27 April 2009

something blue

Nefertiti's cornflowers from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute

This recipe is my adaptation of J.N. Liles' Lye-Hydrosulfite Vat from The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing. If you're at all interested in natural dyeing, this is the book to get. I'm giving my basic recipe, but all the safety precautions and suggestions for troubleshooting I'll leave to Prof. Liles.

Thiox and Spectralite are names for thiourea dioxide. I don't know about their relative potencies, so I'm specifying my recipe for use with Thiox.

Lye-Thiox Indigo Vat

Stock Solution
Just about fill a quart Mason jar with hot tap water. I don't ever bother with a thermometer--the water is about as hot as my hand can tolerate. Add 1 3/4 teaspoons lye and stir until it dissolves. Add 3 teaspoons of natural indigo powder and mix for a few minutes. Add 1 teaspoon thiourea dioxide (Thiox) and stir for another minute. Screw the lid on and let the mixture stand in a larger bowl of hot water until the solution turns dark greenish yellow with a gold-blue slick on the surface.

Fill a five gallon storage bucket with hot tap water. I use a clear Rubbermaid container so that I can tell what color the solution is at any time. Wearing gloves and avoiding splashes, add 1/8 teaspoon lye dissolved in a little water. Add 1/2 teaspoon washing soda (soda ash) dissolved in a little water. (I use another Mason jar for all this dissolving and adding.) Add 1/2 teaspoon thiourea dioxide (Thiox) dissolved in a little water. Wait 15 to 30 minutes. Add the indigo stock and stir very gently. Allow up to an hour for the vat to "reduce." It should be a light greenish yellow. There might be some blue up around the edges and an opalescent film on the surface.

Now you're ready to dip anything: wool, cotton, linen, and silk yarns, and fabric and paper, and buttons made of natural materials, and leather. (I haven't dyed leather, yet.)

Prof. Liles gives suggestions for how long to keep different fibers submerged and how long to air them. He gives directions for adjusting the chemistry as you go. Thiox is a lot more potent than the hydrosulfite in Liles' recipe, so only add it a little at a time. Too much Thiox will mean you're stripping pigment every time you re-dip the fiber. Again, the whys and more hows (like rinsing and cleaning fibers, disposing of chemicals and using synthetics-free vats like "old sig" and yeast vats) are all in The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing.

18 April 2009

07 April 2009


better than it looks

whole wheat apple prune cake

I replaced the white flour in our favorite apple cake recipe with whole wheat pastry flour and substituted prunes for the raisins and walnut oil for "vegetable oil." Pesach Shalom, Happy Easter.

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup walnut oil
3 large eggs
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon calvados or whisky
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Cortland, Empire or Gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into
¼-inch dice
½ cup quartered prunes (please don't call them dried plums)

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9” springform pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

Whisk together oil, eggs, sugars, spices, liquor and vanilla in a large bowl until just combined. Fold in flour mixture until just combined, then fold in apples and purnes. Spoon the very thick batter into prepared pan.

Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1½ hours. Cool cake in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

*The cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days and tastes better as the flavors meld.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?