Thursday, April 30, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

Last summer my kids really dove into yogurt. They'd easily go through one 650mL tub of it daily and those plastic tubs kept piling up. I donate most of them (along with other plastic my local recycling depot won't yet accept) to my son's Kindergarten classroom. His teacher shares them with the other primary teachers, so I know they're not going to landfill anytime soon. I decided that, for the cost of yogurt, I could be making my own without artificial colours, flavours or added sugar. I could also cut down on the number of plastic tubs coming into my house.

I once tried a homemade yogurt recipe using powdered milk, and it was awful. The kids hated it and I wasn't too impressed, either. This time, I spent some time looking for a better recipe and found one on Instructables.com. It calls for cream along with the milk, and I don't bother mixing them. I just use regular 2% milk (that's what's usually on hand) and the least expensive plain yogurt available at my local grocery store.
All in all though, the recipe and instructions there were really simple and I recommend this for anyone who likes yogurt!

Are you ready? I’ll give you a really detailed account of how I make it.

This is so easy.


You need:
Medium saucepan
Whisk, sterilised with boiling water.
Candy thermometer
1.5L (or quarts, or as much as you want to make) of 2% milk
Approximately 120 ml (1/2 cup) of plain store bought or homemade yogurt
(you need this for the a/b bacterial culture!)

Suitable glass or plastic bowl with lid or cover sterilised with boiling water.
Cheesecloth

1. Heat the milk in the saucepan on medium heat, stirring frequently with a spoon or whisk. Bring it to about 180°F but no higher. The goal here is to re-pasteurise the milk to kill any unwanted bacteria, not to let it come to a boil.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit to cool until the milk is about 100°F.


3. Boil enough water in your teakettle to pour all over the glass or plastic container you’re using, as well as your whisk. (Don’t dry them with towels, just shake out the hot water, it’ll dry fast from the heat.) This should make them bacteria-free as well. When the milk has cooled enough, whisk in the plain yogurt for a few minutes so it’s combined.

4. Pour the yogurt-milk mixture into your container and set it inside your oven with the light on. If your oven doesn’t have a light, check for a ‘warm’ function, or preheat it a wee bit, then turn it off when you place your container inside. It should be as warm as an ideal place to let bread dough rise, if that helps.

5. Let it sit for 6 to 8 hours and then cover it and put it in the fridge for a while to chill, even overnight. When it's cold, take the cover off and lay your loosely folded cheesecloth directly on top of the yogurt, and leave it in the fridge like this for a few hours. It’s going to draw up the whey from your yogurt to thicken it. (My thanks go to my friend Helen for this tip. I was originally trying to strain it through coffee filters in a sieve, which took a lot of space in the fridge and more sterilising!)


Whey is the watery liquid that separates from the yogurt. It isn’t bad for you or anything. In fact, if you decide to strain it with a sieve and filter you can use the liquid for bread and other recipes. We just don’t want it in our yogurt if we’re going to add things later to flavour it, or it’ll be really runny.


6. Rinse, wring and reapply your cheesecloth as many times as you wish to reach your desired consistency. If you like your yogurt really thick so you can add fruit syrups or even maple syrup, use the cheesecloth more than 3 times. Stir it, add whatever you like and enjoy!
When stirring your yogurt, if you find it has a gooey, elastic consistency to it, then you didn’t kill enough unwanted bacteria. It shouldn’t affect the flavour, and as long as you’re sure your container and whisk were acceptably clean, I don’t think it’ll hurt you to eat it. (No ill affects here, anyway!)



I usually add strawberry or raspberry jam to our yogurt, or fresh berries if I have them on hand. It’s better if you can find jams without added sugar, but unless you make your own jams they usually cost more, which makes buying store bought yogurt much cheaper than making it yourself. If you don’t mind that cost though, you can still feel proud of saving the planet from one more ‘disposable’ plastic container.
I’m not a big fan of “Activia” brand yogurt, the kids and I don’t like the flavour, so I’ve never tried making homemade yogurt from pro-biotic types. If you try making some, or use another great yogurt recipe or method, please share your results by commenting below!

Thanks for stopping by! ~ Jan

Friday, April 24, 2009

Crumpet Failure

I'm a bread eater. I mean, of all the bread products I've ever had I don't think I met one I didn't like. Breakfast breads are a particular favourite, especially crumpets. I so love them that I searched for a decent-looking recipe for homemade crumpets, to ensure I'd never have to go without, even when my local grocery store doesn't have them (which is often). Enter Mr. Breakfast.

Mr. Breakfast tempted me with "Jeffery's" oh-so-easy recipe for
Crumpets, but I'm sad to say that it let me down. Maybe it's because here in Western Canada, we get such great quality all-purpose flour (no sifting required here in the Great White North), our baked things are more glutinous. Maybe it's the altitude, because I live in the foothills of the Rockies. Maybe I'm just not a great cook.
I made the batter according to the directions and noted that 'batter' doesn't really accurately describe it. It looked more like bread dough. After the 45 minute resting period, I added the baking soda dissolved in water, and it looked like wet bread dough.



Not one to panic, I let it rise another 25 minutes and began cooking it on my greased skillet. It wouldn't portion out nicely because it was elastic and doughy, but that was ok. It cooked and although there were none of the signature holes expected of decent crumpets (I mean seriously, where's the butter going to go?), they looked tasty enough. Two pans later, I still wasn't satisfied, so I added water to the remaining batter and ladled out the last pan, which looked a lot like the first two, only flatter.

Failure.



You can see how desperate that flat one on top is to look more hole-y. I haven't tried toasting and eating these yet, but let's just say I'm not recommending this recipe. I'll keep looking. In the meantime I'm not throwing this recipe out just yet, either. Next time I try it, I'm going to try reducing the yeast and flour, and increasing the milk and water. I'll let you know how it goes.

And if any of you have or find a recipe for homemade crumpets that you know works, please feel free to share it with me! Comment below or email me at WireMySoul@gmail.com.

Thanks for stopping by! ~Jan

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Now playing:
Sisters of Mercy - Dominion / Mother Russia
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

I've been thinking about which green craft project I could talk about today, since it's Earth Day. I've been seeing a lot of really great recycle and upcycle related projects this month, so I'm showing you my favourite one yet.

A couple of weeks ago, my google reader caught a really great idea from the clever peeps at Dollar Store Crafts about making beads from recycled soda bottles. The instructions are there, and I have to say I liked the results I got with my hot hair dryer better than a pot of boiling water. I know those bottles are worth a few cents at the local depot, but wouldn't you rather make some long-lasting jewelery from them instead? Or maybe you'll make some great stitch markers for the avid knitter in your life!

See these in my deviantART gallery

How to:

Cut a 4 inch length of craft wire. Make a large wrapped loop using a large pen, or a larger peg if you're using a wire jig. Add your soda bottle bead and any others you want to go with it, then finish it off with another, smaller wrapped loop. Voila! Make a whole matching set and give them to your best knitter friend, or keep them to use yourself!

Today is a good day to destash your recycleables to make beads like this, or crochet your plastic shopping bags (or even fuse them, what the hey!). Do something nice for Mother Earth today.

Thanks for stopping by! ~ Jan

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Now playing: Leonard Nimoy - Both Sides Now
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome to Wire My Soul.

Hello Blogiverse! I'm a mom in Alberta Canada who spends too much time looking at cool craft ideas, making jewelery from beads and wire (and whatever else I can find), baking and crocheting amigurumi and other cool things, and listening to my favourite podcasts (or looking for more of them). I should be cleaning my house, instead of filling it with all this stuff, but ... well, let's just say you won't see many room pictures in this blog.

I've been using my deviantART site as my home base of operations for over a year now, and while I'm not much of a journal-keeper, I have to admit I'm not sure how much it serves my needs on the net. It's great for communicating with other deviantARTists, but if my reader isn't a member, s/he can't comment on my posts. So here I am. We'll see how this goes.

What you'll find here: I'll be posting some of my amigurumi patterns for free here, as well as drawing more attention to some people I admire and follow on the internet, including sharing craft ideas and my thoughts on some of the stuff I see and hear online.

Thanks for stopping by!