Thursday, October 27, 2011

Making Yogurt

I've decided to post my yogurt recipe; not that it's anything exceptional, it's just yogurt. However, yogurt is getting expensive at the store, up to .80 cents to a $1.00 for a 6 ounce cup. When you have 2 or more yogurts getting eaten daily, that can add up. Yogurt is relatively simple to make, and you can buy basic to fancy counter appliances to make yogurt.

Some people do it in an old cooler or even a thermos. I did break down and spend $30 bucks on a yogurt maker. I make yogurt every week though, so it paid for itself in the first month. What you will need to make a batch of yogurt:

My personal recipe

I prefer sweetened yogurt so I improvised, and made my own recipe.

6 to 8 cups of milk (I use whole milk, but many people use skim so it's your choice)
1/2 cup sugar ( or whatever sweetener you like, or you can leave the sweetener out and make it plain)
1 1/2 T. vanilla
1 cup of store bought yogurt for starter for your first batch. I buy another one about every 4 batches to keep it fresh.
cooking thermometer

Add milk and sweetener to double boiler pan on the stove or glass bowl for the microwave. Heat the milk to 190 degrees, hold it at that temp for about 15 to 20 minutes. The reason for holding it at this temp is to break down the milk proteins. If you don't do this your yogurt may come out ropey, or slimy. It will still be good, just the consistency is odd. Let milk cool down to 100 degrees, add vanilla. Using a spoon mix starter yogurt well, until it is smooth, and stir into warm milk, sugar and vanilla mixture. Pour into cups and place in yogurt maker.

Cover with the lid and let incubate for 8 to 12 hours. After the allotted time, remove lid, cover container cups of fresh new yogurt and refrigerate. It's simple and yummy! We serve it with berries or just plain. This also makes wonderful smoothies.

Cost breakdown:

1/2 gallon of milk $1.78
1 cup yogurt .80
1/2 cup sugar .13
1 1/2 T. vanilla .10
$2.81 for 11 cups yogurt = .26 cents each as opposed to $ 8.80 for 11 yogurts from the store.

That's a no-brainer for me! I have included instructions for making it in the cooler if you want to try it without purchasing a yogurt maker. I purchased mine because I'm a tad bit lazy, and I needed to make at least 14 yogurts a week. The cooler process works great but the appliance on the counter is much simpler. You have to decide what is best for you.

Here is the cooler method:

A good size cooler
2-3 glass or plastic quart-sized containers (like pitchers, empty soda bottles, etc.)
a cooking thermometer
about a dozen glass or ceramic cups for the yogurt
1/2 gallon - 1 gallon milk (lowfat to whole; I personally haven't had much luck with nonfat)
small container of unsweetened, unflavored yogurt with live cultures
Some people add non-fat powdered milk, if you want your yogurt thicker - with a good starter, this usually isn't necessary. I do not use it.

Heat the milk in a double boiler or in the microwave
The milk needs to be heated to about 190 degrees. This is for two reasons:

It kills any other bacteria that might be in the milk that would compete against the bacteria that convert milk to yogurt.
It changes the milk protein in a way that allows it to culture and firm up.

Prepare your clean glass or plastic cups for your yogurt. I have found the plastic jam freezer containers work great for yogurt because they come with lids they are great for storing the yogurt after it is made.

Once the milk reaches 190 degrees hold it there for approx. 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool down. Once it reaches 105-110F, mix up your plain yogurt in its container until it's liquid, and add it to the pot of warm milk. Stir it for a couple of minutes for the yogurt to dissolve well into the milk. This will spread the bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidus, and other bacteria, depending on your source) throughout the milk and allow it to start to grow.

Pour your yogurt and milk mixture into the cups, do not cover them.

Put all the containers into the cooler, along with the containers full of hot water from the tap. The heat from those containers will keep the yogurt cups warm and start the culturing process. The heat should be maintained and stable throughout the process, so try to avoid opening the container at all until the end of the process. The fermentation takes approx. 8 hours. You may need to quickly refresh your hot water in the cooler about midway to ensure it stays warm. Just be quick about it, and try not to disturb the yogurt too much to ensure a good set.

After about 6-8 hours (or a bit longer, if the temperature in your cooler is below 100F, the yogurt should be firm. Test by gently turning it to see if it keeps its shape.

There will be some slightly yellowish, liquid on the top. This is whey. You can either pour it off, or just mix it into the yogurt when you eat it.

Cap or cover your yogurt and put them into your refrigerator. They'll last about 2 weeks give or take.

If you want to use one of these yogurts as a starter for your next batch, use the yogurt within 5-7 days, or else freeze some of the fresh yogurt, and let it thaw before using it to inoculate the sterilized milk.

If you like thick, Greek yogurt, which is strained, you can use a coffee filter to strain the resulting yogurt to drain away the excess whey and leave you with a much thicker product. The longer you strain it, the more it becomes almost like sour cream in consistency.

If you don't want to use a cooler, there are a few incubators you can buy to maintain the right temperature during the fermentation process. I have seen yogurt makers at the second hand stores or a couple of the best are available from Amazon. Have fun!

Walking Journal cont...

oct 24
Day 12
We had to go to Kalispell; the next town over from libby. Kalispell is about 97 miles away and that is where we go for dr. and dentist appointments. cooper had a dentist appointment. Whenever someone has an appt. we make a day of it. We shop at Costco, and all the other big stores because libby doesn’t have any of those. We eat at our favorite restaurant, Famous Dave’s barbeque joint! Mmmm good, love that barbeque! Most importantly we walk, and we walk, and we walk until you think your feet will fall off! We left home at 9 am and we got home at 8 pm so I’m not kidding about making a day of it.
Oct. 25
Day 13
I took a day off, my feet are sore from yesterday, lol. I will hit it tomorrow!

Oct 26
Day 14
Coop and I hit the pond trail again, we did a brisk 25 minutes! I felt really good, and think I could have done more, so I will be adding another 5 minutes on tomorrow. Whoo hoo that will be 30 minutes, I am feeling really good about that! I am almost completely well now too, I only coughed a little bit today and didn’t get breathless very many times. Yay! I am better! I did bring the camera but there were no great pictures today. It was cold out too! It was About 39 degrees today for our walk. We decided we need to bring gloves tomorrow!

Oct. 27
Day 15
I walked a new trail today. It was a bit tougher; a slight uphill grade, lol! I was going to add 5 minutes to make it 30 minutes, but I petered out and stopped at 27 minutes, Dang! I will get that 30 minutes tomorrow. It was a brisk 37 degrees again, but the sun was shining and it was very pretty. This trail runs along a gently burbling creek. It isn’t as nice as the pond, but it is okay.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Share The Love

This weeks Featured Artisan is Jewelry by Nala! Nala has beautiful creations
in her shop! A Must have for everone's jewelry box! You can find
Jewelry by Nala on:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Pond

This year we are having a glorious fall in Montana. We usually have a hard frost or two by now, and all our pretty colors fade to brown. This year our nights are getting mighty close to 32 degrees, but luckily we have just hung above the freezing point. I took a few pictures of our home, and yard in it's fall foliage.

Walking Journal cont...

Oct. 20
Day eight
Cooper and I had a great walk again today. We decided to go to walking trail in our town, that borders a large pond. The walk around the pond takes about 20 minutes, so it was perfect for us. It was gorgeous! I brought the camera, and took some pictures. The day was cloudy with just a hint of blue here and there in the sky. The water was like a mirror, reflecting everything so clearly.

We saw an old apple tree with bright red apples on the upper branches.

I explained to Cooper how the deer probably ate all the apples from the lower branches. He was a tiny bit afraid after that, and wanted to hold my hand the rest of our walk. There were some lovely cattails running along the edge of the pond like sentinels standing guard.

Just as we rounded the last curve of the pond two ducks flew in, and landed in the water. It was a wonderful walk; we will have to go again tomorrow.

Oct. 21
Day nine
Another beautiful day here in Montana. Cooper and I walked around the pond again. We walked about 25 minutes today, and it was wonderful. This isn’t power walking by any stretch of the imagination, but it is walking and that is way more than I was doing 10 days ago. I am feeling much better now, I use my inhaler just before our walk and I am hardly coughing at all. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have that be over. We had such a wonderful time, Cooper found a wooly bear caterpillar, and he just had to go on our walk with us.

We saw a turtle basking in the sun on an old log.

There are some warning signs posted to beware of a moose that has been hanging around. We didn’t get to see the moose , and I’m not so sure I want to be that up close and personal. Lol

Oct. 22
Day 10
No walk today

Day 23
I went to the pond again, it is so pretty this time of year. I don’t want to miss any of the beauty, because I know it will be very cold, very soon! I am walking 25 minutes now, and it feels good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paying it Forward

Thank you Frauke. I am honestly touched that you read my blog, and that you would recommend it to others with the Liebster award. From what I read on Frauke's blog, Liebster is a German word, and it means favorite. It appears to be a fun way to promote our favorite fellow bloggers.

Let's talk a bit about Frauke . You can read her blog at I am tuly in awe of her goal to post something every day, I find that amazing. If you would like to see her work check out her Zibbet shop, HandmadeFuzzy where she has the most adorable mice that she creates with her knitting needles. If that isn't enough, the level of imagination and creativity she goes to making these little guys come alive is fantastic. Frauke also creates fabulous hats, scarves, stethoscope covers, necklaces, bracelets, gift card holders etc. You simply must pop by her shop and have a look!

I understand what Frauke meant by having difficulty picking 5 blogs. I read many, and my favorite's change quite often. But before I reveal my five (this week at least) favorite blogs there are a few rules:

Upon receiving this Liebster Award you need to:

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

2. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

3. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers. Here’s to hoping we can all at least win this lottery!

So here are my top picks,

BreitWerk Buzz

Nicole's Visions

All About The Buttons


a foothill home companion

I am truly honored to have received the Liebster award. It means a lot that someone actually reads my blog. I mostly write it for myself, it's kind of the modern woman's journal; a cathartic and quite pleasant way to chronicle your life. I enjoy looking back at what I have been doing for the past year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I'm sorry I've been absent lately... I have been in a funk for a while now. Everything has changed in this merge from summer to fall. It has thrown me for a loop. Summer is such a great time of year for me; an uplifting season. I do so enjoy it. When fall starts settling in I am so overwhelmed with everything: Canning and preserving everything I can get my hands on. Our garden has done very well, and it has been a very fruitful year for us. That is a really good thing.

I still care for my grandson, and I ferry him to and from school. He is enrolled in a private school, and part of his tuition is paid in volunteer hours, so that has kept me busy. He caught a cold the second week of school, and of course he shared it with me! I had a much harder time getting over it, and in truth I am still not completely well.

I have taken on more and more homesteading responsibilities with this frugal lifestyle we have chosen. I am now baking all our bread. The prices for a good loaf of bread in our town have gone higher and higher. It is around $5.00 for a good, whole wheat bread here now. I just can't stand to pay that when I know I can make my own for $2.00 a loaf. I know what is in the bread I am making, and that is important to me as well.

Whole Wheat Bread

1 cup milk
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. honey
1 t. salt
1 T. yeast
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or seeds of your choice (optional)

Heat milk, honey, butter, and salt until butter is melted, when it is cooled down to body temperature 90 to 110 degrees add yeast. Stir until dissolved, and let sit about 15 minutes. When you see it starting to foam up add your flours and seeds just until mixed. Knead about 5 minutes. I knead it right in the bowl, adding pinches of flour just until it isn't sticky. Pat dough into a nice round mound and set back into bowl. Let rise in a warm place (65 to 80 degrees) until it doubles in size. I use my microwave as a proofing box. I put a cup of water in and heat it to boiling, set it in the back corner and put the bowl of dough inside and shut the door. I don't open it for at least an hour, holding the warm moist air inside. The dough will double in no time at all. Punch down and shape into a nice loaf, place in a bread baking pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. If the top of the loaf is getting too dark cover with a foil tent.

It is getting cold here in Montana! I don't much care for the cold. So to get me out of the funk I have been wallowing in, I have started a walking program. Yes, I know...another activity to add to all the other things I am doing. Lol. This is for me though, and I know it is something I need to do. I thought I might start a journal of sorts here is this blog; a chronicle of my walking program. I am hoping it will help to keep me focused and accountable.

Walking Journal

Oct. 13
Day one
Walked exactly 5 minutes one way and retraced my steps back home for a total of 10 minutes. I hate to admit it but I was winded! Crap! I’ve been having a real bronchial event lately, and the coughing is making it much harder. Hopefully it will start easing up soon.

Oct. 14
Day two
Walked 5 min. out and 5 min back! Not so winded today! Yay! Still coughing…ugh!

Oct. 15
Day three
Walked 10 minutes. It wasn’t bad. The coughing is pretty tough , but I think it’s getting better.

Oct. 16
Day Four
No walking today, day off!

Oct. 17
Day five
Went to the walking track today, and did my 10 minutes. it was nice not to have to dodge cars. I will probably go back tomorrow. Still coughing…I’m so tired of it! I don’t know what else to do to get it to go away???

I also made an old family favorite recipe today! Bread pudding, this is one of my husband's favorite treats, and a great way to use up old, stale bread.

Bread Pudding


3 cups bread, torn into small pieces
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark, depending on taste preference)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 T. rum (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)


1. In medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat milk just until film forms over top. Combine butter and milk, stirring until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm.
2. Combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minute. Slowly add milk mixture.
3. Place bread in a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole.
4. Sprinkle with raisins if desired. Pour batter on top of bread.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. (I cooked mine for 80 minutes) Serve warm. I cool mine completely, and cut it into 2inch squares, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Oct. 18
Day six
Wow! What a difference a few days makes! I plowed through 15 minutes like it was nothing…well at the end I was feeling it in my lower back a bit, but nothing I couldn’t handle! I’m feeling good about this walking! I only had a couple of coughing spasms, not even that bad. I think I am on the mend!!!! That is the best news yet! I think I will leave it at 15 minutes for about 5 more days and then up it a couple of minutes. Whoo hoo! Who’d a thunk it, I’m kinda liking this walking thing!

Oct. 19
Day Seven
Cooper (my 5 year old grandson) and I went on our walk together, he was home because there was no school today. We took a bucket and collected leaves for a fall collage. He really got into the activity. I had to remind him to keep walking, as he got sidetracked by anything and everything he saw along the way. Our walk ended up being for about 20 minutes. I only coughed a few times. I am definitely feeling better. The sun was shining, and the leaves are all turning. It was really beautiful!