Friday, January 04, 2008

Recipes from my Grandmother's kitchen

Note: Please do not make this soap. It is posted as a bit of history, and some modern-day soap makers have informed me that you might maim yourself if you follow this recipe. And don't make tapioca in your soap pans. Apparently lye-flavored pudding is not the taste treat you might expect.

My Grandma Bug left this earth in May of 2007. She left behind a large number of recipes (not to mention a hundred thousand great memories), some of which I have taken into custody. I was flipping through some of them the other day, and came across one for soap. It made me smile. I don't know if Grandma ever used this particular recipe: I only recall her doing other frugal things like melting the soap scraps together to make new layered bars. But it is just so indicative of the old-fashioned country spirit around here that I have to share.

1 box Lewis Lye in 1 qt rain water
2 qt used lard
2 c tallow
1/2 ammonia
1/2 c borax

In a stainless steel saucepan, dissolve 1 box of Lewis lye in 1 qt of rain water (stir with stainless steel spoon). Let cool. Than [sic] add 2 quarts used lard and be sure to have about 2 cups of tallow in this above amount of fat. Put lard in a small plastic bucket and stir in the cooled Lewis lye. Stir until thick. Then add 1/2 cup of ammonia and 1/2 cup of borax or Borateen. Stir until dissolved and pour into 1-quart milk containers. Slice in 6 or 7 pieces. Let it air dry. Do not let it get too hard before cutting or it will not cut well.
Helen C___ and I watched Hilda L___ make this one day. After she was done with the soap she washed the stainless pan and spoon and made tapioca. Hilda was a neat lady!
Pat R___

I hope there re more gems like this. But then again, I might be the only person who gets a kick out of these things. In that case, Come back tomorrow for terribly exciting yarn recycling news!


  1. That is so cool! I love reading anything handwritten by my elders. Even a soap recipe can be a little peek into the mind and heart of a person.

  2. Awesome! I love the comment at the end about watching someone make tapioca with the same dishes after making soap.

    So what're you going to do with recycled yarn?

  3. That is really sweet. I love grandma recipes. I always spend hours going through 'Em's' whenever I get a chance to visit her. A hunk of this and a pinch of that with a dash of love.

  4. So, are you going to try making the soap? Where, for pete's sake, do you think one would get "used lard?"
    But I know what you mean -- I love finding things with even a little bit of my mother's writing on them -- like a little note from heaven.

  5. Wow! At least Hilda L_ knew the pot was clean enough for the tapioca!

    I can hear my own grandmother's voice in the recipe.

  6. I love that sort of stuff too. We don't have any leftover lard, but it's good to learn how people made do when you couldn't get everything you want at the store.