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

#5 Vinnie Vlog – How we Designed the Interior of our Tiny House.

 

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I love designing homes and spaces and I love the renovation process.  So of course I’m eager to get going on designing the interior of our new Skoolie.

I’ll walk you through the steps of designing the floor plan for your tiny house in this video. First – measure everything. Then draw up your plan on Floorplanner.com, or any CAD program, or use graph paper. Draw the floor, mark where the windows go, and mark things like wheel wells, etc. Then measure the furniture or elements that you plan to use, and begin placing them in the space to see how they fit. Explore your options until you’ve found the option that suits you the best. Then get busy building!

This video isn’t really designed to teach you how to use the Floorplanner.com (or any other CAD) interface – it’s more just to show you how a tool like this can help you design.  It’s also really fun that you can look over the 3D version and see what you think.  It’s not going to be exact but it is enough to give you a feel for how things will look. From here you can make decisions on electrical and plumbing design, and choose your finishes.

It all starts with a sketch and a few good ideas. In our case it helps that we’ve already lived in 125 sq ft for 3+ years so we know what we need and what we want. Plus, this bus has 128 sq ft of livable space in it, so it’s not that different from what we are used to.  The design process is fun and invigorating and I think you’ll enjoy it. 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Vinnie Vlog #4 – Floor ~ Power ~ Mess

IMG_3403We’ve made some progress on the Skoolie this week.  The floor is down, and the wiring is underway!  We’re making progress!  We’ve got a little more work to do so stick around!!

What’s your favorite part of a Skoolie conversion?  The power? The furnishings?  The Kitchen or Bath?  Stick around.  We’re taking it all on – step by step!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

Vinnie Vlog #2 Another NEW BUS?!

It’s true, we bought another bus! We happened upon another one that we liked better because it’s longer, therefore it will be a more spacious home for us.  Plus, it’s also in great shape mechanically, and in even better shape cosmetically.  Yep, we’ve got a bus for sale!  lol!

Thomas Jefferson's tiny HouseOur new (older) bus used to be a shuttle bus at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  This is fitting because one of my favorite folks in the tiny house movement is Thomas Jefferson!  lol!  I’ll bet you didn’t know he was one of us tiny house folks, did you?!  He bought land, and built a tiny one-room house that was 18 x 18 feet, and moved right in.  This little home became known as “The Honeymoon Cottage” when Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton. They lived so happily there that they soon welcomed their daughter Martha to the family.  Enjoying the perks of tiny house life, they worked on another house on the property – Monticello – a project that would be in progress for the rest of Jefferson’s life.

Stay tuned!  We’ve got the ceiling hatches sealed and we’ll be getting those seats out and putting down a new floor soon, it’ll be great!  I’ll bring you all the gritty details, so stick around!

I’m Carmen Shenk reminding you that we can go tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well.  Thanks for watching, I appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Vinnie Vlog #1: Introducing Vinnie #3, our new Bus that wants to be a Skoolie!

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Interior of Vinnie 1

I’m starting a video log for our Skoolie project so here is an introduction to Vinnie 3.  Vinnie #1 was a van that I made into an RV back in 2010 or 2011 or so.  I fully intended to be a van-dweller and quietly live in plain sight but along came a handsome gentlemen and that was that.  I named that van “Vincent, my Van that Goghs” because I thought it was funny and artsy, but in time he became simply “Vinnie”.  Vinnie and I had many wonderful adventures together and I was sad to sell him, but he went to a traveling band of young musicians in spandex and big colorful hair.  So I know he is happy with his new family.

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A cup of tea in Vinnie 2

Our tiny house of 125 square feet became Vinnie #2, and we’ve been enjoying that one since the fall of 2014. We’ve been parked in various places around the area and have really loved our little haven home.  We’ve been though a lot in the last three years, but no matter what happened in a day, when we turned our car toward home, we were always glad to be back together in our haven home.

Thursday I decided I really wanted to consider the idea of a Skoolie a little more, so I took a look around Craigslist.  I texted a guy and made a plan to visit him the following morning.  I mentioned it to Xaver and away we went the next morning to meet Vinnie #3.  It was love at first sight for me, but Xaver walked around it complaining that it needed new tires and it was going to cost a fortune to put six good new tires on it.  The gentlemen lowered the price.  Xaver complained some more, and the price went down some more.  It was all I could do to keep from squeeling “SOLD!” but I kept my mouth shut tight with heroic effort.  Naturally we bought it.

IMG_20180118_171653038_HDR (2)I’ll keep a video blog of the process so be sure to swing by YouTube and subscribe so that you don’t miss a single episode.  Thousands of ideas, two artists, and one bus.  It’s going to be a real adventure!

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can live tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well.  And we’re building a Skoolie where we can do just that.  Stick around, it’ll be fun.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