Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nothing but a hound dog

We have two spoiled-rotten, dang-near worthless dogs living at our house. Rowdy and Lexus. Justin had them both before I came along, but they've adopted me as their mama. And, of course, I help with spoiling them.

They like to help when I'm in the kitchen, which means I spend a lot of time yelling at them to get out of there. So they sit in the living room and pout.

Yesterday I made Justin some of his favorite cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip), and when I was done I looked up a recipe for dog biscuits.

We had to go to the store for a few ingredients (plus some other things we didn't need -- which is a recurring theme here) before we could get started. The total baking time for the biscuits is four hours, but we stay up late anyhow. We dove right in after dinner.

And this time, Rowdy and Lexus were welcome in the kitchen.

We had already mixed up the dough and Justin was rolling and cutting it before I remembered to grab the camera.

Rowdy is all, "Yum, these are mine."

And Lexus wishes Rowdy would get out of the way.

I brushed the biscuits with egg and Worcestershire sauce.

And then there was nothing to do but wait.

The biscuits bake for two hours at 300 degrees. Then we turned the oven off and kept the treats inside for two more hours. Rowdy and Lexus were more patient than we were. The treats were finally done around 1:30 this morning. When we were sure the treats were cool enough, we gave one to each dog. They immediately made a run for the living room, where they crawled under the coffee table to eat their snacks.

I woke up this morning to a text message from my friend and former roommate Ashley. She was bringing her dog, Lillian, to the Bark Park not far from our house. So I bagged up about half a dozen of our homemade biscuits and went to meet them. Lillian also gave our cookies rave reviews.

And Rowdy and Lexus? They can never get enough of anything.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Squeaky clean

A couple of weeks ago my friend Stephanie and I put in an order for some soap-makin' supplies. Justin and I were on furlough from work today, so we went to pick up our share of the lye.

We were going to make soap at some point in the future. But if you know my husband, you know the suspense is always killing him. He likes to do stuff NOW, and I like that about him. He's not afraid to try anything at all and he usually lets me help.

So after we procured a few things we'd need (and a few we didn't -- I'm looking at you, Justin, and your Snickers bars!), we were ready to make soap.

Disclaimer: This is not a soap recipe, although we did follow a tried-and-true method while observing all the safety precautions. To make your own lye soap, please familiarize yourself with the correct ways to handle lye.

My friend Eleanor says all the best Southern recipes begin with the phrase, "First, you get some lard." If it's good enough for cornbread, it's good enough for soap.

In a 13-quart stock pot, Justin combined lard, coconut oil and olive oil.

Then in a separate container, he measured distilled water, to which he added the lye. Working with lye is incredibly dangerous. Its fumes alone can just about knock you out. So we moved outside for that part of the operation.

Safety first!

Here he is adding the lye and water to the fats. After this, we were ready to move inside and start blending!

When the mixture reached its trace stage -- resembling a thickening pudding -- I threw in a handful of rosemary and about 40 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Then it was time to pour our soap into the molds (for now, inexpensive plastic drawer organizers).

Then we covered them in plastic wrap, cleaned up the kitchen and had tacos for dinner. We are some crazy mo-fos over here. Within 24 hours or so, the soap will be firm enough to cut. Then we will let it cure for several weeks.

It already smells wonderful, although Justin says it smells like a hippie. Regardless, we'll keep you posted on how it turns out.