And thank you all for stopping by to make Winter feel welcome--you rock!
Today it's my pleasure to share an apron with a delightful author, mom, and military wife who "leans heavily" on her "mid-western roots" and her love of the Old West and rodeo. She's also quite a cook, and I'm excited that she's here today to share a recipe from her busy kitchen. Let's wave our wooden spoons (tap the toes of our cowboy boots) and give a big Authors' Galley howdy to Winter A. Peck!
I love my kitchen. When I’m not at my desk, or locked away in the bedroom, killing or maiming my characters—oops I mean writing and or editing, I’m in the kitchen cooking/ baking/experimenting. Sometimes I feel like Dr. Frankenstein with food.
There’s six of us, and two are teenage boys and I can’t seem make enough food for them some days. My youngest son has a severe allergic reaction to chemical food preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and refined everything. In other words, everything we eat must be homemade, even our bread. In the last four months I’ve taken to making—and failing—our yogurt, too. It’s simple and not as time consuming as you think. And in the end, you have something nourishing that gives you the control of deciding how much sweetener you add.
What You Need:
Meat or candy thermometer
4-8 cups of whole milk
1 packet of yogurt cultures or ½ cup of plain store-bought yogurt with live cultures
Whisk and ladle
4-6 clean glass jars with lids
And a cooler
Depending on how busy you are, set the slow cooker to low or high, if you set it on high pay close attention to your milk. Pour measured milk into the slow cooker and cover. Let it heat to 180 degrees, I stir occasionally when I’m checking the temperature to even out the heated milk. Once it’s reached 180 let it sit uncovered until the milk cools to between 105-110 degrees. Remove the film that covers the top of the liquid. You must let it cool or the heat will kill the cultures. Whisk in one packet of cultures—I use this—or the ½ cup of yogurt until cultures are dissolved and well incorporated with milk.
While you’re doing this heat water on the stove to boiling, this will go in the cooler to help incubate the yogurt.
Then taking the jars, fill them until about ¼ from the top, leaving room for the yogurt to grow. Screw on the lids, but not too tight, just enough to keep the water from getting inside the jar. Place jars in the cooler and pour boiling water around them. Close cooler and let the yogurt incubate for 10-14 hours. I let mine set over night, usually about halfway through the incubation process I add another large pot of boiling water to keep the temps even.
When it’s done you should see a skim of whey on the top and the yogurt should just pull away from the sides of the jar, looking solid. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before eating.
I drizzle local honey over mine and eat it with fruit or homemade granola. Or use the yogurt for topping on fruit cobbler. My kids love it with raw sugar and cinnamon.
And if you’re looking at a tight budget, we save quite a bit of money on making our yogurt, too.
Oh my, that looks wonderful, Winter!
And now, here's a charming excerpt from Winter's story, Stitched in Love, from the Threads of Love anthology:
Trace grinned at his niece as she chatted with her rabbit like it was a close friend. Duchess munched on a carrot and didn’t seem to care. Orange lined the rabbit’s mouth, making her look like she wore lipstick. The whole scene was too cute.
“Misty, eat your pancake,” Trace’s sister said as she passed the table.
“I’m full, Mommy.”
Julia sighed and set a stack of boxes on the kitchen counter. “Fine. Put your plate in the sink and go wash the syrup off your hands.”
“Okay.” Misty hurried the plate to the sink then rushed back to her rabbit.
“Don’t pick up. . .” Julia groaned when Misty grabbed the poor thing in her sticky grasp.
Trace chuckled. “Too late.”
His sister scowled at him. “Now you can clean it.” She extracted the squirming ball of fuzz from a protesting
Misty and plopped it in Trace’s lap.
He winced as its claws dug into his thighs. “Ow.”
A wide smile on her lips, Julia scooted Misty out of the kitchen. “Don’t give her a bath. A wet washcloth will do.”
Eyeing the matted fur, Trace looked at his departing sister. “Why not a bath?”
“ ’Cause then you’ll need stitches,” Julia called from down the hall.
“Come on, Duchess.” He scooped up the rabbit and gingerly carried it to the sink.
Soft footfalls brought his attention to the doorway. Danni entered the kitchen, a bemused expression on her face. Trace did a double take. Was she wearing makeup?
What are you doing?” she asked.
He glanced at Duchess. “Cleaning syrup out of her fur.”
As one last treat, Winter has graciously offered TWO copies of Threads of Love in a giveaway.
Simply leave a comment below (including an e-mail address) and your name will be entered for a drawing (via Random.Org). I'll choose the winning names on Wednesday, May 15th and notify folks via e-mail. This giveaway is limited to US entries only.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Winter.
Bon Appetit . . . and happy reading!