Monday, March 26, 2007

Yummy Greek Yogurt

I started eating greek yogurt last December as an alternative to ice cream. I kept seeing greek yogurt at TJ's and wondered why it was so popular and what made it different from regular yogurt. So I tried a box of Fage nonfat and loved it, it's really delicious. I needed something healther to eat instead of ice cream and quickly became hooked. I thought it would need fruit like regular yogurt but discovered it's delicious with just a little sweetener, I like to use agave nectar. Then, I tried the full fat version, incredibly rich (!) and TJ's store brand. For eating straight out of the box, I like to stick with Fage.

Well, this was starting to cost quite a bit and I've made yogurt at home before so I thought I'd try making greek yogurt. If you've never made yogurt, these are good instructions to start with. I use a pint of Fage Greek yogurt (non-fat or full fat) and 1 1/2 gallons of organic low-fat milk. I get the 3 half-gallon boxes in a case from Costco and make it all at once.

I also don't like to deal with a lot of small containers so I pour all the scalded milk in a big stainless steal bowl that I've sterilized. After it's cooled to around 120 F, I stir in the yogurt, cover the bowl and put the whole thing in a hot water bath in the sink. I keep the hot water bath at around 120F, changing the water every 1.5 - 2 hrs. After around 6 hours, it looks set.

If the weather is warm, I'll leave it in a cold oven overnight instead. Once it's set, it goes into the fridge for 24 hours. It's yummy like this but to make it really like greek yogurt, it needs to be strained. I line a strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters and strain for 2-3 hours. If you strain it overnight you'll have yogurt cheese.

Store in covered containers. Enjoy!


Friday, March 23, 2007

A Little Obsession

Lately, I've become a little obsessed with enamel cast iron cookware, those shiny expensive heavy pots in bright colors. Actually, I'm a little obsessed with finding some at a good deal.

It all started with the Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe that was written up in the N.Y. Times. He used a large enamel cast iron dutch oven, I think it was Le Creuset, to produce that beautiful crust. Of course he said that any heavy pot will do and I made it in my Calphalon and it turned out great. See?

Around the same time, Cooks Illustrated rated dutch ovens, most of them being enamel cast iron. Of course Le Creuset rated very high, but it is also very pricey at $270 retail. They also rated the Chef Mate dutch oven available at Target as a best buy at around $40. So everytime I was at Target I would look for the pot but I never found one. Some message boards said there was so much demand it was hard to find.

In the meantime, I had also decided to find an alternative to my teflon pans due to the toxicity warnings. I have a lot of pots and pans and I hate to say it but the teflon is really convenient to use because its so easy to clean. I have an alternative pan for most things I make, the main exception is omelets. Lately, I've been using a Calphalon pan but it works horribly. Seems like more eggs get stuck to the pan than become part of the omelet and it just doesn't get that lovely shape and texture. I read somewhere that enamel cast iron is a good alternative for teflon pans.

I've also googled and discovered a whole bunch of enamel cast iron fanatics and brands like Staub, Mario Batalli, vintage Descoware, Copco, Dru, etc. I read about a Staub outlet in France and how one lady was trying to justify a vacation there. Unfortunately, I missed out on the huge Staub sale at Amazon, apparently there were great prices but they have sales a couple of times a year so I will try to wait patiently. I also read that sometimes Costco's in Canada offer great deals on Staub and am hoping they will bring that over here.

I had pretty much given up on the Chef Mate, then one day I was out in the boondocks and saw a Target and thought maybe they will have one since it's less crowded. I found it! It was hiding in the utensils section, bright red, no chips. Yay! It's super heavy and works great, browns really well.

I still need a pan for omelets and would like a small cocotte too. Am trying to wait patiently for those.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I'm so happy, I scored this Vogue Knitting book, Very Easy Knits, on In hardcover! It came in the mail really quickly and is in great condition. This is my favorite knitting book that I've seen so far. Although the styling, photos, hairstyles, etc. are a little dated, most of the items are basics.

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