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Thanksgiving and Homemade Greek Yoghurt

“When I hear the wind rush through the trees, I have to stop and listen. There’s so much to thank him for.” -Barbara Mandrell

We arrived at the doctor’s office yesterday and my elementary son asked, “Do they help people with Algae here?” I immediately visualized a stagnant pond covered in swampy slime and internally shuddered, “Algae? What do you mean?” “You know, Algae,” he repeated impatiently, not understanding how his brilliant mother who had lived so much life couldn’t grasp this simple concept.  Inside scoop: just give him about 5 years and I will become a vacant woman, staring off into an empty abyss who answers, “uhhhh,” at every question. 😂 Didn’t you know, children become Einstein-Esque at 13. If only world leaders would realize that, all our diseases, wars and hardships would be over! By my late teens, I had come up with a cure for Aids and actually presented it to my biology class. That memory makes my face fill with heat, just like a teenage girl in a bandy bikini, smeared in lip gloss and Tropicana oil for 4 hours, flipping rotisserie style. “Algaes,” he repeated. The dots just weren’t connecting, like the intermittent lines on his school handwriting paper. My brain was too stuck in the green sludge of a mossy, damp forest. He enunciated aggressively, “All-UR- bees!” 🐝🐝🐝 Oh- allergies! My oh my, did the girls and I lose it giggling, like a quart of marbles in a mason jar that gets knocked over. I wouldn’t trade these moments.

I’ve determined that when my kids are grown up, I will volunteer somewhere with children once a week to have exposure to all that sweet energy, like a golden honey that gets stuck to everything it touches. Who are we kidding; with seven kids, I will be Grandma Of The Year, wear a winning, garland of roses around my neck for enduring and get a part time job just to pay for cookie supplies and chiropractic care (following our wrestling matches). My thoughts this week are on the joy, guileless nature, pure faith and the “World is good” qualities of children. But, you know what sticks out and isn’t always identified – their appreciation. Wait, what?!? Are we talking about the same species of children? Lol.

They are overjoyed at the most simple pleasures. While they may have to be reminded to actually say, “Thank you,” they become giddy with the falling snow, a plastic toy placed in their meal that will break in five minutes and simple, vacation bus rides become covered in glitter and magic. It’s like children live inside a roving snow globe. At heart, they have an abundant gratitude for the little things in life, rather than the entitled attitude that can come with age. This week, as I emotionally wrestle with a son who has a concussion (and was initially told to be prepared for him to, possibly, be done playing football this season in his senior year), I find myself grateful for the people I love around me. I’m grateful for hot showers, holding my husband’s hand as we take walks, that our refrigerator can always be filled and so much more. I’ve decided on a new practice in life- Each morning, I am going to start thanking the good Lord above for three things in my life. Gratitude isn’t just good for us to practice, it is good for our outlook, perspective and, actually, our physical health too. The cry of my heart is… Make me grateful of the simple, important things, like a child, Lord.

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Mathew 18:2-3

YoghurtHomemade Yoghurt

So, algae reminds me of fungus and mold. Lol. I know, I know, you genius science majors, with hair sticking up in front, who wear lab coats with skinnies as a fashion statement, who tell the people around you who are enjoying a glass of wine that it is pickling their brains and end all your sentences with, “approximately,” because inaccurate social statements make you want to re-clean your test tubes, I know mold is vastly different than algae. But, just go with me on this. 😜 A healthy food option is nonfat yoghurt or greek yoghurt. And, even better? Homemade nonfat yoghurt, which is fairly free from all the fillers and preservatives. Try it. It’s not that hard and really good for you!

  • 2 quarts of skim milk
  • 1/2 Cup of a name brand yoghurt, preferably without additives and don’t use Greek Yoghurt ( I used a brand that is additive free, except for some fruit pectin, called Mountain High, fat free and plain)

Equipment: 

  • Accurate thermometer (I just used a candy thermometer clipped to the edge of the pan)
  • Double Boiler is preferable but I used a large, regular pan, stirring constantly
  • Jars to store finished yoghurt (you will need at least 2 quart sized mason jars and possibly one smaller one too)
  • A whisk
  • A good sized cooler or heating pad

In a large pan, constantly mix 2 quarts of skim milk with a rubber baking spatula on a medium heat. Make sure to mix it the whole time, especially when you aren’t using a double boiler. Bring the milk to 82 degrees Celsius (180 degrees Fahrenheit) or just to boiling and remove. Create a cold water bath using cold water and ice cubes in a baking sheet and set the pan base in it to cool it faster. Once the mixture has reached 42-44 degrees Celsius (108-112 degrees Fahrenheit), remove from the cool bath and whisk 1/2 C of yoghurt into the cooled milk. Pour into your yoghurt maker, follow the directions (I own a Yogourmet) and leave it to set for 4.5 hours. Or, place into (sterilized or dishwasher washed) mason jars with lids and set in a shut cooler with 1 gallon of 48.9 degrees Celsius water (possibly more), 3/4 up the height of the jars. It seems like you could also place the jars into a baking dish and fill it with 48.9 degrees Celsius water in a warm oven (depending how hot the warm setting on your oven is, 42-48 degrees Celsius is needed). Another technique that is used is to wrap the jars in a heating pad on low (this can cause the bottom to get a little golden). I’ve never tried any of the methods that don’t involve a “yogurt maker” but I have read and heard that they are quite straight forward, as long as the temperature remains between 42 and 48 degree  Celsius (low warmth) for 4.5 hours. That’s the key.

After 4.5 hours, to make the yoghurt thicker, into greek yoghurt or “yoghurt cheese,” place in a pre-soaked, triple thick and large piece of cheesecloth. Tie and suspend over a bowl in the refrigerator for 8 hours. The juice that comes off is called whey and can be used for other purposes. Enjoy! My 10 year old daughter LOVED how my greek yoghurt tasted; she said it was her favorite yoghurt ever!

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