Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Passing the Time during the Doldrums of Winter

It has been a busy week in an attempt to ignore the horrible weather we have been experiencing here in Wisconsin.  I think most of the country has had it's share of inclement weather.  Yesterday it rained, but the pavement was very cold so the rain froze on contact.  Our sidewalk which hadn't thawed from the week before is partly under water and partly a glaze of ice.  I got more traction walking on top of the snow that remains, but even that was treacherous.  I hope the birds and deer appreciate my effort.

One of our deer friends peeking at me through the branches.

This week I made bread with my own sour dough starter which I learned to make without buying the starter powder.  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-starter-recipe   I put one loaf in the freezer two days ago and this is all that is left from the second loaf.  The starter is to the point where I can keep it in the refrigerator and only feed it once a week.

Sour dough starter and bread

I made lemon water which I make every few days.  For more than a year, my husband has a warm cup of this water first thing in the morning.  I don't know if this is the reason he was able to eliminate his acid reflux medication, but he doesn't need it any longer.  He has done a few other things like not eating after 7:00 pm and cutting back on tomato products.  That was difficult, but we have adapted.

Lemon water which I made this time with a lime, an orange and two lemons

I made a new batch of bone broth.  I recently bought twenty-five pounds of organic bones, so I will be good for a long time.  I drink a cup of the broth first thing in the morning instead of coffee.  I call it my magic elixir.  It gives me a sense of well being even though staying upbeat during these long winter days is challenging at times.

Batch of bone broth for the freezer

I made hard boiled eggs in the pressure cooker.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2016/09/boiling-eggs-easy-way.html  Most people call the cooker an Instant Pot now, but when I bought mine it was called a digital pressure cooker.  I think the term "pressure cooker" brings back negative memories of past models.  Leave it to Madison Avenue to rename it to improve sales.  However instant pots do have more pre-programmed settings including a yogurt setting which is very popular.


Seeing all the hype on making yogurt makes me laugh.  I have been making my own yogurt for forty years or more.  It is the exact process I have always used but they are making it sound like a new invention.  Now they call it Greek yogurt, but it is just thick yogurt.  I typed "Yogurt" in my blog because I was sure I had blogged about it already.  It didn't come up.  I blogged about all the other things I have made this week, but not yogurt.  That is hard to believe, so here is the recipe.

Homemade Yogurt

4 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 T. plain yogurt starter
(to start just buy a container of plain yogurt with live cultures, then after you start making yogurt use 1 tablespoon of your homemade yogurt to start a new batch)

I read you can freeze yogurt in ice cube trays and then if you don't make one batch after the other, you will have starter available.  I haven't tried this.

Heat the milk to 180 degrees.  You can use a saucepan or the microwave.  Use a digital thermometer to make sure the milk is hot enough.  Then let it cool to 110 degrees.  Stir in the yogurt starter.  I usually put the yogurt starter in a small dish, add a little milk and mix it up.  Then add it into the four cups of cooled milk.  Now you just incubate it for 10-12 hours.  People with an instant pot just make it in the cooker, but I use an old yogurt maker to keep the yogurt warm.  It just needs to be kept warm somehow.  I usually do it in the evening and then it is ready in the morning.  Without stirring, put it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or so.  Mine is very thick, but if it isn't just strain it through cheese cloth or a sieve or a nut bag.  The excess whey drains out for other uses, and the really thick Greek yogurt remains.

Yogurt maker with finished yogurt.

This is perfect plain yogurt to use in smoothies which is what we usually use it for.  I also make yogurt parfaits.  To do that, I sweeten the yogurt with some honey and a little vanilla, cut up some fruit and layer it in a dish or jelly jar with either granola or oatmeal.

Parfaits in the refrigerator for a snack or a quick breakfast. 

I love having all this stuff on hand to eat and drink, but the downside is the dirty dishes.  I know how to make a mess, and my biggest challenge is to remember to clean up as I go.   Fortunately I have a non-human dishwasher.  If I didn't, it would be really easy to talk myself out of making all this.

I realize this way of living is not for most people, but living like a modern day pioneer is the life we chose.  Thank goodness I have indoor plumbing, a great backup heating system, running water and access to food without hunting, fishing and preserving just to live.