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and Everything in its Place

Really, I should rename the folders in my Gmail account to better reflect my reality.  Right now it is a banal and unhelpful set that includes “Photos”, “Family”, “Email lists”, “Friends”.

These would work much better:

  • “Amazing coupons at that chain store you love, which expired last week”
  • “Health info you feel you must review and commit to memory, and will be disproven in 2 years”
  • “Creative ideas to make your home more efficient, fun, or able to be navigated on foot, that you have no time to implement”
  • “Emails from acquaintances with awkward questions you’re not sure how to answer without consulting two close friends”

Me: Is there, like, a disorder where, unless you write something down, it feels like that thing isn’t official, or really real or something?

Care Provider: Oh, probab . . .

Me: Wait, no, actually, is there a disorder where you feel compelled to write lots of things down in order for them to be official and on the radar and “real”, but you struggle against it b/c you’re afraid it means you’re a freak?  Cuz I think have THAT one.

Care provider: Hmm.

Jealous Of

Spent far too long in this life of mine

 

ruing things I wasn’t born to be

 

As I grow old, I grow more jealous, too –

 

I’m even jealous of your jealousy

We eat yogurt daily and store-bought yogurt tends to be both expensive and high in sugar. I had no idea how easy it is to make your own. I’ve found it kind of fun too – and I’m no cook, let me assure you, but I am a fan of saving money and learning new things. While making the first batch, I told my husband “I’m cooking up a pot of savings!”

A coworker motivated me to finally try it – she makes it every week. She gave me a high level overview of the process and gave me my first starter. We’ve made about 5 batches so far and it’s yummy and not that hard. My husband got into it too and has been making batches and improved the process by finding better tools for straining.

Then I also read up on it on the food blog of the Apartment therapy website, called the Kitchn: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-yogurt-at-home-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-125070.
Also this page was very helpful: http://www.fromscratchmag.com/make-homemade-yogurt-homemade-yogurt-recipe/.

In case you’re interested in trying it:

You need:
Milk, a pot, a whisk, glass containers with lids, a meat or candy thermometer, dish towels, and “starter”: yogurt with active cultures, about 1/3 cup. You can use plain yogurt with active cultures from the store and once you start making yogurt you will save some of it as a starter. It must have active cultures and should be plain (non-flavored). Either “Greek style” or regular yogurt is fine.
Optional: a strainer, cheesecloth, a bowl to strain whey into.

Steps:

  • Heat about one half-gallon of milk in a pot – we use 1% Oakhurst milk. Use the thermometer to monitor it until it reaches 180 degrees.
  • Turn off the heat and let the pot cool down to 120 degrees. When it reaches about 120, whisk in all of the starter.
  • Pour the milk + starter mixture into glass containers such as canning jars – we like the Ball wide-mouth jars with the screw-on white plastic tops. It will fill about 4 of those jars.
  • Let the containers sit for at least 4-6 hours at around 100 degrees. We achieve that temperature by wrapping each jar in 2 dish towels and putting all of the jars together into a zippered insulated cooler. The longer you let it sit, the thicker it becomes but also the more tart it will get – so this part is all about your own preferences.
  • After it sits 4-6 or more hrs, stir. At this point, since we like Greek-style thicker yogurt, we strain some of the whey out. My coworker doesn’t strain it and just has to restir it when she eats it because the whey will separate from the rest of the yogurt a bit.
  • For the Greek-style yogurt, strain whey with something like cheesecloth or a thin tea towel, over a strainer or chinois, into a bowl or directly into the glass container if possible. This is the only step that is a pain and can get messy. (Can cause some muttering, too, if you, say, have to clean 2 cups of spilled yogurt from under the microwave). After some experimenting, we’ve started using washable jelly strainer bags – I think these – http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-615-Jelly-Strainer-Piece/dp/B001FBEHFC – and a chinois – something like this http://www.amazon.com/8-Inch-Depth-Chinoise-Strainer-Stainless/dp/B000J3ZYCC. This is less messy and we don’t end up with towels that frankly stank like the old post-feeding baby bibs did, especially in warm weather.
  • I recommend saving the whey in the fridge – it is filled with protein and good for smoothies.
  • Refrigerate the yogurt – best to do so overnight. Save some of the new batch in a small container to be your starter for the next batch.
  • Do you need to “refresh” the starter over time? Not sure. We need to research this. My husband did notice that the 3 biggest yogurt brands with active cultures had a slightly different list of cultures. So is it optimal to alternate among brands to get a wider spectrum of cultures? Should you add some sort of culture “boost” from the health food store? I do not know the answers nor have I had a chance to research them. But if I do, I’ll share it here (or if you know, please comment below!) That’s another fun part of DIY, isn’t it – learning all these details about something you didn’t know squat about, like, a month ago.

Eating:
When I pour it out to eat, I add a little maple syrup and strawberries or raspberries, and for texture I add Grape Nuts or Kashi 7 grain puff cereal. Sometimes I also add a bit of Goya canned coconut milk. We also use it plain in place of sour cream with tuna, chicken salad, in smoothies, and on quesadillas / burritos / nachos. I also mix it with salsa and add ground chipotle powder for tortilla chip dip.

So far we have shared the homemade yogurt with my parents who liked it a lot and used it in smoothies and with tuna.

Do you love yogurt too? What do you use yogurt in? Do you make your own? If not, would you ever consider it? Tell me, I must know, as I’m now an official Yogurtista (a term we coined while high on active cultures).

 

Names

For a long time there was only one name I’d ever have wanted to change my name to.  (If I wasn’t a cheapo, of course).  It was a real name I came across when doing data entry as a faculty assistant in grad school the second time, about 15 yrs ago, before dropping out the second time.  Her name was: Ginny Champagne.  Ginny Champagne!  I mean, a name that incorporates two drinks!  I hope her middle name is Kahlua.

Anyway, the other day I came across a rockin name that’s a close second for my most wanted new name: Althea Wolf.  Ah, the things I could have accomplished if I’d been Althea Wolf.

It’s All Relatives

5 simple steps to give your outlook a quick boost:

1) Ensure you’re sporting a decent muffin top.  Check!

2) Take your 9-year old daughter, granddaughter or niece clothes shopping at the end of a long day.

3) Choose clothes for you to try on and bring the 9 year old in the changing room with you.  Ensure the fluorescent lights are goin’ strong.  Bonus points if your back-ne has been blossoming and the room has 8 mirrors to show every angle.

4) Try on the clothes and ask for honest opinions.  Embrace the tsunami of honesty unleashed, from: “That just looks…weird,” to “How many times do I have to say that it looks like someone cut it up with scissors?” to my favorite, the wide-eyed stare + low groan combo.

5) Decide that looks aren’t everything and have some Mint chocolate chip ice cream*.

*In step 5, you may substitute Mocha chip or Coffee oreo.  We cannot guarantee the results of any other flavor substitutions.

I Got the Letter C

I’ve been enjoying Kathy A. Johnson’s blog “Catching Happiness” at www.catchinghappiness.com. She recently participated in a meme started by Simon at Stuck in a Book.  His instructions were:

I’m going to kick off a meme where we say our favourite book author, song, film, and object beginning with a particular letter. And that letter will be randomly assigned to you by me, via random.org. If you’d like to join in, comment in the comment section and I’ll tell you your letter! (And then, of course, the chain can keep going on your blog.)

I requested my letter at her post at http://www.catchinghappiness.com/2014/06/brought-to-you-by-letter-g.html.  My answers are below. What fun!  Please play along.  A bloggy, asynchronous playdate if you will.   If you want me to assign you a letter, let me know in the comments.  Even if you don’t have a blog, you can leave your favorites in the comments.  (I promise not to give you Q or X!)

My randomly generated letter from Kathy was “C”. Here goes!

Favorite “C” book author – this was instantaneous, as my favorite author of all time is Truman Capote. I haven’t read everything he has written, but close to it.  For any “Lost” fans out there, it feels a bit like when Desmond has a Dickens book on the island but is hesitant to read it, because he has read all other Dickens works and that would be it.  I own, but haven’t yet read, “In Cold Blood”, the book he’s best known for besides “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I think my favorites are his short story and essay collections, especially “Music for Chameleons.”  I love the way he twists language.  He bends language like so much taffy, in a way I’ve only otherwise encountered with my second favorite author, Nabokov.

Favorite “C” song Crucify by Tori Amos, on the album of the same name.  (1992).  That entire album was so eye-opening and inspiring.  I love this song, although I wish a pal of mine never asked me, “What does she mean, that her heart is in cheese?”  “Chains,” I said.  “Her heart is in chains.”  But now all I hear is “cheese.”

Favorite “C” filmThe Commitments. (1991). “Heroine kills.”  “I never pictured God with a fat gut and corset singing “My Way” at Caesar’s Palace.”

Favorite “C” object – Card, Library !  Still feels pretty miraculous that you can find wonderful books and media and take them home to enjoy.  I would live at the library if I could.

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