Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Making Specific Carb Diet Yogurt is Easier Than I Thought

Making homemade yogurt is easy and it's worth it.  

When I first heard the term, "homemade yogurt," I had visions of hippies and of 3rd world village huts and I wanted no part of it for years.  Yogurt!  Who EATS that mess anyway?  It tastes repellent and it's made from fermented milk!  Nasty!
But I've learned to embrace the nasty because of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Yup, I can digest meat, vegetables, and most fruit, in small amounts, and hard cheese.  I can't touch sugars like grains or actual sugar, although I'm ok with small amounts of honey.  For years, I didn't know this, I just got sick nearly every time I ate.  I was absolutely fine until I was around 17.  One day I had a pastry and just got violently ill.  Ever since then, I just learned to live with getting violently ill pretty much every time I ate, which makes going out nearly impossible and some days, it was so bad, I couldn't leave the house at all.  The only pattern I could figure out was avoid dairy, avoid oil, avoid sugar, and sometimes avoid days with a vowel in it because a lot of the time I would get sick for no reason at all.

And now I know what that was about---grains.  And grains include oils made from grains.  So those days I know I didn't eat dairy or sugar?  I probably had something cooked in grain oil (and on top of being so unhealthy, most of it is rancid before it even hits the grocery shelves!) because after all, butter is so bad for you, right?  How did I figure this out?  Well it wasn't from any of the specialists I saw, I guarantee that.  A couple of years ago, I was puttering around the internet and found Elaine Gottschall’s book, "Breaking the Vicious Cycle."  And there it was, all the answers about what was causing my IBS and what I could eat and not get sick!  After decades, I could go out to eat in any restaurant and not have to be be home within 15 minutes of eating a meal.  Matter of fact, I've done this all over this country and Europe (except for Pennsylvania) with no problems whatsoever.
So why yogurt?  It's SCD (specific carb diet) yogurt, fermented for 24 hours.  The 24 hours gives the bacteria time to remove all the milk sugars.  No more worries about being lactose intolerant with this particular yogurt. 
But why did I start eating it?  After years of having the wrong intestinal bacteria generated in my gut, I could eat correctly, but I still felt a liquid churning every time I ate and occasionally still got sick.  After months of avoiding it, I finally made the SCD 24 hour yogurt and after I ate it?  I think I heard angels sing.  My stomach pulled itself together almost instantly.  It's been 2 and a half years and now I can go a few times eating questionable food before it builds up and I have to eat clean and eat a lot of homemade yogurt again for a few days.  On trips, I take a probiotic with Bifidobacterium infantis.  Right now, that's Align, but it's the bacteria I'm concerned with, not the brand.  Can you just have probiotics and skip the yogurt?  I guess you could but having yogurt around really adds to my dinner possibilities,  A recipe needs cream sauce?  I use yogurt.  Sour cream?  I use yogurt.  Want to make some ice cream?  How about some frozen yogurt instead?  Tzatziki sauceColeslaw dressingBeef StroganoffMoussaka?  How about a parfait dessert?  Oh yeah!

Plus it's good to keep SCD yogurt around for kittens.  Since it's fermented for 24 hours, it contains no lactose so they don't get sick either.  Those little tiny ones that are weaned but still miss their momma's milk, I just mix a little yogurt in their food and they eat like champs!  When Mei Mei almost died and stopped eating, I force fed her a mixture of watered yogurt with a little olive oil every 2 hours for a couple of weeks until she started eating on her own.

Making SCD 24 hour Yogurt Is Easy

 My yogurt maker is a Euro Cuisine YM80.  Why?  Because it doesn't have an automatic 3 hour shut off timer AND it has an expansion ring!  So you can buy another set of glass jars and double your yogurt production or if you're handy, you can use power tools to remove the center rack of the plastic ring and then use from 1 to 3 mason jars which is 3 quarts of yogurt.

So that covers the yogurt maker, but how do I make yogurt?
Remember, I said it's easy to make homemade yogurt, right?  Here's all you have to do.  Go to the grocery store and by a gallon of milk (I use whole milk) and a small container of any Greek yogurt.  Yes, just buy a store bought yogurt as a starter.  Of course, you CAN go online and find yourself an expensive starter from an exclusive hippie store but grocery store yogurt works fine.  I use a Greek style because it's a thicker yogurt.

1st-you need to boil the milk to kill off any microbes already in that milk.  You want to grow your yogurt bacteria, not some unknown mold or fungus.
And here's the trick to making thick yogurt, you boil that milk to a roiling boil and then let it simmer and watch some tv for a while.  Let it boil off some of the liquid and you'll have a thick yogurt.  I always pour in extra milk than can fit in my jars specifically because I'm going to boil off some of the volume.  FYI-you can boil your milk in the microwave but it's a LOT harder to boil off the excess that way, which is why I only go stove-top. 

2nd-remove the boiled milk from the heat and let cool some (you can use an ice bath if you're in a hurry).  You'll have skin on top, just discard it. 

3rd-once the milk is only warm (too hot and it will kill the yogurt starter), add about 2 generous dollops of yogurt to the milk.  NOT the whole container.  It does better with less starter than more.  Mix it, break up the chunks, and pour it into your jars.  If any missed lumps will bother you later, then use a strainer to keep them out of the jars.  If you're using the expansion ring, you probably have to insulate the yogurt maker with a towel.  I use a retired child's sweater.  Fits around the unit perfectly!  Then I set an alarm for 24 hours and I forget about it. 

And that really is all there is to making homemade SCD yogurt. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Worst Night of Your Life

Inspired by Inconstant Moon and taking what I learned yesterday, this was the one in my head, especially after the Blood Moon the other night.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sharing New Space Art, The Supernova

Man!  It took me 4 days to get through this free photoshop tutorial!  2 days to figure out that a radial blur has to be in a circle or it all goes to the right because I don't read carefully.  I'm in a hurry and I skim and I'm in such a hurry that I lost 2 days for not paying attention.  Just, you know, share that with your friends, right?  LOL
But check out tutorials if you have photoshop and you really learn new things.  It makes you better.  Here is my latest space art, a super nova! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Spastic View of Fosters Kittens and Feathers!

Still No Ringworm

No one else seems to be showing signs of ringworm but I still have the 3 in quarantine. 
Yeah, I know they can still catch it from my clothes and the furs that escape out the door, but what else can I do? 
His brother has no spots and he's been at his side since the day they were brought in for adoption.
But he is SO playful that I'd love to give him free reign of the house and play with my other furballs!  I feel bad keeping him in the bathroom.  Worse, he's going back to a cage on Saturday.  Poor unwanted street urchins.  I hope they get adopted soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Where Are the Kittens?

We have Mittens back in the house.  This time we're trying to get her back on speaking terms with her brothers.  After we fostered her and her sick eye, the sibs couldn't be in the same cage anymore.  "You smell different!  I don't know you!"  Then she got depressed because she was in a cage all alone.
Plus they all needed a cage break so they're all here in one bathroom!  Looks like they got the hissing out of their system yesterday.  No snuggling though.

But what's this on her brother?  A circular small bald spot the size of a pencil eraser.

"Um, Jo...does this look like ringworm to you?"  She came over to check and the black light says no but she said there WAS a cat with ringworm last week but they removed it and it was on a different level cage than these cats but she's suspicious and brought me the ringworm cream.  Oh these street urchins!  It's never a good day for them until they're in their forever homes, poor things.  So much stress all the time.
And so we asked Jo where all the kittens are and she said that even the local shelter mentioned that it's a slow start to kitten season this year.  They think it's because the TNR and free spay/neuter days are working. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood Moon, Lunar Eclipse, April 2014

Ok, who stayed up too late last night?

Let me start with, the regular moon was SO BRIGHT!  The moonlight was casting shadows, it was so bright.

Here's a long exposure, a few seconds really:
but it's the moon, see the stars?

So then I started playing and took some long exposures, then turned up the light
Here's The Big Dipper, which is all you can normally see, but hey, look at all those stars!

Looking west, toward Canopus


And I've seen a lot of blood moons.  The best was out on the balcony, listening to Dio singing, "Rainbow in the Dark."  And for the record, it was in this same location that I did, ONCE, see a genuine rainbow in the dark.  To be fair, it wasn't full dark, the sun was setting, but it WAS dark in that part of the sky.  So yeah, it was crazy looking and Ronnie James Dio was totally singing the truth.

 So there it is, the Blood Moon that I told myself I wasn't going to stay up and watch.  If you missed it, don't worry, this in no once-in-a-lifetime event.  You'll get another chance to see a lunar eclipse real soon now, actually.  We have 4 within the next 18 months; Oct. 8, 2014, April 4, 2015, and Sept. 28, 2015!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Car Show Muscle

You never know what you'll see at a car show.  Today was all Chevy Nova day and I was ecstatic!  Now, I'm all about the 3rd generation body style, it has always been my favorite car but I can appreciate a good Chevy II or a 2nd gen--and they were ALL out today!

 Here's a beauty of a Nova.  It's at all the car shows which is fine because sometimes he's the only Nova there.  These aggressive front ends, like a shark.   Novas look like they're moving when they're standing still.

1963, 2nd generation.  You can tell from the grill work how the Gen 3, the Chevelle, and the Camaro will eventually evolve.

 White Nova, 2nd gen body.  Flawless interior!

 And this beauty of a Chevy II converted into a race car

Super Sport Chevy Nova

They had other cars out there, of course.  Here's a little something from the stables.  All the pony cars were grouped together this time

YEAH!  This is a thing of beauty!  The living embodiment of all my Matchbox Cars as a kid!

Every skull is different

 Art on wheels

Interior of an AMX.  Back in the day, car manufacturers made spaceships.

A story about microfiber towels.  
I have a big bag of microfiber towels that I bought at Costco.  Ok, they're gross.  They stick to the skin of your hands and it's just...gross.  I hate them.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what to buy a car enthusiast and The Junkman recommended some microfiber towels.  As in everything, he was 100% correct!

This is just me doing laundry, I had to take a picture of this.  See how plush these edgeless towels are?   And yes, you CAN wash these towels.  Hot water wash, no softener in the wash or the dryer.  

So what do I do with the other icky towels?  Well, microfiber, they must be a dust magnet and you can really dust off your furniture, right?  Not so much.  But they are awesome at cleaning windows!  Yeah, I wash my windows once a year in the spring and there was one room where the windows were REALLY grody because I didn't wash them when we moved in--it was still the filth from the original owners.  And THAT was a major clean-up effort, but I digress.  You know how when you wash a window and you have the spray cleaner and you have to use maybe 4 or 5 paper towels for 1 window to get it right?  One Costco microfiber tower cleaned  4 windows.  No paper towels, no streaks.  So those cheap microfiber towels are great for windows and house chores but I'm using these new plush towels from The Rag Company solely for car washing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Snowshoe Cat Enigma

What are Snowshoe cats? noseprints greeting cards
My Snowshoe, Mei Mei (Little Sister), loves water.  

 This really is how she drinks, all the time.  I have never seen her use her mouth like the other cats.  She can also open doors (we have handles, not knobs), including the shower door.  And she can close doors, also like the shower door.  It's the most fun to close the shower door when another cat is inside.

Snowshoe Blue Eyes Magnets 
I love Mei Mei's pretty blue eyes and pink nose

  When I first adopted her, I just thought she was a mutt that had some Siamese blood in her line, but hey, looks like she's her own breed of cat.  I looked it up and the bred was created in the early 1960's by Dorothy Hinds Daugherty.  The International Cat Association (TICA) accepted the Snowshoe as a championship breed in 1994.  In temperament, Mei Mei is pretty much exactly like every cat I've ever owned.  But then, when I had a purebred Ragdoll from a certified breeder, aside from his size and colors, his personality was pretty much exactly like any cat.  In other words, don't believe all the mystical magical personality traits breeds are SUPPOSE to have.  Although Mei Mei loves her fountain, I have a torty that adores drinking the same way from the swimming pool.  Mei Mei's  meow is not like the other cats, but not like a Siamese either.  It's more of a, "Mur, murreow," instead of a simple, "meow."

Her sister (died last year) was black and white.  Her name was Xiong Mao (Panda Bear).   But all the other kittens in the litter looked like Mei Mei.  

I don't know what killed Xiong Mao. Suddenly one night, she looked dehydrated (her fur looked bad). Took her to the vet, he said she was dehydrated and gave her fluids and sent her home. I couldn't get her to eat and she looked just as bad the next day. I brought her back to the vet and she had a fever and was jaundiced so he kept her there, hooked up to an IV for fluids and antibiotics. Later, her temperature dropped and he took her to an emergency clinic for plasma.  At 5 years old, she was still a young cat and she fought. She'd rally and he'd get ready to call me to come get her then she'd fail. She'd rally, then she'd fail. Finally, he went to pick her up out of her cage and she screamed in pain and died. He sent her body to the cat version of the CDC for an autopsy but never told us what happened with that. We paid extra for it but he would never tell us.  Every time I brought it up, he changed the subject. I needed to find out what she had so the others wouldn't get sick but I found out nothing. A few weeks later, Mei Mei showed the same signs. She was dehydrated and had a fever.  Instead of taking her to the vet, I made a mixture of yogurt, olive oil, and water and force fed her every couple of hours for 2 weeks. At one point, her temperature dropped to 98.2, just like her sister, and her breathing became rapid.  The vet said to warm her up and that she probably wouldn't make it through the night. I held her against me in a blanket and kept her warm and fed her until she seemed to stabilize. And then, after a couple of weeks, she began to eat again but was very anemic and had to go on medication for a while. None of the other cats ever caught it. FIP test came back negative.  I still don't know what it was since we have no poison plants in the house, didn't see any skinks around the house, and they're kinda rare around this neighborhood anyway, no chemicals, and they're all indoor cats. Doubtful, but maybe it was something genetic?

Mei Mei has been perfectly fine ever since.

And yes, I've changed vets.

Smoking Fatties This Weekend!

I've been studying with the online masters all week and this weekend, we gave these a try!  Everyone else buys a tube of store-bought sausage but I really like the way mine homemade sausage tastes so I made my own.  Unfortunately, we had a hard time finding pork at the grocery store so we settled for hamburger.  I guess these are closer to a grilled stuffed meatloaf than a proper sausage fatty.  But these are pretty paleo and SCD diet ready.  Adjust your cheeses to your needs. 

This is the ground meat with, now mine is to taste.  Like, I really like rosemary, so I use a lot from my garden.  If you like a lot of onions and garlic, add a lot of the powder or use fresh.  But in this mix I have:
rosemary, sage, red pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cloves, ground pepper, ground anise seed, dash of cinnamon, and basil.

 And apples. 
 Although fabulous in my Thanksgiving sausages, the apples do impede rolling.  Avoid chunks of other food like onions and apples.

 I would recommend that you use parchment paper to work on instead of wax paper.  Wax paper just tore all up.
Now, I have to say, I LOVE bacon!  LOVE IT!  But it's such a strong flavor, along with the sausage meat, you really need to push the envelope for the center filling. 

 This first one is inspired by Sonic.  I love their Supersonic breakfast burritos...when they can manage to do it right.  85% of the time they leave off half the ingredients so I stopped bothering with them entirely a couple of years ago.  But here, I can finally get what I want!  That's chipotle salsa, cheese, homemade hash browns (instead of tater tots), diced green chili peppers, and scrambled eggs!

Here are the leftovers from the Reubens we've been having all week (smoked a homemade corned beef last weekend).  So this is homemade Thousand Island Dressing, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese.

tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sausage

 Mexican style with salsa, cheese, grilled onions and peppers

This was dinner.  So far, it's a good start but it's not quite there yet.  The fillings need more punch or the meat needs to be thinner or maybe go without bacon (sacrilege!) but right now, all I can taste is bacon and some meat.

Oh well.  Can't wait for breakfast tomorrow!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Knitting Cat Beds from Yarn Stash

If you've knitted a few projects, you've probably created a yarn stash.  Perfectly good yarn, pretty colors, just not enough to DO anything serious with it.
But hey, if you have a cat or know someone with a cat, you should knit that yarn into a cat bed.
This is an easy knitting project that you can do while sitting on the couch, watching tv.

And don't worry about knitting too many little cat beds.  You can give these away as charity to your local pet rescue centers or your local no-kill shelters.

Can't Hug Every Cat

A quick Pattern for Basic Cat Blankets

Find out what's near you and just drop by with a plastic bag of knitted blankets.
Patterns for knitting blankets for cats
easy pattern for cat sized blankets
2 felted cat beds
2 more round cat beds
knit a decorative cat bowl
fancy felted cat pottery

Knitting Kitty Pies 

I don't knit rectangles. You can, knit any charity cat blankets any way you want, but I knit circles. It's easier and faster to knit up so here's my pattern:

Pick circular needles of your choice. Pick a size that won't bog you down knitting teeny little stitches for weeks but not so big that little kitten feet will fall through the stitches when it's laid out flat. You can either get these started on the circular needles, going back and forth (knit one side, flip it and purl the back) until you can start knitting in rounds or you can get it started on dpns. If starting on circular needles, leave a long tail to knit up the middle into one piece after you start the rounds.

 starting on DPNs
continuing on circular needles once it's big enough.  Already sewed up the center.

cast on 9 stitches
Row 1: knit around
Row 2: knit 1, make 1
Row 3: knit around
Row 4: knit 2, make 1
Row 5: knit around
at this point, it's easier to place a stitch marker at the end of each new stitch. So you'd knit 3, make one, place the stitch marker, all around. From this point, no more counting needs to be done. Look at the stitch before the counter. Does it look like a purl? Then you knit this round. Does it look like a knit? Then you add one. Very simple.

When the diameter is the size you want, finish it now or just knit a few rows so it pops up around the edge and then knit with a fluffy festive yarn. Or not. It's your choice.

I have made them with one skein of yarn at a time, 2 skeins at the same time for a flatter cat bed, and with felted wool.

I've got a felted one upstairs that Mei Mei loves. She likes to get underneath it and pretend she's The Horta. A regular one downstairs under the mirror that's a big hit with everyone at one time or another because it's under furniture.
If you have wool yarn, try a felting project!  You just knit it big on big knitting needles, then wash in the washing machine in hot water.  The hot water makes it shrink and the agitation felts the wool!

This is a wool cat bed BEFORE I washed it.  Notice that it's so big that the side are all rolled up and over.  Wool yarn will shrink 15-20% during the felting process. Maybe even more, depends on your yarn.

Here's the finished project.

The colors DID fade but, I dyed this with Kool-Aid and Easter Egg dyes so it's not as color fast as store bought yarn.

Start with plain wool yarn.

While watching Star Trek:TNG in my pajamas, I unraveled the skein and tied it into sections

Kool-Aid, cake icing dye, and Easter Egg dye!

 in the sink, I pour hot dye all over it and let it sit for a while

After it's rinsed and dried

roll it into a ball.  A festive festive ball of yarn.  In front of a kitten.

About Dye Colors

Easter Egg Dye
Hints and Tips
Kool-Aid Dye
Hints and Tips
Wilton Cake Decorating Colors
Hints and Tips
But you don't HAVE to use wool!

 Spreading the project out on DPNs and circular needles to check for size

 Yarn is approved