You'll notice my beloved Molcajete in the front & center of Serene Suds' homepage. The molcajete represents the core of my soaping to me. It represents returning to making things with your hands. I have read that sometimes the only way to speak your heart is with your hands. Yes, I agree. The molcajete represents the peace that meditative repetition brings. It represents the power of herbs. It represents the uniqueness of each family. It represents passion. It represents strength. It represents love.
I once told my husband, Ariel, that if there was a fire and the kids were safe, I would grab the molcajete. This tangible can't-take-to-the-next-life item obviously has earned a place of endearment in my present life. And then I quickly retracted my statement. This object would withstand a fire! All the other items in the home could be ruined/gone - and the molcajete would be untarnished and quite useable.
What is a molcajete? It is a mortar & pestle, with both being made from lava rock. The porousness and roughness of the lava rock creates an efficient and effective fine grind.
There is a preparation of a new molcajete that mirrors a decided meditative practice. With a new molcajete that hasn't been worked over, you will most likely get little pieces of lava stone in whatever you are grinding. Not good in herbs ... terrible in your guacamole.
What is the solution? A little bit of grinding every day. Put a small handful of rice into your molcajete and grind it fine. The pieces of loose lava come loose as the hard rice breaks down and pieces of the hard rice fill in the crevices of the lava stone.
I took my molcajete outside in the sun (I did it inside only once and the pieces of rice fly and I realized that I most definitely should add the sun into my new, albeit temporary practice) and ground the rice until it was fine - every day for 30 days.
I'll tell you, I did not wait to make guacamole. I could not. And yes, there was a bit of grit in those first ground, smooth, creamy, green delights. But the rice practice is a winner. My molcajete now grinds find and in an efficient manner without leaving the smallest piece of lava grit.
My dear husband will often lend a hand in the soapmaking, not minding if I delegate jobs of measuring or straining oils or setting out molds, etc. Sometimes I will give him the molcajete (rarely, though - I like this job and the exercise it gives my arms and the moment of deep breathing) and he will ask, "Don't you want to use the food processor?" And he knows that my answer will be that smile that says "no" and he knows why. It would almost seem a sacrilege to my soaping to pull out an electronic device to perform something that I can accomplish with my hands. Therein lies my passion. I want all the positive energy I can muster to be incorporated into your soap. I am serious about this.
And the flavor of my soul and this family and this molcajete? Well, if I use the molcajete for something wet (guacamole), then I will brush it clean with water and bake it in the oven to disinfect it. But, generally, I make herbal mixtures in the molcajete. And then there is no need to wash the lava rock. I use a pastry brush to brush out the powdered herb and put it on the shelf for the next use. Each previous herbal grind contributes to the flavor of the next concoction. I hear that in cultures where the molcajete is a prominent part of meal preparation, that it is also a treasured heirloom - as the flavor & soul of the cook (often the matriarch who is preparing the food) is embedded in that molcajete.
I wholeheartedly believe that my soul & flavor are engrained in my molcajete. And I pass all that soul & flavor onto you in the form of your tool (soap) that you use for your daily cleansing routine.
A peaceful Friday to you.