Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Memory of BFF Sheila Rice

I met Sheila at the library. She always told me - where all good people are. Somehow she ended up in my car one day. And my life has been forever changed and fulfilled. There are so many instances and days and memories that keep flooding back to me – so I have a few I would like to share, some of my favorites.
Sheila was a storyteller and mostly she talked about her sons and their wives and their children and their children all the time. As you know, she loved all of you. And her stories made us know you too. She knew how to have a whole life – friends, family, interests. And mostly she told stories of Larry and because of that, we all love him so. Sheila loved being a deacon at Brighton Presbyterian. She liked visiting and talking to people. They just need a story and to laugh she would tell me. And she loved the children and the babies. Always the babies.
It was not long after we met that Sheila and I discovered that we both like to read and write and drink lots of coffee. I had never met anyone so well read in my life. We would talk about books and pass them back and forth. When I talked about starting a writers group, she told me she was the 1st on board. And she definitely was. She added the sparkle, the focus and the needed distractions. We decided on venues for everything by where the coffee was best. If there was not any coffee, she threatened to leave. Someone always seemed to find a cup after that.
She loved this city and everything that was happening. She always encouraged others to come to the library and hang out and to go to the events. We went to many together. We watched movies, learned things and laughed always laughed.
One day Sheila heard of an injustice on the women's side of the county jail. She asked me to take her there. We had barely walked in and people already knew her and came up to talk. One officer came up. She shmoozed him. Sheila asked him about, his wife, his kids, laughed, told a funny story from the past and then he asked what brought her there. Sheila mentioned the problem. When she got done the officer started to explain, and said, - You don't understand..and Sheila answered with, - no I don't and either will the people that read the newspaper article. The problem was solved by that evening.
Then there was the declining bus schedule. That was not the “type” the city was trying to draw, she was told. The Type, answered Sheila, and she explained how her life and the life of her children were enriched by being able to use the bus system. The gentleman listened and answered with – I am ashamed, Mrs. Rice. She quickly retorted with – I do not want you to be ashamed, I want you to fix the bus schedule. That's how Sheila was – to the point, but making you smile. The bus schedule never properly got changed and I was blessed with becoming a regular driver for Sheila.
Some days when Sheila and I were together everything we said and heard were song cues. We sang often and loud. We became like a well rehearsed Vaudeville act. We sang and told jokes at Tai Chi and in restaurants and in the car and at the library. She knew how to make a celebration out of anything. If the day was boring, she told the waitress it was her birthday and we got desert and sang. It was forever before I figured out when her birthday really was.
I have a big hole in my heart – but it is so filled with memories. And I am more of a person because Sheila loved me and I love her. Not often do you find someone who will sing with you in a restaurant well after the waitress has kind of asked you not to. But I was blessed enough to be a part of her life to the end. A gift beyond measure. So if you see me singing loudly in a restaurant, as I am drinking coffee – please join in the chorus with Sheila and me.
June 27, 1936 - October 5, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Summer Cooking

The mighty bean has saved me one more time. Actually over and over again, since this summer I seemed to revel in cold bean salads. Other than cooking out, I am totally at a loss as what to fix in the summer for supper. Fall and Winter cooking is more to my liking. If you follow my blog at all you know that I enjoy making breads and soups and the like. This does not fit the incredible hot summer we experienced.

It started with my DH mentioning that we needed something cool for supper and mentioned he liked what we had eaten previously at an Indian Restaurant. "I can make that.", I responded and made a cold lentil salad the next night. After supper DH complimented me on the Indian lentil meal and then it dawned on me. I bet he doesn't want this every evening this summer. I have to find more recipes.

So the next day I put in my Google search engine - Summer Cold Bean Salads. So if you know how to search you can find a lot of bean salad recipes. But, I never follow a recipe. And I seldom can make the exact same dish twice. But they give me lots of ideas.

First of all I keep my ingredients to a minimum. Each week at the grocery store I usually buy the same vegetables: about 12 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 green pepper, 2 shallots, 1 avocado. Then I work at dividing these up into 2 - 3 bean salads a week. I did add fruit: in black bean salad I added mango and in various others I added some crasinets. I also keep almonds, peanuts and walnuts on hand, to add that little extra.

Then I got into pasta salads. I use the "practically no carbs" pasta and used the same above vegetables. What varies then in the meals? Why don't they all taste alike? The herbs and spices I use. That is what changes the dishes, with the same ingredients with each meal.
I did make Gazpacho this summer also. But, of course, with a twist. I left all the vegetables just diced. The first time I made it with V8 juice, but it was a little too much for DH's tummy. The other times, I used regular tomato juice.

Cooking out is by far my favorite summer meals. Often this summer DH lit the coals and we enjoyed many a meal from it. This is a very simple meal for us. With DH eating meat and me being a veggie, all the meals I make are generally vegetarian with meat on the side for him, which he usually cooks on the George Foreman grill himself, since I overcook meat to death. When we cook out, meat is king, and I need to figure out what to have. Often I have a potato and onion put straight on the coals. Then I went through a phase of having processed veggie burgers on hand, followed by "trying" to make my own. Then through my Depression Cook Book I read of using eggplant for "meat". This is the absolute best "veggie burger" I have ever had at home!(The eating out version being the black bean and brown rice version at Ruby Tuesdays.) I brush the eggplant with olive oil and grill. Then I add just what you would for a regular burger. Or I switch off and just add parmesian cheese, salt and pepper.

What is great is that if I buy an eggplant, slice it and parboil, then I can freeze the egglant "burgers" and have them always ready to grill. You really need to cut them 2 - 3 inches though or they are hard to physically maintain on the grill. I also can have them all winter on the George Forman, when DH decides he wants a burger and chips.

So, from the house, where the wife woke up freaked about supper each day, supper is getting easier, even in the summer. Now that Autumn is upon us, look forward to new installations of what's cooking here!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What I've Done On My Vacation - Summer Turns to Fall

So that is how it feels as I write the first blog in so long. What happens when we write so regular and then stop? Well, that probably should be the topic of another post. But... I digress by the second line.

I went through quite a spell telling you about what I cooked and how to do it yourself. I hope to continue to do this, soon. But, what I think I have been doing most is just that - cooking. Each week I cook dog food and yogurt about twice a week. Cat food is done about once a week to 10 days. Kefir cannot really be done in the summer, it spoils in the extreme heat, but we are back to making it once a week for breakfast and that needed snack before supper. Greek yogurt we still did in the heat and added cereal to it for a cool breakfast. But now, we will concentrate on Kefir and oatmeal for our breakfasts. I haven't done cheese or bread during the heat, these are acts resumed in the fall also. My goal is to added bagels and english muffins to my adventures.

The front garden of wildflowers this summer just flourished and some are stil blooming. But, alas, the vegetables were a complete flop. The only ones I will be harvesting are root vegetables. I still believe I must be a root farmer. So this winter I hope to read up much more on vegetable gardening and get it right. I am looking at going back to the Victory Garden garden of WW2, which allows for draught and over rain conditions.

As many of you know, we don't do mainstream television. We get tv in the way of movies from the library and Netflix. This summer we have genuinely enjoyed and obcessed on Foyle's War, a BBC Series. It is wonderful! The back drop is WW2 and they are mysteries with the head of the police department being Christopher Foyle played by Michael Kitchen. We have watched all 6 seasons, and at the end of the war, we wondered what we would do now. Many weeks we watched almost every night, or sometimes two a night, which is unheard of in this house! Do yourself a favor and look it up. We are following it up with World at War, about WW2 also. When we were dating we watched and learned of the Civil War, and now at our 2nd year of marriage, we are learning of WW2.

For several weeks many of our thoughts and energy have been devoted to our friend, Sheila and her health. Her struggle is hard and long and we have been organizing taking meals to her and her brother Larry and anything else we can.

The last 2 months we have been redoing the furniture in the Living Room. For Christmas we had a new table and benches. We added an amour for my musical instruments first and added a bookcase for current reads, library books and DVDs. Today my DH assembled a Ventless Gas Fireplace, readying for the plumber to install and two futons to replace our sofa and love seat. I have figured it out, my DH collects furniture. ;) And as our former cleaning lady stated, he obviously has better taste than I.

I took a Botanical Illustration course this summer, which was a dream fulfilled. It was very frustrating at first since I have not drawn much since my hand surgeries. But I stuck to it, and I do believe I can approve much. In the class we focused on pencil and ink drawings. The ink were done with a fountain pen. I was not sure about this, but ended up enjoying it a lot. I started with black ink, but ended up with sepia. I will be doing more of this.

I am teaching about 8 women to tat this month. It has been nice to have a taste of teaching again. Tatting can we so frustrating in the beginning, but these ladies and hanging in there and I think they will be fine. Many are finding needle tatting easier, which is fine. I also added Mary's Lace (Mediterranean Lace) to the class and it is nice to see others using these ancient laces.

I also added a Tai Chi Class at the County home in addition to the one on the Alzheimer unit. I have taken my 1st quilt to my Thursday Lutheran quilters and they helped me finish it and all signed it for me. And I helped cook at church for the Octoberfest. It was wonderful cooking with the women, as always and I am looking forward to baking Springerless with them in October.

So, I have not been lax this summer, I do not believe. But it is time to do and blog. I am back - what have you all been up to?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cheese Makers Liberate and Unite

Does any one else have really fond memories of the 80's like I do? I hope so. The 80's were great for me. I had a life changing experience in '82 and everything was new and wonderful and the world was changing fast, it looked like for the good.

One thing I did in the 80's was work with agencies where we gave lessons to young mother. Usually young single mothers. They were like: cleaning with materials you can buy with food stamps, scratch cooking, using cloth diapers, gardens on your front porch when you don't have a yard. And you know what? Since they weren't required to come, and we usually had coffee and cookies - they showed up.

So I have this fascination or obcession, depending on which side you are on, that when I hear of making something I have to take it to it's barest parts. So those of us the most without can do it also.

When my friend Meghan's blog had how to do Mozzarella Cheese on it I had to make it! And it turned out great matching all of her pics! Then I started thinking. I know about the Homemade Cheese Book, I even own it. And at one time I even bought the supplies. But.... someone had to be able to do this on a farm, how did they do it? How can I figure out how everyone can do it?

So, first I will tell you have my mozzarella cheese adventure and then we will talk about cultures.

So with Meghan's pics and instructions I started to mess with the recipe about a month ago. This is what I came up with. When it says Citric acid use Lemon Juice. When it says Rennet use Apple Cidar Vinegar. When it says Lipase, ignore it for now.

Now, let me halt for a minute. I believe these recipes can only work for real milk from a mammal - so goats, etc are ok. But rice, soy, I can't see it working. I would refer you instead to The Farm, they probably can help. Also the more "whole" the milk is, the more cheese you end up with. So it is ok to use any % of milk, but do not worry if you do not get the same yield.

So I let my gallon of 2% milk get to 55 deg. And added my Citric Acid or Lemon juice. I would say 1/4 of a cup. I kept stirring and did see the small grains of curd, like Meghan's pics. Then at 90% I added the Rennet or Apple Cidar Vinegar. Now I use this liberally, just pour and watch the curd and whey divide. Now, because I am not using concentrated tools here, I let it go to 120 deg, kept stirring and man, oh man, was it working. Then I turned it off and added more Apple Cidar Vinegar, till I had a yellow liquid and white curds.

From there I just kept following Meghan's post and we had it tonite on Spaghetti and it was good.

This week I talked to a woman who has dairy cows and we discussed how we have to give up our pre-conceived ideas on what food is supposed to do and look like. This cheese does not melt. Neither does any cheese I make. But then I asked myself: Does it have to? Or is getting hot enough? Getting hot is enough for me.

Now if you really get into cheese making there are also starters that are called for in the recipe. There is Thermophillic Starter:

2 C very fresh milk

Heat to 185 deg.

Cool to 125 deg.

Add 1 heaping Tablespoon of fresh Yogurt (you made it right?)


Keep mixture at 110 deg for 8 - 10 hrs.

Pour culture in clean ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove cubes and put in labeled freezer bags. Resulting cubes = 1 oz of starter. The frozen cubes last one month.

For more starter thaw 1 cube and use instead of fresh yogurt in the above steps.

Then there is Mesophilic Starter:

2 C fresh Cultured Buttermilk

Let reach room temp of 70 deg

Allow to ripen for 6-8 hours, should have consistancy of thick yogurt

Freeze in ice cube trays, again equivalent to 1 oz and can store also for 1 month.

To make more starter thaw 1 cube and add 2 C fresh milk. Mix and let stand at 70 deg for 16 - 24 hours.

We can do this! We can make cheese! Now on this blog we have made 3 cheeses, yogurt, sourdough bread and the starters. We can take care of ourselves and enjoy it for ourselves. Now let's find a way to share it, one kitchen to one kitchen, to other women. Especially sharing with those of generations younger than us.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ming Fou's 2nd Birthday Party

Our Sweet Princess Mingy! is 2 years old today!

Thank you Dee for our sweetest girl! we love her so!

Here are pics of her party!
P.S. Her Indian name is "She Who Has All the Bones!"
Happy Birthday from Daddy, Mommy, Loki, Halley Girl, Your Mommy Patches, Sonny, Tansey Elizabeth, Tuxe Marie, Mama Torti, Aura and 57! The fish send kisses!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dog and Cat Food

To change up a little from Human Food, I thought, since there was a request, I would speak some on the making of dog and cat food we do at our house. There are many books and articles and web pages out there on the making of dog and cat food and I encourage you to look and see what is good for you and your Furry Baby. What I am showing you is that, yes it can be done on a continuing basis and what we do.

We first started making the dog food when we got our St. Bernard, Loki Strong Heart. When he was a puppy he started immediately having some tummy issues which we proceded to make rice and ground beef for on bad days. Loki's tummy issues did not change for the better and eventually we were told he had food allergies and went on the hunt of what we could feed him that did not make him sick. Nothing seemed to help for long, almost everything did for a little while. To make a long story short we found the allergy to be to fleas and flea medicine and his problem to be more like IBS. This has been mostly fixed by adding 3 Tablespoons of homemade yogurt to each meal, which brought immediate and miraculous results.

Big dogs can easily have a problem with bloat. So it is important to feed them good food and food that is not dry. Hence, we still make dog food.

I have 2 very large crockpots, 7 qts each. In them I add 1/2 gal. of water and dashes of ground parsley, rosemary and cinnamon. Just dashes, very little. Do not add garlic. It has been found that in many dogs this can lead to a problem similar to lukemia.Then I add the chicken. We get boneless skinless thighs. This seems to be the best for your buck. Many people have told me to buy a whole chicken, but by the time you take out the bone, it is not cost effective per pound. We get 3lb frozen bags and I use approx. 1 1/2 bags for the 2 crockpots. I figure it 8 pieces of chicken in each crockpot, which, of course, is 16 meals. This lasts about 3 days, give or take. We are storing them in 31/2 cup containers, we have a big pup! But if you have a smaller dog you can cut the pieces in 1/2 or 1/4th and package accordingly. We also feed 4 times a day, so if you don't, yours will last longer.

I digress. Now add 1/2 of a 42oz container of oatmeal in each crockpot. Then add one can of green beans and one of peas to each crockpot also. Then fill each crockpot to the brim with water. I put my crocks on low and cook for 4 hours. Then as said, I put one piece of chicken in each 3 1/2 cup container and fill the rest of it with the soup part. We also feed our chow, Ming Fou with this same food. She is 70 pds and gets 1 1/2 cups each meal. Loki recieves 1 1/2 containers each meal.

Many people ask about other veggies and suppliments. Loki can't take hard veggies like carrots, some can. Go by one your pup can handle. Also I only supplement with a vitamin for each pup, each day and a Glocosamine pill for the St. Also because of dental issues we feed one of the 4 meals each day with a good hard dog food. We added this slowly, as we were not sure Loki could tolerate it with his stomach issues. But in time, he could, and we add yogurt to each of their dry dog meals, just as with the stew.

It took me quite awhile to find a homemade cat food that I was happy with. We have 8 inside cats and this really needed to be cost effective. I take the same crockpot filled 1/2 way with whey left over from the yogurt or water, and add one 1lb container of chicken livers. Cats need a lot more protein then pups and they need organ food, so regular chicken will not meat their needs. Then I add 1/4 of a container of 42 oz oatmeal and it cooks within about 2 hours on low. I give each cat a healthy tablespoon of the food each morning and follow up with dry food at nite for dental reasons also. I am closing in on making a hard cat food and and will let you know when I find a recipe I am happy with. I sometimes add the same spices for the cat food, but they do not seem to care. What they care more about is that the food is very "soupy". So just before I package it, I add more water, enough to make it very runny and then package.

Both of these foods freeze very nicely and will last about 1 week in the fridge. Also as a treat, we give the kitties homemade yogurt also. Never milk. But we have found that daily doses of yogurt for kitties, makes very round kitties. LOL!

Let me know how it goes and Bon Appetit to your Furry Babies!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pysanki Eggs for Lent

I am a little late on this one. But better late than never, right?

Food mixed with traditions is always a fun thing to me. So we'll talk about the Ukranian Art of Pysanki. One reason that this tradition started is that people had chickens, but during Lent you were not supposed to eat eggs. But, the chickens really did not understand that, they kept laying eggs.

So with this art you need some dye (There is special dye you can order, but I have used homemade or even Paas dyes.), beeswax, a taper candle and an instrument to put the wax on, like drawing, which is called a kista.

You take a raw egg and with a pencil draw your design on the egg. There are many designs, you can look them up, and each has a meaning, or "wish" or prayer for the person you give the egg to. Then you decide on a first color and submerge your egg. It is important to do this similar to doing watercolors. Which means you go from light to dark. The last color that you use will be the actual color of the egg, and the color that gives your message.

So you have your design and the egg has been put in one color. Now, take your kitsta and fill it with some beeswax. Light your candle and run the kista back and forth in the flame, until the beeswax is melted. Now apply the beeswax to all the areas that you want to remain your first color. Example: You have your design on and you submerge your egg in yellow. Now all the places that you want to remail yellow you put wax on.

Now you continue to add color to your egg layer by layer. As you put your egg in each color you then add the beeswax each time to the areas that you wish to remain that color. The designs can be as intricate or simple as you choose.

By the time you are finished your egg should look almost completely like a mass of beeswax. The only part that is not colored is after the application of the last color. You can look up the traditional symbols and colors and thereby decide what you want your color scheme to be.
This takes a long time for the application of all the colors. When I did Pysanki on a regular basis, each egg would take about 3 - 6 hours depending on the intricacy. So be patient, this is not a "quick art".

Now comes the magical part. You take the egg and very gently pass it back and forth through the flame. You go a little at a time, not keeping the egg in the flame too much at one time, because you do not want it to scorch. As you pass parts of the egg back and forth in the flame you gently wipe off the now melted wax with a paper towel or soft rag. I prefer a sof rag.

You now see the vibrant colors now magically appear in their design. At the end it is good to very gently pass it through a little at a time and get the last slight film of wax off until all the colors look vibrant.

After allowing the egg to dry for at least a day you gently put a pin hole in the top and bottom of the egg. You put a little larger hole in the bottom. Gently shake your egg to break the yolk and now start to blow the egg out of the shell.

Some people wash the inside of the egg with many things. I think this is a little over the top and it is too easy to wash your colors off the egg. And if you have gotten this far without breaking the egg, my advice is to not push it.

The eggs were blessed at church and then distributed as gifts to family and to one's true love. Each egg with the design and color held a meaning - health, posperity, happiness, love.

If you are interested google and find the meanings to the symbols and colors or even better order a kit and make some yourself. This is not an expensive art form. They also make very nice Christmas gifts and ornaments.

There is a belief that as long as Pysanki remains being done in the world - goodness with outweigh evil. Let's help that along. Enjoy and let me know how your eggs look!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sourdough Bread

As I write these posts it has become clear to me, that what I really enjoy making is "live" food. Food that grows and ripens. So in that continuing theme today I will share my experiences with

I discovered great Sourdough bread when my Mom and I used to travel to Alaska. And each year I would bring home "dry sourdough starter" and something was just not right. This recipe I am sharing today qualifies as great sourdough as far as I am concerned. And as you will see it is quite versitle.

This originally is an artisan bread recipe. Which means it is baked on a stone or tiles. I was really excited about this - until - I realized that with my crutches, manuvering the bread and the stone was just too dangerous. I could just see myself falling face first into the oven. So I improvised and put it into a regular bread pan and it turns out just fine. Then I found a blog where a mom of 6 shared about a Pullman Bread Pan. This is a 6 sided bread pan w/sliding lid.

I used the Pullman Bread Pan for the first time today and it is wonderful. It makes a rectangular loaf of bread, so you can make your own "sliced bread" for about the price of 40 cents each. Not bad, huh? The pan itself though is incredibly expensive. So you have to watch amazon and ebay and get a good price. See how much they cost regularly first, (google them at retail), then you are able to decide a real bargain. It took me several weeks to find one that I thought was reasonable, so don't give up.

So I have made this bread 2 ways, a loaf and day slicing bread. Next week I shall try English Muffins with it, which I am sure I will blog about after. Let's get to the recipe so you can enjoy bread today.
Sourdough Starter:
Enough for 8 loaves in a bread pan (small pan) or equal 2 loves of slicing bread.
The equation to memorize is: 6-3-3-13-(1)
6 C Luke warm water, 4T Salt, 3T yeast, 3C Flour, & I add 1C homemade yogurt
Be sure and put the yeast in the luke water and let it marry for about 10 minutes & become bubbley, creamy, (small bubbles). This is a very moist dough. Fridging it makes it a little easier to deal with.
You let this rise is a bowl, I put the lid over it upside down. You want air to be able to get to it. It rises 2 - 5 hours and then refridgerates for for 3hours. Then you can bake 45 - 60 minutes at 350 degree oven.

Now - let's break this recipe down to smaller versions for rolls at dinner etc:

4 loaves (1 pullman slicing loaf) 3C Lukewarm Water, 1 1/2 T yeast, 1 1/2 T Salt 6 1/2 C Flour 1/2 c yogurt

2 Loaves (good for a couple nights of 6 rolls)
1 1/2 C Lukewarm water, 3/4 T yeast, 3/4 T salt, 3 1/4 C Flour, 1/4 C yogurt.

Let me know how it goes for you. I hope you enjoy this bread as much as we do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whey can be Way Cool

This is going to be a shorter post today, but still hopefully with enough information to add to your cooking experience. Loki, our St Bernard, is at the vet getting his dew claws cut and we are a little nervous and lonely around here. So bear with me and I think we can do cool things today.

Whey is that almost clear yellow liquid that comes off your yogurt and cheese. Do you remember when I had you save it? Why would we save it?, you must have asked. Because it can be used for a plithera of yummy foods. It is full of great things and can add a richness similar to butter in many foods.

One of the favorite uses for whey is a soup base. As a vegetarian I am always looking for a soup base that is a little more interesting than water and not as time consuming as making my own vegetable broth. This is it. By taking all the whey you have left over from your yogurt and cheese, adn putting it in a big pot you can make your favorite soup. If you don't have enough liquid for your soup, just add water to the whey. Do not worry that there is lemon juice or vinegar in it. It is pretty diluted and will mix well with the other ingredients. If your whey looks a little thick or a little "stringy" do not let it worry you. Remember we are dealing with live food here.

I also use whey when I make bread. Instead of adding water, I add the whey. Cakes, cookies, muffins - you get the idea. I especially like to use the whey when I make sourdough starter. This using a live food with a live food makes your "sourdough" richer and tastier.

I also have read that people use the whey as a drink. I have not tried this yet. From what I gather it is very cooling in the summer and comforting in the winter. Adopting this would help at my house since we usually have more whey than we do uses in one week. You can freeze whey also, but you have to remember that it takes a long long time for it to defrost. Take it out of the freezer the night before.

I hope you try some recipes with your whey. Let me know how they turned out. And I will try some as a drink - anyone else game?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some Harder Cheese (But Not Hard to Do!)

Since yesterday I talked about the making of yogurt and also shared how it can can fixed in various degrees - almost liquid, creamy and spreadable - I thought today I would tell you about a harder cheese, that can also be made a couple consistancies.

Again take a gallon of milk and while stirring constantly on high, let the milk come to a boil. This approximately takes 20 - 25 minutes. Have a collander ready lined with either a napkin or cheesecloth. Also a spoon that will drain will be used. Once the milk reaches a boil and starts to come up over the top of the pan, reduce the heat to about medium, or where it will manage to boil a little, but not make a mess. Now add lemon juice or apple cidar vinegar. Just spritz some in and watch the magic. Very quickly the curds and whey will start to separate. As the curds separate, gather them with your draining spoon and place them in the lined collander. You can add little more lemon juice or vinegar to make sure you can all the curds you can, I always do.

You can either use Whole or 2% milk here again. But, the more fat in it, the more curds. So with this cheese Whole Milk is usually the best. You also can add a cup to a cup and a half of Buttermilk to the milk and that also, when it boils will not only make fuller curds, but divides the curd and whey itself.

The addition of lemon juice, apple cidar vinegar and buttermilk is the addition of a rennet in your milk. All they do is divide the curd from the whey. There are many cheese making kits out there that sell a rennet. They are not inexpensive. With these 3, I find I can make all the cheese I need, with the occasional buying for special occasions.

Add salt to the curds right away. If there is any flavoring, in the way of spices, this is also the time to add it. Now you get to make some choices again. To just drain and leave it alone, this cheese is similar to "cottage cheese". You can also wrap the napkin around it tightly, squeeze and make a cheese ball. This will become a harder, more compact cheese, like the kind you would slice and put on a sandwich, but will not melt. Try both, they each have their uses.

Take the cheese ball out of the napkin/cheesecloth and store in a refrigerator container. It will not last more than about a week to 10 days. Remember there is no aging or preservative here, it is homemade. I find this cheese to be filling and I don't use as much at a time when putting on sandwiches, etc. So once again, you have a hefty amount of cheese for the price of a gallon of milk and a little lemon juice or vinegar.

Let me know how this goes for you! And save that whey again. We will use it tomorrow for the 1st time!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yogurt Musings and Recipe

We eat loads of yogurt at our house. All of us. Ron and I, the pups, the kitties. Loki the St. Bernard, has IBS, - yes, amazing isn't it? - and the only thing that really works is 3 heaping Tablespoons of yogurt with each of his 4 meals. The good thing is though, it really does work. Healthwise it is good for all of us and we love it. But have you looked at the store? Even the large economy containers are expensive if you are eating 1 - 2 gallons of yogurt a week. Which we do! With my recipe you make about 1 gallon of yogurt for the price of 1 gallon of milk - 1/4 at least, of the store bought cost.

So today I will share with you how I make both yogurt and Greek Yogurt. And in the next week, I will add, cheese, bread and soup. Why? Because they are all related in their ingredients, taking from one another. I love Food Science, and hope you will enjoy it too!

We don't use Yogurt Makers here. The ones I have seen, we would have to use them 3 times a day to get the quantity of yogurt we eat. I use a large pan that easily holds a gallon of milk. This is very important. Because if you use less milk with this method, it cools too quickly and doesn't actually make yogurt. And the milk, you can use Whole or 2%. Less than that does not give you as much yogurt and it is too watery.

Put your stove setting on high, we want to ALMOST boil the milk. This process is very meditative for me, enjoy it. While the milk is heating to 175 to 180 degrees, stir absolutely constantly. Watch the change in the milk's consistancy and color. In a short period of time of making yogurt regularly, you will be able to see the milk change and practically tell when it is ready by sight. In my pan, which is coated metal, it takes 15 minutes to get the milk to 175 degrees.

Now turn your stove off and let set until it is between 110 and 120 degrees. Again, mine take about 50 minutes, in a metal coated pan. Now the 1st time you make yogurt you need to buy regular, NEVER FLAVORED, yogurt. The luncheon size, what is it 6 - 8 oz? The first time, I use a lot of starter to insure thick creamy yogurt. After the initial batch, I use about 1/4 of a cup or if you want to use "freeze dried starter" from the health food store, 4 packets. (The starter in packets is really nice to have around for emergercy. You know, like you ate all the yogurt and forgot to keep some for starter.) Put the entire contents in the warm milk and stir well. Put your lid on and move the yogurt to a place where you will not disturb it. You will be putting the yogurt "to bed" now. We use a flannel sheet and cover the entire pan, with lid on. A wool blanket or winter coat will also work. The idea is that the yogurt needs to cool slowly. Often it is lukewarm still when we open it in the morning.

Let sit over night, or all day if you made it in the morning. And put it in refridgerator containers. I have found not to flavor the yogurt until you are ready to eat it. The yogurt will last longer without anything in it. Often you will see liquid lying on top or just under the surface. Just stir it in, it is whey folks.

Ron and I discovered Greek Yogurt in Florida and went nuts over it. We brought 1/2 a dozen containers back and actually thought of having it shipped to us. That's when I decided I could probably learn to make it. It is sooooo simple, you are allowed to giggle, ok?

Take that yogurt you just made. You can use cheesecloth, or I use a thin cloth napkin, and line a collander with it. Put this collander on top of a bowl. Spoon in yogurt and let it sit for 3 - 4 hours. The whey will drain into the collander, the yogurt becomes thick - which equals, Greek Yogurt! Refrigerate and enjoy.

Two things now. DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WHEY! Place it in a refrigerator container, we will use it later this week, often.
And if you continue to let the Greek Yogurt drain, you will have "cream cheese". I like to add Mexican or Italian or Indian seasoning and use as a sandwich spread or cracker dip.

Let me know how yours turn out! And later this week we will work with the whey in breads and soups and make another simple cheese.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Funny Hats - check

Green cookies w/green icing - check

Planted Potatoes - check

Saturday, March 13, 2010


So after a long hiatus from blogging I took the challenge AGAIN to blog every other day. You would think that I would get a lot done with being snowed in for so long. Well, I did, but not blogging or writing. I went through every cupboard, drawer, closet, file cabinent (the ones that are mine) nook and cranny in our home and decluttered. So since all of that is done, with the good weather I can spend time outside with the pups and start gardening.

Next Wednesday is St Patrick's Day and also the day to plant potatoes, in case anyone else will be out there attempting this feat. I will be. I am told to do it rain or shine, but I am just happy I am not digging through snow to do so.

I have also been reading a book on gardening by one of the Mother Earth people, Gardening When It Counts. In reading ahead, I contacted the seed catalogs suggested early and this week I started going through and pricing what things we needed, wanted and how we are doing. The seed catalogs I went through, Johnny's and Stokes, are great catalogs, but very expensive. These seeds produce unaltered veggies, etc and you can harvest the seeds from the fruits and use them again. Sounds good right? Well, yes, I had lots of choices and I started making a preliminary list of seeds. But.... seeds of this degree are very expensive.

This is the 1st year I will be gardening looking at an entirely new method and with the thought of canning some of the harvest. I had thought that I also could save seeds for next year. It all sounds good in theory, but these seeds are too much to risk on a 1st year. It would be devastating to go out on a limb, with this cost, and not be able to follow through.

So I am re-grouping. I am still making my list and going through the catalogs for research sake. But, Tuesday when I go to my normal store to buy by potatoes to plant and onions, I will also pick up seeds. Regular seeds in the stores, with some sold in quantities to farmers. Then if I am not able to keep up with things, I can learn what I can do without such a costly lesson.

Am I disappointed? A little. I always think I can find the greener way and that it will be cost effective. Not here, not for now. One step at a time, even perhaps baby steps.

The flowers this year I am focasing on perenials and I will order from a nursery. The kitchen garden will be put near the front door amidst the flowers. For the front yard wildflowers, forest flowers and bulbs will be what I focus on, with some flowering bushes, to ensure color each year.

So that's my plan and I will try to keep you up to date on how it is going. If you have any ideas - please - I am open!

Monday, January 11, 2010


So here I am and here is the snow. It is pretty and I am watching it from the inside. I have not been out without my husband for several days, which is fine for me. We have been having below freezing weather to sub zero even some mornings. And our front porch has been a glare of ice, no matter what he does to it.

I have been keeping busy, cooking mostly and the basic cleaning. I love to cook in the cold weather. I made a great Fennel Soup Friday, and homemade sour dough biscuits, and homemade cheese. Saturday we took some to our friend at the bike shop and also got some errands accomplished.

I got a new exercise DVD that is walking miles in place, while doing aerobic arms. I got the 3 mile one, and then I can stop at 1 then 2 and work myself up to 3. Of course, afterward I treated myself to 3 homemade biscuits and some potato chips. So I have a feeling it isn't just all exercise.

Over the 3 days my man was home, (which was lovely!) we started the Short Story Literature Class from the Teaching Company. It was great. The 1st lesson was on Edgar Allan Poe. It only reinforced me on how scary he can be. What is great about the class tho is how many times I think about the story and then can share my thoughts with my husband. Looking forward to the next lesson we do, and I'll keep you informed.

WE also got audio CDs on learning French. We listened to the 1st lesson just to see what we thought. We think it will work, it is interesting and repetitive. But, to be honest, it will not be easy. But then, I feel up to a challenge lately.

I had wanted to start going to a Mahjong group, but the weather is holding me back for now. I have found a place on the WEB that teaches you how to play and then you can play against someone. I am looking into that. There is the same for Bridge and Chess which could be handy in the future.

I read another one of the Elm Creek Quilt books and they are wonderful #6 Master Quilter is a great read. The next one is a historical novel concerning the Underground Railroad. But we need to read for the next Mystery Club Meeting 1st. WE are reading A Beautiful Place to Die. It has definately caught my interest. It is set in Africa in the 50's.

There is so much I want to study and learn at times. I just read an article that states that procrastination means you might not know who and what you are. Well, maybe what I need to think about is how my learning fits into my new roles in life. It has been an engaging thot for me.

Tomorrow is Charity group and I think I will be able to get out ok. I don't have far to drive. WE are making bed socks, toboggans, scarves for the County Home to deliver on Valentines Day. We spend 4 hours a month together crocheting, knitting, talking, eating.... It is a great time with lovely ladies.

If you can't come but would like to contribute let me know.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trudging On

It is still snowing here in Ohio. There is not a lot of snow, and I can hear them working on the roads, but walking travel is not good and I have opted to stay in the house for 2 days at least. I spent the morning doing my regular routine and then a few extras. I am trying to make "an Office area" as comfortable as possible for my DH. I think he is afraid of it though - change. So as you may or may not remember I cleaned the room that was supposed to take 3 days in 2 hours. Then there was the desk that had too many papers and was too overwhelming. So I stacked them, and then put a yellow legal pad over them. Perfect? No. But if you really want to work, it is doable and the "stuff" can be gone thru later.

We have no activities planned outside of the home tonite and tomorrow nite, so I am looking forward to maybe us being able to start the Teaching Company Course we got on short stories. We are going to read the stories together and then listen to and discuss the tapes. We also have French, but I think we'll probably start one thing at a time.

I am looking at Needlepoint lace instructions all day. When I laid down to take a nap, I woke to it making sense. So, I think I'll take the plunge tomorrow.

Yesterday I returned most of the "stuff" for the Treasury position I finally have been able to give up. PRAISE GOD! It has not been pretty . I have even resorted to explaining if they didn't like what I did they could - "kiss my rosy red ____. Yes, I did. I probably won't attend the meeting this month, but next, I'll be there. I love these women, known many of them most of my life. But I need to find other ways to serve.

What are you doing on snowy days and nights?

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Today is the 2nd day of the New Year.

I have been having a lot of problems with my left knee and shoulder lately. My husband suggested a knee brace, of which he seemed to have a plithera! I don't particularly know why, but it ha made quite a difference in my pain level. And by my not walking whopper-jawed, the shoulder is better too.

We lounged around the house this morning, not really wanting to venture out, considering that the temperatures, I believe, went all the way up to 18. Yes, 18. On the errand list was a stop at the house of the parents of some of my former music students. Two of the sisters have had babies this year. Yes, I am now old enough that my students are having children.

We dropped off gift bags of things I had both made and bought the girls. The older had a girl and her sister had a boy. The older was there and I was able to see her open the things. It was a nice visit and hopefully her sister will be here next weekend and I will get to see her little guy.

There are so many memories for me in this family. I taught and/or tutored this home schooled family of sisters and female cousins of a total of 8 of them. Each and every one of them was/is a joy! Just a few tidbits.

When the older sister came to me it was very apparent how itelligent, articulate and mature she was even as a young teen. Even tho she was incredibly intelligent in many areas she had problems with playing the piano in the beginning and was very nervous about it. That always amazed me, as self assured as she was of other things. But she worked hard and did well. I admired that. I also admired the fact that she was very interested in Forensic Science and was looking at education ventures according to that line. Then one day she explained to me that she would no longer pursue this. That she instead would be pursuing education in line with being a wife and mother, because would be the mainstay of her life. I remember feeling then, how proud I was to know such a girl who would make such a muture decision at her tender age. And as I watched her with her family and husband today - she is surely fulfilling her dreams in wonderful ways.

The younger sister and I spent much time together. Not only did I teach her music, but tutored her in math and in studying for her graduation tests. This girl was excellent at organization of self study. She worked hard at her studies and did what was ever necessary to reach her goals. Many weeks we spent 2 afternoons together and they were always delightful times to me. She was capable of studies, music, cooking and even hunting, as she seemed to work to possess every opportunity to be independant. Musically she was every teacher's dream. She decided in the beginning to play "Wind Beneath My Wings" and as a new student, mastered it in a couple weeks. But, as the star on top - in all my 16 years of teaching she was the only student I had that I can say was a Musician. Any instrument you handed her, with a little instruction, she played it and played it well. I am grateful I had the joy of watching this process and being a part of it.

So, even tho the rest of the day was fillled with finding shoes for me, getting odds and ends at other stores and finally tonite my husband doing a little grocery shopping. Mostly today, I am grateful for not only visitin the past with some students, but seeing them in a good present also.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Not a creative title, but a predictable one. This is not so much a posting maybe, as the starting of a rountine. I am usually not much on resolutions, or goals, but I starting to see the need for changing directions and the building of routines.

My philosophy of Resolutions takes 2 adverse paths. One I heard years ago and it has always stuck with me: WE don't need to make resolutions, we all know what we need to do. The other is best expressed thru 2 references. The 1st, Flylady, who assures us that we are not behind, but to jump in where we are. The 2nd is from a local priest I liked, and I don't like many. He said that we noticed that we had failed in a commitment just to start over. Like WOW!

I'm trying not to say "shit" and "fuck" so much. I'd like to replace them with Bah Humbug! So presently, when I do slip up, and I do! I am just saying Bah Humbug immediately after, to build a routine.

I want to get back in a schedule of learning. I have started my Daily Lit readings over, as in the holidays I got behind. So I started, Silas Marner, Arabian Nights, and Vanity Fair, again yesterday. I keep looking for a free online course of Botanical Illustration and everything suggests the Eden Project Book. I have it, so.... DH and I are starting a Literature Course and I want to get back in the routine of my Music theory and practice. This year I think I need to either learn Shorthand or let it go. It has been an obcession for too long.

Needlecraft - weaving, needlelace and knitting socks.

And writing - would like to put down more of my memoirs, and more of the Helga stories, putting them here, to keep a daily routine going.

So.... what about you and your new year?