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23 September 2013

Braised Broads

Homemade Yogurt!

     Yes, that's right, homemade yogurt. This is something I've been wanting to try for a while now. I mean, I've been making my own detergent and started making my own granola, why not yogurt too? So this started me browsing through all of internet land looking for a recipe I liked.
     
     I guess I really shouldn't say recipe, as this implies differing ingredients.  The recipe for yogurt is pretty universal: milk and starter.  Starter being yogurt with active cultures in it.  If it has it, it will say somewhere on the container.  If you do not have this you will not make yogurt, you'll only make milk that has been heated, left to sit, and cooled.  Not very tasty.  Now there can be additions like dry milk powder or even gelatin for extra thickening if you're using, say, skim milk.  

     The biggest difference really is how many ways people make it.  They find what works for them.  Some make it using a crockpot, their oven, a heating pad, a cooler with hot water and many more.  I picked the cooler with hot water.  The time it needed to sit wasn't as long as other methods and I was anxious to see the end result.  Check out this recipe and then search for some more to find what fits you.  Here is a link to the recipe I used on the site "the frugal girl" :  
http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2009/10/how-to-make-homemade-yogurt-2/#comment-386477 
    
     The basic gist is heat the milk to about 180°(to kill any other bacteria, etc.) then cool it down to around 120°.  At this point you whisk your starter into the cooling milk.  Pour it into your clean jars(any size, try to keep them the same size) and put on the lids.  Place them into a small cooler, fill with 120° water up to the yogurt line in the jars, close it up(I covered mine with a towel as well) and let it sit undisturbed for 3 hours.  Then refrigerate.  Done.

     Some recipes are just as easy but they leave theirs sit for anywhere from 6 to 12 hours.  The longer it sits, the more tart it becomes so for your tastes 4 or 6 hours might be better.  Mine sat for the recipe stated 3 hours, though I added a touch of vanilla and a little sugar, this wasn't tart at all.  Play with it and see what you like.  For thickness, whole milk is best, I used 2% and it came out fine.  You can use any kind but the less fat the thinner the yogurt, which is why people using skim and such will usually add some dry milk powder to thicken.
    
     I ate some with homemade granola(also easy-peasy) my youngest put some apple butter in his, and the hubby ate it with maraschino cherries(he thinks it might have been even better with pie filling cherries).  I'll ask hubby when he gets home, I put some strawberry jam on it this morning for his lunch.  If you want fruit in yours it is probably best to add it at the table, rather than as it's being made or it could make your yogurt turn out runny.  You could also use food flavoring oils like orange or lime.  I'll try it out in the freezer and let you know how it does there, too.  For those, like me, who freeze the kiddies yogurt for school.

     All in all, I'm completely glad I did this and I'll definitely be doing it again.  Probably tomorrow, seeing as half of it is gone already. Sigh.


  

16 September 2013

Uhh....Seriously, we're waiting!!

      I know, I know.  You've probably been wondering where we have been.  Well, truth be told, your guess is as good as mine!   Wandering around the corridors of reality and looking--in earnest--for the emergency exit.  Real life has a way of derailing our engines and putting them on a completely different track.  
      
     During the spring, my kids happened.  From sports to plays, the driving is endless.  During the summer, my kids--again--happened.  Though, in Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire hurricanes hardly ever happen.  (Sorry about that, I had a moment.)  In the fall....do we see the pattern here?  Good.  So, between the kids' activities and school, hubby's work, my work, still remodeling the house, and my newest occupation as college student, I have very little room on my plate for cookies.  But damn-it, I like cookies.  I would love to roll naked in cookies!  Only metaphorically, I have no wish to explain those crumbs at the next gynie visit.  That, ladies, is called thinking ahead.  
Just a tip.
     
     I was looking over some past posts and had to chuckle.  Alright, I guffawed.  I really think I'm funny.  (The vacation post was a good one.)  I got to thinking, "you know," I thought, "it's really mean spirited of him to drink that coffee in front of me like that.  Does he have to be so smug about it?!"  I thought this because I was currently in class, and, my instructor was, indeed, being smugly superior about his current state of coffeed bliss.  I did not neglect to mention to him that this was hurtful.  He merely smiled, I almost threw my shoe at his head.  I was, fortunately for my g.p.a., too tired to remove my tenny. 
    
     Anyhow, and to get back on topic, in all our cases(Moira and Willow, too.) real life got in the way.  Moira has been wrestling her own family train and Willow is consumed with school.  She is a senior this year and has a full load of classes, including Calculus and college English.  She's looking at colleges and studying for the S.A.T.s.  Yikes!  Hopefully we can get back to posting for you, our loyal readers, on a somewhat regular basis.  I know for all of us reading has been a valued, if meagerly managed, pastime.  At least we can try to post little anecdotes about the happenings in our harried lives.    

     So, in closing, I would like to say "Never taunt a lady who has no coffee!"  Safety first, you know.
     

21 January 2013

XVI

XVI
By Julia Karr

     Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world - even the most predatory of men - that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past - one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

     I absolutely loved this book.  It is a good portrayal of how the future could turn out, but it also gives an exciting story.  It is a bit of an unnerving blast of  foreshadowing, forcing you to really think on how our world is going.  I couldn't stand to put this book down, wondering what was going to happen next, and how the story would turn out.  It is scary how real this could turn out, so I think this book is a great story, but a warning too.  It is exciting and full of suspense and drama.  I would recommend this book to a more mature audience, if only because of the theme.  XVI is well worth the read, and the money to buy it if the local library doesn't have a copy!  Keep reading and stay safe and MODEST.  Watch out for my review of the sequel Truth 

~ Willow Naveen♥

Overall Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥

02 January 2013

My Cheers and Apologies



Hello out there!  This is Willow, saying that we are sorry to be gone for so long, but we are back now. Happy new year, by the way!  2013 is looking good, even if just for the fact our impending doom isn’t written in at the end.  I give it about a week until there is a new plot to destroy humankind.  But anyways, how have you all been?  It has been good over here, but a little hectic.  School, holidays, and simple family life have been crazy, all with the purpose of keeping us away from you wonderful people.  Like I said though, we are back now.  My Christmas was a good haul, bringing in more books than I have room for, so there should be some reviews coming your way from my end of the ring.  I am not sure I can speak for anyone else, but don’t worry, I think I can convince them that there is simply no way they can put off their lovely readers for any longer.  I hope you have a wonderful day, full of good books, wonderful ideas, and lots of green tea (my personal brain juice).  Cheers!


~ Willow Naveen♥

27 September 2012

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey

You don't even know...


I stopped into the library the other day to drop off and pick up another pile of books for my dear daughter Willow.  I spied this little number sitting on the shelf.  The title caught my eye, the parody sticker reeled me in.

As anyone can tell-- especially if you are unfortunate enough to know me or by some bizarre quirk in your personality, enjoy reading my posts-- I think I'm funny.  No, really, I love to laugh.  It usually isn't hard to get me going either.  Ask Moira.  Ask my BFF.  I laugh so hard tears run down my leg. 

So when I saw the little yellow smile, telling me to take it like a big girl, I knew this was the book for me. 

Andrew Shaffer, writing under Fanny Merkin (the name- not literally under) says in a NY Times interview he wrote this in 10 days.  All I have to say about that is "Brilliant!"

The blurb from the back cover states:
Young, arrogant, tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?

Hilarious!  That is the only word I have, I seriously almost had to read this in the bathroom.  You know, in case I, ahem, cried.  I found this to be a parody of the original 50 shades (which I still have not read) and the Twilight books (which I will never read. I mean, come on. Sparkles...really?)

Earl Grey is convinced he's horribly screwed up with all his shames(he has a man crush on Tom Cruise) and Anna has her own quirks and issues(she picks her nose when she's nervous).  She has a drunken roommate in Kathleen and her best friend Jin, is a brony.  No, I will not say what that is.  Find out for yourself. 

All in all, I will probably end up buying this book simply to have it around for when I need a laugh-a-minute pick-me-up.  Over all I have to give this 5 stars, anything less would make me a liar.  So run, don't walk, to your nearest booking establishment--be it library or book peddler--and get yourself a copy.  Oh, you should probably stop at the grocery and get some tissues and t.p. for when you, ahem, cry.




13 September 2012

IT will probably kill me...

    First of all, let me state that I love my husband.  Let it also be known that this fact may not save him from becoming a new "compost heap" in my back yard.  Maybe I'll plant a few shrubs on top, that would look nice.  Ooh, a nice gazebo covered in climbing roses and maybe a swing with....what?  Oh.
    
    I have tried to come to terms with something that sends me into a state of near panic at the mere mention of the word.  Retirement.  There... I said it and didn't swoon.  I have heard the stories from married ladies with retired husbands, and with, first my father's and now my husband's lay-offs, I have experienced brief glimpses into this world.  So, I have learned some things.

    The main thing, really, is that I would like to opt out but cannot, in good conscience, do that.  He can't work forever.   Right?  My dearest other half is only 40, so this retirement isn't happening anytime soon, but still.  He works as a carpenter, which means- aside from the fact that nothing in the house is fixed- he sometimes has a lay-off because a job isn't quite ready.   Goody!  This also means he becomes, in a word,  insertive.
    
    Yes, I meant insertiveI'll admit that can be a bonus right after lunch and sometimes twice on Tuesday but that isn't what I meant.  Geez, you people.  Go wash your mind, I'll wait.  Better?  Good.

    What I was trying to say before sally-naughty-pants interrupted was he inserts himself into everything I do, and tries to do the same with me.   I understand these are opportunities to spend time together, honestly, I get that.   But when I hear the phrase,  "Uhm, Hon?"  I usually cringe.  I've tried hiding but that only works for so long.  (Besides, I don't fit under the bed.)  That phrase, you see, is usually followed by either "what are you doing?" or "do you wanna...?"  

    The "what are you doing" is generally obvious in answer.  Some old stand-by answers include---  
    "painting a wall mural" --going to the bathroom
    "knitting" --washing dishes
    "talking to the president" --making dinner
    and the ever popular shriek "what does it look like?!" --everything

    The other phrase "Do you wanna...?", is usually followed by something that, no actually, I don't "wanna do".  Why he thinks I actually "wanna do" most of the things he ever suggests still completely baffles me.  Allow me to set the most recent scene.  I have filled the bucket and have just begun to mop the kitchen floor when..."Uhm, Hon..." he says eagerly with keys in hand, "do you wanna go to the tractor store with me?"  Now, this isn't so much a question as a-- request, let's call it. 

   Now I know what you're thinking, "But Mina," you say "why wouldn't you want to stand around in a store that smells like motor oil and regret, staring at weed wackers and leering lube jockeys?"  Normally, you would have a valid point (if there were any shot in hell said lube jockeys would be passably attractive) but today floor mopping and ground beef have captured my attention.  Like that matters.

    I sigh, loudly.  Knowing that if I do not head straight to the nearest tractor-hawking establishment the rest of my day will be ruined.  If I say "no, thank you" he will proceed to look at me as though I have crushed his very soul.  It is very trying.  So, instead, I sigh again and rub my forehead.  I know, universal, right? This is his cue to act like a giddy 4 year old who has been told I will be serving ice cream for lunch.  I sigh.  A lot.  Stupid tractors.

    Thus go my days, until the call comes for him to head back to work, and I have to admit that I don't really hate packing lunches all that much.

   In closing, let me reiterate that I do love my husband.  He is a great father and provider, friend and worker.  And there are still gonna be those days when I really want that gazebo.....




   

      




08 September 2012

Broads On A Budget: The Snack Time Dilemma

My kids are forever searching for a snack.  Left to their own devices, they'd eat every blasted treat purchased from my weekly grocery runs in a day or two!  It's exasperating.  Snacks aren't cheap, and there's nothing worse than opening the cupboard to discover that you are, in fact, Old Mother Hubbard!  (Of course, because the greedy little darlings have raided your stores)

Don't despair.  The Broads are at the rescue!  Here are a few quick fixes for those times when the kids are 'starving' and you're staring at the shelf blankly, wondering what in the heck you can come up with to silence the suffering.

The Saltine ...Oft Overlooked Staple

My grandmother, being a child of the depression, offered me this tasty treat one afternoon when I was quite young.  I've never forgotten how yummy it was, and she shared that during those lean days of her childhood, her mother had come up with the idea. 

You'll need saltine crackers, butter, a dish of sugar, paper plate(s), knife and spoon.

Butter the crackers and let the kiddies hold it over a paper plate and sprinkle sugar over the buttered surface.  Tap off excess - and Voila! - Happy Kids.  The sugar is minimal and the kids still get a sweet treat.  That's It!

Sunflower Seeds - Long Lasting Yet Not Filling

I regularly keep sunflower seeds in the house.  Ranch, Buffalo Ranch, Dill-Pickle, and Buffalo Wing Red-Hot are among the favs in this house.  Give the kids a dish for the shells, and they'll be busy for at least half an hour.  Plus, my boys can chomp away without ruining their appetites for dinner.  *Warning:  This Snack May Cause The Need For Vacumming.*  I would never kid around about extra vacuuming.  Okay, enough said.

Microwave Popcorn:  Cheap And Easy To Hide (I say that last word with a completely straight face.  Anyone with kids old enough to raid cupboards is nodding and smiling.)

'Pop' (Ahhh, I crack myself up sometimes) into your local Wal-Mart and you'll find the 24 pack Gourmet brand microwave popcorn for about $5.00.  That's a lot of snacking-for-your-buck.  Adding to the draw of this option, most kids are capable of peeling the wrapper off, plopping the bag into the contraption we call a microwave, and pressing the 'popcorn' button.  No fuss, no muss.  And... you're getting the kids to eat their fibre. 

Happy Snacking!

 Moìra
  

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