Monday, May 31, 2010

I Think I've Got It!

   I made my 3rd batch of yogurt yesterday, and, at long last, I think I've got it. I used the recipe in my original post, but  I added 1 package of unflavored gelatin to the milk before I heated it. I first put only 1 tsp. of the gelatin in the milk, but I added the rest of the package before I let it cool down to 110 degrees. I do think I need to add more than 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract, because I like it with more vanilla flavor.
   In the picture, the yogurt in the spoon is before I stirred it. After I stirred it, I deemed it the perfect consistancy for me. Nice and creamy and smooth.
  I have plenty of time to play around with yogurt experiments, because it's raining and it's never going to stop. I like rain, but it's been raining most of May. On the plus side, I don't need to water the garden. Things are starting to grow. It would be nice if we could finish planting. Finally have the tomatoes out in their walls of water. I hope they work. Tim says guys at work swear by them.
   Lately, I have been in the sewing mood. I started sewing squares of flannel together by hand way back in high school (in the '70's), to make a quilt and I think I will take them apart and sew them together with the overcast stitch, so hopefully they stay together without unraveling. The squares would also be the same size. Next, I'm trying to decide who thick to make it. I'm leaning towards pretty thick, since it gets a might nippy up here.
   I also found a pattern for a cute teddy bear with a sleeper to wear in the same box as all the flannel. I have some flannel I was going to use for who knows what, and I was thinking about making at least 4 teddy bears out of it and using the scraps to add to the quilt. One teddy bear for each grandchild. I will probably have to make me one, too and maybe other family members. Big plans and I hope I finish them. I seem to lose interest half way through things.
  There will be another grandchild in Dec. and I did start crocheting afghans, but I'm not in the crocheting mood now, and I do have until Dec.
   I could also be cleaning house since Amy and her future fiance (?) are coming in a week and a half, but I got to thinking, if Daniel is going to be a member of this family, he can take us as we are, dust, clutter and all.
   For now, I guess I'll fold the towels I washed yesterday. I really wish someone would invent a dryer that hangs and folds clothes.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Elvis The Rooster

   Yesterday morning, the attack poodle went to the front room window and started barking his little poodle head off. I didn't see anything when I looked. I didn't think much of it, since he does this when he sees the horses' legs from 2 acres over. Chip is a pretty good watch dog, but at times, I really think he either needs glasses or his head examined, or both.
   Eventually, a man and his son came to the door and told me they were looking for their pet rooster, Elvis. The man told me the rooster's name was Elvis because he chased all the girls away. Anyway, Elvis flew the coup. I hadn't seen a wayward rooster, but said I'd keep an eye out for one.
   Later, when I went to water the garden, I noticed chicken feathers in it. I guess they were really rooster feathers. Not a good thing, I thought to myself. There is a coyote problem up here, and I figured that was what happened to Elvis, and just hoped the kids didn't come across what was left of him.
   A couple of hours later, 3 kids went running by, and I wonder why are they running through our yard, they have 60 acres to play in. Then, charging out of the tall grass, I see this little brown rooster. I was happy to see Elvis wasn't coyote food, after all. The kids were trying to catch Elvis. It was pretty funny to watch, a small rooster being chased by 3 laughing kids, zigzagging all over the place.
   I guess the kids finally caught Elvis, or he flew back into their yard, since they all disappeared, and I'm figuring they went home.
   I'm sure Elvis will be back in our yard sometime, and the kids with him. I'd much rather have Elvis than a flock of sheep. I just hope the kids don't go running through our mostly fenced in garden.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finally, it was time to plant our garden

   At long last, the weather cooperated, and we were able to plant most of the garden. We still need to plant the tomatoes, but it's been in the mid to upper 20's at night, so they are still in the house. We are going to try walls of water this year for them. We hear they are the way to go. I hope so, since the tomatoes really need to go outside. They aren't looking to perky right now. We are also planting more potatoes. I think we need to try sweet potatoes this year, too.
   I know it will eventually happen, but so far, no deer. Could be, because it's just a patch of tilled dirt right now until thing start to grow. We are planting a lot of onions and potatoes since we go through them. You'd think, that being a hop, skip and a jump from Idaho, the potato state, we'd be able to get good potatoes here, but we don't.
   We are also planting garlic, red and green bell peppers(yuck), spinach, lettuce, tons of corn, radishes, carrots, turnips, green beans and peas and assorted squash. Oh, and of course zucchini, so we can give it to everyone we know. Kind of a we'll take yours, if you take ours thing. We figure if we over plant, we should have some after the deer eat their share. We will also give to friends and neighbors if we have more than we need.
   I plan to dehydrate most of it. It reconstitutes in boiling water, lasts a long time, keeps more nutrients than canning or freezing, and the biggest reason is, it won't be taking up room in our tiny freezer. It gets to take up room in the pantry. For some reason, I keep thinking my dehydrator won't live through this year, even though I have never had any problems with it.  Could be because I've had it since 1993.
   The sheep that live behind us seem to be happy, and well fenced, in their many acres this year. Good thing, since there are a lot more of them. Time will tell, though.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Welcome To The World, Nathan

   This morning, at 10:02 AM , my third grandchild and third grandson, was born. Nathan weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces and is 18 inches long. He's just a little guy. Today is also my mother's birthday. A great grandson is a good present. We all should have no trouble remembering Nathan's birthday.
   Nathan's two older brothers, Micheal and Alix, can teach him all sorts of things, good and bad. I hear he had a rough entry into the world, but his life will be much better. He will be loved by everyone in the family. I know there will be jealousy for a while, maybe a long while. Just think of everything the 3 of them can get into. Enough to cause lots of parental gray hair, which is only fair, since his parents caused lots of parental gray hair.
   Congratulations, Alyssa and David, on your new son, and remember this very important bit of information. Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your kids. Also, all 3 boys will embarrass you in public, but you can get even with them when they are teenagers; what goes around, comes around. The best time for that will be when they have friends over or girlfriends.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Experimental Yogurt, Batch 2

   The first batch of yogurt turned into really good smoothies. I tried maker thicker, richer yogurt yesterday. I used evaporated milk and incubated it for 4 hours at 110 degrees F. in the toaster oven, which was a whole lot easier than turning the crock pot on and off. Yesterdays batch of yogurt thickened up nicely, until I stuck a spoon in it to eat. I ended up stirring it up and drinking it. It was good vanilla yogurt, but I think I like it better using regular milk.
   Next batch, I will increase the powdered milk from 1/3 cup to 2/3 cup, and put 1/2 tsp. of unflavored gelatin in the milk before I scald it. I think I will still incubate it at 110 degrees for 4 hours, since I don't like tangy yogurt. I have read I can strain the whey out of the yogurt to make it thicker, but being the lazy person i am, I think I'll skip that.
   If this next batch doesn't thicken up, I will try the whole envelope of unflavored gelatin which is 1 tsp ( I think). I like the toaster oven for incubation. Set the temperature and the timer and come back later.
   I will get the hang of making yogurt in my quest for eating healthier. If I have to just drink it, so be it. You can by drinkable yogurt. I will also make smoothies and try freezing it in my ice cream maker. The research and experimentation continues.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Experimental Yogurt

   The other day, I was going through some cookbooks of mine, and came across one about making yogurt. I read it, and thought it didn't look that hard, so I'd give it a try.
   Here's the recipe I used: 1-2/3 cup powdered milk
                                         4 cups water
                                         1 heaping tablespoon, plain yogurt that contains live bacteria
                                         1/3 cup powdered milk
                                         1/4-1/3 cup milk
                                         1 tablespoon vanilla extract ( used powdered extract)
                                         Strawberry preserves ( I used Smuckers)
                                         6- 8 oz jelly jars, or some other kind of heat proof container with tight fitting lids
                                         6 Qt. crock pot-heated on low
   Pour boiling water in clean containers.
   I mixed the first 2 ingredients together, and brought to 180 degrees to kill off any unwanted bacteria. I removed it from the heat, and set aside 1/2 cup and poured the rest into a bowl to cool down to 110 degrees.
   I added the plain yogurt to the 1/2 cup milk that I had set aside. When the rest of the milk was 110 degrees,( You don't want to add the yogurt to the milk when it's hotter that 110 degrees because you will kill all the living bacteria) I added the sugar, vanilla, 1/3 cup powdered milk and stirred until the sugar was dissolved. Next I added the 1/2 cup milk, yogurt mixture and mixed well. Pour out the water from the containers.
   I put about 1 heaping tablespoon, (not the measuring kind of spoon), strawberry preserves into the bottom of each 8 oz. jelly jar. Next, I poured the milk mixture into the jars and screwed on the lids.
   I put the jars into my 6 qt. crock pot, and put the lid on, and turned off the heat. I let it sit for 35 minutes and then turned the heat on low for 15 minutes and turned it off for another 35 minutes. I did this for 3 hours. According to the recipe, it was suppose to have gotten thick, like custard. It didn't. This called for further research. I found several sites on the internet that said I could put the jars in my toaster oven if it had a setting for 100-110 degrees. I just happen to have one, so I set the temp for 105 and put the jars in, on a tray, for 1 hour. After the hour was up, it had thickened up, so I put it in the fridge.
   This morning when I went to try it, it looked like yogurt, nice and thick. I stirred it to mix the fruit in the bottom, and it got thinner, like a thin milkshake. It tastes good, just thin.
   I am going to add an 8 oz. jar of yogurt and some crushed ice and make a smoothie with my Magic Bullet. I might add more Strawberry preserves.
   Next time I try making yogurt, I will just use the toaster oven and incubate the yogurt for about 4 hours and see how that works. I've read, that sometimes the most experienced yogurt makers sometimes end up with drinkable yogurt.
   There are ways to incubate the yogurt overnight, but it makes tangier yogurt, but I don't really care for tangier yogurt. Also, some recipes called for 1/2 cup plain yogurt, instead of 1 tablespoon.
   You are suppose to save 1 cup of your yogurt before you add any sugar or anything to it for your next batch of yogurt. You can also freeze the plain store bought yogurt in ice cube trays to use in your next batch. I'll have to try that.
   I will use milk instead of powdered milk next time. I just didn't want to use up my weeks supply of milk. I'd have chocolate milk withdrawls if I did that, and I can't have that.
   Once again, I think I have way too much time on my hands.  I'm trying to get us eating healthier, and I'm trying to figure out how to be more self sufficient. Also, it's a 30 minute trip to the nearest small grocery store.
   The experiments will continue on.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

This is The weekend

This is Mother's Day weekend. Up here, that means it's plant your garden weekend. Tim is busy overhauling our rototiller, which has been sitting for a long time. This year, I think we need his and hers gardens. My spot for the garden isn't the approved garden spot. I'd like flowers this year, besides the vegies. Tim was told, and he told me last year, that the men up here "let" their wives have flower gardens if they keep them weeded. What a laugh. Everywhere I want to plant flowers is a bad spot. You'd think, with 5 1/2 acres there would be somewhere I could plant flowers. I am going to plant marigolds in and around the garden. Hopefully, deer don't like them. We'll see what kind of mishaps strike the garden this year.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Poodles and weeds don't mix

Chip decided to play in the weeds today. He rolled and ran in them. He had such fun. Unfortunately, poodles and weeds don't mix. I tried picking them out of his hair, but he was a mess, so he was attacked with a pair of scissors. His hair was about 2- 2 1/2 inches long. Now, it's about 1/2 inch long. He is still a wooly little dog. I do like longer hair on him, but I think he'll just have short summer hair cuts from now on. My scissor haircuts are getting better. This is the second time I've cut his hair this way. Soon, I hope, I will be buying these scissors with hair cutting guides called Scardy Cuts. Chip doesn't mind scissors, but he's afraid of clippers. I hope they do the trick. I did know Chip would be a high maintenance dog when I got him. Cutting Chips hair could be worse, he could be a sheep dog or a puli.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Next Winter

I just heard on our local news that next year is a La Nina year, which means another cold, wet winter. The newscasters were joking with one another about getting a house in Cabo in January. I think that's a bad sign. I guess we need to start stocking up on food now, since I'll be grounded. We haven't even planted our garden yet. It's a good thing I still have things to do. We'll see what the weather will really be like. It could probably change and be another warmer dryer winter. Time will tell.