Soapmaking: What is a water discount?

A water discount is a reduction in the amount of water needed to dissolve sodium hydroxide lye. When you use a water discount, the soap will harden faster because there is less water in its batter (the mixture that eventually becomes soap). You only use a water discount for cold process or hot process soaps that use lye. You don’t need a water discount for melt and pour soap because the oils are already saponified and the lye has been used up before you ever get the melt and pour container!

Advantages of a water discount:

  • Your soap will cure faster
  • Your soap will be harder (ideal for Castile soap)
  • The soap can be taken out of the mold more easily
  • The mold will be easier to clean (less residue = less cleaning of the little corners of your molds is required – a constant problem I’ve had with homemade cosmetics, especially my all-natural conditioner bar).
  • A water discount helps balance the recipe if you’re adding other ingredients that contain water such as if you are using milk (including breastmilk) or if you’ve mixed mica powder with water rather than alcohol before adding it to your soap.
  • If you want to force a strong gel phase for a specific soap design, a water discount is a great addition to the other things you can do such as using heat pads around your soap while it’s curing.

Disadvantages of a water discount:

  • Your soap batter will thicken (solidify) faster, making it harder to work with. If you’re doing a color effect such as a swirl, you will want your batter to reach trace (ideal thickness) then to solidify slowly, to give you time to make your desired effect.
  • It can also effect your colors by messing with the heat of the soap. The reaction between lye and oils (saponification) is an exothermic reaction — it gives out heat. And if it heats up too much, it will affect what the soap looks like. If you want to avoid gel phase (e.g. when making cold process breastmilk soap, you do NOT want it to get too hot or the milk will spoil before the soap is done), don’t water discount more than you need to for the extra liquid in the milk.

To calculate a water discount, you use a percentage:

The usual amount of water to lye is 70% water to 30% lye. That means you use 70ml of water for every 30g of lye.

Discounting the water by 10%, you would have 63ml of water to 30g of lye.

Discounting the water by 20%, you would have 56ml of water to 30g of lye (this is a heavy water discount).

You also need to factor in whether your recipe requires a superfat (leftover oil for more nourishing soap bars). In this case, you usually wouldn’t discount your water.

Stuck? The very best resource on calculating the amount of oils, water and lye for your recipe is the Brambleberry Lye Calculator (it also calculates fragrance, but beware in the EU some of the fragrance results are higher than permitted under EU law if you’re selling your soaps). This tool is phenomenal!

Towering: Thursday Photo Challenge

Welcome! Come and join the Thursday Photo Challenge, a weekly photography challenge for everyone who likes to take photos! Anyone can join in with any type of camera.

This week’s challenge is towering.

I ought to be jealous of the tower. She is more famous than I am.

Gustave Eiffel

What way will you interpret this challenge? A photo of something tall, perhaps, or of a person who is a tower of strength? Everything is relative, of course, so perhaps you might want to take this in another direction and find something really small that lives in a world of towering giants?

My photo is of some huge palm trees towering over a waterfall and a flower in Palm Springs, California, on a cloudy winter’s day.

Here’s how to take part:

  1. Take a photo or search your files for one that represents the week’s theme.
  2. Write a post, including your photo, any words of explanation or inspiration you wish to share, and a link to this challenge page.
  3. Comment on this post with a link to your page so others can see your contribution.
  4. That’s it! Super easy.

This challenge will stay open for one week, then next Thursday, I will post the next challenge!

7 things to do in York with young kids

York is not known for being the most child-friendly of places. From posh restaurants that don’t appeal to little ones, to shops with displays of expensive, brittle ornaments pouring off the shelves, to uneven pavements and kerbs that are definitely not pushchair-friendly, to zero play areas anywhere within the walls where kids can let off steam, this city can be stressful for parents of young children. However, there are things you can do with your preschoolers that they will enjoy:

Follow The Wiggles Trail:

Okay, I totally invented this one, but if your children are fans of The Wiggles, you can take them on the short (perfect for small legs) Wiggly Trail and let them sing the classic songs from the TV show Ready, Steady, Wiggle when they reach all the spots on the trail. The best part? The walking will tire them out! I have full details and a map in this post. Oh, and it’s also free!

Visit DIG:

If your child is old enough to hold a spoon and follow simple instructions without attempting to eat every non-food object they see, they will probably love DIG. It’s an interactive sort-of museum where children can do play-archaeology indoors without actually getting dirty. It’s really educational and super-fun. Entrance on St. Saviourgate behind Stonebow.

Jorvik Viking Museum

Do I need to introduce this one? This is what you’re going to York for, right? If not, you need to know any trip to York is incomplete without going to this essential museum. Entry is not cheap, and you may have to queue if you don’t book advance tickets, but this place is worth it. There’s a ride where you get to see Viking scenes then a museum-type area with re-enactors who can tell you all about what life was like in Viking times. Children will love this.

Looking for somewhere to sit down?

Once you’ve done some big touristy stuff at Jorvik and Dig, or between them, you might be thinking about heading over to the York Museum Gardens. However, it’s across the other side of the city centre, so it might take a while for very little legs to get there, so if you’re at Jorvik with preschoolers, that’s a great starting place to go to Tower Park, instead, which is where my Wiggly trail begins. Follow the trail toward King’s Staith then you’re perfectly situated to go and find some lunch at one of York’s many cafés or restaurants, then head back toward The Shambles for a trip down a real medieval street.

The Harry Potter shops in The Shambles

If you have school-age kids, instead of heading to Tower Park, wander toward The Shambles, York’s most picturesque and original medieval street. The first two shops are both Harry Potter-themed and children who are fans of the films or books will find these fascinating. The Shambles itself will be quite busy in the middle of the day, so plan for it to take about 10 minutes to get down this small road. At the other end, head out into King’s Square and you will find…

York’s Chocolate Story

This is a chocolate museum. Did you know both Rowntree and Nestle are headquartered in York? This museum tells the history of York’s chocolate-making industrial past and has lots of bright and colourful displays for children.

After York’s Chocolate Story, keep going past the Minster and through a bar (gate) in the walls, and you will reach…

The fountain at Exhibition Square, Museum Street:

This fountain has lots of jets of water and is tons of fun for little ones who can splash their hands in the edge of the water and also watch the water jets. At night, the water is lit up with coloured lights. Be water safe and never leave children unsupervised near water. From here, head down a little alleyway/footpath to the left of the big railings of King’s Manor. This path will take you straight into…

York Museum Gardens

This is a great place to feed squirrels, and is a big open space where children can run around and play, although for some reason, there’s no actual play park. The Museum Gardens are open daily until 5pm and includes the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, a Benedictine abbey that’s fun to see up close. If you have a picnic, this is the perfect place to have it. Free entry. If it rains, why not step inside the museum, instead (museum not free)?


Recommended

A Wiggly Trail, York

Does your child love The Wiggles as much as mine does? If so, here’s a Wiggly treat for you!

Aside from being a very historic city, York was also the filming location for more than a handful of the songs in the TV show Ready, Steady, Wiggle featuring the world’s favourite preschool band, The Wiggles… read full article

A Wiggly Trail, York

Does your child love The Wiggles as much as mine does? If so, here’s a Wiggly treat for you!

Aside from being a very historic city, York was also the filming location for more than a handful of the songs in the TV show Ready, Steady, Wiggle featuring the world’s favourite preschool band, The Wiggles.

We watched a lot of Ready, Steady, Wiggle over lockdown with our baby, and my husband and I thought, wouldn’t it be fun if there was an actual Wiggle Trail that children could follow around the city?

What can I say, we were geeks and now we are parents.

So here is The Wiggle Trail, along with which music videos it was featured in. Click the image to enlarge and right-click should let you download. Or download a printable PDF.

Interactive Google Map

Printable PDF

Song 1: The Propeller

Locations: This video (videos… there are two versions of this one, I’m talking about the one in S1E1) is filmed in York and London. The first scene in York is straight after the bit on the London bus, when they’re in the grass in Tower Gardens, by the River Ouse. It cuts to a moment outside a green garage door that could be anywhere, then they’re back to Tower Gardens, clapping with Clifford’s Tower as a backdrop (hard to spot as the camera’s ISO is quite high to give the picture vivid colours on what looks like a cloudy day). The bit in the street with the tiny drum kit looks like York at a glance, but at another look, the cobblestones are wrong. So basically all the bits on green grass are in Tower Gardens, York.

Song 2: Dancing on the High Seas (it’s Captain Feathersword)

Locations: The yellow wall is down by the river just beyond King’s Snaith. It’s hard to pinpoint because the life rings are no longer where they used to be. My best guess is marked on the map at point X.

Song 3: Everybody’s Here

Locations: Lachy and Dorothy start this song off at a mysterious location that’s almost certainly in the Museum Gardens, around the back of King’s Manor, if the fusion of different centuries of bricks are anything to go by (I may be wrong on this one). Then the video moves on to the River Ouse, where Emma and Captain Feathersword are on a little jetty opposite the Bonding Warehouse. You can see the jetty from the riverside but it belongs to the Red Boat company so you can’t go on it. It’s marked on the map at point [X]. I believe they then move onto a location outside the York Castle Museum. In the last clip, they take one of the Red Boats down the river. You can do this too. Book here.

Location 4: Fruit Salad

Locations: Okay, so this one was never filmed anywhere in York but if you carry on past King’s Staith and up towards High Ousegate (or go down Coppergate but it’s a longer walk) you can find the Marks and Spencer Food Hall (it’s a glorified supermarket) at the bottom of Parliament Street, where you can buy pre-sliced apples or ready-made fruit salads for your little one’s snack time, or if you brought your own snacks, find a spot to stop and eat your own healthy fruit salad (Yummy Yummy).


Recommended:

7 things to do in York with young kids

York is not known for being the most child-friendly of places. From posh restaurants that don’t appeal to little ones, to shops with displays of expensive, brittle ornaments pouring off the shelves, to uneven pavements and kerbs that are definitely not pushchair-friendly, to zero play parks or soft play areas anywhere within the walls where kids can let off steam, this city can be stressful for parents of young children. However, there are things you can do with your preschoolers that they will enjoy… read full article [coming tomorrow].

5 Best Pubs inside York’s Walls

With so many pubs to visit in York, how do you know which ones to prioritize? You can’t really go wrong with any pub in York, they’re all fantastic (there’s so much competition, they have to be), but these are the very best pubs that you should really go and see:

Roman Bath

Sounds like… a bath? Nope. This is a pub. They are also a live music venue. Built on top of an original Roman bath. The columns are still visible and there’s a glass floor where you can see the remains. Incredible. And often busy. But still an essential visit on any York trip.

House of the Trembling Madness (Stonegate)

This is a traditional medieval building where you can go and drink. If it’s a quiet day, you can also get a seat and eat a meal here. Don’t want to pay to look around the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall? Go here instead and buy a drink. Absolutely incredible setting. They are open all day and late into the night. Famously, they don’t take reservations and if you go at peak times, you will probably need to drink standing up. But the sheer amount of people who do this is testament to the fact it’s worth it. There is a second House of the Trembling Madness on Lendal, now. I haven’t been there so don’t know what they’ve done with the place but the original is top notch.

The Golden Fleece

This pub has quite a decent capacity compared to some of the others inside the walls. This place is dripping with history (and a ghost…) but it’s still retained its character as a normal pub where you can hang out with your friends or family. It’s also highly rated as York’s most haunted pub, although I’ve been in there about a dozen times and I’ve never seen anything spooky. In fact, I suspect a lot of the bad reviews for this place are people who think ghosts are there to perform for them on cue (weird). Still, well worth a gander.

The Duke of York

This oak-beamed medieval pub is on the end of the Shambles in King’s Square, so if you go on a Monday around 7:30pm it’s the absolute best place to have a pint and catch a glimpse of the Ebor Morris, who dance traditional English folk dance in the square once a week. You can’t find much better than that for entertainment. It’s a Leeds Brewery pub, so you’ll be supporting local Yorkshire brewing when you visit, too.

The Black Swan

This one dates back to the 15th Century, and it’s a pub with rooms. They serve a range of real ale and have food available, too. Situated inside the walls on Stonebow, it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the most historic parts of York and they often have live music from local bands. What I really like about The Black Swan is you get to eat and drink like a local, as very few tourists make the short walk over to this part of the city, so you can soak up the real Yorkshire ambience in this true hidden gem.

Of course, with the number of pubs in York, I’m sure lots of people will be wondering why Pub X or Pub Y didn’t make this list. It’s true that you can’t really go wrong with any pub in York, but if you’re here as a visitor with limited time, these are the five pubs you really need to experience.

10 most iconic shops in York

Over the years, a great many businesses have been opened in York but subsequently closed. York is a hotbed of tiny independent shops often selling things that are unique or which you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Many of these shops burn brightly, but briefly. York is a city where a lot of people go for the shopping, and some shops have become iconic within the city.

Only the most special shops make it past their first three years in business. In a city of high rents and obscene city business rates, a shop in York city centre has to be extremely busy to actually break even. Some shops have made it, and have become legendary in York. There are other shops which are very successful, of course, but these are the ones that, for me, sum up the essence of what York is.

Here are the top 10 most iconic independent shops in York:

York Armoury

Have you ever wanted to own a real sword? Like, a fully working one complete with handle and pointy bit? Are you perhaps a hero beginning your quest to save an 8-bit videogame blob from another 8-bit videogame blob? Or maybe you like re-enacting stuff? If so, then you need to go to York Armoury. They sell swords. And some other armaments.

Stonegate’s Original Teddy Bear Shop

Okay, you’ve got a sword, now you need something to stab. No, I’m only kidding. Don’t stab teddy bears. That’s mean. If you like soft toys, this is the place to go. Don’t forget to take an Instagram selfie with the giant life-size teddy bear!

The Minster Gate Bookshop

This place is amazing. Floor upon floor upon floor of second hand books. You could spend hours in here and still not scratch the surface. Luckily, the people running it are excellent at knowing where to find everything. If you’re a student and you have any rare and unusual books, this is also one of the places where you can sell them. No, they don’t want your sociology textbook, though.

Travelling Man

Speaking of books, around the corner from The Minster Gate Bookshop is Travelling Man, on Goodramgate. This is a comic book shop. If you like comics, this is the place to be.

York Glass Shop

Okay this one might sound a little dull but it’s on the Shambles, it’s been around forever, and they are also the official start point of the York Cat Trail, which is a bit of an institution in and of itself. What is a cat trail? All your life you’ve wanted the world to have more cats in it, right? You can get all the details inside the shop.

W. Hammond York Whitby Jet Shop

Jet is a semi-precious substance made from fossilized wood, it washes up on the shore of Whitby, a nearby coast town (which is also worth a visit). You can browse a huge range of jet products in this shop and it would make for a beautiful souvenir of your time in York, or perhaps a gift for a loved one.

Shared Earth

This shop is a bit unusual in York compared to the shops around it. It’s a fascinating curiosity shop with a difference. They sell handicrafts made around the world by Fairtrade communities such as in Africa or Asia. If you want to ensure your money supports some of the most impoverished people in the world, take a look at the unique and beautiful handicrafts available in Shared Earth.

Abraham Moon Yorkshire Tweed

Did you know real English tweed is still being handmade in Yorkshire? One of the traditional British industries is still alive. You can buy tweed from the Abraham Moon Yorkshire Tweed shop. It doesn’t get more Yorkshire than that.

Fudge Kitchen

A shop dedicated to fudge, the Fudge Kitchen is famous for the unique array of various fudges they have on offer. They sometimes give out little samples on quiet days in the off-season. Many years ago, as a broke student in 2006, I tried one of these samples. I couldn’t afford to buy any of the fudge (I actually couldn’t afford to buy groceries that week), but I still remember how delicious it was. I guess including them in this list, so you can find them too, is my way of saying thank you to Fudge Kitchen for letting me have that fudge.

Barnitt’s

Most of the shops on this list will appeal to tourists, but Barnitt’s is definitely a shop that’s more geared to locals or people staying here for a couple of weeks or more. If you need something for your house or hotel room, this is where to find it. Need cutlery? Or a mug that isn’t £20 and doesn’t say York on it? Maybe a Swiss Army Knife or an archaeological pointing trowel? How about a door stop to feel secure in your room? A lamp? You can buy all of these things and more in this magical Aladdin’s cave of practical items.

10 free things to do in York

York can seem like an expensive city to visit as the accommodation options are pricey, taxis are astronomically costly and the food isn’t cheap, either. But it’s possible to visit York on backpacker money if you plan carefully and don’t splash out on everything you see.

If you’re looking for some free things to mix into your itinerary, or you want to visit York on a budget, look no further than these 10 free things to do in York. I’ve suggested an order to do them in, based on what each thing is near.

Walk the walls:

This is the number one free thing to do in York. The walls are open most of the year (except if the city is very flooded or if it’s too icy then the walls are closed for safety) and you can do one section or all of them.

York is a walled city but some parts of the walls have been lost to time and are not walkable. The current walls made out of the characteristic yellow bricks were built in medieval times, but they were mostly built on top of existing walls from the Roman period. The Roman walls were shorter and narrower.

Note: In many areas, the back of the wall has no safety guard to stop you or your child falling, so hold your little ones tight if you choose to take them on the walls.

The section with the most to see is the one that starts on the corner of Gillygate/Exhibition Square and goes around the back of the Minster, depositing you at the end of Goodramgate where you could visit the Richard III museum (museum is not free).

Visit the Minster Gardens and Minster Library:

The Minster is not free to visit but the Minster Gardens are! Find them on the left hand side of the Minster. With plenty of benches, you can settle down with a cosy takeaway coffee (coffee is not free) and drink it in the peaceful tranquillity, overlooked by the side of the Minster where few tourists venture.

Visit the Museum Gardens and St. Mary’s Abbey:

The remains of St. Mary’s Abbey, a ruined Benedictine abbey, are seamlessly integrated amongst the gardens of the Yorkshire Museum. You can also find squirrels, an observatory and plenty of benches and green space. This gets quite busy on hot days as it’s one of the few family-friendly places to hang out in the city.

Pop into the library:

Next to the Museum Gardens, the City of York Public Library is a jarringly-modern building with low wooden bookcases from the seventies. It’s a municipal library, but they do have some books on local history if you want to learn more about the city without paying for an audio guide.

York War Memorial:

Continue up the road from the library toward the train station. At the top of this road, just before you pass through the bar (way out of the walled city), is York’s War Memorial. This is where the names of local men who died in the two World Wars are recorded. On November 11th every year (Remembrance Day), poppies, wreaths, and sometimes cards from local schools are left here, and there’s usually a somber ceremony for it along with the silence at 11am.

York Cholera Graves:

Keep going toward the railway station and, just the other side of the bar and walls, you will find a grassy area of open space on your left. This is the York Cholera Graves. In 1832, an epidemic of cholera hit York (it was all over the UK in the 19th century), and 185 people died in the city. The fear of infection meant the city’s Privy Council (as it was at the time) changed the rules for funerals so people had to be buried six feet below the ground (a practice that remains to this day), they could only have funeral services out of doors, and they also stopped funeral processions taking place in the narrower streets of the city. These days, you are unlikely to see funeral processions anywhere inside York’s city walls (you may see hearses coming and going from the Minster occasionally). You can take a moment to meditate on this chapter from York’s more recent history on your way to…

York Railway Museum:

From the Cholera graves on Station Road, cross the street and dodge down Leeman Road. Keep walking until you see the sign for the Railway Museum, which is near the railway bridge. The Railway Museum is free to visit and has a magnificent collection of old steam trains, including Stephenson’s Rocket, and some modern trains, such as the only bullet train outside of Japan (an old one from the seventies). They also have trains from collieries (where coal mines were) and some of the traditional trains that look like Thomas the Tank Engine (without the face). Even if you’re not a trainspotter, you could spend an hour or two here and learn something. It’s also the only museum in York that’s 100% free entry.

Hear the bellringers:

Heading back toward the Minster, if you are in the area between 7 and 8 in the evening, you will hear the York Minster bellringers practising their carillons and peels. The tourists on day trips have mostly left, by now, and the streets are empty, in that witching hour, the in-between time, when the students haven’t come out to party yet, and most local families are at home eating their dinner. The bells sing out, with too few people around to dampen the sound, and you can hear them from many of the local streets. If you listen for long enough, you’ll start to hear the patterns in the bells. They might even tell you a story.

See the York Morris Dancers:

Head back down Petergate until you come to Caffe Nero and Barnitt’s. In this square (King’s Square), the Ebor Morris perform in the evenings. They truly are a phenomenal sight to see and Morris dancing is one of England’s dying folk ways. The Morris is an English folk dance which has been a tradition for centuries. Morris teams are usually men, and the dancers wear bells on their legs and some dances involve sticks or white handkerchiefs.

If you are a fan of Jethro Tull, Steeleye Span or Kate Rusby then (aside from the fact you probably know all about Morris dancing already) this is an unmissable event. They perform here every Monday night at 7:30pm and they really are a top-notch Morris team. Find out more here. Seeing this event is free, but a tip would probably go down well.

Visit the Shambles:

It’s the end of a busy day, the streets are mercifully clear of the crowds, now is the perfect time to take a walk down The Shambles, one of York’s most touristy streets that is so busy during the day, it’s almost impossible to take in the sense of place. This was a street of butchers back in medieval times, and the two channels of stone either side of the pavements are where the blood used to run in rivers from the carcasses after they were discarded. Now, it’s regarded as York’s finest street, barely-touched by time.

Childlike: Join the Thursday Photo Challenge

Welcome! Come and join the Thursday Photo Challenge, a weekly photography challenge for everyone who likes to take photos!

This week’s challenge is childlike.

There are no seven wonders in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.

Walt Streightiff

The subject could be a child or you could attempt to take a photo through the eyes of a child. It’s notoriously difficult for adults to see the point of view of children, so this challenge might push some people out of their comfort zone.

My photo is the excitement of going on a plane as a child and seeing the world from above. That sense that you could live amongst the clouds and build snowmen out of them. The rollercoaster thrill of taking off and the uncertainty about how the plane will ever touch land safely again. I never went on a plane as a child, so the first time I experienced the awe and wonder of air travel was when I was eighteen.

Here’s how to take part:

  1. Take a photo or search your files for one that represents the week’s theme.
  2. Write a post, including your photo, any words of explanation or inspiration you wish to share, and a link to this challenge page.
  3. Comment on this post with a link to your page so others can see your contribution.
  4. That’s it! Super easy.

This challenge will stay open for one week, then next Thursday, I will post the next challenge!

My top passive income strategies 2021

Most of us look forward to not having to work so much, so we have more time to follow our dreams– you know, the things you always wanted to do and expected you would do one day, but somehow, that day never came because work showed up and rained over your whole life.

With passive income streams, you can make that day happen sooner. A passive income is one that makes you money again and again without you having to do much to it. Passive income usually requires an initial investment of time or money. If you’re seriously broke, like I was when I started this journey, then you can invest your time to get out of the rat race. Of course, if you’re busy and broke, it will take longer to get results.

My favourite passive income strategies for 2021:

  1. Amazon Associates: Yeah, people love to hate Amazon but I make most of my money from them, either via Associates or my books. Amazon Associates is an affiliate marketing program where you tell people about stuff that’s for sale at Amazon, and you get a commission. There are a lot of other affiliate marketing schemes out there, from companies with charter planes to companies selling make-up or even credit cards, but Amazon Associates has been my top-performing affiliate scheme this year and I’m making about $250 a month from it now, without having to do anything at all, due to the size of this website (over 500 pages and counting) and age of this blog (2014). Obviously, I had to put a lot of time and work into making this site useful to people, and I had to build my traffic to a good level, but now I can sit back and let the reward come in. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing.
  2. Ebooks: Starting a self-publishing business as an author is NOT a quick or easy way to make money, but if you get it right, it’s scaleable and you get to write books and earn from them. There are tons of niches in both fiction and non-fiction where you can find your blue ocean. If you write an evergreen book series about things people are looking for, you can generate a reasonable income from this. Thousands of self-published authors make 6 or even 7 figures a month.
  3. Other info products: These are where the big money is in 2021. Courses are huge and the market is set to grow as colleges stay closed in various countries worldwide for yet another year. The way to make money with courses is to find something you know about, which other people struggle with. Position yourself as an authority on your topic, grow an audience, then BAM! Launch your course. Courses are better than ebooks because they are what’s known as a high-ticket item (you can price ’em high).
  4. Rent something out: Your living room couch, your whole house while you’re on holiday, the parking space outside your house… the options are varied and you can put as much or as little into this as you like.
  5. Cryptocurrency: I am not a financial adviser, but if you have money you can afford to lose, investing in crypto is high risk. You can make a lot from a little, but you also might lose it all on the whim of the market. Before investing in cryptocurrencies, educate yourself and do your own research from a variety of sources, don’t just listen to one person’s recommendations.
  6. Stocks: A less risky investment (but you can still lose it all) is investing in the stock market. Like cryptos, do your research and don’t ever buy into a company on one person’s say-so.

So those are the top ways I’m generating passive income in 2021, there are obviously a lot more things you could do to bring in money, I haven’t covered side-hustles or ways you can earn cryptocurrencies from performing online tasks for companies (such as content creation) because I wanted to focus only on things I’ve tried and tested, which are bringing in a reasonable amount of money for me. That’s also why website advertising hasn’t made this list – it’s not even bringing in $50 a month to my site so I can’t count it as a reliable passive income stream.

How to make vegan yogurt without yogurt cultures

While living in rural China, one serious problem I had was that it was impossible to buy dairy-free or vegan substitutes to dairy products. There’s a good reason for this. Chinese food uses ingredients differently, and is not a dairy-based cuisine. Dairy products are now widely available in China, and dairy additives have sneaked their way into a lot of modern Chinese snack foods, but there are no vegan alternatives to these, because as far as Chinese cooking is concerned, dairy is the alternative.

A lot of the time, the Chinese approach to dairy meant I could usually eat worry-free in most of China. And it was great to try so many new foods.

Of course, being British and Irish, I like to start my day with a lovely yoghurt (if you’re American you spell it “yogurt” lol) drenched in fruit (my faves are fresh County Wexford strawberries, the best strawberries in the world, or when they’re out of season, fluffy Spanish blueberries from the supermarket). While I’m fairly open-minded, there are some days when I just crave home food from my own country. Especially when I became pregnant and suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme pregnancy sickness… I’m basically allergic to the first 3-4 months of pregnancy).

Yoghurt is also integral to some homemade curry recipes like tikka masala.

Of course, the main problem is every recipe claims to require yoghurt cultures. It is impossible to get vegan yoghurt cultures in rural China (you could get this in the cities or on Taobao but I wouldn’t know enough Mandarin to check the origin or ingredients). In the past, people didn’t need yoghurt cultures to make yoghurt, it’s a modern complication. Could you imagine the Ancient Greeks trying to buy or sell “yoghurt cultures” in the market? They instead used natural alternatives, and you can, too.

With that in mind, I found out how to make yoghurt from local ingredients. Two things which are abundant in China are tofu and chillies (hot peppers). Don’t worry, you won’t make spicy yoghurt with this recipe (weird).

Here’s what you will need (keep scrolling for substitutions/adjustments e.g. soy free):

A block of tofu (about 200g or 1 cup, but don’t get hung up on the size, it largely doesn’t matter).

1 cup of soymilk. In China, you can buy a soy milk maker (on Taobao or in a store) to make your own if you can’t get a carton (Vitasoy in the blue carton from any shop, or Silk from Epermarket are also fine, dependent on your need for organic/no additives etc).

The juice of 2 medium fresh lemons (or 1 very large one).

Half a cup (about 100ml) of boiling water.

A blender or smoothie maker.

12 chili peppers with stems attached.

Method:

Put everything in the blender except the chili peppers. Blend until you get a silky smooth texture then pour it into a flat dish like a pasta bowl or the lid of a casserole dish (not a plate).

Take the chillies and remove the stems. Place the stems into the mixture so the part that joined the chili is now slightly beneath the surface of the yoghurt. These will work in place of yoghurt cultures.

Leave the mixture to culture in a warm spot for about 8 hours (a room without air con or an oven on about 30-40 degrees celsius/90-100 Farenheit is great). If it gets too hot or cold, it won’t culture properly, so take care. If you have a yoghurt maker, that will work, too.

Remove the chillies and store your yoghurt in the fridge in a sealed container for food safety.

This makes a very plain yoghurt that works for overnight oats, tikka masala recipes or you can add honey and chopped fruit to sweeten it.

Adjustments:

If you only have silken tofu, don’t add soya milk, instead use 2 packs of tofu.

Soy allergy? You can use coconut cream (the canned stuff for curries; don’t add the water from the bottom of the tin) and cornflour/cornstarch as a thickener if needed.

If you have no lemon, try lime or apple cider vinegar. You need the acidity level to be right otherwise the good bacteria in the chillies can’t thrive to turn the tofu into yoghurt. In my experience, lack of lemon juice is the only reason this recipe has ever failed for me.

Photo (with the chillies in):

Have you tried this? Let me know in the comments!