Solo Meat-Scented Candles

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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Meat-Scented Candles

Postby Anais Seawind on August 11th, 2018, 1:26 am

20th of Summer .
16 Bells .


Retracing her steps along the shore, Anais made her way from the fish cleaning station back to her casinor, the morning’s spoils cradled gingerly in her arms. Her shirt and trousers were mottled with the red and brown stains of blood, reminders of the grisly work she’d attempted with another Sykan settler, Ixtli. The other woman had been very educational, and Anais felt as though she’d learned a lot, but the real payment for her efforts, and the reason she hadn’t minded the ruining of her clothing was the yellowish lumpy collection of pig fat she now possessed. It was the color or fresh butter, shot through with bits of white viscera and red veins, and Anais wrinkled her nose at the pungent aroma even as she eagerly planned what she would do with the stuff.

Though many people would see the lard and know its benefits for cooking, Anais planned to use it for more candles – she’d used beef tallow, the fat from butchered cows, and assumed the process for candles made from pig fat would be the same. It would need to be melted down, and any bits of pig meat still remaining would have to be removed, but after the rendering were done, the Svefra planned to dip her candles much as she would if it were beeswax. Syna’s light was aggressive this day, and although Anais would have rather waited until evening or even the next morning to process the raw material, the temperature would not allow her to wait. The package of pig fat already smelled of blood, not badly exactly, but the scent was not as clean or appealing as the beeswax that she usually worked with. She worried that her finished products might carry some of that smell over - and who wants a candle that smells like burning blood?

She rolled her shoulders as she walked, attempting to relive a bit of the tightness that had crept into her muscles. The butchery hadn’t been strenuous – Ixtli had already hung and bled the pig by the time Anais stumbled upon her – the tiny, tedious cuts and meticulous focus that the work had required had resulted in more soreness than the blonde would have expected. But there was more work to do than usual, and rest and relaxation would have to wait until it finished. As she approached her casinor, she ran through the list of tasks in her mind: render the lard, for at least a bell. She took another small sniff of her package and amended the thought: maybe two. Cut the wicks – how many? She had no idea how much lard would be usable after the rendering, whether it would yield 20 pairs of candles or 50 or 10. That number would be a deciding factor in whether or not she continued to use the readily available lard of Syka’s native swine or set up a steady import of beeswax with Juli and James.

Boarding her casinor, Anais quickly collected the crate of candle-making supplies from the corner of her cabin and removed it and her pig lard back to the communal kitchens, to make use of the cooking area. The wooden box had traveled the Suvan with her for years, and held not only her well-used supplies, but also the stubby, uneven remnants of a few old candle stubs and her fire starting kit and what remained of her beeswax. The smell of the wax was clean and faintly sweet, but did nothing to cover the earthier meaty-bloody smell of pig lard. With a resigned sigh, she set the entire bundle down at the nearest cooking station and began laying out her supplies.

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Last edited by Anais Seawind on August 22nd, 2018, 8:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Anais Seawind
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Meat-Scented Candles

Postby Anais Seawind on August 22nd, 2018, 2:06 am



At the work space, set her collection of fat to the side; before she could begin the rendering process, the cooking out of anything specifically not fat, the entire mess needed to be trimmed. Trimming meant more cutting, and Anais’ fingers twinged at the thought, even as she began spreading the various chunks out for inspection. A wry twist graced her lips at the sight; it was clear that neither she nor Ixtli had been very concerned with thoroughly cleaning the fat while butchering. Pieces of red flesh, veins and tendons speckled the chunks of fat. Grabbing the smallest knife she had, the Svefra pulled the nearest piece close to her to begin working.

Small cuts easily separated the fat from the bulk of the non-fat bits, but in the midday sun the whole mass was sticky and soft and unpleasant to work with. I miss beeswax already, the thought swam forlornly through her mind as she pried and pulled at a particularly stubborn tendon, fat splitting apart before the stringy piece finally broke, half pulling away and half still inside the fat. Wrinkling her nose, Anais set her small knife aside and stared at the slippery, squishy mass with a frown.

She hadn’t remembered tallow being this difficult to work with, although it had been awhile since she’d used the stuff. And it wasn’t nearly as hot as it is here, she reasoned. Fire was used to melt fat, so hotter temperatures in general would make it softer. Her fingertips were now coated with the meaty-smelling substance, and she’d barely begun her task. “Ugh,” she groaned softly, going in for more trimming.

The process took nearly a bell, between cleaning and trimming the fat and scraping it off of her hands and then her knife and then her hands again, but when she was finished, she had a rather large pile of very small pieces of pig fat ready to cook down. The Svefra piled her fat clumps into her cooking pot, telltale fingerprints dotting the sides of the thing from the greasy smears of fat still clinging to her hands. Anais kept a running list in her head: Lard is messier than beeswax, smells worse, takes more work to clean – these had better be amazing candles.

Satisfied that she'd done all she could with her knife and the messy lard, she walked briskly to the stream behind the kitchens to wash the remaining traces of fat from her hands as best she could before beginning the lengthy rendering process.

Although she had done her best to trim out everything that shouldn’t be in a candle, there would still be bits of pig meat and the like that would crisp up and float to the top of the lard. It was the one benefit she could see for using pig lard over beeswax: the crispy bits made an excellent snack while the heat melted out impurities in the lard. Beeswax never yielded such a treat, and her mouth watered a bit at the thought as she glanced around for firewood. Surely there would be some? She hadn’t thought to collect it from the beach as she walked, and hadn’t had the hands free to do so in any case. A quick investigation led her to a small, covered shed filled with firewood.

Gathering up an armload of wood in varying sizes, she moved to the edge of the fire pit and began to lay out the bones of her fire. Leaves and bits of bark she peeled from the larger sticks of wood, mounding them loosely in the pit before leaning several slightly larger twigs over the mess. The spark from her flint and steel should catch on the tinder and then spread to the twigs, before she fed it more wood – rendering fat and melting wax took steady, lower heat and Anais didn’t want a blazing fire to burn and ruin her lard. Besides the waste of resources, the smell would be awful.

Retrieving her fire-starting kit from its home in her crate, she knelt down alongside the fire pit and struck flint to steel, angling her hands to direct the tiny orange sparks onto the kindling. After a few frustrating tries, as the lingering coating of fat on her hands made the tools difficult to work with, a small flame began to lick upwards. Anais bent near and blew, gently fanning it to larger life before adding another smallish piece of wood to the fire.
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Last edited by Anais Seawind on August 22nd, 2018, 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Anais Seawind
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Meat-Scented Candles

Postby Anais Seawind on August 22nd, 2018, 3:40 am



A rack of cooking paraphernalia hung above the fire pit, and Anais reached up to free a small grate from the support; not much larger than the pot she was using to render the fat, it had been built with legs quite a bit higher than a normal cooking rack. The added height would keep the pot of lard situated a safe distance from the flickering orange of the flames, as long as Anais didn’t give in to temptation and over-feed the small fire. Settling the rack over the fire she’d laid, she set her pot on top and nudged it over the center of the flame; judging the fire with a practiced eye, she nodded at it approvingly. It was just licking at the bottom of the pot; with careful stirring, the lard should melt without burning. Eventually.

Alone, Anais would be humming or singing at this point, anything to keep her mind diverted and occupied while she practiced patience waiting for the heat to do its work. Out in the common area of Syka, however, she wasn’t comfortable enough to behave that way. Instead, she found herself inspecting the cooking area interestedly.

Paths had been laid, the entire area covered in what looked (and felt) like crushed shells, setting the communal kitchens pleasantly apart from the rest of the commons and giving it definition. Aside from the expected ovens and fire pit, the area also hosted several small garden beds; Anais eyed them curiously. Living on the water, she’d never really had a chance to grow things – the idea hadn’t even really occurred to her until the few days she’d spent on Asli Isle, with Teldren. The old man had grown a marvelous assortment of food on his island, and had been generous enough to impart a scant few details about the growing of things to her. Since coming to Syka and discovering that she now, inexplicably, had land to grow things on, it had occurred to her to give gardening a try.

But the meaty odor wafting to her on the breeze reminded the Svefra that she had other responsibilities this day, and she turned her focus back to the melting lard. It had gone gooey in the bottom of the pot, bubbling lazily in the heat from the fire. Needs a stir, she thought to herself, retrieving a long spoon kept for just such a task from her crate of supplies. It was metal, wrapped with a leather thong to keep the handle from transferring too much heat, and a wide, shallow bowl at the end. Slipping it down into the rapidly softening lard, Anais stirred the mass in circles, spreading the heat around and further breaking up the largest chunks of fat.

Even with a fire as weak as hers, the additional heat was enough to draw beads of sweat to her skin. Anais’ abused shirt was further imposed on as she grabbed the hem up and used it to wipe the moisture from her forehead with one hand, while the other kept up a steady stirring motion. At this point in the process, it was crucial that the lard not be allowed to sit on the heat, simmering and cooking. Small bits of fats, laden with the tiniest pieces of meat, tendon, and vein had begun to crisp up and float to the surface. As she stirred, Anais scooped them out, laying them aside on one of the flat stones lining the pit, eagerly waiting for them to cool so that she could pop them into her mouth.
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Anais Seawind
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Meat-Scented Candles

Postby Anais Seawind on August 22nd, 2018, 2:43 pm



After several more passes with the spoon, the visible bits of debris had been removed from the fat and Anais had a small pile of crispy edible bits alongside her. But before she allowed herself to eat them, she used the spoon to lift the pot by its handle and slide it across the cooking rack, away from the heat. The melted fat would sit, near the fire but not directly over it, for another half a bell. It was important to get out as much of the non-fat parts as possible; the more pieces of meat and tendon left in, the meatier the final product would smell. Meat-scented candles might be a novelty, but she doubted that the settlers on Syka would be excited to have their lighting all smell like dinner.

And it might draw wild animals, she frowned as the thought occurred. She definitely didn’t want to be using candles that attracted predators from the jungle.

Resigned to the process, Anais fed more wood into her fire and watched for a moment as the flames eagerly renewed themselves, licking at the fresh fuel before calming back down to the orange embers that she needed. Satisfied that it would not burn too high or too hot, the woman allowed herself to finally enjoy the cooled, crispy bits of meat taken from the pig fat, popping them into her mouth where they seemed to melt almost instantly. Snack finished, she went back to her candle-making crate and plucked out the thin cotton twine that served as her wicking material and began measuring it out.

The pot holding her lard was just under half full of the yellow-tinged stuff, not enough to make a large batch of candles. Using her forearm as a guide, she began wrapping the twine from her hand, under her elbow, and back up again – this formed several large loops, and when she had done it several times, Anais sliced the twine, separating a length of it. What she was left with was 5 large loops, which she sliced apart at either end. The 10 mostly-even lengths of twine she had created would be the basis for her dipped candles; each piece of twine would make 2 6-inch candles, attached at the wick. If she had enough lard, she would finish the day with 20 freshly-dipped candles. A small batch, but better than nothing – and the lard had been free.

Next she pulled out her weights, the small, heavy objects she would tie to the bottoms of her wicks to hold the dipped candles straight. They were coated in old wax from previous dippings, lumpy and misshapen, but still serviceable. With her knife, she scraped around the center holes of the weights, widening the openings where the wick would feed through before beginning to thread them and knot the wicks around them. It was quick work, and within chimes a weight had been attached to either end of every wick. The only prep work she had left was to assemble her small drying rack and wait for the lard to finish rendering.

The drying rack was made of several rather thin lengths of wood; its lack of metal fixtures or permanent anchors made it highly portable – the whole thing, taken apart, took up almost no space in her supply crate. But once the wooden rods were slipped into their specific holes, it was a sturdy construct that allowed her dipped candles to dangle in the air, exposed to any breeze that may be around, while still holding their shape. Before she’d gotten it, her dipped candles had dried laying down, and always seemed to end up with one flat side, deformed and a bit silly looking.
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Anais Seawind
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Meat-Scented Candles

Postby Anais Seawind on August 22nd, 2018, 11:55 pm



Sliding the pot off of the heat entirely, Anais surveyed the liquid lard, spooning out the few crispy bits that had again risen to the top. The heating process had changed its color from yellow to a light ivory, and reduced much of the odor. Sniffing it, the blond was relieved to smell only the barest hint of “meatinesss” remained. Maybe time would age it out of the finished product? Only one way to know, she thought, reaching for a length of weighted wick. The mixture would begin cooling quickly, although the warmth of the day worked in her favor in this, and would keep it at a dippable temperature longer than usual; if she were fast, she would only need to reheat the lard a few times.

Pinching the middle of the wick so that the two weighted ends hung down, swinging together with a faint clanking noise, Anais dipped them slowly into the still-warm lard. It behaved much like beeswax, a thin layer coating the wax and weight, excess running slowly down the length of the wick to drip back into the pot. She repeated the process, building another layer onto the budding candle. It took 10 or so dips of beeswax to make a good-sized candle, and the lard was sticking in thinner layers. Anais estimated it would take her twice as many dips of the wick to get the same result, and frowned. The lard so far wasn’t stacking up well against the beeswax.

Still, she was determined to give it an honest chance, and the Svefra repeated the dipping process with the wick she’d started, and continued on to the rest of her prepared wicks. Between reheating the lard and dipping the candles, the process was lengthy, and it took her the better part of another bell to finish up the small amount of candles she was crafting. As she hung the last one carefully over the drying rack, she poked a tentative finger at the first candle she’d dipped. It moved gently at her touch, a small imprint left in the otherwise smooth length of the candle. Anais rubbed her finger tips together, noting the sticky-greasy feeling of lard that had transferred from the candle to her skin and frowning.

“Beeswax would be hard by now,” she murmured to herself. “But it’s still pretty warm out…” her voice trailed off as she considered the candles. It would be best to let them sit a bit longer to harden before removing them from the rack – if they were still malleable with a light touch, they wouldn’t stand up to travel or use at all.

Leaving her supplies and drying rack by the fire pit, Anais grabbed her cooking pot, now cooled to the touch, and walked it to the stream behind the cooking area. Grabbing a loose handful of sandy soil, she began to scrub the remaining slick lard from the inside of her pot. It was a different process than removing wax, which she could mostly just scrap off, saving the shavings for another day. The lard was sticky, clinging to both the pot and her hands, and only after several chimes of alternate scrubbing and rinsing in the stream did it begin to feel clean to her touch. Anais’ shoulders began to ache from the effort, the scrubbing reminding her muscles of the morning she’d spent slicing away at a pig carcass, and she hurried her pace cleaning up the rest of her supplies and setting the fire pit back to rights.

After everything was tidied again, she turned her attention once more to the candles, hanging in the waning light. They looked like normal tapers, and she chanced wrapping delicate fingers around the one that had been drying the longest, dismayed to find it still soft, sticky and unpleasant to touch. She huffed in frustration, eyes moving from her messy hand to the candle she’d just mangled. “How long does it take for this stuff to dry?!”

Her patience was thin at this point, the day’s work and the afternoon spent working near a hot fire pit combined to spark a hint of anger in the words and she barely kept herself from throwing the sticky former candle into the trees. Instead, Anais took a deep breath, focusing on quieting her temper and turning her mind to a more logical solution. It would be pointless to throw away an entire afternoon’s worth of work, when the candles might just need a much longer drying time than her usual beeswax. Keeping her frustration at bay, she carefully picked up the drying rack and set it atop her crate of supplies. If she were careful, she may be able to transport the whole mess back to her casino, where they could dry at their own petching convenience.

With a barely audible grumble, Anais set off slowly with the awkward bundle in her arms.

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oocUgh. Lol. I don’t know where this one got away from me but who ever grades it has my sincerest apologies.
User avatar
Anais Seawind
Player
 
Posts: 114
Words: 128500
Joined roleplay: November 26th, 2014, 5:56 am
Location: Syka
Race: Human, Svefra
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Medals: 1
Donor (1)


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