Saturday, October 31, 2015

DIY Natural Deodorant Stick

Homemade deodorant isn't the flashiest thing to blog about, but it was way too good a recipe to keep to myself. Deodorant is something most people use daily, so why not learn how to make it yourself? It's way cheaper than buying fancy natural deodorants at the store and you can tailor it to your liking by using different essential oils.

I've looked at a good number of homemade deodorant recipes but many of them require hard to find ingredients, complicated steps, and make a product that is too soft to hold up in a stick applicator. Some of them even require you to apply an oil base first with your hands and then a powder, which just sounds like too much work when I'm trying to roll out of bed in the morning. So I finally tweaked this recipe to what I wanted and it actually works! I've been using it all week long with great results. Plus, it uses mostly cheap and easy to find ingredients, and is firm enough to apply in a classic deodorant stick applicator.

I suggest reusing an empty deodorant container for this, but you can also buy new ones online. Depending on the size of your container, you might end up with a little extra. I recommend pouring the leftovers into a small jar or tin and keeping it as a travel size deodorant.

Feel free to use more or less essential oil; if I didn't work in a "fragrance free" building I would increase the amount of essential oil because unrefined shea butter has a strong aroma. Some people describe it as nutty but to me it smells like a shoe store. I guess I'd rather have my pits smell a little bit like a Famous Footwear than what would happen if they were left to their own devices... Anyway, aside from the smell, shea butter is really wonderful. It is naturally rich in vitamins A and E and is very moisturizing and healing for you skin. The cornstarch absorbs a little moisture, but this isn't an anti-antiperspirant, so you will still sweat when your body wants you to sweat. And good old fashioned baking soda really keeps BO to a minimum. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Edit 11/12/15: It occurred to me that it is currently Fall and my house is pretty chilly (low 60's). If you live in a warm climate or you're just in the thick of a heat wave, you might want to omit the teaspoon of carrier oil in the recipe to make the final product firmer. Coconut oil melts at a mere 76 degrees F so if your house is warm, you're probably not going to have any luck with this recipe in stick form. Don't let that dissuade you from trying this though, it really works and is so easy to make! Just keep it in a jar and apply it with your hands. It will still work its magic.

Soothing Yet Effective Deodorant

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons raw shea butter
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon carrier oil (olive, sweet almond, kukui, or macadamia oil)
10 drops lavender essential oil (cedar, lemongrass or rose would be good too)

You'll also need:
1 old plastic deodorant container, cleaned
1 travel size jar or tin

Stir all ingredients except the essential oil together in a bowl. Heat gently over a double boiler or incrementally in a microwave until just melted enough to fully blend into a smooth consistency. Shea butter turns gritty and unpleasant if it's exposed to high temps, so don't let the mixture get too hot. Stir in the essential oil, and pour into a container. Let it sit undisturbed at room temperature overnight to cool and solidify before using.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

3 Ingredient Vegan Body Lotion

This simple recipe makes a creamy yet lightweight all purpose lotion. I'm calling it a body lotion, since it has a lighter consistency than your usual homemade balm or cream but I've been using it as a daily facial moisturizer with excellent results. The floral-infused oil gives it a light scent as well as the soothing benefits of rose. The main ingredient is just water, which makes the lotion wonderfully hydrating and quick to sink into the skin without a lingering greasy film.

The oil and water blends together beautifully (and stays that way) thanks to the power of vegetable based emulsifying wax. I bought a sizable bag that will certainly last me a few years at Mountain Rose Herbs. It comes in a flaked form, which makes it really simple to measure and is quick to melt into your oil blend. You might notice that this recipe is similar to my Kukui Rose Moisturizing Cream, and it is the same general idea. However, I wanted to offer a vegan moisturizer for those of you who abstain from using animal byproducts as well as folks who are sensitive or allergic to beeswax. The emulsifying wax creates a thinner, lighter moisturizer than one with beeswax does so I recommend storing this in a squeezable plastic bottle or a glass bottle with a pump dispenser. I took the classy option and repurposed a plastic squeeze bottle that once contained my favorite Lebanese garlic sauce... well washed of course!
If you don't want to wait around for your rose petal oil to infuse, you can use plain old carrier oils and add a few drops of rose essential oil during the emulsion process. Or you can keep it at truly just 3 ingredients and go fragrance free.

3/4 cup rose petal infused oil*
1 cup distilled water
2 tablespoons vegetable based emulsifying wax

*Use one or more of the following oils to create your own personalized blend: avocado, olive, sweet almond, jojoba, kukui, and/or macadamia nut.

Combine the oil and wax in a double boiler over medium low heat until the wax melts. Meanwhile, pour water in the blender. Put the cap on the blender, but leave the little hole open so that you can pour in the oil with minimal splattering. Turn the blender on high and slowly pour the oil/wax mixture in and continue blending until the lotion turns an opaque white and is uniformly thickened. Using a funnel, pour into a lotion bottle and you're good to go.

Ruby photo bombing my lotion

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Midsummer Sorbet (with plums and cherries)

I don't know about where you live, but around here everyone's gardens are growing like crazy. My mom and brother both have 5 foot tall tomato plants and they're still growing! All the fruit trees are in high production and the zucchini plants are so nuts you can basically watch them grow over the course of an afternoon. So between friends and various family members and even my coworkers at the library, I have been gifted a lot of produce. I love free stuff, and I value resourcefulness and making the most of what I have on hand. So I've been making and freezing pesto, drying plums, blending smoothies and juicing on the regular before the fruit flies take over my house and carry me away into the night. One thing I've done with a surplus of local plums was turn them into a delicious, creamy, ultra refreshing, ice cold sorbet. I was suprised by how easy it is to make. It was my first time attempting sorbet from scratch and I wasn't sure it could be pulled off without a fancy ice cream maker, but it totally can (you'll still need a blender or a food processor).

I used cherries because that's what I had in my fridge, but you can definitely use whatever kind of berries you like/just picked/found left on your doorstep. If you use raspberries or blackberries, you'll need to strain the seeds out between the simmering and blending stages.

Midsummer Plum and Cherry Sorbet

1 pound fresh plums
1 cup cherries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of your plums)

Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Attempt to do the same with your cherries, but you might just make a big juicy mess trying to gouge the pits out any way you can. Salvage the remains and put them in a saucepan with the plums. Add the water and sugar and heat over medium-high until everything starts to simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and let it all cook at a low simmer for 8 minutes. 

Remove the pan from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Puree the plum/cherry mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer the mixture into a loaf pan and freeze.

After the sorbet has frozen, break it up into chunks and blend or puree again so that it has a nice smooth sorbet-y texture. Freeze it again, then sit in the shade and enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Spicy Homemade Vegan Sausage

. . . with a bonus recipe for homemade Chickeny Seasoning!

There's a reason we have the idiom, "like watching sausage getting made": it's a pretty nasty process. Granted, this is vegan sausage so even though it's not a grisly recipe post it's sure not the most photogenic one. So that's why I'm opening with a picture of the finished sausage bathed in a saucy bowl of gumbo. To distract you from the doughy brown tubular mess you'll see below.

Seriously, I think making vegan sausage from scratch is really fun! And it will save you a lot of money if you're used to buying those expensive premade ones that hang out next to the tofu and eggroll wrappers at the grocery store. These sausages are great grilled and slapped on a bun with lots of 'kraut or sliced into rounds and fried in a little oil. Actually, I'm just eating one straight up out of the foil right now. . . but my favorite way to prepare them is in that gumbo with a bunch of okra and beans!

Spicy Homemade Vegan Sausage
makes 8 large links

2 1/4 cups wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 tbsp homemade Chickeny Seasoning (see recipe below)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups water
8 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tbsp soy sauce or Bragg's
2 tbsp olive oil

Note: To make the Chickeny Seasoning, mix together the following ingredients in a jar:

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp sage

Cap the jar, shake to combine and use in soups and rice pilafs when you want a chickeny base flavor. Feel free to adjust the salt level as you like. I prefer to go light on the salt because depending on the recipe I'm using, it can be easy to go over board on saltiness.

Now for the sausages! Set up a large stock pot with a steaming basket and water. Prepare eight peices of aluminum foil, about eight inches long.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine the water, garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir to combine. You don't have to knead the dough, just mix until the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated.

Use a half cup measure to scoop out a portion of the dough and shape into a log. Roll the log up in the foil and twist the ends so that it's secure but not too tight. The seitan will swell up as it cooks, so you want to give 'em a little room to grow while still holding their loggy shapes. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then stack the sausages in your steamer. Steam for 30 min, then let cool in the foil.

Before and after steaming

These sausages freeze well and are really nice to have on hand for quick weeknight meals. I usually just throw them in the freezer in the foil but if you plan on storing them proper you should probably remove them from the foil and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or freezer bags.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Super Powers Breakfast Bars

This summer, I acquired two pretty awesome things: a serious juicer (thanks, mom!) and a CSA share from my brother in law's organic farm. So I've been putting my fancy juicer to work on all the crazy amounts of veggies I get every week! I can't think of a more refreshing way to start a hot summer day than with a glass of fresh juice. My favorite blend so far is rhubarb, red cabbage, beet, and black grapes. But turmeric, orange, ginger, kale, carrot is pretty good too...

Anyway, I'm pretty into this whole juicing thing but this post isn't about that. It's about making your own granola bars because as much as I love juicing, a glass does not fuel me up until lunch time. I was looking for a good mid morning snack I could throw in my backpack and take to work... like a homemade granola bar! There are plenty of ways to make granola or breakfast bars, but I'm sort of particular. I don't like nuts or chunky seeds when they're mixed into things (it's a texture issue) and when it comes to granola bars, anything other than peanut butter is just a waste of time (mixed berries? pffft!). And definitely, absolutely, no dates or figs!

Ok, so despite all my rules, there is still a lot going on in these bars. They are decidedly oat based, but with a good dose of toasted millet and quinoa for added protein. And there actually are two kinds of seeds, just very tiny ones that sneak in there without messing up the texture: chia and ground flax. Both of which have lots of omega-3's and fiber. Chia seeds are also rich in calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. All good stuff that will give you super powers.

Super Powers Breakfast Bars
makes 10 or 12 bars

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup uncooked millet
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup cane syrup*
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

*I was able to get cane syrup on a road trip to visit my husband's family in Mississippi. It's pretty hard to find up here in Washington, so if you can't get your hands on it, go ahead and just use all maple syrup. Traditional cane syrup is a true slow food and is absolutely delicious. My friend, Boo Gilder made this lovely book documenting a family from her home town making cane syrup the old fashioned way. Boo's photographs of the process are paired with an informal interview with the family's matriarch as she cooks the cane. It's a really great book for anyone interested in local food histories.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.

Toast the oats, quinoa, and millet over medium-low heat in a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) for a few minutes, until everything starts to smell toasted. Combine the toasted oats, quinoa and millet in a large bowl with the raisins, chia seeds, flax sees, and salt.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the peanut butter, cane syrup, maple syrup, coconut oil and brown sugar. Make sure that everything is melted, but don't bring it to a boil. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove from heat.

Pour the peanut butter mixture into the bowl with everything else and stir until all the dry stuff is nice and coated. Pour this mess into the baking dish and smash it down with your hands to make it fairly level in the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then cool before cutting into bars. They keep best in the fridge. Enjoy!

Lacey, the shop dog sitting in front of my press begging for a taste of these breakfast bars

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Soap

The inspiration for this soap came out of a very real need to help my husband fight back against athlete's foot. Or in his case, carpenter's foot. He builds custom tiny houses for a small operation here in town and his work boots can lock in a lot of heat and moisture (the ideal environment for fungal growth). With this record breaking summer we've been having, I took pity on his poor feet and concocted a batch of fungus-fighting soap with the power of tea tree oil and eucalyptus! And really, that's about it. Other than the basic soap ingredients, it's just a whole bunch of tea tree oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and dried eucalyptus leaves. The scent is invigorating and refreshing, and I find it helps me wake up in the morning. Oh yeah, and it's not just for feet! The tea tree and eucalyptus have antibacterial and deodorizing properties so it makes for a good all around warm weather soap.


1.5 pounds distilled water
236 grams lye
2 pounds olive oil (or one 33.8 ounce bottle)
12 ounces coconut oil
12 ounces palm oil
8 ounces vegetable shortening*
1 ounce dried eucalyptus leaves
4 teaspoons tea tree oil
4 teaspoons eucalyptus essential oil

*If you don't like using vegetable shortening you can leave it out and just increase the amounts of coconut and palm oils so that you have the same ratio of fats to water/lye. I like to use a small amount of shortening sometimes because it helps the soap go to trace faster. Using this amount of veg shortening doesn't make the bars slimy, which can happen with soap that contains a lot of shortening.

1. Measure out tea tree and eucalyptus oils and cover tightly so that they don't evaporate while you make the soap. Measure out dried eucalyptus and set aside as well. Prepare your soap mold(s) by lining with parchment paper if needed (this depends on what type of mold you are using).

2. Follow basic soapmaking instructions (here!) with the above listed ingredients.

3. At trace, stir in tea tree oil, eucalyptus essential oil and dried eucalyptus until well combined. Immediately pour soap into mold and wrap in towels or blankets.

Here's to happy summer feet!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Vegan Chorizo Black Bean Tacos

This is a super fast and absolutely delicious way to make use of homemade slow cooker seitan. You can dress these tacos up with fancy toppings or keep them basic. Either way, they'll be tasty because the homemade chorizo really packs in some serious flavor. I used a hot chipotle powder, so if you don't want much heat, go ahead and substitute with a mild chili powder.

For the vegan chorizo:
About 3 cups crumbled seitan (or half a batch of my New and Improved Slow Cooker Seitan)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
2 or 3 T oil
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt

Everything Else:
soft corn tortillas, warmed
thinly sliced red cabbage
diced avocado
sliced green onions
lime wedges
hot sauce/salsa (optional)

If your seitan isn't already ground, throw it in a food processor and pulse until crumbled. Heat the oil over medium-high in a large cast iron skillet or nonstick pan. Add the spices and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crumbled seitan and cook for about 7 minutes until it starts to brown. Stir in the beans and heat through. To assemble, spoon some chorizo/bean mixture into warm tortillas and top with cabbage, avocado, green onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Homemade Vegan "Chicken" Bouillon Cubes

Now that we are smack in the middle of spring, it probably seems a little out of season to be posting a recipe for broth, but if you're like me then brothy soups are a year round thing. Ramen, vegetable noodle, pho chay, matzo ball, hot and sour.... oh how I love you all!

I enjoy making a batch of vegetable broth from scratch when I have the time, but I really want something that can be kept at the ready for a quick weeknight dinner. Basically, I wanted something that would have convenience, economy and awesome flavor and I think I found it.

Still not sold on making your own bouillon cubes? Here are 5 reasons to try it out:

1. It's super easy to make thanks to the quiet power and grace of your humble slow cooker.
2. Even if you really need to go grocery shopping, there's a good chance you will still have the necessary ingredients kicking around your kitchen.
3.  It's way cheaper than buying those little jars of vegan soup base.
4. You can control the amount of salt to your taste.
5. The little bouillon cubes stay in your freezer until you want to use them. No more half full cartons of store bought or homemade stock going bad in the back of your fridge before you get around to using them.

(This recipe is only slightly adapted from Kathy Hester's amazing Chickeny Bouillon in her book, The Vegan Slow Cooker. She has some really great ideas in this cookbook, I recommend it!)


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion
3 medium carrots
2 large stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste (I used 2 or 3 teaspoons)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Use the oil to grease the inside of your slow cooker. Roughly chop the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Add the vegetables to the crock along with the herbs, pepper and salt. Pour the water over the vegetables, cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

When everything has cooked down nicely, transfer the vegetable mix to a blender along with the nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth and taste for saltiness. Adjust seasoning as you like it then let the mixture cool.

Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze completely. Once frozen, pop the bouillon cubes out and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Use as you would a conventional bouillon cube, but double the amount. To give you an idea, I use one cube for a single bowl of ramen soup and 4 cubes for a big pot of soup. Enjoy!

PS If you're not into the cube thing, you can also store this stuff in a jar in the fridge. Only keep in the fridge what you will use in a week or two and freeze the rest.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kukui Rose Moisturizing Cream

I have a new favorite moisturizer. My lotion bars and whipped body butters have been set aside since I made this new batch last weekend. Even though it's spring, my skin still thinks we're in the middle of winter with rampant dryness and peeling chapped lips. After using this stuff for just a few days my skin feels soothed, more nourished, and looks a whole lot better! It's luxuriously thick and creamy, with a light floral scent. You could add several drops of rose essential oil to pump up the aromatherapy, but I wanted to keep mine light and subtle so that I can wear it to work. 

Thanks to the kukui nut oil, this moisturizer readily penetrates the skin and leaves a soft and silky finish rather than a greasy one. The nutrient packed combination of kukui and macadamia nut oils contain vitamins A, C, and E, and high levels of essential fatty acids. Macadamia nut oil is one of the highest sources of Palmitoleic fatty acids, which helps delay skin ageing. It is also chemically similar to our skin's natural sebum, allowing it to quickly penetrate dry and damaged skin.

Now let's talk about the benefits of rose for a minute. Other than its wonderfully romantic and dreamy fragrance, rose is also useful in calming the skin and nerves alike. It is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and is a gentle astringent making it great for fighting acne and eczema. It's high in vitamin C and helps the skin lock in moisture, so it's also beneficial for sensitive skin. And yeah, it's an aphrodisiac too. Rosa damascena is pretty great.

This recipe comes together quickly and only calls for a few ingredients. I didn't time myself, but it probably took about 15 minutes, and most of that was spent staring at the beeswax on the stove while it melted. If you are in the mood to splurge a bit, you could definitely use more rose hydrosol, just be sure to decrease the water by the same amount. If you're totally flush with cash, just skip the distilled water and use all rose hydrosol! I'm sure it will be even more awesome. If you're broke like me, just stick with the recipe, you'll still feel pampered and fancy I promise!

1/3 cup Rose Hydrosol 
2/3 cup distilled water
2 Tablespoons beeswax
1/2 cup kukui nut oil
1/4 cup macadamia nut oil

Pour the rose hydrosol and water into a blender. Put the lid on the blender but keep the little hole open so that you can pour liquids in while the blender is running. Set aside.

Melt the beeswax and macadamia nut oil in a double boiler. When melted, add the kukui nut oil and wait just long enough for everything to melt together. It's best to avoid exposing kukui nut oil to heat, so don't leave the room with it on the stove! 

Turn on the blender and slowly start to pour a stream of the oil/beeswax mixture through the hole in the lid. You might need to stop the blender a few times and scrape down the mixture to make sure the water and oils emulsify thoroughly. I had a small amount (maybe a teaspoon) of extra water that didn't incorporate, so I simply poured it off before transfering the moisturizer into jars for storage. This will make a firm cream that you can store in a wide mouth jar. Use as a multipurpose moisturizer; it's excellent as a hand cream and facial lotion!

If you give this recipe a try, please let me know what you think! I'm already planning on a new recipe, so stay tuned for a vegan version...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Marbled Soap Using Pantry Spices

I've been making soap for a few years now and I've always wanted to try marbling. The problem I've come across is the fairly limited natural color options... that are safe, cheap and easy to find. Since my primary reason for making my own soap is to avoid synthetic or harsh ingredients, I usually don't add color to my soap. I'm more interested in the way my soap smells anyway. I'd rather have a lumpy brown chunk of soap with a rich herbal scent than a beautifully molded translucent blue bar that smells like a crayon!

There are lots of safe mineral pigments, but other than coloring the soap, they don't really contribute any therapeutic properties. I wanted to color my soap with ingredients that would have beneficial attributes beyond color so I went to my spice cabinet and chose turmeric, clove, and cinnamon. I used just enough turmeric to lend a warm orange tone to the soap, without impacting the final scent of the bars. For the accent color, I used a combination of ground cloves and cinnamon to create a rich dark brown while also adding a gentle warming and exfoliating quality. I scented the bars with orange, clove and cinnamon essential oils to go with the colors and ingredients in the soap.

The soap pictured above is just turmeric marbled into plain, undyed soap. 

Making marbled soap is just like making regular soap, until the last two minutes before pouring the soap into its mold. The key is to work quickly and be prepared, since your soap will start to set after it's gone to trace. Make sure to have all your ingredients and supplies ready before you start!

If you've never made soap before, I recommend trying a couple simple batches first. I have a post dedicated to the basics of soapmaking that you might find useful. In this post, I'm going to breeze over the primary steps of soap making, so if you're not familiar with the process (especially in regards to using lye safely), this post might not be enough to get you started.

Before you begin, get out everything you will need. Clear off a work surface, measure out your ingredients, and double check your recipe to make sure nothing is missing. Soapmaking is time sensitive, so once you start, it can be tricky to stop for a grocery run!

Equipment Essentials:
Kitchen scale
Stainless steel stock pot
Various wood or silicon spoons and spatulas
Kitchen thermometers (one for the lye solution, one for the oil solution)
Safety goggles and gloves
Plastic containers that can hold hot liquid (the lye solution gets hot!)
Soap mold

1 1/2 pounds distilled water
236 grams lye
2 pounds olive oil
1 pound 4 ounces coconut oil
12 ounces palm oil
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
About 2 tablespoons of avocado oil to mix with spices
3 teaspoons sweet orange essential oil
2 teaspoons clove essential oil
2 teaspoon cinnamon essential oil

First, line your mold with wax or parchment paper. Miter the corners so they say as flat as possible against the side of your mold. Smooth corners = pretty bars of soap!

Measure out the spices into separate containers. Mix in just enough avocado oil to form a smooth paste. If you add the spices to the soap dry, they will form dry chunks and be a pain to combine fully into your soap.

 Now go ahead and weigh out your other ingredients.

Start heating the oils on the stove, and combine the lye and water in a well ventilated area (wear gloves and eye protection, buddy!). I always combine the lye water outside because it's fun to mix dangerous chemical solutions where your neighbors can see. 

Be vigilant about checking temperatures. Tend to both the pot of oils on the stove and the lye/water solution. Using separate thermometers, watch them both like a hawk until they reach 90 degrees F at the same time. If you're super observant and a little lucky, this will happen on its own. If you're not, be prepared to spend even more time with an ice or hot water bath.

While you are waiting for the temperatures to match, triple check that you have everything measured out and ready. I forgot to measure the essential oils during set up, so this was my last chance!

When the oil and lye mixtures have both reached the desired temperature, don your gloves and goggles and gently pour the lye into the pot of melted oils. Then stir, baby stir!

After 30 minutes to an hour of stirring, your soap should come to trace. I find that this recipe makes a truly subtle trace, so if you don't see it but you've been stirring diligently for more than an hour, assume it's there and move on. Chances are, it'll work out fine.

Pour out one third of the soap into a separate container (an old yogurt container works well). Stir the darker color into this.

Note: The picture below is from a different batch! I was stirring this first clove/cinnamon/turmeric batch for so long that the sun set before the soap went to trace and I didn't get any good pictures of the marbling process. So the following pictures show turmeric as the dark accent color marbled into a neutral base color. For this recipe, mix the cinnamon and cloves into the yogurt container and the turmeric into the rest for the lighter color. Sorry for the confusion.

Mix the lighter color into the remaining two thirds of the soap in the pot, or leave undyed. Stir in the essential oils and pour the lighter soap mixture evenly into the prepared soap mold.

Now slowly stream the turmeric soap in thin lines running lengthwise down the soap mold, then shortwise across the mold. For this size mold, I ran three lines down the length and five across. Then use a spatula to gently swirl through the soap to create the marbling. Don't stir the soap too much or you'll just blend the two colors together.

Carefully cover the mold, wrap in blankets and let the soap cure for two days before unmolding. Cure and cut bars as you normally would.

The above two pictures are of the cinnamon/clove mixture marbled into the turmeric soap and below are the finished bars (after trimming and curing). As you can tell, the turmeric does not turn out a bright orange color, but the marbling is distinct and formed lovely swirls. Each bar looks unique, and the scent is wonderful. All in all, I think this was a successful first attempt and is a technique I will try again. It's a little more effort than making normal soap, but the marbling does create a lovely effect.

My final thoughts on this recipe:
  • The final bars cure well, are very hard, and are easy to cut and trim.
  • Excellent lather. Very rich and creamy without any sliminess.
  • Nice strong scent without being overpowering
  • Long stirring process with a very subtle trace. I stirred for over one hour and still wasn't sure if the soap had gone to trace. I proceeded with the marbling anyway, and it turned out just fine!