Eating Ehomaki on Setsubun

I picked up a few Ehomaki (恵方巻き which translates to “lucky direction roll”) at Mitsuwa and ate them at home to celebrate a Japanese holiday called Setsubun (節分)!

It’s a tradition to eat a giant hand roll sushi on February 3, facing the lucky direction.  The direction changes every year and this year was South South East (南南東) … I know, it’s SUPER strange but I’m all for a holiday that you celebrate over delicious food.

In addition to eating Ehomaki, you also do a thing called “mamemaki (豆まき)” as part of the celebration, where you throw a handful roasted soybeans outside the door while yelling “Demon out, Luck in.”  I skipped this part this year because I was out of soybeans.

I know — you can make these things up!

Homemade Kimchi

IMG_4625

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and have settled nicely into the new year! I’m happy to report that I recently checked off one item from the 2016 “To Do” list – make kimchi at home!

The homemade kimchi was so delicious. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. (I’ve wanted to make my own kimchi since 2008!)

I shared the kimchi with my family and friends and they all seemed to enjoy it.  I have a feeling that I’ll be making more batches in the next week or so … and it might even become a regular thing around here!

You can check out Maangchi’s kimchi tutorial that I used to make kimchi here.  Her channel is nothing short of amazing.  If you’re interested in learning about the Korean cuisine or want to hone your skills, I also highly recommend her cookbook, Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking:  Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook.

I also documented my kimchi-making adventure here!

 

Episode 1: One Minute Gourmet: Huckleberry Cafe

I have decided to combine my two obsessions – making short videos and dining out – and create a video series called “One Minute Gourmet.”

Each video will feature my dining experience, with footage of the restaurant interior, what I ordered, etc., in 60 seconds or less. It won’t be anything fancy but I hope you enjoy it!

Episode 1 features Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica. I wrote about the cafe back in 2011 and I still adore this place, four years later.  My favorite dish here is Lentil Ragu.  It’s pretty amazing, especially topped with its homemade hot sauce.

Without further ado, here’s the video!

Most Luxurious Soap

rose soap 2

One of my favorite soaps on the market today is Rose Geranium with Rosehips and Shea Butter from The Soap Kitchen. It’s incredibly decadent and its feminine, rose-like scent is out of this world (Although rose and rose geranium are from a different plant family, they do share a very similar floral scent). I feel that this soap captures everything I love in handmade soaps – warm color, luxurious lather, with a subtle but a splendid presence of flower-y sweetness.

I pick one up every time I go into the lovely store in Old Town Pasadena and I must say that it’s a lot more frequent than I’d like to admit.

I tried recreating these sumptuous soaps at home and I’m in love with how they came out! It’s no secret that I totally tried to replicate my favorite The soap Kitchen soap as best as I could (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?). Although they’re not exactly the same, I think I was able to capture the essence of my favorite soap in this handmade version.

pink line
Most Luxurious Soap
pink line

1200 g batch

Olive oil (72%): 864 g
Palm oil (14%): 168 g
Coconut oil (14%): 168 g

Distilled water: 467 g
Lye (85% discount): 150 g

Scents:

Rosewood essential oil: 160 drops
Ylang Ylang essential oil: 100 drops
Organic Geranium Rose essential oil: 30 drops
Citronella Java essential oil: 50 drops
Lavender essential oil: 10 drops

Colorant:

Madder root powder: 1 teaspoon

Additive:

Crushed dried rose petals: 3 tablespoons

Note: The scent of citronella Java essential oil was pretty dominant during the curing stage but it slowly neutralized into a subtle lemon-y scent. The color also became a lot more subtle as the soap bars dried. At first, the soap loaves were deep burgundy and I panicked. I’m happy that it ended up becoming a lovely dark pink hue.

rose soap 1

Happy soaping!

The Perfect Soap Drying Rack

IMG_2609

My friend D recently introduced me to this lovely café in Pasadena called Lincoln. We had an early lunch there after running a lap briskly walking and conversing around Rose Bowl one morning.

I thought about taking photos of the chic industrial restaurant interior, the colorful array of candies and pastries that fill the cafe, as well as breakfast and lunch served beautifully on simple, white ceramic plates and bowls with edible flower or two on top, but I couldn’t because my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter took hostage of my iPhone to watch cartoon during the meal (Mom of the Year here, I know). Instead, please do read Jonathan Gold’s Los Angeles Times article detailing all the delicious dishes it serves up!

IMG_2598

So, why talk about the restaurant when I have no photos or stories to share, you may ask? Well, it’s because I found something perfect for my soap-making adventure there! How random, I know!

Next door to the café is an auxillary gift shop, where patrons can find hand-selected, Anthropologie-esque items such as books, candles, ceramics, etc. While browsing the shop, I came across a stack of wooden crates available for sale for $8 each. I picked one up and knew immediately that it would be perfect to complete my soap drying rack.

I’ve used shoe rack to dry the handmade soaps but I had to get rid of it once my daughter was able to crawl. I could not longer have anything on the floor where she can easily reach. I recently purchased three-tiered oven rack but couldn’t find anything that would fit. Then came these Loncoln-logo-branded creates!  Yipee!  I purchased two but went back two days later to pick up four more.  The search for the perfect drying rack is finally over and I couldn’t be happier!

IMG_2617

I’m currently drying Olive Oil soap with dried spearmint leaves on the top rack, and another Olive Oil soap scented with Eucalyptus and Lavender Essential Oils on the bottom.

RECIPE: Double Avocado Soap

IMG_1984

I named my business, as well as this blog, Lavender and Olive because they are two of my favorite ingredients in a soap recipe, as well as to eat. But it could have easily been called Olive and Avocado, or Avocado and Lavender, or any combination of the three because, holy guacamole, do I love my avocados. They are equally delicious in handmade soap, and in a sandwich.

I would have to say that this Double Avocado Soap is my favorite original recipe. It has a beautiful milky white color that I love in a soap, and a nice firmness that I strive to achieve in each bar of soap I create. But the most amazing part is the stiff and bubbly foam it creates when you lather it with a body sponge and your skin will feel baby soft all day long. It’s simply amazing.

I scented the soap with Yuzu fragrance oil.  The lovely sweet citrus scent is so refreshing that I kept smelling my skin all day long.

Confession:  I was a little hesitant to share this original recipe because I wanted to keep it all to myself :P but it’s so great that it needed to be shared.  If you’re going to make just one recipe from this blog, I hope this will be the one.

Happy lathering!

pink line
Double Avocado Soap (Yuzu Scented)
pink line

Ingredients:

Avocado Oil (40%): 480 g
Olive Oil (30%): 360 g
Avocado Butter (10%): 120 g
Palm Oil (10%): 120 g
Coconut Oil (10%): 120 g

Distilled water: 467 g
Lye (85% discount): 145 g

Scents:

Yuzu Fragrance Oil: 4 tablespoons
Lavender Essential Oil: 10 drop
Peppermint Essential Oil: 10 drops
Spearmint Essential Oil: 10 drops
Chamomile Essential Oil: 10 drops