Thursday, May 16, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

Aaron gets these ideas in his head every so often about things I should learn to make or do because they would increase our quality of life. They tend to be really annoying things that I think are going to take FOREVER. So far? I think everyone of them has been a keeper.

Back at Thanksgiving we were at his Grandma's place and his Aunt Cara had brought some homemade yogurt. It was AMAZING! I got the recipe, dutifully made it, have adjusted it and now wouldn't go back to store bought. We like our yogurt pretty mellow- you can adjust the tartness by incubating the yogurt for longer or shorter periods of time. Anyway, the recipe as I make it (Aunt Cara makes hers in the crock pot, but my crock pot didn't get the yogurt hot enough plus it was a whole day affair and I'm too impatient for that!):

Tools and ingredients:
- 4 cups milk to 1/4 cup storebought plain greek yogurt with live active cultures (I use a gallon of milk and one cup yogurt)
- pot big enough for milk with a good seal
- oven:)
- food thermometer
- flour sack cloth (mine are 36"x36"), Aunt Cara uses a thick cheesecloth and my mother an old pillowcase:P (Cara gave me thick cheesecloth but um, I ruined it by accident and couldn't find anything thick enough that was labeled cheesecloth and the flour sack cloth works great!)
- strainer
- something to whip the yogurt (hand mixer, wisk, kitchen aide....)

1. Heat milk to 180 degrees stirring often to ensure bottom doesn't scorch.
2. Cool milk to 115-120 degrees. (I aim for closer to 120 degrees.)
3. Remove one cup of milk and gently mix yogurt starter into it.

4. Mix results of above step into pot of hot milk.
5. Put lid on pot.
6. Put pot in oven, close oven door and turn oven light on (this ensures the oven temperature stays around 115-120 degrees).
7. Incubate for 5 hours for a milder yogurt or overnight for a more sour yogurt (if you are making leban you would incubate for longer).
8. Put pot in fridge to cool until it's cool (a couple hours or even days if you forget about it:P)
9. Set strainer up over a bowl to catch the whey. Layer the strainer with the cloth and pour yogurt into the cloth.
10. Leave till desired thickness. For sure strain until the yogurt falls off the cloth, if your yogurt is still sticking to the sides then you haven't strained it enough. If you want it thicker use a spatula to mix the yogurt while it's in the cloth.
11. Whip yogurt, this keeps the yogurt from separating.
12. Set aside enough of this plain yogurt to make your next batch, I buy a new starter from the store every 5 or so batches because Cara told me too:)
13. Put yogurt in fridge and enjoy! When I make a gallon worth of milk (16 cups) I get about nine cups of yogurt that is the consistency somewhere between regular yogurt and greek yogurt. (See Variations and Serving ideas.)

Hints and Info:
If your yogurt isn't turning out there's about a million things that could be going wrong here's some ideas for fixing: Try wrapping your pot in towels while incubating, especially if the seal on your pot isn't great. Use an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is holding at the right temperature. Google a different recipe- maybe the slow cooker version would be better for you?!

My absolute favorite way of eating yogurt is with home made granola and strawberries. It's so yummy we eat it for desert! I will post my granola recipe once it's better:) Today is about attempt number 157 (and Aaron still says it's "chewy"). We also eat it with Lebanese and Indian dishes. Aaron mixes jam into it, we've tried vanilla extract (ok but didn't improve it that much!), we haven't tried honey but that is supposed to be good. It's great in smoothies (although kefir is better!!). Aunt Cara adds a bit of vanilla pudding mix when whipping it and it is AMAZING...... but we're avoiding pudding mix:) It's great for transitioning kids from store bought yogurt to plain, just slowly decrease the amount you add every couple of times!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Green Smoothie: Variation #1

Aaron made this concoction a couple nights ago- actually tasted pretty yummy. Last night he did the same thing but added beets, it looked a whole lot prettier (red instead of brown) but it tasted pretty much like beets. So don't add beets:P (You can replace the kefir with yogurt.)

Sweet Brownie Trifle

Layer 1: Chocolate Brownies
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or shortening
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all together on high speed for four minutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional). Pour into 8x8 pan. Bake @ 350 for 30 minutes. Cool completely and cut into 1" or smaller squares. Use half of the brownie chunks for the first layer.

Layer 2: Chocolate Cream Yumminess*
1 3.9oz instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup water
1 can sweetned condensed milk
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp sugar

Mix first three ingredients. Beat cream. Fold together.

Layer 3: Whipped Topping
1 12oz container whipped topping (the french vanilla is good if you can find it!)

Layer 4: Crushed Candy Bar
1 1.5oz bar chocolate candy (basically you can use anything that looks pretty on top- mini chocolate chips, heath etc)

Layer 5: Fruit
In the above I just had strawberries but you can use bananas, blueberries or other random berries.

Layers 6-9: Repeat layers 1-4

For Layer 2 you can use instant vanilla pudding mix- follow the pie directions and then fold in 1/2 a cup of whipped topping for some fluffiness. If you use bananas in the fruit layer it resembles Chocolate Banana pudding pie!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

homemade, low fat, no flour or sugar ice-cream: mashed bananas!

I have an addiction: chocolate ridden and sugar filled fake ice-cream. During the winter I manage to contain myself but when it's 100 degrees outside and we don't have central air??! I eat a massive bowl at least once a day. Well I've found a new best friend: frozen, mashed bananas! I saw this concoction pop up on facebook, blogs and pinterest before I believed that it MIGHT actually taste ok:P

Take a frozen banana, peel it, chop it, stick it into a food processor. Blend it, stirring occasionally and then enjoy. If the banana flavor bothers you try blending in peanut butter, melted chocolate, cocoa, baking chips or jam. OHLALA!

If you eat it really fast and don't think about it too hard it almost tastes like soft serve ice-cream and if you freeze it like hard ice-cream.

Here's the peanut butter hard ice-cream version:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

life with a baby

I knew I'd be busy. I knew I'd get less sleep. I knew I'd get woken up during the night. I knew I'd have a to do list a mile long.

Yet somehow I didn't really KNOW that.

It's likely worse because Leyla doesn't sleep much- her night times are perfectly fine (she's just over two months ands does a four or five hour stretch and then one three hour or two, two hour stretches). She's got some work cut out for her day time sleeps though. If I'm lucky she might do an one hour nap and then she snatches 20 minute naps here and there. It is getting better as I figure her out and finagle her into taking naps. Wearing her in the moby, taking walks, rocking her outside..... No judging but we haven't let her cry herself to sleep yet, well at least not officially. I'm not sure what I think of that particular method.

Basically, my dishes have piled up a mile high, I have loads and loads of clean laundry spilled across the spare bedroom bed, I have piles of to do's and need to put aways, I look like I rolled out of bed even when going out and suppers are a mad dash between feedings. On the bright side? My floors aren't too, too bad (about the same as before she was born minus the spit up splotches we don't notice:P), the bathroom is cleanish and laundry is relatively caught up.

So as long as we don't talk paperwork............. life is actually not going too bad with a wee one. But we have a wee one and I've fallen in love. Her happy moments are adorable, and I love snuggling her while she's sleeping.

But I really wish someone would have told me just how much work it would be. Like told me so that I would understand that I needed to finish all my projects BEFORE she was born.

Like the chair I'm reupholstering. I started it the day before I went into labour. Why didn't I start it, OH, WHEN I BOUGHT THE FABRIC LIKE 3 MONTHS BEFORE SHE WAS BORN!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Leyla Madeline

Our little lovely. Born April 13 at 10 lbs and 21 3/4" long.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another walk in the park only this time in March

The weather here has been GORGEOUS! I mean, it's the beginning of April and our lawn desperately needs mowing!

My one main complaint with this pregnancy are my hips. They have ached since about month 3 and now Babe is sitting on a nerve which makes it OH APPROXIMATELY ONE MILLION TIMES WORSE.

Normally one would take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for runs, walks, bike rides etc. Instead Aaron and I go for ambles. Short ambles. Here are some photos from the last one:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March: Nursery

Today you get to see the nursery:) It's basically done, as in the walls are painted, the carpet is installed, the trim is even in!!! We have most of babe's stuff in there but haven't hung anything on the walls yet, nor have we figured out the queen size bed supports. Right now it's just a mattress on the floor with the quilt draped over it. But when Mom and Dad come they'll have somewhere to sleep other than the pull out couch with a bar that shoves into your backside no matter which way you lie. Our poor guests:P

This block is as finished as it is now. I made the queen duvet cover, crib quilt, change table cover and summer swaddle blanket.

Gifts and in progress shots of projects. Homemade baby wipes, burp cloths, receiving blankets, quilt planning, cradle (that Aaron slept in when he was wee), homemade cradle sheet, Aaron's "goodnight moon" quilt from when he was little and the mobile pieces.

The grunt work. The baby room has taken more time than any other project in our house! We ended up re-drywalling the whole thing as it was in such bad shape. At that point Aaron had the bright idea of twinkle lights and beams. I mean, why do it simply when you have the option of making it complicated?!?!

Friday, March 2, 2012

crying in public

I have a problem.

I'm an emotional wreck. One would assume that this is a direct result of being pregnant but I must admit that it is an ongoing problem. Bursting into tears over the simplest things just because I've had a bad day or I'm tired.

There was the time it happened when my sisters and Candace ganged up on me and stole my cookie dough, the time Dad asked me to bring some loaves of bread in from the car, the time my family ate all the salad at dinner while I was gone for 5 seconds to the bathroom....

It happened again.

Aaron and I have been taking some birth classes, which have actually been really informative and have prepared me (I think) for what it may be like. During the second class they showed a video of the first real delivery I have seen. It was a home video and rather badly done (corny music and lots of moaning while rocking back and forth). There was nothing gory but you could tell it wasn't the most wonderful experience of her life. So the climax comes and a wee baby babe is born, the new Daddy announces, "it's a girl!" and the new Mommy whispers to her baby, "it was worth it!"

My eyes had begun watering at the Daddy saying the gender and by the time the Mommy made her comment? Body wracking sobs.

I married a good man- he squelched his laughter, put his arm around me and tried to ignore the sympathetic looks from the male half of the other six couples in the room.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

project 360: week 8

This week started out with colds (no pictures) and then well, I sewed, Aaron worked and we ate in between. 

Concentrating on sewing NOT on my annoying husband trying to take pictures of my double chin.

Pan fried steak as we only have a charcoal grill which doesn't cook well in winter. This is a very close second best to grilled steak though.

Yards and yards of fabric.

We really need to take bump pictures during the day when the lighting doesn't create blurry pictures. Oh well. I've stopped counting how far along I am. The bump is just big and slowing me down. Baby should arrive beginningish of april though:)

The big quilt is DONE!!!! Now on to shams and the matching wee baby quilt.