Sunday, October 25, 2009

As promised... Homemade Yogurt

My main guide for making yogurt is one I I found on ehow. But I thought I would share my version and some pictures.
  • milk 
  • yogurt (yes, it takes yogurt to make yogurt - unflavored with active cultures - Stoneyfield is my favorite to use as a starter yogurt)
  • thermometer - The temperature of the milk is very important (learned that the hard way). I have used a meat thermometer, but we now have a real candy thermometer.
  • whisk - Getting the "already yogurt" to mix well into the "becoming yogurt" is also very important (another hard way lesson).
  • a pot to heat it in (narrow at the base ideally)
This is how I do it:

1. Measure the milk into a quart jar. I fill it a little less than the full jar so there's room for the yogurt & milk together when you go to let it "process." I usually leave about two inches gap.

2. Get your pot and heat the milk to 110 degrees F. I usually tilt the pot to submerge the bottom of the thermometer to get a more accurate reading. I also keep swirling the milk around with a whisk to get a good reading too.

3. Once the milk hits 110 degrees, remove from the heat and whisk in about 1/3 cup of yogurt immediately. Then I pour it back into the jar.

4. Set the yogurt in a warm place (110 degrees) for about 8 to 10 hours. My yogurt mentor, Susan, has said that the longer you leave it, the more tart it becomes. My family likes it about the 10 hour mark. I make it before I go to bed while I'm still cleaning up. Then the next morning, while I'm making breakfast I remember that I left it and then put it into the fridge.

As far as leaving the "milk becoming yogurt" in a warm place.... My yogurt mentor places hers in the oven with the light on all night. I've heard you can use heating pads or a crockpot. I just happen to have two different yogurt making things.

I bought the Salton 1-quart yogurt maker from Amazon about a year ago and paid maybe $25 to $30 including shipping. They currently have this listed for almost $200! -which is absolutely insane. I picked up a single serving yogurt maker which is sort of an older version of this one. It was $5 -sweet!
We are plain yogurt people. We just keep blueberries in the fridge and add as we serve. I also like mine with toasted oat and a little honey. But I'm trying to lay off the honey. So happy yogurt making! I'm off the pack up my house!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Homeowners! (and a peek)

Today we signed and or initialed roughly 50 sheets of paper. It was very pleasant all around. Our lawyer was great. He said that "happy closings" are rare - usually one or both parties feel like they're getting the shaft. We had the crazy notion that we should pay a fair price, the portion of closing costs that we committed to and be flexible about the rest. The "sellers" are not just a line on a form. They are people. They have their own family's needs to consider. I'm just very grateful that they are not only "sellers" but our friends.

So as I ponder creating my home, there are several things we want to do. Most of the house is in excellent shape. Mostly we are looking at wall color changes, etc. I'll be sharing before and after pictures of each room as we "make it our own." The one room that we want to update is the kitchen. We won't be in the house for another 10 days, but I thought I would give you a peek at the kitchen as it is now.

This is one corner - looking up and then looking down towards the floor. I am considering just painting the stove vent for temporary appearance improvement. At some point we may replace it but given the thousands of dollars out of our bank account - it is not high on our priority list. A can of Olympic zero VOC paint in an almond or sage is cheap enough and will really make the kitchen feel like mine. Any natural, fugal ideas?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Moving is...naturally stressful

This is our new house and we are so excited. You can't get this from the photo, but the shutters are a bright, royal blue. So anytime someone is coming over, we just say, "the house with the blue shutters" and they will know exactly which one ;-)

We are so excited that our loan was approved. If you are in the market and don't make a lot of money - you may want to look into BB&T's CHIP loan. It is a loan that has 3% down with no PMI!

So as we think about moving (in 25 days!) there are a few things that we need to do. There are some hardwood floors in the room that will become the girl's new room. We plan to take up the carpet and if necessary resurface and seal the floors. We've heard this is a big job, but we will be a little low on cash and elbow grease is free.

The main decision right now is what kind of sealant to put on the floor. The least VOC levels I could find at Lowe's Home Improvement was 235 g. Most were 450 g. A product we are considering is the Polyurseal BP which is a very, very low VOC product. Since the women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who work away from home, we want to do all we can to minimize toxins in our home.

I'm packing as much as possible (while planning for some major minsitry functions) and I think we'll be in a good spot. I bought some zero VOC Olympic paint for the china cabinet we bought off Craig's list. That is a project Pete and I will be tackling together in the next couple of weeks.

And I'm thinking of doing some canning. I'm currently looking for a pressure canner. The jelly was downright inspirational. So if you know of anyone who doesn't want theirs anymore... ;-) I'll keep you updated. Prayers appreciated for good progress packing, potty-training and wise natural choices that are financially feasible. Thanks!