Revisiting Homemade Yogurt

Recently blog buddy Jill sent me a link to an interesting article about an Indian woman who  brought some yogurt starter with her when she moved to the United States. And she has used that same starter to make her yogurt for the last forty years! That kind of inspired me to make yogurt again. In the past, I always thought the yogurt got weaker, so periodically I would buy a new yogurt from the grocery store to start my yogurt. I’m going to see how long I can keep this batch going!

DSCN3164

I wrote out instructions on how I make my yogurt here. Its very simple, with little to no clean-up necessary. I like my homemade yogurt because it is not that tangy. But if you want it tangier, just leave it out overnight. I did this with the last batch, and it is quite tangy!

Here’s a picture of my straining set-up. If you like your yogurt thicker, just strain it through coffee filters for about 20 minutes. See that glass of yellow liquid? I save the liquid I strain out of the yogurt (the whey) to make my smoothies with. It adds a certain delicious ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the smoothie.

DSCN3163My favorite ways to eat the yogurt are currently:

  • with a topping of Shelley’s most excellent granola
  • in a smoothie, mixed with frozen strawberries, the whey, and some spinach
  • topped with Bob’s Redmill Muesli and a few mini chocolate chips (for dessert.)

Some Eats, and Some Garden Treats

As far as the garden goes, part of me feels like we are on the never-ending death march towards fall. I am hopeful that I can keep all the Japanese maples watered well enough so that I get some fall color this year. I’m pruning back most of the flowers in the hopes that I’ll get some fresh blooms. I’m contemplating putting in a drip system. Almost every day I spend some time watering, and soaking the trees. I put the hose on very low by a tree, and run back in the house and set the timer for 20 or 30 minutes. I’m thinking about whether I want to add more stone paths or more beds. There’s a little more room out there! MLG says we are due for a La Nina this fall. I don’t particularly like rain, but I would welcome some water to fill up my well (I don’t really know how that works, but I think it will help.) In the meantime, the weather is heading back up to over 100 degrees by the weekend.

I’ve been enjoying little mini-bouquets. Petunias actually last a long time as cut flowers!

DSCN3150

And here’s that white daylily. Surrounded by the forest of fairy impatiens. I’ve learned a bit about self-seeding plants this year. I only had 2 fairy impatiens last year, in two different locations. I was so excited to have so many little seedlings in the spring, that I let most of them grow. That was too much! They have done well, and are very pretty. But there are places where the plants below them are not getting any sun at all. I have started ruthlessly weeding some of them out.

DSCN3152

Here’s a new recipe I developed, Blueberry Protein Coffee Cake. I really like it, and its a good source of protein for a breakfast cake. The recipe inspiration was Georgie’s Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake. I love it filled with blueberries, and decided I didn’t need the cinnamon streusel at all.

DSCN3017

And I know you won’t believe it, but I never buy raw shrimp. I just buy the ones that are already cooked. Lately those have been rather pricey, so when I saw these raw shrimps on sale, I bought them. Oh, yum yum. I just put five shrimpies in a sandwich bag with some mashed garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil. I cooked them on a little cast iron pan, which I think helps with getting that nice crust on them.

Here I served them over some veggies and some of those edamame noodles.  BTW, those edamame noodles are so good, but very dry. I still need to find some way to serve them that does not involve a bucket of olive oil. Any ideas?

DSCN3137

My favorite meal this summer is taco salad. Ever since Cammy shared Pancho’s Tropical salad dressing recipe (which I adjusted for my own needs) I can’t get enough of it. I think I really like the taste of cumin. And of course, it is a bit sweet. I bought some turkey burger patties at Costco that I didn’t particularly like. They worked perfect for turning into the taco meat. (I just use the packaged taco seasoning.) As you know, there are a ton of things that you can add to taco salad, but most of the time I opt for these simple ingredients. (if I have cilantro in the fridge, I like to add that too.) I chop them up, put them in the big bowl, and dress them with that salad dressing, and then dump the taco meat on top. Here is a link to my version of the tropicale dressing. 

DSCN3154

And that’s just about all the news that’s fit to print around here. I spend a lot of time every day in the studio, working on my art. Click on over to The Other Blog, if you want to see what’s new.

Down the Garden Path

So MLG was here this week. We worked on extending the patchwork path down between the two front beds, where the cherry tree is planted.

First, a step-down had to be created:

DSCN3124

 

 

 

 

Bessie LOVES laying against the warm stones.

DSCN3134

 

Looking back towards the patchwork path, where Noah is standing:

DSCN3130

The new path, from the other end. That’s the cherry tree trunk, where Sophie is.

DSCN3125

DSCN3126

DSCN3127

From up above. We didn’t leave any spaces for ground covers. Just made some “patches” with the extra small stones.

DSCN3131

There wasn’t a whole lot new going on in the garden. Here is the Japanese Lantern (abutillion) It is ridiculously tall, even though I cut it down to practically nothing last winter.

DSCN3148

It is finally starting to bloom.

DSCN3147

This white hydrangea is blooming. It is a “hydrangea paniculata” (thank you Google images :) )

DSCN3146

I love the delicate flowers on this one.

DSCN3144The row of hydrangeas was one of the first things MLG planted in the ground for me. The three plants were in pots, and were not doing very well. Its taken a couple of years, but they finally seem established in their place in the garden.

I think a lot about this garden and how it has evolved. I never set out to create a big garden. I didn’t have a master plan. I did think a little bit about where we were adding features, and whether they would fit into the yard as a whole. But still I have no master plan. Is this how most gardens evolve?

How Do Thin People Eat?

So. The other day I was sick and fed up with myself. ALWAYS thinking about food. Always wondering how long til the next meal or snack.

Normal people aren’t like this, are they? So I googled “how do thin people eat?” And I came across a decent article. I even wrote down the eight bullet points from the article. So I could study them and become a thin person :)

  • They choose satisfied over stuffed.
  • They realize hunger isn’t an emergency.

    Bess and Noah waiting impatiently for me to fix their breakfast. They think hunger is an emergency.

    Bess and Noah waiting impatiently for me to fix their breakfast. They think hunger is an emergency.

 

Sophie uses a bone to cure her anxiety. I don't do that.

Sophie uses a bone to cure her anxiety. I don’t do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They don’t use food to cure the blues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They eat more fruit.

    Yes please!

    Yes please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They’re creatures of habit (they have a food template.) Heeeyyyy…
  • They have a self-control gene (I can practice this.)
  • They’re movers and shakers (on their feet more.)
  • They sleep–well.

So, I have some of these traits down. Others I made a note that I could practice. I’m pretty sure I can get all eight of these practices into my life and I still won’t be thin. But maybe I won’t be so obsessed with food?

Sometimes its very hard for me to make changes (see previous post about my food template.) I like to eat at the same time, and there are certain foods I don’t want to change (see Quest bars and lately, low calorie popcorn.) Right now I’m working on waiting until I am hungry before I eat my next meal or snack.

Well, at the end of this, I guess I’m just saying I’m not finished yet. I still need to work on my relationship with food. I can take comfort in the fact that for the most part I make very healthy choices (see Quest bars and low calorie popcorn.) I mostly eat fresh whole foods. And regular exercise is an established part of my life. I’m blessed that I don’t have a ton of stress in my life right now. I sleep okay–it could be better (please, Mr. Skunk, will you find another route to take?)

How long til my next meal? What am I going to eat then? :)

I Have a Food Template?

Recently I’ve noticed that it doesn’t matter much whether I write down what I’m eating for the day ahead of time, or as the day goes on, or even if I rebel and don’t track what I’m eating, but only write it into LoseIt at the end of the day because I’m curious. It almost always comes out to the same amount of calories. Now, this could be because I know how to “game the system” and am fudging on the calorie count of the food I eat. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have a certain way of eating. A certain size meal, fitting into a certain amount of calories, and usually consisting of a certain amount of protein, veggies, and fruit, with the occasional grain thrown in for good measure.

Me having a food template–I don’t know why this surprised me. I guess because I eat a wide variety of foods, and I don’t really restrict any food groups in particular, I didn’t think of myself as having a food template. But after many years of choosing to eat a certain way, I guess some of those good habits have finally taken root. Whew. Some things are going right. Later I’ll write about some of the things that aren’t going so right.

In the Garden

I’m pretty excited about the latest garden project! And before I start I have to give major props to MLG for being willing to do this kind of work in my yard. I don’t believe there is one square inch of level ground in my yard, and honestly, one inch below the surface is where the rocks start! Mark Twain (who lived in this area for a while) even said something about how terrible the ground was up here.

Anyway, MLG works hard to make paths level, and also to slant things in such a way that the water will run away from the house. NOT things that would come to mind if I was doing this myself.

So here is the patchwork path. I saw the idea in a magazine. My path is not the same as the one in the magazine, and in fact, MLG suggested the red brick in the center of the ground cover spaces. I agreed, since we are having a drought, and that would make it less plants to water for now. Also, I do believe I will be less likely to trip by having a more solid path :)

DSCN3101

DSCN3102

DSCN3104

Best new toy of 2015! Lori recommended this tool, a Cape Cod weeder, and after researching and bugging Lori a bit, I finally ordered this one. When it came I was very distressed at how small it was, so I took this picture to check with Lori if this was the right tool. She reassured me that it was, so I took it out to the garden and gave it a try. Holy moly! I never had so much fun weeding in my life! It works just like Lori said. I love it!

DSCN3085

The Bee Balm came back to life and bloomed this year! I had it in the wrong place, and it just about died. So in the fall I moved it to its current location. It seems very happy there. My favorite shade of pink, and such a pretty flower shape.

DSCN3088

DSCN3089

This plant is blooming again. Has a lovely scent!

DSCN3091

Just another look at the Teddy Bear sunflowers. I love seeing the little bits of color from the petunia and pansy peeking out below it.

DSCN3087

Here is a view of the front garden from outside the deer fence. You can see the pink honeysuckle is still doing well, and the fringe daisies are there, with the sunflowers and free petunias mingled in. Oh, and you can see the wheelbarrow that I always leave out, and that is the storage shed behind it.

DSCN3064

I found this picture in my queue and was puzzled by it. Ohhhh, a water feature. I saw it in a nursery and snapped a quick picture of it. I don’t have a water feature in my garden. Perhaps a project for next year?

IMG_1335

Good Clean Fun

I don’t seem to have much to post these days, but I thought I’d share life in general, and a few fun things (food :) ) that I have enjoyed in the past few weeks.

Those 9 pounds I gained on vacation? Six pounds came off quickly. I’m still working on the last three.

I didn’t mention it, but the steroid shot I got for my knee only lasted a month. It was a very sad day when it stopped working. For a while it seemed like things were worse than ever, but that seems to have leveled out. The brace still helps on short walks and especially when I am working in the yard, so I am grateful for that. Next doctor’s appointment is in less than a month. We’ll see what they say.

No more three mile walks for me. Right now I’m not even walking Noah every day. Its hot, so he doesn’t seem to mind. He spends 95% of his day lounging. The other 5% he is racing around like a mad man to bark at the “marauding neighbors.” He’s still getting his allotment of aerobic exercise :)

DSCN2834

For me, I have embraced the gym! I really enjoy going down for my (at least) 20 minutes on the bike and (at least) 20 minutes jogging in the pool. I swim occasionally, but I am enjoying the jogging so much, and I do not like getting water in my face, so swimming has taken a back seat for now.

Yesterday I went to the lawyer’s to finalize the trust on my estate. I was very reluctant to do this. The wording on my dad’s trust was very misleading, and it seemed like if I made a trust, nothing would belong to me anymore. I know that’s not true. It just seemed like that to me. But in general it makes life much easier for the folks that are left after you die, so I do recommend it to anyone who is thinking about that. The lawyer I went to specializes in estate planning, and I was surprised that she could make a personalized trust so easily with just a little bit of information from me (where I wanted stuff to go.) Now on to the burial plot!! LOL.

Its been hot hot hot here. It still cools down in the early morning, so I get up (early) and open all the windows for a couple of hours. I try to get out in the morning to water the plants, and sometimes do a bit of watering or weeding in the evening. Tomorrow MLG comes to put in the patchwork path, so I need to get out there and decide how/where I want the stones to go. I foresee some sweat in my near future :(

Here’s a couple of fun food items. I found the 85% chocolate in the bins again. I made a mix of: 4 oz melted chocolate, 2 oz dried cherries, 2 oz dried apricots, 2 oz raisins, and 4 oz walnuts. That came out to about 2000 calories, so I divided it into 20 clumps and made my own healthier chocolate candy treats. The 85% chocolate makes it so I am not tempted to eat more than one of these at a time.

Not a great picture, but I wanted to show it in my hand for size comparison.

Not a great picture, but I wanted to show it in my hand for size comparison.

I made myself some protein pancakes the other day, and used my smashed strawberries and some laughing cow lite as a topping. Yummy.

DSCN3062

And last but not least, I found these little lovelies at Trader Joe’s. The tin actually says there is one calorie per piece. I usually only grab 3 or 4 pieces at a time–they have an intense chocolate flavor and a little crunch to them. The other day I wanted to have some chocolate with my cherries for dessert, so I counted out 50 of them. VERY satisfying.

Put my finger in there for size comparison.

Put my finger in there for size comparison.

Every day when I go into the studio, the little girls fight over this square of sunlight coming in through the front door.

DSCN3048

DSCN3051

And that’s about it for news around here. Hope your week is going well, and you are staying cool (or warm, depending on how the weather is near you!)