April 29, 2011


It's been a while since this place has had a facelift.  Maybe it's time for a change again.  Let me see what I can come up...

April 25, 2011


Two week ago our Pinto Bison (he was lovingly nicknamed that years ago) had a quick surgery to remove a fatty deposit/lump by his front shoulder.  About 4 days after the surgery --just when the fur started to regrow and the sutures started to itch-- he started incessantly licking close to the wound.  He couldn't reach the wound itself due to its location but could get about 2 inches away.  He licked and licked and licked and licked until he started to make the skin raw.

In true fashion, we were too lazy to drive across town on a Friday night to buy an e-collar (ie. Elizabethan collar, cone, etc.) to hinder his lapping.  After being scolded repeatedly, Pinto Bison emerged from our bedroom sporting this ensemble.

Luckily for him, the attire secured him a late-shift waitressing position with the restaurant famous for well-endowed waitresses, tiny white t-shirts and buffalo wings. (Or so I hear, I've never set foot in such establishment.)  

After a few hours he picked up a new nickname -- Destiny.  A name befitting of any waitress worth her salt.  Especially one that wears tiny white t-shirts.

Apparently he wasn't as amused as we were.  If he had fingers, he'd probably have a gesture or two for us.

April 19, 2011

Today's Tip

(Today's tip is brought to you as a Public Service Announcement to all sleep-deprived mothers.  Please don't ask how I know this information.)

When there is plastic melting on the burners of your stove top, quickly turn the heat off before it catches fire and then allow the burner to completely cool down.  While doing this it's appropriate to curse at yourself if you're the cursing kind and run your burnt fingers under cold water if necessary; it helps to pass the time.  After the burner is completely cool, the plastic should just peel off in pieces.

File this under "things you certainly hope to never use but may come in handy someday".  You might thank me for this random tidbit.

April 6, 2011

Yogurt, Part 2

A couple of things I forgot to mention in the other post:
  • when incubating the yogurt you need to maintain the temperature around 100 degrees for the cultures to flourish.  With the light on in the oven mine hovers between 102 and 104.  
  • after incubating the yogurt allow it to chill before trying to strain it.  I tried to strain it warm today and suffice it to say it only created a mess.  A BIG mess.

April 4, 2011

This Ain't No Yoplait

Often at the end of the day I'm scrambling to get just one more thing done before heading to bed.  It always seems that my to-do list is exponentially longer than the time I have available to work on it.  My hubby politely reminds me that projects like this aren't helping the situation.  

A few weeks ago I got fed up with spending $0.50-1.00 on a container of yogurt.  Especially ones with ingredients on the label that I can't pronounce.  So I put in a request to a friend and started on a new adventure--making my own yogurt.  I was amazed at how simple the process actually is.

Between yogurt cultures and sourdough starters it appears as though, perhaps I should have been a microbiologist instead of a soil scientist. 

All you need to get started is a couple quarts of milk and a small amount of unsweetened, plain yogurt with active cultures.  After you make the first batch you can use use some of your homemade for future batches.  (I've used whole milk both times I've made it now, but will try 2% the next time.  I've read that you don't want to use less than 2% or it will get "grainy")

2 quarts of milk = 1 half a gallon.  Pour it into a heavy saucepan.

Over medium-high to high heat heat the milk to 175-180 degree Fahrenheit, stirring frequently.  A candy thermometer works well because it clips onto the side of the pan.  Next time I might snag C's nifty beer brewing thermometer (sterilized of course!) as it has an alarm that sounds when you reach your designated temperature.

Remove from heat and allow milk to cool to a temperature between 110 and 120 Fahrenheit. 

I usually cheat at this point and drop the saucepan into the kitchen sink, filling the basin with cold tap water.  With constant stirring it drops the temperature of the milk to it's desired range within a couple of minutes.

Take about a cup of the warmed milk and whisk it into about 1/4 cup of your unsweetened yogurt.

After whisking, pour mixture into the saucepan and mix everything well.

Wrap the saucepan in a heavy towel and put into a conventional oven that has been preheated for about one minute.  Turn the oven light on.  Let it sit and incubate for 10-14 hours.  The time varies depending on the environment and how thick you want your yogurt.  Mine typically takes 12-14.  I start it after dinner and let it go overnight, pulling it mid-morning the next day.

When it's done incubating, pull the yogurt from the oven and stick it in the refrigerator to chill.  

If you want regular yogurt go ahead and stop here.  If you're like me and want to try your hand at Greek yogurt, keep going.  

After pulling the yogurt from the oven I strain it to thicken the consistency.  My system is weird but it works well -- I line a strainer with muslin, put the yogurt into cheesecloth and then the cheesecloth goes into the muslin-lined strainer.  (It's cheaper than buying a $75 bullion strainer and a standard kitchen strainer doesn't have a fine enough mesh.)  To speed the process I place a plate on top of it all and add some weight.

Then I let it sit for another hour or so.

I let it go until it quits dripping whey into the collection pan.

Ideally you want to reduce it by half.  I've found that getting about 3 cups of liquid out makes for a perfect consistency. 

Then put your thickened, creamy yogurt into a tightly sealed container and refrigerator.  It will thicken more as it cools.

Apparently I got so excited about the finished product that I forgot to take shots of the yogurt before it went into the fridge.  Oops!  But it doesn't last around here long so I'll try to get some on the next batch.

So far this has been a huge hit.  I bought some vanilla Torani syrup to sweeten it and it works really well -- toss in some fresh fruit or granola and it's hands down better than anything you could buy at the store.