Make your own yogurt… EASILY!

2 03 2010

So after months of wanting to do so, I made my first batch of homemade yogurt last night. Easiest thing ever! Recipes differ, but here’s the basic idea:

5 cups of whole milk (you can use others, but I’m told that lower fat milks turn out with less satisfactory taste and texture)

1/2 cup of yogurt with live/active cultures (pretty much any store-brand yogurt will have this on the label)

Heat the milk to 185 degrees, or just barely boiling

Immediately take it off the heat, and when it’s cooled to 110 degrees, start stirring it in gradually to your pre-existing yogurt.

Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes for ventilation. Let it sit in a warm place for at least 5 or 6 hours (we left ours overnight, having made it right before bedtime). A lot of people recommend leaving it in your oven with the light on for a bit of heat.

It should be set up by this point, and now you simply refrigerate and eat within a week. Reserve a 1/2 cup at the end as the starter for your next batch!

It’s delicious, and very fresh-tasting, with a bit of a tang that shows you it’s the real deal.

Next up we’re going to make our own granola bars so that we don’t have to buy the pre-packaged ones loaded with weirdness.

Soon we’re going to do a sourdough starter–very exciting.

Tonight’s adventure is our first use of our very own hand-crank pasta machine! Exciting!!


Michael Pollan… LIVE!

28 02 2010

I had the great pleasure of hearing Michael Pollan speak tonight at Earlham College (delightful local hippy hub), and it was ultra-inspirational. I read his In Defense of Food last summer, and was moved, and then recently saw the PBS version of Botany of Desire, which was also revelatory.

I was also excited to see a packed auditorium, including an astonishing number of students who seemed motivated and interested in the topic at hand. Very important stuff here, folks, and a great reminder of the way we should be looking at food and eating–not just as some pit stop in the rat race, but as 1) the primary fuel source of a healthy body and 2) the primary cultural/social activity of our day.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pollan’s work, I implore you to read him or just surf his site; his motto, as stated in In Defense of Food, is seven small but powerful words… “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

May it be so!!

Sew it yourself? Why not?!

22 02 2010

So my latest DIY/back-to-basics interest has been sewing… My wife has had her grandmother’s classy/classic sewing machine mouldering away in the closet for years. Recently, it has been pressed into action many times by both of us!

So the new dudecrafter has been busy… Here are some pictures:

A “refuse receptacle” (don’t call it a trash bag) for wifey’s car

And then some dish towels

I am most interested in making things that will actually be used: pillowcases, placemats, oven mitts, etc. I also made a killer pair of pajama pants in a very handsome golf print. They shan’t be worn in public, but they’re awfully cozy around the homestead.

Not only is it fun, but it’s another step in the self-sufficiency and discovery process. Feels good to do something so tactile in this virtual age!

Words to live by from ancient India

4 01 2010

This is a poem by the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa… I heard it read in a documentary, and it hit me like a ton of bricks…

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the truths and realities of your existence:
The bliss of learning,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!


20 12 2009

This oft-reproduced prose-poem brings me so much inspiration and satisfaction… I hope you enjoy it and are inspired and comforted by it!

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Thanksgiving thoughts

25 11 2009

Holiday weekends… we all relish the thought of them, highlight them on our calendars, mantra-tize them by saying “only X days until X break…”  But let’s bring our awareness to what we then do with these breaks–Thanksgiving Break, and the bizarre traditions that have sprung up around it, are a fitting example.

So, my hope for this Thanksgiving Break is that we lend some mindfulness to those practices and traditions:

May we travel with patience and understanding that the drivers around us want to get home or to family just as we badly as we do.

May we be thankful if we don’t have to work on the holiday, and think carefully before shopping on Thanksgiving Day (after all, if we didn’t shop, the stores wouldn’t be open!)

May we be patient with our family on the holiday itself, and not revert to circa 3rd grade family roles (good luck with this one! ha)

If you choose to participate in the bizarre crack-of-dawn materialistic bonanza on “Black Friday,” may the force be with you. I’m sure there are wonderful deals to be had, but I prefer to remain in my current untrampled state, and there is nothing, but nothing that I want so badly as to wake up at 4 am to go buy it. If you are one of those that will be shopping on Friday, then may you practice patience and again extend your empathy to those unfortunate souls who have to work at the zoos stores involved.

One thing I treasure about Thanksgiving is that there are no presents, no Easter bunnies, no gawdy decorations, no fireworks. Even the hardest hearts seem to be reflecting on the many blessings that we have, and the importance of family and friends. The importance of practicing gratitude is receiving wide publicity these days, but that does not in any way hinder its power. May we all take a moment to put pen to paper and write down 5 things that we’re grateful for… you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to keep going!

Happy Thanksgiving to you, safe and peaceful travels to you, and may your family time be mindful, warm-hearted, and joyous.

“She walks in beauty”

19 10 2009

by George Gordon, Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!