Monday, October 17, 2011

Yogurt, a success story

Well, I did end up making that yogurt yesterday. (Along with the bread and mulled cider, but more on that later.) This is the video I used. No fancy yogurt maker, no crazy steps like keeping it in a warm water bath in a cooler for 14 hours. I used Northern Lights Dairy milk (since it's not ultra-pasteurized) and I heated it up on the stove so I could keep a better eye on it. (I was also making the sourdough bread.) I never let the milk get to a rolling boil, either, but it had the frothiness which they point out in the video as desirable. The one step which I think could be improved is the warming stage. Our oven is from...the 60s maybe? It doesn't retain heat all that well, so it cooled down quickly. I think transferring it all to a crock-pot on the "warm" setting would work best. (And we have friends, married now, who have 2 crock-pots, so we were going to see if we could buy one or barter for it.) But since I pulled it out when the oven needed to heat up for the bread (about 4 hours) it had a nice mild flavor. I put some into my smoothie this morning.
The part Shane likes about all this is that it's way cheaper than buying it at the store, even having to buy the local milk. (In case you're wondering, ultra-pasteurized milk can't be used in cheese-making, so I would assume that some of the same principles come into play for yogurt making. It might work, but maybe not as well.) Not only am I reducing waste, I'm also supporting two local businesses--Northern Lights Dairy and Alaska Feed Co., where I bought it.
As for the mulled cider, I did that while the bread was rising and the yogurt was staying warm in the oven. I looked up a whole bunch of recipes for what the mix of spices should be and realized that we didn't have most of the ingredients. Dried orange and lemon peels? Whole cloves? Whole cinnamon sticks? Whole allspice? Nah. So I improvised. We had a lot of the spices in ground form so I filled a pot with apple cider and dashed some spices in it. I'm sorry, I can't give the amounts because I just shook in what I thought would be enough of each, but I used: ground allspice, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and just a touch of ground ginger. I whisked them around and let it all heat slowly, never getting to a boil. Then I doled it out into mugs. So yummy! Shane had never had mulled cider before, but he enjoyed it too. The spices settled to the bottom of each mug so we just didn't drink the last little sip. Probably one of these nights I'll mull some wine, which I could do the same way only adding a bit of honey for sweetness. Is there anything better on a cold wintery night than a hot drink? Because I can't think of one.
I have found so many great blogs and articles lately. There's this blog/article which I really liked, about how local/organic food is always portrayed as a good food vs. evil Big Ag dichotomy, when it's so much more than that. I have to agree with the author. I'm far more interested in all the different ways people are trying to move toward sustainability, and why, than in the perceived fight between good and evil. Isn't it enough that people are making a difference?
Then there's this blog/article about why time is your friend when you're baking bread at home. As someone who is still very much learning about bread baking (and specifically, baking bread here where it's very, very dry--it does make a huge difference), and who has very little time, I found it fascinating.
That article, of course, led me to this blog that's all about bread. I welcome the chance to learn more about baking bread, to find new recipes and to try new techniques! In some ways, blogs like that also make me truly excited for when Shane and I have a family. After all, there's only so much bread the two of us can eat, only so many recipes we can try in a given year.
I was right about the primer snow. I woke up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow and it's lasting through the day. It's still wet and soggy, but it will stick. And I'm so glad I'm carpooling to the rehearsal of "Annie". All that slush on the roads is going to turn into ice tonight.

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