"". Linda Sparkman's Blog


It's my Biz

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writin' ain't what it used to be

Today, as I searched for a publisher, I came across Blazevox Books.  These publishers narrow down writing requirements to a simple criteria today's writer's might really understand.  Well, I do.

Their criteria, and I quote, "...your work must not suck."

Reference page 230 of Writer's Market 2015

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Many Uses for Milk

Lately, I have been enjoying the many wonders of plain old milk.  It started when my path crossed not one, but two dear women from India who made yogurt almost daily.  I found out many people from India do. 

When I tasted it, I asked one of them how they did it.  Wow!  It’s easy!  So, I’ve been making my own for a couple years now.  It’s less expensive, and more delicious, and very kind to my inner-workings. 

From the yogurt, I've made smoothies, soft cheese (similar to cream cheese) and of course regular and Greek-style yogurt.  I’m getting ready to make some flavored yogurt for my husband.  I’m planning to try peach first.

Since my openness to make-it-yourself yogurt, I've become aware of several other dairy products that don’t look too intimidating.  A quick Google search turns up homemade mozzarella, sour cream, ricotta, cottage cheese, kefir, buttermilk, and of course butter.  I did do the butter…it’s also gratifying. 

Of course, all I have to do is go to a dairy department and I could find most of these dairy products, but what’s the fun in that? 

My personal method is a combo from several posts I've read, and You-Tube video’s I've watched, people I've talked to about it, and tweaks I developed after having done it myself. 

To get my recipe for homemade yogurt just click here more…

For your first batch, you’ll need a little yogurt (about 4 Tablespoons).  It is important for it to have live cultures in it.  I used Dannan plain yogurt and it worked great.  After your first batch, you can save about 4 Tablespoons of your own yogurt and use that instead of store-bought.

You’ll need a heavy saucepan.  I use a three-quart one, and fill it about ½ of the way with milk.  I use either whole or 2% milk, but I’m pretty sure you can use any kind.

Heat milk to a temperature between 170 and 180 degrees.  I use a candy thermometer clipped to the side of my saucepan.  It’s important for the metal bulb of the thermometer to be toward mid-depth, to get an accurate reading.  I shoot for 175 degrees.  It’s easy to read on my thermometer.  I like using a wooden spoon to stir it occasionally.  It is important for the bottom not to become scorched. 

Remove from heat and let milk cool to between 105 and 110 degrees.

If you remembered to bring your starter yogurt to room temperature, you can stir in 4 or more tablespoons of it now.  If you didn't remember, you can “temper” it by pouring about ½ cup of the milk into the starter yogurt and stirring it well.  Then, add it to the heated milk. 

Now the mixture must cure.  It’s best to have a warmish area for this.  I accomplish my warm area by turning on my oven light and setting the pot on an oven rack.  Yes, I close the oven door. I keep the pot uncovered so condensation doesn't form and drip back on the mixture.

So, that’s really it, except for waiting 6—8 hours for the yogurt to solidify.  It’s wonderful—after the time period--you open the oven and check by sampling a teaspoon or so.  It is very yummy, and mild.  Ohhh this is my favorite part. 

If it’s not sour or solid enough for you, let it set longer.  This is a matter of taste.  I think about 12 hours would be all you’ll want to try. 

I put mine right into the fridge after covering the saucepan.  I use my yogurt from the pan, but I have poured it into glass jars before the curing time, and that worked well too.  I think I read somewhere not to disturb the warm yogurt too much, so I wouldn't pour it into jars after it firms up.  Anyway, becomes quite a bit thicker as it cools in the fridge, so don't worry if yours seems too soft.  

I'd love to hear how it goes for you.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I'm a Crackin'

I am a writer, I am a writer, I am…  Oh, fiddle.  Is there another fabulous writer who has been working on a book or two over forty years?  I’m thinking, "Yes."  If not, please don’t disillusion me.  However, life-spans being what they are, I’d better get crackin’.

Which brings me to eggs, that we must crack, which leads nicely into the book I am going to finish, I say, finish this year.  I've titled it “Feeding Human Beings”, and yes, silly, it actually is about making food for people—oddly enough.

Do I care that I've just let the zillions of followers I have know the title of this upcoming thriller?  No.  Now, the old me would have talked herself entirely out of letting you, my faithful reader, in on the scoop. I’d think, “Dear me, now no publisher will want it.  I've spoiled everything.” Ad nauseum. 

The reason I’m mentioning this now is because I've put the ol’ foot down, and will no longer listen to whoever-it-is that has been discouraging me.  The world needs this book!  Well, I can tell you there will be lots of youngish people who will be happy they get their hands on it.

It’s not a traditional type cook-book, oops,  I've said too much. 

In any case….keep on the lookout for the revolutionary approach to feeding (you know what).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Life Worth A Lot

I’ve lost my patience, yet again, with a dear fellow believer.  The occasion was reading an e-mail which excerpted a portion of the late Rev. Charles Spurgeon’s writings on exactly what “death” is like for believers.  Aside from the obvious, that God said we will not taste death, it’s not only impossible to describe; it’s nothing to be bothered about. 
I mean, why take up precious minutes we could be carrying on some heavenly, ordained activity by rolling over and over the teeny, tiny amount of time (which, by the way, will be done away with anyway) our being caught up will be like? 
If you must dwell on death, here’s a much more practical exercise, in my opinion.  Just look into your experience right now.  Ok, how dead are you?  How much of your recent thought and activity has been carried out by a fully-dead-to-self-and-self-interests, but instead yielded-completely-to our Savior/Creator/Lord/Master…  Well, how much?
I’ll leave with this encouraging declaration:  The more dead (in this glorious way) you are, the much more alive your experience will be. 
Onward, Upward, and forever HIS.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trouble saying, “No.”?

I’ve just come up with a whiz-bang exercise to help you.  It involves a TV. 

1.  Using your remote, turn TV on a news, morning, or reality show right at the time the show begins.

2. With remote still in your hand, face the screen squarely.

      3.  In the middle of the most earth-shattering statement, speak these words, “No, not right now,” and finish by turning the TV off.  

Now, isn't that a kick?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Grami's First Day

Charly & Grami
Hi~ I'm Grami.
Today is the day I dreamt of.  It's the first day I'm spending with my Granddaughter, Charly.
Mom returned to work.  Charly is six months old.  

Can you say, "Text message"?  
It's 12:45.  Six hours in, and there's been twenty-three of them so far.  In addition there have been three voice calls.   Dad to me, Me to Dad, Dad to me Dad to me, Mom to me. Mom to me. Me to mom...

Charly has literally not left my sight.  She's been either in my arms, within arms reach, or on the TV screen via short circuit.

The television has been on the entire time, because it requires a programmer to turn it on.  Mercifully, I found the "mute" button.  

This brings me to my reason for writing--I happened to catch a popular morning program when two attractive women engaged in animated conversation.  They were quickly joined by a third woman, even more enthusiastic than the first two women.  

Since I muted the sound, I was able to gain a different perspective.  Smiles gleamed, heads waggled, arms flung.  
"Oh my goodness!," I thought.  "That looks like me!"

Yikes~  Do we all look alike?  Do we gravitate excitedly around any new item, chatter and banter, then make it ours?

I looked over at Charly, who was enjoying gnawing on the face of a doll, and spoke distinctly and adult.  "Maybe I can spare her," I thought.  "Yes, Charly, that is your doll.  Please treat her with respect."

She smiled.  "OOh, r n't you gram's witty snuggli buggi honey-doll?" I squealed, bobbing my head and flailing my arms about.