Notes on things, including home-made yogurt.

I am trying to prevent this blog from becoming nothing but blather about the book. You come here to visit with me; we want to chat about things, not do book promotion!




But at the same time, the book is really about what we do in here: the importance of the home to, well, everything! I want you to know about it.

So I will continue to break that iron rule of blogging, and talk about more than one thing at a time, and you will continue to indulge me, because you are good that way! Let’s take a little peek at Chapters 2 and 3 and also making yogurt, shall we?

I will credit the internet for this: it brings us together and it gives us visuals. I never really understood some things about how I could make my home pretty or expressive of our family’s interests. I lacked certain principles of functionality… and you know how important those are to finally making beauty possible. It’s the bridge from here — all the stuff you possess — to there — an orderly, lovely, and unique home. By unique I really do mean your very own, for your and your family possess a genius (in the sense of the prevalent spirit or character particular to you).

Expressing the character of your home (having developed it, of course) turns out to be vitally important to the project of our own journey to heaven, the making of our family into what Augustine calls “the domestic church,” and the bringing of the Good News to the whole world. It is the Plan that God instituted in the beginning and that Jesus put squarely front and center in Matthew 19. Chapter 2 is all about this relationship between the interior life, the Liturgy, the family, and the world.

It helps me a lot to see pictures. That is why I always try to include them here with all the words, and it’s why we have Chapter 3 on exactly how to set up your little prayer table — but also your whole home — and here the awesome drawings from Deirdre really help give you the idea.



David and I did a super fun interview on The Good Catholic Life which you can listen to again today at 4pm Eastern time or at your leisure here. We were gratified that both our hosts, Dom and Michael, really appreciated both the detailed instructions of this chapter and the drawings.

Michael was noting that fathers and husbands would like the systematic approach, in which we go through the whole house with you, discussing furniture placement and colors. Dom called it “Catholic feng shui.” Too funny, since David had wanted to call an appendix chapter by that name, but I told him unless he was willing to take the time to explain what feng shui actually is (and how we don’t actually subscribe to it)….

He demurred, but appreciated Dom’s recognition. (Editors can be so mean.)

Visit In the Heart of My Home today for an exciting summer reading plan using The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home.

Elizabeth and I will talk about the book — you can listen to the podcasts and read along. I hope this little series I’m doing over here whets your desire to learn more, and you will take advantage of her insights as well!

Okay, on to yogurt. I got some queries on my little reference to my venture in yogurt making.

Here’s what I do:



Heat up your milk and cream. I don’t buy anything but heavy cream, because half-and-half, if you really want it, can be made ever so easily by, you guessed it, mixing half milk and half cream! I’d rather pay for the cream outright.

So I mix 3 parts milk and 1 part cream (which amounts to half milk and half half-and-half, if you follow). In my case, I make a quart total, because there aren’t that many people chez moi. You probably should make two quarts total (same ratio).

Bring the mix to a simmer — up to about 185*. I got this candy thermometer on sale at my grocery store, and it’s really worth it when you are attempting tricky things like this (and most importantly, making custard for homemade ice cream).



When I last talked about making yogurt, I mentioned my tendency to let the milk boil over, due to my distractedness. In the comments someone suggested a timer.

If only things were that easy.

Here is my timer situation: I have an oven range from hell. The timer doesn’t ding like a respectable timer. It makes this truly diabolical “tune” noise that instantaneously sends me into a rage. Since the oven also produces that same “tune” (and it lasts several eternities, which, WHY, when you really need one little beep and that is all) and there is no way to disable it, I eschew the timer.

Believe me, I’ve tried everything, even to the point of getting an actual repairman into my house to try to figure it out. I’ve  called and tweeted at LG. Nothing. Besides the objective horror of this “feature,” I would like to point out that one conceivably could be listening to actual music while cooking, in which case, one would lose one’s mind when the milk had reached the simmer.

There’s a timer on my microwave, but of course, someone might want to use the microwave and would go ahead and do so, without even noticing that it was already in use. And you wouldn’t notice they had done that. And so, your milk would boil over.

There’s a timer on my phone, but of course my hands are always at least damp when I’m cooking, so that’s not usually convenient.

So the milk just often boils over. The worst that will happen is that the finished product will have a little layer of butterfat at the top. (Update: Will got me an old-fashioned dinging timer for my birthday, so maybe things are looking up!)


Cool the mix down to 100* and add a little of your starter, which is some yogurt. I used a tablespoon of Stonyfield Farm Organic yogurt, which is maybe local-ish? because I like how it tastes. And I used a tablespoon of my store’s brand of Greek yogurt, because it was there. Between them I got maybe up to 11 different cultures (I suppose the cultures could overlap? I know very little about it). Now I use about 3 tablespoons of the yogurt I’ve made.

I have heard that you actually don’t need a lot of your starter — that less could be better. We’ll try it different ways.

Now pour the mix into super clean jars. I use my peanut butter jars (from the natural peanut butter we like –excellent jars).



Divide it evenly.



Here’s why I didn’t get a yogurt maker: I have no counter space. None. For the vast amount of square footage in my house, my counter space is truly not adequate. So I don’t need any more appliances. I didn’t even want to get out the slow cooker. Instead, I used this ancient cooler. It fits a six-pack of beer and some ice, so it’s just the right size.

Okay, it’s not wonderful on the outside. I assure you it’s very clean on the inside. And the handle locks it. So I put my hottest tap water in there and stick the jars in.




Here is the evidence of how old this cooler is and how free it was, and warm does it make my thrifty heart that I can put it to this use!


Keep the yogurt in the cooler (or slow cooker) for 18 to 24 hours.

Turns out it’s hard to take a picture of the finished product. But it’s tasty and thick!


Thanks to those kind readers who have left reviews on Amazon!

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Thanks so much!

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  1. says

    How did I manage to be the first to comment?? I love the idea of the summer reading club. I sat in my rocker this morning looking at the table by our back door. That table where Our Blessed Virgin watches over the comings and goings of the day. St. Francis stands next to her and both are below an array of crosses and a crucifix that velonged to my father in law. Brining it all together is a cross stitch I did years ago….Pray Always! Pour Little Orartory has been there for years. W just didn’t know what to call it:))))

    I would love to put a link on my sidebar to the book. Is the code available?

    I look forward to meeting you Friday in OK. The drone is having issue so I will be making the delivery:))

  2. says

    I know a lot about yogurt! Your yogurt looks wonderful. When you use cultures from commercial yogurt, they eventually get too weak to culture milk into yogurt because they are tamed by the company for quality control. I bought wild yogurt cultures from

    (blogged it here:

    I will never need to buy commercial yogurt again as long as I keep my culture alive. To keep it alive, I make yogurt every week or so. I label one of the jars so nobody forgets to save a little bit for the next batch. Been over a year now – going great!

    As for timers, I am so sorry you don’t have a good stove timer! That is probably my favorite kitchen workhorse because I always have too many things going on at the same time, so I set the timer to REMIND me what I’m doing and it dings until I turn it off. LOVE my GE stove.

    • says

      Margo, I just updated the post to say that of course now I use the yogurt I’ve made to start the next batch. Do you do that or do you use the boughten starter every time? So far so good on this front.
      I am really regretting my old range with it’s only medium-annoying electronic beeps. Yes, I used the timer for everything. Now I am lost… If it hadn’t been that the old range was going to burn the house down, I would still have it.

      • says

        My stove doesn’t have a timer at all, we went for basic gas without all the fancy stuff to break. I’m surprised your microwave doesn’t work while the timer is going. Ours can do both (and it’s 11 years old).

  3. Lorraine says

    I splurged on a Polder clock, stopwatch and timer and it is my favorite timer for the one feature that I really need. It has a cord so you can hang it around your neck (it is very lightweight despite all the features). Before I bought this timer, I was forever wandering away from the kitchen and getting sidetracked. Even if I remembered to take the kitchen timer with me, I often set it down and wandered off without it, so that didn’t work well either. This has really worked well for me. and , no, I don’t get anything from Polder for this.

    • vaughn says

      Ditto on everything! Questioned splurging on a Polder timer–it has been worth it! Counts up, counts down, tells time, can wear it outside or stick it in a pocket…It’s awesome!

  4. Elizabethe says

    Oh, the timer situation is the reason I love you. I have the exact same way of not being able to use the very simplest things without there being some large amount of complexity completely unfathomable to someone else.

    You forgot to mention the one about how sometimes you can set the timer, and not hear it go off because you left the room, or even hear it go off and just completely ignore it anyway, because you are so engrossed in something else.

    I can’t tell you how often I’ve said to myself “hmmm, why did the timer go off? Oh well, I’ll just finish this last step on the paper mâché project (not really) and then go check it out.” Only to find something overcooked or boiled over.

    You have almost convinced me to try making my own yogurt.

  5. Jenny says

    I am currently in the beginning of Chapter Two. The reading is slow going at my house. I usually bring my books to work in my bag to read while on breaks, but that causes the book itself to be splattered with coffee since my travel mug is also in my bag. I don’t want to splatter coffee all over this book! That mean the reading is restricted to right before bed where I can grab about two pages before going to sleep.

    In Chapter One, there is a sentence I keep coming back to over and over which I find so comforting. I can’t quote it exactly right now since the book is at home and I am not. It says something like Christian life does not mean waiting out misery here in order to qualify for happiness after death. How wonderful it is to be told that’s is okay to want to be happy! Wanting happiness is not a character flaw that has to be ground out of me a day at a time until I am resigned to numbness at whatever befalls me.

    The yogurt looks intriguing. We eat entirely too much yogurt at my house and it would great to find a cheaper way. I am positive you do not have enough countertop space; however, if you have more than 2.5 linear feet in any one spot, I say you have a vast area in which to work. :D

  6. says

    It actually shouldn’t even take the 18-24 hours, mine takes only about 8 when I do it that way. And I ALWAYS overboil my milk.

    One of the tricks of this is to have the jars SUPER clean. If they aren’t. the yogurt own’t culture. Actually, the best yogurt I’ve made has been after I boiled the jars.

    With all of my kids, I normally make 5 quarts at at time, and I put the jars/water in a huge stock pot and leave them on the back of the stove overnight.

  7. says

    Yogurt! Love it, love to make it.

    I use the crockpot to heat the milk, as it does it so much more slowly. Not likely to boil over there.

    As for strains, it affects the flavor some, but not a lot. Add what you have.

    After adding the starter, I put the lid on the crockpot and put it in the oven with the light on for over night. We are into the warm/hot part of the year, so soon enough I could leave it on the counter overnight and it would be fine. You can also wrap the pot in a towel and put it in warm part of the house (on the dryer for me, stays quite toasty there!). Leaving it all together or dividing it out — whatever strikes your fancy, it will work the same either way.

    As for a dirty container… you are likely to contaminate your culture. Which can be harmless or nasty.

    If you want it thicker (say, greek yogurt style), put the yogurt in a thin towel, tie it up and hand it over a bowl for 12 to 24 hours. Save the whey for baking or fermenting. (great in muffins!)

    Yogurt makers are for those who think they need an appliance for everything — unitaskers. Don’t get a yogurt maker.

  8. says

    I LOVE those peanut butter jars! Sometimes I think to myself, “this is getting kinda crazy…why do we have so many empty peanut butter jars hanging around…” But they’re just so darned handy!
    You need a timer. Seriously.
    My head would be complete mush if I didn’t have the timer constantly reining me in.
    Its time to make the plunge, and this one’s got a handy magnet so you can stick it right to the stove or something else in the kitchen like the fridge.
    You’re yogurt looks delicious! I’ve never tried using anything other then milk. Creamier would be way better! I’ll have to try that! Thanks!


  9. Meg says

    I do this too! I have started though making 12 quarts a time in a full size cooler. That way we have yogurt for two or three weeks. If we have yogurt for breakfast or snack, the seven of us eat up a quart or a little more! My husband also takes it to work flavored with the cherry concentrate they sell in the smoothie/juice/produce section plus a little sugar or honey. He takes it in a half-pint canning jar and freezer lid, just like the individual servings at the store. When I left it for closer to 24 hours it made it thicker. It is also thicker after cooling in the fridge when done culturing.

    Thank you Auntie Leila for your blog. Thank you for being the auntie to all of us out here in cyberland. I need your advice and thank you for it. My husband kept asking why I kept talking about you and your girls lately and I said, “It’s like she’s me in 20 years, but in my own way.” Thank you! Can’t wait to buy the book. Hugs.

  10. says

    I’m SO excited for the summer book club! I cant wait to hear you podcast! Now I will know your vouce when Ihear your words in my head (i.e. If I can do it so can you!) :)

    I was encouraged by your yogurt-making and tried my hand at it after failing several years ago. It was SO thick and tangy! I was very happy with the result. Thanks!

    • says

      P.S. What brand of peanut butter do you you get? Since we moved to NE from CO, I haven’t found a good natural brand at a reasonable price.

      • Anitra says

        I also live in New England – our personal preference is Teddie brand (cheapest at Market Basket in my experience). Although we’ve recently started making our own sometimes – buy several pounds of peanuts from BJs or Amazon (dry roasted, no skins, no salt), put a few cups in our food processor and let it go for a while. If it looks too crumbly and not paste-like, add a tiny bit of oil (peanut oil, preferably). With this method, it’s about the same as when I get a “good” price on Teddie – between $2.50 – $3 per 1 pound jar.

        • says

          Whoops! I meant that Im in Nebraska. I totally overlooked the fact that NE could also be New England! :) But thanks for the tips. It sounds like making peanut butter is simple enough! Im going to try it!

    • says

      Tamara, I listened to the link above which was an interview with Leila and David. I agree that I love hearing people’s voices that I read online. There is something comforting about it!

  11. Emily says

    Auntie, I have made a lot of homemade yogurt, and by several different methods, and I must share 2things with you–take them or leave them. First, I got frustrated with the mess involved in transferring milk out of the pot to the narrow jars and then having to clean the pot…not to mention it seemed to take area fir it to heat to the proper temp. So, I just put the cold milk in the jars directly and pop them into the microwave until they start to boil. For a quart jar of whole milk, on my microwave, that is about 9 minutes. I do this while doing dinner dishes, do the cooling in a cold bath of sink water post-dishes, setting a *timer* for about 15-20 min to check for 100 degrees. Then (and here is the second tip, owning to all the mess with cooler incubation cleanup, not to mention the unsightly cooler taking up my valuable kitchen space): I put the jars in the oven overnight with nothing but the light on–I also wrap a tea towel around the jars for added insulation–and they are done for breakfast next day. My husband gets up considerably earlier than me, so he will just take them from oven to fridge for me so I can enjoy them cooler at breakfast. To me, the genius of this whole method is NO CLEAN UP. The heating, cooling, incubating and storing are all done in your little jar :)

    • Sarah says

      Yes! I put my quart jars on a heating pad in a box packed with old wool sweaters. This works better for me than warm water. My oven does not have a pilot light.

    • says

      Yes. You want to keep the culture warm, not too hot, not too cold. a heating pad on low will work, just make sure its not getting too hot.

      My oven doesn’t have a pilot light… its electric. The light so you can see produced enough heat to keep an already warm crockpot warm enough.

  12. Erin says

    Auntie Leila, do you have a toaster oven? I use mine for everything except batches of food too big to fit because it uses less power than the big oven. With a little fiddling and a thermometer, you can figure out where 110* is and mark it with a white-out marker (mine reads 110* when set beneath the “K” of “Keep Warm”). It heats as evenly as a yogurt-maker but doesn’t use any extra counter space.

  13. Mamabearjd(Michelle) says

    Are you using raw milk, or store milk since you are heating? I heat raw milk to 110, which cultures kind of runny, but I strain to get a good thick Greek yogurt. I’ve been wondering if I’m wasting my raw milk on this, because my sweet husband drives almost 2 hours round trip to get us 15 gallons every 3 weeks. Since we have a new baby, I’ve been making Kefir, which is so easy. Pour milk over the grains and sit out for a day, strain and make everybody a smoothie!

    • Mamabearjd(Michelle) says

      Ps you can get thermometers with an alarm – I found one at target and that saves me from forgetting.

    • Sarah says

      Yes, what are people’s thoughts on raw-milk yogurt, since it’s not, well, raw anymore after the heating? The farmer where we get our raw milk told me to hold the milk at a simmer for 5 minutes before cooling it to 110, since otherwise there would be too many competing cultures in the milk for the yogurt cultures to get strong enough, resulting in thin, watery yogurt. It’s true that this extra heat does give a thicker result, but it seems a lot like pasteurizing to me. Like you, I wondered! Now I use my super expensive raw milk just for drinking and adding to tea. I buy regular whole milk for making yogurt and cottage cheese and baking; so much less expensive. I believe Margo at Thrift at Home calls this the hybrid approach!

      • Kay says

        The thing about regular whole milk is the homogenization, which turns the fat into tiny particles your body doesn’t know how to use. I plan to use raw milk to make yogurt as soon as I’m getting enough of it. It won’t be raw any more, but at least it won’t be homogenized.

  14. Emily says

    I have been making yogurt in my crockpot for about four years. I buy plain yogurt to use as the starter. I haven’t fiddled with the method because it has worked great every time, except once, when I think I used the previous yogurt as a starter too many times. Now I use fresh starter every time, but I guess I probably wouldn’t have to. I make two quarts at a time, and we make sure to use it up in two weeks. No thermometers, really simple.

  15. Liz Lockhart says

    Can I just double check that that is 185f ? Cooling down to 100f? I’m more used to Celsius but my digital jam thermometer will do both!!

  16. Sara says

    I love making yogurt and have been doing it for several years now. I make about a gallon at a time for our family of 8. I put the milk into quart-size jars and then place those into a very large stockpot on the stove. I put the thermometer into one of the jars. Oh, and I always place a kitchen towel into the bottom of the pot–to keep the jars from rattling around too much. I fill the pot about halfway with water & then turn on the stove. After the milk has reached the proper temp, I take the jars out to cool. I’m intrigued about the starters—I always use plain storebought yogurt. I incubate my yogurt in a cooler as well. Another way to make greek-style yogurt is to place a few layers of paper towels or coffee filters in a colander set over a bowl & pour yogurt into the paper towel-lined colander & put in fridge. The whey collects in the bowl & you have nice, thick yogurt.

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