Monday, February 21, 2011

What Am I Eating??

Haha, so this is a post that should be enjoyed with music. Here is Weird Al's "Living in the Fridge" (I used the one set to Ice Age, because those movies are hilarious). :^)

So... I popped into one of my single-serve Viili yogurts today. I last made them with just a spoon of honey on the bottom of each one. It's probably been, oh, a week or two since I made them. I stir it up with my granola and take a bite after my customary sniff test.

What? Too acidic! Wait, no...

Too carbonated! It felt like little zaps all around the edges of my tongue. Truly strange. I had another bite (purely in the name of science. And maybe hunger). I tried to analyze the flavor the entire time I was eating it. It was full of bubbles that I hadn't really noticed before, or assumed they were incorporated from stirring. The flavor was very similar to a combination of viili and slightly sweetened soda water. I couldn't taste any alcohol but I feel like I drank an entire fizzy drink!

I still can't believe that I accidentally carbonated my yogurt. Heh.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Maybe I should name this post "random yammerings from this week." Nah... Anyhow!

I convinced my friends to try Lydia's pants on their daughter Emma, age 2. Super cute. We both agreed that they should work well to at least age 5, with adjustments needed only in the elastics. I asked Emma if she would like her own pair and she seemed quite taken with the notion. I'm going to try to bang out a pair for her once they pick out fabric, and finish any refining to the pattern. It really only needs a bit wider casings so I can do proper french seams on the whole thing.

My half a vanilla bean frozen yogurt was probably one of my most successful ones yet. I wanted to taste the yogurts (especially the Viili) underneath the vanilla. It ended up with an extremely subtle vanilla flavor since it blended in quite well, and the yogurt flavor was definitely prominent. Look at my lush vanilla bean specks!

Do you have a freezer canister type ice cream maker too? Does it annoy you to pieces because you hate wrapping the stupid thing in plastic wrap so carefully to store it in the freezer, and it still gets weird little frozen specks that make it act weird while it's running? I have a little secret that might help you love it again.

I love mine now. As soon as I'm done putting away my frozen goodies, I wash out the canister very thoroughly and dry it with a clean kitchen towel. And then I stuff the towel just a little bit into the canister (like the picture above), and I stick it in the freezer. It doesn't just work "as well" as plastic wrap. It works much, much better. I'm not sure about long-term storage because I've been using it every single week now.... ;^)

I made some more Sweet Herman bread today. It was even more awesome than my last batch. I ate nearly an entire (small) loaf all by myself today! {:^O
I forgot to try subbing honey for the sugar, but I continued to sub in 1 cup of wheat flour for bread flour. I also used half of the salt called for (I used 1.5 tsp and I've seen other recipes that called for this amount - but the bread did seem slightly poofier this time). I cut it when it was still warm, and it had the sensation of almost melting when I bit into it. I want to try it as rolls soon too. And maybe some Sweet Herman donut recipes after that... I am going to get poofy.

The other thing I made today was cultured butter. I would have taken some cool pictures of the action, but
1. I was too excited,
2. I was also sharing this event with Sebastian, while simultaneously trying to prevent him from coughing too near the bowl, &
3. It was really messy!
I followed the instructions from the Butter Badge blog, pretty much to the letter. My culture slid around more in the stainless mixer bowl than it normally does in a glass jar, so I was afraid I had let it go too long and it had separated. Instead I was happy to find that it was just right. The end product tastes... like butter, but different. Slight cream cheese undertones, but not exactly. Different mouth-feel. I like it a lot. The cost of cream is higher to make half as much butter as you can just buy, so it feels like kind of a waste to make normal butter. This is different and unusual enough that I feel like I can justify it for table butter (ie, not for baking, although I am curious).

I made Sebastian some new pajama pants (finally!) before Lydia's pants, but I just took pictures this week. French seams through the legs, the elastic at top is encased and folded over twice, and the bottom selvedge is turned in before top-stitching. Absolutely no exposed seams anywhere. They fit him well, but with plenty of room to grow. :^D

Look, a kitty!

And guess who had her first taste of "solids" on Saturday the 12th? She's giving the camera her serious look because my dad was holding it... and she's currently afraid of him. Hahaha, she cries so pitifully when we try to hand her to him. I think it's the mustache. ;^)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Mama's Making Mead!

Mama's making mead in the kitchen!

I have everything I need to make mead! I'm following this website:
StormTheCastle's Fast Cheap Mead Making.

But I'm making something closer to the full version of the recipe (with the spices) near the bottom of this page (Orange Clove Mead):
StormTheCastle's Mead Recipes.

I ganked the clove and pieces of cinnamon bark from a mulling spice mix that I bought a while back. Ah yeah. The only stop I had to make was the farmer's market which conveniently had both the honey and navel orange that I used.

I used an airlock instead of the balloon (thanks Heather!). It is almost as fun to watch as a lava lamp. At the beginning the proto-mead smelled a bit like orange cleaner (not alcoholic), just very potently orange. It has continued to mellow until it smells like a light orange wine just since yesterday afternoon. I love watching the tiny bubbles climb the sides of the jug, like one of those moving light pictures in a chinese restaurant. :^)

It looks like total cost for one gallon of finished mead runs just under $20 if you use very good honey. I could probably have brought it closer to $15 if I hadn't bought a small container of sourwood honey to mix in with it. The big jars are only 44 oz so I needed a little more to finish out the 3.5 pounds (I am going for a sweet mead).

Doesn't it just look horribly redneck? I dream of getting nice equipment, and nifty bottles to put it in when it's done. For now, though... 20 dollars feels dear enough.

I made more of my awesome chicken soup last night. It is still awesome. However, for those using split green peas or brown lentils it needs at least the full hour for cooking. ;^)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Frozen Yogurt Flavor of the Week

And the frozen yogurt flavor of the week is...

Chocolate pudding! And it is tasty. I didn't get a picture because I was so panicked trying to clean up the crazy mess that happened when my frozen yogurt overflowed my 1.5 quart freezer canister ice cream maker... I even dropped a ceramic bowl while trying to get the frozen yogurt scooped quickly. It broke. :^(

Luckily it was one of a set and I still have three other bowls.

I do have pictures of the yogurt getting ready to drain, and draining. I made a reusable cheesecloth from cotton gauze so I could stop draping coffee filters in my enormous colander.

I got impatient with the draining process, so I tried out the bungee I had set up in preparation for my husband's next cheese-making experiment. (He hasn't set a date yet, but I hunted down the bungee so I was excited about it). It was pretty cool. :^)

Chocolate Pudding Frozen Yogurt

2 cups Drained Yogurt
2 cups Chocolate Pudding
2-3 tsp Sugar (or to taste)

Mix it all up and put it in the ice cream maker. :^)

(When I made it, I had about 3 cups yogurt to 1.5 cups pudding. It is very good, but I would have liked it a bit more chocolatey and also - it overflowed my ice cream maker! Four cups is the absolute maximum fo' real).

I made chocolate pudding from our family recipe just for this. And also, because I knew there would be extra pudding and I would get to eat it. :^D

In other news, the Sweet Herman starter and recipe I got from Heather has yielded results. I actually finished baking that bread at midnight last night and I was so excited I didn't get pictures. It came out awesome! I think I might have found it. The "one." The sourdough I have been hunting since my youth (well, usually I hunted it by buying it from others, but you know). The only change I made was to use 1 cup of wheat flour. I have a couple more small tweaks I want to try, but it is close enough to my memory right now to keep me happy. The first loaf is gone already so maybe it would be better for my body mass index if I didn't get it exactly perfect... I really want to get the last loaf out of the freezer. :^]

And now, check out some of my sewing. I made these balloon pants out of an entire yard of fabric (the ankle casings are actually just under her knees). I think I might be able to make these work until she's 5, haha!

Splayed toe cuteness!

And about 5 minutes later, she managed to get poop on them. It's okay, it wasn't much and I can take care of it.

More picture fun! When my boys crash, they crash hard. Really hard. My husband said "I didn't know you took a picture of me when I was asleep!" when he was pulling some other pictures off the memory card. ;^)

Actually not faking. And he chose to nap, weirdly enough.

Look at my sweet babies! :^D

He probably is faking it a bit here. ;^)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Path to Sourdough Recipe

I have been on a journey for what I consider to be the true, traditional Sourdough bread... Actually, it is the sourdough that my cousin's best friend's mom Cindy used to make (seriously!). It was so good, and definitely not a "San Francisco Sourdough." It was light, soft, and a bit sweet and rich, and of course tangy. I can't remember if she kept the recipe as a family secret or not, but I haven't seen any of her family in probably a decade or more. Occasionally I run across local bakers at Farmer's Markets or some such that make the same bread. I'm beginning to suspect that it is actually bread made from the Sweet Herman variant... and soon I will be able to test this theory since my friend Heather gave me some Sweet Herman starter from her family! :^D

But this loaf is easily my best Sourdough experiment yet! This came out dense and a little moist, with a lightly crunchy crust. Most of its rise seemed to happen in the oven, and mine didn't rise all that much even then. The top layer flaked up and partly separated (I kind of liked it!). It has just the right amount of sourdough tang to my taste. It is not the sweet, soft bread I have been seeking, but it is a wonderful bread to enjoy for its own sake. Its mellow tang works equally well with sweet or savory foods and it's good enough to eat straight.

And it is quite delicious in my awesome chicken soup from last night. ;^D

Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe
(No kneading necessary)

On the night before baking, combine and mix:
  • 135g Sourdough Starter straight from the fridge
  • 135g Water
  • 135g Bread Flour (Use about a third or ~45g Wheat Flour in this for flavor & texture)
Cover and let rise ~12 hours (overnight).

Next morning, add the following ingredients and mix thoroughly:

  • 1.5 tbsp Sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp Salted Butter
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • (Bread Flour and Olive Oil - See below)

Then add just enough bread flour to make a sticky dough (or add enough flour to handle and knead as you normally would, if you prefer).

Cover and let rise 3 hours. My dough didn't look all that excited, but it smelled right. Grease a bread pan thoroughly with olive oil. Throw your dough into the pan and roll it a little to make sure it's coated.

Cover and let rise 3 hours again. My dough actually looked flatter when I came back to it...

Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until pale brown and crusty. Turn out onto a rack to cool and enjoy! I burned my fingers a little bit while enjoying mine. ;^)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Awesome Chicken Soup Recipe

How awesome is it? It's way awesome. Also, Harris Teeter's rosemary-olive oil bread is awesome...

Anyway, the really awesome thing is that I was able to sneak the whey from my frozen yogurt into it, and even our slightly sub-standard cream cheese. (I think the cream cheese will be better when we get the right culture for it - apparently fil mjolk is not the ideal choice).

The whey really brought the flavor, and man did the cream cheese elevate an already tasty broth! A subtle addition of ginger and curry round out the broth seasonings without being completely in-your-face. :^)

Try it and see for yourself!

Awesome Chicken Soup
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion (half, chopped)
  • Celery (up to a cup, chopped)
  • 2 Carrots (chopped)
  • Chicken (up to 1/2 pound small cubes) optional
  • 4 cups Whey and/or Water
  • 3 Chicken Bouillon Cubes (I used Reduced Sodium)
  • Bay Leaf
  • 2-3 generous dashes Ginger Powder
  • 2-3 generous dashes Curry Powder
  • 2-3 handfuls of Brown Rice, Lentils, Barley, etc.
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of that less-than-perfect Cream Cheese you tried to make.... Substitute Drained Yogurt or Cream Cheese
Start by pouring in just enough olive oil to almost coat the bottom of your big pot. Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper, and heat to medium or medium-high. Throw in the chopped onions. Saute briefly, or until translucent if desired. Add celery, carrots, and chicken.

Pour in your whey and bring the total volume up to 4 cups with water. Add the 3 Chicken Bouillon Cubes and increase the heat to high to get things going. Throw in the Bay leaf and add Ginger and Curry to taste. Cover with the lid.

After the water is boiling add your grains/beans. I like to throw in a couple handfuls of red lentils and brown rice. Reduce heat to a simmer and keep covered. Cook 40 minutes to an hour (or longer if you prefer). Taste test periodically for your preference on mushiness/tenderness.

Once the soup is properly done add the cream cheese that didn't quite make the grade for bagels. ;^) Add by heavy spoonfuls and mix in thoroughly until it reaches the proper richness. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Vegetarian Notes: This would be fairly easy to convert to a fully vegetarian recipe. Omit the chicken of course, and substitute a seasoned vegetable soup stock based on mushrooms. If you're making your own I suggest using a combination of dried mushrooms that includes Shitake (because they're awesome).

Were you wondering if I had made the lemon curd frozen yogurt experiment?

Oh yes. I didn't even feel bad that I had to finish off all of the chocolate frozen yogurt in the freezer to make room. Sebastian didn't complain at helping me either, hehe.

And how was it? Delicious, but I think it will be even better the next time I make it. (Because I won't try to get pudding consistency in the pot while making the lemon curd! My lemon curd has very faint egg undertones that I expect were caused by me taking the temp a little too hot and too long. Despite this it is still fantastic).

Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt
  • 3 cups Drained Yogurt (I used half Viili and half Fil Mjolk)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup Lemon Curd (fully chilled)
Combine ingredients (use the full cup of Lemon Curd if you want it be really lemony). Freeze in your ice cream maker and enjoy! I know I'm enjoying mine. :^D

If you like to sauce up your frozen treats milkshake style, I highly suggest using half-&-half for homemade frozen yogurt. I tried just using milk with my chocolate frozen yogurt and it really fell flat for me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Single Serve Yogurts

Thanks to the local Target's extensive selection of plasticware, I was able to find me some neat little 4-oz containers. So yeah, I now have the power to make my own single-serve yogurts. :^)

I made a few sugar-and-spice with Viili yogurt the other day, but after making the lemon curd I knew I had to try out some fruit-on-the-bottom. Okay, some fruit curd-on-the-bottom.

Cute, aren't they? Wait... what's that there?

Lemon Curd! Get me a spoon! ;^)

Also, for your viewing pleasure... What happens when a 5-yr-old has unrestricted access to your house until about 10:00am (and you've already taken away his laptop and TV privileges)?

You get pictures taken through the barrel of a packing tape dispenser. Also, you get pictures of fingers, computer, the random toy that happened to be on the desk, and the cat. I'm honestly surprised there was only one "photo shoot" during his track-out.