It’s Alive!

Crafting has been slow….  A lot of that has been that work has picked up but mostly I cannot get this crocheted skirt started despite spending – now – months trying to get it going.  Describing myself as “frustrated” would be an understatement.  Any crocheters out there who can send me some tips?  The wrinkle is the elastic thread component.  It just makes the whole thing gum up and when I have to rip it out to fix something, I have to rip it ALL out.

I’ve made big progress on the Black March Basic.  It’s about 7 inches and finishing from being done.  It is, of course, ALPACA, so I’m in no hurry to finish it now that Summer has basically arrived (that said, it’s chilly here these days so maybe I *should* LOL).

I’m going to be away for six weeks this summer on a show where I anticipate a lot of ‘sitting around’ rehearsal time.  My first thought was to work on/finish the skirt but now I’m thinking perhaps I need a knitting project – something that I know how to do – which would be a little more mindless and time filling and satisfying.  What do you think?

I’d love to start on the below sweater, but again, it’s Alpaca.  Not sure that’s going to feel great to be holding/working on in the heat of summer.  And also, I need to figure out the wool.  I’m on my second DROPS project with DROPS yarn and I’m sort of underwhelmed by the quality of the yarn.  It feels good but doesn’t seem to wear well and, in the case of the cotton I’m using for the attempted skirt, it breaks into individual strands very easily which makes crocheting with a small hook much more difficult.

Anyway, I love this sweater.

We’ll see.

Mostly, I’ve spent the past several months, perfecting how to make homemade yogurt, singing many concerts, growing flower seedlings for the garden at the Craft Nook North, songwriting, learning how to tailor my clothes and doing some light embroidery.  Since I have no photos of any of that, I will leave you with how to make amazing Greek Yogurt at home!

Homemade Greek Style Yogurt

Ingredients/Devices needed:

1/2 gallon not ultrapasteurized milk (pasteurized is fine, but I read that Ultra/high heat will not work. Fat level is your choice. Lower the fat, the more sour it will be. That said, 1% was not that sour. I cannot vouch for fat-free as I’ve never tried it. If you do, please comment with your results.)
1 c. yogurt starter
Crockpot
Candy or meat thermometer to check temp of milk
Beach towels
Colander
Large Basket/Catering Coffee Filter or Cheese Cloth
Bowl
Time

What I use:

For Milk: 1/2 gallon organic pasteurized/homogenized 2% milk
For Yogurt ‘Starter’: For the first batch, I used 1 7-oz. container Fage Total Full Fat yogurt. You are looking for plain yogurt with active cultures if you choose a different brand. For subsequent batches, you will use a cup of yogurt from a prior homemade batch.

Directions:

Put all milk in crockpot on low for 2.5 hours. At end of that time, check temp. Should be 180 degrees. (Do not cook it higher than 180 or 190. It will turn into something else dairy and edible but not yogurt. Stringy is the word most tossed around on the ‘net.)

When you are at 180 degrees, turn off crockpot. If you have a high-end crockpot which switches to warm at the end of cooking, you will want to unplug crockpot. You want the product completely OFF so the yogurt can move to room temperature at the proper rate.

After turning off/unplugging, keep lid on crockpot and let sit undisturbed for 3 hours or until milk reaches 105-110 degrees (consistently 4 hours in my apartment). When milk in pot is at 105-110 degrees, remove a cup of the milk and mix in a bowl with the yogurt starter until incorporated. Then pour that mixture back into the crockpot. Stir once (keep the disturbance minimal). Replace lid on pot and wrap up crockpot unit (not just bowl part) in one/two beach towels. Let sit swaddled on counter for at least 8 hours and up to 15. 12 works well for me in terms of taste.

After your chosen time lapse, put the crockpot in the fridge to fully cool. 6 hours should do it.

You now have yogurt. It will be thinner than store-bought. Don’t despair.

To make it Greek/Strained, put the coffee filter (cheesecloth if you have no filter) in the colander, place colander over a bowl, and put in a couple of cups of yogurt into the colander/filter and let it strain in fridge for 2-3 hours. The whey (liquid) will drain into the bowl below. You can reserve that for later use in boiling pasta or vegetables or making muffins, etc. It has a sour taste and I’ve successfully used it as a sub for buttermilk in a bunch of recipes and it makes pasta extremely tender (while al dente). Delicious.

After straining each batch, you can store the final product which will now be Greek Style yogurt in your fridge for at least 3 weeks. I read 5 days online but that’s seems very conservative. After 3 weeks, mine still tastes completely fresh. Use your judgment. 🙂

It usually takes 6-8 colander ‘batches’ to get through the crockpot contents. While the coffee filter gets limp and wet, it can be reused for the whole crockpot’s worth if you are careful with it.

*** Remember to reserve a cup of your delicious homemade strained yogurt to use as starter for your next batch!***

Making this yogurt with Full Fat makes it the most like full fat sour cream (a spoon easily stands up in it) and when you strain a batch longer, for say 8 hours/overnight, you end up with something more like cream cheese. Very delicious and intense. That said, I’ve been making 2% for a while and use the 3 hour strain as sour cream on tacos or in mashed potatoes with complete success. The yogurt tastes fantastic and, dare I say, better than Fage. And is about half the price even using organic everything.

Enjoy!

***

Other Resources to check out:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/567084?tag=post-content-4394023%3Bpost_4394023_content
This guy makes the yogurt thick by adding dry milk. Intriguing. I suspect this method could also help low-fat yogurt thicken more.

http://in-this-season.blogspot.com/2009/04/greek-yogurt.html
I mainly used this recipe. Just tweaked a bit with other research.

And finally, what to do with the whey! (That’s the yellow runoff from the filtering progress. Supposed to be very healthy).
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/551034

These muffins are spectacular: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/muffins-dont-throw-away-that-whey-recipe

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