My butt, January 2009

My butt,  January 2009
(who could miss it)

My butt, January 2010

My butt, January 2010
photos by Tom Peal

Welcome to You and All your Brilliant Parts!

In 2009 I lost 40 lbs and I got a new butt. How? Diet and exercise, that's the short answer. But all of the things I learned that made it emotionally possible, that allowed me to succeed when I had failed before - that will take longer. This blog celebrates the intelligence of the body. Please leave me a note to let me know what you think of this writing, if it's been helpful. I welcome your input and experience.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mermaid Salad

Hello, fellow transformation specialists!  Here's a seaweed salad recipe I promised some of you awhile back.  It's still good!

Mermaid Salad:
Mix together, then mix in dressing:
3/4 oz dried wakame, arame, or hijiki, soaked in cold water according to package directions
1 inch piece ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 1 carrot all grated together
2 green onions (scallions), sliced up to the green
2 T fresh cilantro

3 T rice vinegar
3 T soy sauce or tamari
1 T sesame oil
1 T sugar
1 T toasted sesame seeds
red pepper flakes or hot sauce (I use Sriracha chili sauce) to taste

Okay, so this has lots of sodium and some sugar, so go easy on it, but remember that sweet and salty tastes are part of a good diet too.  Seaweed has lots of minerals - pour your soaking water on plants or add to broth.

Later, Jenni

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The food that I need ...

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that I need,
or I shall be full, and deny you, and say, "Who is the Lord?"
or I shall be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God.
- Proverbs 30:8-9
Later, Jenni

Monday, April 26, 2010

Costly occurrences ...

Hello, Transformational Specialists

Here's the skinny.

I most probably have gall stones.  Since Thursday night four days ago, about three hours after a rich meal,  I've had persistent sharp pain in my right mid abdomen, under my ribs, especially after I eat.

So, I've occupied myself with full-time pain control and energetic self-healing for the last four days.

When I saw my doctor today (Friday: had to give it at least 12 hours to make sure it wasn't gas; Saturday: lost two performance dates (love to my band - they're such pros) still wondering if it was muscle cramps but treating me as if I had gall bladder disease; Sunday: lost another show, but what's the point in sitting in an emergency room on a Sunday?), she recommended that I get a sonogram right away, she'll look at it as soon as she can, and if it shows stones she'll recommend surgery as soon as possible.

The deal is, these stones won't dissolve or go away.  They're already causing me pain, and will likely get worse if I don't remove them, causing additional danger of jaundice and life-threatening septic states.

You need to know that rapid weight loss is an indicator for gall stones, as is obesity and being a woman. The onset of an attack is usually after a rich (high in fat) meal.  Here's a good online source of info  from the U.S. gov.

Since there are psycho-spiritual aspects to all bodily events (file under "poetic justice" and cross-reference with "karma"...), I'm taking this as a loud and clear signal from my body that, no, I can't go back to eating like a teen-ager, like I don't care about my weight.  No boomerangs allowed in this parlor.

In the research I've done online, I haven't seen anything about what to do right now, how to manage an attack.

So here's my contribution to the on-line literature about gall bladder attack.

My gall bladder attack "let's stay out of the emergency room" pain management strategy has been: 1. finding stillness with meditation;  2.)  restorative asanas that create space in the abdomen; 3.)  gentle slow movement (I went on a short walk today), 4.) drastically simplified diet with no fat of any kind; 5.)  rest, 6.)  breathing with the pain, and 7.) cold packs.  As well as some special Peal family remedies.

And release of the frustration, of the embarrassment, of the disappointment of these last days and this costly occurrence.

It seems like my body is needing to release a lot these days.

Later, Jenni

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

intelligence, the mind, the body, and thanks

"All cravings are the mind seeking salvation or fulfillment in external things and in the future ... a substitute for the joy of Being.  As long as I am my mind, I am those cravings, those needs, wants, attachments, and aversions, and apart from them there is no "I" except as a mere possibility, an unfulfilled potential, a seed that has not yet sprouted.  In that state, even my desire to become free or enlightened [or healthy, or beautiful ... JMP] is just another craving for fulfillment or completion in the future.  So don't seek to become free of desire ... Become present." Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now
 "The intrinsic knowledge of every life form refines itself as the planet sheds and produces because of the self-constructing intelligence of the universe."  "Intelligence is the natural order of all life."  Maya Tiwari  Ayurveda: A Life of Balance:  The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Nutrition & Body Types With Recipes

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird stores enough fat to fly 26 hours non-stop at 25 miles an hour.  This is enough to span the Gulf of Mexico." Shackelford, Rozenburg, Hunter, & Lockwood Migration and The Migratory Birds of Texas (Fourth Ed., 2005; Texas Parks and Wildlife pub.)
So, I wonder if the birds' pituitary glands, which are  triggered by seasonal (and un-seasonal) changes, prompting the birds to gorge themselves prior to and during long migratory flights, cause the ruby-throated hummingbird to "crave?"  Would that be the experience of mind to a bird, Eckhart?

Conversely, is what I experience as my mind, when I, as my mind,  identify with my cravings (building anxiety, guilt, frustration and despair around them, co-creating that personal story alongside my ego) simply the squirtings of my pituitary gland?  Or some other glands ... or organs ...

Fellow transformation specialists, I seek the wisdom of my body and the faculties of my mind to heal my body and my mind.  This will only work if I trust the intelligence they possess, a part of the universal intelligence that we share.  I want to experience the vibration of that intelligence, in myself and all creation.

Thanks, readers, for sharing ways that you are tapping in to your inner wisdom, and that spirit that is the way we experience universal intelligence.  Gwen, would you post about the "Healing Sounds" events you've experienced - I can't find your note to me.  That sounded great - like a de-frag operation on the obsessive mine.  Bekah, thanks for sharing your thoughts on food with us - not being a renunciate, I constantly have to re-negotiate my relationship with food and your words resonate with me.

Later, Jenni

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's what you do with it that changes it ...

Hello, fellow transformational specialists

I've had some digestive problems in the days after the juice fast.  At this time, I have my last planned juice fast scheduled for July 2010, starting July 1 with the pre-pre fast as in March.  So, since I know that topic will come up again, I'll put it off for now, because that's not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk bicycling!

The number one thing I've done to reshape my butt is bicycling.  I love it!  Tom and I have cruiser bikes - one speed, brake in the pedal.  Like kids' bikes.  It gives me the same happy feeling I had biking as a child.   I never really got the hang of shifting gears, and didn't like the angle of the seat on the "adult" bikes I've had through the years.  So I haven't biked much as an adult - until now.

We got our bikes in late March last year, so I've been riding again for a year.

The results have made my current weight-loss period significantly different from my last one (1988-89: lost 70 pounds after having a child) in that I'm hardening up more.  I also feel that I've lost more fat from the inside of my body (around my organs, etc.) than just the fat on the outsides of my muscles.  But what you do for your muscles (reduction of fat, toning, stretching) helps your bones, helps your organs.

Yesterday we took our bikes out west to Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway, where we biked twenty miles from the town of Mineral Wells (the trailhead is the old rail yard behind the fancy depot in view of the imposing Baker Hotel) along rail bed to Weatherford.  Nothing but countryside and the tiny town of Garner.  Then we stretched our legs, drank about a half gallon water apiece and rode back.

That was my first forty-mile ride, brothers and sisters!

Who said you can't teach an old dog new trix?

How are you using your brilliant bodies these days, gentle readers?

Later, Jenni

Monday, April 5, 2010

And now it's Monday ...

The 3 Days to Vitality juice fast and break-fast are over.  I weighed 5 pounds less on Saturday (from a week's program.)  But this morning the scale gave me two back.  Well, it wasn't the scale - it was all the food I ate yesterday, and the fact that I hadn't pooped in two days.  Since we're sharing our lives here ...

Anyway, I had no business weighing on a Monday morning since Saturdays are my weigh-in days.  I was curious.  Saturday was my break-fast, and I followed it by the book, easing into solid foods with fruit and cooked veggies during the day and some protein that night.  But Sunday held three high-energy professional commitments (and the Deep Ellum Arts Festival), and I was famished.  Gyro, including bread (gasp) for lunch and late night restaurant food.  And a martini (with great jazz.)

Oh well, I don't live to eat, I eat to live.  I've heard that used as a complaint: "They live to eat ..." ; it meant somebody ate too much, at the expense of their health or manners or good looks.  But now I see it works both ways.  I can't hover over my plate forever as I have done on the juice fast.  In fact, I think that obsession with food and eating can take many forms.

All is well today, I don't care about the scale - I feel strong and light from the fast and Major Poop came to save the day right on schedule.  I did some good journaling and meditation during the week and got all my work done.  Thanks for walking with me.

The last of three of Serure's journalling exercises I did was "I choose."  I just listed things I want in my life from the perspective of a person in control.  Like I can just choose anything.  And it's more than words on paper.  I keep remembering them during typical awake brain moments - - transitional thought moments that so often can be occupied with worry, obsession, emotionality, comparing ...

Here are some of my choices.  I choose to trust myself and accept myself every day.  I choose to be present with people and accept them unconditionally.  I choose to dis-associate myself from my pain body.  I choose to choose.

It's funny how that thing about people kept coming back to me yesterday, mixed with the idea from The Power of Now of simply being present.  Accepting the moment and people in the moment just the way they are is more than a feel-good psych fake-out.  It helps me find my place in the world and be happy.   That's what's meant by "peace of mind," I think.

Let me know how things are going with you, dear fellow Transformational Specialist.

Later, Jenni

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gaining and losing

Journaling is a big part of Pamela Serure's 3 Days to Vitality program; in fact, she calls it "essential journaling.  So, now on Day 2, I have picked up my journal.

One of her topics for journaling is, "What do you want to gain?  What do you want to lose?"  These questions, of course, go beyond such answers as "health" and "weight" and even "high cholesterol."
They have to do with the way we approach our lives, the way we want to live our lives every day.

Having overcome my resistance to writing something somebody asked me to write, and having warmed up on the previous topic "what increases your faith?",  I was able to make a couple of lists.  Reviewing them, I found them sound.

Then I called my adult son and left a message on his cell phone saying I wasn't planning lunch for us this week, that I was on a juice fast and my days are regimented, plus I'm doing a lot of music work ... would make a date next week ... invited him to my show on Sunday ... didn't really call for any reason except to say "I love you ..."

And then I was sad.

History:  Andy's dad and I divorced when he was two after ten years of marriage.  We planned our divorce for a year - we were never angry with each other and were never ugly in front of Andy.  We decided it would be best for Andy to live with his dad, who had the close-by support of his own parents, had a better paying job than I would ever have, and, to my mind, was more likely to be present if he was custodial.  Plus I figured my ex could and would accommodate me as an absent parent better than I could accommodate him, considering I was venturing off into an uncertain future as a musician.

Our son is now 21, and our time together has been consistent and regular through the years.  We love each other and Andy shows me respect and affection.  His life is largely dark to me, and I've had to trust my ex over the years for Andy's primary parenting.  My ex has been a good parent.  For a few years when Andy was a teenager that trust was violated, as I was left out of some important events in Andy's life and stood by impotent as he went through troubles.  But he's an adult now, and bears more responsibility for our relationship.  He doesn't lead a troubled life, as far as I can see, has a good take on his present and future, has friends, gets the help he needs, and is getting an education.  He's smart and good-natured, though somewhat obsessive, serious and mind-driven, as I have tended to be.

So here's the deal.  I've always been sad about losing out on Andy's primary care as a child, about not getting to share his daily life as a teenager and young adult, about not knowing his friends.  I'm sorry he didn't have an in-home mom to fix him meals and teach him housekeeping and hygiene.  I've felt guilty and  worried that Andy's problems with anxiety and some other issues stem from my breaking up our home.  I've felt secondary in his life, like a grandparent or aunt, behind his own grandparents in supporting his emotional needs; my own parents are even farther off in relevance.

And so, every time I think about Andy I get sad.  Even when we're together, our time is tinged with sadness inside me, though I try not to let it show.  I want to grasp him and hold him, keep him and know him.  Andy doesn't like to be touched, and I try to touch him little.

I now realize I have something else to put on my list of things to lose.  It has been given a name by Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now.  It's called the pain body.

The pain body is part of how the ego identifies itself.  My pain body identifies me as "a guilty run-away mom with a sad little boy."  Among other things.  Pain, pain, pain.

But here's the truth.  My boy is not sad or little - I am.  And being sad now doesn't justify my behavior then, or make me more responsible, or do anything positive.  It's just how the ego recognizes itself.  The ego builds and perpetuates these stories so that it doesn't cease to exist - the ego is very fearful of ceasing to exist.

Thanks, ego, for trying to keep me alive, a "person" with a "story."  You don't have to do that - I am what I always have been - God's own child, a being "no less than the trees and the stars ..."

I will work to dissolve my pain body.

Later, Jenni

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day One: Getting Still

Today is the first day of my juice fast, and I'm following Pamela Serure's 3 Days to Vitality program fairly closely.  I say "fairly," because I do things my way.

"Getting Still" is the theme for the day, and I think that's an excellent intention.  Since I have not been able to take off from work entirely, however, I have to integrate my stillness / relaxation activities with some job stuff.

I forgot to brush my skin when I woke up this morning, but I'll do it later.  I don't to the hot water and lemon first thing cleansing, because that's too acidy for me - I don't want to press my luck on that, even though I'm taking Nexium.

So, I started my day like I always do, with a shower, my version of Serure's morning bath.  Then, I did my own take on "morning meditation and breath work."  As I've mentioned before, I'm using Sabrina Mesko's Power Mudras: Yoga Hand Postures for Women; see post of March 9.  Today, I spent about forty-five minutes in meditation and prayer with these mudras:
Mudra for  Divine Worship (that's Om - I always start that way)
Mudra for Letting Go of Negativity (help with diet: "I release all negativity and make space for a lighter and healthier me" see post # )
Mudra for Anti-Aging (this uses breath of fire - good breath work)
Mudra for Healthy Breasts and Heart
Mudra for Protecting Health
Mudra for Meditation of Change
Mudra for Patience

I followed that with personal prayer - I'm a Christian.  Then I did a few yoga asanas - the tadasana and trikosana sequences, and the Five Tibetans.

And then, oh yum, the "Morning Drink": pinapple-papaya-strawberry, with flax oil; see post of March 11 .  Serure's recipe includes acidophilus, but I don't do that.  I've had trouble with acidophilus in the past, and Tom and I get our pro-biotics from our ferments.  I'll be adding kim-chee juice to my lunch for that purpose.

On the itinerary for today:

Mid-morning drink: Apple-pear-ginger (see photo above of juicer and ingredients)
Playing music - songs and guitar - my blessing of a job
A lovely walk
Lunch: Carrot-beet-apple juice
Make broth for dinner for three nights ...

Relaxing with my current read, Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now (lots of good focus on stillness there ...), writing in my journal ...
"Afternoon Snack Drink" if I have time ...
Evening show with my band 6:00 - 8:30; I'll be sipping my broth through the show for dinner.  Not ideal, but a fair accommodation.
Back home: dessert drink, warm bath with essential oils, maybe journal, go to bed.

More photos of my juicer:

Later, Jenni

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm an Amazon Associate now ...

Since I recommend books on my site, I've become an Amazon Associate.  This means that I'll get paid up to %15 on the price of a book, .mp3 or other item purchased by someone clicking through my site.  Like a billboard, sort of.

Here's my disclaimer:  Although I do not personally collect, use, store, or disclose data collected from visitors,, a third party, may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from visitors, and place or recognize cookies on visitors’ browsers.  

I believe that placing of cookies happens when you click onto their site.

So, I don't know exactly what this will look like or how it will work yet, but keep in touch with me about how it works for you.

Later, Jenni


Hello, Transformational Specialists!

In 3 Days to Vitality, Pamela Serure suggests that you get all of the groceries and other items you need prior to the beginning of the juice fast, so today was shopping day.  She says to put all the produce out in bowls so that you can see all the great stuff you'll consume (no deprivation around here.)

How's this for pretty:
Using recipes from the book for each meal of the juice fast as my grocery list, I purchased as much organic produce as I could.  I got the organics at Whole Foods (the brand new one on Park Lane in Dallas - it's a beauty) and the conventional at Fiesta Mart.

Here's what I'll be consuming for the next three days:

Organic:  Pineapple, apples, pears, carrots, cabbage, celery, parsley, kale, spinach, cucumber, potatoes, green onion, butternut squash, fresh thyme, raspberries, blueberries (frozen.)

Conventional:  Papaya, ginger, grapes, beets, spinach, garlic, lime, strawberries.

I'll also be using flax oil in my breakfast juice, spring water for broth and drinking, and natural fragrance oils (orange, lavender, and sandlewood) for my baths.

A good point to remember is that this is a cleansing fast, so avoid exposure to chemicals and toxins for the next three days, and be careful immediately after the fast too in case you're vulnerable.  I remember seeing a news magazine story about a family that tried to sue a large chemical fertilizer company for the damage done to a man's health from exposure to the spray during normal use - it seems the man had been fasting and was vulnerable.  Hmm.  That stuck in my mind.

Later, Jenni

Monday, March 29, 2010

Celebrate Water

I'm so happy to have clean, safe drinking water every day that I want to celebrate with presents.
So, I donated to, and I made this slide show for you.

Please consider joining me in support of Water for People's goals while you enjoy the life-giving water that is so important to our weight-loss plan, transformational specialists.

Enjoy this slideshow of beautiful Tom Peal water photos, too, with soundtrack by Dallas' own Kevin Sullivan and The Hammerknockers.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pre-Fast Day One

Hello, Transformational Specialists!

We're right on schedule with our weight-loss plans, and it's time for the exciting preparation for cleansing with the juice fast.  If you've obtained the book 3 Days to Vitality by Pamela Serure, I'm sure you've gotten lots of great ideas about how to use this week's activities to make positive changes in your life.

Eating is only a part of our lives - we can make it into as big a deal as we want.  Eating, sleeping, shitting - that's the mundane stuff, right?  The basic housekeeping of your brilliant body.  Unlike one-celled creatures, we have developed to seek, secure, and prepare nourishment for our complex omnivorous systems.  Because it is our dreamy nature to do so, we've built a lot of history and culture to support that task.  But let's let go of all of that baggage for now - the good and the bad - and put eating in it's proper place.  Under our control.  I mean under the control of our higher, un-fettered, divine, wise, adult self.  Believe me, you'll enjoy all the great and beautiful things about food and cuisine even more after you gain control of it.  This is only one week in your whole beautiful life!

Just to make sure we're on the same page about this, dear readers, I'll quote Serure directly from chapter 9, The Prefast:
To help your body adjust to the changes in your diet and ease you into this program gently, it is essential that you follow a prefast for at least two or three days before your three day fast begins ...
A proper prefast will ease your body through the transition from solid foods to juice, and it will do this with a minimum amount of discomfort and shock to the system.  A prefast will also ease your mind and contribute to your emotional and spiritual state of readiness by getting you focused on the many changes that are soon to come ... 
If, for whatever reason, you cannot meet this minimum requirement, do not proceed with the program at this time ...
Note the grown-up gravity in that last statement.

So here's what we're going to let go of in the next three days, in preparation for the juice fast:

sugar (you and I have already done that, right?)
caffeine (I've eased down to green tea - no more for this week)
oils (starting today for me)
wheat (I've already given up white flour, but whole wheat abstinence will start today ...)
alcohol (I will be remembering every day ...)
meat (starting today ...  I also add eggs to this list)
dairy products (that means yogurt abstinence for me, because I've cut out cheese and milk)

Maybe you've lost some weight during the pre-pre fast - I lost three pounds.  Remember - I believe in slow weight loss, so I used my discipline to eat only good food, cut out sugars and other problems, re-dedicate myself to healthy exercise and other routines, and be mindful of and shave off portion sizes.

Waking up in the morning with an empty belly is such a reward.  I just feel better all day.  I hope you have shared this outcome with me through March!

Serure leaves the nature of our prefast in our hands, with guidance.  She instructs us to eat vegetables, dairy-free soups, salads and fruits.  We are to eat vegetables and fruits at different times, at least two hours apart.  Fruits (excluding high-acid fruits) are recommended for each breakfast of the prefast.  Likewise, she suggests raw vegetables for lunch and steamed vegetables for dinner (seasoned with fat-free tamari.)  She also provides a discussion of mono-diets, for those who are interested.

A minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water is recommended per day, and Serure instructs us to abstain from carbonated water or other beverages, even naturally carbonated, because carbonation is hard on the stomach and we want to make things easy for our stomach.

I have some of my own ideas about healthy eating, so here's my prefast plan:

Breakfast: fresh fruit
Mid-morning or noon: steel-cut oats with a tablespoon of walnuts and stevia
Lunch:  cooked, raw, and fermented vegetables (including dense veggies like potatoes, in small portions)
Dinner: miso soup with seaweed and fermented veggies
Non-caffeine tea and lots of water through the day; fresh fruit at any time that is distanced from meals by at least two hours and not too late at night.

I do not skimp on portions - I eat as much as I want.  Considering everything in my diet for three days except the oatmeal, walnuts and potatoes is water-based and non-dense, I think that's appropriate as long as I reject compulsive or fearful eating.  I also avoid artificial sweeteners, candy, gum, etc.  They're not food.

Stay positive!  Write to me about your excitement!  I'm so happy we're doing this together.  I plan to post every day this week, if possible.

Later, Jenni

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuning the Lute: Rituals to practice now and during the fast

There is hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.  If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and the belly are burning clearn
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you're full of food and drink, an ugly metal
statue sits where your spirit should.  When you fast, 
good habits gather like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon's ring.  Don't give it
to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you've lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents,
Jesus' table.
Expect to see it when you fast, this table
spread with other fod, better than the broth of cabbages.
- Rumi, enlightened Sufi scholar and teacher, 1207 -1273
From 3Days to Vitality, Pamela Serure, 1997

I'll start my pre-fast on Sunday, March 28, in preparation for my juice fast beginning March 31.

In Part Two of Serure's book, the chapter headings are:
- Establishing Some New Rituals
- Exercises for a Spiritual Journey
- Setting the Stage
- The Prefast 
Those of you who are following 3Days to Vitality and have read it know that Serure's program is as much about cleansing mind and spirit as flushing toxins out of the body.  While I have picked over her suggestions and have happily substituted some of my own practices, I have found her approach generally sound.  Since I've already written about how I see mind, body and spirit connected, you may see why her approach is logical to me.

Serure recommends that the faster take a vacation from routine practices for the three days of the fast, taking off time from work if possible, and start preparing for that vacation well in advance (as one would for any vacation.)  While the three days of pre-fast beginning on Sunday prepare my body for the juice fast on Wednesday, I will spend some time each day preparing my mind and spirit for the benefits of the fast.  I'm sure you know that fasting has a long history in spiritual traditions and most religions; I plan to take advantage of my hard work in every way possible.  Just as I have musical, career, and physical strength goals, I also have spiritual goals that take work.

Serure's discussion of ritual is interesting - growing up Southern Baptist, I was not taught any rituals past saying thanks for food (which I highly recommend) and everything that goes on in a church service, including those in conjunction with weddings and funerals.  Also, my protestant heritage predisposes me to wariness regarding what may be seen as pagan-inspired ritual, repetitive prayers, etc.

But considering the rituals many of us engage in without thinking about it (everything from a first fart in the morning to cursing terrible drivers to getting a drink just because I'm in a bar to birthday cake to starting sentences with "I'm sorry but ..."), there's a lot to be said for personalized, mindful repetition of an action that feeds us spiritually.

Serure's suggestions are both spiritual and physical in nature:  skin-brushing, conscious bathing, meditation, "the ritual of sacred silence," enemas.

I don't do enemas, though her discussion is somewhat compelling.

I'll be re-reading all of this - she ain't my guru, but she's got lots of value to think on and use.

Later, Jenni


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Onward through the sunshine ...

Readers, I'll be on vacation for a week, so no more posts for awhile (hence all the posts today.)  I will also not be able to publish comments, but please keep them coming.

I walk beside you in your health journey wherever you are and wherever I am.  Enjoy feeling good! Use your strength and lightness!  Trust yourself!

Later, Jenni

Home-made Yogurt

Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz, 2003, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junctin, Vermont

When I realized how easy it was to make yogurt at home, I was amazed that it's taken me this long.  I started making yogurt back in January, and I haven't looked back since.  It saves money, I always have fresh yogurt on hand, and I don't have so many plastic containers to deal with.

Here's what you need to make 3 quarts:
- yogurt starter, which could be store-bought natural non-pasteurized, or your own from batch to batch.  Look for "live active cultures" on the label.  You'll need 3 tablespoons for 3 quarts.
- 3 quarts of fresh (as possible) low-fat milk.  Make sure it's not "ultra pasteurized."
- 3 quart jars with sealable lids (I use regular Ball jars.)
- a food thermometer (I bought one really cheap at Tuesday Morning.)
- a heavy-bottomed pot to heat the milk in, a stock pot to boil water in.
-  a warming container or system.  I use a small cooler with a broken lid - no longer suitable for camping.  Note:  I make three quarts of yogurt at a time because that's what will fit into my container.  Adjust this recipe to your own system.

Procedure - this is my system:
Part One:  Turn on your oven to 250; I take out my top rack.  Heat a gallon of water in a stock pot along with the jars and lids until boiling.  Simultaneously begin heating the milk on medium.  Stir the milk frequently so that less of a film will develop on the bottom of the pan and it won't scorch.  Get your container ready - in a stable location (I put it in the sink.)  Put the yogurt starter out so that it's not cold.

When the water boils, put the jars and lids into the container and pour the rest of the hot water in; close the lid.  This will heat the container.  Turn off the oven but don't open the oven door.

Heat the milk until it reaches 180 F.  Then turn off the burner and let the milk cool.

Part Two:  Cool the milk to 110 F.  Mix the yogurt starter in.  Don't be harsh with your mixing - these are live cultures looking for a new home.

Pour the hot water out of the container and jars.  Fill the jars with the milk / yogurt and seal with lids. Place the jars in the warming container.  Put the container in the warmish oven.

Part Three:  Leave the yogurt alone for at least 8 hours; overnight is fine.  Don't jostle it around - those microbes are busy.  Put a note on the oven to remind the household not to turn it on (yowch - that would be a mess.)

If the yogurt has not developed it's culture (firmed up) after 8 or so hours, gently stir in another tablespoon of starter per quart, make sure it's warm, and leave it.  This has not happened to me.

As you can see, it's all about maintaining a temperature that encourages the cultures to grow.  As it gets warmer here in Dallas in the coming months, I'll experiment with leaving the jars out in warm areas of my house.  Microbes are like all other living organisms - they have a relatively narrow range of temperature at which they're active, let alone alive.  My finished yogurt is in the photo at the top of this post - refrigerate and enjoy!

Later, Jenni