Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hippie Practice (Yogurt and Granola), Halibut on Tabbouleh, Bike Socks

I have been working on being a better hippie by trying to find the perfect granola and yogurt recipes. I still have some work ahead of me.

Yogurt

I made my first batch of homemade yogurt in our new Euro Cuisine YM80 yogurt maker on Sunday. My recipe and approach are described here.

first batch of homemade yogurt with a little blackberry jam added

I love the little 6 oz jars that came with the yogurt maker! The yogurt turned out firm and mild, but it was also grainy, which is not a desirable attribute. It's pretty good with a big spoonful of blackberry jam stirred in. After doing some online reading, it seems like graininess can be mitigated by better incorporating the yogurt starter and by increasing the amount of fat in the milk. Also, Patrick would prefer a tangier, more liquid yogurt, so I am going to make a few changes when I make my next batch:

  • Omit the powdered milk (to give a less firm yogurt)
  • Stir the yogurt starter slurry into the milk mixture more thoroughly (to prevent graininess)
  • Incubate the yogurt longer (to make it tangier). If I start the yogurt when I get home from work and then let it incubate in the evening and overnight, I can probably get up to ~12 hours incubation time

If the extra stirring doesn't prevent graininess, I'll switch to all 2% milk instead of a 50/50 blend of skim and 2% (I used a blend instead of all 1% because I wanted to use glass bottles of Straus milk, and our store only sells skim, 2%, and whole Straus milk). If you're looking for information on making your own yogurt, I especially liked this guide and the Good Milk Gone Bad episode of Good Eats.

It's like an edible biology experiment! If I had a more quantitative way of evaluating the finished product, I'd really be able to optimize my process.

Granola

As is typical of me, I made too many modifications to my base recipe (Tracy Granola!), and the finished product wasn't so great. I dub this Granola #4, and I proclaim that it is not worth making again! (But I do love the assortment of mini latte bowls I bought at Anthropologie recently! The Tiffany blue bowl is featured below)

Granola 4

This granola was sabotaged by two things: (1) the lemon oil, (2) too high a ratio of liquid to dry ingredients. It has a strong lemony flavor, and it's kind of soggy. Maybe if I'd baked it a little longer, it would've been better. I liked the addition of pumpkin seeds, but I missed the sunflower seeds. I also liked the addition of crispy brown rice cereal (I used Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal, available in my grocer's gluten-free section). The Bob's Red Mill 5-grain rolled cereal with flax was a fine substitute for rolled oats, but I wanted whole flax seeds too (even though your body can't process them very well). Now we just have work our way through the remainder of the Granola #4 batch so I can try out my next granola recipe!

Unrelated to my hippie pursuits, but worth a mention, is the dinner we had last night: Seared Halibut on Lemon Tabbouleh accompanied by Balsamic-Dressed Roasted Beets on a bed of baby spinach. The halibut tasted fine, but it was expensive! I forgot to check the price at the butcher counter, and then when I got home and looked at the receipt, I had buyer's remorse. When will I learn? Anyway, the tabbouleh was tasty and complimented the fish well. I would make the recipe again with cheaper fish. The beets were once again yummy.

Halibut, tabbouleh, beets

I've managed to bike to work four times this month, including today (Bike to Work Day!). My company is home to some dedicated cyclists, and they always organize a fun party and awards ceremony for the people who participate in Bike to Work Day. There's a raffle and awards for all the participants. It was a fun time, and I won a pair of bike socks!

Of course, nothing can top my raffle prize from last year--streamers! I still have them on my bike, and they still make me happy every time I ride it! I got many compliments on them today, two from total strangers who biked past me. I guess Bike to Work day makes people more friendly, since normally people I pass (or, more accurately, who pass me) on my bike commute don't say anything to me. I'm always afraid somebody will say something mean about my streamers, but everybody is very positive about them.

I'm glad it's getting toward summer. I like riding my bike!