Monday, January 30, 2017

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Last night, hubby and I went for a walk with barely a jacket on, but look what we woke up to this morning:


Friday, January 27, 2017

Bath Bombs: Why Do They Sink or Float? (Part 1)

The idea for this post has been turning around in my head for some time, as it was one of the biggest challenges I had when developing my own recipes. To be fair, I am STILL tweaking and I am very close to getting exactly what I want for a floating BB, but I had a very precise set of requirements and expectations I wanted my BBs to have.

With that, I’d like to share what I’ve learned along the way…

Photo courtesy of Wilivia

Not All Bath Bombs Are Meant to Float


Before I go into the factors that contribute to a sinking or floating BB, I would like to share some perspective that might ease your expectations and frustration:

Not all bath bombs are meant to float, depending on their purpose or intention!

Ask yourself, "What do I want my bath bomb to do?"

For example, if your bath bomb’s main purpose or intention is to give a luxurious experience to your user, it’s loaded with lots of butters, salts, and other yummy, soothing ingredients, and it doesn’t float: THAT’S OKAY! If it’s beautiful to look at, dried hard, and does all the other things you intend for it to give to your user, then don’t worry if it doesn’t float. Please don’t continue to pull your hair out trying to make it be something other than its primary intention.

Photo courtesy of Crafthubs
On the other hand, if your bath bomb’s main purpose or intention is to entertain with spinning, lots of colors, foam, glitter, and “bath art,” then yes, you DO want it to float.

This can be frustrating to grasp, especially when it seems that everyone on Pinterest, Youtube, and Facebook are only making bath bombs that put on a show. 

Photo courtesy of Lush
Photo courtesy of Pinterest
Not that it doesn’t mean that you can’t have both purpose and entertainment in your bath bombs. If you manage to have both in a reliable product that you are happy with, then go for it! For me, I have found it easier and less frustrating to focus my energy on one or other purpose(s) for my recipes. I also feel this gives me more diversity for my products.

Lastly, another thing to consider is not everyone wants a foaming, sparkly bath bomb experience; they’re more interested in the soothing or luxury experience. I have found that younger users often want the “show” and the older users want the luxury or splurge. 

Please stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 of this topic where I talk to the following 5 factors that contribute to a sinking or floating bath bomb:
  1. Ingredients
  2. Ingredient Density
  3. Molding
  4. Shape
  5. Drying Time
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ina's Turkey Meatloaf

Meatloaf gets a good and bad rap as far as I'm concerned. On one hand, it's viewed as one of the most idyllic comfort foods to eat, but on the other hand, it's often dry as sawdust with little flavor. That's why all that gravy is used!

For years, I looked for the perfect meatloaf that was both tasty and moist, but could never get both when using a beef mixture, or even a beef/pork/veal mixture. I'd either get one or the other UNTIL I tried my wife-in-another-life's turkey meatloaf! If you're just popping in, I have a small obsession with Ina Garten...just a little. :-)

I love her turkey meatloaf recipe for many reasons:
  1. Number one, it uses healthier, lower-fat meat. 
  2. Number two, it stays moist, even after reheating for leftovers or eaten on a sandwich. 
  3. Number three, it freezes AMAZINGLY for future dinners. 
  4. And number four, it tastes wonderful!  
It's pretty much a staple in our household and I make it several times a year. This recipe makes A LOT of meatloaf (2, big loaves), and I often halve it so we're not eating meatloaf for 2 weeks. But sometimes I do make the full recipe and freeze the 2nd loaf after baking for future, easy weeknight dinners.

Barefoot Contessa's Turkey Meatloaf
Recipe source: Foodnetwork.com or "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook"
Makes 2, large loaves (halve recipe for 1)

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1-1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1-1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a medium sauté pan, on medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until the onions are translucent but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature (or cool 10 minutes and temper into meat mixture a little at a time while mixing). BTW, this mixture is an amazing sauce on it's own and I think would go wonderfully with a grilled steak or hamburger!


Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. 


Bake for 1-1/2 hours, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees and the meat loaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven, under the meat loaf, will keep the top from cracking, but I've never had to do this). I also sometimes finish the meatloaf under the oven broiler to get some charred, caramelization on the topping. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

BTW, that stuff around the meatloaf in this picture is just the fat/moisture that was baked out during cooking; it's not the meat. I probably should have plated this on a platter for a prettier picture, but oh well...this is real life. :-)


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter Sowing 2017

Well, it's that time of year again when I start my winter sowing project, although you wouldn't think it's winter because the temps this week are almost in the 60's...


But I'm no dummy and I know that we will be under a blanket of snow by this time next month. Anyway, I started my most hearty, stratification-required seeds this past Monday, which included:
  • Hollyhocks
  • Borage
  • Giant from Italy Parsley

I went back to the styrofoam cups after last year's peat-pot disaster, using a soil-less starter mix from Johnny's Seeds, and brand new seeds I ordered for this season.

Speaking of seed orders, I had a HILARIOUS surprise when I received my order from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange this year. I was feeling mischievous when I placed my order, so in the section labeled "Special Requests:" I wrote them this:

  
Annnnd then I forgot about it. So, when my seeds arrived with this picture wrapped around the outside of my seed package, I was like, "WTH?" Then it clicked and I BURST OUT LAUGHING!


It says, "Hey girl, I grew this kale for you in my organic garden."


OMG, that was the funniest thing and it totally made my day. I am doing this from now on for ANY situation that asks for "Special Requests".

Thanks SESE!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Winter is here and there's not much going on besides trying to figure out how to make bath bombs float. We're back on the low-carb lifestyle, so not much cooking is going on and I need something to keep me busy.

Chaz is not impressed; however,....


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Bath Bombs and Bubble Bar Adventures

Happy New Year everyone! I am still happily, yet at times frustratingly, on my quest to find a good bath bomb recipe. I'm close, but not at 100%.

The closer I come to finding my "perfect" recipe, the further away I feel. I've had to ask myself, "What do I want the people who use these bath bombs to experience?"

  • Do I want to give them fizz, colored water, and skin-loving oils? (Yes) Do I want to give them foam and bubbles with cool colors? (Yes again). What else?
  • Do I want to make sure the oils used are immersed in the water and not slicked on the surface? Do I want to make sure there is no messy ring of color left in the tub? How do I want the water to "feel"?
  • Do I want them to look nice and smell yummy? Do I want them to be reliable and endurable? Most importantly, do I want them to be safe for both me to make them and others to use them?

All of these considerations (and more) play into a final product(s) that I make. So, even just a tweak of one ingredient to another to give me a different result for product appearance and use, makes something else happen. It all goes back to my "cause-and-effect" thinking and problem solving.

I made this beautiful, mondo-bath bomb, but I HATED the way the exterior texture felt...it was too powdery/chalky. It did everything I wanted it to do in the bathtub, but it didn't check all my boxes:

Miss Thang bombing my bomb!
So, back to the drawing board. BUT, I am enjoying the process and that's the fun part! If there was any advice I would give to newbie body product crafters, I would tell them to experiment, experiment, experiment! Understand what your ingredients ARE, what they do on their own, and what happens when combined with other things. Don't just take a recipe you find as the final word...work to get what you want. That way, when something doesn't work or if you want a different result, you'll understand what you need to do to get there. 

For the record, bath bombs are notoriously the MOST DIFFICULT thing to master. I figure, everything else from here is down-hill. :-)

On the other hand, I gave my first go at Bubble Bars and it was pretty spot on! The only tweak I would give this recipe is to make the dough wetter. You can tell the bubble bars were pretty dry from the cracks, and the next day they almost shattered when I gave them a squeeze test. So, I know what I need to tweak to give me a wetter dough.




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