Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yogurt Success!

Yesterday I tried AGAIN to make yogurt. Yogurt, which countless websites assure me is beyond easy, has long eluded me. Every blessed time I try it instead of a thick creamy yogurt I end up with nasty sour milk. WHY? I follow the instructions carefully, checking temperatures, measuring everything meticulously, water baths, crock pots, doing pretty much everything but ordering one of those fancy make your own yogurt kit. I am (supposed to be) a good cook, why can't I make yogurt?

I prefer plain yogurt that I top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey. I don't like the flavored, too sweet yogurts available here. There is one brand of plain yogurt that one store stocks that I really like, but I am not alone. It always sells out quickly whenever a shipment comes in. Half the time I hear there is yogurt then get to the store only to find out there WAS yogurt but now it is sold out. It would be really great if I could figure out this yogurt thing so I could have a regular supply of the stuff.

Yesterday I tried again. And yes I used UHT milk because that's what I have. I started with a basic recipe but after doing a bunch of reading, I decided to make up my own procedure, no thermometer (good thing since the kids broke mine last month), no water baths, no fussing. And do you know what? It worked! This morning I had lovely, thick, fresh homemade yogurt for breakfast. Yummmm!

I'm not sure if I finally figured it out or if this was just a fluke. If it's a fluke it's a very tasty fluke. I will try it again and if it works I will post my instructions complete with pictures.

In the mean time tomorrow is the first day of Spring/Easter Break. For the next week and half the kiddos will be out of school and running wild. This morning I am putting my feet up, pretending I don't see the wallpaper spider, watching television, and drinking a cup of tea. Ahhh relaxation!

What's a wallpaper spider you ask? It's a remarkably flat spider, I have no idea what it is really called, the kids dubbed it a wallpaper spider. It's so flat the first time I saw one I thought it was a sticker, until it moved, then I screamed. They are incredible fast. There is one running laps between the TV, the cuckoo clock, and the curtains. I tried to make a video but the darn thing is too fast. Ignoring it seems the best bet. Meanwhile there is an HGTV program on the Home channel. HGTV is my secret vice and one of the things I miss most about home. So I am going to sign off now, go grab a cup of English breakfast tea and put my feet up. Have a great day, I intend to!

P.S. I have a post up on how to make ricotta cheese from scratch over on Hardship Homemaking. I find it's a lot more foolproof than making yogurt. Click on over and check it out!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Just a quick note: The Foreign Service Blog Round Up is up at Jill's blog. Take a few minutes to click over and read what people are up to around the world. Even though we are spread out over every continent except Antarctica we do form a community, a very spread out community, but a community all the same. That's the theme of this week's round up. Community. Come join our online community, if even for just a little while.

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hey Jude

This evening as I walked down the hall, past the bathroom, I heard something that just made me smile.

Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Alonzo was singing in the shower. Even better he was belting out Beetles tunes. He has always liked music and playing piano, but he has never been one to stop talking long enough to listen to music on the radio and actually learn the lyrics. Lately though, he's been on a Beetles kick, listening to a song over and over until he can sing it all. I am loving watching him develop his own taste in music. Even better I am liking that he is choosing classic music instead of just going with what is popular now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Only In Africa

The gardener just knocked on the door. There is a snake in the water tank. A big big snake. He thinks it is a mamba. This is the water tank that holds all of our water for cleaning, laundry, and bathing. I took a shower this morning, in snake water. BLECH! I feel a sudden need to take a bath but there is snake in the water. The gardener wants me to come look at the snake. Uhhh...NOOO!

I don't do snakes especially if there is the remotest chance that the snake is a mamba. And it is a very remote chance indeed, so far they have identified brown house snakes, herald snakes, and sand snakes as mambas. All of these snakes are small, less than a yard in length and not dangerous to man. Mambas are freaking huge, around 10 feet long. I really wish there was a zoo I could take them to and show them a live mamba so at least they would't have a total heart attack every time they saw a snake.

They do have good cause to be afraid of snakes around here. This is mamba country. It's also cobra and boomslang and adder country. Antivenin is generally not available at hospitals so a bite is almost always lethal. However even here the vast majority of snakes are not dangerous and do eat an awful lot of rodents. Rodents that otherwise would be eating their crops. A little education could go a long way. Still I am NOT going out there to look at a big big snake in swimming around in the water I took a shower in this morning. ICKY.

Update: Called David. Snakes, like cockroaches, are clearly the husband's problem. He took a coffee break and dashed home, we live less than 10 minutes from the embassy, and checked out the situation. It is not a mamba, nor is it a big big snake. Big big snakes are more than 10 feet long in my book, big snakes would be around 5 feet. This guy was only about 2 feet. It was another herald snake. One of the biggest we have seen yet, but still a herald. Not lethal, in fact a bite from this guy is no worse than a wasp sting resulting in a headache and some mild swelling. They are very mild mannered and will slither away if given any chance to escape.

Dave fished it out with a piece of bamboo, for which the snake thanked him by squirting musk all over his work pants. EWWW NASTY! He turned it loose by our pond well away from our water tank, and told the gardeners and the guard not to kill it. None of them are very happy with Dave right now. I noticed that the gardeners are now working on the other side of the house well away from the release site and the guard is staying far away from the pond as he goes on his rounds.