February 21, 2013

Silver Skate Festival 2013

Eating maple syrup on a stick Silverskate 2013

Did you head out to Silver Skate Festival in Hawrelak Park?  I have to admit, I had never been before.  The Family Day long weekend had warmer weather for it so we headed out, all bundled out, ready to see what it was all about.

Demos at Silverskate 2013

I was surprised by how many different activities there were to do and demonstrations to see. It was really well laid out and organized. You could have easily spent all afternoon there.

Horse Sled Rides_Silverskate 2013

Demonstrations on blacksmithing, eating maple syrup off snow, horse sleigh rides, snow slides, intricate snow sculptures,  the list goes on and on.

Outdoor fun SilverSkate 2013

If you are hungry, there was a Holland pavilion serving up goodies as well as a couple of food trucks.  And of course, lots of skating options, to try out or even just to watch.

SilverSkate 2013

Looking forward to next year's festival to partake in the activities we missed.

February 19, 2013

How to Make Yogurt

Thick Homemade Yogurt

Nothing gets me more annoyed than the yogurt aisle at the grocery store.  I am a label reader and you can spend a lot of time at the yogurt section (and I have), sifting from one brand to the other, only to realize most of it just another variety of the same thing. Crap. Yes. crap I say.

Looking at a 125g single serving containers of your typical fruit yogurt, you will probably have 20 grams of sugar.  A yogurt of that serving size would probably have 8g of that sugar being lactose (1.5g - 4g lactose in a greek/balkan yogurt variety) so that leaves a remainder of 12 grams of sugar left.  1 tsp of sugar = 4 grams so that my friend is 3 TEASPOONS of sugar in that little single serve container you send to school for your kids.  Capiche?  You are better off buying a balkan/greek non-flavored yogurt and adding jam yourself.  I have a jam in my fridge right now that says 3 tsp is 4 grams of sugar, which is a far cry from 12 grams.  Plus, I wouldn't be adding 3 tsp of jam to that little amount of yogurt but we never bat an eye when packing those little containers into our lunchbags.

I also have a problem with all the lowfat yogurts.  I personally think it's important that children get enough fat in their diet and it is hard to find amongst the sea of 0% milk fat yogurts.  When you remove the fat, you need to fill it with something else and as I mentioned in the above paragraph, that is often sugar.  Also, when there is no fat, your yogurt is not very thick so that is when the yogurt ingredients get longer with things like gelatin, cornstarch, carageenan or guar gum or extra milk solids.  I sit there scratching my head wondering, is there any yogurt in here anymore?

One last thing I will gripe about and then I will get off my soapbox: Yogurt is expensive!  I buy a lot of it every week and I usually pay more because I buy the plain greek yogurts.  A 500mL tub usually costs me about $3.50-$4!  If you make your own yogurt, to yield 500mL you will need about 1 litre of milk.  I buy 4L jugs of milk for about $5 so that is about $1.25 of milk used.

Yogurt and Whey

Interested in making your own? The yogurt I made came out pretty thick and we were all really happy with the results. I used plain 2% greek yogurt as a starter so there was a slight tang. Make sure you find a starter with active bacteria cultures listed on the ingredients.  After you make your first batch, you can use it as the starter for your next batch.

I'm not swearing off buying grocery store yogurt but I will definitely be making more of my own yogurt since it is easy to do.


February 1, 2013

Growing your own Mung Bean Sprouts

Mung Beans
Mung beans.  

Grab some that are sitting in your pantry from those days you convinced yourself that you were going to change your eating habits and eat like a healthy-granola type person.  This may have happened  as a New Year's resolution or merely resulted from walking through one of those Organic health markets.  Those bins full of various beans, peas and grains were begging you to take some home, much like a person not being able to resist playing just one of those slot machines at a casino. 

Mason jar to make sprouts
Mason Jars.

Grab one mason jar from the dozens you have in your basement.  I'm sure you too had dreams of canning tonnes of fruits and veggies and then being so proud when you walked into a perfectly organized pantry of colorful jars full of all the fruits of your labor. Pretty handmade labels organized alphabetically and by year, and date, of course.  Yeahhhh, I know.  Let's move on.

Put in a couple of tablespoons of mung beans into the mason jar. Screw it closed with the mason top and a cut square of gauze,  cheesecloth, mosquito netting or whatever you can find that will allow airflow.  Fill it with water and let it sit overnight.  

The next morning, empty the water.  Rinse, empty, then lay your mason jar down into a plate or bowl, at a 45 degree angle to allow any excess water to drip out.  Repeat this process several times a day: Rinse, empty & lay at 45 degrees.

Continue on for 3-5 days and you too will have SPROUTS!  

Sprouted Mung Beans

Fun science experiments for you and the kiddies!  

Not all the mung beans will sprout but that's ok because one needs to use up all the grains, seeds and beans  in their pantry before they take another innocent leisurely walk through the bulk bin area.

I've also tried chia seeds (didn't work out so well- bit harder to sprout properly but I need to experiment more), quinoa and red lentils (wasn't pleased with the results) but that won't deter me and I have a pantry FULL waiting for action.

Happy Sprouting!

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