A time of transition

Whew… Somehow April really snuck up on me. I’ve been so busy on the Seattle side with getting packed and on Bainbridge with getting the house ready to move into, I haven’t taken the time to blog. Today I’m helping Renee, one of the other apprentices, move over from Seattle so I’m sitting on the ferry right now with a carful of her stuff. I’ll be spending the night at the farm tonight and then doing my own move on Saturday. (!!!) I’m excited and sad at the same time. Going to miss the Seattle friends and routine.

But the farm life is going to be great. I’ve spent the night here twice already and the apprentice house is really coming together. I painted my room and we pulled out old carpet and vaccuumed and fixed the toilet, etc, etc. It will feel like home in no time.

It’s been interesting living in between the two worlds of farm and city the past few weeks; as soon as I get comfortable in one place, it’s time to switch to the other. So I’m looking forward to settling into a farm routine. I’ve been doing some full work-days with Betsey and Brian already and I always finish the day feeling great. A sense of accomplishment and learning and meaningful work. Last week Betsey had me harness up Sam the draft horse, hitch her to the cultivator and drive the horse and plow through the garlic fields. Horse lover that I am, I was basically in a state of pure happiness the entire time. I’m sure the novelty will wear off soon 😉


How to make yogurt at home

I’m enjoying finding more and more things I can make from scratch.  Bread, jam, and now yogurt.  Making yogurt turned out to be easy and fun. I like cooking when it is science-y!

Yogurt takes 2 ingredients: milk, and… yogurt. You take a little bit of yogurt and turn it into more yogurt. All you have to do is heat up some milk, cool it down, add a bit of yogurt, and then keep it warm and still for some time. The bacteria in the yogurt will colonize the rest of the milk.

Here is the method I’ve used so far.

1.  Collect the equipment you’re going to use and sterilize it by boiling for a couple minutes.   This may be unnecessary but I do it because I’m paranoid like that.

2.  Set up your incubator.  This is any way you can come up with to keep the yogurt warm (about 100º F) for 8 hours.  I do it by putting warm stuff inside my big blue cooler.  There are other creative ways too.  The warm stuff I use is an old low-temp cat heating pad that my kitty used to sleep on, plus some containers filled with hot water.  I use the hot water I generated from the sterilization step – just put it in 3 or 4 closeable containers in the cooler.  If you aren’t going to use the heating pad (and this is probably a slightly bad idea anyway) I would try just the hot water-filled containers and maybe replace the water with fresh hot water halfway during the processing time.  In any case… get the cooler ready with the warm stuff at this point so it will be a nice and toasty place for the yogurt later.

3.  Get yourself about 1/2 to 1 cup of PLAIN yogurt and 3 cups of milk.  I use these amounts because it makes exactly the right quantity to fill my yogurt tub!  You can use more milk to the same amount of yogurt if you want to make more.  I use 2% milk and some good, full-fat yogurt — none of that watery lowfat stuff for me but you can try it if you want to 🙂

4.  Set up a double boiler.  I put a little water in the bottom of my 3 quart pot and set my 2 quart pot inside it.  Pour the milk into the top pot and heat on medium, stirring and checking the temp frequently, until the milk reaches a temp of 185º F.  This is to kill off any bad bacteria that might be in the milk.

5.  Once 185º is reached, remove the milk from the heat and allow it to cool down to 110º F.  You can speed the process by setting the pot in a container of cold water or ice water as I have done here.  This step is to get the milk to the right temperature for the bacteria in the yogurt to flourish and multiply.

6.  Once 110º  is reached, add the yogurt into the milk and stir.  Do this quickly and don’t let the temp get too low before putting the pot into the incubator.

7.  Place the pot into the prepared cooler.  Use towels to separate the pot from the warm stuff.  Close the lid.

8. Don’t touch it for 8 hours!  Ideally it should sit at about 100º F for 8 hours or so.

9. After 8 hours or longer, remove the pot from the cooler and check on your yogurt.  In this pic I have already stirred it up a bit and you can see it has thickened nicely.

10.  It’s yogurt!  Stir and pour into your container of choice.   Refrigerate what you don’t want to eat immediately.

11. Eat it!!  Stir in some strawberry jam or peach preserves (shown here), sprinkle granola or cereal on it, dip a cookie in it, put a spoonful on chili instead of sour cream.  When you get down to the last bit in the container, use it to make your next batch!

Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Here is another idea I’m going to experiment with: using a crockpot instead of the cooler.  http://www.nourishingdays.com/?p=912

An update in pictures.

spinach in the greenhouse

First week of March at the farm: spinach, lettuces, and carrots in the greenhouse


On the home front: the seeds I started indoors sprouted! (this is the sage)

dill sprouts

After they got their first set of true leaves, I moved them outdoors (this is the dill)


Eventually they each get their own home in a 4" pot. (Sage again)

workin the tiller

Have been doing plenty of volunteering recently: Marra Farm, Harvest Collective, and Alleycat Acres (seen here).

Injury and healing

So… I hurt myself a couple weeks ago.  Nothing too major but even so it was enough to teach me a couple of lessons.  Such as:

1. Be aware. I bruised myself up by taking a spill on slippery railroad tracks as I was biking to Ballard.  It’s an area of the trail that I’ve ridden over a million times, I was in a hurry, my mind was elsewhere, and before I knew it my tire hit the tracks wrong and slid out from underneath me.  I should have been biking more carefully in the rain and the dark.  Usually I try pretty hard to bike defensively.  But even if you do your best most of the time, still…

2. Accidents happen. It’s hard not to beat yourself up over it when something bad happens that’s your fault.  I remember feeling the same way after my at-fault car accident in summer ’01:  If I could just roll back time for a second, if there was just an “undo” button, I would have been more careful and this wouldn’t have happened.  But there’s no way to click undo — what happened happened.  You can feel bad about it all you want but in the end you just have to accept that there is a new state of affairs that you hadn’t planned on and make the best of it.

3. Take a break. At first I didn’t think the injury was too serious so I went on about my normal business of biking and farming, etc.  After a couple of days, the bruise on my shin was huge and swollen and it hurt to walk.  Bruising was showing up around my anklebone that hadn’t been there before.  Ooopsies.  At some point it hit me that I was going to need to cancel some plans and lie down and let the dang thing heal for a few days.  I was injuring myself further by ignoring the pain and continuing to demand too much of my hurt leg.  This lying-down-and-resting is not an easy thing for me.  I can *always* think of something else to be getting done.  My ex-boyfriend used to beg me to “just sit still for 10 minutes!”  It didn’t help that the weather that week was warm, sunny, early spring gloriousness.  I was dying to go out for a bike ride and a run, but instead I had to lie down with my legs up.  At the same time, it made me realize that I am now a person who is on my bike nearly every day and looks forward to going for a 3 mile run.  This was not the case a year ago.

4. Think about food as medicine. This was a kind of fun part of the whole deal.  I looked online to find out which are the best anti-inflammatory foods and which foods promote inflammation.  I went shopping and picked up turmeric, salmon, kale, pomegranate juice, and frozen blueberries.  I pumped myself full of antioxidants: oatmeal with flaxseed and berries for breakfast and a salmon recipe I invented for dinner (see recipe at the end of the post). I cut out the bad stuff — all wheat flour and almost all sugar — for about 3 days,  which is pretty much a form of Becky-torture.  In a cruel twist of fate, during this time my roommate for some reason brought home some leftover yellow cake with chocolate frosting and left it on the counter to tempt me!  It made me realize (again) how addicted I am to baked goods and sugary snacks.   I eat them frequently and without thinking.  While it may not be that big a deal, they are obviously not nourishing foods and should be more of a treat.

So anyway, the end result was very good.  The resting helped a lot… I don’t know if the diet change helped or not but it tasted good.  I saw my chiropractor and he gave me some arnica cream and used a cold laser on my leg which is supposed to speed healing by stimulating the cells to regenerate more quickly.  All of these things combined to help me feel confident that I could go on a planned ski trip with my friends about 10 days after the injury without being in pain or making things worse.  So we went and it was gorgeous weather and I skied my first ever black diamond run.  It was AWESOME.

Anti-inflammatory Salmon

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced or powdered
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sweet Thai chile sauce
  • 1 lb salmon

All measurements are approximate.  Mix together all ingredients except salmon and pour the mixture over salmon in a glass baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.   Serve salmon and sauce with quinoa and some mixed greens.  Nom!