Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days off Your Duff {Day 19} - Making Your Own Yogurt

Whoever thought you could actually create your own yogurt?!

Okay, probably a lot of people realized that, but I didn't until a few months ago when CrunchyBetty put up a post about it.

Unfortunately, her method just wouldn't work for me. Luckily though, I found some instructions elsewhere that worked great!

Look up here! Look up here! These fabulous instructions are from Michael W. Reeps.

Let's Get Started!

So first, you'll need to get all your supplies clean and ready! I use:

  • Stirring spoon
  • Double Boiler
  • Thermometer
  • ~optional~ Draining bowl and strainer (although that comes the next day)
  • A lidded jar (again, for the next day)
  • Milk (however much you start with = the amount of yogurt you will end up with)
  • Yogurt (yes, you need yogurt to make yogurt, unless you are currently growing your own cultures)Be sure it's a healthy, plain yogurt with actual live cultures! In my area, I love Zoi and Chobani, as they have the largest variety of cultures that I can find.

Boil all the equipment you can for about 10 minutes to get it good and clean.

Once everything is clean and dry, put your milk in the double boiler (top of course!) and heat until it reaches 185°. Keep it steady at that temperature for about 30 minutes, and then take the milk off to cool.

At this point you could wait for the milk to cool, or put the pot in a sink of ice-cold water to help it along. Either way, get the milk down to 110°. This is the right temperature for the bacteria in your yogurt to start lacto-fermenting.

So when the milk reaches 110°, stir in your yogurt. Reeps says to add 2-3 Tbs to half a gallon of milk, and since I never measure mine, go ahead and follow his advice.

Next, stir your yogurt/milk mixture, and then gently put it to bed.

By this of course, I mean cover it with a towel and keep in a warm, dry, dark space. A heating pad works great; just set it to medium and put the bowl on top. Just be sure nothing overly flammable is around!

Now, the longer you wait, the thicker and tangier your yogurt is going to get. Start your first batch at 7 hours, and work from there. I personally like mine to ferment for about 10 hours.

After that agonizing wait, you get to...... wait some more! Hooray!

You see, to halt the bacteria's growth (and also to thicken the yogurt up a bit more), you have to stir it and put it in the fridge - overnight. Oh boy. So next you stir the curdling yogurt in the bowl, pour it into your chosen container, and set it in the fridge.

After that though, your yogurt is ready to be enjoyed.

Unless of course you want to go through the extra special next step!

Make Your Own GREEK Yogurt

Yum, Greek yogurt is my favourite! Luckily, turning your yogurt Greek is the simplest part of all.

Just strain it, in one way or another. Cheesecloth or coffee filters will work. Sadly, at the time I took the following pictures, I only had paper towels... which do not work all that well. Unless of course you like the texture that paper towel bits add to your precious yogurt.

Look how fancy I got

Soaking up paper towel nutrients

The whey being strained out

Once your yogurt is as strained as you like it, put it back into the container. Keep that nutritious whey that you strained out though, and incorporate it into your diet somehow. I personally like putting it in smoothies, or being super fancy and freezing into ice cubes for the smoothie.

Important Note: If you haven't realized yet, I'll tell you now; this will greatly reduce the amount of yogurt you end up with. So remember back when I said amount of milk = amount of yogurt? That doesn't apply here. If you know you want to make Greek yogurt, go ahead and double the milk you start with.

Finally, your yogurt is ready to eat! You can enjoy it plain, put granola on it, make it into a sandwich spread, doctor it up with fruit or honey, mix it with pomegranate juice and freeze it into little drops, anything your mind can think of! Just be sure to set some aside as the starter for when you make your next batch.

All Done

All right! Check you out, you fancy creator of yogurt! Aren't you proud of yourself? I'm certainly proud of you!

Now take your duff out into the world and boast of your yogurty prowess!

31 Days off Your Duff {Day 18} - Do What Makes You Happy

By a show of hands, how many of you do something every day that truly makes you happy?

Hmm... well, I can't see you all, but I'm going to throw out a guess that not many of you raised your hand.

As a coffee shop owner, I see a lot of people every day. And the majority of these people seem to have the goal of just surviving until they get to go back to bed. Very few seem to actually be taking enjoyment out of their lives.

That's right about where I was the beginning of this year; lot's of personal things were negatively affecting my life, my beagle was diagnosed with cancer, people I cared about were having problems... some days it was indeed hard to enjoy anything.

But that's no way for any of us to go on living.

Make a List

Of course, some of us have problems even figuring out what it is that makes us happy. There are so many options available, it's hard to find what you really like!

That's why over the summer, I decided to write a list. This list would have no real order or reason; it would simply be the things that make me happy, make me peaceful, make me excited, anything that gets good feelings going. Afterwards I would look over the list to see if I could act upon anything that was there.

So, I got started. I won't name everything on the list, but here are a few items:

  • Pretty chocolates
  • Spots
  • Creating things in down time (I'll explain in a moment)
  • Rain
  • Shopping
  • Logic Problems

Now, after looking at this list, I decided I could easily start with Chocolatiering. I had always loved beautiful chocolate, the art of making chocolate, eating chocolate, all of it, and I finally realized that I should be doing something about it!

So I started making chocolates for my shop. Hooray! I loved doing that, but chocolate don't sell well all the time, so I couldn't make as many as I really wanted.

Ah well. I put that on the back burner right now. I may try and get a part-time job at a chocolate shop one day, but that isn't going to happen at the moment.

Finally Finding Something

I won't bore you with all the things I've tried from my long list, but suffice to say I have just picked up crocheting (this falls under the very vague "create things" item).

Instead, it's time for you to go make your list. Even if you are one of the lucky few who enjoy your days (hopefully with a good cup of tea!), it can't hurt to identify the areas in which you could enjoy yourself a little more.

So! Get off your duff and be happy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days Off Your Duff {Day 17} - Squash & Pumpkin Seeds

One of the best things about this season is eating pumpkin seeds! They taste so good, even with just a little bit of salt, that it's a great snack to whip up after a night of carving pumpkins.

This week though, my family finally used one of the gigantic squash from our friend's farm. We cut it up for a delicious soup, and my father thought to bake the seeds just as he does pumpkin seeds.

Turns out, they taste the same! Shocking, I know.

Baking the Seeds

This is another one of those recipes where you can't really go wrong unless you try.

The basics are:

- rinse seeds and set out to dry
- drizzle with a little oil
- cook at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown

It's up to you to jazz up the recipe! My dad always did just plain salt, and a couple batches were also blessed with cayenne powder. But you can get as creative as you want.

Here are some ideas:

- Garlic powder/ raw garlic
- Smoked Paprika
- Pumpkin Pie Spice (pre-mixed or your own creation) ((I'm hoping to try that one this year!))
- Salt and Vinegar
- Salt and Lime (this delicious-sounding idea just came to me... has anyone tried it?)

Of course, there are nearly endless other recipes. Tell me about the time you got off your duff and made a batch of seeds!

31 Days off Your Duff {Day 16} - Eggnog Pancakes

One day 4 years ago, I was making some pancakes that called for water to be added. (Yes, I was making them from a box... what can I say? I had just moved out of my parents' house)

Now, my mom always said to substitute milk for that boring water, and you would get creamier, fluffier pancakes. That is exactly what I planned to do, until I opened my fridge and saw:


I way too enthusiastically calmly pulled out that delicious jug of thick (virgin!)eggnog along with the jug of milk. I poured in about 80% eggnog, 20% whole milk.

I then proceeded to cook my pancakes as normal, flipping when the edges started to bubble, all that good stuff, until it was finally time to take my first bite!

Never had I felt that my brilliance was so strong. Those were the best pancakes I had ever had.

And you know what makes them even better? A little sprinkle of cinnamon onto each little circle of batter as it cooks in your pan. Yum.

I am so excited that Fall is here, and it's time once again coming time for these amazing pancakes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days off Your Duff {Day 15} - Make Your Own Energy Bar

Sorry, super-quick, pictureless post, as I'm still sick!

Throwing Together a Bar

This summer, a few of us went out hiking for a week. Instead of loading up on nutritious (yet sugar-laden) energy bars, we decided to make our own beforehand! This way we could control exactly what we were eating, and we could cut down on the waste that we would be toting around on our backs.

I apologize, but at the time I made these, I was not thinking I may one day put them on a blog. Thus, I sadly have no pictures, and nowhere near an exact recipe... but that's the beauty of DIY! You don't have to follow somebody else's instructions exactly, you just make your own.

But here, let me try to recall enough to give you some examples:

My Energy Bar

Bleh, I hate nuts. Gross, gross, gross. So naturally, I didn't put any in bars, hooray! Otherwise I would have had horrific stomach aches, and nasty tastes left on my tongue.

- Oats

The oats were the base of the whole thing, as with most bars.

- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Sesame Seeds

Basically, any seeds I could get my hands on. They are so good for you.

- Various Dried Fruits

Again, we made our own dried fruit. No preservatives or added sugars, hooray!

- Raw Honey
- Melted Marshmallows

These made the stickiness that held everything together.

Okay, okay.... I know. Marshmallows don't really stick with my whole "Natural Energy Bar" theme here... but I got really excited part way through when I realized this was kind of like making Rice Krispie Treats... and I just couldn't help myself! But let me tell you; these were the healthiest Rice Krispies ever made!

My Boyfriend's Energy Bar

His I remember even less of, but let me make an attempt here, just to give you an ever-so-slightly different idea.

- Oats
- Various Dried Fruits
- Various disgusting Nuts
- Various Seeds
- Raw Honey
- Organic Molasses

Making Them Look... Pretty?

Once we were done mixing up our ingredients, we put them in between some foil sheets, and just smooshed everything down until it was flat.

We thought about cutting them into individual bar shapes, but just didn't get around to it in time. That's a definite possibility though!

Now, don't think these are just for hiking! You could easily make a batch of these, cut them into servings, and eat one every day. I'm sure they would freeze just fine too, if you made a huge amount (haven't tried it myself though).

So, get off your duff, and make some energy bars that will ensure you stay off your duff!

31 Days off Your Duff {Day 14} - Make Your Own Vinaigrette

Sorry everyone, I've been sick for a few days and not feeling up to working on the computer. I shall catch up to the 31 days today/tomorrow with a few quick recipes, as I'm still not feeling well.

[insert flavour here] Vinaigrette

Making your own vinaigrette is incredibly easy!

Basically, mix equal parts oil and balsamic vinegar.... and throw in whatever else you want.

Ta-daa! Done.

As for the particular one I just made, I mixed:

- 1 half Fresh Pear
- 1 Fresh Plum
- 4 oz. Balsamic Vinegar
- 4 oz. Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 4 Rosebuds
- Black Pepper to taste (I like a lot, but this was for a party, so I didn't use much)

I mixed it all up in a blender, poured it in a 14 oz. cup, and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve.

Yum, chunks of plum!

It tasted great!

.... until it fell and spilled all over the kitchen floor. But hey, vinegar is a great cleanser!