Drumstick Plushie Rattle

Earlier this year, I was reading a book about babies and one of the moms in it mentioned that her baby had a chicken rattle. I thought, That is hilarious and brilliant! I have to make one. I finally got around to making it this month and here’s how it turned out:


In the video, I named the drumstick the Turducken Plushie Rattle in my hand-drawn sketch. A turducken is a dish made from a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. Because I couldn’t decide what kind of poultry the drumstick should be, I named it after allll the poultries. Also, I snuck in a Monty Python reference just for lols … goorrrn.

A big thank you to Bear Woods Supply in BC, the place where I bought the wooden bits for the rattle. I emailed to ask if they could test some of their woods parts for rattle-ability before I bought them online, and Stephen, the President, did it for me the very same day. That’s some seriously good customer service!

I’m not planning to make and sell the drumstick rattles on Etsy or anything like that, but I probably will make some in the future as thank-you gifts for YouTube subscribers. If you absolutely have to have one and don’t want to DIY, there’s a toymaker I came across while DuckDuckGoing to see whether anyone else had made something similar. Her company is called Janie XY and she makes all the toys herself with her boyfriend in Los Angeles. Her drumstick rattle is incredibly cute and squishy-looking and has really clever packaging.

Coming up next in Sketchbook (I haven’t forgotten about the leather and cotton tote, btw, but it is on hold for a bit) are some wintery projects. After doing the tea-dyeing for the drumstick plushie, I started reading a ton about using natural dyes and fabrics. I have a whole bunch of interesting things planned for the next few months, so stay tuned.

Thank you for making 2016 a great year for Nuddy Bar, and I hope you all have a happy and healthy new year! 2017, here we come!

How to Make Yogurt

I used to think that making yogurt was difficult. You need a machine and a special yogurt starter and have to plan it out, and ugh, too much time and effort. Easier to just buy it, right?

But I was bothered by the number of plastic containers Zach and I were going through. Back in 2011, we were probably eating one or two 750 g yogurt tubs a week, and that added up to a lot of plastic over a year.

Zach started making yogurt for us, using techniques he had learned from the Weston A. Price Foundation, which focuses on a traditional diet that includes fermented foods, and Sandor Katz, aka the fermentation guru.

After a while, I took over making the yogurt and streamlined Zach’s technique even further to make it as simple and derp-proof as possible. Check it out!


Ingredients:
Whole Milk (at least 3% milk fat)
Plain Yogurt (with live cultures)

Equipment:
Medium Pot
Measuring Cup
Big Bowl with Heavy Bottom
Wooden Spoon
Thermometer
1 Litre Glass Jar with Lid
Towels and Belt / Tie

Directions:

  1. Clip your thermometer onto your pot so that it’s about 1” from the bottom. Pour in 1 litre of milk.
  2. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to low, or 2 or 3 out of 10.
  3. Let the milk heat up slowly to 180ºF (30 minutes to 1 hour).
  4. Take the pot off the heat. Let the milk cool down to between 110-115ºF (~1 hour).
  5. Spoon 1 tbsp. of plain yogurt into your jar. Pour 1/4 cup of hot milk over the yogurt and stir to dissolve. Pour in the rest of the milk, stir, and put the lid on.
  6. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water that’s 110-115ºF, i.e., hot but not scalding. Place the jar into the bowl, cover it with towels, and tie a belt around it to keep it warm.
  7. Let the milk ferment for 4-24 hours, refilling the hot water every 6-8 hours. The longer you leave the yogurt, the thicker and tangier it will be.
  8. Take out the yogurt jar and put it in the fridge to chill and firm up a little bit.

Tips:

  • If you’re going to make yogurt regularly, invest in a thermometer so you don’t have to do any guesswork. They’re between $10-20 online or in stores, and you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
  • Doubling or tripling the recipe is fine. Just use 1 tbsp. of yogurt per litre of milk.
  • Don’t try to use milk with <3% milk fat. You’ll probably get a runny, sad-tasting yogurt. Fat is your friend! You can even use 5 or 10% cream if you want amazingly yummy and creamy yogurt.
  • You can use a crockpot or slow cooker to heat up the milk. (Actually, that’s a really good idea. I think I’ll start doing that :P)
  • Heating up the milk should take between 30 minutes to 1 hour so that you gently unravel the milk proteins but don’t damage them. You can stir the milk and skim off the skin, but it’s not necessary.
  • If you’re not using a thermometer:
    • The milk is ~180ºF when you see little bubbles forming around the edges and surface of the milk, and steam coming up when you move the milk skin away.
    • The milk is 110-115ºF when you can put your finger into the milk and hold it there for at least 10 seconds. The milk should still be hot but not scalding.
  • To cool the milk faster, you can put the pot into another pot filled with tap water, and then stir it to cool it down in about 10 minutes.
  • Yogurt frozen into 1 tbsp. cubes works just as well as fresh yogurt.
  • Try not to disturb the fermenting milk for the first 4 hours or it might not set properly.

Troubleshooting:

  • Yogurt is grainy — milk was heated up past 200ºF and started boiling, which damaged the milk proteins. Make sure to take the pot off the heat before the milk boils.
  • Yogurt is runny — milk didn’t culture for long enough or at a warm enough temperature, or milk was too hot when it was poured over the yogurt and killed the cultures.
  • Yogurt is gummy/slimy — milk proteins didn’t unravel enough; once the milk hits 180ºF, turn the stove to low and try to keep the milk at 180ºF for about 10 minutes (but don’t let it boil).
  • Yogurt still tastes like milk — let the milk culture in the new, hot water for another 4-8 hours to get a tangier and thicker yogurt.
  • You forgot about the yogurt and left it out for longer than 24 hours — no problem, the yogurt should still be fine! It’s hard for bad bacteria to grow in the milk because they’re overwhelmed by all the good yogurt bacteria.
  • If your yogurt failed for whatever reason, you can still drink the milk. It’ll taste and smell a bit like yogurt, but it will still be perfectly edible and safe to eat as long as it doesn’t smell bad.

The first 2 or 3 times you make yogurt are the most nerve-wracking. Aahh, it’s almost reached 180! Aah, it’s 110 and I have to add the yogurt cultures now! Aah, is the yogurt ready yet? Why’s it still runny?? But you’ll quickly get the hang of the method and what the best settings and timings are for your own stove and pots. I’m so used to making yogurt now that it just fits into my normal kitchen schedule. I make it in the morning before breakfast, check it after lunch to see if the water is still warm, then pop the jars in the fridge after my evening snack. Simple!

I’ve had maybe 4 failed batches in the 4 years I’ve been making yogurt, probably because I didn’t let the yogurt ferment at the right temperature for long enough. The next step in my yogurt-making journey is to get some heirloom cultures so that I never have to buy yogurt again. The problem with store-bought yogurt is that it’s been cultured using only a few isolated strains of bacteria and can only be propagated (i.e., you use the previous batch to start the next batch) 4 or 5 times before the bacteria get sad and don’t work any more. Heirloom cultures on the other hand, have a whole bunch of diverse and robust strains that work together, and will stay healthy and alive batch after batch.

Here are some great articles that might help you out if something went wrong with your batch of yogurt, or if you want to learn more about the art and science of making perfect yogurt.

Building Happy Chicken Homes

Huzzah, another episode of Zach’s DIY! Check out Zach, his engineering friend Lamar, and Lamar’s dad build two cozy homes for their adorable farm chicks and chickens:


As you saw in the video, we filmed the beginning of this project almost 2.5 years ago. We took so much footage — almost 70GB worth, aiyaa! It was pretty neat to watch those little chicks grow up into full-size, poofy chickens over the months we filmed. And Lamar’s parents were so lovely and hospitable whenever Zach and I would come visit, so I want to say a big thank you to Lamar’s Mom and Dad! And of course Lamar, who let us come along on his family’s chicken-raising adventure.

Lamar’s family now has another coop and over 100 chickens in total. They’re easily able to sell the extra eggs with just a little sign as advertising. If you ever get the chance to try or buy fresh eggs right off the farm, I highly recommend it because they’re usually cheaper and fresher than the free-range ones you can get in the store.

In the future, Zach and I hope to raise our own chickens because everyone in our family loves farm eggs, Poopy included! Yaaay chickeennnnnss!

Egg Pudding for Bubble Tea

I’ve always loved pudding. When I was a kid, I would crave those little plastic cups of pudding — chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, and especially tapioca. I would sometimes sneakily pop open a cup at home and eat it … and then feel soooo bad, because there was some unwritten rule in my head that packaged snack foods were only for lunch bags or car trips, and eating them at home was wasteful and horrible for the environment.

Now that I’m older, my love for pudding continues. And egg pudding in bubble tea? Pretty much the best snack-drink hybrid ever:


Ingredients:
3/4 cup half & half cream (10% milk fat)
1 tsp. gelatine
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. granulated sugar
3 egg (yolks)

Equipment:
Measuring Spoon
Measuring Cup
Small Pot
Small Bowl
Medium Bowl
Whisk
Container with Lid
Large Spoon

Directions:

  1. Add 1 tsp. of gelatine to 1/4 cup of water. Put aside (i.e., to bloom).
  2. Heat up the cream on low heat. You want it to be hot but not simmering.
  3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites (save them to use in another recipe!). Put the yolks in a medium bowl and add 2 tbsp. of granulated sugar, plus another 1 tsp. if you like your pudding sweeter. Beat for about 2 minutes with a whisk until thickened and the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Turn off the heat and slowly add about 1/4 cup of the hot cream into the egg-sugar mixture. Whisk to combine. Add another 1/4 cup of cream and whisk.
  5. Pour the cream-egg-sugar back into the pot with the remaining cream. Turn on the heat to low-medium, and heat up the mixture, whisking constantly to just barely cook the egg yolks, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Take the pot off the heat and add the bloomed gelatine. Whisk to combine until the gelatine is full melted.
  7. Pour the mixture into a container with a lid and chill for at least 4 hours.
  8. Use a large spoon to add flat chunks of the pudding to a tall glass. Add crushed ice, strong black tea, milk, a bubble tea straw, and enjoy!

The egg pudding has the best texture when it’s room temperature or slightly cool, so don’t add in too much ice — the gelatine will firm up and the pudding will be harder to drink up the straw. You can actually leave out the ice if you brew then chill your tea beforehand.

If you’re lactose intolerant, you can definitely substitute full-fat coconut milk for the half & half. Top your bubble tea with some fresh, chopped-up mango and lychee, and you’ll have a tropical party in your mouth!

And if you’re wondering where I got those fun metal straws, you can get them from amazon.com, or from eBay if you’re in Canada.

Monarch Butterfly Skirt

Sometimes, I’ll buy fabric just because it’s pretty and feels nice, even though I have no idea what I’ll make out of it. (Cue “woh-woh” and shot of 3 large bins of fabric sitting in my house.) Anyhoo, the skirt in this video was made from one of those pieces of fabric — a lovely piece of flowy, rayon twill in a smoky blue-grey.

I initially considered painting on seagulls, Japanese cranes, or tropical fish, but I’m glad I finally settled on monarch butterflies. Take a look:


The whole project took about a month and a half to complete, which is why I haven’t posted a video in a while. It is hilariously difficult to sew and film with a baby, especially one who is just starting to crawl and get his little hands into all kinds of trouble. I have bloopers of Poopy crawling into frame during wide shots, his head or feet coming into view while strapped to me in his carrier during close-up shots, and me running to pull Poopy away from electrical outlets, dangling wires, or the camera tripod in several other shots.

For my next sewing project, I’m thinking of doing some kind of big tote bag in leather and cotton twill, with plenty of metal bits to make it look legit. Time to go fabric shopping again …

Homemade Green Tea Ice Cream

The first time I had green tea ice cream was at a restaurant called Mr. Wong’s Super Buffet in Scarborough. I was probably 8 or 9 years old at the time, and the flavour seemed incredibly novel to me — like some kind of wacky dessert dreamed up in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Green tea and matcha-flavoured desserts are much more common nowadays, and matcha green tea powder can be found in most Asian grocery stores. You don’t need an ice cream machine or any special ingredients for this recipe, which means you can probably make this ice cream any time you like. Oh wait, this could be dangerous …

Anyhoo, on to the video!


Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. matcha green tea powder
1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream (35% milk fat)

Equipment:
Big Bowl
Medium Bowl
Small Pot
Spatula
Tablespoon
Hand Blender
Large Container with Lid (capacity: at least 2 L)

Directions:

  1. Boil 1/4 cup of water in a small pot.
  2. Mix 4 tbsp. of the boiling water and 2 tbsp. matcha green tea powder in a big bowl. If necessary, add a bit more water to make a smooth, dark green paste.
  3. Add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine and smushing out any green lumps.
  4. Whip 1 pint of whipping cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form.
  5. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the matcha and condensed milk until everything is an even, light green colour.
  6. Pour the mixture into a big container, smooth out the top, and put on the lid.
  7. Chill for at least 6 hours. You don’t have to worry about overchilling it. The ice cream will stay scoopable no matter how long it’s in the freezer!

In the video, you can see that it took a bit of effort to scoop out the ice cream. It’s actually easier to eat the ice cream straight out of the container with a fork rather than try to scoop it out. The consistency is very similar to Häagen-Dazs, which is one of my favourite brands of ice cream because the flavours are so pure with very few ingredients. That’s probably why they’re so rich, creamy, and delicious!

After you make this green tea ice cream — because you’re definitely going to, right?!? — try experimenting with other flavours. I’ve made vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate chip ice cream, and I’ll probably try some fruit flavours next. All you need to do is mix an appropriate amount of your flavouring ingredient (somewhere between 1 tbsp. and 1/2 cup) with a can of condensed milk, fold in a pint of whipped whipping cream, and chill the mixture for a few hours. Super simple and super yummy!

 

 

 

Zach’s DIY: Baby Change Table

Introducing a new series on Nuddy Bar: Zach’s DIY!

Zach is my husband and he likes making stuff and blowing up stuff and getting involved in random hijinks — he’s a mechanical engineer from the University of Toronto, which explains many of these things :P. In this first episode, Zach makes a baby change table using a slightly modified design by the Rogue Engineer:


There’s a bit more to the story than what’s in the video. As mentioned, we filmed some footage of the change table the night before Poopy was born. At 4AM, my water broke and I woke up Zach (“It’s happening!”) but I wasn’t having regular contractions yet. Our midwife advised us over the phone to try to go back to sleep and wait for 5-1-1, which means 1-minute contractions, 5 minutes apart, for 1 hour.

What we didn’t know was that I was having precipitous labour, which is fairly rare and wasn’t mentioned in prenatal class or any of the things we had read online. Basically, after early labour, you go into a very fast active labour and have your baby in under 3 hours.

Around 8AM, I started having really strong contractions 2 minutes apart (I had skipped right past early labour). I flailed around in the bathroom yelling for an hour while Zach held onto me because we didn’t know what was happening and were still waiting for 5-1-1. Zach finally called our midwife and she was pretty alarmed when she heard what was going on: “Call 911! You have to get to the hospital now!”

The ambulance pulled up at 9:10AM and the paramedics hustled Zach and me out of the house because the baby was ready to come out at any minute. I was barefoot in only a dress, with no overnight bag, no purse, and all Zach had was his morning smoothie. We ran a couple of red lights with sirens wailing, but things inside the ambulance were hilariously chill and normal in between me yelling:

Paramedic 1: /coasts through red light/ You didn’t see that.
Zach: You’re supposed to pause at red lights? /drinks his smoothie/

Jen: You must be used to this happening.
Paramedic 2: Actually, I’ve only done one birth before, so try to resist the urge to push.
Jen: Don’t worry, you’ll do fine. /pats paramedic on the knee like an old grandma/

We got to the hospital around 9:20AM, they wheeled me into a delivery room, I pushed for half an hour, and Poopy was born at 9:56AM. And that was that!

I’m hoping to document many more of Zach’s projects this year. The next episode will be about a 25-hen chicken coop that he made with his UofT friend Lamar, so look forward to seeing some fuzzy little chicks and more cuteness ;P