Monday, August 30, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

Did anybody else know you can make your own yogurt?  I had no idea.  Tyler and I read a book called, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and she talks about making their own yogurt and cheese, so we decided we should figure out how to do it and give it a try.

Originally we ordered yogurt culture from Cultures for Health, but later found out you can just use plain yogurt as a starter.  It's taken us a while to perfect our technique, but now that we have, I MUST share this!  Here's how to do it:

First, pour a whole gallon of milk into a pot.  We use non-homogenized whole milk from Hickory Hill Farms (you can buy it at Earth Fare), but I think any milk will work.  Probably the more fat in it, the better, though.

Next, heat it up to 110 degrees.  This part is very important.  If you heat it up any higher, let it cool down until it reaches 110F again, otherwise when you mix in your yogurt, you will kill the cultures and it won't work.  Make sure you stay and continually stir your milk as it heats up so it doesn't burn on the bottom.

Once your milk has reached 110F, remove it immediately from the heat.  Prepare your yogurt (between 1/2 - 1 cup) by stirring it until it is nice and smooth.  We've found it's easiest to do this by having your yogurt sitting out while the milk is heating up so it's easy to stir.  Then, pour it in the milk.

Next, stir it in until it is well mixed - meaning no lumps and looking pretty smooth.

Once it is all stirred in, put the lid on your pot and place in your oven.

Keep in mind that the oven is OFF.  

To keep everything nice and warm, you'll want to wrap the pot in towels. 
One in the back,

one in the front,

and one over top.

Then shut the door and turn the oven light on.  

This whole process, as you perfect your technique, takes about 10 minutes.  Do it right before you go to bed. When you get up, take it out of the oven.  We've found the best flavor if you get it out after 8-9 hours.  Any longer and the yogurt becomes very tart.

When you take it out, it will be very runny.  If you like your yogurt really runny, go ahead and store it and refrigerate it.  (Update: don't forget to put a bit in a container to save as a starter for your next batch.  Just ladle out some after you take it out of the oven and put it in a jar and place it in the fridge till the next batch) At this stage, it's still too runny for our taste, so here's how to thicken it up:

Take a large bowl and put a small bowl upside down inside it. (For a batch this large, we actually use 2 large bowls and divide it up)

Then place a colander on top of that small bowl.

Then you want to lay a cloth on it.  I've found that muslin works great, have also heard that coffee filters work well.  Something that will allow the whey (liquid) to drain off.

Next, ladle your yogurt into the cloth.

Then you can put it in the fridge and let it strain until it is the consistency you want.  We like it nice and thick (Greek style), and that usually takes 3-4 hours of straining (Update: we tend to leave it in all day until it's almost cheese, then put it in a bowl and use a hand mixer to whip it smooth adding a little bit of whey back in to the texture we want).  Afterward, put your yogurt in a container (we saved some old 24 oz yogurt containers) and enjoy!  You should be able to fill up at least 2 24 oz. containers.  Make sure you set aside about 1/2 - 1 cup of your newly made yogurt to start your next batch.

This is EXCELLENT with some honey drizzled on the top.  Seriously, one of my favorite foods.  I'd eat it all day if I could get away with it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Photography Group

Just an idea...

I know a while ago there was talk of getting a photography group together where we can take pictures, experiment and learn more about our cameras and the ins and outs of what makes a good picture.  Is anybody still interested in doing this?

If so, I'm thinking one Saturday morning (Sept. 4, 9:00am to be exact) we should get together at my house and start it up.  Tell me if you're interested by either leaving a comment or emailing me to let me know.  No pressure, but I think it would be fun!

**You don't have to have a "really nice" camera to join!**


Tyler and Cade went out to the chicken coop this morning to get eggs and found that somebody had already beaten them to the punch.

I sure am thankful for my zoom lens!

Monday, August 9, 2010


So today was the big day... Cade's first day of Kindergarten.  He was quite excited to get on the bus.  Until it came.  Then he was a little nervous.  All the cousins lined up youngest to oldest so he was the first one on and wasn't quite sure what to do, so he would stop and look back while everyone yelled, "Get on, Cade!"

Needless to say, I was a little emotional and cried the whole way back to the house.  My baby!  While he is growing up so fast, he is still so small to be on such a big bus, driving away somewhere where he will be gone all day.  Like a day job.  He's only 5.  Home for dinner and that's it.  I'm having a tough time with it.  But I do hope he has fun and enjoys his time there.  Can't wait to hear how it went.

 This has got to be one of my favorite pictures.  She's giving him a kiss goodbye.