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Giveaway: Yogotherm from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh

yogotherm box - Food in Jars

I’ve been making yogurt at home off and on for years. I started doing it because I was trying to reduce the amount of plastic that was coming into my kitchen and all those quart tubs seemed like a good place to start. I kept doing it because I found that it was easy, immensely satisfying, budget friendly, and produced delicious yogurt. I often suggest homemade yogurt to friends and blog readers who are looking for an easy and satisfying homemade dairy project.

yogotherm canister - Food in Jars

For years now, my favorite method for keeping the yogurt warm during the culturing stage was to use a cooler. However, it was also the cooler that often deterred me from making yogurt. In my apartment, the only space large enough for a cooler is up at the top of my hall closet. To pull it out or put it away again involves a step stool and the momentary relocation of the things living in front of it. Sad to say, but the dread of playing tetris with my storage area was often

heating milk - Food in Jars

Thankfully, Sharon from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh came to my rescue, with the suggestion of the Yogotherm. It’s a product she uses in many of her classes, and has been the solution to my previous yogurt making resistance. The design is simple. It’s a food-safe plastic tub, nestled into an insulated canister.

You can either pour your heated and inoculated milk into a jar and set it into the Yogotherm, or you can pour it directly into the tub. The canister keeps the milk at the ideal temperature for the culture to take hold and transform the milk into yogurt.

cooling milk - Food in Jars

I’ve been making one quart at a time in my Yogotherm. I slowly warm four cups of organic whole milk to 180 degrees F. Once the milk reaches that temperature, I either set the pot into a sink full of cold water or (if I’ve used a pot that doesn’t handle radical temperature chances well), I pour the warm milk into a stainless steel bowl and let it cool for a moment or two. I’ve found that brisk whisking while the milk is cooling brings the temperature down quickly. Just make sure to watch the temperature so that it doesn’t cool too much.

inoculated milk - Food in Jars

Once the milk is around 120 degrees F, pull it out of the cold water and whisk in the culture. For my first batch, I used the yogurt culture that Sharon sent along with the Yogotherm. For subsequent batches, I’ve saved a few tablespoons of the yogurt from the previous batch to act as the starter for the next.

culturing yogurt - Food in Jars

Then I give the Yogotherm a quick rinse with boiling water to warm and clean it, nestle my jar into the canister (the container is made of food-safe plastic, I just like the ease of being able to pull the jar right out and pop it in the fridge when the yogurt is done), and pop the lid on. Because I like a tangy yogurt, I let it culture for five to eight hours, but for a less tart version, you can stop the culturing as soon as the milk thickens.

This week, Hobby Hill Farm Fresh is offering a special deal on the Yogotherm. It’s on sale for $46.95 (down from $57.95) and will ship with packets of two different yogurt cultures and a jar of their house brand preserves. Additionally, I have one Yogotherm pack (same as what you’d get if you bought it) to give away this week.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your gateway DIY project. Yogurt making? Bread baking? Canning? Or something else?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 28, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 29, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Sent me the Yogotherm you see here, as well as a few yogurt cultures, for review and photography purposes at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions remain my own. 

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Sponsored Post: Give the Gift of the MightyFix from MightyNest

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During my visit with my parents earlier this week, we spent some time talking about the coming holidays. Mostly, the conversation was strategic. We mapped out transportation, thought through menu ideas, and traded thoughts on what to get my sister’s two young boys. We also talked about gifts for one another, but kept coming back around to the reality that we all have pretty much everything we need.

And so we struck a deal. This year, we’re only giving gifts that serve a purpose. Bars of good soap are great, but useless appliances are not. Edible gifts are a-okay, but no one needs another sweater. And anything that helps keep our kitchens clean and running smoothly are always welcome.

If you find that your family feels the same as mine, may I suggest the MightyFix from my friends at MightyNest? It’s a monthly subscription service that sends full sized non-toxic products for the kitchen and home. It costs $10 a month and ships for free. What’s more, anything your recipient wants to add to their monthly order from MightyNest will also ship for free.

It’s a gift that continues to give all year long, which means that your favorite cousin or your best friend will get monthly reminders that you’re thinking about them. When the MightyFix was first launched, I bought a subscription for my sister, and she’s really appreciated the various shipments she’s gotten. It’s included things like Bee’s Wrap, a set of reusable Produce Bags, a stack of six Tidy Dish Cloths, and lunchbox-ready leakproof Stainless Steel Containers.

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Because of the popularity of the MightyFix, the folks at MightyNest are only able to offer a limited number of subscriptions. If it’s something you’re interested in getting for a friend, I’d suggest you subscribe sooner rather than later. They are offering 6 month, 9 month and 12 month subscriptions. And, if you’re one of the first 250 people to use the widget below to sign up, you’ll get a holiday bonus in the form of credit that you can use for your own MightyNest purchase.

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Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam

Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

Last week, a day or two before I left for Portland, I made three batches of jam in rapid succession. The first was a combination of pears and persimmons. The second was a gingery apple butter. And the last one was a low sugar pear cranberry jam.

I meant to share the apple butter last week, and then got lost in travel and the pleasure of being with my parents and thus getting to be slightly less responsible than normal, so it didn’t happen. Because Thanksgiving is looming and I’ve been procrastinating, I thought I’d get this one up first, so that if it appealed to you, there’d still be time to make it before the holiday.

Making Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

And while we’re on the subject of Thanksgiving and cranberries, don’t forget that the archives of this site are bursting with seasonally appropriate recipes. Here are some of my favorites.

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Cookbooks: Making Dough by Russell Van Kraayenburg

Making Dough Cover - Food in Jars

For the first time in a very long time, I’m cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year. Scott’s family is celebrating the Saturday before the actual day, and my family has a long-standing tradition of gathering the Saturday after. And so, without any plans for the actual holiday, we decided to stay home and make our own.

Making Dough Pie Dough - Food in Jars

I’ve been keeping a running list of tasks that need to be done before November 26 arrives, and making pie crusts is up near the top. It’s something that can be done well in advance and eases the workload in those last days before you heft the turkey into the oven.

Making Dough Maple Danish - Food in Jars

I’ve always been a serviceable pie crust maker, but in all the years I’ve been doing it, my skills have never progressed beyond adequate. So, when I was approached about trying and writing about the pie dough recipe from Russell Van Kraayenburg’s new book, Making Dough, I was happy to embrace the challenge if it helped me improve my technique.

Making Dough Apple Crostata Prep - Food in Jars

The book features twelve different master dough ratios/recipes, includes options to make by hand or using machines, and then offers a generous handful of recipes (both sweet and savory) that utilize the different doughs. I’ve bookmarked a number of different recipes, and have already announced to my family that I’m making the Maple Braided Danish (pictured above) for Christmas morning.

Making Dough Apple Crostata Unbaked - Food in Jars

I didn’t manage to try out Russell’s pie dough recipe before I left Philly last week, so I commandeered my parents’ kitchen earlier today to make a batch of pie dough. The recipe uses both bread flour (for elasticity) and cake flour (for tenderness), along with butter, salt, and water. I opted to unearth my mother’s food processor and it whizzed the dough together in about a minute. I turned it out onto a length of plastic wrap, gently pressed it into a disc, and popped it into the fridge.

Making Dough Finished Apple Crostata - Food in Jars

A few hours later, it was time to turn the dough into something delicious. I went with a free-form apple crostata, because there were apples to use in the fridge, and it seemed like a good thing to eat on a rainy Portland evening. The dough rolled out beautifully, was easy to crimp and fold around the apples, and with a quick brush of milk, turned a lovely golden brown during baking.

Making Dough Back - Food in Jars

My parents’ cat reluctantly shared her spot by the sliding glass door with me.

When I get home, I’ll be using this same recipe to stock my freezer with pie crusts for the upcoming holidays (though I may introduce a bit of whole wheat pastry flour) and I can’t wait to try out some of the other master dough recipes in the future.

For a few tips on rolling out and moving pie crust, make sure to watch Russell’s video, below.

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Giveaway: New West KnifeWorks G-Fusion Petty Utility Knife

New West KnifeWorks Full

Many moons ago, my friends at New West KnifeWorks got in touch with an idea. They were launching a custom-made knife program and wanted to know if they could make one for me. Delighted by the idea, I said yes.

We scheduled a call and I spent a little time describing my ideal preserving knife. I wanted something thin and easy to handle, that could manage to hull strawberries, slice cucumbers for pickles, score tomatoes easily, and slip peaches away from their pits. After I’d talked for a while, knife maker Corey stopped me to say, “I think we already make the knife you’re describing.”

New West KnifeWorks Vertical

We put our discussion on hold and they sent me a couple different models of their G-Fusion Petty Utility Knife to use and live with for a while. Corey was right, it was the knife I’d been hoping for. Made from high carbon steel, the blade is incredibly sharp and holds an edge longer than any other knife I own. It also works well on both small tasks and larger ones.

New West KnifeWorks Handle

The handle is made from layers of fiberglass and cloth-epoxy that are compressed and cooked into sheets, before being hand-shaped and polished around the knife tang. The layers of color appear as the material is ground down, meaning that every knife is just a bit different from the last. It also happens to feel terrific in the hand.

New West KnifeWorks Sheath

Some people might have been disappointed to have ended up with a knife from the New West KnifeWorks product line rather than a custom knife. But not me. Because it means that this wonderful knife is a bit more accessible to you guys and, because it’s not a one-of-a-kind item, I get to give a New West KnifeWorks G-Fusion Petty Utility Knife away to one of you.

I’m trying something new this week and am using Rafflecopter to gather the giveaway entries. If you’re interested in entering to win a knife like mine (the handle color we settled on for me was Mountain Huckleberry. It just seemed appropriate), complete one or all of the entry options listed below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And two more things. If you’re still intrigued by the idea of a custom New West KnifeWorks knife, they’re giving away one to new subscribers to their mailing list. And if you’ve got a mountain man in your life, make sure to check out New West’s sister shop, Mtn Man Toy Shop.

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Links: Cranberries, Marinated Pumpkin, and Winners

tomato jam

I’ve been in Portland for the last few days, visiting my parents, making jam with the last of their tomatoes, and going to a retreat at a gorgeous place called Menucha out in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s been really good to let the beauty of the Pacific Northwest wash over me. Now, links!

The Optimist Rosemary Mint

Now, time for some winners! We’ve got a lot of them this week!

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