Saturday, May 18, 2013

Confidence and Yogurt!

Yogurt from the crock pot! So, so easy!
My little one is on antibiotics for 2 weeks, and has been eating store-bought yogurt to counteract some side effects, and I finally broke down and made some yogurt! I really thought it would be more complicated, but it is so easy. I made a gallon! WOW!

One of my favorite things I use in my quest for independence and self-sustainability is the internet, because I learn so much. Money Saving Mom and Keeper of the Home both have wonderful blog posts about making crock pot yogurt, with recipe, techniques and pictures, and so I won't go into that here. (Just click on those links to see their posts.) The internet is great for all of the ideas you can get, all the knowledge available, but without action and experience, it really is all just stuff in your head.

My amazement comes from actually doing this project that I have put off for so long. I really wish I had done this years ago. I remember looking in stores for kitchen gadgets, looking for a special appliance that would make yogurt. There probably is such an appliance out there somewhere, but I don't need it anymore. I have my crock pot! I am amazed at how little time it actually took (only about 20 minutes of my time, aside from the actual waiting). I'm thrilled and relieved that it's done, and that it worked! And that I didn't burn anything! I now have a new skill that I can bring into the future, so come what may, I can make yogurt. If you are younger than me, love yogurt, and have a crock pot, take heed! Do this for yourself! Do it sooner than later!

Here's a few more pics of my yogurt, with some things I learned.

1. A gallon of whole milk weighs 8.6 pounds.
2. A gallon of HOT MILK feels like it weighs 86 pounds, because you have to take such care not to get burned. Take this into consideration when planning how much yogurt to make.
3. I don't like plain yogurt. Maybe you do, but I don't.

4. But I do love strawberry yogurt, as does most of my family.

5. I blended whole strawberries (previously frozen) with sugar, but next time, I will use some local honey

6. You are supposed to save out a half cup of the finished plain yogurt, so that you can start your next batch. I forgot to do this, so I will have to buy some plain yogurt again next time.

7. I miss being in New England where Stoneyfield Farms is. If you have the chance to visit there, do it! If you ever see their yogurt on the shelf, try it! I will hunt down some of their yogurt to start my next batch at home!

So what have you been putting off trying to do? 
There is a process that many times doesn't get completed, in my life anyway:
And I would like to encourage everyone to DO something you've been thinking about trying for way too long.

Best Wishes!
from Mama Trep


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Soggy Garden

So, this is a new blog, and I have put it off for a bit, because I just don't know where to start. I suppose I have not given it a tremendous amount of thought, no really specific plans for this spot on the web, just wanting to get my ideas out there. I am just going to jump right in, as I am prone to do, on what is on my mind, and it is.

I have never had too much of a formal garden. Ever. I had a spot by the front door where I put my peppermint in cinder blocks and my tomatoes. Both have been there for over four years now, and actually did quite well. We had a spot on the lower yard that was tilled by a good friend of mine a couple years ago, about 10 x 10 foot, where we put some peppers (prolific) and zucchini (blossoms just fell off), but that area floods if there is a heavy rain, because of Horse Creek, and this year, it has flooded more times than it has total in the 5 years since I've lived here.

I've been wanting a garden, so last fall we started piling up grass clippings and leaves, over about 5 or 6 layers of newspaper. We would toss in the rabbit bedding and rabbit poop, and coffee grounds, egg shells and banana peels from the house. It ended up about 10 x 10 feet on the upper yard.
The dark area to the left of the blue tarps is the original layered area.

We made Grand Plans over the winter, and decided that was too small...and rented a tiller for about half a day, expanding that space to roughly 10 x 25 feet. We also moved the front yard's stepping stones to allow for more garden space next to the house, a triangular garden about 15 foot at it's widest, about 15 feet along the house to the front door. We expanded the tomato/peppermint patch to the other edge of the house, so that when we mowed, there was more of a curve, and less niggling little spaces to mow. All in all, since last summer, we have probably quadrupled our growing spaces.
See the expanded prior tomato/peppermint area?
See how we moved the stepping stones here?

Work in progress, and only pic of the tiller!
Did I mention the tiller: 5 HP of pure hell? New tools were purchased to make all that clean up work easier and CLODS of grass were piled in the driveway to dry out. We found that the areas where the paper, grass, leaves, scraps and rabbit poop were layered have the most beautiful, black, dark soil, with a ton of worms! So this will become our preferred method of garden prep, and that bucking tiller will be banned from my life forever, and I will never have to do THAT again!

I guess it has just been too wet, or something. I haven't really paid attention to the waterfall amounts in northeast TN here, but the fact that we are flooding almost every time it rains hard tells me that the water table is up, or something. Every sunny day dries things out about a half inch or so deep, but all around, the grass is soggy, squishes where we walk The neighborhood ducks who like to muck around have been shooed only a couple times from the garden space (a small fence is going up soon), and I don't know what is going on underground, but up top our seedlings are just sitting there.

Did you ever read that Frog and Toad book, where one of them is yelling at the garden seeds: "GROW!" Hehehe, that's me. Fearless. Persistent. IMPATIENT.

When I say "we" it's me and my partner, Herman, who does the brunt of the physical work, unfortunately for him. Without him, this garden thing would never have happened. 
Happy Birthday, Herman!