Sunday, May 31, 2009

Update, part the second - success, and (partial) fail?

Two other projects from the last two weeks were inspired by online tutorials. The first was my contribution for TuesdayFamilyPotluck, where the theme was "hippie food" ...
Theme: this upcoming Tuesday happens to be Sophia's birthday, so Sophia decided on a theme of "hippy food"... so when pressed what that means, she was envisioning food in rainbow colors, though she hastens to point out that she doesn't care for tofu (which is really a fine exemplar of a "hippy food". So I'll leave it to your fine imaginations as to what direction to go with that.

Upon reading this I knew exactly what I wanted to make, the Rainbow Cake from Omnomicon. Looking very much like streetfair tyedye, with the added delight of the surprise factor, I knew this would be a fun birthday cake. Fortunately, I had a box of gelpaste food coloring in my baking cupboard already; I ended up using about a third of each little jar to get the desired intensity of color. Rather than the peculiar chemical-filled diet frosting suggested, I made a basic vanilla buttercream. My final touch was a cake topper with rainbow colored letters "have a groovy birthday" in the balloon lettering popular when I was a hippie back in the day.The cake came out even better than I had hoped it would, and was received very well by all; the birthday girl was quite happy.

~ : ♥ : ~

The other online inspired project that I have tried was not so successful. On several "green living" sites I had seen instructions for making your own liquid handwashing soap by dissolving bar soap in water. I much prefer to use liquid soap at the sink, since it is possible to turn on the faucet and pump out soap using the back of the wrist if your hands have come in contact with some kind of germ factory. And since Doctor Bronners is between 35 to 50 dollars or more a gallon, I was very interested in a more frugal DIY option. I followed the directions I found here, and was surprised... Although the instructions say you should fill a pump dispenser with the resulting liquid soap, what resulted was a gallon jar of the most amazing blob of soap-slime, so oddly slippery and stretchy that I could not remove a smaller quantity from the jar to put into a smaller container to use next to my sink.

Looked online for what to do to salvage this project, and one source suggested melting it with more water. I tipped the "blob" into my largest soup kettle and added another half gallon of water and heated it gently on the stove, after an hour it had dissolved and looked more like liquid soap, and could be dipped out with a ladle without stretching back into the pan. Unfortunately, as it cooled, the liquid changed back to a blob of gel. The soap that I put in my pump dispenser is very difficult to pump out, and then a long string of soap gel stretches away from the spout. Obviously there is more to soap chemistry and technology than the chirpy online articles would have you believe. I wonder if any of the writers have actually tried their recipes? (it is telling that there are no pictures of the finished product, just pretty still life images of the ingredients) I now have a gallon and a half of slug slime soap.

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