Summertime Kitchen

Recent Cooking Projects

While I was seeing if the pans were going to come falling down on me(new hooks) I made my first batch of Black Bean Soup. I didn’t find a whole lot of variation in the basic recipes that are out there.

Blackbean Soup

2 cups of dried Blackbeans

4 cups low sodium Vegetable or low sodium Chicken broth

4 pieces bacon(optional)

1 bellpepper

3 cloves garlic

1 small onion

1 tsp cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

salt to taste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce(optional)

fresh cilantro



sour cream

I started with 2 cups of dried beans, soaked them and rinsed them, then added 4 cups of broth and brought that to a boil then reduced it to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. Then while the beans are coming to a boil, in a separate pan I cooked 4 pieces of chopped bacon. Add bacon to beans and then use the bacon fat to sauteed 1 bellpepper, 3 cloves worth of minced garlic and 1 small onion. After  1 1/2 hours add cumin, chili powder, salt, and Worcestershire. Continue to simmer another 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Use the cilantro, lime, sour cream and diced avocado as a topper.


Grilled Yellow Squash

Leave it to me to never run out of things to do with squash. I used olive oil, ‘everyday seasoning’ from Trader Joe’s and garlic for the squash. For the falafel I am giving some frozen store bought ones a try, I saturated them in some olive oil before grilling. Made a sauce with sour cream.


Rice Pudding

Easy way to use left over plain rice from dinner. Add a ratio of 1 cup rice rice 1 1/2 cups soy milk, 1 cinnamon stick, a splash of vanilla, a handful of raisins, and a handful of brown sugar. Bring to boil and cook about 20 minutes, remove cinnamon stick.


Also this week has been full of coffee ice cubes, best thing ever in the summer time. Make sure you’ve got a good coffee. There’s too much good coffee out there to drink bad coffee.

Iced Coffee

1/2 cup of cow, soy or almond milk

6-8 coffee iced cubes

1/2 cup cold coffee (brewed strong)

1 tablespoon(or more!) condensed sweet milk




Cold Process Salt Bars


I have my Salt Bar recipe built and I’ve taken a few days to watch all of the YouTube video’s on it I can find. I need the volume of my silicone molds calculated and I think I will have enough for my sheet of round molds and a bit of overflow to my plastic molds.

A few lessons I have learned from observing other soapers are as follows.

  • Most soapers are using a near equal amount of salt to the amount of oil used. Salt kills most bubbles and coconut oil is an exception so you need to use a high amount of it in your recipe. 60-80% seems most common.
  • That much coconut oil will be very drying so the superfat must be somewhere between 10-20%
  • Add your fragrance to your salt and add your salt at thin trace, it will thicken quickly so work fast.
  • Use silicone molds if you have them, the soap will be hard and brittle from all the salt so cut your soap as soon as 2 hours after pouring. almost everyone I observed waiting 24 hours to mold had broken loaf soaps.


So.. with these guidelines in mind I begin.

I am using 80% Coconut oil, then Palm, Avocado and Castor Oil’s for the rest. For the salt I am using Breton Sea Salt at 75% to the weight of the oils. I will be superfatting at 15%.

I will be splitting the batch in two and making 2 separate scents. Peppermint(2X) Essential Oil, and Apple Sage fragrance oil a sample I got from Brambleberry.

I will in the pot swirl each with one of my new micas. I selected Caribbean Blue for the Peppermint, and Kelly Green for the Apple Sage.

I added the fragrance to the salt before hand. The peppermint was pretty intense in my tiny kitchen for a while.

I let everything cool to about 100 degrees and then tried to work reasonably fast.

Here was the result. (Half of my kitchen light is burnt out so it’s a little dim)


After a few hours it was still pretty soft so I let it go longer. I tried to unmold the next morning, they were crumbly but firm, so I added them to the freezer before unmolding the rest.

Not perfect but it was about what I expected for my first try.

For fun I used my new Dash Cam to record the making of this soap so I may post that as soon as I figure out what software to use and get it edited.







I finally.. unbooked(? ) the plant bits I had drying and will be planning to make paper again soon.

I have been building a salt soap recipe, I have 5 lbs of Breton Sea Salt and I think this would be a good project to try a soap drastically different from anything else I have made so far. I will probably split it into two scents, one of the scents being peppermint and use my round molds and some of my new colorants. The other is undecided. We shall see what happens.