Yogurt is another new things I have decided to make since COVID.
I bought a maker with 14 little jars that have screw top lids. 14 jars seemed a little extravagant when there are just two of us. I made the excuse that as we have 6 grandchildren this would make enough for visitors when they would be finally allowed to visit.
Putting aside the complexity of my thoughts as to whether 14 jars was too many or would we ever have large family gatherings where any number of anything will be worthwhile holding out for, the making of yogurt is quite simple. It needs a spoonful of live yogurt, milk and a bit of heat left for a while to create what for me has been amazing tasting food. After a few failed attempts, I have discovered that long-life milk is easiest otherwise you have to heat fresh milk to between 75 and 80 Celsius, then cool then add your spoonful of culture. If you don’t heat the milk, you run the risk of making interesting things like cottage cheese or sour cream, I think this is to do with the bacteria that is naturally in the milk, but I’m no expert just a granny. I have found that full cream milk is best, I think it’s better for the gut as it helps keep the ‘friendly bacteria’ alive in what is a bath of acid once it arrives in your stomach, it also makes extremely nice creamy yoghurt. to be honest I haven’t bought any yoghurt from the supermarket since I bought my machine, which is over six months ago.
Compost, and the making of it is a huge and important part of my holistic approach to gardening and food. I have a composting bin on the worktop in the kitchen into which I place every vegetable trimming, kitchen paper, cardboard egg boxes and eggshells. Plenty of people don’t like eggshells in compost heaps, this is because they don’t biodegrade as quickly and are quite unsightly when you take the rotted compost out of the bin in the garden to use. So into this little composting bin, that sits on my worktop with secure sealing lid to keep any flies out, I place eggshells that I have wrapped up in kitchen paper and crushed, I’m hoping this will be a technique that works in helping to break down the eggshells quicker. Eggshells are brilliant at keeping slugs away from plants, not wrapped up in paper of course, but crushed and sprinkled around the base of a new plant that you do not wish to be nibbled.
I refuse to use any kind of pesticide, or slug pellet in my garden because once you start poisoning the food chain it carries through to the large creatures. This is why I will never again use poison to kill mice or rats. Six years ago we had a rat problem, not in this house but a few houses ago. The farmer decided to double plough his field, disrupting the nests of rats that lived in it. Of course the rats moved on, into the village and as I was one of the first houses on the edge the village they moved into our garden. I bought a rat poisoning box, I thought putting the poison in the box was a brilliant idea it would stop cats getting to it. But it didn’t stop the neighbour’s cat eating the dying rats and becoming very ill herself. Of course in nature it wouldn’t just be the neighbour’s cat it would be owls and foxes and other things that eat rodents. I promptly got two cats, who scared the rats off quickly, not by being out because they were not allowed out to start with, but because I would dump their wood pellet litter around the edge of the hedge. This I have continued to do. In every house that I have lived in since, (which is a few but that’s for another blog) my cats have moved with us and the cats do not go out at night so need a litter tray. The litter tray has wood pellets in it, once I have moved any solids, if there are any, I will sprinkle the spent litter around the garden or into the compost heap. Because it is wood it biodegrades and the worms eat it and it becomes a fibrous material to improve the soil.
The philosophy of my life, as I have grown older, has been to not use anything harmful, to try and give back to nature more than I have taken out. We both, my husband and I, try to up cycle and reuse wherever possible. This not only makes for a cheaper life, one that costs very little, but also helps to work in harmony with nature and enviroment.