WEEKEND

Oowee! What a jam packed weekend! By early afternoon Friday, I was just antsy for a change in pace. I was so ready to DO SOMETHING. Hours later, I won Dave over, and we had some friends over for pizza making and a movie. (My friend Bri was also healed of a dairy allergy earlier last year, so we like to find excuses to eat dairy together.) I learned that Adam is awesome (see below).

Saturday we had lunch with more friends and then spent the afternoon thrifting some of our favorite spots and a new one.

Saturday night we cashed in on the V-day gift I got for Dave: Des Moines Buccaneers game! I did my research thoroughly ;-) and got us really great seats. And the Bucs win! I couldn’t help but make Mighty Ducks references all night, which Dave probably didn’t appreciate. We had a great time and even shared a pretzel and a corn dog.

Sunday morning I heard a fantastic message from this place. I’m looking forward to re-listening to it and catching up on a few I’ve missed.

Then off to our church which was fantastic as well!

My older brother showed up, and we spent much of the rest of the day hanging out with him. Grabbed some Chinese food for lunch and cranked out a website.

Then, late Sunday night, Dave headed off to Lincoln, NE with a friend for a video shoot, while I couched it and watched a couple episodes of Smash on Hulu.

How was your weekend?

THE DIRTY GLASS

Maybe not everyone has a man in their life like this, but I know a few people who do. You know, the kind of man that sometimes picks up after himself, but certainly likes to leave socks, cardigans, hats, or coats draped from chair or couch arm or sometimes, just strewn about the floor. My man also has this thing with dishes. It is very regular that he will have about three glasses/cups on his desk at a time. The glass from his first thirst of the day, the cup from his morning coffee, and maybe a new one come lunch time because he forgot he already had one out.

There are times when these things make me livid. I don’t touch a thing, just waiting for him to notice what a beast he is being. All the while, my blood is boiling along with my patience.

There are times when I try to calmly ask him to pick them up when he gets a chance, but really I mean “do it right this very second or I will implode”.

In comes my new perspective. I save myself emotional turmoil (and a messy home), by just picking things up as they come. Why allow myself to be annoyed a second time when I notice it again? That dirty glass on the nightstand with the residue of dissolvable vitamins? He won’t be using it again; I may as well let it soak in the sink. The socks that somehow missed the laundry basket by 8 inches? I put them in there myself. You might think that this is enabling, but I see it as living peaceably. My blood pressure isn’t raising, and I’m not about to boil over in rage and yell at my husband. Phew!

Everyday isn’t like this. Dave can be super helpful, and when I know he isn’t extremely busy, I’ll ask him for help. This is just something I realized I have been doing lately, and it’s working for me, for us.

Deodorant you could eat

Though you could eat it, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s kind of salty.

I’ve been making this recipe for a couple of years; it’s so simple. When a friend of mine mentioned to me she was making it, I scoured the internet for advice and a recipe. I couldn’t believe that I already had everything on hand. You may have heard of it before too, but have you tried it? If you feel kind of iffy about deodorants containing aluminum, or if you have struggled with smelly sweatiness, or if you just want to do something good for yourself, keep reading!

I could tell you a lot of icky details about how I have always been prone to sweating easily. Oh, but let’s not! I can’t begin to count all of the different kinds of deodorants I used growing up trying to remedy the problem, and then when those super strong, extra aluminum ones came out that work by clogging your pores the night before, I tried those too. Apart from feeling badly about putting my body through that for so long, and  the possibility of filling my blood stream with aluminum, none of them worked for me.

Now I’ll be honest, it took a couple of weeks when I started using this for my body to “detox”, so to speak, and get used to this. But it has been thanking me ever since. Please note that this is not an antiperspirant. It works by neutralizing the smell of perspiration, and  because the essential oils are antimicrobial, limiting the growth of bacteria that actually causes the smell.

Coconut Oil Deodorant

1/4 cup Arrowroot powder
1/4 cup Baking soda
about 4 Tbs Coconut oil
10 drops of essential oil

Method
Stir together arrowroot powder and baking soda. Using a fork, stir in oils one tablespoon at a time. When you’ve reached a frosting-like consistency, you are done. Transfer it to a clean container with a lid.

To apply, scoop a small amount with your fingertips, hold it against your skin for a couple of seconds, and massage into underarms as it begins to melt with your body temperature.

Coconut oil is very sensitive to temperature so my deodorant changes consistency depending on the season and the temperature in our apartment. If it liquifies, you can place it in the refrigerator for a little bit, and stir it again.

HAPPY FRIDAY FRIENDS!

This little gem was Dave’s gift to me for V-day. I really wasn’t expecting anything, so it couldn’t have been a better surprise. For those of you who don’t yet know me very well, I am kind of crazy for plant life! Think of me as a crazy cat lady, but with green growing things all around instead. I blame it on my cousin Stuart; in high school, we used to take midnight trips to Walmart to see what plants we could rescue :) We’ll be enjoying the gift I got for Dave next weekend. Looking forward to it!

MY WEEKLY OBSESSION: HOMEMADE YOGURT

Oh, yogurt! I hadn’t had yogurt in years, and it definitely wasn’t because I didn’t like it. Last summer after some prayer from friends, I was trying out foods that previously made me sick, and I discovered I could eat yogurt again! We began eating quite a bit of it around here, and I knew there had to be a more affordable way for me to consume the luscious Greek yogurt I loved so much. And there is :)

As promised, here is my method for making (Greek) yogurt. If you make yogurt yourself or decide to give it a try, I would love to hear about your experience.

The basics
Essentially, you need to bring your milk to 185° to kill any bacteria currently lingering in your milk. Then, bring the milk to a temperature no greater than 110° (the yogurt enzymes die at about 118°) so you can add you yogurt starter. Let it incubate for 6-12 hours, and voila! Yogurt!

Tips
I use what I believe is the highest quality milk available to me; I recommend you do the same. Do not use a milk that has been “ultra-pasteurized”. The milk I buy is non-homogenized and vat pasteurized. In terms of pasteurization, this is the least damaging kind. It is heated slower and longer than standard pasteurization. This milk also comes with cream on top which I include when making yogurt. If you don’t have milk that comes with cream, you could add a couple cups of heavy cream you purchase separately if you want it to be nice and thick.

A higher fat milk will produce a thicker and richer yogurt, though you can still make it with skim. I also strain my yogurt so it will be extra thick like Greek yogurt. You can also use raw milk (though, unless you “buy the cow” or already own some, you cannot get it legally in Iowa). If you do, you may find that your yogurt is somewhat runny or may degrade over time. This is because all of the enzymes and nutrients already living in the raw milk want to take over and not leave enough room for your yogurt bacteria to reproduce. Still, if you have access to raw milk, use it! You may need to use fresh starter after so many batches or work out a few kinks along the way. This is a great tutorial on yogurt making using raw milk.

The fresher your yogurt starter, the better. When you make your first batch, you’ll need to buy some starter (or get some from a kind friend). This can be a specific dry yogurt starter or just some yogurt you can buy from the store. Once you are making your own yogurt, just reserve some from your last batch to use in your next.

If you aren’t making yogurt every 7-10 days, you may want to purchase fresh starter.

Method
First, you need to bring your milk to 185°. This will kill any existing bacteria in your milk to leave plenty of room for the yogurt bacteria you’re going to introduce. I do this by slowly heating my milk and cream in a large stock pot on my stove, stirring frequently. Set to high, you could achieve this in about 3 hours in your crock pot as well.

Next, place the stock pot in an ice bath in the sink and continue stirring. This prevents the milk from getting a skin. You want to bring the milk to 110°. This only takes about 10 minutes. If you are using a cast iron stock pot or a dutch oven, you’ll want to pour it into a different pot in the sink. The temperature change will otherwise cause the cast iron to crack.

While the milk is cooling,  turn on your oven light. Alternatively, if your oven can be set at a trusty 110° (without overheating after several hours), you can simply turn it on.

At this point you are ready to add your yogurt starter. The general rule is a couple of tablespoons per quart of milk. Too much starter is actually detrimental to the process since all the bacteria can become too crowded. I use about 1/4 or a 1/3 of a cup for 1 gallon of milk and cream. In a separate bowl, add a couple of ladles of your warmed milk to your starter, and whisk gently to temper. Add it to the rest of your milk. Remember you are working with live organisms! Don’t stir too briskly.

Now, you have a couple of options. I like to use my oven. Adjust oven rack so it is low enough for your stock pot with it’s lid on to fit. If you are working with your oven “on”, make sure it hasn’t gotten too hot. Then place the stock pot in the oven with the light on and allow it to incubate anywhere from 6-12 hours. The longer it incubates the tangier it will be. Less time equals less tangy yogurt. Your choice. I usually start it in the evening and allow it to incubate over night so I don’t have to be bummed about not having a free oven.

Instead of the oven method, you could also put your yogurt mixture in jars, and then place them in a cooler to stay insulated. I have also kept them warm in a water bath on the stove or in a crock pot. Many people have dehydrators they choose to use. Again, your choice. Anything that you can ensure will keep the right temperature will work. I like to use my oven because it is already there taking up space, and with only the light, I don’t have to worry about it getting too hot and killing my yogurt.

After incubation you will have yogurt! If you want regular yogurt, you are done! Put it in storage containers and refrigerate.

Since we like it oh, so thick, I ladle/pour it into a colander lined with a tea towel or sometimes t-shirt material, and allow it to drain over a bowl. (You could also use fine cheesecloth, and I have heard of others who have used coffee filters.) It can drain at room temperature, but I like to put it in the refrigerator. The batch you see drained for 9 hours, but the time is really dependent on how thick you want it. If the yogurt turns out thicker than you like, you can simply stir some of the whey back in.

In terms of yogurt, the whey is waste, but you can use it to soak grains, mixing it into soups, or fermenting kimchi. You can even use it in breads.

Well, that’s it my friends! Let’s fall in love with the process. Be it yogurt making or other homemade goodness, let’s celebrate creating with our hands.

 

Bathing beauty

Hello friends! While Dave and I don’t do much for holidays, he did pick up this shower curtain for me I had been considering. What do you think? When we were creating our wedding registry a few years ago, I decided I wanted gray and yellow for our bathroom. I still really like this idea, but other than our towels, there hasn’t been any specific pattern or color. I haven’t been able to decide on a shower curtain in almost 2 1/2 years! I can’t even tell you how many I have purchased and hung up. I’m still not certain this is it. I really like the pattern, but I wish it didn’t have the “band” across the top. It would look much more modern without it. I  considered just hacking that part off, but I then I wouldn’t like the length. Or, I could do that but also add a block of color to the bottom. Hmm.
Think I should keep it?

 

FINALLY, CHEDDER CHEESE CRACKERS

It is somewhat embarrassing that I have had this amazing cookbook from my sister-in-law since Christmas, and it isn’t until now that I am breaking it out! Finally. There are so many recipes I am looking forward to trying, but I knew this needed to come first. In fact, I had a cheddar cheese cracker recipe bookmarked on my old computer since before I could eat cheese :)

These are so good.

I love them as prepared, but I would recommend cutting the peppers a good bit if you plan to serve them to younger children. They have just a bit of heat on the back-end. I don’t do much spicy food, so you know it isn’t that much. It is enough for Dave to stop after only a few crackers (a good thing), and he really doesn’t do spicy.

Enjoy!

Cheddar Cheese Crackers
Adapted from Tartine

Makes approximately 80 1 inch x 1 inch crackers

3/4 Cup All-purpose flour
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp Black pepper
2 1/3 Cups Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 Cup Unsalted butter, at room temperature

Method
Whisk together flour, salt, and peppers in small bowl. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat cheese and butter until combined. Add dry ingredients, and beat slowly until combined. Feel free to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Form dough into a ball and then into a disk. Layer between two pieces of plastic wrap, and roll out to flatten. This step means less rolling later when the dough is cold and much harder. Next, place dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Any longer and it will make rolling it out difficult. Just let it warm up a bit at room temperature if needed.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

The dough needs to stay cold. If you’re making a double batch, I suggest cutting off a workable portion and placing the rest back into the refrigerator. Roll out dough to about 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch thick. Slice it into 1 x 1 inch squares, rectangles, or however you prefer. Add them to baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Use a skewer to pierce the center of each square.

Bake the crackers until the edges begin to golden, 15-18 minutes. Keep in mind this depends on the size and thickness of your crackers. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store crackers in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Feel free to experiment with different cheeses, but steer away from any very soft or very hard cheeses.

KILLING THE LION

I can’t help but post this. This is the message from this past Sunday. Maybe it was because it had been six weeks since I had heard a sermon in “adult church”, or maybe it was because it was really that powerful, but this was so penetrating. I’ve mentioned to a few people that I was so close to jumping up and giving a standing ovation while my friend and pastor was still speaking.

If you love Jesus, give it a listen. And if you don’t, you just might end up loving Him.

Peace,

Mariah

WEDNESDAY

Oh, Wednesday, you were good to me. I had projects strewn about the apartment, probably one in every room. I managed to finish hemming a pair of jeans, complete the meal planning and grocery shopping for the next week, make raw tacos for lunch, prep strata for this morning (currently in the oven), and make apple enchiladas. The enchiladas need some work, but they are still pretty tasty. I still have yet to finish a knitting project I hope to share with you and type up some of our favorite recipes. When I’ve used a recipe multiple times and know we love it, I type it up and keep it in a separate book full of my go-to recipes. Hopefully I’ll finish updating that today.

I try to do our meal planning and grocery shopping on Wednesdays because you get 10% off all of the “Health Market” food at our local HyVee so why would you pay more any other day? Right now most of our groceries come from there, a local place where I buy eggs and meats (or anything I need in a pinch because its merely blocks from our home), a very occasional trip to Walmart for toiletries, etc., and an even more occasional trip to Trader Joes (because I consider it “far away”). Is this normal? On a day that I have to go to all four, oy, I can barely get myself out of the house. To avoid going to Walmart yesterday, I bought toilet paper at HyVee knowing full well it was more expensive. If this were Twitter, you might see #firstworldproblems somewhere following that sentence.

What does everyone else do? Are you shopping around for the best deals/quality or do you just scoop it up all in one place?

And it’s strata time! I can smell it; oh the glory!