Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Greek Geek

I'm a little disappointed....one blog post for January.  I'm still trying to get the hang of this blog thing, while balancing life of stay at home mom, and being a breastfeeding peer counselor.  Ok, but here is something I've done in January...I've fallen in love with Greek yogurt!  It is more natural and simple, much cheaper, and tastes way better than store bought!  And, it is SUPER easy to make!  I regret I didn't learn to do this years ago!

How to make Greek yogurt!
It's so easy, there's really no need for pictures...

What you need:
Already prepared yogurt with active cultures (look on the container to make sure it says this)
1/2 gallon milk (any kind of cow's milk, I haven't experimented with soy milk yet)
Thermometer (digital is best)
Mesh strainer
Cheesecloth (found in the fabric section of Wal-mart for about $5.)

1. Heat 1/2 gallon milk (whole, low-fat, or skim) on the stove until it reaches 180 degrees. Stir constantly to keep the milk from burning on the bottom. (about 20 minutes)
2. Transfer heated milk to another large container, preferably one that is plastic or glass.  Do not cover.  Let the milk sit until it cools to between 105 and 110 degrees. (about 25 minutes)
3.  While waiting for the milk to cool, mix together in a small cup 2 tablespoons milk, and either 2 tablespoons already prepared plain Greek yogurt or 3 tablespoons already prepared plain yogurt. (Make sure the yogurt contains active cultures! It should say on the label of the container).
4. When milk cools to between 105 and 110 degrees, stir in the milk-yogurt mixture.
5. Cover the cooled milk with a lid or plastic wrap.  Wrap the bowl in a towel.  Turn on your oven light. Put the wrapped bowl in the oven (make sure the towel is not near the oven light).  Leave in the oven for 7 to 8 hours. If left in longer than 8 hours it has a more tart taste.

At this point you have made regular yogurt! Good job! Wasn't that easy? and CHEAP?! Read on for Greek yogurt...

6. Put the homemade yogurt in the fridge to chill for about 2 hours.
7. Over a large bowl, place a mesh strainer lined with 3-4 layers of damp cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth-mesh strainer and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to strain for 4-6 hours, or until it reaches in the thickness you like. (The yellow liquid leftover is called whey, which is super healthy for you, but I haven't found a good use for it yet.)Then transfer the Greek yogurt to a convenient container for storage.  Remember to save about 2 tablespoons to use for your next batch of yogurt!

How to eat Greek yogurt:
1. Mix with some sugar (or honey or agave syrup), vanilla extract, and thawed frozen berries, or fresh fruit. (My favorite)
2. Make tsaziki sauce and use in gyros or kabobs.
3. Plain--a healthy alternative to sour cream (Ada's favorite)
4. Plain--dip herbed foccacia bread into it. You can also add some spices and herbs to the yogurt. (Chris' favorite)

Price difference? With the half-gallon of milk, you make about 6 containers of Greek yogurt at the store.  Greek yogurt sells for about $1 per container.  So, with a half gallon of milk (about $1.50) you made about 6 servings of Greek yogurt.  That's only $0.25 per serving!  A savings of  75 percent!

Anyways, Ada is now 13.5 months old.  She's not walking unassisted yet, but I know she is close!  I absolutely love this stage that she's in right now.  I'm amazed at how much she understands and how much she is communicating (though I don't always know what she is saying). She is definitely a chatty girl!  Ada has also been somewhat consistent at communicating with sign language for things like "all done" "more" and "milk." and points to things she wants. She says "mama" "dada" and "DAAAHdah,"which means doggie.  Here is a pic I snapped of her recently that shows her infatuation with the dog.

Ada walking with mama

Ada loves to read in her chair!