Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rain catching

I had this wonderful ideas that I would buy a rain barrel, but I do not have gutters so filling up this 50 gallon bucket is not an easy task!

I love my collapsible rain barrel because I live in an apartment and I rent so it is a lot easier to travel. I also love how the top of it is so big so I can catch more rain. That was the main selling point. You can build your own. But you have to find a large barrel first. If you find one let me know I want to make a compost bin in one.

This publication gives the most info about rain barrels!
I put these guys on the front porch to catch more water. I need more buckets are gutters. Then as they fill I run them to the rain barrel on the back deck. I'm only half full now. Hopefully I'll get a few more good rains before summer.
My new window herb garden loves my rain water! I found this basket to put them in at Hot Line. They look so good. They taste wonderful too. I have dill, time, oregano, and lavender in this window sill. It smells so good over there.

I keep a little rain water inside so that I always remember to water my house plants with it too. It also gives me a good use for all the half gallon jars I found in the old house. They are no longer safe for canning and I am not sure where I would find a canner big enough to put them in. I know I will never make that much juice! As you saw from how I made jelly making juice is hard. 

These guys like the rain water too! Its only May and look how big my tomato plants are. The pepper plant is working on it. I think it just takes longer for them to grow. 

My rose bush is finally growing! I had two in there but i successfully killed the one that was on the left side. Poor thing. Hopefully I will have a huge rose bush growing over the side of the railing soon. Or maybe that is wishful thinking for this year. 

Yogurt making

I don't know where these wild ideas come from! I think I was reading a blog about urban homesteading or something like that and I saw them making their own yogurt and I eat yogurt everyday. So clearly I should try to make my own yogurt. I tried in the oven first because that is cheapest, but I had to leave my oven at 110 degrees all night. It made me a little nervous and then my yogurt was very runny and i did not add any sugar so it was super tart. It was still good with granola and honey. If milk freaks you out you should not do this because you do have to boil the milk. And it's not too pretty.

Then I bought this nifty thing. It incubates my yogurt and has a timer that shuts off after you have set it for the right time based on the milk fat content. Usually 8 hours, but last time I did 10 and it was really tart. The yogurt maker came with these cute little glass jars. You can put the expiration date on the top of them. Homemade yogurt is only good for 19 days.

I take 42oz of milk which fills all my containers. I bring the milk to 120 degrees in a double boiler and add about 3/4 a cup of powdered milk. Then I bring the milk to a boil for 1 to 2 minutes. That is 180 degrees if you use a thermometer. The milk needs to climb the sides. Then I let it cool to 120 and you can add sugar or honey, but only a little like 5 tablespoons or so. But I usually wait until I am going to eat it to sweeten it. Once the milk has cooled to 110 degrees I add my starter; which can be plain sugar free yogurt or freez dried yogurt culture. If the milk it too hot the bacteria in the yogurt will die and yogurt cannot form. Then you have to incubate the yogurt. However you would like to keep the yogurt between 108 and 112 degrees. Yogurt temperature should not drop below 100 degrees.

Once the incubation process is over I let it rest for at least 3 hours before I eat it. And hot yogurt is not very good.

It's pretty easy! No preservatives, added sugar or artificial flavorings. I actually use my jam to flavor the yogurt. It is really good and totally homemade.

Yogurt puls homemade granola.