Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

Why make your own yogurt? It tastes great, it's better for you (no preservatives or artificial thickeners, etc.), you can make it your way, it's less expensive than store-bought, and there is no packaging waste. And you can use the powdered milk from your food storage! The cultures in yogurt aid in digestion and help the body absorb protein, calcium, and iron.

7 cups milk (skim, 2%, whole, or made from powdered--that's what I do)
1/2 cup dry milk powder (this adds more nutrition and makes it thicker)
1/3 cup honey or sugar, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla, optional
1/2 cup plain yogurt, room temperature

1. Combine the milk, powder, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan. Place a candy thermometer in the pan and heat over medium until 180 degrees, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. This kills the bacteria in the milk so the yogurt cultures can grow. (Note: If using only powdered milk, you can skip this first step and just heat the milk to 100-120 degrees. This can be done by mixing the powdered milk with very hot tap water. The powdered milk makes it easier and it doesn't taste like powdered milk when the yogurt is done.)

2. Cool milk to between 100 and 120 degrees before adding the yogurt starter--you don't want to kill those active cultures! Stir well and then pour into glass jars or other containers.

3. Place jars into a cooler that is lined with a fleece blanket or thick towel. Wrap jars securely and add another blanket or towel if necessary to fill up the space. The goal is to maintain a warm temperature for the cultures to grow. Cover the cooler and leave for 8-12 hours. Check after 8 hours to see if it's thick enough. If not, re-wrap and let sit longer.

4. Remove yogurt from cooler and place in refrigerator for several hours to chill before serving. The yogurt will thicken a bit more as it chills. You will see a little yellowish liquid on top. This is whey and you can pour it off or stir it into the yogurt.

  • You can speed up the cooling process in step 2 by placing pan into a sink of ice water (don't let any water get into the pan!) and stirring until 100-120 degrees.
  • When making your next batch, use starter from your first batch. However, it works best if you use it in the first 2-5 days while the cultures are fresh. If you won't be making more that soon, freeze your yogurt in ice cube trays and thaw enough cubes to start your next batch.
  • Other methods of incubating yogurt: pour yogurt into a large thermos, in your crockpot on warm (some have great success with this but I think my crock pot is too warm--it scorches around the edges); with a heating pad; using the pilot light in the oven; outside in the bright sun, etc. The goal is to maintain a warm temperature of the milk throughout the process. Look on the internet for more information about some of these other methods.
  • Yogurt will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
  • Ways to enjoy your yogurt: for breakfast with granola or fruit, stir in jam for flavor, make smoothies, drain over cheesecloth (unsweetened) and use as a sour cream substitute, make frozen yogurt in your ice cream freezer

Whole Wheat Bread

Sorry, but you must have a big mixer (like a Bosch) for this recipe. If not, cut the recipe to 1/3 and make two loaves--that amount could be mixed and kneaded by hand.

7 c. hot water
½ c. powdered milk
½ c. canola oil
1 c. mashed potatoes (1 c. boiling water + ½ c. potato pearls)
½ c. sugar or 2/3 c. honey
3 T. instant yeast
2 T. salt
2 T. Vital Wheat Gluten (optional--makes a softer loaf)
2 T. Dough Enhancer (optional--keeps bread fresh longer)
15-17 cups whole wheat flour (I use hard white wheat)

Put all ingredients except flour into mixing bowl and pulse until combined. Add 8 c. flour and mix well. Let this mixture stand for 5-10 minutes. (this step helps the flour absorb more water so you don’t need to add as much flour--makes for lighter bread--not dense and dry.) Add enough remaining flour until dough does not stick to a floured finger. Set mixer to speed 2 and knead for 10 minutes. This step develops the gluten and eliminates the need for the first rise.
Form dough into loaves (makes about 6) and place into greased pans. Cover with a thin towel and let rise about 1 hour or until doubled. (if it rises in a warm place, 30 minutes may be enough.) Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes on center rack of oven. Immediately spray tops of loaves with water if you want a softer crust. Let cool 5 minutes then place on wire rack to cool completely. Put in plastic bags to store. If bread won’t be eaten in the next two days, put in freezer to keep fresh and thaw before using.
If you like texture in your bread, try adding ½-1 c. millet, cracked wheat, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, etc., or any combination of the above. Millet is my favorite.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Giardino Burgers

This recipe was a hit with the whole family—do you know how rare that is in a family of 8? Yes, you probably do. I can’t be the only one who has given up trying to please everyone at every meal. Well, these burgers got compliments from all, especially my two toughest critics: Corinne (5) said, “Mom, I like this even better than pizza!” and Evan (14), my meat-loving son who wishes his mom would buy red meat, said, “These are actually really good—definitely make them again!” Need I say more?
I was happy about how quick these were to make, and how well the patties held together after baking. I "once and a halved" this recipe to make 9 burgers and they disappeared. Next time I'll double it. I served the burgers with these homemade potato/sweet potato chips and they were great!
Giardino Burgers
1-15 oz. can garbonzo beans, drained (I used 1-3/4 cup cooked dry beans)
3 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs (I put a couple of slices of homemade wheat bread in the blender)
1 cup shredded carrots (the recipe says to add your favorite vegetable)
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
ketchup, mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cheese, avocado, etc.
Rolls or buns
Preheat oven to 350. Put the garbanzos and eggs into a bowl and mash them together with a potato masher. (Corinne loved doing this for me). You want the mixture to be well combined, but a little chunky. Add the bread crumbs, carrots (or any other vegetables you’d like), and seasonings.
Form the mixture into 6 patties. I divided the mixture into mounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then formed them into round patties, about 3/4 inch thick.
Bake for about 25 minutes until lightly browned. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings.