29 January 2016

#FitnessFriday Raw Milk and How To Make Ghee

I am lucky to be able to get raw milk from my neighbor's Brown Swiss cows.

Raw milk is much healthier than modern processed milk, and even my husband, who is lactose intolerant, can drink it without issue. I confess, neither one of us is a big milk drinker or cold cereal fan, so I find other uses for its many health benefits.

We do drink a lot of smoothies, so I make several quarts of homemade yogurt each week, making sure I don't overheat the milk, which destroys many of the digestive enzymes. You can read more about the raw milk health benefits here.

This week, I decided to make butter for ghee (a.k.a. clarified butter), a lovely and delicious oil useful for many European and ethnic dishes. You can buy ghee, but here's how I do it at home:

I love that we exchange reusable glass gallon jars with the farmer. Ecology first!

I scoop the cream (yes, cream on the top of the milk!) into a blender:

Then I run the blender on high, checking every few minutes to see what's happening, and soon the butterfat separates from the milk, looking like this. Depending on the time of year, the coagulated butter can be colored pale yellow to a deep golden tone. The fat content also depends on the point of lactation. These cows are at the end of a nursing cycle, and will soon be on "vacation" until the next time they are bred. Therefore, we get less cream with lower richness. And soon we won't get any!

I scoop the butter out of the blender with a slotted spoon, and rinse in ice water to get out as much leftover milk as possible. I'm especially careful about this if I'm going to use the butter for toast, as the leftover milk makes the butter go rancid very quickly. You can also add salt at this point, but I prefer the taste of unsalted butter. Added tip: Use the leftover butter from the spoon as a hand balm - it'll make your skin soft as a baby's!

To help keep the butter longer, and for a real cooking treat, make ghee. Over very low heat, melt down the butter, and continue heating until all the milk solids are crispy brown, and you can strain off the remaining oil. It will slightly solidify at room temperature and stay fresh for a long time - though it will probably only last a few days, it's so delicious.

One gallon of milk will yield only half of this very small container! Making this yourself shows what a precious commodity it is. Not only is the flavor very good, but it has a very high heat index making it ideal for very hot cooking. Click here to read about all the health benefits of ghee.

Next week, I'll share other uses for my locavore raw milk bounty. Some of the ideas might surprise you!

18 January 2016

The Revision #MondayMotivation

In 1946, sportswriter Paul Gallico wrote, "It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader." 

For me, the bleeding comes with revising and editing. No matter how much we write, eventually all writers have to edit. This year, I actually have an almost-complete novel to work with thanks to National Novel Writing Month.

I also purchased Scrivener at a great discount because I achieved my NaNoWriMo goal. It's not an easy novel-formatting program. So I bought a Kindle Scrivener how-to, and checked out Scrivener for Dummies at the library. My goal is to have the novel, now residing in over 40 Word files, transferred to Scrivener by the end of the month. 

Pour yourself a glass of something strong and get to your editing. I'll join you. We can do this!

13 January 2016


Clarabelle says, "Don't smash your computer screen because you are frustrated about Google Chrome not responding."

She is a wise kitty.

Is anyone else having this problem? How did you fix it?

11 January 2016

One Page at a Time #MondayMotivation

It's all about perspective. Don't let that endless road scare you. You take a long journey one step at a time, and you write a long book, one word at a time. One page of typing equals 250 words. That's all. If you type one little page a day for one year, friends, you have a book that is 365 pages long.

You can do this.

Start with one page. 

End with a book.

08 January 2016

Why I Walk #FridayFitness

I walk every day for two reasons.

1. To control pain

2. To settle my brain

I find that 3-5 miles at a pace of about one mile in fifteen minutes loosens up my joints enough to reduce most of the aching. When I don’t have that chronic pain, I can concentrate on other things. Like my writing.

Any author will tell you that one of the toughest aspects of writing fiction is too many ideas overlapping in a single story. That’s especially true when you’re writing thriller fiction in which parallel plots divert the readers’ attention from solving the real mystery. There are days when my brain is ready to explode.

That’s the second reason I take a long walk every day. It settles all those chaotic thoughts until they sift into some sort of logical pattern. Some ideas drift away entirely. Some cluster to the center. And at that center, MY center, is where the power and magic happen, whether in my novel or in my life.

You have to dive deeply to the core of your heart and soul. That takes focus and discipline. Walking is my way of getting both. Your method might be different, perhaps through yoga, meditation, hiking, swimming, boxing, or even some combination of physical activities. I encourage you to find the movement method that also allows you to develop a deep inner focus. It must be regular and sustained. This will change your creativity in powerfully good ways. For some of you, the results might be immediate. For others, it might take a while, but you will see positive change. 

Just try it. Start today. Wind, rain, or shine. Or even snow, like in my stretch of the middle.

Trust me on this.
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