Yogurt Making

my breakfast this morning- blueberry raspberry yogurt
my breakfast this morning- blueberry raspberry yogurt

I absolutely LOVE making things from scratch!  And one of the things that I am so excited to make on my own for our family is yogurt. For years I thought you needed a special yogurt maker, or that the process was really difficult. Not so.

Commercial yogurt is overly sweetened and very expensive. I can make a gallon of homemade yogurt for the cost of the milk that I use.  (Currently 2.18 for a regular gallon, or 4 for local raw milk) Consider that a single serving size container of Yoplait costs about 55 cents, that is a pretty significant savings. And that’s not even talking about the health benefits, 🙂

There are several excellent ways to make your own yougurt, the process is the same for all of them. I have made it in the crockpot with good success, I actually made some ricotta style cheese that way as well. I think my crockpot was a little too warm and maybe took it to the next level. Well that and I whisked the mixture when it was done which caused the whey to separate  🙂  It was AWESOME cheese though.  *wink*

Without a doubt the easiest way time wise, and clean up wise, for me, has been using a small insulated cooler to make the yogurt. Once the yogurt is made, it has to sit in a warm environment to culture. I put my two quart jars of yogurt, along with two quart jars of boiling water in a small cooler (think Playmate size) with a towel folded and layed on top of the jars. It works like a charm.

Here is the rest of the process, it is SUPER easy. You will need:

Milk  (NOT ultra pasturized- Horizon organic is one that is)

small container of plain yogurt with active cultures (you can use your own yogurt for a starter next time)

an instant read thermometer  (totally worth the money)

Heat your milk in a large pot until it reaches at least 185 degrees. Turn off the heat and let the milk cool until it reaches 110 degrees (30-45 mins)

Place a couple of cups of the warm milk in a small bowl and add 2-3 tbs of plain yogurt. Stir until well combined, and then add that mixture back to the pot, stirring well to incorporate.

Pour warm milk/starter mixture  into jars and place in a small cooler with jars of boiling water. Cover with a towel and close cooler. Let sit for 6 hours then refrigerate yogurt.

The result is wonderful creamy yogurt. It is very tart, as there is no sweetner in it (and it makes a great substitute for  sour cream in some dishes).

I store it as is, and then each of us adds our flavoring as we get ready to eat it.  We also add a touch of sweetner, although I would love for us all to be able to break that habit, 🙂

If you like thicker greek style yogurt, just strain it in some cheese cloth for a few hours.


I have only used turmeric in one recipe, and that is zucchini relish. It smells terrible, but is great when you are done. I was also told by someone this spring that it is a wonderful, natural bug deterrent in your garden. This article by Debra at Blissfully Domestic shares some possible health benefits of the spice as well.

I came across an interesting article recently that stated that older people in India have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s disease. Could it be because their diet is high in curry which is a component of turmeric?

It’s possible that turmeric may be able to protect the liver, control cholesterol, serve as an antioxidant and reduce inflammation.

blissfully delish Spice it up with Turmeric and Curry

It resembles a sweet potato before it’s been ground into powder.

blissfully delish Spice it up with Turmeric and Curry I added just a little to some chicken salad and it was good.  Not what I was used to, but still good.  Guess I’ll be doing that more often. I figure it can’t hurt. Right?

Coconut oil blend

Kimi Harris at the Nourishing Gourmet shares:

One of the ways to include more healthy coconut oil into your diet is to use the following oil mix that Mary Enig recommends. It contains equal amounts of coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and sesame oil. Once the melted coconut oil is mixed with the other oils, it stays liquid in cooler weather (though the oil will sometimes get a little cloudy in cold weather, it still works great).

Mary’s Oil Blend

I cup of coconut oil, gently melted
1 cup of expeller-expressed or cold-pressed sesame oil
1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients together in a glass jar, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.

Be sure to click thru to read more info on these nourishing oils and how Kimi uses them in her ktichen.


Making whole grain soaked bread

Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking has an excellent post on making bread.

“The smell of home­made bread is intox­i­cat­ing for me! A fresh slice from the oven with a little butter on the top is like a taste of heaven! Espe­cially when this bread comes from your very own oven and is made from qual­ity ingre­di­ents, no addi­tives, and soaked for the high­est nutri­tional ben­e­fit! Who can ask for better? The ques­tion is not whether it will save you money to make your own bread (which I am sure it will all the same), but rather you will know exactly what is being put into your bread! It is all about qual­ity and fresh­ness! Making home­made bread was one of my jobs grow­ing up where it was rather of a burden than a joy to com­plete, but now that I am mar­ried and rais­ing a family, I have come to real­ize the real value of devel­op­ing this art…”

An excellent post that talks about the health benefits and some great recipes too!


Whole wheat pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour  ( Ilike Kamut)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
6 T. melted butter

Mix together dry ingredients. Add buttermilk, eggs and melted butter and stir well with a whisk.

Simple Vanilla Granola

Vanilla Scented Granola Courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine (and Amy Clark at momadvice.com)

Cooking spray
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
Position rack to middle of oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Lightly spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Mix next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Combine oil, honey and sugar in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour hot liquid over oat mixture; stir well. Using hands, toss mixture until thoroughly mixed. Spread granola on prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionaly, about 30 minutes (but check after 20). Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely. (Can be made two weeks ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.) Makes approximately 8 cups.

Side Note: If you prefer granola clumps, do not stir during baking and allow the granola to cool. You can then break the granola apart into pieces.

Canola Oil

So I did a BRIEF search on the internet regarding canola oil and whether or not it is a safe oil to use. It would seem that the info that was passed on to me by a family member years ago actually made the rounds of internet email during that time as well. And there is an actual entry on snopes.com refuting the fact that canola oil is bad for you. While I normally use snopes to check out urban legend type emails, I don’t know that I believe their verdict this time.

After reading snopes response to the emails, for me, I still feel that there is enough to be leary of, to warrant not using the product. If a product in its natural state is harmful, and needs to be modified in some way to make it safer, I would rather not use it.

Here is a short passage I found, there are other much more alarming posts, but this one is brief and to the point:
There are several emails making the rounds of the Internet warning consumers not to buy or consume Canola oil.

The Truth

This is one of whose “it depends on who you ask” topics. The emails that are the most alarming about Canola oil point out that it is actually processed from rape seed, which everybody agrees is a toxic plant. The makers of Canola oil, however, say that to equate rape seed with Canola oil is inaccurate because the toxic qualities of the original plant have been virtually eliminated in the final product. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration certified Canola oil as safe in 1985. In its certification, the FDA said that rape seed oil has been used for cooking for centuries in certain parts of the world, but the problem has always been that 30 to 60 percent of it was erucic acid, the most offending substance. Canola oil, which comes from Canada, contains between 0.3 and 1.2 percent. Critics of Canola oil say, however, that the main reason rape seed oil is popular with the manufacturers is that its cheap to grow and harvest and that because of its toxic nature, insects don’t bother it. The critics say that even with the lower levels of erucic acid, there are other nutritional concerns that prompt them to recommend against using it. The defenders say that almost all the criticism of Canola oil is based on the qualities of rape seed oil, not Canola, and that many of the claims of harm are anecdotal and undocumented.
Take it with a grain of salt, 🙂

Use and Benefits of coconut oil

I have shared with many of you that I have begun using coconut oil. Here is a short write up from
organicfacts.net about some of the wonderful benefits of using it, internally and externally.

The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia. As a result of these various health benefits of coconut oil, though its exact mechanism of action was unknown, it has been extensively used in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicinal system.

Coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this being that coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.

Health benefits of coconut oil include the following:
Hair Care: Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shinny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged air. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is therefore used as hair care oil and used in manufacturing various conditioners, and dandruff relief creams. Coconut oil is normally applied topically for hair care.

Stress Relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage helps in removing mental fatigue.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Further, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin with the application of coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care.

Premature Aging: Coconut oil helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.

Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.

Pancreatitis: Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis.

Digestion: Internal use of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Immunity: Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Healing: When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues.

Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.

Liver: The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases as they substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing work load on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.

Kidney: Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.

Dental Care: Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay.
HIV and Cancer: It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing viral susceptibility of HIV and cancer patients.

Kamut Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a keeper for sure, I used half freshly ground kamut grain and white flour.

I think my butter was just a tad too soft, as these flattened out quite a bit, but they have just a touch of crispness while still being soft in the center. And they dont taste “wheaty”, dispite their darker color. Also I baked them on a pizza stone, so there were a lot of variables here, 🙂

its not Parkay…..

its BUTTER!!!

On the left is the butter I made earlier this week, with whipping cream bought from the store.
On the right is the gorgeous butter I made this morning, using the raw milk.  Isn’t it simply divine?
And it tastes SOOOO good!