Better believe it’s butter!

I ran out of margarine, and basically kept an empty Becel container in the fridge.  In my head I could probably scrape a teaspoon out of the smears left in the container.  I kept forgetting to buy more every time I went to the grocery store.

I had a 454g/2 Cup brick of butter in the fridge.  I always have some on hand for baking.  Lets face it, nothing tastes like real butter.  It seems like a cruel joke that everything that tastes great, was full of fat, therefore bad for us.  Fat-free versions were dry and tasteless.  Now the internet is full of articles claiming the opposite idea of what most of us grew up with:  Margarine is now bad, and butter is better!  This just seems to make sense … the more natural and less processed something is, the easier it is for your body to process.  There were lessons learned with the “anal leakage” side effects of the synthetic fat, Olestra.

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This brings me to the latest post.  I have butter, but it doesn’t spread like margarine.  Trying to spread cold butter on toast, is like trying to spackle drywall compound on a wet, sponge.  So I did some googling and it appears everyone is looking for a similar food hack.  I found this site to be the most useful, but decided to modify it to require less elbow grease.  I chose Avocado oil because I find it has no taste or flavour as Olive oil.  It also happens to have a higher smoking point so I prefer using it for cooking, especially with my cast iron skillet.  You can buy it at Costco so you get a 1L bottle for about $10.50.

IMG_5609Instead of mashing the butter with a fork, I left it to sit on the counter to warm/soften up a bit.  I added 2/3 cup of avocado oil, 1 cup of butter cut into cubes into the 16 ounce Ninja Master Prep Pro container  I pulsed it and blended it till it looked like it liquefied.  I found it looked a little too runny with too much oil.  I blended another 1/4 cup of butter and found that it had that creamy texture I was looking for. IMG_5611 I mixed the rest of the brick of butter, with less than 2/3 cup of oil.  I scraped the butter out of the Ninja with a rubber spatula and spread it out in the old Becel container.  I popped it in the fridge to set and couldn’t wait to see if it would spread like margarine!

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Is this “healthier” than margarine?  I think in moderation, it’s about as healthy as all natural ice cream vs frozen yogurt.  Over time it’s a little better for you because it’s more natural and I know the ingredients I used in my blend.  Like everything, if you eat a tub, you will become a tub.

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DIY Lactose-free, Probio, Yogurt

I love yogurt!  I found myself spending $10/week eating 1L of it.  I would buy the larger tubs, divide it among my reusable containers, add my own fruit and voila!  Cheaper single servings of yogurt with fresh berries instead of sugary jam caked to the bottom.  I found that a lot of smoothies I wanted to make also called for 1 cup of yogurt.  Why does trying to be healthy have to be so expensive?  I set out to find a way to make my own probiotic yogurt.  Most probiotic yogurt have enough good bacteria in it to help those of us who are lactose-intolerant, to digest the lactose.  To make things a little more easier on the digestive system, I decided to go 100% lactose free, probio!  I was largely inspired by the instructions of this blogger on how to make your own yogurt in a slow cooker.  Why spend the money on a yogurt maker when a slow cooker will do just fine?  What you’ll need:

  • Lactase enzyme drops (Walmart, pharmacy department is usually the cheapest place to get them)
  • 2L of 2% milk (if you like thick yogurt, you need more milk fat)
  • Fresh probiotic, store bought yogurt/Yogurt starter (I have tried a greek yogurt and used Yogourment probiotic bought from a healthfood store with good results)
  • Slow cooker
  • Thermometer (Wireless one works best, you’ll understand why.  You can get one at BB&B with a 20% off coupon)

First thing you need to do, is get the lactose out of your 2L of milk.  Following the directions on the drops, you just pop in about 10-15 drops of lactase enzymes into your 2L and put it back in the fridge over night for 24 hours so the enzymes can break down the milk sugars or lactose. IMG_2155The next day, you pour your milk into a slow cooker and set it on high to kill any existing bacteria in the milk that would compete with the bacteria in your starter.  It would start a war where no one wins and you end up wasting your time and 2L of milk.  I have done this in a 6quart oval crock pot which works well with the lid sitting on the braided, digital thermometer wire.   For the Breville Fast Slow Cooker you have to remove the silicone gasket from the lid in order for the lid to close on the cable without damaging it.  The Breville refuses to cooperate if the lid isn’t closed and twisted shut.  Set the thermometer alarm to 83 degrees C (or 181 degrees F) and walk away with the remote portion so you can continue to do what you want for the next couple of hours without having to check on it incessantly.  You don’t want it to come to a rolling boil and it would suck if it boiled over. Once it has reached the magical, bacteria killing temperature you have to cool it down.  WTF?  Yes, you need to cool it down to a comfortable temperature of around 43 degrees C (110 degrees F) for your new bacIMG_2156teria to thrive.  Tossing them into a hot bath too soon will upset the poor little buggers.  Take the pot out of the cooker and let it sit on the stove so it can cool on all sides.  I usually put the lid back on the cooker and leave it on low to keep it warm.   Luckily you have a wireless thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature, while you go do something else.

IMG_2159Once it has reached the magical,non-bacteria killing temperature, you can skim the dried milk skin off the top.  Take a cup (two soup laddles)  of your 43 degree C milk and mix it in with your  yogurt starter.  Then whisk this mixture in with the rest of your warm milk.  If you are doing this with your Yogourmet for the first time, just whisk the packet in.  Put your pot back in the cooker.  Don’t forget to put  the gasket back on the Breville’s lid.  Twist the lid on, wrap the whole shebang in a beach towel.  For good measure, I put the whole thing in a collapsible cooler to keep it warm and snug for 12 hours

The next day, you’ll open the cooler, unwrap the towel, twist off the lid, and dip a spoon into the pot and uncover the magical world of curdled milk and bacteria that we have grown to know and love as yogurt.  Give it a good stir and put it in the fridge.  So for the cost of 2L of milk, around $4 or less, you get 2L of yogurt!  How great is that?

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DIY Self-Watering Pots

I like plants because I like oxygen.  A major obstacle is that I don’t have a green thumb.  This is due to being forgetful, which is due in part to multitasking, which is due to having a lot on my plate and in my head.  You get the idea.  I have some pretty, ugly, plastic self-watering containers.  Why can’t they be pretty self-watering containers?  Google is my bestfriend for information.  I found this video and thought I hit pay dirt!

Irrigation pipe and float you say?  Find it where now?  I did some web searching and they seemed to cost around $30.  I’m way too cheap for that.  I went grocery shopping and the dollar store was next door.  I figured it was worth a look for irrigation materials.

From the dollarstore I found:

  • a plastic funnel that had a pipe that looked large enough for irrigation purposes.
  • pebbles instead of leca.
  • A microfiber cloth as the porous membrane to wick water up to the soil.

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Great, now what do I do with all this junk?

    • I really like the look of the ceramic pots at IKEA but they don’t offer any drainage.  So I layered the pebbles at the bottom.
    • I took the funnel off and cut slits in the bottom of the pipe so that water would be able to flow into the pebbles.
    • Cut the corners off of the microfiber cloth and a hole for the pipe.  Place it on  the pebbles.
    • Place some soil, then the root ball of the plant and fill with soil.


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Pour water into the pipe and do it again when you remember.

IMG_0889That’s it!  For a few dollars you can make a self watering pot out of any pot to match your decor.  If you really feel you need a water level indicator, you can shape a piece of styrofoam to fit the pipe, and jam a straw into it.  Make sure the straw is about as tall as the pipe.  When you add enough water, the level fills up to the top of the pebbles, the styrofoam will become buoyant and you will see the top of the straw rise up the pipe.