Archive | October, 2014

Just call me Clark Kent or Superman…

17 Oct

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       Every morning between 7:15am-7:30am I have the “pleasure” of walking the boyfriend’s pup, Tucker. *Side note – it’s not my choice to walk him at this time, believe me. The mister has a schedule and will not leave me the heck alone until I literally get out of bed and walk him.* Also, let’s be real here friends, the dog walks me. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting this hyper as all hell dog, you would totally get it. My residents get a kick out of this and have been the talk of the afternoon during several coffee socials and gathering at the circle. Anyhoo, back to the story here. So here I am walking Tucker around the property (in my flannel PJ’s, boyfriends’ shoes, and a fleece jacket – holla!) and as he was doing his business (#2, even), I hear a knock coming from one of the building windows. I look up to see one of the new residents knocking. Confused, I’m not sure what the heck she wants so I just “smile and wave” and go on my merry way. I am almost around the corner when I hear the new resident shouting at me, waving her arms. *Side note – The resident was wearing what appeared to be a red robe and only a red robe.* I have no idea what she is blabbering about so Tuck and I start walking towards her. The new lady starts shouting at me telling me “this is private property” and that that people that live here are only allowed to walk their pets here. Puzzled, I told her that I lived here (Yes, it’s true. I live where I work). She then told me I did not live here and demanded to know how old I was. I told her I was 30 (no shame here)…She then said that no one my age lives here. I assured her that I, in fact, lived here. She then demanded to know where I lived. I told her that I lived at Cheek wood…Before going further with this absurd conversation (and I also realized she was NOT joking with me), I said “It’s me, Ali. I work and live here, remember?” As soon as I had said that, her face dropped. She then started to freak out on me, kids. She started apologizing profusely, confessing she did not recognize me because I was not wearing my glasses. She said that her and her friend (who ironically also just moved in) had been seeing this “young girl with a pit bull**” walking around and they were “scared.” She stated she had informed my boss about this and my boss told her to confront the girl as well as call the police. She then looked down at herself, apologized again and then jokingly said “At least I am looking out for the hood, right?”

And this my friends is how I started my Friday morning. I will now remember to wear my glasses because apparently I do not look like myself without them…I don’t get it…But whatever.

** Tucker is NOT a pit bull either. He is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. AND he’s awesome.

Tucker

“I can’t believe my best friend leaves me alone with this crazy girl human.

She just won’t stop taking pictures of meeeeee.”

Tucker2

“This is the face that greets me every.single.morning.”

XxX –

Eldest.

 

Middlest Does It Herself: Yogurt!

14 Oct

I have been making my own yogurt for a luxurious 6 months. I feel like I have finally perfected the recipe, hence why I am sharing it all with you today.

milk
The end result is creamy & thick. The recipe is almost effortless. Please leave yourself enough time for the yogurt to sit for at least 8 hours.


Ingredient List.
1 gallon of 1 1/2% milk. Make sure it is not ultra-pasteurized
1/4 cup of yogurt containing bacteria
2-3 ice cubes
Cheesecloth or flour sack.
Large pot
Large bath towel
Colander
Large bowl or additional large pot


Before we delve into the recipe, I am going to tell you what I have changed from previous recipes that, I feel, have made a big difference in the end result. 

  • I went from skim milk to 1 1/2% milk. I also switched from store bought milk to milk that gets delivered to my door. Royal Crest (my farm-to-door milk) claims that they don’t use pesticides or hormones. Because of these switches, I taste a difference in the end result. Is it the fat or is it the type of milk I now buy? I love getting milk delivered to my door, so I may not know for a very long time. The cost difference is $3.39 a gallon vs $4.49 a gallon. That’s a decent increase, but I’ll spend a dollar to not go to the store whenever I want to make yogurt. And they reuse their milk containers, so my green(ish) heart is happy that one more plastic bottle isn’t in the landfills. 🙂 Buy whatever milk you want…just make sure it isn’t ultra-pasteurized!
  • I decreased the amount of yogurt needed to start a batch. Why? When I moved out to Colorado I had to use a store-bought yogurt starter. It just didn’t feel right to lug around a half cup of my homemade yogurt while moving 1,000 miles west. I went to the store and bought a yogurt that contained bacteria in it. It was so good that I ate all but 1/4 cup of it. Whoops. I tried it out and the milk still turned to yogurt! Yay! Anyway, THIS IS IMPORTANT for your first batch: The milk needs bacteria to feast on in order for the end result to be yogurt. So please, just buy a little container of plain yogurt that contains bacteria in it. Afterwards you will just reserve 1/4 cup of your homemade yogurt for your next batch. Easy-peasy.
  • I drain the yogurt with a flour sack. The flour sack is a smaller weave than many of the cheesecloths I was using in the past, which has made the yogurt a lot smoother than previous batches. It takes longer to strain, but the end result is worth it. When I want a thin yogurt, I don’t strain it at all. It’s totally a preference, so play around as you wish!

Directions.
1. Take your large pot and place 2-3 ice cubes at the bottom of it. At room temperature, let the ice cubes melt. This prevents scorching to the bottom of your pot, which results in less scrubbing later.
2. Pour the milk to the bottom of the pot. Turn to medium high, uncovered.
3. Allow the milk to heat to approximately 190ºF. Use a cooking thermometer or just use your eyes. The milk will start to foam at sea level. In Colorado (at 4,284 ft above sea level), the milk looks like it is just about to boil. Turn the heat off at this point.
foamy-milk
4. Cover and allow the milk to cool to 110ºF.
5. Add previous yogurt/store yogurt to batch milk and stir for about a minute, making sure the yogurt is fully incorporated.
6. Cover with lid and wrap pot with your large bath towel. Leave in a warm place where the milk will rest for 8-12 hours. This step is important. I have peeked at my milk at 6 and then again at 7 hours with no such luck. The milk truly needs to set for at least 8 hours. Plan accordingly.
7. Now lift up your cover. You will see a liquid separated to the top of the pot. This is called whey, which is great for baking & smoothies. It’s so awesome. I love this stuff!
8. Remove 1/4 cup of yogurt and store in an airtight container. Place in fridge. This is your starter for your next batch.
9. Place the cheesecloth over colander that is in or resting on top of a large pot. Now scoop half of your yogurt over the cheese cloth. Allow it to sit for a period of time and let the whey drain from the yogurt. Stir occasionally to let the yogurt on top seep into the bottom of the cheesecloth. The idea is to let the yogurt drain until it’s at the consistency you like. For a thinner yogurt, drain for a shorter period of time than you would if you wanted a thicker yogurt. I let my yogurt drain for up to an hour when I am making Greek yogurt. When you’ve determined the consistency you like, place in a container. Then repeat this process with the remaining yogurt.
10.Refrigerate whey and yogurt. It spoils in about a month.


Depending on how thick you like your yogurt, you will yield anywhere from 2-4 quarts of yogurt and 1-3 additional quarts of whey. Thin yogurt means more yogurt and less of whey. Thicker yogurt means more whey, but less yogurt. It’s a win-win regardless!


Making yogurt is extremely gratifying. The results are fantastic; I use homemade yogurt to marinate meat, use in place of sour cream, and eat it in its true state buddied up with honey, dried fruit, or nuts. The results are comparable to all of the plain yogurts I have tried in the store! You get more bang for your buck AND you reap the benefits of having whey leftover to use in many recipes. Perhaps that’s what my next blog posting will be about.
Enjoy.

.x.x.x.x.
Middlest