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Getting Ready For A New Season

That's me above selling at market last year.
About half way through the season I added a second table for more soap.

I met last night with the other officers of our Farmers market group (I am Vice President). We have a ton of new ideas for the Market this year. We also have a great and very enthusiastic Market Manager (Leslie, that's you!) and she will be promoting all sort of special events for our markets. We will have events just for children, talks and education from local organizations, chefs at market, celebrate the carrot (or tomato or pea) day, musicians and more.

Our market membership doubled this year from 14 to 28! I am personally very excited to start sampling some of the new vendors goods. Fresh cheese, baked breads, organic spices, sweets and some great quality crafts like retro style aprons and beautiful jewelry. It's going to be a great market year.

In anticipation of the busy season, I have been making 2 batches of soap per day. That is about 60 bars of soap per day. I do have an inventory list that I keep, so I have some organization to the whole sh-bang. I have a whopping 875 bars of soap in stock right now! You would think that would be enough, but last year I sold twice that amount of soap and only participated in 2 markets. I will be participating in a minimum of 4 markets, maybe more. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sowing Seeds...

Last year, I started a small garden at the back of my small acre of The American Dream for the first time since we moved to Maine. I grew tomatoes, hot peppers cucumbers, beans, and sunflowers. Loved it! I ate a ton of tomatoes, many of the cherry tomatoes I ate right there in the garden. The sunflowers were about 7' tall and the beans just kept coming and coming.

I usually purchased my already established plants from the local garden shop. But this year my husband (which I am now going to start calling him Captain, because he got his captains license and I think that is cool) and I decided to start our own plants from seeds. This way we can really decide exactly what we want to grow and not just what plants the garden center has available. My parents are doing the same thing, as are 2 of my friends and I know that many of the Farmers Market members have already started. It seems to be all the rage of late. Growing your own food. The White House in Washington is even doing it.

The Captain and I decided on 4 different varieties of tomatoes (we LOVE tomatoes), beans, cucumbers, carrot (I have never grown these and I think it will be fun), sweet mixed color peppers and zucchini. I will also be sowing some salad green seeds, basil and oregano. The salad greens and herbs will be going in a separate garden. I just found out about this cool idea for a "salad table" or a movable garden. Captain is building me a small frame, about 3'x6' with a screen on the bottom. The idea is that you lay it out like a tray, fill it with soil and plant your lettuce and herbs. You prop the whole thing on saw horses, and water daily. You can keep this smaller garden by the back door so you can harvest your lettuce and herbs daily and very easily.

We just finished sowing those tiny little seeds and I am sure I will be checking them about 6 times a day for the little sign of growth. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

If your reading this then you spend some portion of your time online. If your online, you must have heard about the upcoming Earth Hour. Heck, if you watch TV, listen to the radio, read a newspaper, you have heard about the Earth Hour.

Just in case you missed it, today, Saturday March 28th we (the people of Earth) are celebrating Earth Hour. It's not new this year, just finally catching on. Turn off your lights for one hour, during your local time 8:39-9:30. People around the world are participating. The basic concept is to raise awareness for the need to take action against the effect of Climate Change. They are turning off the lights in the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids and more. Sydney Australia kicked it off, in fact they already did it.

Here's a link to a website for more info.

So why not? Get out the candles and turn off the lights. At the very least, you are saving on your own electric bill. I'll be participating!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Twitter Excitment!

Okay, so remember a few post past I told you about Twitter? The third hottest social networking site online? If you missed it the post, you can find it in the archives.

You can follow me on Twitter by clicking on the Follow Me On Twitter button on the top left of the page (but you do have to sign up).

I "Tweet" several times a day, about which type of soap I am making, the weather here in Maine, updates on the blog, and such. I also follow a few celebrity Twitters. I follow Martha Stewart, Ellen and I follow Ashton Kutcher. Well, Ashton is making a movie in Monaco and sends out Tweet updates about stuff happening on the set, photos and even videos links. He made a comment about a scene he was preparing for and one of his over 500,000 followers made a Tom Selleck reference. I just love Tom Selleck, he is one of my favorite actors. I just had to respond. I Tweeted, more for my own benefit and my 50+ followers would be the only ones that really will see it anyway. HOWEVER, because I responded to something that Ashton Kutcher had originally Twittered, it did go back to him. And he choose to respond to ME! So now I have 12 more followers in like 1 hour, people must think I am his friend and want to know me.

The cool thing about Twitter is that your message goes out to a "Tweet Deck". With Twitters estimated 4-5 million users, every time I say "working on the blog...here's the link" or "Pink Grapefruit soap is ready, available here" (and include a link to my web page) there is a potential for 4-5 million Casco Bay Soap customers. You never know...who, when or where...here's hoping that Martha Stewart sees me someday soon.

Signs of Spring!

Yippee! The sun broke through the clouds this afternoon here in Maine and the temperature rose to ~ 44 degrees? I was outside and it sure felt warmer than that. Maybe it is because it was soo darn cold this winter, anything above freezing is pure balmy.

I took a careful walk around the yard to see if any small plants or flower were budding or coming up through the semi-thawed ground yet. A say a careful walk, because here in Maine we are entering into Mud Season. As the snow melts and the ground is completely saturated, the extra moisture sits on the surface, mixes with the thawing ground and turns to all to mud. Mud in the driveway, mud on the grass, unpaved roads, everywhere. Fancy footwear is not really an option. A heel would sink right in, an open back shoe would get your heel all soggy, and suede ~ forget about it! I hopped over the snowy patches and stepped gingerly into the grass and sogged my way to the house foundation. There I saw little plants poking their way up through the sleeping earth, reaching for the sun!

We still have a long way to go. There is still lots of snow on the ground, items we left to sleep during the winter are still put away for now. Like the sailboat that my husband and I enjoy so much in the summer months. It is still shrouded in it's bright blue tarp. The grill on the back deck is wrapped in it's black cocoon. Although, it seems the black plastic cover we choose, was wind whipped this winter and doesn't look like it will do it's job very well next season. And I would have to shovel a path or put on my knee high boots to get to the vegetable garden. Still, spring is on it's way. And up North, we are anxiously awaiting it's arrival.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Something New

I have been wanting to try something new, but time doesn't always allow for experimentation. During the winter months, I do have time on my side as opposed to the middle of Farmers Market season. So I have a chance to "fool" around and play with new soap fragrances, appearance and new recipes. Although I have learned to not stray far from my original recipe, as it is perfect just the way it is.

I wanted to try layered soap. I already add botanicals and some color swirling with natural mica coloring. But I wanted a dramatic layering effect in one of my soaps. So, here I go.

I layered this lovely clean, crisp, ocean-y fragrance soap with a nice vibrant blue for the bottom and kept the top layer white. I was envisioning a perfectly straight line for the layer. I now see that I will have to work on that technique. But, I must say that I do like how the soap came out. I like the blue color, and really love the way the blue and white meet, almost wave like. Which is perfect for this fragrance. I'm not sure what I will call it...any ideas?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Oatmeal, Honey & Milk Soap

Just yesterday, I whipped up a batch of one of my most popular soap fragrances. Oatmeal, Honey & Milk. Sweet and toasty with real oats, this bar of soap smells good enough to eat.

A beautiful tan bar, it is great for both women and men. This fragrance reminds many of something good baking in the kitchen. Real oats are helpful for exfoliation and are known for soothing dry, itchy skin.

Available HERE.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maine Maple Sunday

Don't you just love maple syrup on your pancakes, waffles, in your baked beans? I'm talking about the real stuff, not the flavored kind. This weekend, you can go out and about in Maine and visit Sugar Shacks and find out just how Maple Syrup is made. I have visited a few sugar houses in my past, and I am always fascinated by the small wooden structures with steam billowing from the roofs, the sap inside boiling down from watery to thick. I know from these visits that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one small gallon of syrup. That is a lot of work! Sap to be collected, wood to chop and feed into the wood fired stove that boils that sap down. It is an impressive process.

Once, when my husband and I lived in CT, we had two huge Maple trees on our property, so of course I had tap them. We lived in a beautiful valley in the "quiet corner" of CT and there were lots of Maple trees running through this valley. Many Maple trees were already tapped in our area, belonging to Sweet Sue's Sugar Shack only about 4 miles away. We got so much sap from our two giant trees, we ended up buying a new trash barrel and filling it up to the top. We dug out an old wood stove we had in storage and my husband set up set near the still sleeping vegetable garden. We proceeded to boil the sap down to syrup. It took quiet some time, but I was having a blast. I was in my element. Making my own syrup. Unfortunately, the neighbors where trying to sell their house...and there I was in overalls, stirring a pot on a wood stove in the backyard as they were showing their house. This is when we realized we really needed to move to the country. We ended up with about 1/2 a gallon of sweet, thick, and delicious maple syrup.

Supporting your local farmer is one of the best thing you can do in your community. Here is some information I found on the Get Real Get Maine website.

MAINE MAPLE SUNDAY ~ March 22, 2009

Join Maine’s maple producers each spring as they celebrate Maine Maple Sunday. It’s the day when sugar makers around the State open the doors of their sugar houses for the public to join them in their rites of spring – making maple syrup.

Most sugar houses offer free tasting and live demonstrations of how syrup is produced, from tap to table. Many offer a variety of other treats and activities, including syrup on pancakes or ice cream, sugarbush tours, sleigh or wagon rides, live music and lots more.

The Maine Maple Sunday event, always the fourth Sunday in March, is often expanded to additional days, or held earlier or later at some sugar houses. Be sure to read the description after each listing and call ahead. Many sugar houses are open all season and will arrange special tours and demonstrations for groups on other days as well. Call them to make arrangements.

Here is the link to check for a participating sugar house in Maine.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kitchen Scrub Soap Bars

Have you checked out my Kitchen Scrub soap yet?

Very popular and one of my specialty soaps, Kitchen Scrub is made with triple brewed coffee and the addition of coffee grounds. Kitchen Scrub is great at removing odors such as onion, garlic and fish from had working kitchen hands. Touched with the scent of Vanilla, this soaps is a beautiful dark brown color and deep in coffee & sweet vanilla fragrance.

I'm putting it on special. Just because...I think you're special.

Smokey Patchoulii Soap

I have had many requests for more of the Smokey Patchouli soap I made a few months back. It has been a big hit with men and women alike. I do my best to make all my customers happy...I mixed up a batch today.

I am excited about this new fragrance and how popular it has become. It smells deep, earthy, and a bit smokey. Patchouli is known for being the fragrance of the 60's hippy generation. Although my customer base varies widely, I have found that it is indeed purchased mostly by older folks.

I have a few bars of this intriguing soap left. More beautiful bars coming as soon as the bars finish curing. (should I blog about the curing process of soap too?, I wonder if your interested....)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bread Pudding. It is soo good!

I mentioned yesterday that I was trying a new recipe for Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce.

Wow! It was fantastic....

Here is the recipe: (courtesy of Emeril from Foodnetwork.com)

Note: I left out the raisins, that is a personal choice. I also did not dust with confectioners sugar, since it was getting a hearty helping of the Whiskey Sauce.

Bread Pudding
12 to 14 cups 1-inch cubes day-old white bread such as French or Italian
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
1 recipe Whiskey Sauce, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the bread in a large bowl. Grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with the 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.
Combine the heavy cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and raisins in a large bowl. Whisk to mix. Pour the cream mixture over the bread, and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
Transfer the bread mixture to the casserole dish and bake until the center of the bread pudding is set, 50 to 60 minutes.
Garnish the bread pudding with confectioners' sugar and serve warm with warm Whiskey Sauce.

Whiskey Sauce

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup bourbon or other whiskey
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
In a 1-quart saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and sugar. Place the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the bourbon in a small mixing bowl and whisk to blend and make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the cream mixture and bring to a boil. Once the sauce begins to boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the salt, and stir in the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup of bourbon. Serve warm.

Wow! Very, very good. The bread pudding underneath the crust is soft and custard like, the tops pieces got a bit browned, carmalized and crusty...the sauce is sweet and smooth with a hint of whiskey. Soooo good.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Are you Irish? Well, isn't everyone on March 17th.

I grew up south of Boston. The small town I grew up in was an interesting mix of Irish and Italian. Seriously. I went to school with the McGrail's, MacInyre's, McGee's, Murphy's, O'Neil, O'Connor's...and the Sarro's, Cucinotta's, Patalano's, Scarpellini's, DeTrolio's. It seemed like you were either Irish or Italian. St. Patrick's Day was big in our little town, as it is in most of Massachusetts. I have since moved away but, I will be making the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner that I grew up with. I can't imagine a St. Patty's Day without it. My mom would make it every year. She also bought a cake with green frosting from a woman she worked with. We looked forward to both every year.

One time about 4 years ago, my husband was traveling on business and I went with him. We had a little kitchenette in our hotel room and since we were there over St. Patrick's Day, I could not skip the traditional dinner. It's just not the same St. Patrick's Day for me without it. We had a little kitchenette in our hotel room and I managed to scrap up enough pots and pans to cook up the traditional fare of corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Of course, they don't give you a giant pot in those little kitchenette, so I remember having to use 2 smaller ones. I boiled the corned beef and potatoes in the large of the 2 pots and figured that the carrots would give a bit of flavor to the cabbage in their own pot. I didn't want the carrots and cabbage to have none of the salty flavor that comes from the corned beef, so I remember clearly playing this crazy game of taking liquid out of the cabbage pot, adding liquid from the corned beef pot and switching it all around quite often so the flavors would all come together. It turned out delicious. One thing I didn't consider is the unmistakable smell of boiled cabbage filling the hallway of our hotel!

We will be off to the local brew pub tonight for a pint. I recommend surrounding yourself with other St. Patrick's' Day revelers. It proves to make the night more exciting, educational and often eye opening!

Tonight I will be also making bread pudding with whiskey sauce for a desert. I have never made it before, but found the perfect recipe. I will be sure to post the recipe.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! East Coasters...start your Corned Beef....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lavender Soap

One of my top selling soaps is Lavender. So popular, at times I simply can not keep up production to meet demand!

Lavender is a classic fragrance, enjoyed by young and old, both men and women. Lavender has been used for thousands of years. Most often used in perfumery, but also in medicine.

I use essential oil of Lavender in my soaps. Essential oils are distilled directly from a plant, leaf, flower, bark etc. using a still and a collection of steam. In the case of Lavender, the stem and flower are used. The Distillation process is a very complex one, on which I will blog about at another time. I do not distill Essential Oils myself, it would require quite a bit of raw product and a lot of space! 1 acre of Lavender will produce approximately 15-20 lbs. of oil in one year.

The scent of Lavender is said to calm the mind, ease stress and tension, aid in relaxation, influence emotions and state of mind.

My own Lavender soap...http://cascobaysoap.com/lavender.html

Soap Stacks

Everytime I make a batch of soap I cut it into the perfect (well, almost perfect...I'm not a machine after all) little rectangles that I bring to you. I end up with slices of less-than-perfect-looking-but-just-as-good-smelling, soap leftover from the ends. I had collected quite a few of these perfectly good but smallish ends (I had 80 to be precise). What should I do with them?

So I made these cute soap stacks out of 4 different types of soap ends. Many are just about the size of a 1/2 of a bar, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller. The idea is that now you can try 4 different soaps, for the price of 1. Often customers are interested in more than one type of soap, and just can't decide on which one to take home. I have included a handy little "guide" of sorts to identify each type of soap slice in the stack. All tied up with natural twine. (Unfortunately, I can not offer customer special selections in the stacks).

Selling for only $4.00 and available on the website here : SOAP STACKS

Look for them at the Farmers Markets this spring.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Human Calendar

I found this cool new application online. A human calendar! Check it out on the left side of the blog.

Soaps now available at Maine Wreath & Flower

I am very happy to announce that my soaps are now available at Maine Wreath & Flower in Freeport.

Specializing in dried flowers, silk flowers, wreaths of all types and all the makings for your own flower arrangements. They also sell baskets and assorted potpourris, oils, gift and assorted items that relate to the floral world.

Owner Debbie Cupo choose 9 popular fragrances to sell in her Bow St. location. You can find favorites such as Sea Shore Scrub, Mermaids Garden, Lemon Eucalyptus, Blueberry Cream, Lavender and more.

Store hours are modified during the winter months. You may want to call first to check their winter hours:

Maine Wreath & Flower
13 Bow St. Freeport, ME

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Have you heard of the new social network called Twitter? It is the third most popular social network and growing fast.

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages. People write short updates, often called "tweets" of 140 characters or fewer.

For example, I just wrote " hmmmmm, what type of soap to make today?" That's it. Now my Twitter message or "tweet" goes out to my followers and they can read it and even respond.

The people I am following do the same. I even have Martha Stewart as someone I am following! She tweets all the time and I know what is happening with her shows before they happen etc. She isn't following me, as she has 98,139 followers, she can't follow (or doesn't want to) follow everyone. It would be out of control.

You can follow me, Casco bay Soap Co., by clicking on the "Follow Me On Twitter" button on the left side of my blog pages. If you don't already have a Twitter account, you can sign up for one very easily and it's free. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fresh Snow...Soap

A few blogs back, I mentioned that I had a special project idea for all that extra snow that was falling from the sky.

I'm lucky enough to live in a very quiet country area of my little town. During a snow storm, when I look out my back porch to the horse farm next door, the fields are just perfect white blankets of fluffy white snow. If the horses are out, they make hoof prints in the fresh snow and puffs of breath come from their long velvet-like noses. I think it is very picturesque. Standing out in the cold looking at this scene, you hear the snow gently landing all around while other sounds are muffled.

I gathered this pure snow during one of these moments. Pure melted snow went into my 100% veggie blend soap to create this limited edition soap. The lovely fragrance is crisp and slightly fruity with subtle notes of spruce, pine and cedar with a little bit of vanilla musk. It is like a brisk walk after the snow has fallen. A fresh and clean fragrance.

Only available for a limited time, as it is made with fresh fallen snow, and the season is soon coming to an end...

Available for sale... FRESH SNOW

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recycle, your clothes.

Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose....it's all the rage now. There is a whole movement of recycling in our nation and the world.

I was doing a bit of spring cleaning (still 2' of snow on the ground, but a girl can dream) and got into the closest. I have a wide range of sizes in there...but that's another story. It was time to buckle down and move out the old, not worn anymore, out of style (at least my style) and (how embarrassing) pieces of clothing with tags still on them that haven't been worn. I filled a whole trash bag with perfectly good clothing. My objectives were clear. Clean out my closet and donate to the local thrift store.

Dropping off my items felt great! I have a small confession though. I drop off a bag of stuff and then I go to the thrift store and buy something. But, I have removed about 30 things from my home, and only brought back two.

So, remember the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure"? Well how true it is. Vintage is in. Worn or repurposed, your old items are truly treasure. Perhaps you clean out your grandparents closet and donate to the local thrift store an old petticoat, wool sweater or suit coat. Maybe these items will be snatched up just the way they are for everyday clothing or a Halloween costume but they just may be made into something else.

Have you heard of Etsy.com? It is a fantastic site featuring all sorts of great artsy, fantastically creative, hand crafted items. Their slogan is : Your Place To Buy And Sell All Things Homemade. I typed "recycled" into the search bar and yielded more than 75,000 results. Tote bags made from men's suits, cute flower pins made from felted pieces of sweaters, ballgown made of old neckties (they are gorgeous!), necklaces made from Scrabble game pieces, a dress sewn from piece of quilt! Take a look for yourself at ETSY

If you're thinking of Spring cleaning and not sure what to do about those stuffed closest, consider donating to your local thrift store or maybe tackle a super crafty project of your own.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Honey Soap

If you remember a few blogs back, I purchased a 3 lb. jar of golden honey from my local friendly farmer at the Winter Farmers Market in Brunswick.

I have been wanted to cook up a batch of lovely Honey Soap, and I did. I made it last Thursday and un-molded it on Friday. I left it unscented so that the slightly sweet and a bit nutty fragrance would shine in the soap. Honey adds a bit of lathering capability, and acts as a humectant (attracting moisture and helps in retaining moisture).

I had to take extra precautions when making this soap, as the natural sugars in the honey will react with the other ingredients while making the soap. Making soap is not to be taken lightly. I follow an exact recipe and weigh out all the ingredients and use protective gear. And of course, the soap came out fantastic!

The soap is a beautiful golden color and smells so nice. No stickiness from honey will be in your bar of soap, as it was dissolved into the oils when stirring up the kettle. It will be ready for sale in about 3 weeks...you can check it out on my website HERE

Friday, March 6, 2009

Gluten Free Market & Bakery In Brunswick..

I had an opportunity to stop and make a quick visit to a new Gluten Free Market & Bakery in Brunswick that I heard much about.

While I am not suffering from a Gluten Allergies, my husband is Gluten Intolerant. I do have 2 friends that suffer from Celiac Disease, so I have much interest in the emerging Gluten Free Society. Wildflours peaked my interest and I wanted to check it out.

Proprietor Kelley Hughes and I chatted while I eyeballed her own fresh baked Whoopee Pies, Chocolate Glazed Peanut Butter Rice Crispie Treats, Giant Chocolate Chip cookies and other sugary treats. The market part of the store offered all sorts of Gluten Free groceries, like pastas, crackers, breads and more. I went home with the Chocolate Glazed PB Rice Crispie Treat and a loaf of Sami's Brick Oven Bakery, Millet & Flax bread from the freezer case. Both were very, very good.

While shopping and chatting I found out that Kelley and I are actually neighbors, living only about 1 1/2 miles from each other. What a small world it is sometimes.

I am all about supporting my local businesses. When you support local and handmade, you are supporting your own neighbors and putting money back into the community in which you live. I admire and am always inspired by someone who takes the leap and opens up there own shop. This is just one of the many things I love about Maine, the entrepreneurial spirit and the "can do" attitude. Good Luck Kelley!

If your in the Brunswick area, or want to make a trip, stop by and say hello to Kelley and be sure to tell her I sent you.

1 Mason Street
Brunswick, ME

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Joe Cupo, Chanel 6 Weather Man at Granite Farms

If any of you get star struck easily (I confess, I do) stop by this weekend at the Granite Farms Farmers Market, Joe Cupo of Portland, MAINE Chanel 6 Weather Team will be reading from the fantastic book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Meteorologist Joe Cupo has been part of the NEWS CENTER team since 1979. He forecasts each weekday for WCSH NEWS CENTER 6 in the evenings. He is my favorite meteorologist!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Here is the write up on Amazon:

This book chronicles the year that Barbara Kingsolver, along with her husband and two daughters, made a commitment to become locavores–those who eat only locally grown foods. This first entailed a move away from their home in non-food-producing Tuscon to a family farm in Virginia, where they got right down to the business of growing and raising their own food and supporting local farmers.
Accomplished gardeners, the Kingsolver clan grow a large garden in southern Appalachia and spend summers "putting food by," as the classic kitchen title goes. They make pickles, chutney and mozzarella; they jar tomatoes, braid garlic and stuff turkey sausage. Nine-year-old Lily runs a heritage poultry business, selling eggs and meat. What they don't raise (lamb, beef, apples) comes from local farms. Come winter, they feast on root crops and canned goods, menus slouching toward asparagus.

I have heard tons about this book, but have yet to read it. I want to, but being a Yankee, I am waiting for it to become available at the local library rather than purchasing it online. I am anxiously awaiting their phone call....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pumpkin Bread with Candied Ginger

Near the end of our snow storm yesterday, I wanted to bake something. The snow had been flying and the wind whistling all day. Something nice and spicy to warm us up was just what we needed.

I had picked up some Candied Ginger during an after Christmas sale and it was just begging me to do something with it. I pulled out my old Pumpkin Bread recipe and thought that adding the sweet sugared candied ginger to the smooth speckled pale orange batter would be a perfect pairing. I could hardly wait for the bread to bake and peeked in the oven more than once. The bread was barely out of the oven for 5 minutes when I had to cut a slice. Mmmmm, the earthy pumpkin, slight spice and warm bite of ginger turned out to be the perfect combination.

Pumpkin Bread with Candied Ginger ~ makes 1 large loaf , add nuts if you wish

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1, 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 T. fine chopped candied ginger

Combine flour, spice, baking powder, and salt in bowl; stir to blend the dry ingredients well.

Combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil in a mixing bowl, beating until smooth. Stir into flour mixture, add chopped candied ginger.

Spoon into a greased and floured 9x5x2-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mechanics Scrub Soap

During our snow storm today, I had time to update my recipe books, organize my soap supplies and work on a new soap for you.

Mechanics Scrub soap is another specialty soap I have been looking forward to producing.

This super-soap is loaded with fine ground pumice, which should be great at scrubbing away dirt, oil and grease. Dirty hands get washed a lot, and lots of hand washing can be drying. My 100% veggie soap recipe with the Shea Butter, should combat dry skin caused by repeated hand washing.

Not only great for mechanics, consider giving this soap to your chimney sweep, mason....anyone that needs a bit of extra scrubbing in their soap.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

More soap on the way...

Thanks to my dad and my husband, I now have more soap molds.
And this means I can make more soap.

I have been having a bit of trouble keeping up with demand. I have more soap requests than soap....my new soap molds will allow me to make 24 lbs. of soap per day.

Shampoo Bars...

I just cleaned up the soap kettle...I mixed up a batch of one of my specialty soaps. Shampoo bars are something that I have been wanting to make more of. I was inspired to make shampoo bars after I found out my dear husband was using our "regular" soap bars to wash his hair. While this is perfectly fine, it gave me some inspiration to produce a bar full of oils that would be really beneficial to hair particularly.

I added Avocado Oil and Castor Oil to my already mild, and 100% vegetable recipe. The Avocado Oil is rich in proteins, amino acids, and vitamins A, D,and E and is moisturizing for your hair. Castor Oil helps to add thick bubbles. And there is already Olive Oil and Shea Butter in there from my "regular" base recipe.

One of the best parts about this shampoo bar is that I used a fragrance oil that is smells so incredible...a tropical, fruity, coconut, pineapple concoction. Oh, it smells too good! I can just imagine how it will smell when sudsing up.

Shampoo bars are good for either short or long hair. I have long curly hair and I use it. I simply lather up the bar in my hand first then add the soap to my hair. If you have shorter hair, you can easily rub a the shampoo bar directly on your hair to create a lather. While it won't create massive amounts of bubbles like you are use to with commercial shampoo, it definitely gets your hair clean, squeakily clean actually.
It doesn't bubble up like commercial shampoo because I have not added any extra chemicals, which are bubble boosters.

You can still use my shampoo bars for your body. This is a great bar to travel with, as it will eliminate the hassle of leaking shampoo bottles and pesky security measures at the airport. You have shampoo and soap in one convenient bar.

The shampoo bars will be ready in about 4 weeks, and can be found here.

Patience is a virtue....