Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Checking the Accuracy of Your Candy Thermometer

I have been enjoying excellent results making yogurt in my cooler for a couple of years now, so you can imagine how dismayed I was to bomb the last two recipes in a row! They turned out runny - barely thicker than  milk - and quite sour. We made smoothies out of them, so all was not lost, but it was a bit disheartening (especially since I was just telling my sister-in-law how foolproof my method seemed to be!)

I combed my memory for what I had done differently, but my technique, my milk, my starter were all the same. Finally I remembered that I had broken my old candy thermometer and bought a new one, just before I made that first batch of runny yogurt.

My suspicions aroused, I researched how to tell if your thermometer is accurate, and found this obvious and simple way to check: boil a pot of water and see if your thermometer reads 212 F (100 C). I tried this, and found that my new thermometer ("Accurite" brand - hah! It was neither right nor accurate!) was reading 230 F when the water boiled.

Now I could either remember every time that my thermometer reads 20 degrees off (so I would have to get my milk to 130 degrees, according to this thermometer, instead of 110 before I add the starter) or buy a new thermometer (which I will probably do - my old, accurate one was a "good cook" brand, which I can find locally and inexpensively). Knowing me, I'd forget, so I'll just take the $7 hit and buy a new one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Easy Homemade Tea Bags

I can't remember now where I saw this idea, but it's so simple I had to share (plus it's a great gift idea!) You can simply take your home-grown chamomile, peppermint, or other herbs and make them into tidy little tea bags! Simply cut a coffee filter into quarters, fold each little "fan" in half and sew the sides together (the sides you just cut, not the ruffly outer edge). Then stuff them full of your dried herbs (don't do this with fresh herbs! They'll get moldy!) and sew the top edge shut.
It's that easy!

All ready to make a cup of home-grown chamomile tea