Sunday, June 27, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

I have been making our yogurt for a few months now, and it is just too easy not to share. I make because it is healthier than most yogurts, and I know what is in it. It is a lot cheaper than buying organic yogurt in the store.

The recipe does take a lot of time, about 13 hours, but the effort is very small.

I use all organic ingredients, but you could also substitute for non-organic.

Items needed:

Crockpot or Slow Cooker
8 Cups of Milk (Horizon Organic Whole Milk)
4-6 ounce container of yogurt, plain or vanilla (Stonyfield French Vanilla)
Real vanilla

I noted the brands that we use,but you can pick your favorite. I use all organic ingredients, but you could also substitute for non-organic.

First, put 8 cups of milk in the crockpot on low, cover and let it heat for 2 1/2 hours. After 2 1/2 hours, unplug the crockpot and let it sit for 3 hours. After 3 hours, pour 1-2 cups of the milk from the crockpot in a bowl, and mix with the container of yogurt. After it is mexed well, pour in to the crockpot and mix thoroughly. Wrap your crockpot in a towel to insulate it, and put in a warm place for 8 hours. ( I like to put it in the oven, with the oven light on). After 8 hours, stir the yogurt, a few teaspoons of vanilla, and add sugar to taste. If you just want plain yogurt, you do not need to add sugar and vanilla.

I like to separate the yogurt in to small containers. I will sometimes add fruit to the containers. I also like to put a little flax seed, wheat germ, granola, and jam in it for a yogurt parfait.

For us, the best time to start the yogurt making process is on a Friday or Saturday evening about 6 hours before you will go to bed, or Saturday or Sunday first thing in the morning.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Miniature Gardening Adventure

I always had a garden growing up and have wanted to start one for my family. Being that we live in a condo, our options are limited, but we make due.

We started our herb garden last year. Sage, Oregano, Dill, Cilantro, Chives and Mescaline Lettuce Mix all came back up this spring. This year we added in more Basil, Parsley, Thyme, more Dill, and Spearmint (for Mojitos!). You can also see two of our tomato plants in the picture, on the top left container is our Tumbling Tom, no tomatoes yet but lots of blossoms. Sitting in the herb garden in a green planter is our Patio Princess tomato plant. This one already has about 7 little tomatoes starting. Planted in the herb garden right below are a few tomato plants that Jonathan started from seed.

The area above is where we planted a few vegetables. I do have some lavender near the planter on the left, but other than than we have zucchini, green beans, green peppers, red peppers, kale, and onions. If all goes well I think I will add more next year in another area.

Jonathan started this little pot of marigolds and he is so excited a few of the flowers are blossoming.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cleaning Without Harmful Chemicals

One of the first attempts I made to rid our house of harmful chemicals, and save money while doing it, was replacing the harmful chemical cleaners in our house. I wanted something more natural, that cleaned just as well, and didn't cost more than the .50 bottles of Lysol or Windex I could pick up with coupons.

After trying a few recipes, we have found a few that we love.

Here are the ingredients and instructions on how to make our favorites.

All Purpose Cleaner
1 tsp Washing Soda
1 tsp Dish Soap (Seventh Generation - Lavender)
Fill container with hot water

Fill bottle half way with hot water, and half way with white vinegar.
Add 5-10 drops Essential Oil (We use Orange as an extra disinfectant)

*we use this mostly in the kitchen. Takes a while to get used to the vinegar smell, but now we associate it with cleaning.

Glass Cleaner
Fill bottle half way with rubbing alcohol, and half way with water

*The smell of the alcohol is a little strong, make sure the room you are cleaning is well ventilated