Several months ago I took part in a Raw Dairy Processing Class, the description of the class intrigued me, “Learn how to make delicious soft cheeses, yogurt and butter in your own kitchen! Get acquainted with using butter molds and adding herbs, or other flavors to your final product. With simple instruction and good quality raw milk, it is an easy and exciting activity adding delicious artisanal treats for any occasion.” The class was held on a farm where they raised cows, heritage turkeys, pigs and had large gardens. The house was off the grid yet you never would have known.
Learning to make yogurt was so much fun and very easy. I always thought you needed special equipment. Other than the culture you don’t need any special equipment and the yogurt you can make at home is so tasty! I purchased my yogurt culture from www.cheesemaking.com. You do not need to use raw milk to make yogurt, you just do not want to use the ultra high pasteurized milk.
Here are the simple directions. Pour ½ gallon of cold milk into a heavy stainless pot for heating. Heat the milk to 185 degrees and then hold it there for 10-20 minutes. This will prepare the whey proteins, which are largely responsible for the thickening of the yogurt body. Set the milk pot directly on the burner and begin heating with careful stirring to prevent the scorching of the milk. Cool the milk as quickly as possible to your target temperature for inoculating the yogurt (116 degrees F). When the milk reaches the proper temperature for inoculation, it is time to add the direct set yogurt culture. The culture will be a mix of Streptococcus thermophiles and Lactobacillus bulgaricus plus and probiotic additions the culture may contain.
Incubate the cultured milk for the required time. This can be done easily by pouring your cultured milk into containers and placing those containers inside an insulated cooler. Pour warm water (116 degrees F) into the cooler so that your container lids are just an inch or so above the water line. This “water bath” will maintain the temperature so that the appropriate bacteria will thrive and populate. The time of incubation is about 8-10 hours for most yogurt cultures. Place the yogurt in the refrigerator when the incubation is complete.
I inoculated my milk, poured it into glass jars and placed them into my cooler. I added the warm water, put the lid on the cooler and let it sit on the counter for 10 hours. Before going to bed I placed the yogurt in the fridge. In the morning I had two containers of plain yogurt ready to enjoy! I have always preferred flavored yogurt but I find this yogurt to be delicious. If you want, feel free to add fruit to flavor it yourself.
This blog is linked to Frugal Tuesday Tip.
We’re coming to the end of our first week of the Pantry Challenge. It’s been a good week, using up various food items that have been in the fridge and the freezer. For today’s recipe I found a delicious recipe that used a butternut squash that had been sitting on our counter. Other than some fresh baby spinach I had everything I needed to make this recipe.
I was very pleased with the result; it was creamy, filling and delicious! I imagine it would freeze well although I haven’t tried that yet. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into1” squares, about 3 cups.
1 onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup pearl barley
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
5 ounces baby spinach
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, optional ( forgot to add this and it was not missed!)
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onion, ¾ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, 4-6 minutes.
Add the barley to the vegetables and cook, stirring for one minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring until evaporated, about one minute. Add the both and bring to a boil, cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the barley is tender, 35-40 minutes.
Stir in the spinach, Parmesan and butter. Serve with addition Parmesan.
The recipe said it serves four – that would be four generous servings!
We are doing well with the pantry challenge, so well in fact I’m thinking of extending it for at least a third week. I have quite a few frozen meals put away in the freezer that we can eat up. I usually go to the grocery store no more than once a week. It is quite a drive from our house so I plan a morning out where I take care of other chores as well. This week I was in Rutland on Wednesday so I made a quick stop, but I only needed to buy a few things. I spent $19.81.
I have to go to a meeting/potluck Sunday night and am responsible for bringing a salad. I decided to make the delicious Pear & Blue Cheese Salad; everyone always enjoys that. It did mean I had to purchase two pears and an avocado as well as some lettuce. The dressing will be made from ingredients we have on hand. I also purchased a gallon of milk from our neighborhood farmer. I used ½ gallon of it to make yogurt.
I pretty much followed our meal plan that I mentioned last week; I did switch a couple of the days around. For the most part our lunches have been either leftovers, soup from the freezer or a delicious egg & salsa burrito. This is what we ate this week:
Sunday: Pork, Kale & Bean Soup (leftover)
Monday: Spinach Quiche (used up a bag of spinach, a couple of pieces of bacon leftover from when our boys were home and a premade pie crust I had on hand)
Tuesday: Chinese Stir-fry with chicken from the freezer and a cabbage on hand.
Wednesday: Beef & Chinese noodles (leftovers)
Thursday: Spaghetti & Meatballs (freezer)
Friday: Baked Barley Risotto with Spinach and Butternut Squash (squash on the counter)
Saturday: Quiche (leftover)
Next week the plan is to eat the following:
Sunday: Meatloaf (freezer)
Monday: Corn & Bean Chowder
Tuesday: Shepherd’s Pie (freezer)
Wednesday: Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole (freezer)
Thursday: Chicken Parmesan (chicken in the freezer)
Friday: Homemade Waffles (much to my husband’s delight!)
Saturday: Chicken Soup (freezer)
For those of you who decided to join me, how is your week going? Are you making progress at using up those leftovers and frozen meals in your freezer? Let me know how it’s going!
Did you know that by composting you could save money by using less fertilizer and watering less? Did you know that your plants in the garden would grow healthier and be stronger? These are just two of the benefits of composting. In the wild composting occurs when the leaves fall of the trees and decompose providing nutrients for the plants and trees growing in the woods. Perhaps you’ve heard that composting is good for your garden but you don’t know where to start.
First of all composting is easy. Think about how often you put something in the trash, a few minutes here and there. That’s how simple composting can be. It’s basically lifting a lid up and putting something in a container, that easy! You need a small investment for a container to put your household scraps into another spot outside where you can empty your composting pail. I keep a small composting pail right next to my sink; into it I put all the vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grinds, anything that’s not cooked and no meat scraps. When the bucket is full I take it outside and empty it into a larger compost bin. I continue to compost even in the winter, although I realize it is too cold for anything to be decomposing outside, here in Vermont.
I also have a large compost pile outside not far from our chicken coop. It’s not very organized and basically it’s a spot where we dump garden refuse and chicken shavings. This spring we will be building a much larger three-bin system outside. I want to create an effective compost pile that is actively decomposing. Having a larger composting area will allow me to compost all sorts of material: grass clippings, yard wastes, such as weeds, old plants and spent flowers. We had a large load of wood chips delivered last year when the men were working on the power lines. They were happy to deliver to our house which was just up the street from where they were working. It saved them from having to drive elsewhere and get rid of the load. These wood chips will have been sitting for months by the time we get our compost system set up and will be starting to decay. It will be a good addition to the pile.
When building your compost pile you want to have a good ratio of “browns’ to “greens”. What do I meant by that? Greens are such things as food scraps, grass clippings and rotted manure. “Browns” are cornstalks, leaves, straw, paper, sawdust and wood chips. The “greens” provide the nitrogen and the “browns” provide the carbon. A pile that is too high in carbon will stay cool and sit a long time without breaking down. A pile that is too high in nitrogen will give off the smell of ammonia gas. It’s also likely to get slimy and have a foul odor. Eventually it will all decompose but your goal is to have an effective compost pile that heats up and decomposes so you can use it in your garden. A hot pile is useful for composting food and yard wastes together without pest problems, killing soil diseases, weed seeds and produces compost in a short period of time.
As you start planning your garden this year think of a spot where you can set up a compost pile. Next week I will talk about the different kinds of piles from very simple to more complex. Lets have healthier gardens this year and start composting!
After making my first batch of laundry soap I decided to look into making our own liquid hand soap. We don’t go through it that quickly but I figured I should look into it as it might be cheaper to make some myself. To my surprise it is rather easy. I did a bit of online research and decided to give it a try.
This is all you need to make your own liquid hand soap:
2 Tbsp of Liquid Glycerin (I didn’t have any on hand but a good friend gave me some)
One 8oz bar of soap
1 gallon of water
The first step is to grate the bar of soap.
Fill a pot with 1 gallon of water and add the soap shavings.
Add 2 Tbsp of liquid glycerin to the pot and turn the heat to medium-high and stir until the soap dissolves. At this point it pretty much looks like soapy water.
Leave it alone to cool for at least 10-12 hours. It begins to cloud up after 3-4 hours.
After it has cooled completely, around 12 hours later it will thicken and look like liquid soap. If it is thicker than it should be you can take some beaters and blend it while adding just a bit of water until the consistency is more like liquid soap.
For the cost of a bar of soap and some liquid glycerin you now have a gallon of liquid hand soap. Now you can refill your bottles of liquid soap. In a cute dispenser this would make a great handmade gift!
Eating healthier and making good choices – good goals for the New Year. I am really enjoying the book I received for Christmas called Eating Well in Season – the Farmers’ Market Cookbook. Now that our farmers’ market is re-opened after all the flood damage from Irene I can enjoy their wonderful produce. This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found in the book. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!
1 tsp olive oil
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into one inch pieces
¾ tsp salt
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp paprika
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup white wine
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 cups chicken broth (reduced sodium)
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped (about 8 cups)
1-15oz can cannellini beans rinsed
Heat oil in a heavy Dutch oven. Add pork, sprinkle with salt and cook until no longer pink on the outside, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs, leaving juices in the pot.
Add onion to the pot and cook, stirring often until just beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Ad wine and tomatoes increase heat to high and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add broth and bring to a boil.
Add kale and stir until it wilts. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the kale is just tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in beans, the reserved pork and any accumulated juices; simmer until the beans and pork are heated through, about 2 minutes.