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Monday, April 15, 2013

Making Alcohol Based Soaps

Guinness Beer
Some of my best-selling soaps are those made with alcohol. I think people enjoy them for a few reasons:

1. It's fun. I mean, who wants to wash with a plain old bar of Ivory Soap when you can start your morning routine with Chardonnay?

2. Beer and other alcohols are actually good for your skin. Did you know that the Hops Flower (found in beer) have been used for centuries to soften skin and heal minor skin ailments?

3. Alcohol based soaps make great gifts!

The trick to incorporating alcohol into your soap is finding a way to combat the 'lye volcano' that can happen when lye and alcohol mix, and finding a way to keep the sugars from scorching and turning your soap a yucky brown. This is similar to what happens when making milk based soaps. I prefer to replace all or most of my water percentage with the alcohol I am using. I think it makes for a more interesting soap. Occasionally, I will do a water/other component blend, but not usually.

To make a great alcohol based soap, free of volcanoes and scorching, here are my tricks:

Weighing out my liquid, preparing for the freezer
 - Always start by boiling the alcohol out of the beer or wine. You can simmer for 10 minutes or boil for 5. Be aware though, that beer can boil up and out of your pot due to carbonation. Also, alcohol boils down fast. You may start with 12 ounces of brew, and only end up with 8 ounces. Buy and boil enough to account for the evaporation.

Prepared ice baths
Beer slurry
 - Alcohol will heat up fast and at higher temperature when mixed with lye. The trick to combating this is to start with a cold base of liquid. For something like beer, I will usually toss it in the freezer for an hour or two to make it really slushy and cold. For wine, I will usually leave it in the refrigerator overnight so it becomes a wine ice cube sinceI am also trying to preserve the color of the wine. If it heats up too fast, it will turn brown. The beer will usually turn brown naturally, so I'm not as concerned with that.

Wine ice cube with lye sprinkled on top
 - Always add your lye a little at a time to prevent scorching. Due to the fact that lye heats up quickly it can burn the sugars if the liquid goes over about 106 degrees. I try to keep my liquids at about 100 degrees. This can only be achieved by starting with the cold liquid, making an ice bath for your liquid/lye container, and using your patience.

That's it! This will take longer than a typical soap recipe, but in my opinion, it's worth it.

Questions on how to make alcohol based soaps? Feel free to comment, and don't forget to subscribe to the Seattle Soap Girl Blog


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Bite of Seattle 2013

Once again, we have great news! The Seattle Soap Shop has been accepted by the festival jury to be a non-food vendor at the 2013 Bite of Seattle! The Bite boasts a 2012 attendance of 450,000 people and the number continues to rise each year.

2013 Bite of Seattle Poster
"For one weekend out of the year, the hard work and creativity of restaurant owners and their chefs become center stage at the Bite of Seattle. The Bite's dedication to the culinary arts is displayed not only by the 50+ Seattle area restaurants and 30+ food product companies that participate in the event, but through other attractions that are created specifically in support of the hospitality industry. Examples include The Alley hosted by Tom Douglas, Beer & Wine Gardens, Bite Wine Tasting and The Bite Cooks!,which features Seattle-area celebrity chefs performing cooking demonstrations." (Courtesy of the Bite of Seattle Website)

On-the-Go Remedy Stick
As soon as we received the news, we got to work creating brand new products for our customers. Stay tuned for a new line of "On-the-Go" goodies to accompany our best seller, the On-the-Go Remedy Stick. Our "On-the-Go" line will keep great products handy in your pocket, gym bag, purse, briefcase, camping container, diaper bag, desk drawer...wherever! We also have a new line of gift sets on the horizon (Mother's Day, anyone??) as well as new, and interesting soaps to add to your collection.

In the meantime, mark The Bite of Seattle on your calenders. The festival has free admission, and runs:
July 19-21, 2013
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Check out their website for more details: Bite of Seattle

See you at the 2013 Bite!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

How to make the BEST ham you've ever eaten!

My boys on Easter morning
Happy Easter, everyone!

I have an admission. Up until yesterday, I had never baked a ham before. Not once in almost 35 years. Crazy, right? This year, my mother-in-law was out of town for Easter (we would typically go to her house for dinner) so it was up to me to make sure my husband and boys were well fed and happy. After a nice morning of breakfast, egg hunting, and mimosas, I got to work fixing my first ever Easter Dinner. I'll admit I was a little nervous about making the ham, but decided that if nothing else, we could fill up on the baked mac and cheese, balsamic and butter asparagus (this was DELICIOUS!), green bean casserole, and carrot cake if I messed the ham up too badly. Fortunately, the ham was super easy and turned out to be the best ham I've ever had. The guys in my house were thrilled with dinner and I am pretty sure we all gained a few pounds yesterday.

If you are like me and don't like ham that is super sweet (no pineapple and cherries, please!) this recipe is perfect. Thank you to the Food Network and Tyler Florence.

Tangerine-Glazed Easter Ham With Baby Carrots

Prep Time: 20 min   Cook Time: 4 hr   Level: Intermediate   Serves: 10 to 12 servings
Food Network Photo

My ham. Not as pretty, but close!
1 (8 to 10-pound) smoked ham, bone-in, skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in chunks
2 tangerines, sliced thin, seeds removed
2 cups tangerine juice
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
11/2 pounds carrots, peeled

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Put the ham in a large roasting pan, fat-side up. Using a sharp knife, score the ham with cuts across the skin, about 2-inches apart and 1/2-inch deep. Cut diagonally down the slashes to form a diamond pattern; season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Chop about 8 of the sage leaves and put it in a bowl; mix with the oil to make a paste. Rub the sage-oil all over the ham, being sure to get the flavor into all the slits. Bake the ham for 2 hours. Now there is plenty of time to bang-out the tangerine glaze.

For the glaze: Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chunks of butter, tangerines, tangerine juice, brown sugar, water, and spices. Slowly cook the liquid down to a syrupy glaze; this should take about 30 to 40 minutes.

After the ham has being going for a couple of hours, pour the tangerine glaze all over it, with the pieces of fruit and all. Scatter the remaining sage leaves on top and stick the ham back in the oven and continue to cook for 11/2 hours, basting with the juices every 30 minutes.

Scatter the carrots around the ham and coat in the tangerine glaze. Stick the ham once again back in the oven and cook for a final 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender, the ham is dark and crispy, and the whole thing is glistening with a sugary glaze.

Set the ham on a cutting board to rest before carving. Serve the carrots and tangerine glaze on the side.

Feel free to PIN IT!!
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