>Eureka! Now that’s yogurt!

>I did it!
What is my happy new discovery?

I made Strawberry Yogurt!!

I know, kind of a let down, not what you might have been expecting.
But in this house, and my kitchen, this is a long sought after product.
No, not the kind you buy at a store…we’ve spent a small fortune on those little cute cups O yummy expensive goodness.

I’m talking about the extra delish extra healthy homemade kind of yogurt, but flavored.

Ah, now that’s exciting!
I’ve been making yogurt for a few years now. I’ve used the yogurt machines, starting with the simple ones that came with the oh so fetching individual glass jars. It worked great.  But we zipped through a batch of those in no time.

We could spoon those jars clean in one breakfast.  So, I graduated to the yogurt maker that made a quart or some big amount at a time.

But it was unsatisfactory, I didn’t like the kind of awkward design of the appliance and the container.  So I didn’t really use it enough. I gave it to my sister in law. Yes, I am picky that way.  I can’t help it.  Don’t judge me.

Finally I read a way, online, to make it in a slow cooker.

Hmmm.  Really? A slow cooker? I thought it would be yet another complicated science experiment sort of deal where my kitchen became a grade school science lab.  But no…in multiple forums on the net, I read of this.  Why hadn’t I seen this before? Is this a new fad? A foodie wave of trendoid frenzy? Well, if so, count me in! I wanna try!

Now, the whole deal was kind of intriguing and yet a little nerve wracking to boot (I have a very active imagination and have had too many go rounds with food poisoning…so I’m a tad paranoid).  But I figured all that probiotic bacteria is supposed to be good for you and that the whole point of yogurt is to get the good stuff, the natural way, and that yogurt has been made in yurts for centuries with no ill effect.

So I gave it a try.
My first mini-eureka! It worked.  It was as good or better than my machine yogurt, and as easy or  more so to boot.  I was sold; and I already had the slow cooker.  Perfect!

So I made batch after batch of my standard vanilla or plain yogurt.  The family did the usual stir-ins of jam if they wanted some jazzy flavor.  But ya know….it just bugs me that I never could make the flavored yogurt without it curdling or not setting up.  In the back of my mind, I keep thinking about it, every time I make a batch.  So, I decided to give it yet another try, but with the slow cooker.
I thought about how to get the flavor in there before it was made, a new mode.  And…it worked! And, if I do say so myself, it’s really good!

So, for all you who are not blindingly bored and are still reading, here is how I did it.  It’s the basic yogurt recipe, and the strawberry part is a riculously simple add in, but who knew? Maybe you did, but I didn’t.  So, here goes, for any of  you ‘yogurt challenged” folks out there:

Slow Cooker Yogurt: Plain, Vanilla or Strawberry

Pour 1/2 gallon whole milk (NOT ultra pasteurized!) in slow cooker
Whisk in 1 cup sugar (if you want it sweet, I like it plain too but my kids rebel)
Add in  1/4 to 1/2 c powdered milk
For Plain yogurt: add no sugar or vanilla or anything else
For Vanilla yogurt: add 1 TB vanilla
For Strawberry yogurt: add 1/4 cup Smuckers Strawberrry Syrup (ok maybe not SO healthy, but surely to goodness healthier than all the stuff you pay a fortune for in the store. and that’s  1/4 cup for 1/2 gallon worth of yogurt servings…divide it up/do the math….geez)

Whisk well.
Now turn to low for 2.5 hrs.
Then turn off for about 3 hrs, until temp (instant thermometer) is between 110-120 degrees.
Once temp is in range, take about 3/4 c of milk/yogurt from cooker in large measuring cup.
1/2 cup plain  yogurt (homemade or purchased).  This is your “starter” and gets the yogurt to become all it’s yogurty goodness.
Then whisk it like mad so it’s smooth, and pour this mixture back into the cooker.
Cover and wrap the whole slow cooker in a bath towel for at least 8 hours, though I’ve left it overnight (don’t freak out, it’s ok).
Then after that, put ceramic container from cooker into fridge to chill.
After it’s chilled, eat and marvel at how good yogurt can be.  And how cheap.

No scalding milk and pouring from container to container, splashing your golden yogurt to be on the appliances and countertop and eliciting cussing.  No extra pots to wash out the scummy scalded milk.  No cute but slippery glass jars to wash out, rotating endlessly and counting if enough have been eaten to make another batch, or biting your tongue to keep from cussing when you can’t find their lids.

Now this is not only yummy, it’s “green.” In fact, it’s about as green and crunchy as I probably get…so, I’m putting it out there as evidence that I’m not totally soulless.  But more, I’m putting it out there because it’s easy, cheap and, most importantly, good.

Simple.  Easy. Low tech. Yummy.

You’re welcome.

>Novena begins today: St. Jude


I’m starting my novena to St. Jude today.
That’s this guy, here, in this painting.Painting by Anthony Van Dyke

I am starting this novena, which is nine days of focused prayer, today so that this set of prayers and petitions ends on October 31. His feast day is October 28, but this novena is in conjunction with the National Shrine to St. Jude, and it is beginning today.  So, that’s what I’m doing too!  I have some serious intentions for that have been weighing heavily on me, for friends and family.  So, daily focused prayer, and with a great intercessor, always helps.  Please join me!

Now, many folks are somewhat confounded by novenas. They are rather a Catholic thing, I’ll admit. But then again, not so much. Here’s the deal. (I know, I’ve spoken of this before, but well, who ever goes back to archives? No one.) You see, you all know, some of you more painfully than others, that I’m a beggar.  This is the same deal. It’s intercessory prayer. Sometimes I ask everyone I know to pray for me, sometimes it’s more private…this time I am also hitting up a saint. St. Jude Thaddeus, to be precise.

And I ask him for his prayers, because he, unlike those of us here on earth, is in heaven already. He has left his smudgy selfish self behind and all traces of that are gone. His heart is pure. Thus, he is a MUCH more effective pray-er than most anyone else I can ask, short of Christ himself (and yeah, I’m praying hard and having much discussion with him too, no worries on that point!).

And this intercession of the saints is one of the coolest things I can think of. It’s just what I do for my brother with my folks, and what my kids do for each other with me. We go to the person who can help, on the others behalf. We petition. And stand in for each other and add our backing to that person’s petition. And it helps. If only in the moral support, it helps. And that is exactly what a novena in our Catholic ways do too. Only we hit up a saint, for their support and prayers on our behalf. And it helps.

Prayer transforms, no matter if they are answered the way we hope or a different way that we can’t understand yet. And that in itself makes the effort worthwhile.

So, I’m praying to St. Jude. He was a cousin of Jesus. He was a chosen apostle. He is a good egg. He is patron of impossible causes.  He’s helped me before, he is faithful.

And I’m gonna make you all nuts maybe because I’m putting the novena prayer up every day. I’ll post other posts too, don’t disappear entirely! But, if any of you want to follow along, you can read and pray it here.

Thanks to each of you and any passing thoughts or prayers!

St. Jude, pray for us.

Day 1
Novena To
St. Jude 

Today we center ourselves in prayer as we begin nine days of the Solemn Novena to St. Jude. St. Jude listens to our prayers and offers us hope when we become weary. 


St. Jude, I enter this Novena pleading for your intercession. May my daily prayer bring your intercession for my special intentions and may God’s Spirit guide me to know the best way to proceed in any troubling situation that confronts me.

Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone. Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of.

Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly 

 For these special intentions
and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. Amen.

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)