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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Three of my favorite things right now:

look at you.  just sitting in a pile being all delicious.
  • Amazon Prime’s original new show Transparent. It’s been ages since a series made me ponder it between episodes as much as this one. I appreciate that it doesn’t always offer the comfort of tidiness or logic or even knowing if something is happening in physical reality or just a metaphor. It is beautiful and brilliant. O Jeffrey Tambor, I thought you were grand before, but now you are a god(dess) to me.  Gaby Hoffman is my other favorite on this show.
  • Unitasking. I barely ever seem to accomplish this, at least for a sustained period. I have a wicked case of what many in the meditation/Buddhist/yoga etc. world call “monkey mind” – the mind that flits about like a naughty little monkey wreaking havoc. But I’m trying harder to do less things at once.  When it happens, if it happens, it is luxurious and rewarding.

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We eat yogurt daily and store-bought yogurt tends to be both expensive and high in sugar. I had no idea how easy it is to make your own. I’ve found it kind of fun too – and I’m no cook, let me assure you, but I am a fan of saving money and learning new things. While making the first batch, I told my husband “I’m cooking up a pot of savings!”

A coworker motivated me to finally try it – she makes it every week. She gave me a high level overview of the process and gave me my first starter. We’ve made about 5 batches so far and it’s yummy and not that hard. My husband got into it too and has been making batches and improved the process by finding better tools for straining.

Then I also read up on it on the food blog of the Apartment therapy website, called the Kitchn: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-yogurt-at-home-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-125070.
Also this page was very helpful: http://www.fromscratchmag.com/make-homemade-yogurt-homemade-yogurt-recipe/.

In case you’re interested in trying it:

You need:
Milk, a pot, a whisk, glass containers with lids, a meat or candy thermometer, dish towels, and “starter”: yogurt with active cultures, about 1/3 cup. You can use plain yogurt with active cultures from the store and once you start making yogurt you will save some of it as a starter. It must have active cultures and should be plain (non-flavored). Either “Greek style” or regular yogurt is fine.
Optional: a strainer, cheesecloth, a bowl to strain whey into.

Steps:

  • Heat about one half-gallon of milk in a pot – we use 1% Oakhurst milk. Use the thermometer to monitor it until it reaches 180 degrees.
  • Turn off the heat and let the pot cool down to 120 degrees. When it reaches about 120, whisk in all of the starter.
  • Pour the milk + starter mixture into glass containers such as canning jars – we like the Ball wide-mouth jars with the screw-on white plastic tops. It will fill about 4 of those jars.
  • Let the containers sit for at least 4-6 hours at around 100 degrees. We achieve that temperature by wrapping each jar in 2 dish towels and putting all of the jars together into a zippered insulated cooler. The longer you let it sit, the thicker it becomes but also the more tart it will get – so this part is all about your own preferences.
  • After it sits 4-6 or more hrs, stir. At this point, since we like Greek-style thicker yogurt, we strain some of the whey out. My coworker doesn’t strain it and just has to restir it when she eats it because the whey will separate from the rest of the yogurt a bit.
  • For the Greek-style yogurt, strain whey with something like cheesecloth or a thin tea towel, over a strainer or chinois, into a bowl or directly into the glass container if possible. This is the only step that is a pain and can get messy. (Can cause some muttering, too, if you, say, have to clean 2 cups of spilled yogurt from under the microwave). After some experimenting, we’ve started using washable jelly strainer bags – I think these – http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-615-Jelly-Strainer-Piece/dp/B001FBEHFC – and a chinois – something like this http://www.amazon.com/8-Inch-Depth-Chinoise-Strainer-Stainless/dp/B000J3ZYCC. This is less messy and we don’t end up with towels that frankly stank like the old post-feeding baby bibs did, especially in warm weather.
  • I recommend saving the whey in the fridge – it is filled with protein and good for smoothies.
  • Refrigerate the yogurt – best to do so overnight. Save some of the new batch in a small container to be your starter for the next batch.
  • Do you need to “refresh” the starter over time? Not sure. We need to research this. My husband did notice that the 3 biggest yogurt brands with active cultures had a slightly different list of cultures. So is it optimal to alternate among brands to get a wider spectrum of cultures? Should you add some sort of culture “boost” from the health food store? I do not know the answers nor have I had a chance to research them. But if I do, I’ll share it here (or if you know, please comment below!) That’s another fun part of DIY, isn’t it – learning all these details about something you didn’t know squat about, like, a month ago.

Eating:
When I pour it out to eat, I add a little maple syrup and strawberries or raspberries, and for texture I add Grape Nuts or Kashi 7 grain puff cereal. Sometimes I also add a bit of Goya canned coconut milk. We also use it plain in place of sour cream with tuna, chicken salad, in smoothies, and on quesadillas / burritos / nachos. I also mix it with salsa and add ground chipotle powder for tortilla chip dip.

So far we have shared the homemade yogurt with my parents who liked it a lot and used it in smoothies and with tuna.

Do you love yogurt too? What do you use yogurt in? Do you make your own? If not, would you ever consider it? Tell me, I must know, as I’m now an official Yogurtista (a term we coined while high on active cultures).

 

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Hosea Pudding Paper

For me, waking up on most weekday mornings looks like I’m struggling to emerge from quicksand or coming out of a weekend-long bender. I thrash, I groan, I frown, I rub my head and I often cuss. As an extra treat, I may natter on half-asleep about some gibberish.

But this morning when he woke me up, I had something crucial to relay, an invention from my dream that would be wildly successful. In the dream, it was quite clear that this new product would bring glory and riches to our family.

That thing is: Hosea Pudding Paper.

I was excited as I explained that it’s sort of like wax paper, but it’s edible. After you finish eating the pudding, you, ah, can eat the, ah, paper too. The longer I described this product the more confused and uncertain I was becoming.

Some doubts began to form: how would you hold the pudding paper? Would it have an edible handle? Do folks really eat that much pudding? How is this pudding containment method superior to a small cup, or a sugar cone?

And I realized that, no, this wasn’t some sort of Ben Franklin moment with a great innovative idea. Rather, my brain was piecing together random things: “Hosea” was the answer in a recent crossword puzzle, and my husband’s been on a pudding kick lately (our theory is calcium deficiency).

Brains are strange. “Hosea pudding paper”? I shan’t quit my day job.

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Food and Happy.  The two recently discovered little gems below certainly fit the bill.

1) Belvita golden oat breakfast bars: http://www.belvitabreakfast.com/#golden_oat
My daughter’s school introduced us to these when they were trying to round out the list of safe snacks she can have, b/c she’s allergic to nuts, eggs, seeds and, as of 12/1/12, shellfish (another story for another day. . .).  These were safe and they asked if I wanted to try one of the apple cinnamon kind.  It looked a bit, er, dry and overly wheaty, but man it was good.  Then my husband got the golden oat kind to try, and I was dazzled.  Oaty.  Biscuity.  FOUR to a pack!

One day I gilded the deliciousness lily and had my Belvita golden oat biscuit with a milky cup of Irish breakfast tea. . . and now it is my go-to craving.  Odd to crave something every day that I didn’t even know existed before September.  They’re also delightful with milky, milky chai.  I don’t dip – too soggy – I like to hold a bite in my mouth and then take a sip of tea.  Heavenly!

2) Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butterhttp://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=761
It ain’t actually butter but it is wicked good.  I’ve been spreading it on wheat crackers when I wake up hungry around 2:00 every night.  I’ve also stirred it into my morning oatmeal; oh mama, that’s yummy.

Neither of these is health food, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that, for things that are so yummy, they do have some nutrition to them and aren’t too bad in terms of calories or fat.

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Tahini Pretzel Mash

Nope, it’s not a festive new dance.  It’s a simple snack recipe I came up with yesterday.  Maybe I’ll post pictures sometime.  Here’s the recipe:

  • Take about a cup of pretzels.  I used the small pretzel-shaped kind (as opposed to nuggets or sticks), Rold Gold brand
  • Add about 3/4 cup of dried cranberries, raisins or other dried fruit (I used Craisins)
  • Pour about 3 tbsp of tahini over the top
  • Add brown sugar
  • Mash it a bit to break up the pretzel pieces.

Yum!  My husband said it needed chocolate.  Yah, but what doesn’t?

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Wowing “Them”

A WebMDTM email newsletter I received this morning included a link commanding me to “Wow Them With Pecan-Roasted Salmon“.

A few concerns:

  • Who are they that may be of the belief that I can cook edible entrees?
  • Why do they want me to work with ingredients that likely would kill my daughter and I?
  • What will they do to me if I refuse to cook the salmon?  Or worse yet, cook it and fail to wow them?
  • Why won’t they reveal their true identities?

This is all very sudden and overwhelming.  What has this place come to when an honest tax-paying Christian patriotic woman can be forced to make fish for THEM?

I will post more information when safe to do so.

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A fantastic read. The author works at a food lab in Cornell, and not only is he knowledgeable, he’s very amusing. The story about their experiment involving “bottomless bowls of soup” alone is worth the read.

This is not a diet book or really even a weight loss tips book (in fact, I wish it didn’t provide many weight loss tips, as they were the weakest part of the book – a lot of the suggestions were like, “duh”. Keep bowls of fruit around? Don’t have candy on your desk at work? Gee, I never would have guessed). It is a book that attempts to explain our culture’s current eating habits – and foibles with staying fit – by looking at our evolution, factors around us in today’s world, and ways we are heavily influenced by our senses, surroundings, and social cues.

I’m now convinced that feeling “full” isn’t just a state of the body – it is a state involving both mind and body, and when we reach that level can be nearly predetermined ahead of time. What was also interesting is that we are so vulnerable to influences that even people in the field, even people who research and write about the psychology of eating have been shown to get tricked in set-up situations. The author himself reveals times he has fallen prey to these influences.

The more awareness we have, the more transparent we can make influences of the media, social customs, etc., the better chance we can stay on track with the kind of eating we want to do.

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