A Fall Shawl

Another month, another project for the prayer shawl ministry — this time a shawl (since we somewhat over supplied ourselves with baby blankets) in some pretty fall colours:

It felt like I was making this one forever, probably because I was putting it down for long swaths of time in between bursts of crocheting. It’s harder to want to have a project like this on my lap now that the weather is heating up!

For this shawl, I just did a very simple double crochet all the way across. The yarn was two skeins of Lion Brand Homespun and I think the colourway is Wildfire (I forgot to keep a wrapper… as usual). I used an N (9mm) hook which kept it nice and airy and helped it to work up relatively quickly.

I don’t think I would work with Homespun again. I like the way that it looks when it’s finished but it’s a pain to work with as it splits very easily and frays at the ends. Definitely not my favourite.

I do love the self-striping action, however. This picture (under fluorescent light) isn’t the greatest in terms of showing the actual colours — it’s darker, as you can see in the first picture which was taken beside a window — but it does show the stripes. I’ll award a point to Homespun on that account! (Probably still not enough points to use it again, though.)

It’s aliiiiiiiiive!

… the yogurt, I mean. I made yogurt. This is exciting to me.

A while ago I found a second-hand breadmaker for sale on Nextdoor, and I’ve been making all of the bread we eat. I bake 2-3 loaves every week, depending a bit on the size they come out and who’s home for which meals. But we’ve stopped buying bread at the store entirely, and even accounting for the cost of ingredients this change will save us about $175/year. It’s not break-the-bank money, but it’s nothing to be sneezed at, either! Little changes like this add up, after all. But it got me wondering: what else could I be making for cheaper than I can buy?

Enter this recipe from The Daring Gourmet for homemade yogurt. My mother made yogurt for a time when I was a teenager, but her method involved leaving the milk and starter in the oven overnight, to be kept warm by the pilot light. Since moving out I’ve always lived in apartments with electric ovens, and so making yogurt never even crossed my mind. But this recipe uses something I do have: a slow cooker.

As it turns out, making yogurt is pretty darn easy. You simply fill your crockpot with milk (mine holds about 3/4 of a gallon) and heat it up to 180 degrees F. Using milk straight from the fridge, that took about three hours for me. Then you turn it off and let it cool down to 110 degrees — that took another two, two and a half hours. At this point you should also get your starter yogurt out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.

When everything’s sitting nicely at 110, you take a little of the hot milk and add it to your starter, just to temper it before everything goes back into the slow cooker. Stir the starter in very gently, then put the lid back on and wrap it all up for a cozy night in a bath towel:

That sign was for me as much as anyone else. I couldn’t wait to see how/if it would turn out!

In the morning, I unwrapped the towel, lifted the lid, and voila: yogurt. So  easy! So cheap! So yummy! We ate some of it straightaway for breakfast, and then I set the rest to strain through cheesecloth for a few hours to thicken it up a bit.

And here’s the result: somewhat more than a litre of yogurt (besides what we already ate), 18 oz or so of whey (which I can use instead of water in the bread I make for an extra protein punch), and a small container set aside to act as starter for the next batch. Perfect. And the best part is that assuming I make this once a week, we’ll be saving about $200/year just on our yogurt costs. If it lasts us more than a week we’ll be saving even more. Like I said: the little things add up.

Happy yogurt!

Recipe: Banana Muffins

Banana muffins

We like banana muffins in this house (I meant to take a picture of the whole pile, but we started eating them instead!). This recipe makes a dense, not-too-sweet muffin that’s full of banana flavour. Optional add-ins are cinnamon or chocolate chips.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mash bananas in a mixing bowl. Add butter; stir until combined. Add sugar, egg, and vanilla and mix well.

Sprinkle baking soda and salt over batter and mix in. Add the flour and stir until combined.

Pour into greased muffin tins — this recipe usually nets me about 16 muffins.  Bake 20-25 minutes, until done.