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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Monday, August 16, 2010
First Day of School

Sera could not have been more excited about going to Pre-K4 today. She was ready to go back about three weeks ago.
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Monday, August 09, 2010
Ready for Delivery

Sera has decided she's going to be a "mail girl" when she grows up. She asked if I'd go with her to help her find her way home.

She's practicing with her bowl of mail. Apparently we're bringing back scrolls.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, August 01, 2010
It's All Greek To Me
Have you tried Greek yogurt yet?  I love it.  I love how thick and rich it tastes.  I love it with honey, fruit, & granola.  I even love it plain.  What I don't love, though, is the price, so I went searching for a recipe to make it myself.

When I was a teenager, I remember receiving a Salton yogurt maker for Christmas.  I've been a food nerd for a very long time. I remember it as being fairly easy to make, but deciding that it was too much work when I could buy it so cheaply.

Fast forward a few years.  Okay, okay, more than a few, and I've changed my mind.  I will admit that it's easier to pay $.50 for the yogurt sale of the week, but Greek-style yogurt is more like $2.00.  Plus, I kind of like the idea of controlling what goes in it myself.  I haven't experimented with organic milk yet because it has to be done differently.  That will be my next goal.  For now, I'm just using regular milk.

I've made one batch so far and will make another tomorrow.  I plan to start making it weekly. Maybe I'll even get pictures some time.

Greek-style Yogurt
Adapted from Salad in a Jar

2 qts milk
1-2 t yogurt with active cultures (you may use your own once you've made a batch)
1/2 c non-fat milk powder, approximately

Optional Flavorings:
flavored syrups (ie. Torani)
fruit jellies, preserves, butters
fresh fruit
your imagination

Pour milk in microwave/oven-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 6 minutes.  Stir to prevent skin from forming and check temperature with an instant-read thermometer. You want to get the milk to 175º-180°.

Now allow the milk to cool back down between 110º-120°, and stir in the yogurt starter and the powdered milk.  If the milk is hotter, it will kill the active culture and your yogurt will fail. The powdered milk will help give the thicker Greek consistency, and it will increase the protein level as well.  I've read anywhere from 1/4 c to 1 c per 2 qts of milk.  I used 1/2 c.

Cover your bowl and place it in warm area.  It needs to maintain a temperature of 100º-110°. I followed the directions to preheat my oven for only one minute and then left my bowl in the oven with the light on.  This seemed to maintain the temp.  I also wrapped my bowl in a towel.  If you have a newer oven or crockpot that maintains at that temperature level, you can set it and not have to keep checking like I did.

The time it takes to become yogurt can vary.  I checked after 5 hours, and it wasn't ready yet.  I then had to run errands so didn't check it again until 8 hours passed.  At 8 hours, the bowl contents had become gelatinous and you could see the whey, a yellowish liquid, forming, around the edges.

At this point, you have yogurt.  To continue on with Greek-style, you need to strain the excess whey.  Line a colander with cheesecloth or coffee filters or use a fine mesh strainer.  Gently pour your yogurt into the colander, and set over a bowl.  Allow the whey to drain.  The longer you let it drain, the thicker your yogurt will be.  Leave it too long, and you'll have yogurt cheese.

Mine sat for about 2  hours.  It was thick, but I'll let it go a little longer next time.

Once the yogurt has drained, pour it back into a large bowl and whisk it to get the right consistency.  You can also add flavorings at this point.  Chill and enjoy!

I made 6 one-cup portions, plus a little extra from 2 qts of milk.  The milk cost $1.98.  The initial yogurt to get a starter cost $2.00.  And the box of powdered milk cost around $2.00.

Even if I'm generous and charge myself $.50 for the yogurt and powdered milk, making this yogurt cost around $2.50.  Six containers of Greek-style yogurt would have cost $12.00.  Quite a savings.  The process is lengthy, but it's really easy.  You're just checking temps, and then whisking and adding flavors.  I've been eating it with a spoonful of my cherry preseves and some granola for breakfast.  It's awesome and, with the extra protein, very filling.

Be sure to go to Salad in a Jar's website and read her directions and comments for a lot more ideas.


Reading is Fundamental

Summer is winding down, yet Jim finally started his vacation.  Our niece, Theresa, has also arrived to spend these last two weeks before school begins visiting us. It's been a quiet summer at home.  Other than a quick two-night camping trip, we've been home the entire summer.  I don't think that has ever happened before. I didn't realize until now how much we travel.  Whether it's a long trip down south to see my family or weekends in nearby cities, we always go somewhere every summer.  Why, the last two summers included cross-country trips to Utah.  This might explain why I've been feeling a little housebound lately. 

On the flipside, I've been able to spend some time learning to make yogurt (recipe coming), canning cherry preserves, and making scones.  I've also spent a lot of time with Sera.  It's been wonderful to watch as a whole new world is opening for her.

It started in the beginning of the summer.  For months now, she's been asking us how different words are spelled.  Sometimes she just wanted to know, and sometimes she'd write down the words to make a card.  One day in June on the way home from swimming lessons, I stopped at a red light.  Sera started reading the letters on the door of the BBQ place at the corner. O P E N She then sounded it out and yelled, excitedly, from the back seat, "Open, mommy.  It says open!" We cheered all the way home. She is now sounding out words everywhere.

This morning, Sera & Jim put Finding Nemo on to watch.  She woke a bit out of sorts & needed some couch & cuddling time.  When the opening credits came on, Jim told me that Sera had a revelation.  She sounded out Nemo's name when she realized she'd been saying it wrong all along.  She told daddy that Nemo was Knee Mow, not Mee Mow.  She proudly shared that fact with me when I joined them later.

I love seeing her love for learning as she adds more and more words to her reading vocabulary.  Pretty soon, she'll be reading her bedtime books to us.


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