Things are getting very festive here. Yesterday, after my 8K run (smug), I was up at the church to help decorate for Christmas. Everyone brings greenery from their gardens and dumps it in a huge pile in the church foyer. I help every year, it’s a great opportunity to share and catch up with the people. We had home made rock cakes, tea and a plenty of time to chat. I made a giant wreath for the pulpit (didn’t take my camera or even phone – sorry).
There was lots of variegated holly left over so I brought some home to re-style my coat hanger autumn wreath. I pulled all the leaves off my coat hanger and proceeded to wire my holly on. It was a right fiddle and my hands got stabbed to bits! It’s really a bit too early for decorating (in my book) but the opportunity arose. That’s another job off my list then. Tonight the Christmas lights go on in the village so it’s all systems go.
I’m still on a health kick here and eating lots of natural yoghurt. Now, I know it’s relatively cheap to buy but I hate all the plastic that gets chucked out when the yoghurt is finished. My Mum used to make yoghurt but had one of those plug in yoghurt makers – it was jettisoned when she downsized. A friend told me she uses her AGA to make yoghurt. I don’t have an AGA but we have a cast iron gas stove in our kitchen which is permanently kept warm by the pilot light so I thought I’d have a go.
Well, I made a litre (1 quart USA) – easy peasy – my wee man has eaten most of it in two days – his current snack of choice. I was able to re-use a plastic 1-litre ice cream tub to store it in so that made me feel better about reducing waste too.
Here’s ALL you need:
- 60ml (4 tbsp or 1/4 cup USA) of LIVE yoghurt (my small Yeo Valley one cost 50p).
- 1 litre (4 US cups) milk (I used semi-skimmed/2% USA).
What you DO:
- Heat the milk SLOWLY in a heavy bottomed pan (I used my Le Creuset). Stir so it doesn’t scorch.
- When it reaches 200F or 90C (just before boiling) take it off the heat and let cool to 90F or 45C (cool enough to keep your little finger in).
- Take out a little milk and mix it with the yoghurt. Then add the mix back into the pan and stir. Keep the pan in a warm place. I put the lid on and a tea cosy over the pan and left it on my warm stove for a few hours and it magically turned into 1 litre yoghurt. You could also use a Thermos flask or just wrap the pan in lots of insulating padding and leave overnight – it just takes longer if it’s not as warm.
- Save 60ml of yoghurt from this batch to use as a starter for the next batch so don’t eat every last bit!
My wee man enjoyed helping me make the yoghurt especially watching the thermometer for me. This probably explained why he is wanting to eat it three or four times a day! He says things like “I can taste the honey” and “I can taste the strawberries.” You will not buy shop yoghurt again.
So far, we have sweetened the yoghurt with honey (from the local honey farm) and then added sunflower seeds, raisins, rhubarb from the garden and chopped up Scottish strawberries – not all at the same time. We have also made lots of raiita dip by adding chopped cucumber and a pinch of cumin and/or fresh mint. The possibilities are endless and of course you can use yoghurt in lots of baking recipes, such as my carrot cake and my Irish soda farls. Let me know if you make some – or can suggest other things to add to it.
Just a quicki ‘cos I’m up to my arms in flour – baking and making – only the trifle left to go – Madeira cake, tinned strawberries and blackberries, port (got no sherry so improvising), home made egg custard and double cream and ameretti biscuits on top – My Mum’s recipe and it’ll all go in her lovely trifle bowl. Up very late last night wrapping gifts between midnight and 3 am! It’s been raining here for five days but at least we’re not under water like many fellow Brits. The last thing on my long list is “relax and enjoy” and I’m looking forward to that bit.
Here’s my wreath, it’s made from Coke and Diet Coke cans and Christmas tree trimmings wired to a circle of foam cut from roof insulation – total cost zero. I use the same foam ring every year and the insulation was left over from our building work. The decorations are just hooked on with traditional Christmas tree hooks – some did blow away yesterday and had to be replaced but it was a tad breezy. Have a wonderful time this Christmas and “see” you all in the New Year.