Friday, February 19, 2010

Catie: I like food.

I don't know if I've ever liked yogurt as much as I do since making it myself.

[caption id="attachment_418" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="homemade yogurt and granola"][/caption]

Yes, I made my own yogurt!

I know, right?  I was super excited, too.  It even got all creamy and thick and culturey.  And all I had to do was heat it up then stir in some store bought yogurt.

Okay, I'm starting to sound like an infomercial, but seriously.  I kind of am an infomercial when it comes to yogurt right now.

Korea has The Most Yogurt of Life.  And it's all a little scary.  From yogurt cups to yogurt drinks to yogurt milk?  Isn't that just yogurt?  For a few things, I was buying, "plain" Activia (sweetened with fructose.. plain?), but the healthier we get at home, the more I'm cutting out creepy processed foods and sweeteners and I've been reading about all these people making their own yogurt.

It is EASY.

Seriously.  Like, SO easy.

This isn't like when I make something and Ben says, "Yeah, it was easy for you."  Not like that kind of easy.  Like actually easy, I guess.

Here is what I did:

[caption id="attachment_419" align="alignright" width="180" caption="I added cranberries afterward because they are YUM."][/caption]

1. Put 1/2 gallon milk (any fat content works -- even nonfat) in crock pot.

2. Turn Crock Pot to Low and put lid on.

3. Leave, with lid on, for 2 1/2 hours to warm.

4. Turn Crock Pot off and unplug.  Put 2 cups of the warm milk into a bowl and add 1/2 cup Activia (2 little yogurt cups) to the bowl.  Stir and the put all this back into the Crock Pot and stir that.  Put lid back on Crock Pot.

5. Move Crock Pot to warm-ish, out of the way area and wrap entire Crock Pot in two big bath towels with one dish towel folded on top to cover the lid.

6. Leave for 8-12 hours.  I left mine 8.  I was too excited to leave it longer.

7. Now it's yogurt!  Store in fridge, in airtight containers.

I know it's seven steps, but two of them are all about doing nothing and letting the Crock Pot just sit there, so, really, that means it's only five steps.

[caption id="attachment_429" align="alignleft" width="203" caption="This is my giant Costco jam jar full of yogurt that I made on Wednesday. It's now Friday and at least half the yogurt in the jar (plus everything that wouldn't fit into the jar) is gone. Which is primarily because I ate it... Ben is not so excited about it. And I've just been craving yogurt, what else is there to say?"][/caption]

Advantages to making one's own yogurt:

1. It is actually PLAIN yogurt!  No sweeteners, no thickeners, no additives.  I know what is in it (and pretty soon, after using my own yogurt as my next starter, I will get all the Activia starter diluted out of there) and it is just milk and cultures.

2. It is fresh.  The cultures contained in yogurt rock for your body (and I know this because I am smart and I read now.  It is a newly acquired skill), but most yogurts either don't contain any active cultures, or they did contain active cultures and now they're dead/weak and lame because they've been on the shelf too long.

3.  It is, like, SO good for you, okay?  The cultures help you digest other dairy rich foods, like milk, with lots of lactose because that's what they're doing in the yogurt.  That's what makes it taste sour.  The cultures are eating all the lactose.  Then, you put them in your stomach and they eat all the other lactose.  And other stuff.  They're awesome for digestion and, let me tell you, my yogurt may have started from Activia, but it works way better.

4. You have ALL the control.  I like this in.. well, everything really.  It's my mom's fault (sorry, mom! <3 that's supposed to be a heart...... for love. you know?) .  Anyway, since you can control how long you leave the yogurt to incubate (that's the towel-wrapping-leaving-it-to-sit part), you get to control how much lactose ends up in the end product.  So, if you leave it for 8, like I did, you still have quite a bit of lactose (milk sugar), but the yogurt is really mild (not very tangy at all), so I just don't put any sweetener in it, only my homemade granola.  But if you leave it for 24 hours, all the lactose should be gone, you'll have a really tart yogurt, and you can sweeten it with honey.  Which is also yum.  And good for the lactose intolerant.

5. Yogurt cheese.  I have just discovered yogurt cheese and it is my new best friend.  A lot like Greek yogurt in

[caption id="attachment_430" align="alignright" width="158" caption="See my cute little jar-o-starter for next time? Right next to the cute, brown eggs from our lady at the traditional market."][/caption]

consistency (real thick), yogurt cheese is awesome to use in place of cream cheese on bagels and toast because it has more redeeming value than cream cheese what with it's active cultures and lack of creepy additives, but it has a lot of the flavor of cream cheese.  And all you have to do to make it is put the yogurt in a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer, over a bowl, and drain out all the whey, so it gets all thick and yummish.

I know I sounds like a nutritionist now.  It's annoying.  But I was homeschooled.  You can totally blame it on that.

In other news, as pictured above IN the homemade yogurt, I made my own granola, too!  It is also good and has the same value as yogurt as far as no processed foods and additives go.  I know what went in it and that makes me feel better about eating it.

I think that's one thing that's hard about living here.  Not being able to read the ingredient labels and knowing that Koreans have a different standard for what's okay to eat.  Obviously, it works for them.  They have the least obesity overall of any first world country.  But I don't necessarily want MSG or sodiumdioxihydratedphosorosates or... things.  Like that.

We've been making a lot of food at home.

Can you tell?

The granola has:

Rolled Oats

Sunflower Seeds







I got it a little browner than it should probably be, but it still tastes fine.  I just won't be sharing it with the neighbors, who seems a little adverse to my offerings thus far anyhow.  I tried to give them banana muffins.

I think it was a no-go.

But I drank the Red Ginseng Tonic that makes me positively gag, so.. we're even.

In the realm of knitting, we have:

[caption id="attachment_420" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Ben's clogs. He says they are cozy and warm. Unfortunately, the wool also picks up all the lint on the floor. Or, perhaps, fortunately. He can be my dustmop."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_421" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="The foxy I knit. In very bad light. I've had issues with light that are irritating. Sorry it's so hard to see. I finally gave up."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_424" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The elephant."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_425" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="And the octopus. With two red tentacles since I ran out of blue... haha."][/caption]

Anyway, I think that is all for now.

Soon, I think I will make some crackers because we haven't been able to find any decent crackers here and we would eat a lot more of them if they were available.  I know crackers are time consuming as well as a pain to make, but I'm hoping they might be worth it for us.

Oh!  And once we get a blender (maybe not until next month -- I keep putting it off), we will also make our own peanut butter.  It is easy.  Or so we hear.

More later.

And hopefully more often.

But don't expect the sounding-like-a-nutritionist to wear off.  Poor Ben...  He's a trooper.

- catie

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