Fizzy Bath Bombs

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I don’t take baths, but I know someone who does, and I love the science behind putting bath bombs together, so the time has come to make them for real. I looked at a bunch of different recipes on the internet, including Martha Stewart, and many of them in the comments complained that they didn’t work properly. Several of them pointed to this basic recipe from Lynden House as the best one they’ve used. So that’s what I used.

Grab yourself a decent sized bowl, plastic, glass, metal – whatever. Tip in 1/2 teaspoon essential oil of your choice.

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This particular one I used a mixture of sweet orange, patchouli, and lemongrass. I find patchouli too strong on its own but it’s nice when you combine it with other things. Then it reminds me less of this scene from High Fidelity

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Add in as well 1/2 teaspoon of water, liquid dye, or witch hazel. Many people prefer witch hazel because the water is reactive with our next set of ingredients and you can make errors that way. I certainly did, and I’ll show you in a minute.

In my mind I also decided to add some orange zest to this shebang, which is a great idea. If the zest is dried. This is fresh. Meaning it contains water.

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Which is reactive with citric acid. Which is another ingredient.

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Anyway. On top of the liquid, add 1 1/4 cups baking soda.

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Then dump in 1/4 cup epsom salts.

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And 3/4 cup citric acid. You can pick this up from a variety of health food stores. I’m currently having some trouble finding a store that hasn’t run out at the moment, but it’s pretty common.

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Start mixing that up with your hands. You want to get it to the point where it starts to squish together in your hands and holds its shape. Resist the urge to add more moisture – if you keep mixing you’ll probably find that you don’t need it.

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Now grab a mold. You can use plastic ornaments (Dollarama) and make giant spheres, but I found I enjoyed the size of one of those plastic capsules you get out of vending machines.

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Pack your mixture into the mold and press it down tightly.

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Open the mold and set your bath bomb on waxed paper to dry overnight.

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This recipe made 9 or 10 bombs in that particular size.

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But of course because I’d added that zest, it started to react with the citric acid.

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They started to expand.

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And kept expanding.

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I don’t think they’ll be as fizzy but they still smell nice. Once I can track down some more citric acid I’m going to re-make that batch.

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Another batch I mixed together some dried lavender flowers with some dried sage from my own garden. I used lavender and sage essential oils as well.

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I whazzed it up in my spice grinder and had this smelly powdery stuff left over.

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This mixture ended up more dry than my last one, partly because of the plant material and partly because I had less citric acid to work with and so compensated with extra baking soda. If the mix is too dry, don’t add water to it – add a drizzle (a TINY drizzle) of olive oil instead. It’s good on the skin and won’t react to the acid.

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These ones packed perfectly into ten tiny bombs with no expansion.

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I had a few crumbs left over in the bottom of the bowl.

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So I put some water in to enjoy the fizz.

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Store your flavours separately in jars or bags so the scents don’t mix. They make great gifts and are pretty enough to display (though I wouldn’t leave them in open air in humid places like the bathroom).

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Slimo

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Don’t be afraid of the title.  I promise you that this is really good.

My grandparents used to have a home on the banks of the Ottawa River, and every summer that we could, we would go and visit, for a few weeks of swimming, sailing, and general adventuring.  And on especially hot days, my grandmother would make up a recipe that she had supposedly gotten from her own grandmother, a tasty citrus-y drink guaranteed to refresh.  She called it SLIMO.  To this day we are not sure why.

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My grandmother passed away in August, and at her memorial service, which was oriented towards her relationship with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, I thought it would be appropriate if we served her signature drink.

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It’s relatively easy to put together, but two of the ingredients are a little hard to find.  One is citric acid, which, if you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can get it in many Asian specialty shops, or natural food stores.  The other is tartaric acid (not to be confused with cream of tartar), which can be found (sometimes) in health food stores, but if you have a store nearby that sells beer brewing and wine making supplies, they are guaranteed to have some (or they’ll know where to get it).  Both of them look exactly like sugar, but if you put them in your mouth, be prepared for the sour!

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You need 5 oranges and 3 lemons, ones with a decent amount of rind and lots of juice inside them, so make sure they’re pretty fresh.

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Grate them to remove the rind.

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Then juice those suckers.

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I found that if I poured the juice through a strainer it got rid of the seeds and some of the pulp.

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Add to that 2oz citric acid (~60mL) and 1oz tartaric acid (~30mL).  A kitchen scale will help you with this.

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And 2lb granulated sugar (~1kg).  Yes, that’s a lot of sugar, about half of the 2kg bags you get at the grocery store ’round these parts.  But it’s necessary. Stir all that stuff together.

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In a large kettle or with a spout, boil up 2 quarts water (~2L).  Pour that over your rind, juice, sugar, and acid and stir until the sugar and acids are dissolved.

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You’ll find that the rinds with a lot of pith attached to them will float to the top and get all scummy, so I scooped them out with a small sieve.

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Allow that to cool in the fridge.  Sorry for the dimness of my photos here — despite this being a summery drink, the weekend I made it was dark and rainy.

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When you drink it, use a ratio of 1:2 slimo and water, so 1/3 of your glass is slimo, and the other 2/3 is water.  Adjust it to your own taste, of course.  Feel free to mix it with soda water, as well, or even add a splash of vodka for a more adult version of the beverage.

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Sip it and enjoy memories of summer!

The Un-Cola

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I saw this recipe on Freshly Pressed this past summer and was inspired by Krista and Jess to make this recipe from the New York Times (thanks ladies!).

My brother Ando has always been a fan of carbonated beverages.  Specifically the cola variety.  The more caffeine the better (he used to be a bit of a night owl).  Sodas aren’t that great for the teeth, of course,  as they contain a lot of sugar.  The colas especially so.  Ando’s tip for strong dentition: drink sodas only in conjunction with food, and use a straw.  When I saw this recipe, I thought he’d like it.  It’s made of all natural ingredients and contains significantly less sugar than your average can of Coke (which has 39g of sugar in it, the same as 10 sugar cubes).

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These sorts of natural syrups are a sign that we are trying to return to simpler times, and the creators of this recipe, Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, are doing just that (so you can go visit them Ando and tell me how the recipes compare — it’s just over the bridge after all).

So this is his DIY Christmas gift from his little sister (SURPRISE!), which, together with all the other presents for the Manhattan Crew, I am trying to get completed and mailed out before the end of the month — how’s that for organization?

The recipe itself is pretty straightforward, but does require a certain attention to detail.  I also had to do some serious sleuthing around St. John’s to find all the appropriate ingredients, though if that means puttering around Food for Thought and Fat Nanny’s for an hour or two then I really don’t mind.

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You’ll need to grate the zest from 2 medium oranges, 1 large lime, and 1 large lemon.  I doubled my batch so that the Pie and I would have some to try, and then made up an extra set of dry ingredients so that Ando can cook himself up a refill.  Each batch makes about 3 cups syrup.

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So I grated a lot of citrus.  I’m going to save it and make a fabulous beverage soon.

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For the extra dry ingredients, I used a zester, which gets the peel without the bitter pith.

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Then I heated my oven to 150°F and spread the peel on a baking sheet to dry.

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It probably cooked for about an hour while I was doing all that other stuff.

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Take some whole nutmeg and a fine rasp and grate yourself about 1/8 teaspoon of that stuff.  Mmm, smells so good.

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Crush one section of one star anise pod with a spoon.

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Cut a vanilla pod so you have a 1 1/2″ section (that’s almost 4cm for you metric folk).  Use a knife to split that section in half lengthwise.

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You’ll also need 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers, 2 teaspoons minced ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon citric acid.  You can get citric acid at stores that sell canning supplies, or try specialty or health food stores.

In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring all those ingredients to a simmer in 2 cups water.  Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

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In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar.

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Plop a colander or strainer on top of that and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth.

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Pour the contents of the hot pot over the cheesecloth and gather the ends of the cloth together so that all the solids are in a nice little package.  Use a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid from the package against the side of the pot.

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Stir the syrup occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a container and keep it in the refrigerator.

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In order for this to last the trip over the sea and land and a river to Manhattan (from one island to another) I decided to can it.  You can see my tips on canning with a stove top canner here.

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To drink, pour 1 part syrup over ice and mix with 4 parts seltzer or soda water.  It tastes FANTASTIC.  Not like a commercial soda, but one where you can taste all the flavours that went into it.  AMAZING.

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And here is the little container with the dried peel and all the other dried ingredients (minus the sugar) that Ando will need to make his own batch.

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