Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just For Fun ............ Yogurt and Butter

This week I had a little fun doing things I have wanted to for awhile. I made yogurt and butter. Let me just say that you can't make these without real dairy products. At least you can't make versions of them you would actually want to eat. So this wasn't strictly a food storage endeavor, but it was definitely informative and fun.

First the yogurt. I LOVE vanilla yogurt. It's one of my favorite snacks, and my new favorite food storage book had a recipe so I tried that first. I bought some plain yogurt at the store that had live cultures and no additives. That is your starter bacteria that you need. You can buy it in other forms but this was easiest for me.

Then I gathered the other ingredients which included whole milk AND powdered milk (the whole recipe is under my recipe link.) It was SUPER easy to make and I let it "cure" in my wonder oven. I actually forgot about it in there so I left it a little too long, making it more tart than it would have been otherwise, but it was SO good. My kids gobbled it up. Plus for the next 2 days I took the jar and spoons around with me everywhere and forced my friends and family to taste test it. Weird. I know. But I was so proud, and it REALLY was good. :) One batch made a big and little jar as you can see in the picture. For more pictures and details, check out the recipe link.

Next I made butter. Yep. I MADE butter. Funny how something all women did 100 years ago, makes us feel like such a super woman now - LOL! Let me just start off saying that you CAN NOT make butter without cream. And you can't store cream, so unless you have a cow, or a goat, you wouldn't be able to do this without going to the store. And you can't use just any cream. It can not be ultra-pasteurized cream which is what most stores sell. It has to be just regular pastuerized. I was finally able to track down some regular pasteurized manufacturing cream at Smart & Final. I hear that they sell it at Whole Foods as well but I didn't check.

I almost want to just leave it at that and let you all be awed with my homemaking prowess, because you won't be nearly as impressed when you see how easy it was. :) Anyway, I let the cream come to room temperature. Then I poured it into my Bosch with my whipping beaters and started whipping it.

After about 5 minutes it started to turn into whipped cream with soft peaks.

A minute later I had stiff peaks forming.

Then about 2 minutes after that, the solids suddenly congealed into butter and separated from the buttermilk. That's right. Buttermilk ACTUALLY comes from butter! Who knew?

Because I used sweet cream, this buttermilk is not sour like the kind you buy in the store, although you could use lemon juice to sour it. 100 years ago they would let the cream sour before making butter which would create a sour buttermilk by product. These days we seem to prefer sweet cream butter so the milk by product is also sweet. Don't throw it out. It is excellent for baking with and using in your recipes.

After separating the butter from the buttermilk you need to "wash" the butter. This is to get all the buttermilk out of the butter, otherwise it will go rancid very quickly. Simply put the butter into a bowl and fill with COLD water. Then knead the butter until the water turns cloudy. Empty the water, refill, and repeat. Do this until the water remains clear. I had to do it 4 or 5 times.

Then I put the butter back in my mixer and added salt. You don't have to add salt but it tastes very bland without it. If you accidentally over salt it (like I did), just rewash it. Anyway, I whipped the salt in and then I used an old one pound butter container I had and put my butter in there. I had more leftover so I added garlic and parsley to it and made a container of garlic butter for rolls or bread.

So I started out with a 1/2 gallon of cream and I ended up with about 1/4 gallon of buttermilk and about 2 pounds of butter. The cream cost me $6.50 so it was more expensive to make the butter than to buy it, but it was SO much fun! And I feel good that I know how, and I know how easy it is.

BTW, you do not have to keep butter in the fridge. You do need to keep it in an airtight container. As long as air does not get to it as it sits, it will stay good for a fair length of time on your counter.

Making yogurt and butter and living off food storage this many months has given me a greater understanding of how invaluable cows are. We scoff at other countries that worship cows, or how they were given as wedding presents centuries ago, but I can tell you, cows are worth more than their weight in gold. When you have a cow, you have beef, milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, and more. Trust me when I tell you, these items are irreplaceable when you are trying to produce food for your family. If I'm ever given the chance to take just one thing with me and live off the land, it would be a cow.

And yes, I can hear you all laughing at me as you read this :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

This and That....

I experimented with quite a few things the last couple of weeks, but only a couple turned out. I made popped wheat, which tastes kind of like popcorn, but my little kids wouldn't eat it. I'm going to try making it a different way this week and see if it's better.

I also tried making yogurt - two different recipes - both were disgusting. I have several more to try this week though.

I also made an applesauce wheat cake. That was yummy! The texture is a little different since it's whole wheat, but the flavor was good, and it was very moist. It calls for spooning some applesauce on top which is important because the cake is a little on the sweet side but when you add the applesauce on top it gives it the tang that it needs.

Plus I made Peanutbutter Chews. I can't find the pictures, I think I accidentally deleted them. These were a big hit with the kids though and were great for satisfying a sweet tooth. I'm not going to pretend that they are the least bit healthy, totally NOT, but, then again, what are you gonna do when you have that craving for something sweet and your living on food storage? :) Anyway, the recipe for both of these is on my recipe link.

Lastly, I found a new book that I'm SUPER excited about! Oddly enough, it came from a friend who has some pretty strong feelings against food storage. She heard what I was doing though and gave me a stack of books. In them was a little gem called, "A Bite of Independence Through Self-sufficiency" Her mom paid .75 cents for it at a thrift store and, as far as I can tell, it is out of print. I could only find expensive used copies of it online. Since I think it's out of print I'm going to post the recipes that I make from there on my blog. This week I am going to try out the yogurt recipes from there and maybe even some cheese if I have time. Can't wait! I'm pretty sure this little .75 cent wonder is going to be my #1 must have food storage accessory.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Magic Mix

I'm back to experimenting with new recipes so I expect to be back to regular blog entries. This week I made pudding pops. Nothing spectacularly innovative but my kids loved them and they were all food storage of course.

The one unique thing about them was I used Magic Mix. If you are not familiar with it, it's a base mix that you can use even in your regular life to make so many things like pudding, white sauce, cheese sauce, creamed soups, etc. The wonderful thing about it is, you can make it up and then just keep it in your fridge up to two months and it will save you time when you are cooking. So far I've used it to make the best chocolate pudding you'll ever eat, and pudding pops.

I'm going to post a bunch of Magic Mix recipes on my recipe blog plus the recipe for Magic Mix itself. Try it out now, you can easily use it even if you are not currently using your food storage. You will love it.