Wednesday, 10 December 2014

violet leaf cold processed soap

making this soap was a test of patience that i ultimately failed..i waited about 10 days for the violet leaves to dry enough to be processed into a powder..i waited a month for the violet leaf powder to infuse with the olive oil..i decided to buy some extra emollient ingredients so i looked up the shop's address, wrote it down and poodled off to get them but i couldn't find the shop..came home..checked the address..i had the right numbers but in the wrong order..i waited 'til i had time to go back to the shop..i waited until i had several hours free to make the soap..i made it without any mishaps but i didn't wait long enough for it to firm up properly and so it crumbled a bit when i cut it into usable pieces..but it's still a lovely soap.. 

violet leaf cold processed soap
tea with hazel


750 gms olive oil
500 gms copha
150 gms shea butter
100 gms almond oil
20 gms beeswax
12-14 cups violet leaves
400 mls filtered water
210 gms sodium hydroxide


~ dry half of the leaves, crush to a fine powder, place in ceramic bowl and add 250 gms olive oil, leave for a month (or more) to infuse, then strain through several layers of muslin and then add the violet leaf oil to the remaining 500 gms of olive oil to make up the 750 gms of olive oil required
~ place the remaining violet leaves in a large bowl, add enough filtered boiling water to cover the leaves, leave to infuse until cold and then strain
~ measure the tea and add extra filtered water to make 400 mls or discard any excess (i drank the excess violet tea i had and it tasted lovely) and set the violet leaf tea aside
~ follow the instructions here for making the soap but use violet leaf tea instead of water


~ when i added the sodium hydroxide to the violet tea it turned orange but when i added the orange lye to the oils/butter/beeswax the combined mixture turned a lovely pale green that was retained through the saponification process and insulation phase
~ according to culpepper violet leaf infused oil is antiseptic and helps to soothe dry and itchy skin

next i want to make blue cornflower (they come in pink, purple and white too) soap..that's another test of far i've grown the cornflowers, collected the flowers, dried them and removed the petals..the blue of dried cornflowers doesn't fade so it should look really pretty in soap

Sunday, 7 December 2014

making do

i love the alchemic way in which a few random ingredients can be made into something nutritious and delicious..for instance i don't have a plethora of spinach for making spanakopita at the moment but after a little bit of foraging on the home front yesterday i found enough greens to make a hortopita or wild greens pie..i gathered rocket (i have a lot of the smaller leaved variety that self seeds everywhere), dandelion leaves, violet leaves..yes they are edible, purslane, spinach, watercress, mint and wild fennel (i collected the seeds last year from the dandenongs, where it grows wild, while on a blackberrying expedition)..and i did a bit of tweaking with my phyllo recipe..

strifti hortopita (spiral wild greens pie)
tea with hazel

ingredients pie filling (these ingredients can be adjusted to suit individual taste and the ingredients to hand)

about 5-6 cups of mixed greens (i used rocket, purslane, violet leaves, watercress, spinach and dandelion)
1/4 cup of mint cut medium
1/2 cup of fennel fronds
1 egg beaten (1 tablespoon (tbs) reserved)
150 gms feta crumbled
150 gms ricotta
1 teaspoon (tsp) salt (murray river salt)
1 teaspoon pepper

method pie filling

~ cook the dandelion leaves first in a centimetre of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes, then add the violet and rocket leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes..lastly add the purslane and spinach and cook until all of the leaves are well wilted
~ drain the leaves in a colander, cut up with scissors while still in the colander, and then press the leaves to extract excess water (the water is like a health tonic so i drink it)
~ mix the greens with the herbs, cheeses, salt, pepper and egg and set aside

extra ingredients

sesame seeds
melted butter

ingredients pastry

200 gms typo 00 flour
50 gms rimacinato flour
35 mls olive oil
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp salt (murray river)
warm water

method pastry

~ place flours, salt, vinegar and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the motor running add enough water to make a soft dough
~ knead for 5 minutes 
~ remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with a damp tea towel, and rest for 1 hour
~ divide the dough equally into 5 balls, roll each one into saucer shaped discs, and rest covered for 30 minutes
~ roll each disc to a rectangle about the size of a large dinner plate size and until it's semi transparent

method assembly

~ butter each sheet of phyllo, place a fifth of the mixture along the long bottom end of the pastry, and then roll up into a sausage
~ coil the sausage in the middle of a lined circular tin
~ continue in the same manner buttering the ends so they adhere to the last piece
~ brush the top with reserved egg and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds
~ bake at 220 deg c for 10-15 minutes and then at 180 deg c for a further 40 minutes or until well browned

~ i think the pastry made with the typo 00 and rimacinata flours was better than my former phyllo for a savoury was certainly harder to roll out but its more robust and coarse crunch suited the savoury filling
~ i thought the flavours of the leaves and herbs worked well and none overpowered the others..i hadn't eaten violet leaves before (apart from chewing on a raw one recently when i discovered they were edible) so i wasn't sure how they would go but there was no stringy chewiness or weird flavour and if i hadn't put them in myself i wouldn't have known they were there..

i'm grateful
that i'm eating weeds because i want to
not because i have to..