We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homemade Yogurt from Grass Fed Milk

We bought grass fed whole milk for the first time and I couldn't wait to taste it and then try making yogurt. The milk itself is so rich and I can't believe I've never had it fresh before! It's totally worth it, especially with it being unpasteurized so the healthy enzymes are still present. Well, here's our first ever yogurt made with raw cow's milk:

-Place 1/2 a gallon of whole milk into slowcooker on low for 2 hrs 30 min. Turn off slowcooker and unplug.
-Leave covered and sitting in base for 3 hours.
Milk with the cream floating on top.

-Stir in 1/2 cup of yogurt starter. Whisk in well.
-Replace lid. Remove crock pot from base and wrap in a few thick towels or a thick afghan.
-Leave in cold oven for at least 12 hours.

-After 12 hours, remove afghan and check consistency. If all was done right, yogurt should be ready!

Look how rich and thick it is! We like it with a little honey.

Voila! Half a gallon of yogurt :)

This is the best tasting yogurt yet. The yogurt we made regularly with store bought whole milk was really delicious, but this is a hundred times richer and creamier and all around tastier. 
Next, I want to try making clotted cream with the grass fed milk. We'll see, I might have to wait until our next order. Until then, Baby Boy and I are really enjoying having this yogurt every day :) 

Lock up your yogurt or this guy might swipe it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday: Homemade Herbal Salve

I mentioned in an earlier post about the salve I made for my dad this summer, but never typed up a tutorial. Well, since it was time to make a new batch, I figured I'd take new photos and post the recipe. It's surprisingly easy, and this salve can be used on wounds, diaper rash, sore nipples when breast feeding, and chapped lips/skin. Making it at home saves so much money and makes quite a lot. Also, with how versatile it is, we don't buy diaper creams or chap stick much any more.

Ingredients: Extra virgin olive oil, dried herbs and any additives. I forgot about my vitamin E and tea tree oil (both for healing and prolonging shelf life) until the last minute and added them before finishing, so that's why they aren't pictured.

To get a really great salve, you don't have to put anything other than oil and herbs, I just know this combo is super healing and we love it.

Close up of dried chamomile

And dried calendula. Both these herbs are really inexpensive and pack lots of benefits.

Over medium heat, add a large handful of each herb to your oil.
Heat until gently bubbling. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until herbs change color. You don't want to cook the herbs, just infuse the oil with the properties they carry.
Turn off heat immediately and strain. Be careful, it will be HOT!

Strain hot oil through cheesecloth or sieve into a clean container.
The reason I don't let it cool is so I can use the warmth of the oil to melt the beeswax.

Add 2 Tbs of beeswax for every ounce of oil and whisk in quickly to melt.

This is the point where I added 1/2 tsp each of tea tree oil and vitamin E.

To test the consistency of your salve, dip the back of a spoon into your oil and swipe a swatch of salve on a small piece of wax paper.
It will cool in seconds and you can add more beeswax if you want the mixture thicker.
TOP: First swatch. A bit too thin.
BOTTOM: Second swatch after adding a bit more beeswax. Perfect.

I bought a small candy tin because it was the perfect size for keeping salve in the diaper bag for any rashes during changes away from home. I had wanted to spray paint it a different color, but didn't get around to it. Oh well, it's diaper cream in disguise :)

Ladle your still warm salve into clean containers and leave it to cool completely before replacing the lids.
All done! 1 and a half jars of salve to ship to my dad and one travel sized tin for Baby Boy's diaper bag.

Excerpt from Wikipedia- Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically to treat acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding and soothing irritated tissue.

Go to this site to read about the many wonderful benefits of Chamomile when used topically or internally. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Missing Sunday Dinners with Family

Growing up in Samoa, Sundays always featured a huge dinner for my family, filled with tons of family and an abundance of good food. I remember a time when my grandfather wanted only turkey or ham to be served on Sundays and I never got tired of it year round, but that's me :). But what I remember as the best part of those Sunday dinners was that I got to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles and all my cousins. It really was a haven in my frantically busy childhood. My parents' schedules (and subsequently ours as their children) were chock full daily from morning till night, so I considered those brief hours on Sunday afternoons to be my only bit of sanity before having to rush off to another function.

I see the merit in having a simple supper on Sundays so families can relax and not be stressed out with cooking. But for me, I really would love to keep the tradition of having a big dinner on Sundays. It's not always that festive since Hubby works, leaving Baby Boy and I alone, which is decidedly different from the happy bustle I remember during Sunday dinners. But some day our family will grow and we'll be able to enjoy the noise of having a large family settled around us at the table as we talk about our week and just soak in being together.

Usually, the solitude leaves me so not in the mood to whip up a big dinner on Sundays, but today I'm feeling particularly homesick so I've decided to make ham, steamed rice and some side dishes. I've also determined to clean off my poor dining table (which is constantly cluttered with my latest craft/spa project), scrub off the latest toddler stickiness and use our best dishes. And you know what? I think we'll even have candles. Maybe. Now, at our huge family dinners we would use paper plates most of the time. And with the naughty kids we were (and the sometimes oppressive heat), the last thing on my aunts' minds were to light candles within our reach. But a candle-less table and paper plates didn't matter, it was family time and I miss it. I guess right now for our home, with so few of us, I want to make a bit of an event of it. Because I'm weird. But mostly because I miss home. I miss my family and I wish we weren't so far away.

Anyway, to make you forget a bit of my rambling, here's a recipe:
I found it on this website and decided to pair it with the ham we'll be having for dinner. Because of a sensitivity to the acid, the guys can't handle much citrus, but I thought it would make a nice change since we have a fruit basket filled with oranges at the moment. Hubby was sweet enough to pick up a whole sack of them so I could make pomanders for the very first time for the coming holidays. Fun! Unfortunately, I need more cloves after making only three, hence the excess of oranges. More on that later. On to the recipe:

Provencal Orange and Honey Salad
3 oranges
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin 
olive oil or to taste
basil or mint leaves, cut in chiffonade (thin strips)**
* Use a light-tasting liquid honey, such as clover or orange blossom
** Vary the herb garnish according to how you plan to serve the salad. Basil is best when it is a first course or salad, while mint suits as an intermezzo or dessert.
Using a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom off the oranges to expose the flesh. Stand the orange upright, cut away the peel, following the contours of the orange and removing all white pith along with the peel. Trim off any bits of white left on the orange.
When all the oranges are peeled, slice them crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Put the orange rounds and any collected juices in a shallow bowl or deep-dish pie plate.
Pour the honey over the sliced oranges and gently toss with a rubber spatula to coat. Set aside in a cool spot (or the refrigerator if you like) for 1 hour.
To serve: Grate a heaping teaspoon of lemon zest from the lemon and set aside. Squeeze the lemon. Drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and herbs, and serve.

For individually plated salads:  Pour about 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice on each plate. Drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and herbs, and serve.
For a platter presentation:  Pour 2 tablespoons of juice onto the platter. Spoon the orange slices and the accumulated orange juice onto the plates or platter. Drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and herbs, and serve.
Variation: Layer the orange slices with slices of ripe tomato and sprinkle the whole dish with Fleur de sel or sea salt.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Here's hoping you get to relish some family time with those you love most.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Break

Things have become very complicated, not to mention hectic around here. The Lord continues to bless, though and all's well. Just a little crazy :)

I've decided to take a break from the Love Dare, even though I have less than 10 dares to go! With circumstances the way they are, I've become stuck because I haven't been able to focus on the dares. There have been big changes lately and even though we're thankful that God is good through it all, I do believe the less I have to stress about the better. That's where the Dare break comes in. I hope to pick up where I left off very soon. I don't mean to leave it for very long at all because it's such a great study and I've learned so much from it. As it is, I'm looking for inspirational literature on encouragement so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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