Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Amazing Kitchen Ingredient of Awesomeness

Let’s play a game. I’ll say a word and you say the first thing that pops into your mind. Ready? Okay.


(peanut butter)

(Amazing Kitchen Ingredient of Awesomeness!!!)

Wait—you didn’t think that? Well, let me introduce you to why we here at the House of D32 love yogurt so much.

Say you have a recipe…any recipe. And it calls for sour cream. Or heavy cream. Or whipping cream. Or cream cheese. Or ricotta cheese. Or cottage cheese. Or mayonnaise. Or ranch dressing. Or buttermilk. And you don’t have any of those—what in the world are you to do?

Never fear—yogurt is here! You simply can pull out the container of yogurt that you made the night before and finish your recipe with a flourish. Not only a substitute, it’s also an incredible smoothie base , a soup-thickener, and the core of many sauces and dips.

Even more, yogurt is a great source of protein, vitamins, and calcium, is digestible for people like me who have sensitivity to lactose, and all those cheerful little bacterias living inside? Well, they help stop diarrhea, calm an upset digestive tract, and can help prevent various other infections (all of these things are, uhh, something to keep in mind here in Papua New Guinea…). Apparently, it’s also effective at relieving sunburn and pampering with facials!

I bet you never realized the humble yogurt is so helpful…and I also bet you never realized that it’s incredibly easy to make. Let me show you!

First, you need a yogurt starter. Once you have a yogurt batch started, you won’t need to replace your starter for quite some time (because you can just use a bit of the old yogurt), that is, unless you accidentally use it all up in a recipe or someone gets over-zealous in washing the dishes and washes the last of your starter down the drain… Then you’ll need some new starter. I don’t know where you find it in the States…but here, I just ring up my neighbor and go fetch some from her!

Then you’ll need some sort of container for the yogurt, a way of keeping the container in a hot water bath (a pressure cooker or a thermos work well), a thermometer, and some milk powder (and I like to use our electric hot water kettle to heat the water).

Combine all the ingredients together and whisk until a white, frothy mixture.

Now, place the container of yogurt mixture in a hot water bath of about 112 degrees F (it approximately feels like hot dishwashing water). My roommates and I have discovered that the temperature does indeed make a difference, so use that candy thermometer!

Screw on the lid of the thermos, and let it sit for 6–8 hours (I find it generally needs eight). Voila! Beautiful, gorgeous yogurt!

Mmmm, add in some fresh strawberries and bananas, and you have a marvelous morning smoothie :) with plenty left over for the day’s baking.

And that’s why yogurt deserves the title of the “Amazing Kitchen Ingredient of Awesomeness!”

Like most things, I imagine making yogurt in the States is a bit different than we do it here in PNG. Have you ever tried making yogurt and how did it turn out?