Pure Coconut Oil Soap

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Pure Coconut Oil Soap

It has been nearly a decade since I took a class on how to make bar soap.  By the end of the class, I was smitten with the process and with the resulting product. Finally, the mystery of soap making had been revealed and the process was far easier than expected. As I gained confidence, I created my own recipes as well as trying recipes shared from friends.  But one particular blog, kept my love affair with homemade soap alive and well.  It was (and is), the Nerdy Farm Wife.

pure coconut oil soap fb | urbanoveralls.net

I am thrilled to have a copy of Simple & Natural Soapmaking by Jan Berry of The Nerdy Farm Wife. And with Jan’s permission, provide the Pure Coconut Oil Bar recipe from her book. Besides this wonderful recipe, there are so many positive things about her book: the color photos, the easy to follow instructions, the variety of recipes, and great instructions on how to safely handle lye as well as information on how to use lye calculators.

Pure Coconut Oil Bars Recipe

One of the things I like best about using coconut oil in soaps is that it creates such a wonderful lather. You will like it too!

Yield: 7 to 8 bars (2.5 lbs/1.13 KG)

  • 8.76 oz (248 g) distilled water
  • 4.10 oz (116 g) sodium hydroxide (lye)
  • 28 oz (794 g) coconut oil (100%)

Make the Lye Solution

Wearing protective gloves and eyewear (such as goggles or glasses), carefully stir the lye into the distilled water. Set the lye solution aside in a safe place to cool for about 30 – 40 minutes or until the temperature drops to around 100 to 110F (38 – 43C).

Prepare the Coconut Oil

Gently heat the coconut oil until melted.

Mix Together

Pour the lye solution into the melted coconut oil.

oils-lye-solution| urbanoveralls.net

Using a combination of hand stirring and immersion blender, stir the soap until it reaches trace. (Trace is when the new soap batter has fully emulsified and thickened to the point that when soap batter drops from the immersion blender or other stirring device onto the surface of the soap batter in the container, that the outline or shape of the batter droplets remains momentarily.  This stage reminds me of homemade homemade pudding).

soap at trace | urbanoveralls.net

At trace, pour into a prepared mold.  Cover lightly with a sheet of wax or freezer paper, then add towel or light blanket. Peek at the soap every so often; if it starts developing a crack, uncover and move to  a cooler location.

Keep the soap in the mold for 24 hours or until it is easy to remove. Pure coconut oil soap hardens quickly, so it is best to slice it into bars soon after making or use individual molds. Cure on coated cooling racks or sheets of wax paper about 4 weeks before using.

Note 1: this recipe will make a beautiful white bar of soap.

Note 2: this recipe is vegan friendly.

So folks, I urge to you to step into the world of making soap. Jan’s book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking is a must-have for anyone.

pure coconut oil soap pin |urbanoveralls.net

 

 

Small Batch Lard Rendering

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homemade rendered lardBack in my grandmother’s day, lard was the king of the kitchen.  Most women kept a can of lard on the kitchen counter since it was used so frequently.  Lard created a flakiness that butter or other shortening couldn’t when it came to pie crusts.  It seasoned cast iron (another work horse of the kitchen), and was a favorite fat for frying (pan frying or deep-frying).  Oh…  what vegetable in that era didn’t have some lard at the bottom of the roasting dish?

Over the decades, it became villainized in favor of modern cooking oils.  More and more cooks turned to corn, vegetable, as well as soybean oils. Fortunately, the tide is turning and lard is once again making an appearance in the home cook’s kitchen.

If you are looking for lard, it can be found in some grocery stores in the same aisle as cooking oils or even in the baking aisle.  But if you are more adventurous, you can get pork fat from your local butcher… or better yet, from a farmer/rancher that sells meat shares and render the fat into lard yourself.packaged pork fat

But you don’t have to go hog-wild and get all the fat from a single pig.  Chances are, you won’t have the space to store (freezer is best prior to rendering) it.  You can do small batch rendering which is perfect for the urban homesteader and/or modern cook that typically has limited space.  To give you an idea of what is small batch, I used two and a half pounds of pork fat which resulted in one quart of lovely lard.

Prior to the rendering process, I freeze the fat.  Once I am ready, I remove it from the freezer and let it set at room temperature for approximately one hour.  Why, you ask?  Well, it makes cutting the fat much easier. pork fat uniformly cut into pieces

How to Render Lard in a Small Batch

  • Using a sharp knife, cut the fat into 1″ pieces (the fat renders more uniformly compared to placing large hunks of it into a pan)
  • Place into a heavy-bottomed pan (such as cast iron) that is placed over medium heat
  • Stir the fat slowly
  • After a few minutes, the fat will begin to render as a clear liquid is released (this is the lard!)
  • Continue to stir and render out the fatcracklins in liquid lard
  • After about 20 minutes, the pieces of fat will become golden in color and crisp in texture
  • At this point, the rendering is complete
  • Remove the crisp pieces (which are called cracklins)
  • Line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a heat-proof container
  • Pour the contents of the pan into the cheesecloth
  • The liquid lard will be strained through the cheesecloth leaving the cracklins behind (cracklins can be eaten, but if you are not a fan, they make great dog treats as well as nice treats for chickens)cracklins
  • After the liquid lard has cooled slightly, pour into a container, such as a glass jar; NOTE: sterilize the jar before use, but the jar (or jars depending on the quantity of pork fat used) should be warm as pouring hot liquid into a cold glass jar could result in the jar shattering

As the lard cools, it will solidify.  You will notice that it will turn from a clear liquid into a white solid that is scoopable at room temperature.rendered lard

Now that you are in possession of home rendered lard, you have options for storage.

Storage Options

  • Freezer (may wish to use a container other than glass)
  • Refrigerator
  • Pantry
  • You may also pressure can the lard for long-term storage

Lard is shelf stable as long as there are no remaining pieces of pork fat (cracklins) left in the lard, but proper straining should take care of that issue.  Straining will also help ensure a white color as sediment should be captured by the cheesecloth.

Folks, you have now successfully rendered lard!  Pat yourself on the back for learning this homesteading skill.  So go ahead and use it for baking, roasting, frying, and cooking.  But don’t worry about it lending a porky flavor to what you make.  At best, it lends a slightly fatty flavor to your creations.  Trust me, lard deserves a place in your kitchen.

Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers

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jack o' lantern stuffed bell peppers

jack o’ lantern stuffed bell peppers

To parents, Halloween often means that candy becomes a major part of their children’s diet.  The amount is often dependent upon the amount of booty collected during trick or treating.  But besides candy, parents can offer up a festive treat at the dinner table, and all it takes is a little creative carving on a common vegetable… bell peppers.

orange bell peppers

orange bell peppers

Get ready folks for a kid-friendly meal, that comes with its own happy face.  Jack o’ lantern stuffed  bell peppers.  And to really tie in to the jack o’ lantern theme, use orange bell peppers for this dish.  Though you can use yellow or red peppers in a pinch.

Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 4 orange bell peppers
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1  1/2 C. diced tomatoes or pasta sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 C. Colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 C. Basmati rice, cooked
  • 1/2 C. water

Preheat oven to 375F.  As the oven heats, cut the top off of each bell pepper.  Select a nice-looking side of the peppers and carve out a jack o’ lantern face (eyes, nose, and mouth) on each.  But take care not to make the opening for the face too large.  The peppers need to be able to contain ‘stuffed’ filling.  Remove the seed and white membrane from the inside of the peppers as well as the base of the ‘top’ of the pepper.

carved jack o' lantern bell pepper

carved jack o’ lantern bell pepper

Place a large skillet on the stove set to medium heat.  Add the olive oil.  Once the oil begins to ripple on the surface, add the ground beef.  Saute until no longer pink.  Add in the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onion is translucent.  Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt.  Stir to combine. Next, add the tomatoes and cook for an additional five minutes.

ground beef onion and diced tomatoes

ground beef onion and diced tomatoes

Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.  Finally, stir in the Basmati rice.

Stuff each bell pepper and top each with bell pepper ‘lid’.  (Added style points if the stem is still attached).

Pour water into a 9 x 13 pan.  (Add more water if need to completely cover the bottom of the pan).  Place each jack o’ lantern stuffed pepper into the pan.  Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the pepper is tender.

Now you are ready to enjoy these festive, Halloween-inspired jack o’ lantern stuffed bell peppers.  They are sure to be a hit with your little ones.