Gluten-free vegan shortbreads

These are a riff off of Ellie’s Crispy Coconut Cookies and my crackers recipe. I have a friend who is allergic to coconut, so the switch to ground almonds was a natural choice.

  • 1 c oat flour (OK to grind this yourself from rolled oats in a food processor)
  • 1/2 c ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1/4 c potato starch (!= potato flour; check the kosher section)
  • 0-3T granulated sugar, to taste*
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • pinch salt

Whisk together until thoroughly blended and no clumps remain. Add:

  • 2T melted Earth Balance (or your choice of butter-like substance)
  • 2-3T maple syrup
  • 1t vanilla or almond flavoring

* The maple syrup is necessary to moisten the dough, and water doesn’t substitute terribly well. If you’re going to cut sugar, cut the granulated stuff.

Stir until it forms a somewhat crumbly dough, like pie crust. If it’s too soft, add more potato starch, 1T at a time. If it’s too dry, you can sprinkle with water or nut milk, but stop when a handful holds together when squeezed. No gluten, so you can’t really overwork it.

Roll out to 1/8″ thick for delicate wafers or 1/4″ for a more substantial bite. You can roll toppings into the surface at this point if you like; see Variations notes below. Cut into squares, and arrange on baking paper or a silpat. These don’t spread so you can put them quite close to one another, but 1/2″ of breathing space makes the whole pan bake more evenly.

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, then rotate pans and check every 5 minutes until the edges start to go golden. Cool on pans or racks.

You can use almost any high-protein high-fat flour (nuts, seeds) in place of the ground almonds. If you’re making more than one kind at a time though, it’s a good idea to reserve some of the operative ingredient in recognizable form, and roll it into the surface of the dough before cutting.

  • Coconut: Grind up flaked coconut in the food processor and sub for the ground almonds. If using sweetened coconut, no additional sugar is necessary. Coconut flakes look particularly nice rolled into the top, as they toast beautifully. Use rum instead of vanilla.
  • Hazelnut: Grind in a food processor. I prefer to use blanched ones for the body of the cookie, but for the garnish use finely chopped ones with skins on. Use frangelico instead of vanilla.

Really, these ratios can be used for anything — 4 parts well-balanced flour like oat or sorghum, 2 parts nut or seed meal, 1 part starch, some fat, some liquid, a little leavening, good to go.


Simplicity 5197: Misses’ tunic with neckline and sleeve variations

This summer’s art is shaking out to be sewing. Sewing all the things, especially if I thought they were too hard before. I’ve already sewn and fit a pair of shorts (with a fly front!). Now I’m tackling bodices. It took me aaaaaaages to draft a skirt waistband that fit my frame properly; adding in my bony shoulders and prominent rib cage always seemed too daunting. No more! I’ve been bingeing on Craftsy classes on pattern drafting, adjustments, alterations, and fitting and I feel like I can mostly navigate the space of how to start actually sewing something that fits me now.

Simplicity 5187 is a tunic pattern I liberated from my mom’s stash while I was visiting a couple weeks ago, and I’m using it to learn on. Extreme detail follows!

I’ve traced a size 12, view F. It’s sleeveless for summer and sanity, and I intend to omit the collar and frog. I use exam table paper for tracing — it’s cheap, more durable than packing tissue, and more flexible & pinnable than newsprint or kraft paper. I do my tracing with a soft pencil and darken any final cutting lines & marks with a fine felt-tip pen. I do my cutting with x-acto blades on an 18×32″ self-healing mat. I generally remove seam allowances after the first trace, just to make adjustments easier.

First set of adjustments is from measurements. I used a mishmash of Joi Mahon’s class Fast Track Fitting and Suzy Furrer’s The Bodice Sloper. For measurements, you break the standard length + circumference into shorter segments along the side seams and at the bust point+curve. Then you compare your measurements to the pattern’s measurements, discounting darts and seam allowances and accounting for wearing & design ease. Where you need more room, you add more room by slicing the pattern (this is why you trace) and inserting more paper; where you need less room, you can either fold it out or slice and overlap.

This pattern’s stated ease is 5.5″ but I think that’s excessive, so I’m shooting for 4″.

three views of a front bodice piece showing modifications detailed belowthree views of a back bodice piece showing modifications detailed below

  • Front length: moved about 1″ from just above the bustline down to the waist
  • Back length: removed 1″ at the waist, added 1″ near the bustline at the side seam only (basically just moved the armhole up 1″ and adjusted the shoulder to match; left the neckline alone to fit center back length)
  • Front width: reduced side seam at waist with 2″ ease
  • Back width: moved side seam outward by 1″ to fit low hip and cross back, and added an eye dart from hip to low shoulder point to account for differences at bustline, waistline, and high hip, with 2″ ease
  • Front volume: moved bust point inward about 1″ (unusual) and down 1/2″
  • Back volume: basically did a FBA for the high shoulder point to account for fullness there that vanishes at center back length and underbust circumference. This is sortof cribbing from Kathleen Cheetham’s Custom Fitting: Back, Neck, and Shoulders.

Notes on sewing the first muslin:

  • Bust, high hip, and low hiplines don’t line up on back/front (this is probably an issue with my measurements though since I usually measure alone)
  • The side seams were…pretty awkward to sew. The curves are probably too dissimilar.

Fitting the first muslin: This is mostly from Lynda Maynard’s Sew The Perfect Fit, which has you do the whole shebang the old-fashioned way, with a full muslin with gridlines marked on it, cutting and inserting actual fabric strips, the works.

  • Front: pretty good! All interior verticals are vertical, all horizontals are horizontal and line up with my anatomy. Neck width is right but shoulder is too long, and armhole is too deep.
  • Side: too big; especially in front. I can’t math, apparently, since 2″ x 4 seamlines = 8″ ease, not 4. It also hangs crooked here.
  • Back: disasterrrrr way too much fullness at armhole, but too tight at the high shoulder point, and weird folds everywhere. I can’t even tell what the lines are doing.

Muslin adjustments, draft 1:

  • Pinned the side seams
  • Added fabric at underarm and re-drew the armhole front & back


  • Side seams were straighter and closer to the correct spot, but too tight for a tunic. I got the front/back balance right above the high hip, but below, erred too much toward the front.
  • Armholes are better, especially in front
  • Back is still terrible

Muslin adjustments, draft 2: This is a combination of the fitting method from Don McCunn’s book How To Make Sewing Patterns which has you fit the shoulders by doing magic smoothing gestures with the side seams unsewn, and the Lynda Maynard slash-and-add-fabric technique.

  • Unpicked the side seams (& went back to the too-deep armhole)
  • Split the upper back horizontally between the high shoulder points, sewed a strip of fabric to one edge and had DH pin the other edge with an appropriate gap
  • Re-pinned the side seams with 1″ ease (x 4 seamlines = 4″, or what I wanted in the first place)


  • Back fits!
  • A little extra room at the underarm but not nearly as bad as before
  • A wee set of gapes at either side of back neck
  • Side seams waaaaay easier to sew. Progress!

Muslin adjustments, draft 3: The darts here are literally the adjustment you’d usually make for a Dowager’s Hump, a la Kathleen Cheetham. I am 33 years old. Typing and smart phones, man. And not enough yoga.

  • Pinned a 3/8″ dart at either side of back neck
  • Pinned 1/2″ out at the underarm, tapering to the bustline
  • Added a wee triangle to the underarm and re-drew the armhole there

Results: Great!

Mods from drafts 2 & 3 transferred to pattern. I also pivoted out an extra 1/2″ at center front and stashed it in the bust dart.

two views of a front bodice piece showing redrawn armhole/armpit curve, center front reduction, and bust dart increase two views of a back bodice piece showing horizontal slash at low shoulder point, neckline dart, and redrawn armhole/armpit curve

Note to self for future fitting adventures: Draw the muslin gridlines with sharpie in the first place so you can see it from both sides and it doesn’t rub off.

I traced off the facings, and since I was tracing everything anyway I switched to all-in-one facings front and back. The back facing was just narrow enough to absorb the back neck dart, and I trimmed 1/8″ from all the faced seams so fingers crossed it should stay put inside the garment.

pattern envelope for simplicity 5167, and final copies of front+facing and back+facing pattern pieces

Notes from assembly in fashion fabric:

  • I slightly hosed myself while cutting the facings, because I forgot to account for seam allowances in the chunk of fabric I cut from a larger section. :-/ I fudged it, and I think it’ll be okay so long as I remember to align seamlines not cut edges.
  • Getting my dart-sewing to be more consistent is a goal. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who will notice that they’re not the same on both sides, but still.
  • In spite of stay-stitching everything in sight, the facings were 1/8″ too long at the shoulder seams? I re-sewed them to snug everything up, but how that happened is a mystery. Those were the fused pieces, too, so they shouldn’t have stretched out. Hrm.

top left front quadrant of garment, sewn, wrong side out, showing my beautiful facings rolling perfectly to the inside on both the neck and armhole edge, and a nice point on the front neckline

  • It turns out an all-in-one facing is harder to sew than a regular facing. Who knew? I might have, if I’d given half a thought to the topology before cutting out fabric! Luckily, youtube saved the day. Double luckily, my shoulder straps were juuuust wide enough to turn the garment through. Success!
  • I tacked the facing down with tiny 2-, 1-, or 1/2-thread stitches every two inches around most of its circumference. You can’t see it at all and I’m really proud of that.
  • I did french seams for the side seams down to the slit, then clipped the seam allowance to let me switch the fold the other way to hem the slit. I wound up tapering to a tiny (like 3/16) hem near the transition but I just covered it with a bar tack (zigzag #2 on my machine, for reference) and it looks great.
  • I extended the hem allowance to 1.5″, and like the look

On wearing:

  • I need another 1/4-1/2″ of room around the underarm. It’s still comfortable enough, but I’d rather forget I was wearing a woven.
  • I could stand to bring up the slit by a bit, but it’s hard to know how much. Something to play with in a future version.


side view: me wearing the shirt in front of the brick wall on my porch back view: me wearing the shirt in front of the brick wall on my porch

I am super pleased with this top! It’s breezy for summer without feeling like a tent; it fits beautifully under a cardigan when I’m on campus or anywhere else with enthusiastic AC, I can move my arms, I don’t have to have perfect posture while I’m wearing it, it’s just a lovely thing all around.

Nut & Seed Crackers

I’ve been seeing a nutritionist who specializes in folks like me with FODMAP sensitivities, and one of the things I’ve been excited to add back into my diet is cheese! And of course that means crackers. For a while I was trying to develop a sourdough wheat-based cracker (sourdough fermentation reduces the amount of fructans, the particular problematic fermentable saccharides in wheat), but I couldn’t get the texture right. It’s been a loooong time since I baked with gluten. To combat the tooth-breaking toughness of those crackers I started increasing the percentages of fat and nut/seed meal, and eventually just did away with the sourdough altogether. A bit of tweaking to get the hydration right, and this is the result: A gluten-free, vegan-able cracker that’s stiff enough to hold toppings but still crumbles nicely in the mouth.

You need a food processor for this recipe if you want to start from whole nuts or seeds.

Line two 16″x22″ sheet pans with parchment paper.

Preheat your oven to 400F and set up two racks at below-center and above-center. Prepare a small strainer with a few tablespoons of potato or corn starch in it for dusting, with more set aside for refills.

Dry ingredients:

  • 100 grams finely ground rolled oats
  • 300 grams finely ground nuts or seeds of choice. I typically use 100 grams each of almonds and walnuts, and then fill the last 100 grams with whatever is kicking around at the moment. Sunflower seeds, pepitas, macadamias, pecans, that sort of thing. If you’re using something really oily like macadamia nuts, put them in with the oats to grind so you don’t wind up with chunky paste. You really don’t want any chunks bigger than a couple millimeters.
  • 100 grams potato starch (!= flour; check the kosher section or substitute corn starch)
  • 30 grams flax meal
  • 7 grams salt
  • 5 grams baking powder (~1t)

Mix with a fork until thoroughly blended and the starch and oat flour has coated the oily nut/seed meal. Add:

  • 50 grams melted coconut oil
  • 30 grams olive oil (or your favorite liquid oil)

Alternate mixing and cutting until no dry areas or large clumps remain. Add:

  • 150 grams cold water

Mix. This is the weird step, since it will start out like watery sand and you’ll think it’s not going to work, then it will change to a batter, then to a soft, smooshy, sticky almost-dough. Once it holds an impression of the tines of the fork, it’s time to roll — work fast as it will continue to set up.

Put one of the lined sheet pans on your work surface and use the strainer to dust it thoroughly with starch. If your rolling pin is wider than your sheet pans, you’ll want to work on just the parchment, and slide the paper back onto the pan once the crackers are rolled out. Dump half the dough in the center of the paper, sprinkle with more starch, and roll to 1/8″ thick, dusting with more starch as needed. It will tear easily, so always roll towards edges, never along them. Use a pizza cutter, pastry cutter, or butter knife to score a grid of the size you like, and put any trimmings at the edges back into the dough bowl. Dock the crackers with a fork, bamboo skewer, or chopstick. Set this pan aside.

Make a glaze. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium-low heat:

  • 3 T honey, golden syrup, or brown rice syrup (NB: honey isn’t vegan, so if you’re baking for one, use something else)
  • 2 t water

This is also a good opportunity to add any surface flavorings you like. Dried thyme is good, and so is smoked paprika, but I actually like the plain honey best. Keep an eye & an ear on the simmering glaze while you roll and cut the second pan of crackers, and turn the heat off when the sound of the bubbles rises in pitch and they start to linger glossily on the surface before popping. You can also substitute maple syrup here, but as it has a different water content you’ll have to play around with the proportions to get a good glazing consistency.

The second ball of dough will be stiffer than the first. Be a bit more sparing with the starch, or it will tend to crack and split. Use the cutting scraps from the left side of the grid to patch up the partial crackers on the right side of the grid to conserve dough, or give the scraps to the chickens.

Brush the tops of both pans of crackers with the glaze. Try not to leave an unglazed margin at the edges, as that will be extremely visible once baked. Slopping over the edges a little is fine. If you find the glaze getting too thick before you’ve finished brushing, return it to the heat for a moment to loosen it up. Once the crackers are glazed, you can sprinkle on sesame or poppy seeds, and the glaze will make sure they stick. Coarse salt or pepper might also be nice.

Bake 8 minutes, then rotate and switch racks and bake another 8 minutes. Remove any crackers at the edges that have started to brown prematurely, and return the rest to the oven, checking on them every four minutes until they’ve gone just a shade or two darker. Cool on the pans or on racks, it doesn’t seem to make a difference except that they’re harder to break apart while they’re still hot.

These go from “starting to get brown” to “unpleasantly burnt” rather fast, so err on the side of underbaking — you can always dry them out in a low oven later if they’re still a bit soft once cool.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container. They’re probably best eaten within a month due to the nut/seed content, but mine are usually gone by the end of the week so it’s hard to say.

The best gluten-free vegan vegetable muffin in all the land

I spent the summer growing zucchini and developing a zucchini bread recipe that satisfied my trifecta: gluten-free, vegan, and lofty. This is the result. It’s an all-day process, but worth it as a treat a couple of times a year. The muffins are a little more forgiving of moisture variations without going soggy, but the loaves rise better if you get everything right, so it’s up to you.

First, turn your oven to its lowest setting. Ours is 170F.

Makes 1 8″ loaf or 14-16 muffins. Line loaf pans with a sling of parchment; muffin tins with paper liners.

Flour mix:

  • 1/4 c + 2T potato starch (!= potato flour; check the kosher section)
  • 1/4 c + 2T oat flour (can make at home from rolled oats + food processor if needed)
  • 1/4 c white rice flour
  • 1/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c sorghum flour
  • 1/4 c tapioca flour/starch

Unfortunately, because the liquid:grain ratio is low for this recipe, you really, honestly, truly have to sift it or risk weird gritty results. You’ll lose 1-2T of chaff and grit but that’s already factored in.

More dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 4 t baking powder (yes, four)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t xanthan gum
  • 1-2 t spices of choice (cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg is good)
  • 1 c granulated sugar (yes, in with the dry ingredients)
  • handful of rolled oats

Blend flour + dry ingredients together thoroughly. GF bakes suffer if undermixed.

If you keep your GF flours in the freezer like I do, you’ll want to pop the dry ingredients bowl in the warm oven to come up to temp.

Zucchini. You can twist out the juices in a tea towel if you must, but it really works better to freeze it, then thaw, drain, and squeeze:

  • 1 c packed grated zucchini, drained
  • 1/2 c zucchini juices

Set the shreds aside. Warm the juice to 105F, and sprinkle over it:

  • 1 t active dry yeast
  • 1 t sugar

Let the yeast dissolve and get foamy while you grind the following to a coarse powder or meal:

  • 1 T tukmaria (indian grocery) or chia (health co-op)
  • 3 T flax

I use a big mortar & pestle for this, so by the time I have powder, the yeast is pretty happy.

Stir the powder into the yeast juice. You don’t want to dump it in and let it sit without stirring or the chia/tukmaria will clump up irreparably. Let rise for 15 minutes: first rise.


  • 1/2 c coconut oil

in the bowl of your stand mixer. If your kitchen is cold, put the bowl into the warm oven until the oil has melted.

Once that’s done and the first-rise timer has gone off, fit your mixer with the cookie blade attachment, install the bowl, and add:

  • 2 t vanilla

Scrape in the yeast-juice-meal mixture (it should be fluffy with CO2 and mucilaginous by now) and beat on low, increasing speed until emulsified and pale, about 5-10 minutes.

Add half the warm dry ingredients and beat 5 minutes.

Add the other half and stir to combine. Depending on ambient humidity it may be crumbly or cookie dough-like; that’s okay.

Add the zucchini shreds. If your batter was stiff before, this should loosen it up substantially.

Portion into pans, filling muffin cups full.

Load pans into the oven and turn it off. Let rise 2 hours (second rise) or until visibly inflated. Re-warm the oven as needed to keep the ambient temp above 75F, otherwise the coconut oil will set up and prevent the yeast from expanding.

Remove pans from oven and preheat to 375F.

Baking procedure:

  • Don’t use the bottom rack. If you have more than one pan and a small oven, bake in series, not in parallel
  • Bake loaves 1 hour, muffins 15 minutes at 375F
  • Reduce heat to 325F
  • Check loaves every 15 minutes, muffins every 5, until internal temp reaches 210F

You really, honestly, truly have to bake these to internal temp; the clean-skewer test is an utter lie. The creases and the outer crust will both be the same shade of rich brown when they’re done.

Cool in pans 5 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. GF starches do not finish gelling while still warm.

Once cooled and set, they’re lovely at room temp, and even better if you can pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds first.

Keep at room temp or frozen. If you must refrigerate them, definitely reheat before serving.



  • Pumpkin spice muffins/bread: Omit zuke shreds & juice; use pumpkin puree and water or nut milk instead. Warm pumpkin and stir into yeast-meal mixture before first rise. Use maximum spices; include at least 1/2t ground ginger and 1/4t ground cloves. Pumpkin is more yeast-friendly; keep an eye on the 2nd rise and stop once visibly inflated. Over-risen pumpkin bread will collapse after baking, much like a soufflé.
  • Dried fruit: Soak 1/4c chopped dried fruit in warm water, rum, or brandy. Drain and stir fruit in just before portioning batter into pans. Sub orange liqueur for vanilla.
  • Chopped nuts: Toast 1/4-1/2 c chopped nuts. Stir in just before portioning batter into pans.
  • Chocolate chips: Sprinkle on top just before second rise.

Chicken Tagine with Olives, Prunes, and Preserved Lemons

Last night’s chicken tagine was a big hit, so I’ve written it down. I synthesized this from two or three recipes online: a NYT one containing no fruit, one from TV3 in New Zealand that doesn’t include olives or a dry rub phase, and one from the noshery that uses fresh lemons. If you’re not familiar with moroccan preserved lemons, they’re a salt ferment of the whole fruit. They’re easy to make at home but take a week or two, so plan ahead… or, find a local middle eastern market and ask (they’ll be delighted); or try a substitution — difficult, but maybe equal parts lemon zest, salt, and white vinegar? or perhaps, marmalade and capers? Anyway, on with the recipe.


  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on bone in for maximum flavor, but boneless skinless is OK too

Mix, rub on the chicken, and refrigerate 1-3 hours:

  • 1/4 t saffron
  • 1 t ground dried or 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground coriander seed
  • 1 t sweet paprika
  • 1/2 t ground cumin seed
  • 1/2 t salt

Caramelize on medium low in a heavy lidded skillet:

  • 2 onions, sliced thin longitudinally
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt

Many recipes will tell you this takes 15 minutes, but really there’s no way to do that unless you use high heat, nearly burning the outsides of the pieces while the insides remain practically raw. For best flavor you want these to be caramel jam all the way through. For that, you need at least 45 minutes: stirring occasionally at first, then more frequently as they go a bit amber to prevent them sticking to the bottom of the pan. Last night ours took almost 90 minutes, but that’s partly because we were prepping 4 other dishes at the same time.

While the onions are going, you can prep stuff into bowls.

Bowl A:

  • 3-5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

Bowl B:

  • 1/2 c olives, kalamata, cracked green, or a mix, pitted and chopped
  • 3 small or 1 large preserved lemon, pulp & membranes removed, in strips
  • 1 c prunes, dried apricots, or a mix, roughly chopped

Bowl/Pitcher C:

  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1 T honey

When the onions look pretty good, add a bit more oil if it looks dry and sweat the garlic with a pinch of salt. Then scrape all the alliums back into bowl A.

Add a bit more oil, turn up the heat and brown the chicken on both sides, then remove.

Deglaze briefly with a  bit of C, just to unstick the delightful bits.

Cover the bottom of the pan in the caramelized onions, add the chicken (darkest side up), then scatter B on top, and pour in C. If the liquid doesn’t come halfway up the chicken, add more.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1.5 hours, gently flipping chicken over and checking the liquid level every half hour or so. You could totally do this part in the oven (325-350F), if your skillets are ovenproof.

This can hold, simmering, almost indefinitely, and just gets more awesome. You can reduce the liquid to a syrupy sauce before serving if you like, or not.

Good over some sort of pilaf. Last night we did quinoa cooked with minced red bell pepper, cinnamon, and zante currants.

Experimental: Herbal Silk Shampoo Bar

Experimental: Herbal Silk Shampoo Bar

My favorite shampoo bar in the world is this one by Elegant Rose Boutique. I tried half a dozen of her sample shampoos before I landed on it, and I haven’t found one to beat it yet, and that’s including my own bars! It rinses clean, and lets my hair be what I think of as its “normal” self — soft, thick, voluminous, a little fluffy, a little shiny. Better still, with this soap my hair stays that way for 3-4 days before I have to wash it again, depending on the products I use. Other hair soaps leave my hair limp, dull, or chalky, or I barely get 24 hours out of a wash before I start getting greasy.

I feel like I should be able to at least get *close* with a recipe of my own, and this was my first attempt. Once it cures I’ll update this post with the results.

To start, I filled the crock pot half full of water and set it to High. Then I went to the tea cupboard and picked up the dregs of an ancient bulk purchase of chamomile tea, and some of last year’s mint. I was hoping to find a forgotten box of nettle tea, but alas. Regardless, I put the dried herbs in a large jar, then went to the garden and added sage, a few heads of elder flower, and some violet leaves. Back inside, I filled the jar to cover with pomace olive oil and plunked it down in the crock pot to steep while I weighed out the rest of the batch.

For a shampoo bar, I increased my normal 5% superfat to 10%, and created a recipe with 40% olive oil, which is high but not quite bastille-high. This will make for a gentler soap, with a higher portion of unsaponified oils on the one hand (the higher superfat) and the overall gentleness of oleic acid from the olive oil on the other. [more recipe notes here]

As far as mixins go, I’ve really been loving the feel of colloidal oatmeal in a shower bar, and clay has been a standard too (though now that I think of it, the elegant rose bar has no clay. Hmm). Some silk peptides went in, but no marshmallow root (it’s on backorder, sadface).

I designed a floral-fresh fragrance from essential oils, based on lavender 40/42 with peppermint, lemon, and ylang-ylang.

For the visual design I decided on a two-tone to play up the lavender & herbs. The purple half included rose clay and ultramarine; the green half was lightly tinted with seaweed powder (which provides bonus minerals too).  I split the batch after emulsification, colored and poured the purple layer, colored the green half and poured it gently over a spatula to keep the border as clean and level as possible. At the last minute I decided to try a hanger swirl, which was a rush job but turned out fine, if a little spindly. Next time I’ll use a properly bent wire for better control…

Because of the high olive oil content, this batch took forever to set up, and I finally gave up and cut it after 4 days even though it was still softer than I like. This batch will cure for at least 8 weeks before use.

Experimental: Pomade

Experimental: Pomade

A few weeks ago I got my hair cut quite short, and I love it to bits. I have a little pot of light styling creme, and one of a quite stiff texture wax from my old stylist, but both products have an awful lot of ingredients and I figured the internet might help me out.

Historic and vintage pomades are mostly beeswax and either lanolin or coconut oil, though the oils and waxes vary a bit, and the proportions vary even more.

I’ve been fussing with a recipe, but am currently jamming on 2:2:1 beeswax:lanolin:jojoba oil. It’s still a bit difficult to work with; you have to scrape the surface with the back of your fingernail repeatedly to get any product worth mentioning. But! once you have a (still tiny) measurable amount you rub it between your hands and it heats up beautifully and works into the roots to a quite satisfying effect. The residue on your hands acts like a barrier-type moisturizer, which suits me just fine.

This one is scented with white thyme, lavender, and sandalwood, and it’s a gorgeous combination. I’m thinking of potting it up in tins for sale, but I’m worried people will try to use it like traditional product and use too much. Still thinking.