Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today's Task: Yogurt

Hello All,

I've decided to not dwell too much on recent miseries and mistakes and move forward.  It does none of us any good to think about what almost was or could have been.  Apparently, life does not allow for those things to be achieved for me. I guess I'm not quite accepting, but just deciding to move forward.  Someone else will get a really great barn out of all our work, but we had a big hand in saving the 110+ year old structure.  We'll take some solice with that, I guess.  The focus for us at the moment is finding Music Man a new job.

That being said, we spent so much time all through the fall working on the barn we were to buy that most of my weekend and spare time was spent with that task.  I did not get to do the things in the autumn season that make me happiest and I definitely did not make time for as much home cooking as I'm accustomed to doing.  So, today I decided to put myself to that task again.  And as we've got a stomach bug rolling through our house, I thought I'd make some yogurt from scratch to boost up our beneficial bacteria levels.  Probiotics rule.

We start this whole process with the farm fresh milk we get from our friends who run our meat and milk CSA, Field To Fork Farm.  Now, they also used to provide us with eggs, but I'm so happy to report that the girls are still laying well even with the shorter days.  We're not getting as many as during high sun, but they average about 3 eggs per day between the 5 of them, so I've nothing to complain about there.  It's probably helping that our weather has been fairly warm for this time of year, as well. 

This is how we get our milk every Sunday, two gallons, freshly milked...and yes, that is cream on the top, see the difference in color?  It makes the MOST delicious whipped cream ever!

I should mention also that I use a yogurt maker now.  If you've been reading me for a bit, you know I've done this using just a cooler and warm water, and it did work, but sometimes the "cooking gadget" is so worth it.  Kind of like the Kitchen Aid mixer I was not sure I wanted.  I was given one by a friend who had one that was his mother's and she no longer needed it.  I use it all the time and love it.  I'm not opposed to the 21st century implements when they are useful to me.  I really do find the yogurt maker such a great tool. I get to make fresh, organic yogurt, which I control the sugar content and additives of and it's so much tastier then anything you will find in the store!

So, the first step to yogurt, after making sure all your instruments are scrupulously clean, is to heat 42 ounces of milk to 180 degrees in a sauce pan.  Use a deep one, because the milk will rise up the side of the pan as it's heating.
Then, shut the heat off, remove the pan from the hot burner and let cook to 110 degrees.  I use a wooden spoon to skim the skin off that forms on top.  If you leave it and mix it back in, it won't hurt you or anything, it just makes small lumps in the yogurt.

After the yogurt has cooled to 110 degrees, take 6 ounces of unsweetened, plain yogurt and whisk into the milk.  You can also use yogurt starter, which you can buy in most health food stores or online. I've never needed it and either a jar of yogurt from my last batch or a 6 ounce cup of Stonyfield organic does me just fine.  Whisk that until smooth and well incorporated.  It's at this point you can add some flavoring if you like.  I actually prefer to do it just before serving this way, if one of the family doesn't want strawberry jam from the summer harvest,why we can just do a little maple syrup for them. Or, just plain, which is how I like it myself.  It's also helpful not to flavor if you're cooking with it.

After adding flavoring or leaving as is, you pour them into the individual serving dishes that come with the yogurt maker.  I love these, they are just the right serving size at about 7 ounces each. 
After this is done, place the 7 jars in the maker, place the lid on, set your timer and push the start button.  It's that easy!  In 9 hours I will have some of the tastiest "medicine" for our tummy troubles going and you can't beat the nutrition level either.  Good stuff! 
You can set the timer for different time periods depending on the type of yogurt you want. I like the richer, creamier Greek style, so I put mine in for 9 hours.  If you prefer the looser, more table type yogurt, you can choose 7 hours.  If you like it more like yogurt cheese, you'd leave it for 10 or so hours. I think this yogurt maker cost me about $42.00 and I've more then made that back in the homemade yogurt and health benefits from making my own.  If you're a yogurt lover like I am, and you've the means to pick one of these up (I got mine at King Arthur Flour's website) I highly recommend you take the plunge. I promise, you won't be disappointed! 

Reconnecting to my skills, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I came across this picture today while searching for something in a long forgotten place.  This is Little Red when he was about 2 1/2 at the beach.  I LOVE this picture of him, he's so cute it makes my heart ache.  I remember when he was this sweet.  And was just beginning to speak.  He was a late talker and was in speech therapy as a little guy.  I still firmly believe he was just not ready to talk yet because once he did, he never stopped.  And still hasn't.  This child chatters constantly.  If he's not chattering to his brother, he's talking to himself or singing or whistling.  There is always noise eminating from his being.
Just thought I'd share a wonderful memory with you today.  I'm looking forward to beach weather again.

Waves and gulls to you, ~Peacemom

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with peace.  2012 has to be better then 2011, so we're looking forward.

Nollaig Shona Daoibh, Feliz Navidad, Joyeaux Noel, Fröhliche Weihnachten and Merry Christmas to you all....

From our little hockey players to yours, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Moving On

Well, I'll give the jist of what happened here and then I'm gonna move on.  Last Wednesday, 3 days before the company party where he would have received a nice Christmas bonus for a job he felt very worthwhile, 2 weeks from FINALLY closing on our farm, and three weeks before Christmas, my husband along with 1/2 the engineering staff in his company, was laid off.  Again.  They sent his job to China. 

So, not only is he back to looking for another job and feeling quite defeated in the latest round of "it's just business", but we lost the farm.  No one gives you a mortgage if you don't have a job.  Almost 5 months of work for everyone involved and now that dream will belong to someone else.

And the worst part of it all was telling our sons that they weren't going to get that big, wonderful, sunny bedroom or really cool barn.  Their room here is basically not a whole lot larger then a walk in closet.  After all the hours, days and months we spent working on that barn, we're all crushed.  Perhaps so many hurdles in the way along the whole process should have taught us not to keep trying, but we're not quiters.  At least until someone quits on us.

Goodbye Grace Note Farm, we're beyond sad to see you go.

Still grieving it all, ~Peacemom

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's Over

There's something I've had too many opportunities in my life to discover and am going through it again now.  The stages of grief  are not actually stages.  They cycle, you see.  You will experience the anger, sadness, fear and acceptance in waves as you're working through your grief.  Yesterday was anger and fear, today is sadness and acceptance, tomorrow will be another wave and for the months, and indeed years, the cycle will continue, gradually lessening over time.

The real tragedy in my mind and soul is that after a while, you have to shut yourself down to emotions all together, even the good ones because you can't mentally handle the disappointment, fear, anger and sadness of it all.  You try to force yourself right into acceptance, because anything else is just too painful.  But the side affect of that is that you also don't allow the joy, happiness and contentment in, mostly because it's been my experience that they are dangerous places to dwell and will indeed pass.  It is safer just not to feel things.

We've had a big blow here this week, I promise, once I'm able, I will talk about it.  For now, this is the thoughts in my head.  I implore you, please be thankful for what you have that's stable in your life, stability is a great place to reside.

Riding the wave, ~Peacemom