Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Making Yogurt

I'd been wanting to make yogurt for some time now, mostly because making something instead of buying it is always cooler. I considered buying a yogurt maker, which basically helps with in the incubating phase, but decided it was unnecessary and would just end up taking up precious storage space. Also kitchen gadgets only seems to get used for a short while before they are forgotten in the back of the shelf.  I read about a few different methods to keep the yogurt/mixture warm which all seemed rather simple.

First I gather up my all the item I'd need to make yogurt:
Half gallon of milk
Store bought plain yogurt (make sure it says it contains active cultures)
Jars (I bought ball jars mostly for aesthetic reason, anything clean that seals would work)
Kitchen thermometer
Large saucepan

 First I cleaned and sanitized the equipment. 

Then I added the milk to the saucepan and put over heat. Ideally your thermometer would clip to the side it make things easier. My didn't and I managed just fine. I heated the milk to 185°F, stirring occasionally. Basically heat until it is about to boil but do not let it boil! Then I  cool it down to 110°-115°. I would recommend filling the sink with cold water and ice to do this quickly. Once it has cool to the appropriate temperature add 2-3 tablespoons of the plain yogurt. Mix it in well.

From there I pour the mixture into the jars and sealed them. I thought about using a heating pad for the incubating phase but I didn't like the idea of having plugged in for 6-7hours. So I to incubate my jar I filled a cooler with hot water and closed the lid. This method worked wonderfully. I occasionally would check the temperature of the water to make sure it was still between 110°-115° and only had to add more hot water once. I checked the yogurt at six hours but it still seemed a bit runny so I gave it another hour and it had thicken up to my liking. I pulled the jars from the cooler and placed them in to the refrigerator. Not only was making the yogurt fun but it tasted great! Since I didn't incubate it long it was far less tart than plain yogurt from the store. I'm excited to keeping making it and experimenting with different methods.

Alomst there!
Cooled down quickly

The final product.

I encourage all to try to make this on your own! Minimal work for great tasting yogurt.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marilyn's board almost done!

I have not been posting on Marilyn's board at all, so here's some catch up. Last we left off that I had the cloth cut and the board ready to be glassed on the bottom. I practiced first on a handplane to do this type of color work while glassing because i'd never done this type of design in teh color. Psyched I practiced, as that one practice helped alot. Marilyn and Mel both helped me glass the bottom, as I was intimidated to do it by myself and get it all done before the epoxy gelled. It came out great! Marilyn was pumped, and so was I. We wrapped the rails with a cut lap, and then once it gelled, cut it off at the tape line, to have a nice line where the green cloth ended on top of the board. see below

 Bottom of the board, looking great! this was a design modeled after a leaf that Marilyn at their place, and it came out pretty awesome, thanks to the help from Marilyn and Mel!

 Top of the board, with the cutlap cut. Looking good too! My cut lines weren't perfect though, so pinlines are needed to hide the shakiness of my cut lines. Again, never done those, so psyched to try it out.

 I glassed the top of the board by myself (no colors involved here, so a bit easier to handle) and it came out super good too. psyched I did it all in time, and with some to spare. you feel high or something when you do a good glassing job, i like it. This above photo is after I hotcoated the board. This is where you just paint clear epoxy over the glass job you already did to smooth it all out. "don't even touch barney! that's a fresh hotcoat!"

 Then i mounted in the fin box for the board. I used a spare fin i have to put it into the fin box, and have a reference to make sure it is perfectly vertical and the box is therefore in perfect also. The epoxy has a property where the larger the volume, the quicker and hotter the reaction takes place when it starts to harden. So the issue here is that you carve out this rectangular hole in the board to mount the fin box into, and then pur epoxy in, push in the fin box, and get it aligned and everything while it cures. There's horrow stories of guys melting the foam inside the board some when doing this, because of the exothermic reaction that takes place, so a trick is to hold an ice bag against the opposite side of the board, to keep it cool. You can't see it, but that what the duct tape is doing there- holding an ice bag against the bottom of the board while the epoxy cures. I also have an air pump, for air mattresses, sitting on the board running as this creates some vibration throughout the board, and if there are any bubbles down in the epoxy, it helps them rise up to the surface and pop, and then there's no potential air pockets or anything anywhere. I've seen this done with other stuff, but not too sure how much it helped here.
I just masked off the top of the board and painted on the pinlines to hide the cutlap line. I've never done this, so hopefully it comes out well. I used tinted epoxy resin and painted it on. Once it starts to gel, you pull the tape and it should be a clean line, as long as you pull the tape at the right time..... hope i do that.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Humita Empanadas

I other day I was looking for humita recipes online, and come across this awesome recipe for humita empanadas. My two favorite Chilean foods in one. Genius! For those who don't know, an empanadas is a South and Central American pastry with various filling depending on the country. An humita is a Native South American dish consisting of fresh corn mixed with onion, and spices wrap in a corn husks and them steamed. It is similar to a tamale, but I think tamale are made with corn meal instead of fresh corn. Not sure on that one.  I didn't use green onion as the recipe call for but opted to use a sweet onion instead, making it more traditionally in a Chilean humita filling. They turned out great, though a side of pebre would go quite nicely with it.

It's wedding season!

Ryan and Magdalena's wedding was a blast! Good food and drinks, a great deal of dancing, and a wonderful reason to celebrate.

We didn't do to well on our first attempt...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Marilyn's longboard

Marilyn's longboard!

 So  I haven't documented making this board at all til now, but as you can see... it's shaped! this one is for my friend Marilyn (did I spell that right?). She wanted a big longboard that floats super well and catches waves with ease, so that's what this guy is. It's 9'2" long and 3.25 inches thick in the middle, so this guy will float! Details on it - it's 22.75 inches wide at the wide point, which is 3 inches back from the center point of the board lengthwise. 

The board is pretty similar to a noserider, with lots of the same features and design concepts, as noseriders are meant to be floaty and trim nicely. The rails are pretty round, 50/50 or 60/40 ish, throughout the middle, which will keep it floaty, and be forgiving on turning and not all quick and sensitive/unforgiving, so this will help out Marilyn. In the back 2 feet or so, the rails are still 50/50 ish, but the board is thinner, so they are a bit more knifey. I kept the rails rounded up on the bottom in the back so that the water will suction up the rails, and essentially pull the back end down into the water more. The other end of the spectrum of this would be to have the rails have a harder down edge which would then cause the water to break away from teh board easily, no suction force would really occur, and it would facilitate turning a lot easier/be more high-performance longboard style. No high performance turning features seemed necessary for Marilyn as that's not what she's looking for. The front of the board has beveled up rails on teh underside, since i went ahead and put in a 1/2" deep concave up in the nose of the board in case Marilyn feels like walking the nose someday, or if anyone else is riding it and wants to give it a shot; the board will help facilitate that. The concave on the underside of the nose causes turbulence as teh water passes under, which creates an upward force from the water, creating lift, so when you're up on the nose, it doesn't just nosedive. The concave side edges just help the rider have some control and steer while on the nose, and give the board some traction. The rounded up edges in the back of the board that create suction, and suck the back end down, also helping keep the nose from nosediving as it creates some lift in the front end, even when the rider is not back on the tail end. I kept the bottom center of the board flat to just keep it stable and steady. in the tail end on the bottom, there's a slight V shape, or reverse concave, which will help facilitate some turns and make it easier to lean to one side of the board when the rider does want to turn. The top of the board is flat. simple. not much else to the board. The tail and nose rocker are pretty standard, not too flat or kicked or anything, as Marilyn doesn't want to be nosediving too easy or having some odd feature that doesn't help her out. 

Umm, the board is an EPS foam board, and was my first time using this stuff. It's 100 percent recycled foam is the same foam as the styrafoam beer coolers you buy for one use and then toss. Hopefully they got tossed into a recycling can and are now a surfboard. This company takes that foam and steams it (no chemicals, another plus), and compresses it to a rough surfboard shape. Then it's in the shop and being sold. Same shaping techniques go into this foam as with PU foam, except this stuff is a bit harder to work with. It tears a bit easier as the beads of foam are bigger than standard polyurethane foam, so you just have to go slower in the end and it takes more finishing time. Fine with me, but a bit more difficult still. Oh and it's lighter and more buoyant than normal PU foam (barely), but will again facilitate to Marilyn more. 

So these pics show that the board is shaped and taped up and ready to be glassed! Hopefully doing this tomoorrow, I just need a helper and Mel's got these finals and work going on, so we'll see! Ummmmm, more progress to come. Oh yea, foam is obviously way way way quicker than wood  (started this foam board about 2 or 3 weeks ago and been just working on it off and on, ha).

 Concave nose

Taped up with some TJ bags. This would be kinda funny to have some Trader Joe bag inlay and glass it like this.

Cloth cut and ready

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Flowers doing their part

When I first started gardening I could have care less about flowers but I'm beginning to realize that they are an integral part of a healthy garden.  The flowers attract birds and insects and help create a healthy ecosystem. I have seen a few hummingbird hanging around and I figured that instead of purchasing a hummingbird feeder and filling it with colored sugar water, I'd plant some flowers that would be to their liking. Real food for all! Also I could use the help from the bees with pollination, especially since my zucchini has already started producing flowers of both sexes!! The female flower has a thick stem, while the male's is thin and dainty. Last year I only got female flowers so I'm happy to see both.
Today I got more compost for the plot and home. I can't help but feel much cooler when I'm carrying compost in the back of my car. Mostly because because it means I'm about to do some gardening! 

The garden at home is a monster! It's a battle to death between the brussel sprout, zucchini, and artichoke. My money is on the artichoke, that thing grow on a daily basis. I feel bad for the strawberries which are being crushed by the brussel sprout, but I figure if they make it through this they be unstoppable in the future. The sugar snap peas just can't seem to figure out the trellis. They keep getting bigger but instead of using the trellis right next to them they just rather get tangle up with their neighbors. I keep trying to coax them to climb but they just don't get it.

As for that the lizard previously mentioned, I need to be happy he/she thinks my garden is a suitable home. I've come to figure out that it's an Alligator lizard which feeds on insects. Hopefully it has a preference of pests over the beneficial.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Garden Happenings

 Last week I went and got free compost. Los Angeles Country has a free mulch program with a few different locations and luckily the closest to me is in San Pedro. Even though it referred to as mulch it's so well broken down it can be used as compost. I cover the back of my SUV with a tarp and filled it up as much a possible. I love that there so many great resources out there to garden inexpensively. I will not be buying more dirt from now on. My garden looks much better and hopefully the plants will be much happier.

 This whole gardening thing is a learning experience and I have to keep reminding myself that it won't be perfect. On that note, the carrot, leek, and onion seeds all failed to sprout and only half of the chard and cabbage came up. Oh well, I planted some corn, green beans, and radish seeds and transplanted two tomatoes, three peppers and some marigolds. I wanted to do everything by seed, but I'm impatient and wanted to look a little more lively already. The corn has already began to sprout and a few radishes have been spotted!

While I can't get certain seeds to sprouts, I've been having a plethora of volunteer plants taking over. I add compost from home and with that came the seeds of rotting vegetables. So far it's been tomatoes and squash, but I couldn't tell you which kind of squash it is because they all look the same. I didn't want those plants taking over so I have placed them in pots and transported them home. One tomatoes got planted and a few of the squash. The rest might get thrown on Craigslist free once they're bigger.

I apparently have a garden companion these days. I first spotted this lizard a few weeks ago and kindly removed him/her from the garden to the side of the house. Well he/she has been spotted a few more times, everything time it's bigger too. I don't have a problem with lizards but this one startles me every time. I'm trying to be cool with it, but I don't want to be friends. It might get thrown on Craigslist free too...