Tiny House Yogurt

We don’t live in our Skoolie yet, but I do have the Skoolie oven already… the Breville Smart Oven Air.  I’m exploring what it will do and my favorite thing so far has been using the dehydrate function to make yogurt.

Yogurt is great for gut health, however… grocery store brands load yogurt up with sugar, fruit, and preservatives.  Some kinds of gut problems result from a yeast that feeds on sugar (fruit is a natural sugar), and preservatives are a culprit for other gut health issues – Yikes!  So grocery store yogurt can actually feed the problem instead of helping you heal!  Sucks, right?  Take it from someone who has had a real challenge with gut health – real yogurt – the homemade stuff – is part of the solution, not the problem!  And making your own is rewarding, delicious, good for the environment, and good for the gut health of you and your family!  Did I mention it is delicious?  Good!

When we had our restaurant, we used an Excalibur dehydrator to make yogurt for the fresh yogurt smoothies we had on our menu.  (You know how the VitaMix is the best blender?  Well, Excalibur is the best dehydrator!) We also had green smoothies and fresh juices in the restaurant.  I missed having a dehydrator around for yogurt, kale chips, and beautiful pineapple flowers.  It was one of the sacrifices we made in going tiny, no dehydrator.  No room. 

The Breville Smart Oven Air

But when I found the Breville oven with the dehydrate function – SQUEE – I was delighted!  I can have an oven that will bake a pie AND a dehydrator – in one smart package!  We tiny house foodies do enjoy our multi-purpose kitchen tools!!  Plus, this one is $399 which seems like a lot for a toaster oven (it’s not a toaster oven) but when you consider how much less that is than a range it was a no-brainer for us.  (Not for everyone – no worries.)  Since our Skoolie is 128 square feet, we didn’t have room for a full size range, or even a fun-sized one.  I’ve already written about this oven, so check that out if you’re deciding which oven/range/cooktop is best for your tiny haven-home – plus there is a money saving tip at that link as well.

 

Would you like the yogurt recipe I use?

1 gallon whole fat milk.  (I use whole milk because it makes better yogurt and because I’ve read that whole fat is better for you than low fat or non-fat and I’m a purist anyway.  I like things that haven’t been tinkered with too much.)

When I’m ready to make yogurt, I buy some unsweetened whole milk yogurt at the grocery and use that as starter.  Then as long as I don’t eat ALL the yogurt and save some for a starter for the next batch – then there is no need to buy more.  Look on the label for active cultures.

Yep – that’s it.  Milk and yogurt cultures.  Pretty simple, huh?  (And yummy)

I put the milk in my 4.5 quart dutch oven (it just fits) and heat it to 180 degrees.  Since the dutch oven is cast iron, it may continue to rise in temperature a bit once the burner is off but that’s fine.  This step is to kill any bacteria that could be in the milk so that you can add the yogurt bacteria. Getting the milk anywhere between 180 and 195 degrees will do nicely.  Take care to warm the milk gently so that you don’t scald it.  If you think you may walk away and forget about it, set a timer to remind you.  I’ve boiled the milk all over my range before – BIG MESS – that’s why I mention it.  Once the milk hits the right temperature, turn off the heat and let it rest.

Test the temperature periodically until it has cooled to 100-120 degrees.  In my experience this will take about a half hour.  Whisk in the yogurt and transfer the mixture into glass jars.  I like to use the Pint jar with a wide mouth lid, because that way the rings and lids are the same as my food storage quart jars and that way I don’t have to keep two sets of rings and lids around.  Use the 8 ounce size if you want a single serve portion that is perfect to grab and go for a packed lunch.  This is a great way to kick plastic out of your life!  And if you can find milk locally in glass – this is a great zero-waste alternative to all those plastic yogurt containers.  Win!

 

Oh, are you wondering “how much yogurt?” to add to the warm milk?  Yeah, gotcha.  It will work with as little as three tablespoons of yogurt.  I make sure to save one of my jars of yogurt to use as culture – and so I just dump it all in.  Careful not to overflow!

IMG_4116Fill each jar and then carefully clean the jars with a cloth if there is any milk on the outside of the glass, then carefully set them into the Breville oven.  Space them evenly for air flow.  Use the “Select” knob to turn to the dehydrate function, then turn the temperature to 115 degrees.  I set the timer to 15 hours.  You’ll get thin yogurt at 8 hours (overnight works quite well for us) and the longer you go – the more tart and thick the yogurt will become.  Don’t mess with it while it’s in the oven – you won’t be able to tell the consistency while it’s warm anyway.  Just leave it alone in there overnight.  When you get up in the morning, carefully take the jars out to cool on the counter, then transfer them to the fridge.  I’ll put it in there after dinner and let it run all night and I suppose it’s usually in there about 10 hours – give or take.  It turns out delicious!!I suspect this is a project for an overnight where you are plugged in to shore power because it will take some power.  I would not do this while the bus/home is moving.  That could be a rather epic mess.

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My version of “Horse Chow” – our favorite breakfast

I’d love to know it if you make yogurt in your tiny home and what you think of it!

Be well,

29c45-1a2bcarmen

The Tiny House NC Street Festival

Street FestXaver and I had a great time at the Tiny House NC Street Festival in Pink Hill, North Carolina last weekend!  The hospitality of the host, Andrew Odom, and the community was spectacular.  They really did show southern hospitality and it was a joy to be there!

I spoke on Saturday and again on Sunday at “center stage” which was this lovely shaded spot with some bleachers and a sound system.  I spoke on Pain, Pie, Poverty, and Purpose.  We met the most interesting people – plus – touring those tiny homes and skoolies is always energizing to me!

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The best Shrimp & Grits I’ve ever had – from Chef & the Farmer

I tried to get a reservation at the Chef and the Farmer, but they were full.  That was fine, but then Andrew Odom pulled some strings and got us in, and boy are we grateful to him!!  Xaver and I even enjoyed a delectable meal of steak tartare, beet salad, catch of the day, shrimp & grits, and dessert!  That was the best meal I’ve ever had and it challenged me to up my game!  lol!

I’ve been getting really great feedback on the book and that is so gratifying.  After the many solitary months I have invested in getting those words on the page, it really rocks to share this message with the world and see it resonate with other people.  I wrote it to help people navigate the transition to living tiny – and it would appear that it is doing exactly that.  I’m soaking it all up and glowing because of this happy outcome!Screenshot (6)

Tiny houses and festivals are exciting and fun, but the downsizing process may not be.  I created a Super-Simple Kitchen Gear List to help you move gently through the process.  Sign up here to get the FREE PDF.  This is not dogma – just a resource to help you create the simple collection that is right for you.

PLUS, as an added bonusvideo series – here is my Right-Sizing Your Kitchen Video Series.  You will find this practical and helpful as you work through your kitchen at your own pace.  If you find that you need to replace or upgrade a few items, then check out my handy Buying Guide for help in selecting just the right items for you.  I have found that the quality-over-quantity approach really suits me.

I’m passionate about tiny house minimalism because it helped us hit the reset button on our lives and I know there are a lot of folks who would also benefit from a reset.  Plus, TINY house minimalism makes room for BIG dreams!  So I’ll happily travel to meet the people who are interested in tiny house living and I’ll have one message: I’m here to help you navigate through the transition of going tiny – especially in the kitchen.  You can do this, I know you can!

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Derek Diedricksen with my book.  His new book is coming out in November, so make sure to pre-order your copy now.

If you’re in the neighborhood, I’ll see you in Fredricksburg, Virginia on May 12th and 13th.  The festival details are here.  Look me up!  I’ll have the FESTIVAL COPY of my book available – and this is the edition that won’t be available anywhere else but a tiny house festival!  Soon enough (June?) it’ll be on Amazon and a lot of other interesting places.  At the moment – visiting a tiny house festival is the only way to get one.  That means I get to meet folks like you and we will talk together about our challenges and triumphs.  It’ll be great fun!

All my best,

TinyHouseFoodie.com
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#6 Vinnie Vlog: Choosing the Right Oven for our Skoolie Kitchen

breville-smart-oven-air-oWhen a retired pastry chef and restaurant owner chooses the oven for her Skoolie… which one does she choose?  Ha!  It took me a while and a stack of research, but here are the reasons I choose the Breville Smart Oven Air (not an affiliate link).

  1. Since it will be the only oven in the Skoolie, it needs to be able to actually bake things.  In other words, it needs to be more than a toaster oven.  We had a glorified toaster oven in our first Tiny and it was good for many things but sometimes the limitations were vexing.  I read the product material and the reviews until I was confident that this oven could handle any baking challenge we are likely to throw at it.
  2. Size: It’s a small oven that is roughly the same size as the larger toaster ovens on the market.  It takes less space than a small size range, and since our Skoolie will have less than 130 sq ft of living space, that was important.  It still has enough space inside the oven to roast a 14 pound turkey, as long as the turkey is square.  LOL!  Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
  3. Power: It takes less power than a small range.  It may still require more power than a small solar power system can handle, however… we have plans for an off-grid bread oven outside.  No worries.  And this will still be great for those times and places where we are able to plug in an umbilical cord.  I won’t use it at the same time as a hair dryer or curling iron (obvs, as I don’t own those things) or when the heater is on.  We already have that habit so that won’t be a problem.
  4. Features: This oven has some really fancy features!  The one that really caught my attention was the dehydrate function.  When we sold the restaurant, the new chef/owner wanted my Excalibur dehydrator and so I gave it to him.  I’m still kicking myself – can you tell?  I’ve missed having fresh yogurt, kale chips, and pineapple flowers (among other things).  Now FINALLY, I can do all of those things again – without an additional appliance in my home.  SCORE!  As a bonus – there is an “Air Fry” function and I think that might be fun to explore.
  5. Price: The Breville Smart Oven Air is $399 pretty much everywhere.  I checked.  This is not a cheap item but there are cheaper oven models in the product line.  Less bells and whistles = more affordable.  It is still a better value than buying a full size (or even a fun sized) range.  And we already have a induction cook top.

NOTICE: There is a lot included in the box with this oven, so wait to purchase bits and pieces until you’ve seen what comes with it.  I didn’t realize that and now I have an extra air fry basket that I don’t need.

MONEY SAVING HACK: I bought the oven using the ibotta app, so I got money back on my purchase making the price $339 instead of $399 – every bit helps!  Referral link: get your $10 bonus when you sign up and get started.  I have loved using the ibotta app at the grocery and online stores.  I have gotten $134 back since I downloaded the free app 47 days ago.  YAY!

Xaver and I will enjoy using this cute little oven in our new haven-home!  I think it is the right oven for us and I can’t wait to move in and get cookin! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Vinnie Vlog #3 – Choosing the Floor for the Skoolie

Welcome back everyone, today I’m talking about the choice we made for the floor of the Skoolie. We ended up with Kronotex USA American made laminate flooring, the color name is “Wilson Pine” that we purchased from The Habitat Store in Charlottesville, Virginia. Plus, Xaver takes over the camera while I give the tour of the space as I’ve imagined it – even a sneak peek at the kitchen! One of his favorite cars even makes an appearance. lol!  We’re having great February weather here in Virginia, so we’ve been able to work outside very comfortably to get the seats taken out and the flooring down.  It looks great so far!

Next, I’ll rattle-can the “baseboard” that came on the bus and the wheel covers, then those can go back in.  I’ll also give the antique a fresh new look to prepare it for it’s next life as the kitchen cabinet in our Skoolie.  I’ll take the camera with me each step of the way so stick around for more stories from our world.  I’m Carmen Shenk reminding you that we can live tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well.

Where are you in your tiny journey?  Looking, building, living?  Have you chosen a floor?  If so, let me know what you chose.  Thanks for following along, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

The Rest of the Appliances – Day 23

1 New BeginningToday we wrap up the Right-Sizing your Kitchen video series by taking a look at the rest of the kitchen appliances.  We’ve already talked about the food processor, blender, mixer, toaster, and microwave… today we cover the rest of them.   What are your favorites that I haven’t mentioned?  I’m curious to know what other folks are using on a weekly basis that they’ll want to save space for in their tiny house.  We’re all different so our collections will be different.

In my experience, less is definitely better in a tiny house.  Ours was on the smaller side at 125 square feet, so we really kept a very minimal collection of things in our tiny house kitchen.  And there were still things we kept that we didn’t use, so we could have even gone tinier – so to speak.  And we’ve just bought a bus that is slightly smaller so we will go through the collection and weed out more things all over again.  I love cooking great food simply.  It brings me so much joy because the food is more crafted.  When I don’t need an appliance to make something it feels more like a work of my own hands, and that is very rewarding to me.  In the end the most important things in my kitchen have always been the knife and cutting board, the dutch oven, and a few favorite plates and glasses.  Having fresh fruit and vegetables close at hand – usually right on the kitchen counter – is always very satisfying.  We keep less around, so we eat fresher food, and that’s one of many reasons why tiny house living has been such a lovely adventure for us.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny, #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  You may not think that you can go tiny, but I know you can.  Thanks so much for watching,  I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Mixing and Whipping – Day 20

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Kitchen Aid Still Life

Today we tackle the tools that mix and blend including the stand mixer, the hand held mixer, and various hand tools.  Pull out all your tools that serve these functions and consider the redundancy in your collection.  Choose your favorites and make changes as needed.  Then move the rest to the donation box and clean out your kitchen cabinet and return the remaining items neatly.

Xaver and I have just purchased a short bus and we’ll be building out the interior for our third tiny home so I’m considering the usefulness of each item right along with you.  Since we’ll be going from 125 square feet, down to 110 square feet – and it will be configured very differently – it’s not going to be a huge adjustment and we are very excited about the places we’ll visit and the people we will meet along the way.  This also serves as a reminder of why we continue to work at downsizing and it helps us to reinvigorate our efforts.  Perhaps you would appreciate a reminder of why you’re going to all the trouble to downsize or right-size your kitchen.  Today take a moment to remember the goals you had when you began this process and remember what you stand to gain.  The more we focus on the simplicity and order we gain from this process, as opposed to the losses of downsizing, the more we’ll be able to enjoy the transition.

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VINNIE 3 – our new short bus

Recently I scrolled through social media looking at photos taken by folks who have only recently gone tiny and over and over again I’m reading the joy they have in this journey.  I saw again the sense of accomplishment and enjoyment these folks have their small cozy spaces.  I have been at this for a number of years so it’s easy to forget how exciting and joyful it was at the beginning.  The feeling hasn’t changed, just the sense of newness has left me.  This new Skoolie project will bring back the sense of newness without giving up the perks of living tiny, in fact, this bus is more road worthy than any of our other homes (lol!) and I look forward to traveling the country in it.

Keep on working toward your goal.  You can do it!  I know you can!

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Food Processor – Day 18

14 graterToday we get out all the tools that grate and slice.  Clean out the storage space and consider which items to return to the cabinet.  Think especially in terms of removing redundant tools and keeping in mind the weight, space, and power restrictions of living tiny.  If you are moving into a micro unit, you may only want to keep the knife and cutting board.  If you’re headed for a small space you may appreciate having a grater/slicer with a lid.  If you have a larger kitchen with no power restrictions then you may enjoy having a small food processor.  The “right answer” for you depends on the purpose you have in this season of your life.

Tiny House communities are really great places to have a lending library of tools that most members won’t need often, but might like to have access to now and then.  This is an excellent opportunity to create such a library or donate tools for use in such a library.  Consider your favorite charities that create food for the homeless, or maybe talk to someone at the local daycare to see if they need equipment you no longer need.  Continue to think of creative places to donate these larger kitchen appliances where they serve the needs of the community.  And donating an appliance that is in good condition to the charity of your choice is a great way to support a cause that matters to you.

How does your donate pile look by now?  Have you been removing items from your kitchen that you no longer need or wish to store or care for?  Congratulations!  Share a photograph with me using the hashtag #KitchenSimplicity or tweet to @TinyHouseFoodie on Twitter or Instagram, and follow me on Facebook.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Leaving a comment is always welcome.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Food Storage Containers – Day 14

13 mixing bowls lidsToday is the day we tackle food storage options!  Go ahead and pull out all your food storage containers and clean out the cabinet where they were stored.  Then let’s talk about these containers.  The best and safest way to store food is in glass.  There are also excellent stainless steel options.  The worst food storage is plastic which has some serious health risks, and causes a lot of environmental damage.  Plastic food storage items may go directly to recycling.

It’s taken me some time to make this transition in my own home and I would encourage you to keep in mind that all of this is a process and wherever you are in the process is fine.  None of these changes need to happen overnight.  Do what is right for you and your family and often that means making small steps over the course of time to your goal – rather than incurring the expense of making a big change all at one time.  Embrace your creativity and your adaptability to store leftovers, and work to keep those foods for a very short time so that you are consistently eating fresh food.

Have you been following along with this series?  If so – Well Done!  You’ve passed the half-way mark and are well into the home stretch.  How are you doing?  Is this a good time to revisit your “Why?” to remind yourself why you are doing this?  Perspective is a valuable thing.  If and when you start to feel overwhelmed – take a break and revisit your “Why” and look again at your favorite things.  Remember that it is not a sacrifice to have all your favorite things around you.  You gain so much by going through this process.  You can do it, I know you can!

I love the transformation of cleaning out the old things and making way for new memories and adventures.  I find it exciting and invigorating.  Small kitchens are efficient because everything is right there at hand and that’s part of the fun of this process.

Does your kitchen look different than it did?  Share a photograph with me by using the #KitchenSimplicity hashtag, I can’t wait to see your photos.  Thanks so much for watching, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Mixing Bowls – Day 12

4 PurposeWelcome back to day #12, it’s time to tackle the mixing bowls and lids in your collection and downsize to your favorites that fit your purpose in this season of your life.  I show you my favorites plus my favorite way to roast potatoes.

BTW, I recently read that people who keep a bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables on the kitchen counter eat more fruit and vegetables, and less processed food.  I’m good with that.  And they are beautiful – that’s a bonus!

Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Paprika

Potatoes cut into even cubes (I love using various potatoes including sweet potatoes)

3 tablespoons good quality EVOO

2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Toss to coat and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve hot.

Tackle those mixing bowls and lids today and use #KitchenSimplicity to show me your before and after photographs.  I can’t wait to see your progress!  And thanks so much for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Right-Sizing Plates and Bowls – Day 6

8 how many platesWelcome back to the Right-Sizing your Kitchen video series.  Today we’ll be talking about how many plates and bowls to keep in your tiny house and honestly it depends on whether or not you have a dishwasher in your tiny house, and it also depends on how much you intend to invite people into your home to share a meal with you.  Practically speaking, we can invite a max of three other folks into our home at one time.  Since we live in 125 square feet with no loft, it is quickly overwhelming to have folks standing around in the limited floor space.  So having a total of 5 folks at our table is do-able in principle, but not entirely practical.  We’ve had four at our table and that is cozy and marvelous.  We’ve found that the intimate space of our home lends itself to deeper and warmer connections between folks around our table, and for that reason we really love having folks in our home.  I talk about hospitality at length in my book, so maybe I’ll leave that there at the moment.  Check out the video and give some thought to the plates and bowls in your home.  How many is right for you?  Which ones are your favorite?  If you plan to go tiny temporarily, then where will you store the items you aren’t using for now?  Move the unwanted items to your boxes for your favorite charity, clean out the kitchen cabinets where those items used to be,  and congratulate yourself for having completed another day in the “Right-Sizing Your Kitchen” video series.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen