I'm moving!
March 10, 8:54 AM

Okay, this might get a little bit messy....but I've decided to make the great backwards leap to blogger, because I hate the heck out of movable type and can't stand using it. I've been playing around with blogger at my other two blogs and it's just so much easier to deal with. The new version of this blog is all transferred and set up and can be found at -- this front page will get redone pretty soon to reflect the change but if you find yourself here just click on that link. If you subscribe, you can go ahead and subscribe to the new feed right here; but I'll be setting up redirects that should make the switch for you in the next day anyway. See you soon!

go west, young gal!!
May 17, 11:03 AM

I've got a new blog, and you're welcome to stop by and visit!


Now I know what you're thinking - you're thinking "You don't blog over here, why on earth would you start a new blog?" Well, a lot of reasons. But basically, I have no time to do the kind of blog posts I want to do here -- and I have been wanting to write up some of the cool stuff we've been watching/reading/listening to which just doesn't seem to fit in on this blog. Plus, I'm sick of wrangling with Movable Type (my blogging software) but don't have a weekend to upgrade or switch.

So, I've started a little Western-themed blog over in my blogger account. What will you find there? Well, whatever catches my fancy - videos, books, etc. But one of the main reasons I've started the blog is to chronicle our adventures watching every Gene Autry movie. In order! This blog is not dead, and hopefully someday I'll have free time again in stretches that last more than 5 minutes and I'll post all the things I have photos filed away for. (In fact, I have something to post about right now! "Right now" meaning this week, that is..) But in the meantime, I'll be scratching the blogging itch with some quick and fun posts on the new blog.

Anyway, I hope you'll come on over and say hi! See you there!

yum yum yogurt
March 13, 1:02 PM

Here's a post that's been in draft mode for over a year...I even have had photos for it this whole time. (Which, ha ha, I can't seem to find. I did find a few but I know there were more. If I find them later I'll add them!) So sad! But after explaining how I make yogurt once again last week to friends I realized I really, really, needed to get this finished up so I could just send people here.

fresh yogurt

A big jar of fresh yogurt

A little back story: we eat a fair amount of yogurt around here. Emily has been eating it since she was tiny, and from the get-go I bought plain yogurt and added fruit purees instead of buying the commercial stuff. I found that I really needed to buy a better brand of yogurt, but getting those giant cartons was really adding up. I was super-intimidated by the idea of making my own yogurt since all the directions I had read involved either a lot of equipment, or an oven with a pilot light, or a system involving warm water and a cooler.....but then, I read the book Milk. It was a revelation, seriously. (I recommend it highly to anyone interested in dairy...the "white magic" experiments alone are worth the price of the book. And are the subject of yet another blog post that's sitting in draft mode.....) And her method for making yogurt? So easy. All you need is a candy thermometer, large pan, and wide-mouth thermal containers. No yogurt maker, no cooler, none of the other stuff I'd always seen called for in various methods.

I tried it, it worked, and I've made all our yogurt for about 2 years now. Here's how I do it (after some tweaking and experimenting). You will need: milk (I prefer whole milk), some starter yogurt (it can be anything as long as the cultures are live; I started mine with Stonyfield Farm plain), your candy thermometer, and at least one wide mouth thermal container (I use this Sky Thermal Food Carrier made by Imusa and available locally for about $8). Optionally, a large sieve and straining cloth if you want a thicker yogurt.

fresh yogurt


Get started: clip your thermometer onto a saucepan, then pour in enough milk to fill the wide mouth container you will use -- 6 cups of milk will fill a 48 oz container and makes a decent size batch. I make twice that, but like I said, we eat a lot of yogurt. Turn the heat on low-med and heat the milk -- stirring occasionally -- until the temp reaches 180º. Note: if you, say, forget that you're making yogurt and lose track of time, your milk can go up to about 220º and it will still make perfectly good yogurt. It won't taste as fresh but you don't need to throw it out or anything. Not that I'm admitting that's happened to me....just saying.

Turn off the heat, and let the milk's temperature drop to about 120º. When it gets close, fill your thermal container with hot water and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Get your starter yogurt out and put a few tablespoons into a small bowl (I use maybe 2 tablespoons per 6 c milk but my experience has been that you don't need to be too precise) and let that sit as well.

When the milk cools down to 120º, remove the thermometer and skim off any skin that may have formed, then ladle some milk into the bowl with the starter yogurt, whisking until ismooth. Add more milk if it's too thick. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and stir. NOTE: do not let it go below 120º, this is the one mistake that will ruin the yogurt.

Empty the thermal container and wipe dry, pour milk mix into container and close it up. Let sit for 5-6 hours. Your timing my vary - you'll get a feel for how long it needs to sit based on your particular milk/yogurt/environment over time.

When it's time to check it, open the lid of the container and carefully use a spoon or spatula to just check the texture of the yogurt -- it should be like a soft custard. At this point you can either use it as it is -- just pot it up and refrigerate it, or for a smoother yogurt, pour it into a large bowl and stir before potting up. Or, at this point you can drain it for a "greek-style" yogurt. Which is what we do.

To drain it, I use a mesh strainer over my biggest stockpot, with an old (and very clean) tea towel lining the strainer. You can use fine cheesecloth, gauze, or even an old piece of cotton as long as it's clean and lint-free. Pour the yogurt into the strainer and cover (with a towel, or anything, just for dust -- I can sit the lid of the pot on top of the strainer, so I do that). You'll hear the whey start dripping right away! It takes 1-2 hours to drain, depending on your strainer and cloth -- I only need about an hour. You want about 2 cups of whey to come out of a 6 cup batch. Again, this doesn't need to be too precise. The longer you drain it, the thicker it gets, so try different draining times to see what you like best.

For MizK

Here's how thick I make my yogurt. Do you think I go overboard a little?

When it's ready, scrape it all into a large bowl and you can do two things -- if you want it to be very set, just mix it with a wooden spoon a few times to smooth it out. It will be very firm but it will have small lumps in it. If you want it to be very smooth, whisk it briefly. This will break the curd, so the final product will be looser, but very smooth. I do it the 2nd way.

Finally, just put it in the fridge and let cool! Then add whatever mix-ins you want. We add strawberry puree and peach puree for Emily; I mostly eat it with a little honey mixed in, or preserves (cloudberry jam yogurt is delicious!) This will last a lot longer than commercial yogurt -- I've never had mine go bad, just get more and more sour. Just remember that you need to save a little starter for your next batch.

cloudberry yogurt

Cloudberries in my yogurt!

A few final notes:

I don't scald or sterilize anything. I haven't had anything weird happen, even the yogurt that has gotten left by accident has never grown anything, just gotten more and more sour.

I have successfully restarted my yogurt from a bit of frozen starter after travelling, so if you're going away just pop enough to start your next batch in the freezer.

If you use skim milk, you may need to add some dry milk to get it thick enough. I have never done this so I don't really know how it works. I'm all about the whole milk yogurt.

If you don't drink milk, you can use this method with soy milk! Check out these instructions from I Eat Food, which even tell you how to make the soy milk!

now, where was I...?
March 13, 12:29 PM

I'm not a fan of "why I haven't been blogging" posts but it's been such a long gap this time, I felt I had to say something. Basically, the last 3 months have been a serious struggle, between massive amounts of snow, the cruddiness of NYC in this year's blizzards, a neighbor's broken water main that created a new ice age on our block and a serious health problem in the family. Work has also been....interesting and a bit volatile. It's going to be a weird year.

Thanks to those of you who have inquired and been supportive through it all. Things are clearing up again, and while I still don't have time to blog (or sew! which is SO UPSETTING!) I figure I can at least start finishing up some of the many, MANY blog posts I have in draft mode. So that's my plan for the short term, especially some of the how-tos I am constantly retelling and rewriting for people, having them up will save me a lot of time!

First up, yogurt!!

Happy Everything
January 1, 9:15 AM

Happy 2011 everyone! And Happy Birthday to my little Emily Alice who isn't quite so little as she turned SIX at the end of the year. We couldn't do much as our area is still somewhat snowbound but she got to pick her birthday meal (japanese food) and cake, which was red velvet cupcakes, no frosting:

birthday cupcakes

That "6" there is a cool sparkler we bought in Toronto, since sparklers are illegal here in NY (I understand fireworks, but sparklers? come on!) We've been buying these for a few years now and she loves them. Here it is in action:

#6 sparkler

And here's another birthday tradition, our Birthday King candle from Haba. He sits in front of the birthday person's plate at dinner -- they actually make a ton of special birthday candles (wow, more than I knew about!) but most of them are for kids only (they go up to 6 or 8), and the Birthday King can be used for anyone.

the birthday king

She had a great birthday -- I hope our whole year (and yours) will be just as fun!

Xmas Cake!
December 26, 9:57 AM

This year's cake:

Xmas cake 2010

I think this year's decorations were especially cute. Some years Santa is a little creepy looking. But this year he was adorable:

Xmas cake 2010

It even came with 3 "fancy candles", which of course we used. And it was as delicious as always! There's even a little bit left to finish off tonight. But right now it's time to batten down the hatches for this blizzard that is supposed to be here any moment. Stay warm!




One Fabric - WOOL Medium


How Cold Is NYC?