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Posts Tagged ‘self-sufficiency’

A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

As my life seems to be getting busier and busier I am finding it even more important than usual to carve time out of my day to read.  Living vicariously through the lives of others gives me a wee break from my own thoughts and worries and tops up my tired brain with new insights and ideas.  Here are a few I have been pondering over the last month or so.

Better Off  byEric Brende.  I loved this book.  Probably because sometime in my early twenties I decided that I was born in the wrong century and really wished I could spend my life on the ‘ol homestead.  At its core, that is not really what this book is about, but it is what got me hooked.  The author takes his brand new wife on an 18-month adventure  living in a rural community without electricity or electrically controlled mechanics of any kind.  He explores what it really means to be “self-sufficient” and how “work” can become something that doesn’t feel like “work” at all.  He tries to answer the question “Is there such a thing as too much technology?” and what he discovers resonated with me.  (But I still love my computer.)

Thunder and Lightening by Natalie Goldberg.  Having devoured Natalie’s earlier books Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind several years ago, this one came as a bit of a shock.  There is a hardness, a sadness, to Natalie’s voice that certainly did not appear in her earlier works.  But there is a deepness there too.  In some way I believe (at least in my mind) that she has moved from encouraging teacher to wise writing mentor, and although I miss the upbeat positivity I remember from her earlier works, there is the truth of “Real Life” that resonates through this book that I can’t ignore.  In its serious and sincerity, I am reminded that there is a lot of work I still need to do. 

29 Gifts in 29 Days by Cami Walker.   I am not sure how this book came to be on my reading list.  I think it was one of those Amazon “If you liked this book, you might enjoy this one” (which I always take to mean…if you liked this book, see if the library has that one…)  or perhaps it was a suggestion I read on someone’s blog post?    Regardless, it got moved way up on my reading list for the sole reason that the library, indeed, had a copy and it was available right away. 

In this autobiographical work, the author shares how she moved past her struggles with MS by cultivating a giving attitude in giving 29 gifts in 29 days.  The spirituality in this book is definitely not my own, and the foul language that appears in parts of this book grates on me,  yet there is something compelling about this story.   I think there is truth to her words in how focusing on giving to others changes who we are and what we believe about ourselves and our lives.  I love that most of the gifts are not monetary, but gifts of time, compassion, a listening ear.   Her idea obviously resonates with many as it has grown into a worldwide movement of giving documented at 29gifts.org.

What about you?  What books have you read recently?

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Ever since reading this book I have been wanting to make my own cheese.  If you have been reading this blog for a while you have probably already realised that it is one of my goals to make everything that I eat, wear, or use on a daily basis, with my own two hands (at least once).  I bought a beautiful book on making cheese and hope to someday soon embark on that particular culinary adventure.  But today, I want to show you how to make one of the easiest possible cheeses – yogurt cheese!  This is so simple – it only takes one ingredient and 3 utensils and is ready within 24 hours.  It has multiple uses, including a yummy and healthier version of cream cheese icing.  So, let’s get started.

Ingredients:  Plain yogurt  (I use my homemade yogurt, but any plain yogurt will do as long as it is not thickened with gelatin.  Balken-style yogurt works particularly well, especially if you are making icing.)

Supplies: metal strainer, cheese cloth, a bowl that the metal strainer will rest over

Line the strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth.  Pour in the yogurt.  Place in the fridge for 24 hours. 

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Yogurt separated from whey

When you pull it out of the fridge, the liquid whey will have separated from the yogurt, leaving a soft cheese behind.  Drain the whey and store the cheese in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Finished Cheese

So…what can you do with yogurt cheese?  I am sure there are many more ways to eat it than I have discovered, but here is what I like to do with it:

Yogurt Icing – stir in a little vanilla extract and powdered sugar to taste (this take a LOT less sugar than traditional butter or cream-cheese based icing and has gotton rave reviews whenever I have served it to friends and family) 

Yogurt Cheese dips – use instead of sour cream or cream cheese in dip recipes

Herb Cheese Spread – mix the yogurt with garlic and herbs before draining and use as a spread for bagels or toast

If you know of any other ways to eat it – let me know!  Have fun making cheese!

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