Home Made Yoghurt

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon 2% milk (or whatever percentage you like) – the amount of milk is up to you and the size of the pot.
  • Starter yoghurt (4 – 8 oz) – your favorite brand

Necessary equipment:

  • Digital yoghurt thermometer
  • Double boiler (I use a pot inside a larger pot)
  • Electric heating pad
  • Bath towel
  • Whisk
  • Spoon

Directions:

  • double_boiler1Add milk in smaller pot
  • Put smaller pot in larger pot which has enough water so it doesn’t spill over into the smaller pot when you put it in.  I put a small spacer under the smaller pot.
  • Put larger pot (with smaller pot in it) on stove
  • Heat on high until thermometer in milk registers 185 degrees F You will need to stir this fairly frequently
  • thermo_185At this point I lower the heat so I can maintain the 185 temperature, and will keep it at 185 for an additional 30 minutes. I find that the more you do this, the more it contributes to the thickness of the final product (Note: if you plan to strain and make greek yoghurt [below], you do not need to do the additional 30 minutes)
  • Transfer smaller pot and thermometer to your sink (full of cold water)
  • cool_downStir regularly until temperature drops to 110 degrees
  • Remover pot from sink.
  • Add your starter yoghurt and whisk until it is completely blended
  • Cover pot with lid
  • On countertop lay out the bath towel (any reasonably large towel will do)
  • towel_padPlace heating pad on top of towel
  • Put pot on top of heating pad
  • Wrap the towel/heating pad so the towel completely surrounds the pot – avoid any gaps, etc.
  • Plug heating pad in. The heating pad I have has three settings – I have it at the middle setting.
  • Leave for 7 hours
  • Remove from towel/heating pad
  • pot_on_towelDrain off any water (whey) from the yoghurt – being careful not to pour off your yoghurt! (the whey can be saved for baking or other recipes if you wish)
  • Whisk until completely smooth
  • Pour off into containers (I use old 1 quart plastic yoghurt containers and/or 1 quart glass mason jars.
  • (If you added extra milk above – pour this into a small separate container for your next batches starter)
  • pot_wrappedRefrigerate yoghurt

Note: The extra heating time mentioned in the directions seems to contribute greatly to the thickness. Yoghurt creates lactic acid as a by-product, which gives the yoghurt a “tang”. The longer you leave it in the towel, the “tangier” the result. I’ve left it in the towel for longer periods of time, but 7 hours seems to work well.

I have seen directions where instead of heating pad/towel, you place the yogurt in open containers in a covered styrofoam picnic container with either a light bulb or jars of boiled water – the heating pad/towel works for me.  Note that you can ramp this up in volume – you’re only restricted by the size of your double boiler.

I usually sweeten the yoghurt with maple syrup in single servings when I eat it.

Greek Yoghurt

Yoghurt strainer
Yoghurt Strainer

Greek yoghurt is not a particular yoghurt culture – it’s yoghurt which is strained to make it thicker.  I have seen instructions which involve using fine cheesecloth to strain the yoghurt – but have found that that’s messy, and leaves a lot of yoghurt left embedded in the cheesecloth.  I found a yoghurt strainer – runs about $19 dollars at Amazon.  You put two quarts of yoghurt into the strainer at a time – I allow it to strain overnight.  Then using a soft rubber spatula you remove the yoghurt into your containers.  You can allow it to strain longer – resulting in a very thick consistency – good for spreads/dips.

Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 Tsp Finely minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (white or red
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 3 leaves (1 1/2 Tbsp finely minced fresh sweet basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

  • Mix well everything but olive oil
  • While stirring constantly, add olive oil

Note: You can use either white or red balsamic vinegar. The white tends to be a little less “robust” than the red. The proportions can be varied to taste.

Hot & Sour Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tblsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 lb chicken or pork, cut into matchsticks (optional)
  • 4 – 8 cups water
  • Vegetable bouillon
  • 1 oz Cloud ears (also known as wood ear or tree ear – chinese fungus) soaked in warm water 1/2 hour in advance
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms (button, crimini, oyster – your choice)
  • 1 bunch scallions – base cut into thin rounds, tops cut into matchsticks
  • 1 Lb firm tofu cut into 1/2″ X 2″ sticks
  • 2 Tblsp corn starch dissolved in 2 Tblsp water
  • 1/4 cup tamari / soy sauce
  • 2 Tblsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup minced peeled broccoli stalks (optional)
  • 2 eggs beaten

Directions:

  • Saute minced garlic in small amount of cooking oil (peanut or canola oil) till just beginning to brown
  • Add chicken or pork matchsticks and saute until cooked(optional)
  • Add water and bouillon (this may be heated and mixed in advance)
  • Add tamari/soy
  • Add broccoli (optional)
  • Bring to boil
  • While stirring, slowly add corn starch mixture
  • Allow to thicken
  • Add cloud ears, mushrooms, tofu
  • Bring back to light boil
  • Add frozen peas
  • Bring to boil, and while stirring, add egg
  • Immediately before serving, add vinegar, toasted sesame oil, white pepper and scallions

Note: You can vary the amounts of any ingredient according to taste; be sure to add enough bouillon to make a reasonably strong stock. If serving leftovers, add a small amount of white vinegar immediately before serving. White pepper is what gives it the “hot” of hot and sour – you can vary this based on how hot you want it. I would not recommend substituting black pepper for the white.

Morse Mountain (and what they don’t tell you)

The real secret to Morse Mountain (in Phippsburg, Maine) is not the mountain – it’s the beach! It (Seawall Beach) is over a mile of beautiful sandy beach – the beach is on the south side of the Morse River which seperates it from Popham Beach – equally beautiful – but more crowded (and not free) The Maine Geological Survey lists it as one of Maine’s “finest beaches”.

Directions

Follow Route 209 South for 11.6 miles. Where Route 209 turns sharply left to Popham Beach, continue straight ahead on Route 216 for .4 mile.

You will see NO PARKING signs on both sides of the road as you approach the entrance to Morse Mountain. Turn left on Morse Mountain Road.

Drive about 350 feet to the entrance of the parking lot on the left. In the summer, there is a gatekeeper and booth at this lot. When the lot is full, no more vehicles are permitted to enter until parked vehicles leave. Vehicles may not park on Morse Mountain Road or on Route 216.

(Note – when we visited on 7/30 there was no attendant)

The hike to the beach took us 40 minutes at a leisurely pace. The mountain is a shorter distance (but not by much)

NOTE: There are NO facilites, dogs are not allowed at any time, and I’d recommend bug spray for the walk.

You can also rent houses (including one in the winter) within the preserve.

The preserve is maintained by Bates College
Google Map

“The Rez” in Hallowell

“The Rez” (for the Reservoir) is a public recreation area for Hallowell, and includes a swimming hole, playing field, picnic tables, rest facilites, but also connects to miles of trails which run through the woods, around a quarry pond, connecting to snowmobile trails, etc. It’s so close to home (for us) that I often don’t think of it as a “destination” for hiking at all.

View Larger Map

After the walk

There’s so many choices in the area that I can’t pick just one. Slates, a Hallowell institution, always has excellent food – you can’t go wrong. Saturday and Sunday brunch is great. A little further down the road (in Gardiner to be precise) is the A1 Diner (Don’t be fooled by their website – which needs a little work). A classic diner from the 50’s, the food is anything but – my favorite is the Greek salad with Calamari – but you can get anything from Macaroni and cheese to Morracan stew, etc.

Wolf’s Neck Woods State Park

Wolf’s Neck Woods has been one of our stand-by’s – you can get more information than I want to repeat at the Department of Conseration’s website (where there are listing on all State parks – some of which I will be reviewing for walks later) Wolf’s Neck has extensive well groomed foot trails, picnic areas, restrooms and more. It’s trails meander through the woods, or along the rocky coast. There is a fee – $3.00 in-state, 4.50 out of state and 1.50 senior.

And after the walk…

The Harraseeket Inn – Broad Arrow Tavern provides great fare at reasonable prices. Be careful of your timing – there can be a waiting list if you arrive at peak hours.

Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center

bowdoin-coastal-studiesWe read an article in the KJ about Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center and decided to check it out. It’s on Orr’s Island, near where we first lived when we came to Maine. We spent and hour and forty-five minutes following one of the trails. There were several other trails left for another day. You could probably spend several more hours investigating all the trails. It’s 118 acres and 2.5 miles of coastline. Trails tend to run along the shoreline, with many spots where you can sit and rest. Most trails were groomed; a few had wet spots (we first walked this in March).

Rating: 4 of 5

Directions

  • From Route 1 in Brunswick take Route 24 S for 8 miles
  • Cross bridge to Orr’s Island and continue for another 2 miles
  • Take Right on Bayview Road and follow it for 1 mile to parking area.

And after the walk…

A reasonably priced restaurant we recommend after your walk is Scarlet Begonias. Located in Brunswick, they recently moved from Main Street to 16 Station Avenue located near where the new train station will be located. To be honest, most of our experience was in their old location (which we liked a lot) – the jury is still out about whether their eclectic decor and food will survive the move into their new quarters. Feel free to comment if you have more recent experience.

Artisan Bread

Ingredients: 3 cups lukewarm water 1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets) 1 1/2 tbsp kosher or other salt 6 1/2 cups unbleached flour This is enough for 4 1 lb loaves – you can easily modify amount

Directions:

  • Add yeast & salt to water in large container w/lid
  • Mix flour all at once – mix until uniform – don’t knead
  • Cover with lid
  • Let rise for 2 hours
  • At this point you can refridgerate the dough until you’re ready to bake, at which point:
  • Scoop out enough for a loaf, and shape/stretch the dough into a round loaf – you may need a little flour on your hands to prevent it from sticking – just keep tucking the dough ball towards the bottom until you have a nice, round ball – the bottom may have a number of “overlaps” – don’t worry. Return remaining dough to refridgerator.
  • Place ball on pizza peel which has been sprinkled with corn meal. Allow it to rest for 40 minutes.
  • You may sprinkle flour on the top of the ball, and lightly score the top in whatever pattern floats your boat
  • Pre-heat oven to 450 with a baking stone on middle rack and empty broiler pan on lower rack
  • After dough has rested 40 minutes, slide off pizza peel onto baking stone. Quickly add 1 cup hot water to bottom broiler pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove bread from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Note: Be careful not to spill water on stone when adding to broiler pan – it can [from experience] break the stone. You can vary the recipe by substituting some of the unbleached white flour with rye flour, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, etc. Subsequent loaves (made from refridgerated dough) will be a little “denser” the the first loaf, but is quick and easy to make.

Source: Artesan Bread in Five Minutes a Day; Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (I would recommend getting this book – it has a number of recipes for a variety of breads. All fast and easy)

Mexican Chicken/Lime soup

Nathan gave us this recipe – I don’t know it’s source. Ingredients 3 medium onions, diced 1 package cherry tomatoes, halved 2 chicken breasts or equivalent in thighs 2-3 cups chicken bouillon 1 can black beans 1 can (or equivalent frozen) corn fresh cilantro 1 lime, halved (1 half quartered) chili powder sour cream tortilla chips Directions

  • Cook chicken in oil and garlic. When chicken is just done, remove from heat and shred with forks (this can be done in advance)
  • Saute onions until transparent
  • Add chili powder to taste
  • Add shredded chicken, corn, beans and bouillon
  • Chop fresh cilantro, reserve sprigs and stalks. Tie stocks together and add to pot
  • Squeeze one half lime; add rind to pot
  • Add cherry tomatoes
  • Add fresh chopped cilantro

Garnish with lime wedges, sour cream, tortilla chils, and fresh chopped cilantro