Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Jerusalem Artichoke.. oh, and Whipped Soap

First I'll tell you about today's adventure in soaping.  In order to keep spirits up, we've been playing with some new techniques.  We have no time now, but so what?  Anyhow, we've been reading about whipped soaps, and thought it might be fun.  The fats used for soaping are beaten while they are still solid, and cool lye water is added while it is being mixed.  It starts to peak like egg whites, and then one can add color and fragrance.  We had a pastry bag, and were ready to have fun.  It was our first time, and it wasn't quite what we had in mind.  The blobs that we made came out a flesh tone color.  The shape is somewhat breast-like.  We sprinkled the tops with gold mica.  Oops.  Guess what that looks like...... So now we have a whole bunch of X-rated soaps.  They float, though :-).

On the way home, I passed a gorgeous stand of Jerusalem Artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus).  Actually, I'm seeing them everywhere, but these were growing on the other side of a small bridge and easily photographed.  They are about 10 feet tall.  Jerusalem artichoke get their name from the corruption of the French "girosol", meaning sunflower.  The tubers of the plant are a good substitute for potatoes as they contain no starch.  They contain inulin, which may make them valuable to the diabetic diet.
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The tubers can be used in almost any way one might use potatoes, and are available from late September until the ground freezes.  They can sometimes be found in markets, and can be found similar in size to medium potatoes.  Keep an eye out for the big happy plants.  They are blooming now.


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