Friday, December 31, 2010

better living through chemistry

Is this really only my 15th post of the year? Holy crap I've been slacking. Wait, correct that. I've been slacking at posting anything this year, but slacking with the food projects? Hell no. For example, this picture is but a small bit of what 80 pounds of olives looks like when they are freshly harvested and temporarily residing on a sheet in my living room, awaiting sorting. Two short days later, it was time to start running some experiments. And after a few years of failed attempts with various methods (let's see: vinegar soaking, dry-brining, brine solutions, and fermenting them), it was now time to use the heavy chemicals. More specifically, sodium hydroxide.

Has anyone attempted to buy any lye lately? If you have, did you have any luck? You see, the stuff is rather hard to come by these days sitting on a shelf, as the regulations regarding the sale of it have changed. Rumor has it that quite a few meth-head chemists were purchasing the stuff for cooking up their product, which started to raise eyebrows to the folks selling the stuff, which suddenly made it harder for someone with a legal reason to have the stuff. All of which makes you seem suspect, trying to do so now. It took me about three days, and a jaunt to the next county over to get some. Luckily, it was even food grade, which was great since I had some instructions I was planning on following rather closely.

With an aforementioned large amount of olives to work with, six different experiments have been attempted, with five of them still in process. The fastest one to completion made it in time for a few x-mas gifts, and use at a few parties. So far the consensus is that it worked. They taste like real olives, have a nice texture and even still look decent. But most importantly, they fit on small fingers like real olives should. And that is no lye....

Happy New Year y'all!

(Give me a shout out to let me know you are still out there readers. You never know, it might make for one of them New Year's resolutions along the lines of me pulling it together and documenting more stuff. Which I'm planning on having more time to do so since I'm gonna start running again and I'll have to sit down for a rest eventually.)


Kimberly said...

You are quite right...olives must most importantly fit on small fingers...good to see you posting again...xxoo's

doyle said...

Still here.

Keep writing, Mr. Wrangler, a few of us keep watching....

Ryan said...

The best source for lye I've found is soap making stores.
Any plans for more homebrewer events in the east bay?

K and S said...

happy new year! hope 2011 is just as delicious!

Jennywenny said...

I'm still here! I love to read about your experiments and you're still in my reader!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Ma: Love those little fingers huh? Luckily they fit on bigger ones too.

Doyle: Thanks dude!

Ryan: From what I hear, even most soap making stores no longer carry the stuff! No plans as of yet for more homebrew events, but you can be sure I'll post about it here.

Kat: Thanks for your long-standing support!

Jennywenny: Aww thanks!

Steve said...

Greetings from a new foodie blogger

Hi there!

My name is Steve Walters and I recently started blogging at, which is currently being updated with recipes, but in the next few months will be my vehicle for covering the food and restaurant scene in Bangkok Thailand.

I am now in the process of meeting as many food bloggers as I can and I found your site recently and was pretty impressed. I've added your site to my Foodie Blogs list here: and would also like to add you to my blogroll.

If you could add my site to your blogroll and write back to let me know it has been added (foodie [at] I will add you to mine as well and the exchange would be greatly appreciated!

As you might imagine I am very excited to get moved to Bangkok and get started on covering the food scene there as I feel it is an area that isn't well covered by English speaking bloggers. I plan on adding loads of great reviews, pictures and even video and will be holding contests as well. It should be fun, entertaining and informative for everyone that visits.

Thank you so much in advance for adding me to your blogroll and I look forward to reading your posts (I've subscribed!) and maybe even featuring some of your own posts as I do plan on a weekly roundup of Thai themed recipes and posts from other food bloggers.

Warm regards,

P.S. If you are on Twitter I would love to have you as a follower and I follow back: