DIY ‘Aesop’ Post-Poo Drops (Natural Mandarin Toilet Freshener)

Aesop is an Australian skin-care and self-care company, known for their high-end, well-branded (and incredibly expensive) products. And there’s no bigger epitome of this than their fabled Post-Poo Drops, a toilet freshener which elicits an understated scent of Mandarin, Tangerine, and Ylang Ylang when plopped into your toilet bowl after (and this is to quote the labelling) “vigorous activity has occurred” – far more natural than those artificially pumped up floral fresheners that you find on the supermarket shelves.

The original is beautiful, and actually has a Bottomfeder-esque origin story! “This botanical deodoriser got its accidental start when discarded essential oils from our in-house lab were repurposed to scent an office bathroom. It has since become one of our most popular products” – @aesopskincare

While I originally got these delightful drops for bathroom guests, my partner and I have fallen in love with the scent. And so rather than use it too quickly, I thought I’d have a go at making this mandarin marvel myself. Just save up some citrus skins and let time and patience work their magic. Make a larger batch and gift it to friends and family, or just store it to refill your smaller bottle. The prep time is 3 weeks, and this sounds insane, but like most good preserving projects, it’s very hands-off and mostly about letting time pass…especially something we have lots of in lockdown!

First, we create our own essential oils by steeping dried citrus peels in rubbing alcohol. Commercial versions use a distiller or cold press to extract oils, but alcohol is much more accessible way to draw these oils out at home without needing all that hi-tech wizardry. I used mandarin, orange and lemon peels leftover from eating and cooking. If you want a shortcut or have essential oils on hand you could just use them, however this can be costly and this recipe came about as an elevated way of utilising those naturally zingy smelling citrus peels.


My partner Mark and I created a really calming and chilled, but also tounge-in-cheek video which accompanies the recipe below. It was heavily inspired by the minimalist and considered Aesop brand and aesthetic, with our cheeky spin. Hope you like it!

RECIPE
DIY ‘AESOP’ POST POO DROPS (NATURAL CITRUS PEEL TOILET FRESHENER)

INGREDIENTS:

For the essential oils: (yields approx 20-50mL of each, prep time 3 wks)

  • 3 or more mandarins
  • 3 or more lemons
  • 3 or more oranges
  • rubbing alcohol

For the final mixture: (yields approx 150mL, prep time 5 min)

  • 125ml water
  • 1 tsp rubbing alcohol (can substitute for vodka)
  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerine (or substitute 1/2 tsp liquid soap)
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Mandarin essential oil
  • Orange essential oil

METHOD:

For the essential oils:

  1. Peel each of the mandarins and oranges.
  2. With a paring knife, remove the white pith for each of the peels.
  3. While you’ve got your knife out, cut the peel off the lemons.
  4. Place the de-pithed peels out in the sun to dry for approx 1 wk, keeping them separate so you know which peels are which. Turn every so often.
  5. Put each group of peels into a separate jar and cover with rubbing alcohol, shaking the jar to ensure peels are evenly covered/submerged.
  6. Place a lid loosely over each jar, and put in a cool dry place for 1 wk.
  7. Strain each oil to remove the peels, and place in jars. Optional zero waste drained peel use – Store the strained peels together in a jar – these can be used as a rubbish bin deodoriser, just shake some into your bin to keep it smelling fresh. As they’ve been sitting in alcohol they’re kind of preserved.
  8. Use paper towel and rubber bands to create a breathable lid for each oil. Then put in a cool dry place for 1 wk, shaking infrequently to stop bacteria forming.
  9. (Optional) Store each oil in eye-dropper bottles for ease of use.

For the final mixture:

  1. Measure 125mL of water out into a jug.
  2. Add the glycerin and rubbing alcohol.
  3. Use your nose to mix a balance of the essential oils to your liking. 30-40 drops total ought to be enough. Go slow and add oils bit by bit.
  4. (Optional) Store in eye-dropper bottle for ease of use.


For blending: Mixing the scents comes down to your individual preferences. It’s very subjective, so you have to use your nose to smell what’s right for you. I found that lemon is sophisticated, bright and fresh, orange verges on that musky stereotypically grandma toilet freshener smell, and mandarin is somewhere in the middle. For me, I added approximately 50% Lemon, 35% Mandarin and 15% Orange.

To create an aroma that smells more like the Aesop original: The Aesop original post poo drops have an aroma blend of tangerine peel, ylang ylang and mandarin peel. My version omitted the ylang ylang. I wanted to see what I could make with what I had without buying extra first (I haven’t seen any wild ylang ylang around me either). I recommend you include ylang ylang (native to Queensland, but not as readily available wild to everyone) or something similar like jasmine. You can buy readymade ylang ylang oil if you want, but a lemon heavy version of these post poo drops is pretty darn good as is! It is just going down the toilet in the end anyway!

For storage: You can buy amber glass bottles with some form of a dropper to make dispensing the oils and storing your finished post poo drops easy. They’re available online and at health food stores, or reuse ones you have leftover. The amber glass also helps prevent the oils from oxidising due to heat and light.

Future ideas: I’m currently creating some lemongrass essential oil to hopefully add a bit of a floral note (I usually dry the tough ends and outer parts of lemongrass whenever I buy it. I add it to cooking and make my own ginger and lemongrass tea). Make it your own though! You could add in rosemary, lavender or eucalyptus and take it in a different direction to the Aesop version if that’s what you like. I find it helps to look at or google the blend of scents in perfumes and products you already gravitate towards and try to recreate blends inspired by those (wayyyy easier than becoming an actual perfumer).

Credit: This recipe was adapted from this ‘fabulous farm’ girl ‘diy poo poo spray’ recipe.
mixed with this ‘hillsbourough homesteading’ orange essential oil recipe.

Share your version by tagging me on instagram @_bottomfeeder I’d love to see what you create!

Summery Sweet! Mango Pits & Peels Make a Delicious Marinade

There’s nothing like biting into some juicy mango on a hot summer’s day. I have so many memories of cross hatching mango cheeks with a knife and inverting them to become an edible cubist echidna. But what do you do with the pits and the peels that you can’t eat? I recently came across this recipe from Cornersmith (also in the Use It All cookbook) and lowered the amount of sugar since I’d mainly use it as a more savoury marinade. Make your mango scraps go the extra mile! It’s surprising how little mango you need to get a good flavour. This marinade base tastes kind of like a subtle Weis bar with a light gingery kick – you can add other ingredients to tweak it to your taste, see the recipe below for suggestions.


RECIPE
MANGO SCRAP MARINADE BASE

INGREDIENTS:
2-3 mangoes
2 tbsp sugar (or honey)
2 cups water
A few slices of ginger (or 2 tbsp dried ginger pieces/skin)

METHOD
1. Prepare your mangoes – we need the pits and skins for this recipe. Cut off the cheeks and seperate the flesh from the skin with a large spoon. Peel the section around the pit and cut off any mango you want to utilise – reserve the mango flesh for another use.

2. Add the mango peels and pits, sugar, water and ginger to a small pot on medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer.

3. Simmer for 10 mins, then turn the heat off. Let the flavours infuse for 15 mins.

4. Strain the mango marinade through a sieve pressing as much mango as you can out. Pop the mixture back on the heat on low to reduce further if you’d like it thicker.

5. To use as a meat marinade, use as is, or add salt or fish sauce, pepper, olive oil, and/or chilli to your taste. It also goes great in salad dressing or as is on sweet things like ice cream and pancakes.

MANGO MARINADE VARIANT SUGGESTIONS
Add these to the marinade base for something different
– Asian: fish/soy sauce, lime juice and zest, coriander stems and/or a bashed lemongrass stalk.
– Mango sweet chilli: chilli or sriracha and maybe a little honey.
– Mango BBQ: garlic, bbq sauce, chilli.

What would you use this mango marinade for?

This Filipino ‘Tomato Ketchup’ is Actually Made From Bananas! 🍌

Yes, it’s bananas! This is the homemade Filipino version of bottled ‘ketchup’, except ours is made from bananas, not tomatoes. This tropical innovation stemmed from a WW2 tomato shortage and is my favourite way to use up overripe bananas and waaaay more versatile than banana bread!

My homemade banana ‘ketchup’ served on a traditional Filipino longsilog plate. The pickle next to it is atchara. Quality gourmet longganisa from Tata Rods.
Sautéing the base aromatics: eschallots, garlic, ginger and tumeric.

I originally tried this recipe served with chicken adobo pies years ago to use leftover adobo. It pairs well with anything you’d use tomato sauce on, and is traditionally eaten with lumpia shanghai (Filipino spring rolls) or tortang talong (whole eggplant omelette). I like it as a snack to dip chicharon (fried pork rinds) in, as the tangy sweetness cuts through the richness.

Pat Nourse & Helen Goh in conversation via Instagram Live for #MFWFOnline

During Ottolenghi Chef Helen Goh’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2020: Online edition chat with Pat Nourse she waxed lyrical about her newfound love of Filipino cuisine. All the Filipino viewers cheered together loudly from home! She noted tortang talong as one of her absolute favourites and slipped in mention of homemade banana catsup being at the top of her ‘to cook’ list. Pat Nourse actually ended up sharing this very recipe in his instagram stories! Next day he got a special delivery from chef John Rivera! See below for Pat’s post and a beautiful show of the Filipino community spirit in Australia.

More modern serving suggestion banana ‘ketchup’ and adobo pies
Put this sauce it anywhere you’d use tomato sauce…like a bacon and egg english muffin!

For best results, use almost-black bananas that you’d usually reserve for banana bread using less ripe ones will cause your sauce to jellify at room temperature. It will still be delicious, but not quite the right texture.


RECIPE

HOMEMADE BANANA CATSUP (BANANA ‘KETCHUP’)

  • 2 very ripe bananas (almost black), mashed till smooth (approx. 1 cup)
  • 2 medium eschallots, finely diced (or 1/2 a small brown onion)
  • 1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 60ml cane/white vinegar
  • 60ml water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon)
  • 3cm ginger, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon)
  • 3cm turmeric, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon fresh, 1 teaspoon if using ground turmeric)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • optional 1 birdseye chilli, finely sliced (1/4 tsp chilli flakes)

METHOD 

1. Heat oil in a medium non-stick pan on medium heat. Cook the eschallots until translucent. 

2. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric and all spice to the pan. Cook till spices are fragrant. 

3. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring well. Follow with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chilli and mashed banana. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often until it starts to thicken. 

4. Add 60ml of water or more as needed to reach desired consistency. It’s usually best between thick and runny, but it will thicken a bit as it cools. Taste and add extra seasoning to your liking. Take off the heat. Blend with a stick blender to get a smoother texture.

To store, allow sauce to cool and transfer to airtight sterilised jars or containers. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. It can be kept longer, but use your own judgement.

Serving suggestions:
Traditional Filipino dishes Tortang talong (eggplant omelette) lumpia shanghai (Filipino spring rolls) any breakfast silogs (rice+meat, I did longsilog further up).
More modern applications As I said…anywhere you’d use tomato sauce! I’ve enjoyed it with steak, roasted veg, on a bacon and egg roll, with marinated tofu and rice…it’s all good! 👌

SAHOG @ Home photo of me with my produce and Filipino Food Movement tee before the Instagram livestream!


This Filipino condiment was presented by me at SAHOG @ Home with Filipino Food Movement – an Instagram Live series by @filipinofoodmovementau featuring their most loved Australian Filipino chefs, cooks and food lovers. Don’t miss the next one! I also prepared burong mangga (pickled green mango) and atchara (pickled green papaya relish). I’ll post my other recipes here with more serving suggestions soon!

Filipino Empanadas are easier than you think — just follow my tips

Recently I made my first attempt at crafting empanadas from scratch — yes, even the pastry. I felt intense pressure to make them perfect…first go. I was bringing them to the Filipino Food Movement Australia community picnic in Sydney. So I didn’t have time for catfish recipes from liars, cheats and online recipe swindlers. I was tossing up between a few recipes…

Then I discovered: Angela Dimuyaga’s beef empanada recipe on NYT Cooking

A darn good looking homemade empanada!

I was sold on Dimuyaga’s recipe and after trying it and would recommend it to empanada first timers and pros alike. They’re flavoursome, straightforward, can be deep fried or baked, very economical (300g beef mince makes 40. If you, like me ‘taste test’ some filling, you’ll have a few less). One caveat — Chef Dimuyaga’s recipe was written assuming that you wanted to undertake this lengthy process all at once (read: 2 hours approx…more if you don’t want to screw it up and over google what to do – like me). No shade, but those with less cooking experience or time might find it rather daunting upfront. So after consulting several other recipes and fixing some of my own screw ups on the fly, I have a list of suggestions to troubleshoot any problems you might run into.

Have a read before your fingers are covered in flour and you’re wondering why the heck you started this so late in the day (also for my own reference next time). I’m specifically referring to Dimuyaga’s recipe, not to say it’s not a great recipe — but I just made some realisations that weren’t detailed in the recipe. If you’re following another recipe a lot of these tips might apply to that too (compare them before you blindly trust me). I’ve noticed similar questions that I worked through myself in the recipe comments of this very recipe too. You can begin prep 1-3 days ahead to break the 2 hours up, especially if you only have a small window of time after work each day or something real life realistic like an actual life and responsibilities to work around.

Some of these changes might be obvious to some pastry pros, but if you’ve never made pastry from scratch before or handled it you might not be sure what you can and can’t do to suit you. Don’t let that discourage you! This list of tips will hopefully answer your questions (if you have more post them in the comments!) as you try to google answers with your floury fingers. I made these empanadas and googled as I went. Below is a collection of my learnings and observations.

My tips for avoiding common empanada mistakes:

EMPANADA FILLING
– Cook it a day ahead and refrigerate (then you’re not waiting for it to cool)

Is my filling too salty? – When you taste the filling by itself it might seem a bit too salty. However, once it’s in the pastry it mellows out a little and becomes perfect…the resulting empanada is tasty even when eaten cold! If you’re really unsure you can create and cook one 1 test empanada in the oven before you go ahead and make all 40.

Tasty, tasty filling. I made the potato a bit too chunky the first time.

Don’t make the cubed potato or veggie pieces too big…I did a little larger than a 1cm dice. Some potato pieces ended up piercing a few bits of pastry as I folded it over (if your pastry hasn’t been chilled for long enough this can cause it to break too easily – I was also just impatient). No big deal though.

Meat choice – Using the beef mince suggested in Dimuyaga’s recipe created a great flavour similar to Filipino beef menudo or adobo. Some other pork and chicken empanadas felt a bit bland in comparison to be honest, but give them a go if you prefer.

EMPANADA PASTRY

How good is this angry pastry chef brush?!

Using pre-made pastry for empanadas
– Use frozen shortcrust pastry if you cbf (no shame, get a fancy brand like careme if you REALLY want) and assemble empanadas on the day. Sure, they won’t be as authentic, but sometimes you just need a balance of life and homemade empanadas. They’ll still be delicious!

Cutting frozen pastry into rounds – Cut into rounds with a bowl/baking tin or cookie cutter (find a similar diameter to the one your chosen recipe calls for). Consult your frozen pastry packet directions, but generally pastry can be refrozen once empanadas have been assembled, it’s the filling that shouldn’t be frozen and refrozen for food safety reasons.

Chilling dough rounds – To freeze pastry rounds as you make them – put them on a tray lined with flour dusted baking paper. Layer as required, baking paper has to be between each layer of empanadas otherwise they’re more likely to stick and that’ll undo all your hard work. Cover the top layer with baking paper too to stop the pastry drying out.

Making Empanada pastry from scratch
– Make the pastry up to 3 days ahead. It should keep for 3 days tightly wrapped in cling film, so it doesn’t dry out.

Cold dough is harder to screw up – The dough is easier to work with and more forgiving the colder it is. You can tell when it’s not cold enough because it will stretch and break more easily. It’s a nightmare, especially for a first timer or someone that hasn’t handled pastry very much. If you’re finding it hard to mould your pastries  and they keep breaking or the filling is piercing the dough, then put your pastry rounds back in the freezer to chill further and take a breather, you’re halfway there!

Freeze the pastry rounds as you roll them – it takes forever for them to cool down in my at home fridge. Freezing it till they’re quite cold but still pliable will give you more time to work with them. I roll a stack of 6 or so before transferring them to a baking paper lined tray. Take them out of the freezer one sheet at a time so you don’t warm up the entire tray and have to wait for them to chill all over again.

I think my pastry looks wrong….how do I check it?
I’d create 1 or 2 test empanadas to test out both your finished pastry and the filling. The oven method might be quicker if you just want to test a couple.

Cooking empanadas – frying versus baking
Now that you’ve spent hours making these babies you don’t want to screw them up, right?! Dimuyaga suggests deep frying them, I was down for that because I didn’t want to screw with perfection….till I thought about how much active cooking time it would take to fry them in smaller batches (yes, this is what I think about in my down time)…

5 mins per batch
Each batch is about 7 empanadas or so (large pot, without overcrowding)
Total empanadas is 40 divided by 7 (the amount in a batch) = 5.7 batches.
5.7 batches x 5mins = 30 mins….not too bad, but in an oven I don’t have to stress about bubbling hot oil, cleaning it up, straining it and my cholesterol.

I tested this and you can cook Dimuyaga’s beef empanadas in the oven from fresh or frozen. I suggest 190°C for 20-25 mins, put in 2 trays at a time and switch the trays halfway through so they cook evenly.

Team baked empanada – don’t forget egg wash for a golden colour!
Egg wash = 1 egg whisked thoroughly with a few drops of milk.
If baking from frozen – put your empanadas into the oven and then once slightly defrosted (but before they start browning) brush them with egg wash. Some suggest doing the egg wash before freezing, but that just sounded like a headache, because that means waiting for the egg wash to dry so they don’t stick to the baking paper.

What’s with cracked empanadas?
That’s either a result of the pastry not being chilled enough before baking or a really fragile delicate pastry. Dimuyaga’s recipe is pretty forgiving, but I froze my empanadas overnight. I didn’t want to take any chances and they turned out really well! The few empanadas I allowed to thaw out did crack a bit.

Not even half the spread at the last Filipino Food Movement Australia picnic!
My empanada contribution is bottom right, they went down a treat!

I hope this guide was helpful! If you have any further empanada questions or your own tips I missed, please post them in the comments! I’m not an expert by any means, but I wanted to record these learnings so I can apply them next time!