Monday, July 03, 2006

Home made yogurt

I never ate yogurt as a child. My mother never bought it, never served it. When I got to my kibbutz as a very sheltered 20 year old who had never been out of the country, the first meal I experienced in the huge communal dining room consisted of tomato, cucumber, yogurt and bread. Lots of bread. And onions, let me not forget the onions.

As a girl from a suburb of Chicago, I looked at this and thought "how nice, a make your own salad before the real meal." I wasn't a fan of tomato or cucumber, having grown up on the store bought stuff that looked like these but didn't taste like anything. I waited, and waited, and some kindly person said, "Honey, this is dinner."

I tasted a tomato. This was the real deal. I tasted a cucumber. Exquistely refreshing. And the yogurt -- tart, rich, creamy yogurt. More like sour cream, almost, but not quite. It was gorgeous. Meals were interesting -- breakfast was always huge. So was lunch. Those were the main meals -- and all meals had the ubiquitous tomato and cucumber, but only breakfast and dinner had yogurt. Lunch always was a meat meal, with soup. Food was grown either on our own kibbutz or came from one of the neighboring kibbutzim; ours grew apples and pears which were amazing. It was here I learned to cook for 40 + people, and had my first job in the travel and tourism business.

When I moved back to the states, I could not find a decent tomato any more, and the store bought yogurt didn't taste good. As a new mother, I started to make my own yogurt -- and that's the way to do it. Yum, yum. I use home made yogurt in place of sour cream, when I make banana cake. I use it with strawberries. I eat it plain, or with almonds and honey, or with blueberries. Rich, creamy home made yogurt, with a flavor all its own. Costs less than the store bought stuff, too.

I wonder if this counts in the eat local this summer challenge?


Liz said...

I never would have thought the plural of kibbutz was kibbutzim. You really learn something new every day.

If yogurt is your dinner, then it counts. The rules are not that strict. :)

DivaJood said...

Liz, goody, because I have yogurt and local blueberries, which just sounds like a yummy dinner.

robin andrea said...

I would love to know your yogurt recipe. It would be grand to make our own. I've been eating a lot of yogurt lately in the interest of strengthening my bones, so it would cool to eat homemade.

The funny thing about homegrown vegetables is that they are so delicious, they never taste like what we buy in the stores, which is almost always devoid of flavor.

BZ said...

I love the occasionaly nonpolitical posts. People tend to think these types of things are not important, but it's the little posts like this that make life worth living. In Iran we have a dish with yogurt, mint, cucumber, onion, walnuts and raisins. Give that a try! It is delicious.

Shalom (means peace right?)

The Fat Lady Sings said...

I second the cry for the yoghurt recipe. I often cook Middle Eastern dishes (hell – I just love to cook, period!) - and freshly made yoghurt is always a key ingredient. So if you have a recipe that works, honey - out with it!

Crabbi said...

Mmm...yogurt. I would love your recipe -- and BZ's, too. BTW, I googled the ingredients BZ listed and found this.

DivaJood said...

I am really flattered! Happy to share, but you need a yogurt maker - some device that will keep the culture at a steady warm temperature for a sustained period of time. My old Salton is long gone, and now I have a new one. It comes with seven 7oz glass jars, and lids.

Two ingredients, only: milk, and yogurt starter. Can be whole, lowfat, nonfat; soy; goatmilk; your choice, but each change affects the flavor. The starter can be plain yogurt (whole, lowfat, nonfat, soy, goatmilk, or a packaged starter -- I use 7 oz of plain, nonfat yogurt.) The starter must have live cultures in it. I like a Greek Style that I get from Trader Joe's.

Now, the key is this: if you like thick yogurt, you need to bring the milk to a boil first and let it cool to room temperature. If you don't care if it is thick, just let the milk come to room temperature.

Mix 7 oz. of room temperature milk with 7 oz. of yogurt starter, until it is completely smooth. Then mix that with the rest of the milk. Divide into all the jars, and follow the yogurt maker instructions for how long it sits. Unboiled milk takes much longer, usually an additional 2 to 3 hours.

BZ, the recipie you give sounds fantastic. Sweet, refreshing, perfect for this insane heat we're getting.

I also make a cucumber yogurt soup, with mint, dill, a little olive oil, a little vinegar.

And if anyone besides BZ wants to share a recipie using yogurt, I am all ears!

sumo said...

It can also be made in an oven if it has a gas pilot that keeps the oven warm...I used to have one. I used baby food jars and the lids sealed nicely afterward. The jars were also set in a pan of warm water to start. I've known people to use a heating pad on lowest temp and cover with a blanket or towel. Memories. I like my yogurt with grape-nuts cereal or wheat germ.

DivaJood said...

sumo, I had no idea you could use a heating pad. I love my yogurt maker. Don't have a gas oven, but that would be a great idea too.

oldwhitelady said...

Yum. Tomatoes and cucumbers are some of my favorites. Yogurt added would be fantastic. I don't do much with yogurt except eat the flavored (which I love) but after reading your post, I will try to remember to use it in different dishes.

DivaJood said...

owl: homemade yogurt can be flavored any way you like, after it's made. What you give up are all those pesky addititves that commercial yogurt has in it.

Crabbi said...

Thanks, Jood! I think I'll try this.

Happy 4th, everyone!

karena said...

I made a "eating local meal" last night.

It started with a breakfast at the Farmers Market of a Oaxocan tamale. They are flat, with less cornmeal husk, and very spicy. They are wrapped in banana leaves. Then I munched on a gluten free bread with portabella mushrooms and drank a glass of hibiscus and mint tea.

I made a simple summer salad of locally grown "Dona" or "Donna" tomatoes, an heirloom burpless cucumber and red onion. I did drizzle the whole thing with grape seed oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked pepper and salt, all purchased at Whole Foods, so the dressing was not local. I grilled Texas Longhorn strip steak. If you do not eat meat, skip reading this part, but the if you do, the cattle is grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free.

I bought a pork roast for tomorrow from the Amish and the pigs are fed only whey, which they use to make their cheeses.

Everything was fabulous.

DivaJood said...

karena, you are well ahead of me -- the only meals I've had at home since this started have been breakfast: yogurt, blueberries, nuts and honey. Your tamale sounds fantastic. I love Oaxacan style cooking. Love their moles. The salad sounds great, and I do eat meat - as long as it is hormone and antibiotic-free. Sounds like a great day.