Friday, February 26, 2010

Cinchy Breakfast

Spinach and Bell Pepper Scramble (The plan was for an omelet until half way through when I realized I don't actually know how to cook eggs into an omelet.)
Sweet Potato Fries

Ethan dumped out a carton of eggs yesterday and broke 6 of them. I finished breaking them into a ziploc bag to save for later. We were destined to have eggs this morning.

Pour eggs, salt, pepper and some shredded cheese into a bowl and stir.

Grab a handful of pre-washed spinach and cut thinly.

Here's the cinchy part, go to the freezer and get out a bag of Alexia Sweet Potato Fries and Woodstock Farms Sliced Tri Color Bell Pepper Mix.

Slice the peppers one more time so they are diced. Add spinach and peppers to eggs.

Put Sweet Potato Fries into the oven and bake until sizzling.

Breakfast took about 10 min this morning.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Making Yogurt

I have been using plain (whole milk) yogurt to make smoothies, I find it useful in baking and cooking every once in a while and we like to eat it with granola or Muesli. Mix it with jam and you'll feel like your back in Europe.

I was browsing The Real Food Revolution. A great blog with lots of down to earth, budget friendly, real food, recipes. I found this entry on making yogurt and when she explained about making yogurt being a lot cheaper than buying my interest was peaked. Here is a long (but very simple when you get right down to it) entry on how to make yogurt. It is surprisingly easy to make yogurt by the looks of it. I am going to get some Mason jars and try it out soon!

Making Yogurt-How to make Yogurt at Home

Okay, here's the thing you need to know about yogurt. It's really really easy. I tell you this at the beginning, before you read all about getting a thermometer and temperatures and bacterial process and all, because I was intimidated by yogurt for years. I would read the directions, in numerous books, and then put them down and relegate yogurt making to the someday when I have a lot of time to figure it out category in my head. I don't want you to do the same thing. So I'll say it again, making yogurt is simple.

Now, I'll probably be very long winded about making yogurt because I like to understand WHY things work. "Why mommy? Why?" I'm not that different from my 6 year old after all. "But why mommy? Why shouldn't I pee on my little sister in the bathtub? She's laughing."


Moving on.

Here's the other thing you need to know about yogurt. You will save a lot of money making it yourself. Say one gallon of milk is $3. One quart of good quality yogurt is usually $3-4 minimum. That means if you are buying yogurt you are paying $12-16 per gallon. If you make a gallon of yogurt guess how much it costs? That's right, $3, give or take the price of a gallon of milk. If you like yogurt, you really want to know how to make it yourself.

The first thing you will need is a pot large enough to hold the amount of yogurt you want to make. I don't recommend trying to do more than a gallon at a time. It takes too long to heat and burns on the bottom, and too long to cool. But you can start with less. You will have exactly as much yogurt as milk that you start with so you will need containers to hold them. My personal preference is glass mason jars. They seal nicely, don't leak, don't leech dioxins when they are warmed and look pretty. I went through a lot of plastic containers before I caught on. But you can use whatever you want. Really. It doesn't even need a lid. The picky among us may want a wire sieve, but that's completely optional.

So for you who like it laid out all neat and tidy instead of lost in the narrative, here's your list.

Large Stock Pot or Sauce Pan (Heavy bottomed is best.)
Candy thermometer (Can be found in the baking section of every grocery store chain in North America I think. But I'll tell you what to do if you haven't got one too. Yogurt makers have been going by feel for centuries.)
Storage Containers
Wire Sieve
Whisk or spoon for stirring

(See that jar with a bit of yogurt in the bottom? That's
from my last batch, to use to start this one.)

Milk (Whole, Skim, and every thing in between. Personally I think whole milk tastes better and makes creamier yogurt, but low fat will work just as well.)
1 tbsp of your favorite brand of plain unsweetened yogurt, as long as it reads on the side, "Active bacterial cultures".

And please tell me that your favorite yogurt doesn't have gelatin or cornstarch in it, because those people who make that slop don't know how to make yogurt. Well, they probably do, but they're cheating you into thinking that it's creamier with additives. Anyway, you could go out and buy a yogurt starter like yo-gourmet or the like, but it's a whole lot simpler to just use some yogurt you already have. Their instructions are way to complex in my opinion, though that's how I started.

Yogurt is a simple bacterial process, just like bread. You introduce the bacteria to the milk, get it nice and cozy so that the bacteria thrive and they eat their way through all of the lactose and in turn give you yogurt. Before you get all grossed out by that, consider that you have a lot of bacteria and microorganisms in your body right now and you want the stuff in yogurt in you, because it's good for you, and then the bad bacteria has less space to run around and eventually almost moves out altogether complaining about over crowding. So that's why you need a little bit of yogurt from somewhere else. It already has live bacteria in it for you to add to the milk.

The rest is just all about temperature. You get the milk hot enough to pasteurize it so that the only thing alive in it is the bacteria you want to grow and nothing else. Then you get it cool enough to not kill the bacteria and then keep it warm enough that they stay active until they have spread through out the yogurt. Got that? Good. Here we go.


Pour the milk into the pot. Set the heat beneath the pot to medium/medium high. (There are those who will tell you that you should put it on low and stir constantly to keep from burning but those people don't make yogurt that often I don't think. Higher heat warms it faster before the stuff on the bottom starts to stick and burn.) Put the thermometer in the milk, it should have a clip for the side of the pot, and stay close by stirring from time to time.

The hardest part about making yogurt is keeping the milk from burning. It takes so long to heat up that you have usually forgotten that you have anything on the stove and you have gone off to fold laundry or have a shower or something. If you get at all engrossed in movies, do not try to watch one while making yogurt. You will forget about it until it's boiling over the top and burnt on the bottom. Oh wait, that's just me? Never mind. Magazines are good. Yogurt making is a good time to read a magazine. On a chair or stool in the kitchen. Next to your milk. So you don't forget.

Watch your yogurt, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 180F, or 80C. If you have no thermometer, stand over it and watch until the outside edges are bubbling vigorously and there is a lot of steam coming off the milk.

Here's for the list people.


Preheat oven to 110F. Or just set it on the lowest possible setting just when the light comes on, no more. Heat milk to 180F, 80C. Remove immediately from heat. Allow to cool to between 110-115F, about 54C. (Or if you have no thermometer, until you can hold your pinkie finger in the milk for a full 10 seconds without it burning.) Skim the skin off the top. Add the tbsp of yogurt. Stir together. Pour into storage containers. Place storage containers in the warmed oven. Turn the oven off. Wait 4 to 8 hours before opening. When the milk stays firm when the container is tilted remove from oven and place in fridge.

making yogurt

There you're done. That wasn't so hard was it?

Oh the sieve? That's for people who want a very smooth yogurt. You can pour the milk through it into the storage containers to catch any lumps.

I don't usually bother sterilizing my equipment. But I do try to get it very clean, rinsing in very hot water and soap just before I use it all. I don't want anything that isn't healthy bacteria growing in my milk.

Be sure to save a little bit of this batch of yogurt to use for starting your next batch.

For breakfast pair it with Muesli.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding

John grew up on late evening Tapioca. He loves it- its a soft warm memory food for him I think. When we got married I would make Minute Tapioca every so often. We would double the recipe as the two of us can take down a lot of tapioca.

When we moved and I couldn't find Minute tapioca at the local Walmart I found Bob's Red Mill Tapioca at the Sunflower Farmers Market. I brought it home and John wanted to make some. I was doing laundry or something and told John to start the recipe on the back of the bag. When I returned the kitchen I realized he had doubled it- we always do- and the (doubled) recipe called for almost 5 cups of milk and 4 eggs! Looked like I would be going to the store in the morning to re-fill our milk haha.

BUT I was soo soo happy we doubled it later that evening. I never knew tapioca could be so good! With folded whipped egg whites it is creamy and fluffy beyond any tapioca I have ever had. Never going back to the regular Minute Tapioca and heavens NO! to tapioca in the pudding cups.


* 1/3 cup Tapioca (Small Pearl Old Fashioned)
* 3/4 cup Water
* 2-1/4 cups 2% Milk
* 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
* 2 Eggs, separated
* 1/2 cup Sugar
* 1/2 tsp Vanilla

Soak tapioca in water for 30 minutes in a 1-1/2 quart saucepan. (I have soaked for as little as 10 min and we are good to go)

Add milk, salt and lightly beaten egg yolks to tapioca and stir over medium heat until boiling. Simmer uncovered over very low heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir often. (Grab a book and stand by the pot stirring- or your milk will make a thick skin on the bottom of that pot).

Beat egg whites with sugar until soft peaks form. Fold about 3/4 cup of hot tapioca into the egg whites, then gently fold mixture back into saucepan. (This way you don't cook the whites)

Stir over low heat for about 3 minutes. Cool 15 minutes then add vanilla. Serve warm or chilled, plain or with fruits, nutmeg or coconut mixed in. Makes 3-1/2 cups.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not as Easy As Kristin's Whole Wheat Bread

Easiest Whole Wheat Bread
by Leslie Probert

Lemon juice in this recipe acts as a dough enhancer which gives bread a fine, light texture.Gluten, a natural protein deprived from wheat, provides elasticity and strength, added texture, helps retain moisture, prevents crumbling, and extends the shelf life of the bread. If you do not want to store gluten flour, you may substitute whole wheat flour in its place.

2(8x4-inch) Loaves
3 ½ c. Whole wheat flour
1/3 cup potato flakes (not pearls)
1/3 c. vital wheat gluten
1 ¼ T. instant yeast
2 ½ c. steaming hot tap water
1 T. salt
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. honey or ½ c. sugar
1 ¼ T. bottled lemon juice
3-3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Mix together first three ingredients with a dough hook. Add water all at once and mix for 1 minute; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Mix salt, oil, honey or sugar and lemon juice in a measuring cup and beat into the mixing bowl for one minute.

Add last flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between each cup. Beat for about 6-10 (time it) minutes until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl.

Pre-heat oven for 1 minute to lukewarm and turn off.

Pick up dough and divide, shape into loaves and place in oiled bread pans. Let rise in warm oven for 20-25 minutes until dough reaches over the top of pan. Do not remove bread from oven; turn oven to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from
pans and cool on racks.

If you do not have a mixer with a dough hook and are kneading this by hand, gradually add last cup of flour to keep dough from sticking to counter. You will add more flour when kneading by hand than when using a mixer simply to be able to handle this moist dough. With wheat bread, always add the least amount of flour possible to keep bread moist. Knead 10 minutes before shaping dough into loaves.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To make a 2-loaf recipe of this bread every other day for 1 year (1 loaf/day), you will need 275 lbs. Of wheat ground into flour, 4 gallons of oil, 46 lbs. Of honey or sugar, 8 (1-lb) pkgs. yeast. 61 c gluten flour, 3 2/3 qts of lemon juice and 7.3 lbs of salt.