Friday, May 27, 2011

Yummy Yougart - For Ms Breanne

My kids eat yogurt like it is going out of style. I was spending about $6 - $10 a week on yogurt before I decided to try making my own. To say I was a little intimidated would be an understatement . To my surprise (and the hubby's) it was a success. The first batch was a little runnier than we liked, but with a few adjustments we came up with a recipe that was easy and worked really well.

I have had a few friends ask for the recipe so I thought I would take some pictures and blog! Also I will include a price comparison at the bottom.

Things you will need:

Large pot

8 cups of milk or approx 1/2 gallon

yogurt starter

candy thermometer

powdered milk (optional)

sugar (optional)
flavorings (optional)

1. Pour 8 cups of milk into a large pot. Attach candy thermometer so it is in the liquid but not touching the bottom of the pan.

2. Add 1 cup of powdered milk. The powdered milk is optional, but it does make a thicker yogurt and adds to the protien content of the yogurt. Turn the burner on low, I usually put it between 3 and 4. Whisk until all of the powdered milk is dissolved. At this point you can add sugar. Homemade yogurt is very tangy if left unsweetened, but some people like to add honey when they eat it. I add about 3/4c of sugar to the milk and stir.

3. No is the waiting game, you have to bring the milk SLOWLY to between 185 - 200 degrees. I say slowly because if you burn the milk you have to start over. I have never had a problem with putting the burner on a low setting and stirring occasionally (about every 1-2 min). I usually take this time to do dishes or something else in the kitchen. It takes about 20 minutes for this step.

4. After you reach 185 - 200 degrees you ill take the pot off the burner and let it come down to 118-110 degrees. I am not a patient person so I pot it in an ice bath. Run some cold water in your sink, throw some ice in and put your pot into the sink. Watch carefully and stir occasionally, it takes about 5 minutes for the temp to come down.

5. Once the temp is between 118-110 degrees take approx 1 cup of the milk and add your starter. I used Dannon all natural plain greek yogurt. After your first batch you will take 1 cup of your yogurt and set it aside for your next batch. Mix the starter and milk well and then add back to the pan, mix well. The purpose of the starter yogurt is to add the good bacteria needed to make the yogurt.

6. Put a lid on the pan and wrap in a blanket. Put this in an over with the light on for between 6-12 hours. This is where you have to experiment and see what you and your family like. The longer you leave the yogurt the tangier it will get. It will also get thicker. My kiddos don't like it too tangy, but they do like it thick so I have added a step. We remover ours between 6 and 7 hrs.

7. take out your starter for next time and add any flavoring you like. Our favorite right now is lemon, but the sky is the limit. Some choose to add flavoring as they put it into individual cups so you can make a variety at one. Whatever works for you!

8. Line a colander with coffee filters or cheese cloth and set over large bowl. Now pour in the yogurt, it will be runny. This step drains the whey off of the yogurt and makes it much thicker. I put mine in the fridge for this step because I don't want it to get any tangier. Usually between 3 - 5 hrs later it is the right consistency for me. Remember if it gets too thick just add some of the whey back in and mix well.

9. We divide into small containers for lunches and ENJOY!!

I know this seems like allot of work, but its really not. About 20-30 minutes of actually watching and stirring occasionally and the rest is waiting. As for the cost comparison:

Store bought Yoplait - $0.50 per serving ($0.40 if I have a coupon)


milk - $1.50 for half gallon

powdered milk - $1.00 ( this is about $3 and enough for at least 3 batches)

sugar and flavorings - i don't use enough to figure into cost

TOTAL $2.50 and I get about 10 containers = $0.25 a piece

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Little Man

I know I know I haven't blogged in forever. I think I am the worst blogger ever! Oh well sometimes I feel the need to blog about something and I figure that means it is especially important and may potentially help someone. So here is my blog about my little man and our learning to live with each other.

Thomas from the time he was put in my arms has been a mama's boy, I don't know what it is about little boys, but I definitely did not have the same bond with Lily. Don't get me wrong I love my Lily, but for different reasons. I love her because she is independent, creative, she doesn't just believe what someone tells her, she asks tons of questions, she is smart and beautiful and oh dear her teenage years are going to be trouble. I love Thomas for almost exact opposite reasons, he is loving, he is needy, he believes whatever his sister tells him and does everything she does, he is very OCD and sometimes a total mystery to me. Why you ask? Because I am Lily, I know what she thinks, is going to say or do before she does it, which is why raising her has been ...... well not easier, but less challenging. Trust me when I tell you it is not easy to look into the eyes of a 4yr old that just told you off and KNOW you did the same thing while trying to explain why we don't behave that way! But Thomas is a different kind of challenge.

We have spent the better part of the last year trying to figure out what we (Frank and I ) are doing "wrong". It all started on day last May when T woke up from his nap screaming and inconsolable. After about an hour of trying to calm him I take him to the pediatrician to see if maybe he has an ear infection or something that is causing him pain. We get to the dr office, he is still screaming, the dr checks him over to find nothing wrong except his pulse is sky high. After having another dr come in to assess him they send us to the emergency room for a CT scan to look for a specific problem. On the way to Lakepointe he calms down and seems to be fine upon arrival at the ER. We go ahead and go in because this was such an ordeal I am convinced there is something going on. They decide against the CT scan, but do a blood draw to look for infection....NOTHING. No diagnosis, just watch him and if this happens again bring him right back....REALLY?

At the time I had no idea what was going on, but in hind sight I can tell you this was the beginning of our battle with losing control of our emotions. I didn't realize this until a few months back because from last May until October/November we didn't have any "moments" that were abnormal for a 2 yr old. Then around the end of last year and the beginning of this year these moments increased, significantly. At first, being the strong willed person I am, I decided I was going to WIN, yeah right....I got over that quickly. Like one of my dear friends told me, "you cant pick every battle." Oh she is very right! So we decided on specific rules we were not going to let go; no running in the street, no hitting, ect. You know the big ones! And then we let the other little stuff slide. We thought we will deal with those things once we are past this phase. So lets fast forward to March. I am at a friends house for the day and Thomas starts one of his moments over a peanut butter cracker being stuck to the top of his mouth....yes I am serious, and it lasted 2 hours. I am not exaggerating and had it not been for my friend being there I am not sure we would have all made it thought the day! After that day, these moments became a regular occurrence in our house. We were all walking on egg shells all the time.

In March at the recommendation of our pedi we contacted Early Childhood Intervention for an evaluation. They evaluated Thomas to see if he had a speech delay that would prevent him from communicating what he was upset about. They found a slight delay, but nothing that would prevent him from accurately communicating with us. They offered therapy every other week to help in the areas that needed some work. His behavioral therapist (i call it anger management for toddlers) has been able to make suggestions that have helped T relieve some of this tension. We were seeing improvements and becoming very hopeful until this week.

I am not sure what happened, its like a switch flipped and he digressed. This was so frustrating, we decided again to take him to the dr and make sure nothing was causing him pain. Everything checked out so we decided to talk with the dr about what we should do. She gave us a few suggestions and we have an evaluation scheduled for Sensory Integration. This seems to be the next step, I am unsure how I feel about all of this.

I have a very close friend who has been through this very thing with her son who is now in Kindergarten and thriving. I feel that God brought her back into my life after 8 years for a reason and this is it. She has been there to hold my screaming baby that is covered in vomit, she has reassured me and made recommendations, I really don't know if I would still have my sanity without her!

Thomas continues to be my baby, he always will be. We just have to figure out how to get a handle on his emotions and feel things the way he feels them. Our goal is to have this under control before he goes to Kindergarten.

Interestingly enough a few months ago Frank and I were considering having another baby, we prayed about it ALOT! The one thing that kept coming to mind when I would pray was the word disability. I told Frank about this and really forgot about it. We decided later that 2 was enough for us. Then it hit me this week, God was not telling me that the baby we were praying for would have a disability he was telling me the child I already had did and he needed all my time and attention.

I am going to try and be better about blogging, to keep everyone up to date on our family.