{ Recipe for a Happy Birthday }




1- 5# bag of expectations

2 gallons water

1 cup possibilities

1 lb. gratefulness

1 cup sugar

3 1/2 cups whatever!


  1. In a large bucket, mix expectations with 2 gallons water.  Stir until dissolved.
  2. Dump this mixture outside. (Makes good compost.)
  3. Chop possibilities into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
  4. Using a blender, combine gratefulness with sugar and process until fine.
  5. With fingers or a pastry blender, chop whatever! into coarse crumbs.
  6. Layer the possibilities mixture alternately with the whatever!, sprinkling gratefulness / sugar mix liberally over each layer and on top.
  7. Let sit 30 minutes, allowing flavors to combine.
  8. Serve with coffee or tea.
  9. Enjoy immediately, because it will be gone by tomorrow.



(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Word Prompt:  harmony



Photo credit:Audrey Fretz


{ Notable Yogurt }

I’m not a foodie.

I don’t browse food-related blogs and I don’t collect recipes.

I try to cook our meals fast with 5 or less ingredients.

But the love of yogurt is forcing me to write about food today.

When my friend Tifanie told me how to make yogurt in the Instant Pot, I couldn’t wait to try it.

It is truly easy and works out to half the price of my Trader Joe’s favorite brand.

I haven’t gotten the twang factor down yet, but I will keep trying.

In an 8-quart Instant Pot, you can make a gallon of yogurt.

Gather together:

  • Instant Pot
  • gallon of whole milk
  • plain yogurt with active cultures — about 1/2 cup
  • a digital thermometer
  • silicone whisk
  • glass container

Someone mentioned that using metal items while making yogurt causes a metallic taste in the yogurt.  So, I tried to use glass, plastic and silicone utensils.

  1. Start with 1 gallon of whole, organic milk.  I bought this at WalMart for under $7.

milk12. Pour the gallon of milk directly into the insert of the Instant Pot and click the cover on.

3. Press the “Yogurt” button once or twice until you see “Boil.” Allow it to beep and get started.  It will beep again when finished.

4. Remove the hot milk carefully by lifting the entire stainless steel insert out.  Set on a rack to cool.  One foodie I know fills her sink partway with cold water and sets the insert into that.  This speeds cooling.

5. The milk should cool to 110 – 115 degrees F. Use a digital thermometer to record the temp. My thermometer is new; I had never used it before. I  didn’t know the plastic sleeve came off.  So, it works either way.


6. When the milk cools, measure 1/2 cup actively cultured plain yogurt into a separate container.

7. Scoop a little cooled milk and whisk around with the yogurt until it’s smooth.

8. Now add the yogurt mixture to the entire cooled pot of milk.  Whisk again.

Your thermometer, whisk and other utensils don’t have to be red.  But red is always a good idea.

9. Cover pot and press “Yogurt” button.  Choose an 8, 9 or 10 hour cooking time.  Supposedly, the longer cooking time, the twangier the yogurt.  I may get crazy and try 12 hours next time.

10. I processed my batch of yogurt overnight and woke up to a surprising victory!



This was 10 steps long, but it wasn’t difficult.

If you want thicker, Greek-style yogurt, you can strain it.  I was just about to click and buy a strainer online, but then decided to rig one up with what I had on hand.



  1. I used a large plastic container to house the filtering set-up.  This cheap plastic dish is 3 quart sized.
  2. I lined a plastic colander with 3 basket-type coffee filters.
  3. I placed this lined colander over a smaller plastic container.
  4. I put the whole thing into the large 3-quart bowl so I could cover and forget about it.
  5. The whey seeps through the filter system and gets caught in the inner bowl.
  6. Save the whey for other concoctions.
  7. Scoop out your filtered yogurt and store in refrigerator.


Did you try it?  Did it work? Do tell!



{ Don’t Fret about Flabby Arms. Or Taxes. }

It’s national Haiku Poetry Day and Tax Day and the Word Prompt is FRET and it’s my nephew Anthony’s birthday.

Can I combine everything into one worthy blog post?


I will talk about something else.

Late last night (after looking at my arms in the mirror and thinking about summer), I searched online for easy arm exercises.

I don’t want to use weights.

And, I don’t want to get down on the floor.

I don’t want to join a gym

Or buy stretchy plastic straps

Or a medicine ball.

So I searched for

“exercises you can do while seated”

I found yoga poses (nope, on the floor)

Then I searched for

“wheelchair exercises”

And I found what I was looking for: simple arm circles.

It doesn’t look like spring out there, but it’s time to think about wearing short sleeves.  (Thus, the arm exercises.)

Because everything is covered with a thick blanket of Minnesota April snow, My daughter has been feeding the birds and even making bird muffins to set out on the snow-filled bird bath.

Dark-eyed juncos, chickadees and an occasional woodpecker scrambled around, up and down getting seeds and playing king of the bird feeder.

Birds can be cranky about their food.

Even I, a casual human observer, could tell which ones were prone to selfish hoarding.


God cares for the birds.

They manage to find food all winter long — even when we forget to fill the feeder or get lax making bird muffins.

Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t worry! You are more valuable to him than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31, Living Bible

God notices us and cares for us despite all our fussing around. Despite our selfishness. Even when we are acting proud or when we are sad.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8

Don’t fret.

God cares for you, his valuable, treasured creation.

(Flabby arms and all.)

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

{ No Worry Curry }

I liked the theory of the Instant Pot, but had my doubts about throwing everything in for a one-pot meal.

I tried it tonight…and it worked!

The brown rice looks like curly noodles in this photo.  But, it’s brown basmati rice, which cooked to perfection.  Nothing was overcooked; the scallions are even still green.
No Worry Curry

[curried chicken and brown rice in the Instant Pot]

Serves 6-8

7 cups chicken stock

2-3 cups cooked chicken, chopped

3 ½ cups brown rice

4-6 finely sliced scallions (green onions)

1 cup carrot matchsticks

1-2 Tablespoons curry powder

1 T garlic granules

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all in Instant Pot and stir.
  2. Cook on high pressure cooker set for 6 minutes.
  3. Allow 20 + minutes for the entire pressurizing, cooking and venting process.

© Lisa M. Luciano


{ Pumpkin Butter }

Pumpkin butter is a sweet (dairy-free) spread for bread, pancakes or muffins.  It’s deliciously spiced and very easy to make.  (We use those pumpkins that have been decorating our front steps!)

Bring a jar of pumpkin butter for the hostess at holiday gatherings. This is my own simple recipe and it makes about a gallon of pumpkin butter.



  • 4 quarts freshly cooked pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • A few pinches of salt




  1. Combine and cook on the stove or in a roaster oven.
  2. Stir frequently as it simmers on low to medium.
  3. The pumpkin butter is finished when it is thick, dark and stays put when spooned into peaks.
  4. Divide into jars, leaving ¼ empty at the top.
  5. Label and freeze.


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