Tired of Cilantro Going Bad?

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The cilantro you are looking at was purchased 9 days ago. Finally I have found a way to store cilantro without it getting slimy in the refrigerator. It’s simple. Put 3 or 4 inches of water in a container. Seen here is a one gallon pitcher. Rinse the bottoms of your cilantro bunches. Originally I was able to put four large bunches of cilantro in this container. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store in your refrigerator. Every few days change the water and rinse the bottoms. That’s it! If you are excited about this or you try it and it works for you, please send me a message. Enjoy.

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Tired of Cilantro Going Bad?

Homemade Organic Yogurt First Try Success!

I have been wanting to make yogurt for as long as I can remember! My mom used to make it when we lived on our farm in Knightsen, Contra Costa County, California.

She used an electric appliance that looked like a set of capsules.  I found this one on ebay – I think this is the one! 

Anyone remember those? 

But I wanted to make yogurt without having to buy any new gadgets. I am tired of new gadgets and am trying to simplify. 


I have read quite a few blog posts about making homemade yogurt: In the oven, in a crock pot, with a heating pad. The crock pot method seemed to be the easiest one to try, so I gave it a go last night.


Here is the blog post I followed. It’s by Nick over at Macheesmo.


The first exciting thing I discovered was that my slow cooker has a temperature probe that displays the current and/or desired temp! What? Who knew? I was wondering what that probe thingy in the junk drawer belonged to. So I downloaded the manual and figured out how to take advantage of that, because:

The most important thing about making homemade yogurt is THE TEMPERATURE. 



It almost goes without saying that everything you used must be sterilized/clean, including your crock pot and all utensils.

The reason why the crockpot is such a perfect tool for yogurt making is because it’s really important to keep the yogurt at a pretty narrow temperature range while it’s doing its thing. I’ve tried a few different ways, but this one definitely produced the best results. –Macheesmo

Here’s my list of ingredients and kitchen equipment:

  • 1/2 cup organic whole milk yogurt with live active cultures
  • 1/2 gallon whole organic milk (it was a tad under 1/2 gallon)
  • Crock Pot
  • Temperature probe
  • Large towel / blanket
  • Colander
  • Unbleached cheesecloth
  • Bowls, jars, measuring cups, etc.

Step 1: Heat the milk to 180° F slowly. As mentioned, I was able to set it on Low and have it beep when it reached my desired temperature. You do not want the milk to boil or you will have to start over. 



Step 2: After the milk reached 180° I reduced it to 110° by letting the crock pot cool down. Bummer noted: The crock pot would not let me set it to anything below 140°, so I had to keep checking the temp with a thermometer. 



Step 3: Take 1 cup of the heated milk and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt  and mix together in a bowl. Return mixture to rest of milk and stir completely. Make sure the temperature is still between 110° and 120° – this is the trickiest part of the process: Maintaining the temperature between that range. 

My crockpot is really well insulated which definitely helped, but what I did was layer on a large beach towel, folded over a few times to the top of the crockpot. –Macheesmo

Once your crock pot is within that ideal range, turn it off and cover it completely to insulate it and keep it warm. I found that my crackpot was not already well-insulated, so I wrapped it with towel  & wool blanket. I set my timer for 3 hours and went in to check the temperature. I wrapped it up again and left it to the morning. 



Side note: Ever have saga dreams? The ones that never end and keep going and going. I dreamed I was in someone’s home that didn’t really want me there, and I was making yogurt in her kitchen… She was looking at me like “What are you doing?” LOL.


I awoke the next morning and first thing… made a cup of coffee. Come on! Priorities man! Seriously, I was definitely apprehensive about checking the status of my bacterial concoction, especially when I turned it on and found the temperature to be 82°. What did this mean?!



However, despite my misgivings, and despite all the Internet horror stories of first time homemade yogurt making, the bacteria prevailed! I indeed made yogurt! Real yogurt. Tasty yogurt! 

{Insert happy dance here!}



The next step was mentioned as optional in Macheesmo‘s post, but the yogurt I made was a bit to watery for me, so I got my cheesecloth and colander out and let it drip for about an hour. 

Now, the fresh yogurt will have some liquid on top. That’s okay. You can try to scoop out any large liquid pools and then stir the yogurt to combine everything well.. –Macheesmo

So, out of 2 quarts milk and 1/2 cup of yogurt, I got 3 1/2 cups yogurt and about 2 cups of whey (For what to do with whey, I am  researching this at www.thekitchn.com/good-question-51-84375). 



Now to get this all down to a science so it feels like second nature and not like a babysitting job :)

Breakfast time! Organic local raw honey & organic blueberries



Oh! Would you like to know how it tastes? Two words:

Yogurt Heaven

Best yogurt ever. I could have eaten it plain. 

Don’t forget to read Macheesmo’s blog if you are going to try making yogurt. I followed it step by step and had real success! Plus, he answers a lot of questions that might come up during the process.


Enjoy! I mean it!


-Anya

Homemade Organic Yogurt First Try Success!

Got Kale? What to do before it goes bad…

When our local community got its own farmer’s market last year, it was a “Yippee!” time for me. I would do a happy dance all the way to and fro each Thursday. I think I still do :) I could now regularly feed my green smoothie addiction with dinosaur kale – my favorite. It is great for smoothies and kale chips. A few times, however, I overestimated how much kale our household would actually use that week, and found my kale, which I consider gold, turning an awful shade of yellow… 

A lot of kale can make an expensive addition to your compost pile

Although fresh (and local) kale is best for green smoothies, and offers the most nutrition, I figured that freezing the overabundance before it went bad was better than an expensive addition to the compost pile. So after making some kale chips, I tried a variety of ways to freeze and store the kale.

Kale chips are easy to make and surprisingly delicious!
A little coconut oil (or olive oil) and sea salt is all you need.

First I tried blending the kale in our Vitamix, put it in a jar, then froze it. While it did freeze, getting portions out of the huge frozen mass proved too frustrating to be practical. There is still a jar of frozen kale our freezer. Yeah…


Next, I tried freezing the kale in shot glasses. Again, that proved impractical due to having so many shot glasses in the freezer all over the place. Ice cube trays would be too small and too much work. 


The solution that finally worked is outlined below. We’ve done it twice now. Another “Yippee!” moment and happy dance :)


Blend up your kale. If you have a Vitamix, fill it up with kale – no need to chop it, just stuff it in. Add a little water. I added about a cup of water. Blend on high, using your tamper to push it through the blades. Only blend it enough to liquefy. Small pieces of kale should still be visible.


Pour into cupcake tins, leaving about 1/4 – 1/2 inch at top (The second time I did this, I thought it might be better to use cupcake paper – the photo below shows that. NOT necessary. It made no difference and just created a waste).

Cupcake paper NOT necessary

Put the cupcake tin in your freezer until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.


The trickiest part of this whole process is removing the frozen kale from the tin. We found that placing the tin on a hot stove top for a few seconds loosens the discs enough to get them out easily. Don’t leave it on the stove but for a few seconds, or the kale will liquefy. 

Kale discs
Place the discs into a freezer bag, or better yet, vacuum seal them.I didn’t feel like getting my vacuum sealer out. :P
Put the discs into freezer bags, or use a vacuum sealer
Your kale is now, not wasted, but ready for your next green smoothie! Or soup. Or ???
Single servings of kale ready to use!
I’m a visual person. So, this little outline might seem simplistic, but hopefully it will help you see how easy it is to preserve your kale. You could use this process with about any green. Try it with spinach, borage, beet tops, radish tops, you name it. The concentrated nutrition of these greens is too good to waste on the compost pile! 

-Anya @MyGardenHaven
Got Kale? What to do before it goes bad…

Never Buy Salad Dressing Again!

Well, IF you can help it!





This recipe  I found at allrecipes.com is flat out the best dressing I’ve had in a long while… I decided to try it because it had the 3 ingredients I wanted to use AND there were 175 5-star votes! 


We think it would also make a delicious marinade for fish you are going to grill.


You must make it! 


We substituted lemon for the lime and actually liked it better. Other changes were that we used our vitamix, and for the ginger, we used 1 ginger paste glob (you vitamix your fresh ginger root, unpeeled, and freeze in teaspoon size globs on cookie sheet, then store in freezer bag for fresh ginger anytime). 


We used all organic ingredients


Organic Cilantro-Lemon Ginger Salad Dressing, serves 12 

Ingredients

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (if using a vitamix, just toss in the pepper)
1 clove garlic
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/4 cup lime juice (lemon tastes great)
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Directions

Place the jalapeno pepper, garlic clove, and ginger into a food processor or blender; pulse until the jalapeno and garlic are finely chopped. Pour in the lime juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt, add the cilantro leaves; pulse a few times to blend. Turn the food processor or blender on, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated into the dressing. Season to taste with salt before serving.


Using a vitamix, you would use your tamper while blending.













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Please tell me if you use this recipe and if you agree that it is on the top of your homemade dressings list!

Never Buy Salad Dressing Again!