Excited to try Zipzicles

I just made my fourth batch of yogurt and my daughter keeps asking for the pouch yogurts (the ones in the tubes). We buy the Stonyfield ones, but I’m not thrilled with the cost of them or the fact that I am not in control of the ingredients (mostly the sugar and any unknown additives). 

I just found these Zipzicles, through another blog, and I have high hopes (based on the reviews, both positive and negative) that these will help. 

It’s certainly not extremely expensive and for the potential savings I’ll give it a shot. Even if they are a one time use, they’re $0.19 a piece and with my savings on making homemade yogurt it’s still cheaper (and healthier) than buying the store made ones.

Here’s the link to amazon. I’m not affiliated with these in any way, and I’m giving them a shot. I’ll post a new post once I’ve received them and made the yogurt Popsicles. 

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Stock and more stock

For the past two years I’ve been on a “quest” to eliminate processed foods and sugar from my diet. I was surprised to find that many brands of store bought stock and broth has sugar added to it. So I started making my own from scratch. I started making it using a stock pot, but the process was too involved for me and I wanted something I could set and walk away from. Thank goodness for crockpots (and mine certainly gets used… A lot). It’s so simple too. Have bones leftover from a roasted chicken, don’t toss the carcass. I make my own roasted chicken, roughly once a month and I buy the expensive organic one, because I know I’ll be using it in my bone broth. During the month, before I make my stock/broth, I collect the leftovers from onions, celery stalks (the tops and bottoms, thoroughly washed), and peeled carrots (you know those annoying shavings you take off whole carrots, yeah those) and I save them in a ziploc bag in the freezer.

Current accumulation for next batch of bone stock

Then, when I’ve made my roast chicken (I’ll do a separate post for that and the leftover chicken pot pie too), I take the remaining carcass (I peal it clean of any meat remaining to use in my chicken pot pie with homemade crust) and put it in my crockpot, add my bag of frozen veggies (and if there isn’t enough of a particular vegetable (usually carrots) I add more of those), add water until it covers everything up to the top, and a teaspoon or so of fresh peppercorns.
  
I then set the crockpot on low for 10 hours and then set it again until it’s been cooked for at least 24 hours. I will sometimes add more water if I feel the level has dropped. You’ll know when the stock is done when the bone breaks apart easily when squished with your fingers. 

After the stock is done I put it into mason jars, let them cool in the fridge and then put them in the freezer (make sure there’s enough head room in the jar to avoid cracking, which means you can toss that jar of goodness right in the trash).

Just to state the obvious, this also saves a good deal of money. Not only am I getting a solid staple that has many wonderful nutritious properties, I use leftovers and scraps to really stretch my money. The organic whole chicken costs about $13, however this will be used for two meals (roasted chicken and pot pie) and almost a gallon of chicken stock. The chicken stock would, by itself cost roughly $15, so the cost of the chicken has already been recouped. Then spreading it out across two meals, making it $6.50 per meal, it’s an even better deal. The pot pie, which is probably 42oz (or more) would cost upwards of $10 (Marie Callender’s 45oz pot pie goes for $9.99), but that doesn’t even include organic ingredients. A rotisserie chicken usually goes for $5.99, but that’s not organic either and is usually loaded with salt (although I do brine my chicken, so we’re not exempt from the higher salt either). So the cost of the separate meals and the stock would cost roughly $30, but instead I’m spending about $18 (when you count additional ingredients for the pot pie) and I’m getting wholesome ingredients with no additives or preservatives, so the health wins are even greater. 

Growing plants

Growing up my sister and mom were the ones with the green thumbs, I had very little interest in actually growing anything. Fast forward more than 20 years and I’m now fascinated. Last year, on a whim, I started growing tomato plants (I did a little research on soil and timing, which I was a little late on, and sowed/planted the seeds). The tomato plants were a success and grew tomatoes, but those tomatoes (because I started the plants in June) never stood much of a chance of making it outdoors. I was able to harvest about 10 tomatoes and they were all delicious (once they ripened in a paper bag with a banana). 

 

So this year I started seeds much earlier and started bringing them outside to help them get enough sun, but then I accidentally left them outside after it got dark and the temperature dropped to freezing. Not a good combination and they all wilted. It was a very sad day. So I started another round and I’ve been diligent about checking the temperature outside (if it drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit they come inside). So far I have three seedlings and another three I’m waiting to sprout. 

I’m also trying to grow pinto beans this year, which I know nothing about (but they’re doing well and I’m bringing them in every night).

 

Now if I could just get my tomato seedlings going then I’ll be happy, because it would be so nice to have tomatoes this summer and also to have some for the canning I plan on doing (also something I’ve never done before, but really want to learn).

Burnt Yogurt

As I’ve posted, before, I’ve started making yogurt from scratch. I’ve been using my crockpot to do it, but I should’ve done a better job monitoring it when I made it this past Tuesday. It was my mother’s birthday, so I dumped the gallon of milk and set it for 8 hours on low (at least I thought I did that). What I didn’t take into account is the warming feature when the settings are done running. So of course some of the milk, in the bottom, toasted a bit (almost burnt). Instead of tossing the milk, though, I decided to make the yogurt anyway. Know what happened? The yogurt turned out cream/beige colored and has a bit of a caramel taste to it. It actually turned out very yummy. Even the strained Greek yogurt I made, from this batch, turned out really delicious. I’m glad I didn’t toss the burned milk (waste of $5.69) and I still have enough starter left over to make a normal batch (though I’ll have to make a 1/2 gallon batch, because I don’t have enough space/mason jars to store it all (let alone fridge space).

Here’s the Toasted Milk

It already looked like caramel. Made me laugh a little, because heck it’s obviously burnt.

I added the starter and put the whole thing (wrapped in a towel) in my unheated oven with the light on.

The next day….

Burnt yogurt, with a white spoon to show that it’s not white
 
And then I started straining batches… And I almost choked I laughed so hard. Because it’s really not white yogurt, like it should’ve been.

White straining cloth shows just how yellow/beige the burnt yogurt turned out

But…. Here’s the thing. I like it, it’s unique and creamy and rich, on top of already being that from the original batch. So I’m calling it burned yogurt. Here are the steps I took with the first batch, just let the crockpot cook it longer than the 180 degrees (I’m going to assume the whole 8 hours and then let cool from there, no need to keep warm, but I’ll test this out again next time). 

All the steps are still the same (let cool back down to 110 degrees before adding starter and swirl up and down/back and forth with a whisk, do not stir in circles). Set in unheated oven, wrapped in towels, with light on, for 10 hours. Then next morning I put it in the fridge to cool for 4-5 hours and then put in mason jars.

And here’s a comparison to the original batch of truly white yogurt.
 

Burnt yogurt on the left, regular yogurt on the right (a noticeable shade difference)
 

Budgeting for Yogurt

In the past month I’ve started making more and more staples from scratch (bone broth I’ve been doing for over a year now, bread for almost a month, hummus the last month, and the last couple weeks tortillas and yogurt). I’m still learning the latter, yogurt making, but it’s so easy, and as long as you have a thermometer and time, can be done much more cheaply than buying it at the store. 

My daughter is going through a yogurt kick, so it can get expensive very quickly (especially when she eats three bites and says she’s done (so it has to be tossed) and then the next time you give her only a little bit she asks for another bowl). I was buying them the Stonyfield whole yogurt 32oz container (which usually goes for $3.89 and is currently on sale for $3.50) and those tube yogurts (which usually go for $4.17, but are on sale for $3.50 and only have 16oz in them, eight 2oz tubes). Let’s calculate this based on full price, since it’s not on sale all the time. Milk is also currently on sale (I buy the kids the store brand organic whole milk, list price is $5.99 and sales price is $5.69). We like the strained yogurt here, so my go to brand for Greek yogurt is Fage (depending on the store I can either get the 17.6oz container (currently $3.99 on sale for $3.00 right now) or the 35.3oz container ($6.99 and not on sale and also very difficul to find).

Latest batch of yogurt, 6 pint jars with regular whole yogurt and one pint jar with greek (strained) yogurt

To make homemade yogurt I use 2 tablespoons yogurt (as my starter, from the last batch, which I set aside so we don’t eat it) and a full gallon of milk (or 128oz). Here’s my original post on my first attempt at yogurt. This makes a gallon of yogurt (or about 76oz* of strained yogurt and I use the leftover whey for bread, see yesterday’s post on using the whey) and I now have a starter, so no need to buy any new ones as long as I keep it going or the integrity remains intact.

  • Fage – $3.00 ($0.17/oz)
  • Yogurt tubes – $3.50 ($0.22/oz)
  • 32oz yogurt – $3.50 ($0.11/oz)
  • Milk – $5.69
  • Homemade yogurt – $5.69 ($0.04/oz)
  • Homemade Greek (strained)* – $5.69 ($0.07/oz)

 

With the amount of homemade yogurt we have we’d have to spend 4 times the amount of the store bought stuff. $12 for Fage (when it’s on sale), $14 for regular yogurt, or $28 for the tubes (have to buy 8 of them to get to 128oz). 

I should add that I make a berry syrup from organic fruits (mix of fresh and frozen, sometimes the fresh starts to go bad before the kids get to them, so rather than toss the remainder I now make the berry syrup to add to the yogurt). I’ll make a separate post about that the next time I make it, but I describe it at the end of this post too.

Hopefully this convinces you that making yogurt from scratch is worth the cost savings and certainly worth avoiding additives and preservatives.

Leftover Whey – Make Bread

I’ve made yogurt, from scratch (with a gallon of whole milk), twice now and I prefer the thicker strained yogurt, which means tons of leftover whey protein liquid. At first I was tossing it, because I didn’t realize I could use it for other things. So I replaced the water, in the bread recipe from yesterday, with the liquid whey protein. I have to say that the bread came out very nicely. It has a kind of tart flavor to it, a bit like yogurt, and is oh so delicious. 

In order to preserve the integrity of the whey, as much as possible, I heated it in a small pot on the stove at medium-low heat (I have an induction stove top, kenmore, that ranges from 1-10 (with 1 being low and 10 being high), so I used 3.5 as my setting). I stirred constantly and used my electronic thermometer to make sure it did not surpass 110 degrees. I made it higher than needed because I had to add room temperature honey (1/4 cup) to the mix. Then I proofed the active dry yeast in the liquid for 10 minutes. It worked very well. I do think that I should’ve adjusted the amount of flour down a little to 3 1/4 cups, instead of 3 1/2 the recipe calls for, because I ended up having to add 2 Tablespoons of more whey to make sure it was moist enough.

My leftover, homemade, whey protein from straining yogurt

I fully intend to try this again, as the flavor of the bread is pretty tasty and I like unique flavors.

Closet doors, seriously?!

The past few days have been very stressful. We just filed our taxes and MMC was pretty insistent on me putting money into my IRA (good strategy, since I don’t have a paying job and should have some type of money put away for later). This also means an increase in the amount of money we get back from the federal government, yay deductions. However funds are pretty low and now we’re operating with very little room to breathe until that refund comes in. So of course everyone is on edge and some of the bumbest things come out of stressful situations.

Our son went to bed at 6:30pm tonight, he was exhausted, so of course MMC is upset because he’s convinced our son won’t sleep the whole night (I disagree with that assessment, not to mention MMC comes home “early” tonight, at 7:30, and immediately argues that our son has been in bed since 5pm, even though I texted him at the exact time I was taking him to bed and MMC responded). At 10pm our son comes downstairs and daddy takes him back to bed. Of course our daughter is still up and now she needs pajamas, so I take her upstairs to pick out a pair. As we’re leaving her room I scream, because there’s a wasp sitting in the middle of the floor and our daughter almost stepped on it with her bare feet. I yell at MMC to get a glass. He starts to question why. I just yell again to get a glass. He finally complies and we trap the “beast”. Now, I was going to just set it free outside, but MMC wants to kill it. At which point I’m now questioning the validity (and technique) of doing so. MMC is convinced the thing will find its way back in, I could care less, I’d rather not kill it. He now proposes to flush it down the toilet. Ok genius, how do you propose we do that? I suggest releasing it outside again, he says no. I say, fine, then you figure out how to flush it. At which point he starts asking me how he should do it. I just tell him, well you want to flush it, you figure it out. He finally does. I don’t know how he got it in the toilet, but he flushed twice (the second time for good measure). 

At this point I’m already back downstairs and getting the little one into a new diaper and pajamas. I ask him if the flushing worked, he says yes. And then…. He proceeds to tell me that I leave all the closet doors open. I ask him which one he’s talking about. He says all of them, it doesn’t matter. To which I now respond, because I’m getting annoyed, it does matter because you’re now bitching at me. To which he says, I’m just stating a fact, it’s like you leaving all the lights on (I’ll admit I’m not the best at turning the lights off, but that’s a valid request, versus closet doors, which is a petty annoying comment that has no bearing on anything, other than the fact that he hates it for some reason). There’s no arguing, or anything, beyond this and after it I make my way upstairs to get ready for bed with the little one. I take off my clothes, get into pajamas and I walk over to the hamper to find…. 

This….

  
Yup, those are MMC’s dirty work socks. He dumped all his dirty clothes into the hamper (that white bin behind the socks), but couldn’t be bothered to put his dirty socks in the hamper. So I think I’ll continue to leave those closet doors open just a little longer… Considering I’m constantly picking up things like this all day anyway. It’s the same with dishes in the sink, instead of just immediately moving them to the dishwasher or the fact that he leaves his coffee travel mug right by the front door, when he comes home, versus just bringing it into the kitchen. I don’t complain about the latter because he’s usually engaging with the kids and gets distracted (and I don’t want to take that time away from him for a mug he’ll eventually bring up anyway, he only has two, so they need to be washed to be used).

So, that was my evening….

Oh, forgot to add that MMC does not like to place a new roll on the toilet paper dispenser in any of our bathrooms and he’ll literally leave one square of toilet paper on the roll and start a new one (which he leaves on the counter, next to toilet too) just so he doesn’t have to change it. He does this with everything, shampoo bottles, milk on the fridge, crackers/chips, Eric. It drives me up the wall some days, like seriously dude, can you just make a little more of an effort?