Friday, March 2, 2012

Tornado alley....

What a day for tornadoes! We're in Nashville this weekend, the storms have gone North of us, Ryan and family are safe in Lexington, but it's been a roller coaster ride with this weather.

The dogs and I are snuggled in, I'm watching the radar, the rest if the family has gone in search of a rabbit. More about that later...

 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I think Betty White looks better than Angelina Jolie…

Carlene sent me this today, so funny I had to share!!!

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How to Make Greek Yogurt

I love Greek Yogurt, but it’s really pricey and if you like to cook, you can make it yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Before I start this post, I have to give credit to Paula at Salad-in-a-Jar, I followed her techniques, and she made it so simple.

The first time is the hardest, but it’s really not that difficult, ladies.  I went to Amazon to price yogurt, 17.6 ounces of Fage Total Greek Yogurt is $6.99.

The weight of my yogurt was 18.8 ounces, and it cost me approximately $1.50 – I used a half a gallon of milk, and I paid $2.99 a gallon for the milk at Aldi’s.  Now I did have an initial investment of $1.69 for a tiny single-serve container of Fage Unflavored Yogurt, but I’m not counting that, because I will never have to buy this again, as I can save a couple of teaspoons of each batch when I make more.

To make yogurt you need a half a gallon of non-fat milk and 2 teaspoon of live yogurt culture.  Buy unflavored non-fat yogurt and look on the side of the container to make sure that it has live yogurt cultures.  I bought Fage, I’ve also heard that Dannon non-fat has live yogurt cultures, as well.

I have an 8 cup measuring bowl, so I poured 8 cups of milk into the bowl and put it in the microwave to heat to a temperature of 175-180 degrees.  This is much easier than doing it in a saucepan on the stove because you don’t have to constantly watch it.  Paula said that it took 17 minutes in her microwave, my 1000 watt microwave takes 15-16 minutes.

Big_Green_Egg_Digital_ThermometerI have a Polder Digital Thermometer which makes it really simple to tell what temperature your milk is, but a candy thermometer would work just as well. 

I started putting my thermometer into the microwave and testing at 16 minutes, I repeated this several times as I had never done this before and didn’t want it to get too hot.  The next time I do this I will know how long it takes and it will be much easier.


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You need to let this sit and cool to a temperature of between 100-110 degrees, it will take about 20-30 minutes to reach this temperature. I whisked in a Tablespoon of Fage unnflavored yogurt and went to the next step.

This is where it got tricky for me, I didn’t know how to keep my yogurt at 100 degrees.  I preheated my oven to 170, as low as my temperature allows, for less than a minute, and my temperature had already risen to 110 degrees, so I opened the door until it backed off to 100 degrees.  I left on my oven light, sealed my mixing bowl of yogurt with aluminum foil, wrapped it in a towel and put it in the oven to “ferment.”  Some ovens can be set to 100 degrees, if you’re one of the lucky ones that has that feature this would be much easier to regulate.

It takes anywhere from 6-12 hours to make yogurt, the longer you leave it, the more sour it gets, and I like it mild so I checked mine after 6 hours, and it wasn’t gelatinous, so I put it back into the oven and pulled it after 8 hours.  It still seemed thin, and I was pretty skeptical at this point, but I whisked it, covered it and put it in the refrigerator overnight. 

A lot of people ferment their yogurt overnight, but I made mine mid-day, as I didn’t know how to regulate the temperature.  I found that my oven stayed at a pretty consistent 105 degrees with the light on, occasionally it would start creeping up to 108 and I would panic and open the door until the temperature backed off to 100 degrees.  

This morning I took the yogurt out of the fridge, it still seemed runny, I didn’t whisk it again, I just poured it into my makeshift strainer.  You need a really fine mesh boullon strainer for yogurt, they are pricey $79 on Amazon, but I don’t have one so I had to make my own.

I have a strainer that sits over the sink, it’s wide, so I think it takes less time to strain, I lined it with a tea towel, and then put several folded layers of paper towel on top of the towel, as I didn’t want to yogurt to touch the tea towel and let it strain.

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I quickly realized that I didn’t actually need the towel, I used an old one, it looked icky, so I just removed it and it worked fine to let the yogurt drain on the layers of paper towel.  You can also use cheesecloth for this, but then you have to wash it, paper towel is easier, you just toss it.

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You can see that the yogurt has gotten really thick, look at the difference between picture 1 and picture 2, I let it drain for almost 3 hours.

Then I put it in mother’s old stainless steel bowl, my very favorite thing in the kitchen, but you’ve all heard before about how much I love this old bowl, and you can see how thick this is.  You could slice it with a knife, it’s so thick.

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Then I whisked it, and it turned into this fluffy, wonderful yogurt.  Some people add a bit of skim milk at this point to make it even creamier, but I want it really thick, so I didn’t add milk back in.

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I’m going to have a scoop of this on a baked potato tonight with some fresh chives from my garden.  Oh so good!

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I put it in my Ball jar and the finished product yielded almost a quart.   I’m amazed by the fact that it reduces so much, but you’re taking out all of the liquid (whey) which some people use for different things, they use it instead of water for cookies veggies, for homemade bread, some people even water houseplants with it.

You’re probably thinking “this is a lot of work,” but it seriously isn’t, once you figure out the technique, it’s going to be really simple.

If you’re interested in this, Paula has a video, explaining it all.  You can access it here.

Note:  Some recipes called for powdered milk to give added protein and make it richer.  I was going to put it in, but I noticed a notation on salad-in-a-jar website that said she no longer does this, as she likes the texture better without it, so I left it out.

It’s healthy, it’s good for your gut, it’s cheap, it’s totally natural, it’s Yogurt!!!!!!!

2.22.13 Update:

I've now made a badzillion batches of yogurt, and I'm an old pro. I no longer have my digital thermometer, it bit the dust, now I just have a regular meat thermometer that I put in the milk.  I'm making it with whole milk, which is absolutely decadent, and the calories aren't that bad, it's so satisfying, I eat less, probably 8 ounces, so calories are about 100.

It's not that hard once you do it a few times, I can do i in my sleep now.  Make a batch and see if you aren't amazed.  Just make sure you get your temperatures right and you will have no problem.

I HAVE YOGURT!!!!!

yoho

The first time trying anything is a pain in the patootie, and I was skeptical about the temperature, but it worked, it really worked!!!!!!

Now I’m straining it for greek yogurt.  I’ve already had a bowl with  cherries this morning and it was over the top yummy deliciousness.

I’ll update you in a bit, telling you exactly how I did it, but I’m really excited.  This is so cool!!!  Maybe I’ll make cottage cheese next, ya think?

I read quite a bit about the process but decided to do it like Paula does over at salad-in-a-jar.  So thank you Paula, this is so COOL!!!!

Note:  I wasn’t kidding about the cottage cheese, and it looks like it’s a walk in the park to make.  Here’s how Alton Brown makes it…

Blogging, it’s such a good thing…

I sit here at my computer, looking out at at the horse pasture, and I open my blogging client (Windows Live Writer) and blog whatever comes into my head, not knowing who reads what I’ve written or for the most part what people think.

You seldom comment, my readers, and that’s fine, instead of comments, I get emails and I’ve met the most amazing women through this blog, it has truly expanded my world.  Some of you I hear from occasionally, others frequently, and it always brightens my day.

I have friends I would have never known, two women, especially who have become such good friends, Carlene and Seana.  And I mustn’t forget Alena, who lives in California and drove here last fall when she was visiting Nashville to stay overnight.  Recently, Holly, a delightful woman from Oklahoma, got in touch with me and we’ve had a flurry of emails going back and forth.  She’s going to try straw-bale gardening this spring, and I’m anxious for pictures and to see how it works for her.

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This morning Holly sent me a tutorial, I thought some of you might enjoy as well, for labeling jars.  How clever, the way this woman did this, I may just have to give this a try with those Ball jars in my “working” kitchen.

Here’s the link with instructions, she even included the actual labels she made…

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Life…..

Boy, howdy, it’s been a doozie of a day!!! 

Well, it hasn’t really, and no I don’t talk like this, but I always wanted to say this phrase, so I did.

I made yogurt today, actually I’m still making it, it will be out of the oven at 9pm, and then I strain it and hopefully it turns into creamy, smooth, greek yogurt.  We’ll see how that works out.

I don’t have a yogurt maker yet, so I made it the old fashioned way.  I may be saying “Boy Howdy” for sure if I take it out of the oven and it’s curdled.  I’ve only been working on this since noon.  It’s been a “doozie of a day!!!”  Omg, I’m such a dork!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

And speaking of coffee...

 

This is on my bucket list

The idea of doing this has always fascinated me. It can't be that hard. Umhmmmm, sure it can't!

My take on the Oscars aka The Martin Scorsese show

First of all, I don’t care how talented this man is, the cameras played to him all night and he was referred to time and time again and it was a big yawn!

And don’t get me started on Angelina Jolie who looked absolutely ridiculous with that leg thrown out of her gown, posing with her arm on her hip while presenting the award.  She looked imaciated, intensely uncomfortable, and absolutely over the top full of herself. I am not a fan!

And of course I have to refer to Jennifer Lopez’s nipple slip – did it show or did it not?  I immediately thought I saw a shadow when I was watching her, but I did enjoy her and Cameron Diaz and their back pose that didn’t come off and their laughing at themselves.

Billy Crystal, amazing as always, the man is a treasure, and has the quickest wit, he simply amazes me.

Meryl Streep was wonderful, and even though I found myself rooting for Viola Davis, the woman is a wonder, no doubt about it, the most talented actress of our time and I loved it when she gave credit to her long time husband and they both teared up and he put his hand over his heart, it was so touching.

What I did like – when they did the segment about the celebrities that passed last year, they appropriately finished it with Elizabeth Taylor.  I was just waiting for it to be Whitney Houston, and if it was I was ready to throw my lamp through the television screen.  At least somebody had some sense and gave her the final tribute, very fitting.

The gowns – really pretty, glamorous, and even though people seemed to love Penelope Cruz’s look, I thought it looked frumpy. 

And that’s it, my quick take, the show was way too long, but not too boring, and I loved Ellen and her vintage JCP commercial, she was so funny, as usual.

Okay, I’m done with this, I’m going out in the sunshine now, I’m finished with the Oscars…

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My new “working” kitchen

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like change.  I’m not one of those women who’s constantly moving furniture, redecorating, I get things the way I like them and I leave them, and the changes I do make are usually made with baby steps.

Last year I blogged about my pantry redo and it’s been great.  I’ve managed to keep the organization, but my organized bins were stuffed so full that I still didn’t realize exactly what I had.  And now that I’ve acquired more Ball Jars, I’ve been putting a few things, like coconut, chocolate chips, marshmallows and nuts into jars, but I had to stop because I had no room left.

I know you’re rolling your eyes, thinking “oh-oh, here she goes again with those damn jars” and you’re right, but it’s been such a life changing event for me. Punk

Hubby has been telling me for months years to redo my two glass front cabinets in the kitchen.  When we moved here nine years ago, I filled them with blue willow dishes, I have indirect lighting in them, and it’s so pretty, but if I’m honest with you, I’ve never used those dishes once in all these years and I rarely turn on the lighting.  I have the bottom of my dining room hutch filled with blue willow, these were just for display.

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It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve had any appliances sitting on my counter except for my red Kitchenaid mixer, oh and that pricey DualIt toaster like Queen Elizabeth has that’s a piece of crap.  My kitchen was always decorated to the hilt with pretty bottles and pieces of pottery, and it was totally non-functional.  The kids would throw a fit when they visited because there was never enough room to cook.  I finally got smart and got rid of all that stuff and put out the small appliances and it’s made my life so much simpler.

So, this morning, I took a deep breath and had LC take every single one of those dishes out of the cabinets, and then I started a sealing frenzy.  I took things out of the pantry, sealed them in my Ball jars, and started filling my cupboards, three jars deep with pasta, grains, cereal, beans, rice, croutons, etc.  This one is finished, the other one I’m still working on.  I only have two shelves with jars because I can’t reach the top shelf, so I put pieces from mother’s kitchen on the top shelf, her mother’s old coffee grinder, a salt crock and her butter mold.  Now when I open the cabinet I see her things and smile, and I never smiled when I looked at all of those blue dishes, actually I never opened the cabinets at all.

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And the pantry?  It looks positively bare, well not really, but it is a lot more accessible now.  Oh, I’m getting so smart in my old(er) age, who woulda thunk it???

pantry_edited

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