Thursday, April 21, 2011

all day long

Yesterday found us happily in the kitchen all day long. Some days, the repetition of meals and dishes and snacks and cooking feels a bit daunting. At other times, there is a rhythm that carries us through the work and even propels us on to more than we usually take on in a day. That rhythm was strong from the start yesterday.

The morning started with a familiar breakfast.

soaked grain pancakes

After that, we moved on to making applesauce. We just made three quarts of the stuff not one week ago, but we're already into the last jar and these apples were ready for cooking.

The chopping and simmering carried us through to lunch...

spinach ravioli with steamed artichokes

...after which we got started on making dinner. This left us with one more stash of chicken bones to add to the stockpot with some herbs and vegetables.

And while that simmered away, we tried our hand at making yogurt from the fresh milk we brought home from the farm yesterday.

Making yogurt is another one of those kitchen jobs that is easy and rewarding. It costs much less than storebought yogurt and results in less waste when you can store it in reusable glass jars. Did I mention it's easy, too?

Begin by heating one quart of milk to 110 degrees. For true raw milk yogurt, you want to avoid overheating the milk, which would effectively pasteurize it.

Allow the milk to cool to about 100 degrees. Once it's cooled, stir in your starter. You can purchase powdered culture, or use 3 Tbsp. of plain yogurt (which is what we used). This was our first time making yogurt using raw milk, and as I had heard that it can be difficult to get a nice, thick consistency from fresh milk, I also added 1/3 cup organic non-fat dry milk along with the starter to help thicken the yogurt. Once it is all stirred in, pour the mix into a clean jar.

(photo courtesy of Daniel)

The yogurt then needs to spend some time held at a steady temperature of 100 degrees. There are a variety of methods used to accomplish this -- placing an electric heating pad under the jar and covering with a towel will work, using an insulated cooler, a warm spot by a woodstove, etc. We used our oven. The jar was wrapped in a cloth and placed inside one of our market bags (so handy, I tell you) and put in the oven. I had preheated the oven just a bit, and we stole the thermometer from the incubator to keep an eye on the temperature. When it dropped too low, I turned on the oven for a moment until the heat increased.

(I had a picture of the yogurt in the oven to share here, but then I decided you didn't really need to see the inside of my oven this morning. No one deserves that.)

The yogurt should be done after about 5 or 6 hours. Leaving it longer will make for a tangier finished product.

While ours was warming, we moved on to dinner, a delicious white bean and chicken chili inspired by a few different versions.

Here's how we did it:

White Bean and Chicken Chili

1 rotisserie chicken
1 diced yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups stock or broth
4 cups white beans, rinsed
2 cups mashed white beans
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 t. cayenne powder (more or less to taste)
1 T. olive oil

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Stir in shredded meat from the chicken. Add broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the beans. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

We served it topped with cheese, cilantro, yogurt and a squeeze of lime. The kids stirred in frozen corn to cool the chili and loved the sweet crunch of the corn.

After dinner, we tested the yogurt. The taste was just right, creamy and tart, but not too tangy. It's a little hard to describe the consistency... thick but slippery. It was still warm out of the oven, so it may still set more as it cools in the fridge. Either way, it made for a nice snack before bed.

Some days, it's all I can do just to get toast on the table. Other days, like this, we're happy to work together, cooking and creating, filling the freezer and pantry (and our tummies) all day long.

This post is part of today's Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist.


Helen said...

Wow, what a lot of work -- and dishes, too, I bet! Such a lovely post. It felt like I was there in your kitchen with you!

PinkCatJo said...

What a busy day! But it looks so satisfying and great fun. A really lovely post. x

Cakes said...

I just came across your blog via the Chicago Tribune. Props to you! I used to live in Chicago, now in Savannah GA and just purchased my first home.. I too am looking for living simply and as green as possible. I have raised veggie beds, homemade laundry soap, a clothesline and try to reduce more and more. I look forward to learning from you! =)

Brrr said...

Your post in the Nourishing Gourmet said "Raw Milk" yogurt--but once you've heated the milk to 180 degrees, it's not longer raw. Pasturization occurs at about 156 degrees. There are recipes for raw milk yogurt,but this isn't one of them.

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

You are right. Thanks for catching that. For this raw milk yogurt, I only heated it the milk to 110 for that very reason. When I wrote the post, I was looking at my notes from other yogurts we've made, and must not have caught that. I've fixed it in the post now. Thanks for pointing that out!