six fun things

When making a large amount of soup for like, say, a wedding(!), freeze the base without the liquids to save freezer space. For example, this is the start of six gallons of soup.

The meatballs are frozen separately, in bags. Come Crunch Week, I’ll thaw the base and add the remaining (gallons of) chicken broth and tomatoes.

I was explaining my soup plans to one of my friends (who stopped by to chat and ended up helping with the meatballs)…

… and she, impressed, said, “How did you know to do that?” (meaning, freeze the base and add liquids later), and I had no answer! I mean, my mom sometimes does it, so maybe I learned it from her? I kinda thought everyone knew this, but maybe not?

Do you do this?

***

From Kate, I learned that a stainless steel fridge is a perfect writing surface for dry erase markers, so now I’ve upgraded my weekly meal planning to the fridge door, as per her methods. 

This works so much better than keeping a menu on paper for one huge reason: I see it. The menu is right there, in my face, keeping me on track. 

I never realized how much brain energy goes towards thinking about a menu I already made (and jotted down on a piece of paper). So many times, throughout the day, I start pondering the menu and then, a quick glance at the fridge, and I’m like, “Oh yeah, already solved that one” and then I move on. 

Bonus: the whole family appreciates knowing what’s up. Having the menu posted makes them feel a little more included, I think.

***

Lately, I’ve been making gallons of yogurt at a time. Since I don’t want to run the risk of spoiling such a large batch with subpar starter, I always using fresh culture. This means I have to remember to buy little containers of plain Danon yogurt from the store and then there’s the yogurt containers to throw out (and I’m getting sick of plastic, plastic, plastic). But then I discovered a video that Kate posted in which she compared two kinds of freeze-dried yogurt culture: Yo-Cult versus ABY-2C. The ABY-2C sounded, and looked, so good that I decided to spring for it.

I got the large bottle (which is actually small and quite pricey — about 60 dollars, I think) but it’s supposed to culture up to 500 gallons of milk, there’s no plastic waste, and, since it’s stored in my freezer, I never have to think about running to the store for starter culture. Plus, I can use some of the yogurt to re-culture two or three more batches, which will stretch the starter even more. (Here’s a smaller container, if you want to try.)

The first batch set up beautifully and tastes delicious: mild, sweet, creamy. Round two, using some yogurt from the first batch for culture, is incubating now. 

I’ll keep you posted.

***

For our family Sunday night movie, we watched CODA, about a hearing (and singing) girl in a deaf family.

The actors who played her parents and brother are actually deaf, and the girl had to learn sign language for her role. The storyline is solid — simple, nuanced, funny, real — and the acting is fabulous. Highly, highly recommend. (AppleTV)

***

Ever since last week, I’ve been going on daily walks. Sometimes I walk with a friend, and a couple times I’ve carted along my phone in my boob holder so I could chat with my older daughter, but more often than not I go phoneless, by myself.

At first, without using that time to connect with another person and get my extrovert fix, the time spent walking felt like a waste. A whole hour, mindlessly tripping along — what a time suck! But now I’m beginning to look forward to being unconnected, quiet and alone save for the passing cars and the occasional deer, with nothing but my thoughts to occupy me.

***

Every winter when I go to dig out my twinkle lights, I inevitably discover that I don’t have the right length strand, or the lights are burned out, or I can’t find the the lights I KNEW I packed away. And then I have to go through the tedium of tracking down the right kind of light (soft white) except by the time I go looking, Christmas is practically upon us and the shelves are already half bare and all that’s left are the obnoxious multi flashing lights, or the retina-scorching LEDs. So last year, I made a note on my November calendar to ORDER 3 STRANDS OF TWENTY-FOOT LIGHTS. 

It was still complicated — the Amazon options overwhelmed me and my husband had to help me click my way through the choices because I am pathetic — but now I have them! I also ordered a short strand of lights; just one strand to make sure they were the right length and correct kind of light (because I never actually trust the description). Turns out, it was just what I wanted, so I ordered a few more.

Now I have one strand of twinkle lights above the jelly cupboard, another on our clothing wardrobe in our bedroom, and several more stashed away, just waiting to light up some dark corner. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can add so much warmth to a room. Go, team twinkle!

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (11.9.20), of mice and men and other matters, unleashing the curls!, the quotidian (11.10.14), maple roasted squash, pumpkin cranberry cream cheese muffins, mashed sweet potatoes.

7 Comments

  • Elva

    It will be interesting to see if you like the new yogurt culture. One of my friends, always uses a culture like you mention (not exactly the same), but I did not like the yogurt that I made from it, as it was too tangy.. I buy a 32-ounce container of Stonyfield whole milk plain yogurt to use as a culture. I make a half-gallon worth of yogurt every other day, and I use new culture every other time. Then I use the Stonyfield yogurt containers to store my own yogurt (two at a time), and also to give friends leftovers from a dinner we share or just to give people food. I never seem to have too many of them.

  • Jonathan

    Excellent! Now, if you could just include a picture of the fridge menu for each Quotidian posting here on out… That way I’ll know which evenings I should come and visit on.

  • Becky R.

    No, I never thought to fix soup “fixings” without the liquid! So, essentially you are freezing all the solids to add to broth to actually simmer the soup when you are ready? So simple, it’s genius! I am going to try this to save freezer space. Thank you, mother and daughter. The dry eraser idea is exciting as well. I have a SS frig, and it is exasperating not to be able to post things on the front of it. Yes, please update me on your yogurt results. I, too, end up buying little plastic jars of yogurt, and it is a waste of frig space and plastic. If I had a place to walk that was this lovely, I would love it. I never take a phone. You are right, it is the perfect time to be alone with myself. I never have the right length twinkle lights either. They are so cheerful, I leave them up at least until spring in our den. It makes it much more cozy during the dark months. Great post, Jennifer, very, very helpful. Thank you for passing these along.

  • Thrift at Home

    That is a genius soup freezing idea – I have never seen it or thought of it!

    I use a Bulgarian yogurt culture from Cultures for Health that is still going strong since 2013. My motivations for getting it were the same as yours! I’m very pleased with it.

    I have started doing calendar reminders to myself for things like those twinkle lights (and can we just grouse for a moment how quickly those dang things go bad!? I hate not being able to fix them!). Currently have a note for January to start sourcing new balcony curtains (might need to sew them) because we junked our old ones this fall.

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