Thursday, August 11, 2011

Make your own Greek yogurt - no whey!

We buy Greek yogurt every week. I don't remember how much it costs, but it is more than plain yogurt and in a smaller container. And we go through at least one container a week. However, while you may see Greek yogurt for sale in more stores, you will also tend to see the low-fat and no-fat versions. Wal-Mart and Target, for example, seem not to sell full-fat dairy products. The full-fat flavors are more filling, so you actually eat a smaller serving, and they taste better. My personal favorite is the Greek Gods plain. The only place we know we can definitely get full-fat plain Greek Gods yogurt is Valu-Market, except when they've run out (don't go shopping on a Sunday night).Second choice is Greek Gods honey yogurt.  I've tried to restrict us to only one container, but it just doesn't work because it's often used in other recipes. Last week, following a panicked look at the monthly budget, I decided to Make My Own.

I am not a DIYer. Reader(s), I got a C in Home Ec in 8th grade one quarter. I did better in PE than that class. And while I am very, um, precise in some ways, I am also lazy and don't like high-maintenance recipes. This is why on Sunday night I agreed to make the tomato sauce instead of finishing the panna cotta (stir constantly!). But DIY Greek yogurt aka "yogurt cheese" was super easy. There are a variety of methods on the Internet, but I went with the easiest way. Partly because I could not find cheesecloth at the 3 stores I had been at and partly because my white kitchen towels had patterns on them and I wasn't sure if they should be solid white.

What I did:
I bought a largeish container of full-fat plain yogurt. I set up the mesh strainer over a bowl -- the strainer has little hooks to attach to the rim. I scooped the yogurt into the strainer and let it sit on the counter (during dinner). When we checked on it, we could already see whey collecting in the bowl. I covered the whole contraption with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, the plain yogurt definitely had a thicker consistency. I took some to work and couldn't really tell the difference. I scooped the new Greek yogurt into an empty, clean yogurt container. When I took it out this morning, there was more whey, so I suppose I could have drained it some more, but even the store-bought GY does that.

Now the question is, why can you do with whey? All I know are curds & whey.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Light in August

Hello! Note the new background if you read the blog on its original page and not on a blog reader. I've given up on the orange theme. And my reader(s) have/has probably given up on me. You know you can always still catch the bus stories. It's easier to blog about bus riding than cooking and eating.

The CSA pick-up is going strong. The location is only 1 block away at the YMCA. Last week I went swimming and then grabbed the produce. It was also our extras week. We get the Produce for 2 and Staple Item every week but get bread, cheese, and "mixed meat," biweekly. I honestly don't remember what the produce was*, but I know the meat was smoked ham. Three large but thin steaks. That Rich grilled last night with a mustard-something glaze. He also made mashed potatoes and red cabbage with golden raisins.

*Oh, it included corn, watermelon, and funny looking eggplant.
He also made an eggplant lasagne and baba ghanoush for later. Tonight I will shuck the corn and freeze it for some baking thing to take place at some point in the future. The other week I made Mark Bittman's corn fritters, but we need to get through all the leftovers from last night, so freezing is the plan.

Drinks were watermelon-tinis. Pureed watermelon with a bit of vodka. Dessert was panna cotta with a peach sauce. The peaches came from the Root Cellar--which deserves its own post.

This was a weekend of good eating. Friday night: Red Hog Tapas (Blue Dog Bakery). Saturday: brunch at home with french toast, bacon, peaches, and watermelon-mimosas. Saturday night: dinner at Harvest. And in a small world like this, one of the waiters was the guy we pick up our CSA from.

To sum up, what has been light in August are our wallets. Everything else has probably gotten heavier. But so worth it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Local produce is back!

For the first week, we received tender lettuce, mixed greens, and strawberries for a fresh produce. Produce-share add-ons were soy sauce and salsa. The rotating staple was maple syrup.

Week 2
  • Braising greens
  • Bok choy
  • Strawberries
  • Green garlic
  • Basil pesto
  • A 4.67 pound whole chicken (biweekly meat share)
  • Aged Cheddar and Asiago cheeses (biweekly artisan cheese share)

We ate the strawberries fresh and by themselves except for a few I added to my oatmeal. For dinner the other night, I sauteed last week's mixed greens with some olive oil, garlic, and worcestershire sauce. We had it with leftover pasta with red sauce.

The plans for the rest of this week:
Tonight - pasta with basil pesto
Saturday - salmon with bok choy
Sunday - roast chicken with garlic
Monday - braised greens with bacon

What to do with the green garlic? Maybe with the chicken?

We also decided to add a biweekly bread share, so we'll start getting that in two weeks.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My favorite spread

Although I have peanut butter with my oatmeal every morning, my heart really belongs to Nutella. I first had the hazelnut-chocolate spread when I traveled to Germany in high school. I would see it in American grocery stores but never bought -- that's for Europe.

But now Rich and I buy it pretty regularly. I probably eat most of it. This morning as I put a spooonful in my travel container of applesauce for a work snack, Rich asked, Is that Nutella?

Yes, I said. I've decided that Nutella goes with pretty much anything (as an image of nutella and roast chicken or lamb popped in my head).

Well, yeah, because you put it in fuckin' everything, he said. (examples include greek yogurt, cold cereal, oatmeal, applesauce, ice cream, peanut butter-and-nutella sandwiches, french toast, etc). We then had a minor discussion as to whether "fuckin' put it in everything" and "put it in fuckin' everything" mean the same thing or not and which one has a more positive connotation before moving on to talk of a Nutella mole sauce.

Next year for Easter we should do lamb with Nutella and I'll find that online recipe using Cadbury eggs for baking...and instead of little booties on the lamb chops, we can stretch Peeps around them.

On second thought, maybe we'll just stick with Nutella. There was a NY Times article a few weeks ago about making your own chocolate-hazelnut spread. Worth looking into with the Vitamix.

CSA starts May 18. In the meantime, I may post some random Nutella recipes. Why not.

Monday, March 7, 2011

No more CSA for awhile

Last Thursday was our last CSA pick-up until spring. We decided not to do the extension season. I need to figure out how to approach this blog in the future. We've been low on squash and pumpkin lately, and I don't like/I'm not good at regularly documenting what I'm cooking or eating.

This weekend I did bake Quaker Oats vanishing oatmeal raisin cookies. Back to the old standard for my lunchtime snack. Variations: I did them as bars, added crushed walnuts, raisins, golden raisins, and dark chocolate chips.

Last night I cooked up the rest of the pork sausage we had the fridge. Then I cooked some shallots, added spinach, just a little bit of beef broth for liquid (because that was what we had), a can of Great Northern beans, pureed roasted red peppers, and the last of the tomato relish jar. I cooked spaghetti separately, added the pork back to the pan, then stirred in the cooked pasta. I had my serving with a little bit of goat cheese.

We're instituting a 3 days/week (at least) Y routine for awhile to take advantage of the classes without paying extra for bootcamp. This weekend's grocery shopping was a bit of change for us as we bought some prepackaged foods to make some evenings easier. We're not not cooking, we're just providing more easy options in the freezer. Except we were both picky about what was available. We've gotten spoiled with our cooking. Tonight it's a 30-minute cycling class, so that should leave time to cook, except we really need to clean the apartment, too, and pick up from some of the weekend's projects.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A bread experiment (eventually)

The other day at the dentist's office, the hygienist told me about packing up the bread she had brought to work for their Valentine's Day party. She said she used the bread hook on her mixer (I have one of those!) and let it rise in the oven with the light on (I have one of those, too!). I don't know what kind of bread she made, but she said it turned out. I have been wanting to bake bread but am never sure about how to get the dough to rise. My mom uses a proofing box that was her father's. I always want to say he made it, but he just bought it somewhere. And all it is is a wood box with a light in it. Kind of like this, not not quite. Wow, who knew there were so many different kinds of proofing boxes to buy

Today I saw this recipe for homemade naan -- I love naan, which surprises even me since I'm not a fan of Indian food. And this recipe just has the dough rising in bowl beneath a damp towel. That seems like a good way to start. One summer when I was getting a lot of greens in my farm share, I bought some naan at the grocery store (because I could never find the precooked pizza dough) and made little green/goat cheese/red pepper pizzas on naan. Totally doing that again.

We haven't cooked much lately because of illnesses and exhaustion and travel, but when we get back into it, I'm going to focus on baking bread and making desserts. I had started on that path earlier with the trifle and the cakes, but then the freezer and Christmas and the above list of reasons. I'd like to refocus on this, but it won't happen until March at least. I'll let Rich be the master chef and I'll be the ultimate baker. Divide and conquer.

CSA Update
Only three more weeks left for the winter share. After last night's pick-up, maybe that means two now. We received really big turnips, small butternut squash, tomato cocktail, kale, maple syrup, piggie links, and bread. The program will be offering non-produce items during a 7-week gap period before the spring share starts. We talked about signing up, but now I think I'd like to put that towards a new session of boot camp at the Y and wait for the spring share to start in May with mixed meat, not breakfast basket. And a rotating staple if offered. Maybe cheese this time, too.

Looking for a hot cook

Well, I already have one, but I saw an ad on a local job site for a hot cook at Sullivan University. LIke Bobby Flay? Or the Naked Chef? Or Giada DeLaurentiis or Nigella Lawson? Probably not Emeril Lagasse or Mario Batali.

I did not click on the link, but I'm sure it's actually something pretty mundane. I wonder if they ever advertise for a cold cook?