“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair...”

What's going on in the kitchen? (And a yogurt recipe.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

what i've been making lately... what i've been making lately... what i've been making lately... what i've been making lately... what i've been making lately... what i've been making lately... what i've been making lately... what i've been making lately...

Well, it is officially autumn and it sure feels like it around here! It has been quite chilly and rainy off and on this week. I decided to make a whole bunch of nourishing foods this week as I was thinking of attempting a short version of the GAPS diet. I kind of failed that attempt, though I am still thinking of doing some sort of intro diet like the SCD just for a time. Still working on that darned eczema. Seems cutting out gluten didn't exactly cure me like I thought, although I continue to stay gluten free. Anyway, I learned a lot about making stock and broth this week! I made several batches of chicken broth, although I think they were kind of a failed attempt because they didn't gel like they were supposed to (the beef stock gelled, though). I probably added too much water. Having a chicken foot or two would have helped, I'm sure! I also learned that I am so much more in love with beef broth/stock than I am with chicken. I love chicken, but for some reason I've never been able to LOVE chicken soup. I kind of made myself like it, though. But I still don't crave it or anything, not like I do beef. No wonder it's more expensive! Before learning more about how nutritious meat actually is for us, I tended to make more vegetable stock. But now I know meat broths are so healthy and great to have and so healing for your body. So it's a skill I'd like to perfect. And a good nourishing soup around the house is really wonderful on a chilly autumn day!

I've also started making more fermented foods. I tried my hand at making sauerkraut last week, though I admit I haven't tasted it yet! It's actually rather pretty, but then anything looks pretty in a Weck jar! I only fermented this batch for three days on the counter. I made it simply with salt and sliced cabbage. I can't remember the exact ratios of salt to cabbage, but I think I used about 1/2 tablespoon for a small cabbage. I thought it was something like a teaspoon per pound, but I think it matters on how long you intend to ferment. More salt for longer ferments.

I started making yogurt again as well. I have made it three other times, but they didn't turn out so great. They were much too runny. This time, I kept an eye on the temperature to make sure it was constant and it worked out wonderfully! I like to strain my yogurt since Jed and I prefer the Greek style. We like just a drizzle of honey on top and sometimes berries if we have them. It's actually a very simple process making yogurt, and you really don't need a yogurt maker. I wrote out how I make my yogurt, but you can also do a search and find many more directions online with more pictures than I was able to include here.

Twenty-Four Hour Yogurt

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 gallon (4 pints) whole milk (you can use 1-2%, but it won't be as creamy)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (check the label carefully to be sure it has no pectin, sugar or any flavorings. Dannon is good, I used Fage 2%)

Directions:

Unless you are using raw milk, you will first need to heat the milk to 180-185 degrees fahrenheit or until it's very hot, but not boiling. There may be a skin on top, just skim that off. I use my dutch oven to do this step, although you can also slowly heat it up in a crock pot on high until it reaches the temperature. Now let it cool until it reaches 100-112 degrees fahrenheit. You are going to want to keep it at this temperature for the entire 24 hour "ferment." You can speed up the cooling process by putting your pot in the sink filled with icy water. 

Once cooled down to the desired temperature, take out a cup or so of milk and put it in a separate bowl. Add 1/4 cup yogurt starter and whisk until fully incorporated. I've found it helps to mix up the yogurt starter before adding it to the milk. If you prefer, you could instead use yogurt starter powder or a good probiotic supplement capsule instead of the store bought yogurt, though I haven't tried this yet. Add the yogurt/milk mixture back into the rest of the milk and mix everything together. 

At this point you can either put the milk into sterile glass jars or just keep it in the pot you used to heat the milk. Remember to be sure to keep the temperature of the milk around 100-112. If you have a yogurt maker, you could just put the milk in that and you are set. However, most yogurt makers are meant for 6-8 hour yogurt, so their temperature may not stay at a constant 110 degrees and it may end up getting hotter which would kill all the good bacteria! There are ways around this, such as using a light dimmer from the hardware store. I'm going to actually try this with my crock pot the next time I make yogurt to see if I can just make the whole thing in there rather than use my oven. I'll let you know if it works! 

You can use anything from wrapping the pot in towels and setting it in the warmest part of the house or putting jars into a cooler filled with warm water. I've found the easiest method is just using the oven with an oven light. The light keeps the temperature in the oven to almost exactly 110. If I find the temp dropping a little, I just preheat the oven for a few seconds to get it back up again. I kept my thermometer in the yogurt this time to make sure it was exact, but you don't really have to do that. Cover your pot or sterile jars and then leave it there for 24 hours. I put a little sticky note on the oven to remind me and also to let others know that the oven is not to be used during this time. Of course I'm the only one who uses it anyway, so it's not a big deal around here.  

After 24 hours, take the yogurt out and place it directly into the fridge. Let it sit there for another 3-6 hours or so. Once it is cold, you can eat it as is or if you prefer Greek yogurt, you can strain it. I used a flour cloth towel that i put in a strainer over a bowl to catch the whey. Put it back in the fridge for several more hours until it's strained to your liking. You can even strain it long enough to make yogurt cheese! Also, you can keep the whey if you like. Some people use it to ferment veggies or drink a little of it each day. I read it keeps for quite a long time in the fridge. Bon appétit!

End of the season SALE!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Autumn! I can't believe that time is here already! I am just starting to notice the leaves slightly changing color and the squirrels are all in a flurry hoarding (er, I mean storing...) their nuts for the winter. We see so many adorable fluffy squirrels around our area. They are the cutest little things! Our Evanston squirrels were cute, but I'm afraid they have nothing on these Longmont/Boulder squirrels. These guys eat NUTS not bits of bread from the street (sad, I know)! I just can't get enough of the cuties! Anyway, I wanted to pop in real quick to let you know I finally have the remnants of my summer collection in the shop! I also included a few past seasons items that you may be interested in. Everything is on sale at least 30% off original prices! I only have a few items left each, but do let me know if you had your heart set on something if it sells out. I'm usually more than willing to accommodate! Enjoy the beginning of this beautiful season! XO 

My sister's getting married!

Monday, September 9, 2013

my sister's getting married! my sister's getting married! my sister's getting married! 
These are some pictures I took after doing my sister's trial hair/makeup for her wedding. The time is almost here and she's getting ready to tie the knot this weekend! I'm sure she has about a million things to get done between now and Sunday, but I know it will be a beautiful wedding. I saw her wedding dress and it's gorgeous. She is gorgeous! I can't believe a week from now she will be Mrs. Jones! She's going to marry her best friend Dylan and I couldn't be more happy to have him as a brother in law. Jed and I are both thrilled for them. It's been a long time coming and we're so happy they finally decided to spend the rest of their lives together. I know they will be so happy together! Wishing them the best in their new lives to come. Love you, Katie (Kate)! xoxo

Bewitched: Samantha Stephens

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bewitched (love the opening credits) is one of my all time favorite TV shows, among many others! I love Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens. I just want to jump right into her world and instantly have her perfect hair, nose twitch and lovely personality. I also love watching the show to be inspired not only for her wardrobe and hair, but also by the vintage decor. I know it's totally dated, but I love taking inspiration from the past and finding ways to incorporate that style into my home. I'm also excited because the house we just moved into is a small mid 1960's ranch house, which gives me the perfect excuse to draw inspiration from mid-century homes such as the Stephens' from Bewitched. One of these days I'm going to get my hair to lay just like Elizabeth's. I love how poufed and '60s it is! I'm also in love with her heart pendant necklace that she wore throughout the show. Apparently it was given to her by her husband William Asher, who was also the director of the show. I love how she wears it for both casual and dressy. That's generally how I wear jewelry as well. I tend to find something I love and wear it for all occasions. I'm now on the search for a sweet necklace that I can wear everyday. Perhaps something cute and vintage, like the signature heart necklace Samantha wears. 

P.S. Did you know Elizabeth's dad was Robert Montgomery? I have been a long time fan of his movies. He's so dashing! Not as well known today as other actors from his time, but very talented and quite good at comedy! Though this isn't much of a comedy, one of my favorites of his earlier films is Our Blushing Brides. So dramatic and lovely. And then a little later he made Private Lives, which is a wonderful comedy, also starring Norma Shearer. Some lost gems that are true classics.