How to make Yogurt

Continuing my “what’s moldering in the drafts folder” theme, I bring you this post I started in July of 2012. I’m not making much yogurt these days because I’m currently turned onto kefir thanks to some grains I got at a swap recently. FYI: pretty sure Betsy will be doing a milk kefir post as a follow up to her water kefir post so keep your eyes peeled over at From Scratch Club

When I was in 4-H many many moons ago, we used to do “demonstrations” as part of I don’t even remember why we did them. But I know it had to do with filling out our 3 ring binder book things that I hated because it was like more work than fun.

According to the 4-H handbook

The 4-H Portfolio documents a young person’s participation in 4-H projects and activities throughout his/her membership years. Each year an annual summary of all 4-H participation and individual project records are added to the portfolio. It is recommended that these materials be kept in a 3-ring binder with the most recent year in the front of the book.

Oh if only we had blogs in the 80’s. Heh.. now that I think about it, 30 years later (OMG!!!! when did that happen!?) I keep track of my projects because I want to and because I can go back and refer to what I’ve done so I can either repeat it or fix it.. wait.. where was I going with this?

Right… Yogurt.

My parents were not exactly “hippies” (just like I’m not exactly a hipster) but they did a lot of self-sufficient things. One of which was making anything they could from scratch. My mom used to make yogurt and serve it to us kids with a bit of jam and wheat germ mixed in (something I still do). I remember that one of my demonstrations was on making yogurt in a crock pot. (This demonstration, by the way, involved a presentation in front of strangers which just struck terror into my poor, shy little introverted heart)

For the life of me, I can’t remember how we used to do it. I do remember that the milk and culture were poured directly into the crock pot and not one person I can find on the interwebs has done it this way. (EDIT:  maybe because, like Ida says, crockpots run hotter these days)  Everyone uses the crock pot as an incubator for another delivery device.

I would totally try this.. except .. well.. you know in marriages how you make concessions for little things that you might think are silly but are a big deal to your spouse? My spouse doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the crock pot on when we are either not home or are asleep.

So that’s out.

When I made yogurt for my dogs, I really didn’t care how the texture was.. I mean, they didn’t care… I used to make a gallon at a time, pour it into a large Rubbermaid container, wrap it in a towel and then shove it into an old Styrofoam cooler to sit overnight. If the house was too cool, the yogurt would be runny. If the house was too warm, it would curdle and a layer of whey would appear on top.

So I wasn’t really into this method for my own yogurt that I plan on eating.

One day I stumbled upon this post from Food in Jars who referenced this post from The Frugal Girl and I said out loud and unabashedly gleefully… ZOMG I TOTALLY HAVE ONE OF THOSE LITTLE COOLERS!

So, here is my little photo gallery of my yogurt making. I use more starter than Marisa does. I just happen to like how it comes out that way. If I don’t have any of my own yogurt going to take a starter from, I usually buy a small container of my favorite Greek Yogurt (which happens to be Chobani right now).

Once again, click the little “i” in the corner if the caption isn’t showing for you.

I’m not going to break down the steps here because a.) there is a pretty good description of the method in the captions of the pics about an 2.) Marisa explains it just fine.

Because store bought mayo is nasty

When we were kids, we had Miracle Whip. Dear Gods we ate that stuff like woah. I loved it. Somewhere along the line I crossed into adulthood and decided the slimy sweet “salad dressing” should never again cross my lips. So I was a mayonnaise gal through and through.

Mayonnaise is nothing more than an emulsion. You make two things that should never stick together, like oil and water and you force them to bend to your will and make a creamy smooth puddle of tasty tasty goo… (technical terminology.. I haz it)

I first learned about emulsions in In Food Prep classes. It was during the lessons on the five “mother sauces”. They are:

  • Béchamel: Your standard issue cream sauce. You need it for fantastic things like starting your cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese
  • Velouté: basically a white stock (like chicken) thickened with a roux
  • Espagnole: sometimes called “brown sauce”. It has stock and tomatoes and mirepoix
  • Tomato sauce: duh do you need me to tell you? Well, it’s not as simple as it sounds but I’m not going into it
  • Hollandaise sauce: the bane of my existence. The one no one wanted to make. It requires the most active time. You have to clarify butter, then warm up your egg yolks with a bit of water and lemon juice and sloooooooowly slooooowly whisk the clarified butter into your egg yolks and water. And that bitch will break… it will break if you look at it funny.. when it breaks you get well..

this <-- clicky the linky for a pic of the oogie-ness

It can be fixed.. really it can. But it’s as much of a pain in the ass as it is to try to make in the first place.

Guess who pulled “Hollandaise” as her final exam?

This Gal.

Guess who flunked?

Yep.. me, again.

Emulsions and I were not friends for a very long time.

Until.. this video from Serious Eats

Dude.. home made mayo… in less than 2 minutes.

Now you may ask, why not just BUY mayo.
This is why:
Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo Ingredients


So, I had to try it. It works.. it makes one cup of mayo that lasts for about 2 weeks (I’ve pushed it to 3). Keep in mind, however that there is raw egg in here. You have been warned.

Also, it totally works.

Home made Mayo

Get the recipe here: Serious Eats: Two minute Mayo


How to cook spaghetti squash

When I first started low-carbing it, I kept hearing about spaghetti squash and how you can TOTALLY replace spaghetti with spaghetti squash and YOU CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE!

They lied. All those people lied. It tastes like squash.. so get the whole “it can replace pasta idea” out of your head..
except.. well, it’s damn good in all kinds of pasta preparations.. but don’t expect it to taste like pasta. It’s squash for fuck’s sake.


This is a spaghetti squash

This is how I know it's a spaghetti squash

I did some reading about cooking this thing. I knew I could bake it like I do pumpkins (it’s squash.. remember?) but I was impatient and I wanted it NOW!

So the interwebs said.. Poke it with a knife! Put it on a pie plate! Microwave that sucker!

So I did..

And this is what happened.

Squash Vomit

After digging out the seeds and scraping out the strands, I finally ate this and said to myself, self? This sucks… this does not taste like pasta.

And vowed to never ever cook it again.

Until I did. I mean I was not about to be conquered by a vegetable. And I kept seeing all kinds of primal/paleo recipes on this squash so I decided to give it another go. Somewhere along the line, I ran into this method of cooking which eliminated all my explody problems.

Cut the squash in half. I use Alton Brown’s method of a big ass knife and a mallet. Although I don’t have a mallet so I use this.

This is the middle bit from a cheap paper towel holder I used to have

Cut the squash in half (shaddup! it's close enough)

Scrape the seeds out. I use my ice cream spade that was gifted to me by the spousal unit when I bought an ice cream maker that I was going to use all the time to make ice cream. Do not ask me where all the parts are, because I haven’t seen them in years. Probably up on the shelf with the pasta machine and fondue pot.. but I digress.

No longer a uni-tasker

If you make a lot of squash, I recommend buying one of these. The shape is perfect for getting a ton of seeds and guts at once.

Put the squash, cut side down in a microwave safe baking dish and add about 1/4 inch of water.

Microwave on high for about 5 minutes. Poke the shell with your finger.. does it have any give? No? Nuke the bastard again.. nuke it into submission.

My medium sized squash took about 10 minutes.

I flipped it over and gave it a squeeze so you could see how the flesh gives when it’s done. If it’s underdone it’s not so yummy.. so go for overdone rather than underdone.. the crafty bastard will fool you.

Give it a squeeze

Grab a fork and scrape out the flesh. It will come out in strands which is why they call it spaghetti squash.. which is exactly where the resemblance ends.

Fork it over!

Tasty Yummy Goodness

So! now you have all this yummy squashy bits.. what are you going to do with them?

Ironically, for all of my bitching about how this is NOT spaghetti, it’s really good with anything in a tomato sauce. I eat it with chili or sloppy joe filling or straight up meat sauce. Lucky for you, I have done some research for you (and for me because I love to try new things) Check out this pin board on Pinterest for all kinds of nifty ideas.

I’m particularly interested in these Spaghetti Squash cakes and this Spaghetti squash with pecans, Gorgonzola and dried cherries… and this recipe for Spaghetti squash with roasted Brussels sprouts and chickpeas incorporates three of my favorite ingredients!

How to get ahold of egg shell bits

You know it happens..  You crack and egg and dammit, a tiny piece of egg shell goes for a swim.

So you go fishing..

First, you go for the delicate approach.. you ever so nicely and gently approach that itty bitty piece of shell like Casanova. You ever so softly dip you finger in and chase that rotten little piece of egg shell around for at least 5 minutes.

Then it’s all “Teenage Boy on Prom night”.. fumbling around.. grasping in desperation.. hoping pinching will work… but all you get for your efforts is sticky fingers.

When you see how simple this is, you will fall over.

Please observe:

DRAT! eggshells in my eggs!

The magic tool.. the eggshell itself!

Use the shell to quickly slip through the goo and capture that random piece

See the eggshell bit? it's sliding up the edge

Got that sucker!