Category: erin is …

Yo, yo, yogurt! (Argh.)

Don’t worry … I’m not going to ruin my reputation as Less Than Perfect Homemaker over here. I wouldn’t want to shatter any illusions!

Oh sure, I’m going to share my homemade yogurt recipe. You know, the one that gives you delicious yogurt in the crock pot and you pay $4 for a half gallon of organic milk and get four times the amount of organic yogurt in those little tubes? Or something like that. I’m bored with the math piece of it.

All I know is: my kids like yogurt. I like them to have yogurt. I like them to have yogurt without lots of additives. This is WAY cheaper than buying it.

So – yogurt recipe.

Lovely shot of my yogurt set-up:

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Beautiful staged shot of the finished product with some delicious homemade pumpkin granola. Mmmm.

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I was talking with a friend at church the other day about the beautifully staged blog pictures … after all, any photographer knows the secret is in the cropping. So let’s rotate to the right and left of my pretty yogurt bowl.

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Ah yes … spices, towels, recipes, a tea kettle, and generic Nutella shoved to the left. Cooking spray, the morning’s pancakes, tea pot, and other assorted mess to the right.

That yogurt still tastes really good, though.

One more tip for the yogurt: I use the Infantino Squeeze Station to make yogurt pouches for the kids, especially for Jude. (No product sponsoring or linking or endorsing … I just bought the Squeeze Station and use it with variable success.)

The last time I made the yogurt, I thawed and pureed some frozen berries, sprinkled a little bit of stevia in with it, and mixed some of it into the yogurt. These made pretty little yogurt pouches that Jude LOVED. (Turns out Nora likes this yogurt plain and Seth just doesn’t want it.) Pretty little yogurt pouches ready for going to daycare or in the diaper bag for lunch/snack out on the town.

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Oh, and I also made a huge mess. (More non-staged photos with the iPhone!)

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So if you’d like to do your yogurt in pouches, here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Gravity can be the easiest way to get it in the pouch. That little plunger creates some mighty suction and will pull the yogurt right back out of the pouch.
  • Have your next three pouches already laid out before you start removing the newly-filled three. That way you can slide them in and get the leftover draining into the new pouch.
  • Have the caps out before you take the pouch off the station. That big puddle is from a pouch I laid down so I could grab the caps. Yogurt is runny, and in other news: I’m a genius.
  • I REALLY like having one of those flexible cutting boards under the Squeeze Station. It makes clean-up a lot easier!

There you have it. The messy, non-foolproof way to make organic yogurt at home and put it in squeezy pouches. Seriously though, this made 15 pouches, 2 bowls, and one extra container that’s anywhere from 2-4 cups of yogurt.

And a mess. Did I mention the mess?

And the winner is …

This was CLOSE!

It came down to 5 votes, and I double-checked weighting of donor votes.

The dalmatians and cats were distracted and never left the starting line.

Alice and Belle must be lost in a library somewhere after garnering their 4 and 5 votes.

Eeyore moseyed after his tail and found 21 votes instead – a surprisingly good showing for my favorite mopey little guy!

The winner, though, was her royal highness Princess Sofia the First!

Nora is going to be SO excited. I am going to start looking around for various costume elements in the spirit of what’s in this image … and talking with Lesley about the tutu for my race!

The voting may be over, but you can still donate! You may want to consider one of my teammates, too … let me know if you’d like more info!

Sofia in First?
Sofia in First? by dormousie featuring pave jewelry

One more day of voting!

Once a month … phew.

Last Saturday I did something I’ve always wanted to really try but have been completely intimidated by: “once a month” cooking or freezer meals or mass cooking or “smell like onions the rest of the weekend” … whatever you’d like to call it.

The idea is that you spend a couple of days devoted to grocery shopping, ingredient prep, and cooking, and then you have a freezer full of meals at your fingertips. It’s certainly an appealing concept when everyone is rushing around and there’s a constant cry of “What’s for dinner?!” It would also be useful for planning purposes so that you can’t default to Pei Wei or Chick-fil-a or whatever your own personal “easy-outs” are for dinner.

I’ve been using Plan to Eat to map out what we’ll have for dinner. (That is affiliate link – I believe in them enough to share them!) I spend about 30 minutes every so often and fill up 1-2 months of dinners at a time. I leave at least one blank day every week for leftovers or Chick-fil-a (let’s be real). PTE lets you build a shopping list for the week, month, whatever.

But let’s be real again — half the time we don’t do the shopping according to the menu plan. Half the time we don’t even have what’s on the menu that night because something else has come up or we realize at 5 pm that it was a slow cooker meal day. (Oops.)

What this DOES help us with is the most annoying question of the day: “What’s for dinner?”  No matter what, there’s something on the calendar. It has helped me get a little more accustomed to buying certain ingredients, so we can almost always make either that day’s meal or another meal from that week.

The once a month takes it even farther — stock the freezer full of meals, have a list of what’s available, and “shop” from the freezer to feed yourselves. It’s a great idea and really useful, but it does have its kinks to work out for each person. Some of the things I’ve learned from this first time out:

  1. If you’re cooking with friends, do one menu per cooking location. Competing recipes really eat up the available cooking and prep space. It’s also easier to share out the shopping, prep, and cooking duties if you’re only working on one menu, in case someone needs to bow out suddenly. (Like for family illness in our group.)
  2. Do what they say and shop, prep, and cook on different days! That is a LOT of food.
  3. Food processor. Amen.
  4. On this particular site we used, you can adjust the servings. I adjusted from a standard 4 servings to 6 servings. I think next time I’ll just adjust in multiples of 4. The recipes adjusted okay for portions, but not for dividing out in freezer bags, etc. I was supposed to end up with 2 meals of each recipe for 6 people. Instead, I ended up with 3 portions of meals … 2×6 = 12 and 3×4=12, and I think it didn’t quite work out as intended.
  5. Prepare to smell like onions for days.
  6. Read the recipe all the way through before throwing in a bag.
  7. If you’re printing double-sided to save paper, you may want to just do one recipe per double-sided. The way I printed (from my iPad), the recipes blended together and I’m pretty sure I read instructions wrong on at least one recipe.
  8. Put ice packs in your cooler when you’re loading up at someone else’s house … the idea of my newly combined bags of chicken sitting for hours without refrigeration freaked me out.
  9. Clear out your freezer to have room!

It’s a pretty good system, but WOW is it a lot of food and work. We’re still reaping the benefits, though, so I’m definitely going to do it again! Just maybe not EVERY month …

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