Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Homemade Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt




Our darling Dreamer has been suffering with an infection for about 2 weeks. She didn't react well to the strong antibiotic that was necessary to kick the infection to the curb, so she's been really exhausted and just not her sweet self for days. She's doing so much better now, and we are truly thankful.  
She heads to the doctor tomorrow for a re-check, but I think she is all better.

What does that have to do with yogurt? Well, whenever anyone in our home is on an antibiotic, 
we push yogurt and lots of it.  
Prayer, fluids, rest, yogurt and lots of love 
- it seems to work.
I try not to buy the sweet, fancy dessert type of yogurt, but the good active culture-rich yogurt.
I prefer organic if we can find it - and afford it.
 

I have made homemade yogurt in the past. Not super successfully, but it all got used up one way or another! It wasn't our family's favorite, but it was great to top fresh fruit, mix with granola, make smoothies or bake with. Then I found this great simple yogurt making tutorial by Kristen at The Frugal Girl. She does a fabulous job of explaining the basic yogurt making process, and she breaks down the cost comparison like nobody's business in Sweating the small stuff. I couldn't possibly do a better job of showing you how to make yogurt and I followed her instructions to the 't', so please visit Kristen and learn the basic process from her if you don't already make yogurt from scratch. I promise it's super simple. Painless, really.

With Dreamer still on nasty meds to fight this lingering infection, we were all out of yogurt. Again. I had coupons and the Yoplait Whips were on sale, so we did get a few of those to fill the gap, but I consider those the 'dessert' yogurts despite the fact that they claim to have live and active cultures. I think all of the sugar and dye negates the cultures, but what do I know?  The organic yogurt was not on sale - and the kind she really likes was $1.30 per serving. Yikes!



 I decided to experiment and use homemade yogurt to make my own version of fruit on the bottom yogurt because that's what everyone loves best. When I saw the managers special sticker on a gallon of organic whole milk, it sealed the deal. $2.60! I actually only made 1/2 the gallon into yogurt because Storyteller loves loves loves whole milk and wanted the rest of the gallon for a 'treat'. 
Spring training you know.




To each 4 cup jar of thickened yogurt made with organic whole milk I added 3 tablespoons of raw liquid honey and 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.  I stirred and stirred until the honey dissolved and the vanilla was evenly distributed. It got a nice vanilla-y color which made me strangely happy.

For the fruit on the bottom layer I made my Saturday Morning Compote (the recipe is at the end of this post).  It was still steaming hot when I spooned it into the 1/2 cup jelly jars.


 At first I didn't think about letting it cool before adding the yogurt, but I soon realized that it would not be fruit on the bottom if I wasn't just a smidgen more patient!


This would be 'fruit floating to the top' yogurt.
Certainly not the end of the world, but not what I was going for, so I waited a bit before proceeding.


Still a bit of floating fruit, but better overall, I think.
After all, I am a Mama, not a machine!
By this time Storyteller was in the kitchen 
asking when it will be ready.  
He's already asked for an early wake up call so that he can be the first to taste test.


The bottom is the hot fruit mixture, the top is what it looks like when the 
Mama is patient enough to wait for it to cool! 


I was mostly impatient ...

I have 20 1/2 cup almost all organic fruit on the bottom vanilla yogurts waiting patiently in the fridge for hungry children to consume. It cost about $6.15 to make the whole batch and I still have 4 cups of plain vanilla yogurt left.  If we hate it, I'll throw it in the blender with ice and more frozen fruit and honey and call it a smoothie. It will not go to waste!  I suppose I could have gone lighter on the fruit and made 30 fruit on the bottom yogurt cups, but I was getting tired - and the fruit is the best part, right?

Costs:
organic whole milk $2.60 per gallon (manager's special) - I used 1/2, but still have 4 cups of plain yogurt
plain yogurt starter $1.30
organic sugar $.20
frozen fruit $3
honey $1
Each yogurt serving $.30
Did I really just save $20 with 30 minutes of  'work'?
Yeah!

Saturday Morning Compote
 1 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 cup mixed frozen fruit
Mix sugar and corn starch in saucepan until combined. Whisk in water and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat whisking gently as the mixture heats. Add frozen fruit and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute stirring constantly until the juices are thickened and are no longer cloudy.
Serve over pancakes, waffles or french toast.
Enjoy! 

P.S. If you like the idea of using mason jars to make individual servings neat and attractive like I do, you'll love all of the great ideas Robin Sue has at Big Red Kitchen!  Follow this link to find all of her great inspiring posts on Mason Jar Meals.

Enjoy!

Edited: We love this yogurt recipe!  
If I were going to change anything, I would reduce the compote to yogurt ratio from 1:1 to 1:2, but other than that it is delish! In fact, it may be a bit too yummy since there are only 12 left!


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Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday's Sermon Notes


On Monday mornings I often try to think over our Sunday sermon and work to apply the things I've learned throughout the week.  Some weeks are more successful than others.  I do better at remembering the message if I write notes during the message, but even if we just talk about the message on the way home in the car, more of it 'sticks' in this overloaded brain of mine. I am thankful for the 30 minute drive to home from church because it often gives us time for good discussion - and because the children know that they will be asked specific questions, they tend to listen better. 

This weekend we were blessed by the ministry of Dr. Richard Angwin from St. Petersburg, Florida.  We did a lot of laughing and a lot of 'cringing' as we saw ourselves in the message. During the Sunday School hour he introduced us to his Biblical clinical counseling ministry and talked about how he is able to help using the unique gifts and education God has allowed him. He took us to Ephesians 5:21 ff and reminded us of God's incredible design for a mutually satisfying marriage relationship. We had a good laugh when he told us that the women were given just three verses because God knew that's all they needed to 'get it'. The men were reminded of their roles as savior, sanctifier, nourisher and cherisher.

In the morning service he encouraged us with the story in Mark 5 of the demon possessed man who was healed by Jesus when He cast the demons from the man into a herd of swine. I'd never thought of that as a particularly encouraging message, but Dr. Angwin challenged us to see in that snarling, dangerous, angry wild man the need for Jesus.  I was surprised to see (though I've read it many  times before) that even with the demon fully in charge of the man, he fell on his face in worship Jesus - before he was healed and restored. Dr. Angwin challenged us to never give up witnessing to the friends and family who many snarl and lash out angrily at us because just like the demon possessed man, they are searching for God.  Who are we to give up on the difficult people in our lives when God is still working to draw them to Himself? We have no right to give up on someone Christ died for.

The evening service brought us to the topic of fixing a broken marriage, but I think even those with a good marriage relationship benefited from the points he made.
1. Commitment
If both the husband and wife are committed to saving the marriage it is more likely that the relationship will be salvaged. Even if the motive for saving the marriage is poor or self-serving, just having that desire increases the marriages chances for survival.
2. Identify and Share 
If the husband and wife are willing to delineate and share the things that they are doing to destroy their love for one another in an honest and open manner they increase the chances for their marriages survival.  If a spouse feels that they cannot share their bad thoughts, they will also withhold their good thoughts from their spouse. Dr. Angwin talked about the importance of romantic love to a healthy marriage relationship and how our habits of hurting one another break that love down.
3. Do the work
Stop doing the ungodly things that you are doing to break down the marriage. Never mistreat, lecture, disrespect or intentionally hurt one another. Treating one another with care and respect. This requires a change in habit - either we change the way we think or we change the way we behave - either one will produce results. Learn to deal with anger in a proper way or that anger will turn inward cause self destruction and depression.
4. Start re-building
Find out what you need the most from one another and  consistently meet those needs. Generally men need recreational companionship, an attractive spouse and their wife's admiration. The man's strongest need it to be the hero - they need success and someone to recognize their efforts.  Without affirmation men dry up. Women need caring, loving and affirmation. They desire conversation, honesty and need to be cherished.

There was a 5th point that I didn't quite get, but I wanted to remember the points I did - so here they are! I just wanted to better grasp the things that touched my heart yesterday, so I thought if I took a moment and typed them out it would help a few thoughts stick in the sieve that is my brain!

 I'd love to know if there was one thought or Scripture passage that encouraged or challenged you from your pastor's sermon yesterday!




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Friday, March 23, 2012

Juggling

Fall Ball 2011

I've never been good at juggling.  
 
I never put the time in to learn the skill proficiently enough to enjoy doing it.
If the truth be told, I could probably practice for 1000 hours and still not get it
 - I am just not coordinated!
 
This morning in my prayer time I was thinking about all of the 'balls' I have in the air right now.
I was asking the Lord for the strength to handle them all, and for wisdom to know which ones to drop.
 
 
 Baseball season begins on Monday.
I'm totally unprepared.
 
I thought since I started so early, my spring cleaning would be complete ... but it isn't.
 
I hoped to have a dozen or more meals in the freezer ready for the crazy nights ... but I don't.
 
I wanted to have a start on some spring painting projects ... but I haven't.
 
I was praying that a strained friendship would be on the way to healing ... but it's far from it.
 
A big giant 'ball' is hurling our way and I just have a feeling that my juggling skills 
will either vastly improve,
or I'll drop every last ball! 
Watch out below!

I never thought I'd be a 'baseball mom' - but here we are.
Our boy thrives on sports of all sorts, but particularly baseball.
 
Success in baseball has translated into success in school in ways I never imagined possible.
There are a lot of life lessons learned out there on the field.
Many opportunities for character refinement.
What he lacks in skill, he makes up for with hard work and enthusiasm.
They see.
Coaches comment.
The dugout is a tiny mission field for a boy who loves the Lord and the Word.
The bench is a place to exercise compassion 
and learn to extend words of encouragement.
 
We're praying for Storyteller's coach and for our testimony to be a solid witness of 
a Christian family walking circumspectly in this world.

March 
has been
some pain and discomfort, 
a grand surprise at the door,
intense school work for Storyteller,
too many sniffles and colds,
a great lack of energy, 
far warmer than usual,
basketball weekends,
the AWANA Grand Prix,
a lingering infection for Dreamer,
and all just a little better now.

I have so very much to be thankful for - even baseball season!

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

AWANA Grand Prix 2012

We had such a great time at our AWANA Grand Prix this morning.
We've been working on our cars for a couple of weeks, but of course there were set backs, 
plan changes, 'oops' moments and last minute details to iron out!
Oh, and a few band-aids, and one almost emergency room visit ... ahem.
This is Storyteller's Milk Truck.
If you know our son, you know why he'd choose to make an old fashioned milk truck!
That boy loves his milk!

The Milk Truck

Dan The Milk Man
That's a milk mustache on the front of the truck!
Those are real glass bottles of 'milk' - wouldn't it be fun if milk still came in glass bottles?
We'd love to have milk delivered fresh to our door each day!
The kids always talk me into making a car if I have the time, and I actually enjoy it.
I made the 'bakery items' out of clay and painted them.
The only problem was that they were super heavy!
My car was WAY overweight, so it didn't compete in the Grand Prix.
They sent it down the track once before I reminded them that it was just for
looks and didn't qualify for the race. 

This is my Bakery Truck - well, Sally's Bakery Truck.

Sweet Stuff Bakery Truck


Sally Sweet Stuff


Dreamer's Bach-Mobile was a big hit in the teen category!  
She came in second for speed and design - but there were only 3 entries, so we're taking that into account.

The cars are on display at the church, so this is the best one I have of the Bach-Mobile! 
All of that gold writing is famous quotes from Bach about how his 
music was written to give glory to God.
It's perfect for Dreamer since she is still working daily to prepare for her Early Bach competition in April. She has 12 pieces memorized and 3 to learn and memorize - with all the sickness she has struggled with since December, we are super proud of her for sticking with this and working so hard.

Well, I promised Mum I'd try to post these so she could see our work! 

 I entered these Sandwich Swirls in a recipe contest at RecipeRiot - they are so yummy!
I used my Sweet Honey Rye and Dark Pumpernickel bread recipes, changed them up to work with Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast and made them into Sandwich thins! 
I'll be making another batch this week for sure - the kids loved them!

Another recent recipe contest entry - A Trifle Chai.
Oh my stars! 
I made a homemade butterscotch pudding, a moist hazelnut-spice cake, a batch of homemade chai apple pie filling, a hazelnut caramel sauce and topped it with a sweet /spicy mascarpone cream.
It was so good! My kind Historian thinks my trifle belongs in a 5 star restaurant.
I don't think I've ever been paid a sweeter compliment!
I do believe a really good trifle could rekindle love, settle family disputes and perhaps even end a war.
I am waiting to hear about both contests, but I really hope that I place in the top three for either one.

 Our Mini-Daffodils are over 10" tall and still delighting us with new blooms daily!
We've been plugging along with school and other activities despite an increase in my pain level lately.
I'm looking forward to getting some blood work and hopefully some answers when I go for my physical in a couple of weeks. I've been feeling like I'm kinda falling apart - one pain after another.
I am so grateful that my family picks up the slack when I'm slowed by pain,
 and that I can putter around doing what I can when I am up to it. 
We manage to get a fair amount accomplished each day and 
that's a blessing that I am so very thankful for.
I've been encouraged by this verse more than once this week
 - perhaps it is a timely reminder for you as well.

"Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth 
by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:"
Jeremiah 32:17
 

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Friday, March 9, 2012

A taste of spring!

Do you see it? 
This morning it wasn't there, but as our school day progressed our 
mini daffodils started to show us some color! Joy!
 I'm having such a hard week with pain - this little bright blessing seems like 
an extra reminder that there are better days to come.
I took a minute on Monday to throw these bulbs in an old bucket with some fine branches cut from our ornamental cherry tree. The bulbs were $.79 at Wal*Mart and really meant for out in the garden I think, but I bought them with this idea in mind.  My hope it that after the bulbs show off, the cherry branches will bud - perhaps we'll see some of their pink blossoms. 
It looks promising!
Happy {almost} Spring Friends!

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