Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Yoghurt Yogurt

The other day I noticed our 2% milk was quickly approaching it's sell-by date and we had almost a full gallon left. That was a lot of milk to drink so I thought about how best to use it up. What about Corn Chowder? Nope, the weather's been too warm for soup. How about Macaroni and Cheese? Nah, too hot to turn on the oven.

What about yogurt?

Why, yes, that's a good idea. I've been meaning to try a batch in the Instant Pot. All it takes is milk and starter culture and I just happened to have a freshly opened container of plain Yoghurt that contains, "Billions of live and active cultures." Perfect.

Although I could make the yogurt directly in the Instant Pot's stainless steel liner I decided on just a few jars in case I messed up and had to toss my culinary science experiment. I watched a couple of Youtube videos and read a couple of recipes for Instant Pot yogurt. Easy Peasy.

First the milk is steamed for one minute. Then cooled down before adding the live cultures because you don't want to kill the little buggers off by adding it to too hot milk. Unfortunately, I got distracted and by the time I checked the temperature of the steamy milk it had already cooled to 107°. I was aiming for 115°.

I was pretty sure I messed up and would be drinking thick sour milk from pint-sized canning jars.

Oh, well. I went to the next step anyway and added a couple of dollops of Yoghurt and stirred it into the milk, pushed the "Yogurt" button, and used the machine's preset time to incubate for 8 hours. I watched the Instant Pot count the hours and minutes, and then it displayed the word "Yogt" when it hit the eight-hour mark.

 Ta-Da. Smooth, thick, and creamy.

I gotta say The Man is not a fan of plain yogurt though he was a good sport about trying a few spoonfuls of the stuff and making appreciative (I thought) mmmm sounds. But eventually he reached his limit and declined any further tasting, ie. "I'm not going to try it anymore, it tastes like sour milk, quit sticking it in my face."

Okay. Right. Maybe plain yogurt is not the end all for a few some most people. I like it "as is" but I guess I could add a little fruit, maybe use it in my cooking, or add it to smoothies.

But you gotta admit, it's pretty cool to make yogurt from yoghurt.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fall Back

End of Daylight Savings Time, we're changing our clocks again. You would think I would get used to the idea of it after five years of living back on the Mainland but it's still incomprehensible to me and so for the past week I've been quizzing The Man at all times of the day by asking, "So, right now, the clock says it's [insert time here], what time is it going to be on Sunday?" "How dark is it going to be?"

It's hard to believe a year has passed since we've gone through this annual mind-bending ritual. Last night, The Man replied (a little wearily I thought), "No one will know what time it is."

With any luck next year I'll remember not to sign up to be on Call during this weird clock-changing time. My friend Sandee reminded me that I was on Call last year too. So while everyone else gets an extra hour of sleep, I add an extra hour to my 24-hour Standby time. Yup, a longer night of restless sleep, anticipating a ringing phone. Great.

This morning I got up bright and early and decided to resume writing and posting weekly to SLO Yarns blog. No real reason other than I miss talking to myself in the language of the written word. When I casually mentioned my decision to The Man he nodded but didn't say anything and of course I knew what he was thinking, "Grrreat ....".

So we'll change our clocks tonight and everything will be wonky for awhile. In the meantime, here's a few firsts that occurred during those missing weeks that I didn't post a story. You know, just so we're back on track.

Chimney Sweeper (aka The Man) getting ready for cooler days under blue skies.


First salsa verde with roasted poblano peppers and tomatillo (Note to self: tomatillo does not rhyme with armadillo).


First fall baking - Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies from the recipe on the package. You know, my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe circa 1980's uses Crisco shortening. I think I like butter better.


Greening up after the first rain (~ .5").


Last weekend began with a freshened Saturday morning after our second rain (~ 1.25").


It was a perfect day to bring home another motorcycle ('06 Suzuki V-Strom) for The Man.  The V-Strom is highly-rated to be a comfortable bike for two people (2-Up). I drove The Man's truck home from South County. It was the first time I have driven his truck, even though he's owned it for about fifteen years. Before I got on the road I practiced driving in an empty school parking lot. The Man's main concern was that I could reach the pedals. It was all good.

Yesterday, another typical fall morning. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

7:44 am

7:45 am

8:26 am

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pompom Optional

Several people have asked me the same question: "You have a knitting machine? Isn't that like cheating?" Before I answer their question I glance at The Man, and sure enough, he's got the "I told you so" smirk on his face.

The circular knitting machine (ahem) machines are called addi Express Professional with 22 needles and addi Express King which has 46 needles. My bright idea in acquiring a circular knitting machine was to be able to crank out knitted hats and other tubular creations, lickety-split.

If you think it's cheating, well then it's only half cheating, my hats are both machine knit and hand-knit.

Basically I cast on to the addi Express King with waste yarn, crank for awhile, then cast off with waste yarn. When I remove the waste yarn the stitches are "live" and ready to be picked up with my knitting needles. Then I knit a 1x1 rib brim on the bottom and a knitted decrease for the top. The body of the hat - the middle section - is knit by the machine.

Sounds easy-peasy but there was definitely a learning curve for using the device and I'm still tweaking the pattern to get a good-fitting hat, i.e., one that is not too long, nor too short, you know, just right. It's not instant knitting but it's fun to see what I can create in a few hours as compared to a few days.

Right now my completed hats are squeezed in between eight Comfort Scarves and nine colorful skeins of soft fuzzy yarn.

The big box of yarny goodness is ready to be mailed out to Leslye Borden of Handmade Especially for You charity. The five knitted hats are intended for the children at the Women's Shelters.

You know, come to think of it, I don't think I'll worry too much about what people say about my knitting machine. Oh, and the pompoms? They're made with a pompom maker do-dad.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Instant Love

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Amazon Prime Day, July 12, 2016, I was counted as 1 out of 215,000 people that purchased an Instant Pot. The multi-functional 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker was the top seller of the day. The funny thing is I didn't even know I needed one, heck, I had never even heard of an Instant Pot and I wasn't even a Prime Member. But I got one anyway because, well, I did need a new rice cooker.

The first thing the User Manual recommends is to boil water as a test run. Thataway, you get used to the device, it's features, and to make sure "your unit is working perfectly". I decided to watch it work perfectly from a safe distance.

The Instant Pot is amazing. It was especially perfect for summer cooking when it was just too hot to cook. I could set it, forget it, and spend my time outdoors.

Beef Stew

3:30 pm

6:05 pm

 Roast chicken

Browned on Saute Mode in the IP

Fall off the bone tender

Not Re-fried Beans! (recipe included with IP) and chicken soft tacos

I have also made Spanish rice, Pot Roast, Chile Colorado, St. Louis Style ribs (check out Flo Lum YouTube videos), hard boiled eggs, steamed veggies (potatoes, artichokes) slow cooked Kalua pig, Minestrone soup, and the easiest pan gravy.

I love my Instant Pot. The Man loves my Instant Pot.