Friday, September 30, 2011

Individual sized homemade yogurt

Do you ever get one of the moments where the light bulb just switches on suddenly?

I've been making yogurt in quart sized mason jars for several years, and I really do love my homemade yogurt. But there is something about pulling an individual container of store-bought yogurt out of the fridge that almost always seems more desirable. Lately I've been really thinking about why I tend to prefer the store yogurt.

I think it comes down to the ease of being able to grab a portion of yogurt and simply go...without having to spoon out a portion into a bowl, often making a mess when I'm in a hurry. When I say it out loud, it sounds lazy - I can't even scoop yogurt? But then the light bulb went on - I could make my own individual yogurt containers!

This week when I made my yogurt I used three different size glass jars: quart, pint, and half pint.

It was so easy! I poured the yogurt from my large stock pot into a pitcher to cool. Once it was the right temperature I just poured the yogurt into my little containers, screwed on the lids, and put them in the cooler to incubate. Piece of cake!
These little guys are so irresistible! I took one to the mall with our lunch yesterday. If you are in to making yogurt at home, give this a try. I drizzled some homemade chocolate syrup on the top of one for a snack one evening...yum!
Have you ever made individual yogurt?

Food Waste Friday

Every Friday, I join with The Frugal Girl and other bloggers to clean out my fridge and freezer and take a picture of anything that has gone bad over the last week. This holds me accountable to faithfully check every week, and motivates me to use up our leftovers. This has made a huge difference in the amount of food we waste every week. I hope you will participate with me in food waste Friday, too!

 This week I was able to use up a bunch of leftovers, but this sweet potato had to go down the garbage disposer this morning. I don't like sweet potatoes, but they are one of my husband's favorite foods. I buy them from time to time and make sweet potato fries or mash them with brown sugar and marshmallows for him. I cooked these and then never did anything else with them. I think it was probably the same night that I made regular mashed potatoes for dinner, and these just got shoved in the fridge. I am not inspired at all by the sight of sweet potatoes in my fridge, so they just sat until they became rather...fuzzy.

I had fun making yogurt this week in a new and innovative (at least for me) individual containers. I have a few pictures that I'll share later today!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Turkish Delight

Last week I mentioned that we have enjoyed making Turkish Delight lately. My daughter loves The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Even though she is only 2 and 1/2, we read the book out loud several months ago and she also enjoys watching the new version of the movie that came out a few years ago. 

Thanks to Pinterest, I found this recipe from Sprinkle Bakes. My first attempt at the recipe was pretty good, but not great. The second try was much better, but even now I think I can make improvements the next time we make Turkish Delight.

We made lemon this time and vanilla the first time.

I had some help from this little munchkin.

Just a few simple ingredients for our Turkish Delight: Corn starch, water, sugar, corn syrup, lemon extract, and food coloring.

I don't have a dish big enough to make this full recipe, so both times I have cut it in half. In the first stage of microwaving the water and corn starch, these little clumps formed, probably because of over-cooking. The second time we made this I cut back on the cook times. Even though there were still a few lumps, I was able to whisk most of them smooth and get a wonderful texture at the end.

After the water and cornstarch and smooth, add in that sugar!

We passed the time while the Turkish Delight was cooking in the microwave by singing songs. 

Keep whisking that Turkish Delight until it gets really thick and stiff. It will hold in the bulb of the whisk when it is done. You can also take a little bit out and roll it into a ball to test for doneness. My daughter really wanted to make our lemon Turkish Delight blue, but we ended up settling for yellow!

I use a mini loaf pan (its flimsy foil, but I have reused several times) to hold the Turkish Delight as it cools. Then lay the slab out on a cutting board. I patted it with powdered sugar before I cut it up. I used a bench knife to cut it into bite-size pieces, but you could use a regular knife or a pizza cutter too.

Coat all sides of the pieces in powdered sugar for the final touch!

I love that you can make this in the microwave instead of having to fool with a candy thermometer 

1 1/4 cups of cold water
3/8 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tbsp. pure lemon extract
2 drops yellow liquid food coloring
Cooking spray, or cooking oil (light taste, like canola) for greasing pan
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Put water and cornstarch into a large, microwave safe bowl (like Pyrex). Whisk until cornstarch is dissolved completely. Microwave for 1 minute. Whisk smooth. Take care to leave little to no lumps of cornstarch at this initial stage. Microwave again for 1 minute. Whisk mixture (it will turn white and paste-like). Microwave for 1 more minute. At this point I started using a potholder to remove the bowl.

Combine the sugar and corn syrup with the mixture, whisking smooth. Microwave for 2.5 minutes, remove the bowl and whisk the mixture smooth. Repeat this step 2 additional times, each time removing the bowl and whisking smooth.

At this time, your mixture should look transculcent and be a good bit thicker than when you started. Add the lemon (or another flavor) extract and the food coloring, whisking everything together. Microwave another minute, then whisk. At this point you may need to microwave at 1-1:30 minute intervals 2 or 3 more times, depending on the power of your microwave. The important thing is to whisk the mixture each time. You are looking for it to be quite thick, so thick that most of it gets suck in the bulb of the whisk.

Once the thickness is reached, transfer the mixture to a greased loaf pan (I used a mini one for this half recipe). To make it easier to transfer, I coated a spatula with Pam first. Spread the mixture as evenly as possible (this is rather difficult). Allow it to cool for a hour or two at least. We usually can't wait until the whole thing is cooled to try it!

The block should slide right out onto a cutting board where you can coat in powdered sugar (mixed with a little cornstarch). Delicious!

Have you ever tried Turkish Delight? Made Turkish Delight? I've heard that the really good stuff is supposed to melt in your mouth, and I this recipe does just that!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Earlier in the week my computer died while I was in the process of finishing up the instructions for our Homemade Turkish Delight. I have a few options for blogging, but pictures and hyperlinks will probably be limited for a little while!

out food waste this week isn't too terrible; I sent this corn casserole down the garbage disposer because of it's rather pungent odor. And I have about a quart of milk that soured. I was planning to bake with it, but thus far have been quite uninspired. I was thinking of freezing it for later but it is whole milk so it would probably separate when I unfreeze it. Any experience with freezing whole milk? I hate wasting milk!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Weather!

We have been loving the change in seasons from Summer to Fall! Its always a little sad to see summer and warm weather leave, but the crisp, cool autumn mornings that warm up in the afternoon sun have made it wonderful. I know it was not this cool last September because I was very, very pregnant, swollen, and totally bummed that "fall" had not brought any relief from the summer heat. I'm even more ready for fall this year because of that, I think!

Check out these beautiful colors! Our CSA food this week is beautiful. We have a lovely assortment of peppers (orange, red, and purple), more colorful heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and a lettuce mix and mesclun (an Asian lettuce mix that has a nice little bite to it).

We also took advantage of the cooler weather to visit Milburn Orchards this weekend. In September and October they have Fall Festival Weekends with tons of activities for families, especially those with young children. It was not very crowded at all this weekend, but I've heard that the October weekends very busy. 

We had a great time! We made it through the Corn Maze in one piece...

W especially loved the hay ride.

And check out this turkey! Mmmmm thanksgiving!

Millburn also has U-Pick apples. Click here to see the U-pick apple schedule for this fall. I'm hoping that we will make it down to Lockbriar Farms in Chestertown for U-pick apples also!

And remember, if you are not local and are looking for a place to do U-pick apples this fall, check out!

Friday, September 16, 2011

This and That

I have a bunch of not-so-related items today...starting with the Fridgesmart giveaway winner. Megg, you've been emailed...congratulations! And thanks to everyone else who entered. I hope you will check out Gretchen's Tupperware site if you are interested in getting some Fridgesmart stuff of your own.

It was a crazy week around here; both our little ones came down with stomach bugs. Thankfully they were 12 hour bugs, and even more thankfully, Martin and I only suffered from lack of appetite! But something like that always makes me feel behind for a few days. I tried to do some fun things once we started feeling better, including our second batch of Homemade Turkish Delight! E loves the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and so she is particularly enamored with making something from the book.

We used this recipe from Sprinkle Bakes...made in the microwave! The second time around was wayyy better; I adjusted the microwave cook times because I halved the recipe. I'm really impressed with this Turkish Delight - it melts in your mouth!

Trying to take advantage of the great Fall weather, I took the kiddos to the park this morning. My little man knocked his chin climbing and bit into his tongue. And for 11 months old this kid has quite a mouthful of teeth. He's got three nice tooth marks in his tongue now, but thankfully a phone call to the doctor was all that was necessary. 

I'm pretty sure I have some dessert to dump for Food Waste Friday today. Does anyone else waste dessert?It was leftover from a family get together over Labor Day and with all the stomach bug stuff I think it will probably get dumped this afternoon!

I'm hoping our trip to Colchester Farm is uneventful so that I can get a picture of our CSA items up tomorrow morning!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cloth Diaper News from Cotton Babies

Check out this new product video from Cotton Babies, makers of the cloth diapers that we use and love, Bum Genius and Flip. I am so excited to see this new flip "pull-up"!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Every Friday, I join with The Frugal Girl and other bloggers to clean out my fridge and freezer and take a picture of anything that has gone bad over the last week. This holds me accountable to faithfully check every week, and motivates me to use up our leftovers. This has made a huge difference in the amount of food we waste every week. I hope you will participate with me in food waste Friday, too! 

Yay! No food waste this week! It has been a while since I was diligent to keep things from going bad by Friday. I do have a few things that I need to freeze so that they stay out of next week's photo. 

Check out Thrifty Living this week for my top four tips on avoiding food waste. And be sure to check out my Fridgesmart giveaway. Click here to enter to win this Tupperware container that helps produce stay fresh longer. I love mine!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Resale this Saturday

There is a large children's resale event this Saturday at Alfred Waters Middle School (1235 Cedar Lane Road, Middletown, DE) from 8 am until 12 noon. This bi-annual sale is sponsored by the Middletown Moms Club. I have never been to this one, but I have heard that it is nice. Make sure you bring cash, as that is the only accepted form of payment. I wish I could go this weekend, but I will not be able to make it...maybe next year!

If you find any great deals at this resale event or another similar one, I'd love to hear about it!

Be sure to enter my Fridgesmart giveaway this week!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fridgesmart Review and Giveaway

Yesterday I posted some of the ways that I've learned to help avoid food waste over the course of keeping track of what I throw away for Food Waste Friday. Last summer, my mom and I hosted a Tupperware party, something I had never done before. One of the products we learned about was the Fridgesmart line, and I ended up getting one of the medium size containers.

Fridgesmart is a line of Tupperware containers that are designed to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer based on the amount of air each type of produce requires. The Fridgesmart containers are built with tabs that allow more or less air to reach the produce, which helps the item stay fresh longer.

For example, grapes are a light breather, so both air tabs should be closed, but broccoli is a heavy breather, so both tabs should be open. Or you can open one tab and have the other remain closed for lettuce and many other fruits.

Each container has a picture guide to help you remember what types of food need extra or less air. Also, the bottom of each contain has ridges which help the food to receive extra air and to prevent a piece of produce from being mushed down against a flat bottom.

This summer, I noticed how long my lettuce in particular was staying fresh. We've had hardly any lettuce or spinach food waste over the last several months. Part of that is definitely that we have been eating more lettuce fresh from the farm because of our CSA. But another big factor is that I've been using my Fridgesmart container to store the lettuce each week.

I contacted Gretchen, the Tupperware consultant who did the party my mom and I hosted last year and asked if she would be interested in sponsoring a Fridgesmart giveaway on Thrifty Living. I was thrilled that she said yes!

Win it!

Your prize pack includes a small Fridgesmart container as well as a $15 Tupperware gift certificate. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what recent produce you have had go bad! If you haven't throw out any produce lately (that's great!), just leave a comment saying "enter me". Please make sure that your Blogger profile is enabled with your email address, or leave your email in your comment so that I can contact you if you win. The giveaway will be open until midnight on Saturday, September 10 at which point a winner will be chosen using Winner will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to get back to me before another winner is chosen. The gift certificate can be redeemed through Gretchen, with the winner responsible for shipping.

If you are in the Delaware-Maryland area and thinking of hosting a Tupperware Party, I totally recommend Gretchen! She was loads of fun and we really enjoyed ourselves. If you are not local and are interested in purchasing Fridgesmart, be sure to check out Gretchen's site.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this giveaway other than the prize pack to give away. All opinions are 100% my own. Full Disclosure.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Avoiding Food Waste: Four Thrifty Living Tips

Last month marked two years of blogging here at Thrifty Living! One of the things I blog about most weeks is our food waste. I've learned over the last two years that I throw out way more than I thought I did, and that I throw out way less when I am consistently going through our fridge every week and being held accountable by taking a photo!

Here are four ways that have helped me to waste less!

1) Buy less. For my family this usually means only enough produce to last a week, until the next shopping trip. This also means that I usually buy less variety of foods. Sure, by the end of the week we might be sick of only eating grapes and watermelon, but then we are free to buy whatever is on sale the next week without worrying about using up the old stuff.

2) Most food can be frozen. Especially when it comes to perishables like fruits and vegetables, but also meats, cheese, and bread, most food does great in the freezer. We love snacking on frozen fruit in the summer, and I've frozen several vegetables that were extra from our CSA so that I can use them this fall and winter.

3) Pinpoint - what is my family (me) most likely to waste? Apparently I'm terrible at using up ricotta cheese! I know that when I buy ricotta I need to have a plan for ALL the ricotta. Sometimes that plan is part of the week's meals, and sometimes the plan is simply to freeze the extra. Do you always have fruit that is going bad? Why does that happen? Questions like these have helped me figure out the what I need to work on and have a plan before I bring that particular food home again.

4) Use up the old one before opening a new container. Do you ever get near the end of something (salsa, dip, etc) and just want to move on to the new jar? We do! If we give in and just open the new one, the old contain usually sits and sits and becomes a science experiment. Of course some things, like salad dressing, have multiple varieties. But the other day I saw 3 bottles of Ranch in my fridge door (although one was still unopened)! We finished off the two that we nearly empty, and now the unopened bottle is ready for next time.

AND (a bonus just for kicks!)

5) Menu plan. Not the complicated here is our menu for the next 6 weeks kind of plan (although if you're there, that's great), but a plan for your meals before you shop. Not only does it help me make sure I'm not buying too much that will just go to waste, but I can make sure I am buying enough, which cuts down on those extra trips to the store before dinner. 

Do you have any favorite tips to avoid wasting food? I'd love to hear them!

And be sure to check back tomorrow for a fun giveaway of a product that has helped me reduce our food waste!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Every Friday, I join with The Frugal Girl and other bloggers to clean out my fridge and freezer and take a picture of anything that has gone bad over the last week. This holds me accountable to faithfully check every week, and motivates me to use up our leftovers. This has made a huge difference in the amount of food we waste every week. I hope you will participate with me in food waste Friday, too! 

This week was much better than last week! But I've still got plenty of room for improvement considering how well we were at all but eliminating food waste at the beginning of the summer.

This is a small portion of ricotta cheese that has been sitting, and sitting, and sitting. I put plastic wrap down on top of the cheese which kept it good for longer, but that time has long since passed! I also had two produce casualties this week; half a red pepper from our CSA got mushy, but I saved the other half as part of dinner last night! And then I cut into a plum that I bought yesterday and found that it was rotten through the!

Ricotta cheese seems to be the thing I throw out the most for on Food Waste Fridays. Do you have any food like that...always struggling to use it up before it goes bad? At least I know that I'm bad with ricotta since it is always cropping up in these pictures! So really, it is shame on me for not having a better plan when I buy it! I've frozen some (so it didn't go bad!) which I'll use in a lasagna sometime soon. 

It looks like we are shaping up for a less eventful weekend here on the East Coast. Happy Memorial Day!
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