"". Linda Sparkman's Blog: January 2013

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Many Uses for Milk



Lately, I have been enjoying the many wonders of plain old milk.  It started when my path crossed not one, but two dear women from India who made yogurt almost daily.  I found out many people from India do. 

When I tasted it, I asked one of them how they did it.  Wow!  It’s easy!  So, I’ve been making my own for a couple years now.  It’s less expensive, and more delicious, and very kind to my inner-workings. 

From the yogurt, I've made smoothies, soft cheese (similar to cream cheese) and of course regular and Greek-style yogurt.  I’m getting ready to make some flavored yogurt for my husband.  I’m planning to try peach first.

Since my openness to make-it-yourself yogurt, I've become aware of several other dairy products that don’t look too intimidating.  A quick Google search turns up homemade mozzarella, sour cream, ricotta, cottage cheese, kefir, buttermilk, and of course butter.  I did do the butter…it’s also gratifying. 

Of course, all I have to do is go to a dairy department and I could find most of these dairy products, but what’s the fun in that? 

My personal method is a combo from several posts I've read, and You-Tube video’s I've watched, people I've talked to about it, and tweaks I developed after having done it myself. 

To get my recipe for homemade yogurt just click here more…

For your first batch, you’ll need a little yogurt (about 4 Tablespoons).  It is important for it to have live cultures in it.  I used Dannan plain yogurt and it worked great.  After your first batch, you can save about 4 Tablespoons of your own yogurt and use that instead of store-bought.

You’ll need a heavy saucepan.  I use a three-quart one, and fill it about ½ of the way with milk.  I use either whole or 2% milk, but I’m pretty sure you can use any kind.

Heat milk to a temperature between 170 and 180 degrees.  I use a candy thermometer clipped to the side of my saucepan.  It’s important for the metal bulb of the thermometer to be toward mid-depth, to get an accurate reading.  I shoot for 175 degrees.  It’s easy to read on my thermometer.  I like using a wooden spoon to stir it occasionally.  It is important for the bottom not to become scorched. 

Remove from heat and let milk cool to between 105 and 110 degrees.

If you remembered to bring your starter yogurt to room temperature, you can stir in 4 or more tablespoons of it now.  If you didn't remember, you can “temper” it by pouring about ½ cup of the milk into the starter yogurt and stirring it well.  Then, add it to the heated milk. 

Now the mixture must cure.  It’s best to have a warmish area for this.  I accomplish my warm area by turning on my oven light and setting the pot on an oven rack.  Yes, I close the oven door. I keep the pot uncovered so condensation doesn't form and drip back on the mixture.

So, that’s really it, except for waiting 6—8 hours for the yogurt to solidify.  It’s wonderful—after the time period--you open the oven and check by sampling a teaspoon or so.  It is very yummy, and mild.  Ohhh this is my favorite part. 

If it’s not sour or solid enough for you, let it set longer.  This is a matter of taste.  I think about 12 hours would be all you’ll want to try. 

I put mine right into the fridge after covering the saucepan.  I use my yogurt from the pan, but I have poured it into glass jars before the curing time, and that worked well too.  I think I read somewhere not to disturb the warm yogurt too much, so I wouldn't pour it into jars after it firms up.  Anyway, becomes quite a bit thicker as it cools in the fridge, so don't worry if yours seems too soft.  

I'd love to hear how it goes for you.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I'm a Crackin'


I am a writer, I am a writer, I am…  Oh, fiddle.  Is there another fabulous writer who has been working on a book or two over forty years?  I’m thinking, "Yes."  If not, please don’t disillusion me.  However, life-spans being what they are, I’d better get crackin’.

Which brings me to eggs, that we must crack, which leads nicely into the book I am going to finish, I say, finish this year.  I've titled it “Feeding Human Beings”, and yes, silly, it actually is about making food for people—oddly enough.

Do I care that I've just let the zillions of followers I have know the title of this upcoming thriller?  No.  Now, the old me would have talked herself entirely out of letting you, my faithful reader, in on the scoop. I’d think, “Dear me, now no publisher will want it.  I've spoiled everything.” Ad nauseum. 

The reason I’m mentioning this now is because I've put the ol’ foot down, and will no longer listen to whoever-it-is that has been discouraging me.  The world needs this book!  Well, I can tell you there will be lots of youngish people who will be happy they get their hands on it.

It’s not a traditional type cook-book, oops,  I've said too much. 

In any case….keep on the lookout for the revolutionary approach to feeding (you know what).