Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve! A Tip to Stay Merry Tomorrow, & an Awesome Song About Slyman's Corned Beef

Are you bidding 2009 farewell with some good old fashioned binge drinking?  If you want to avoid starting 2010 with a bad case of veisalgia (the medical term for a hangover, which you might want to remember the next time you need to call in sick to work), consider picking a poison that's light-colored instead of dark.  A recent study showed that dark liquor makes worse hangovers -  bourbon gave drinkers a more severe hangover than vodka.

Why?  Maybe because bourbon contains 37 times more toxic compounds than vodka does, like acetone, acetaldehyde, tannins and furfural.  The clearer a liquor is, the less of these substances it probably contains, so less of a hangover.  Though the study does note that vodka drinkers may have felt better the next morning, they performed just as badly on cognitive tests that required attention and quick reaction times.

While there will be no hard partying for Foodgoat and I tonight (I'm hoping to see one little girl catch up on her sleep), we will be having a final, delicious lunch of 2009 ... Slyman's corned beef sandwiches!

GoatSpawn, by the way, loves the Slyman's corned beef.  So does Grammy-nominated Canadian alternative rock band Barenaked Ladies.  Listen to them sing about Slyman's!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

It's the day that brings everyone together, even those who don't normally see each other, to eat and cook and sing.

So here's Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart, making brownies and rapping.

Now if they could just watch "It's a Wonderful Life", MST2000-style, it would be on my holiday playlist always.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Menu for Hope 6

In this holiday season, I have much to be grateful for, not the least of which is the fact that we have not lacked for food on the table.  

So while this is a good time for being with family and immersing GoatSpawn in the joys of wrapping paper ripping and new toys, it is also a good time to do something good for those who have not been so fortunate.

One small way to do this is by donating to Menu of Hope. 

Each December for the past 6 years, food bloggers worldwide have raised money in the Menu for Hope raffle.  This year the raffle is supporting the UN World Food Programme, the world’s largest food aid agency, and its Purchase for Progress program, which enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operations, helping farmers improves farming practices and puts more cash directly into their pockets in return for their crops.  This will also help buoy local economy by creating jobs and income locally.

For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual ticket to bid on an item donated by a food blogger worldwide. 

So you not only support a good cause, but you have a chance some really wonderful and unique prizes that any foodie would love.  In making my donation, here are a few of the items I had my eye on:
  • The SousVide Supreme, offered by Steamy Kitchen  (do I want this new kitchen appliance, just like everybody else?  Yes I do!)
  • Vanilla package, offered by Vanilla Garlic (175 vanilla beans of 7 different varieties!)
  • A Year of Bernachon Chocolate Bars, offered by Lucy's Kitchen Notebook  (a new chocolate every month?  yum!)
  • an afternoon of foraging with Langdon Cook in Seattle, offered by Fat of the Land  (it doesn't sound glamorous, but it does sound fun, and I'd never forage by myself!)
  • The Grand Tasting Menu+wine pairings for two at Michelin 2-star Manresa, AND a tour of the restaurant's biodynamic garden at Love Apple Farm, offered by Chez Pim (now this sounds glamorous and fun)
There are a ton more cool stuff to bid on, and the raffle ends on Christmas, so give now!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fried Chicken: Food Trend for 2010

While I've been scrambling to wrap up 2009, Epicurious has posted a list of the Top 10 Food Trends for 2010.

They are predicting that the dish of the year will be ... fried chicken! Although I don't think we've hit "meat saturation" or that burgers will ever really go out of style, fried chicken seems to be getting some notice among top chefs.

I would love to see more - and good - fried chicken! I haven't found a really good fried chicken in Cleveland since Phil the Fire closed (still mourning the loss of those fried chicken and waffle dinners). And to get Foodgoat to go to KFC and their delicious MSG-infused chickens requires some serious persuasion (or immersion in trashy TV).

I suppose I could make fried chicken at home, but I'm not enthusiastic about the prospect of deep frying. It's messy and you're left with a big vat of hot oil to dispose of. Fried chicken is one of those things I prefer to get outside.

What else is on the horizon of food trends for 2010?
  • Mini whoopie pies (I don't know what they are, but they apparently are filled with marshmallow cream, which is not a good sign)
  • Lamb (I have a hard believing lamb neck is going to be the new bacon)
  • Immunity-building diets (ehh ... building a diet around a single health concern is boring.)
  • Butchers (Much, much cooler profession than what was hip last year ... I'm not sure I could really respect someone who said their job was "mixologist")
  • Homemade brew (Foodgoat's on top of this one!  He's been making his own beer for a few months now!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Cookies: To Share and to Keep for Oneself

Foodgoat bought a box of assorted Christmas cookies, and when he showed them to me, he told me, "Now, leave at least one kind of each for me."

To which I thought, "Aw, HELL NO, you DID NOT just try to limit my Christmas cookies."

It's his own fault that he never gets to eat the cookies in the house.  You just can't leave cookies lying around for weeks at a time before you get around to eating them.  He only just recently finished his Halloween candy.  The only reason I didn't eat them sooner is that his candy had peanuts, and eating them would probably kill me.  But they also had chocolate, so sometimes I thought about it. 

Do you blame the wolf for eating the deer?  Do you blame a husky for running?  Can you blame a Ladygoat for eating cookies?  No.  It is their nature.

So I decided the best thing to do would be to make my own Christmas cookies, so I can eat as much of them as quickly as I wanted to.

And what's the best Christmas cookie around?  Polvoron. Buttery, sweet polvoron.

Sure, Christmas is about sharing, and I'll make enough this week to give Foodgoat his fill of polvoron.  But can't a girl give herself the gift of holiday sweetness?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Can Can, Can You? Applesauce

I made applesauce! And I canned it! 

After realizing that most of the jarred applesauce in the store was made with high fructose corn syrup, and then finding a case of Mason jars in the closet, and then finding that it was apple season, I decided to try my hand at applesauce.

I was wary, though - I thought it would be a hard, long, sweaty process laboring over peeling apples and a hot stove.  Well, it took 15 minutes to peel the apples, and that's because I'm slow with the peeler.  And it took just under an hour for the sauce.  It was much easier than I anticipated.

The jarring ... well, that's another story.  While it wasn't difficult stuff, it was a little tedious and labor intensive.  There's cleaning the jars and lids, sterilizing jars and lids, filling them up with hot applesauce, wiping the rims, processing the jars in the water bath, making sure the water bath is sufficiently full .... and then all the worrying about whether the seal will hold because the last thing I want for Christmas is botulism.

But it is highly satisfying to see a stack of successfully jarred apple sauce in the pantry. 

5 pounds of  apples (I used Honey Crisp, which are on the sweet end of the apple spectrum)
6 cups of cider or water (I used cider)
1/4 tsp salt
(you can also add cinnamon, sugar, honey, or maple syrup as well)

First, bring the cider to boil, and reduce by about half.

Add the peeled, cored, and quartered apples and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes until the mixture breaks down and it looks like ... applesauce.  Mash it up if you like it smoother; I kept it chunky.

Add any additional sweeteners or flavors, but I left it plain.

And that's it!  I canned my applesauce, but you can just put in the fridge or freeze. 

Next time, if I use a sweet variety again, I may use more water than cider. Using that much cider made that applesauce super sweet and apple-y.  It's very good but intense.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with my first applesauce effort.    It was much more flavorful than the bland store-bought ones I've had, it was easy and simple to make, and it was nice taking advantage of the seasonal fruit.  I will definitely do this again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Better Kind of Jujube

Remember how disappointed I was in the Jujube candies? Well, my sister found some better jujubes - the jujube is also the name of a fruit, also known as the red date or Chinese date.

While I have yet to see them anywhere in Northeast Ohio, my sister finds them at farmer's markets in the Bay Area. The jujube is like an apple in appearance and in taste, but with a hard stone in the middle.

It is native to China, but the jujube fruit tree can apparently grow easily in a variety of climates, and are cold-hardy ... which means I'm now plotting to plant my own jujube tree in the backyard, just to say I am growing Jujubes in Ohio.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How FlashForward Changed My Future

There is a Giant Eagle grocery store minutes away from my house. It is close enough to walk to, it's open 24 hours, it's large and stocked with everything I might need in a grocery store - produce, meat, whatever. It has very good prices and doubles coupons.

But I have decided I will no longer shop there.

Why? Thank the ABC TV show, FlashFoward.

The premise is that a mysterious event causes everyone on the planet to black out, during which people see visions of their lives six months in the future.

The series follows members of an FBI unit and their friends and family as each one tries to pursue their unexpected and surprising visions of their futures (a beautiful Japanese girl! a wedding! a pregnancy!) ... or to avoid it (an affair! a death! a drunken haze in which one is being pursued by killers for trying to solve the mystery of the blackout!).

It's a pretty good show (sadly, it's on hiatus until March), similar to (though not quite as awesome as) Lost, what with questions of fate and destiny and the roles people play in each other lives and changing the future.

As I pondered these big questions, I thought of my own future, and the part I might play in the world.

And it occurred to me that the lamest possible flashforward I could have would be seeing myself in 6 months, annoyed and irritated, standing in line behind 4 or 5 people at the Giant Eagle, yet again. Or even worse: I could be at the Giant Eagle self-checkout machine, the machine that never accepts my coupons, doesn't know how much the bananas cost, and keeps telling me to bag my groceries before it will scan anything else.

If that was my great insight into my future, I would feel totally stupid.

Thus, I have taken steps to avoid that future by vowing to NEVER SHOP THERE AGAIN.

I'll pay a few cents more, I'll drive a little farther, to another grocery store where I don't have to wait in line forever, where I can get an actual cashier and someone to bag my groceries.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Buttermilk: There's More Than One Kind?

What I thought: Buttermilk is the liquid left behind after churning cream to get butter. You use it as an ingredient in pancakes or other baked goods. It's super fatty and has flecks of butter in it.

What I just learned: Not all "buttermilk" is that traditional or old-fashioned type - "buttermilk" also refers to a range of fermented milk drinks which are much closer to yogurt than to butter.

In fact, the buttermilk that you find at the grocery store is probably not traditional buttermilk, but cultured buttermilk. Like yogurt it's made by adding a lactic acid bacteria culture to pasteurized whole, skim milk or non-fat milk. It's then left to ferment for 12 to 14 hours.

The fermenting action makes cultured buttermilk healthy stuff - it comes in low and non-fat versions, it's more easily digestible than milk, it also contains more lactic acid than skim milk, and like yogurt, it is a good source of probiotics and healthy bacteria.

Armed with this new information, I poured myself a glass of buttermilk. And drank it, straight up.

I wasn't hopeful - I poured a really little glass. I still had the image of leftover butter in my mind, and I was expecting something really rich, like heavy cream.

It tasted like ... yogurt.

Sour and tangy. Cultured buttermilk tastes like a more liquidy version of yogurt. Which was totally different from what I was expecting.

It's sour enough that I probably wouldn't want to drink it alone, but mixed with a little sugar, a little fruit (like I eat my yogurt) ... maybe the use of buttermilk extends beyond baked goods!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hand Crank Coffee Grinder: The 19th Century Can Keep It

A couple months ago, my cousin brought over an old-fashioned manual coffee grinder. How quaint! How charming! You can find the old-timey ones not only in antique shops, but new ones online (the one above is from Sweet Maria's).

He put coffee beans in, and started grinding.

And kept grinding.

And still kept grinding.

We left and came back, and he was still grinding. He said he was almost done.

Finally, he pulled open a little drawer to reveal ... a little pile of coffee grounds.

Then added more coffee beans to grind more.

Wow, a manual coffee grinder is slooowwwww.

They're energy efficient and work well when the power is out and they are quieter, but a hand grinder would not get much play at our house. Have you seen Foodgoat in the morning before he's had his coffee? Have you tried to get to taste yogurt cheese in the morning before he's had his coffee?

Let's just say I would not want to make the coffee making processs take longer than it has to.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is The Price Right? A Cost-Taste Analysis of Sahale Snacks


$4.29 for 4 ounces.

We have been pondering this price - pondering it, and not paying it.

That's how much a package of Sahale Snacks costs at the local grocery store. And that's the only bad thing about the Sahale Snacks - they are so, so good, but so, so expensive.

We had received two samples of Sahale snacks to review for free, and Foodgoat, who normally hates cashews, loved the Cashew with Pomegranate and Vanilla mix. They are more like candy than nuts - really, really good candy. The cashews are mixed with pomegranate and apple and lightly glazed with a hint of vanilla. I tried the Soledad Almonds with Apple, Flax Seeds, Date, Balsamic Vinegar + Red Pepper, and it too was yummy - the bit of heat and vinegar made for an interesting flavor.

Sahale has managed the to combine nuts and fruits in a balance of crunchy and chewy and nutty and sweet. It's really very good.

But since we've gobbled up the samples, we haven't tried it since. Because it $4.29 for 4 ounces.

Not that we haven't thought about it. No, each week Foodgoat walks by the snack aisle at the grocery store, looks at the Sahale Snacks, looks at the price, remembers how tasty it was ... but then keeps on walking.

Under $4, Foodgoat would probably buy it. Over $4, that's the gray area. So yummy ... yet kind of pricey. How much would you pay for a really good snack?

Per FTC disclosure guidelines, we got two samples of Sahale Snacks for free.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How I Killed My Mother: Autopsy of a Failed Vinegar

Last year, Foodgoat bought me supplies for making vinegar, including jars of mother of vinegar - slimy blobs of the acetic bacteria that turn alcohol into vinegar.

I put the mother, and some wine, into clean glass bottle, and was thought I was all set to have homemade vinegar in a matter of weeks.

Months later, that bottle of mother and wine now smells like ... wine.

It totally didn't work. There's no sign of vinegar.

What could have gone wrong? Here are the possibilities, any and all of which might have been contributing factors.

The suspects:
  1. Not enough mother: I didn't use all of the mother in the jar, I just used the gelatinous bits. But the active bacteria is also contained in the liquid vinegar parts as well. I might not have added enough bacteria to thrive.
  2. Too much wine: Not only did I not add a lot of mother, I dumped a whole bottle of wine in, which might have been too much. Too much alcohol might have smothered my poor mother.
  3. Sulfites: Wines today are treated with sulfites to preserve them, which is why you can't just let wine sit out and expect it to turn to wine. Before using wine to make vinegar, you need to aerate it enough to give the sulfites a chance to evaporate. I let it out a couple of hours, but that might not have been enough.
  4. Not enough air: Vinegar-making bacteria need oxygen, so you need to use a wide mouthed container. I used an old glass milk jug, which didn't have a particularly wide mouth.
  5. High acidity: Some recommend diluting the wine with water to reduce the acidity (although others don't). I didn't do that.
  6. Dead mother: The mother was mailed during the fierce snowstorm. It might have gotten too cold. Or I waited too long before using it.
I can't know for sure what exactly went wrong, but I have a lot of things to do differently for my next attempt at vinegar making.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Maintaining Sourdough Starter ... with Sourdough Crumpets

I love keeping sourdough starter. Sourdough bread isn't always so easy to find around Cleveland, and it's great to be able to make a loaf of sourdough when the mood strikes, or to have sourdough pancakes (delicious with chocolate chips).

The starter is surprisingly easy to maintain, even when I don't have plans to make bread or pancakes - so much so I think everyone should have it. Here's how I do it:

The starter is usually kept in the fridge, and hasn't been fed in a week (I can go as long as a month without feeding it, but then it takes a while to recuperate). I mix in the liquid collecting on top, which is alcohol.

First, I take out about a cup of starter, which is about half of the starter in my container, and put in another bowl. You take out starter so that your starter will stay at the same amount, instead of overflowing it's container.

The remaining starter gets fed with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour. If I'm making bread or pancakes or something else that requires fed starter, I leave it out until it gets bubbly. Otherwise, if I don't need it for anything, I just put it back in the fridge.

Now, on to that cup of starter I put into a separate bowl ... you could just throw it out. But it seemed like such a waste to throw any starter away! Instead, I use that cup of starter to make a quick batch of crumpets.

I make crumpets so often - each week, every Friday, each time I feed the starter - that I made my own crumpet mix to add to it.

The crumpet mix is:

2 parts sugar
1 part baking soda
1 part salt

Add to a jar, shake to mix. (for one time use, that's 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt).

Unfed starter looks like a gloopy mass.

When you make crumpets, take approximately 2 teaspoons of the mix and briefly mix it into every 1 cup of starter.

You could also add some milk if you want it to be less sour and thinner, more like a pancake.

Let sit at least 15-20 minutes, or until you see bubbles!

Then just pour a bit onto a hot griddle, and cook until set. For a more crumpet-y shape, use crumpet rings. I don't have them, but I kind of want them now. Flip briefly.

And there you have sourdough crumpets! I get 3-4 small ones per cup of starter.

It's nicely sour, and full of holes that are great for holding butter, yogurt cheese, or syrup. I have also mixed in green onions or cheese or other savory bits. It's a great snack or small meal, quick and easy, and it reminds me to feed my starter weekly. None of the precious sourdough starter is wasted!
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Latest Favorite: Mason Jars

Last weekend, while cleaning out a much neglected pantry closet, we came across a bunch of mason jars from an erstwhile interest in canning. And in one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-this-before moments, it struck me they would make perfect storage containers.

Now all the grains and pastas and powders that came in plastic bags are no longer shlumping awkwardly in the cabinet, but prettily displayed on the window shelf.

I liked them so much I bought even more jars. If I run out of things that need to be stored, I could always try more on the list of 50 ways to hack a mason jar.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Why GoatSpawn Must Hate PETA

Point 1: GoatSpawn loves Sesame Street. Songs! Elmo! Elmo singing songs! It's all so exciting to see it on the big TV and not just on Youtube! I don't mind because it's bringing back my own fond memories of Sesame Street, they teach words like "habitat", and it's not constantly interrupted by frenetic commercials for the latest AWESOME! toy.

Point 2: GoatSpawn loves eggs. Since I'm allergic to eggs, I was nervous introducing her to them when she turned one, but it's now become a staple of her diet. She's been happily eating eggs hard-boiled, scrambled, and in omelets. And we're happy to feed them to her: not only are eggs easy and convenient to prepare, they are a nutritious source of protein, fat, vitamins A, D, E and B12, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, phosphorous, zinc, iron, folate and choline. We buy the organic, free-range eggs.

Point 3: PETA hates eggs. They maintain that egg production practices are cruel to chickens, and eggs are "cholesterol bombs" that contribute to type-2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

Point 4: PETA hates Sesame Street. PETA's latest online campaign is contending that Seseame Street is "misleading children and parents into believing that eggs are a wholesome food", because the Egg Board and its new Good Egg Project is sponsoring the show's 40th season. The project is aims to educate Americans on modern egg farming, introduce them to the farmers, and pledging to donate up to a million eggs to Feeding America, nation's largest hunger relief charity.

Ergo, GoatSpawn must hate PETA.

I know I do.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

WWBFD (What Would Brett Favre Do?) and Crock Pot Dulce de Leche

We have made easy and muy delicioso dulce de leche in the crock pot before, using a can of sweetened condensed milk. But could I also use the crock pot to make dulce de leche from scratch? Would that not be better and tastier?

Following Lora Brody's recipe in Slow Cooker Cooking, I put 3 cups of whole milk, a split vanilla bean, 1 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup water and a pinch of baking soda in the crock pot, left the lid off, set it on high, and went on my merry way.

For several hours, it just looked like this: hot, spiced milk.
And then 5 hours in ... voila! Caramel color! Thickened caramelliness!

But, the recipe dictated several more hours - 4 more hours, for a total of 9 hours in the crock pot.

And this is where I was faced with my Brett Favre moment.

Do I stop here, turn off the crock pot and take what looks to be a good batch, a successful batch, and call it a day?

Or do I keep going? Do I let it caramelize even more, reaching possibly even greater heights of glory? And risk going too long, ending a long, sweet run with the bitter taste of failure?

I took the way of Favre: I waffled about it forever, and finally decided to keep it in a little longer. The recipe, I figured, couldn't be that off. My crock pot, I thought, can't be that hot.

But while Brett Favre is currently generating talk of a possible MVP, my dulce de leche just generated talk of being my LFF - Latest Food Fail.

Because the next time I checked the dulce de leche, less than an hour later, it looked like this:


Not super-caramelly and slightly burnt, which might be good, but kind of curdled and a little too burnt.

Adding the additional cup of milk as directed by the recipe made it seem less burnt. It tasted okay, but it still had that bitter edge, and it wasn't quite the creaminess and sticky goodness I had hoped for, once had, and lost.

Which goes to show you that I am no Brett Favre, and that you should watch the food, not the clock, and not the recipe.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Plush Puffs: Gourmet Marshmallows Three Ways, Followed by a Hail Mary Marshmallow Pass

In the 4th grade I liked marshmallows, because I could pull them apart and stick them on my lunchbox, giving Garfield big bulgy eyes.

But that's not really a good basis for a lasting relationship. Though does give you a window into what I find amusing.

Since then, me and marshmallows have just had a passing acquaintance. I know them, I run into them occasionally, usually when they're in the company of smores and rice krispy treats, but I'm not going to become their fan on Facebook. Marshmallows are okay, but they're nothing to get all excited about.

Of course, I've only really known the ordinary marshmallows. (I have also met the colored, dried up marshmallows which reside in certain breakfast cereals masquerading as green clovers and other such nonsense, but they are an abomination of which we will not speak.)

So when I was offered the chance to try the gourmet Plush Puffs marshmallows, handcrafted and all-natural, I was hopeful.
Could marshmallows be tasty? Could we be friends?

I had three flavors: S'more, a kind of everything in one package flavor, Vanilla Bean, the "classic", and the Caramel Swirl.

We tried them 3 ways initially:

  • Straight up
Eh, no. The vanilla tastednot much different from any other marshmallow. Powdery. Sticky. Sweet. The vanilla flavor did not enhance this in any way.

The Smore tasted like a mouthful of candy parts. Candy that wasn't finished. The marshmallow and hard chocolate and chocolate powder, unmelted, didn't really blend together particularly well.

I had hopes for Caramel Swirl because ... it's caramel. Straight up, ohmygod, so gross. So not good. Oh no no no.

What's wrong with it? A quick glance at the ingredient list and we've narrowed it down to the honey. The note of honey is weird, off, and a little too earthy.

That's okay. Perhaps marshmallows were never meant to be eaten straight up.

  • In coffee
It said specifically on the box that the marshmallows would be good in coffee.

That is not a suggestion I would be promoting.

If you like your coffee, and if you like your coffee black, as Foodgoat and I do, you may find that a giant hunk o' sticky sweetness and it's overpowering vanilla taste sitting in your delicious cup of strong hot Guatemalan totally repulsive, as Foodgoat and I did.

The caramel with its note of honey tasted even worse with coffee.

I couldn't even try the Smore flavor in coffee after that.

  • Smores
It's gots to be melted. Just consider marshmallows raw and inedible until a specific heat point.

Besides being fun to make, the smores made with Plush Puffs turned out better than when they were eaten cold or in coffee. The Smore flavor turned out the best, not needing any additional chocolate and firing up and getting all melt-y very nicely, and the Vanilla Bean did well too. Still, I'm not a huge fan of smores, and have gourmet marshmallows didn't change that.

The Caramel Swirl? Better than in coffee, but not much. Seriously, that note of honey was just weird.

It depressed me, and more than ever I wanted to save that marshmallow. There must be a place for it.

Redemption for the Caramel Swirl marshmallow was found in my one last marshmallow effort ...

  • Bacon Marshmallow Grilled Sandwich

Yeah, you read that right. Bacon ... and marshmallow.

I didn't have much hope. This was my Hail Mary marshmallow pass. I didn't take a photo. [ETA Turns out I did get a photo!] I made it when Foodgoat was at work. I used the grocery store bacon instead of the really good bacon.

But ... it worked. The earthiness of the Caramel Swirl honey notes actually tasted good with the a couple slices of meaty, just-fried bacon on some crisp bread. The sweetness of the marshmallow complemented the fattiness of the bacon surprisingly well.

Would I make this again, ever? Well, no, probably not. I'd take a bacon sandwich plain or with anything else first, unless I'm in a totally goofy mood, or pregnant.

Ultimately, though, the fancy gourmet Plush Puffs marshmallows were a disappointment. They didn't make me like marshmallows more at all.

Plush Puffs just taught me that bacon can save almost anything, even gawdawful marshmallows.

Per FTC disclosure guidelines, we got these marshmallow samples for free. Thankfully. Because I totally would have hated paying for them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Making Yogurt Cheese

We have a ton of yogurt in the house, because we have had a ton of whole milk, because we keep buying it for GoatSpawn, WHO WILL NOT DRINK IT.

So, I decided to make yogurt cheese.

I've never made it before because I don't have the fancy yogurt cheese maker and I've never had cheesecloth. Why I've never had cheesecloth when it's fairly easy and inexpensive to find, I don't know, but that has been the main sticking point in why I've never made yogurt cheese, even though I've been making my own yogurt for a couple of years now.

Then I saw the tea strainer.
It holds exactly one small container of yogurt and it suspends nicely in the tea cup. Perfect!
I put yogurt in the strainer, put the strainer in the cup, and the liquid, which is whey (also called milk plasma, which sounds much worse) drip outs.
Into the fridge it goes ... I poured out the whey after an hour (although the whey is full of nutritious stuff and can be used in other things). Back into the fridge overnight or for 24 hours (checking the cup occasionally to empty if needed) to drain out even more whey and you get ...

Yogurt cheese! It reduced to about half its volume, about a couple big spoonfuls. Not a big volume, but sometimes a little is all you want or need.

The result still tastes like yogurt - in my case, quite tangy - but the texture is creamier and thicker.

You can use yogurt cheese in the same ways you might use sour cream or cream cheese, although it has a stronger flavor to consider. On toasted bagels, it was light and delicious, and I could see it as a good basis for dips. Of course you could also eat in straight up, like a Greek style yogurt. Some people like to use non-fat yogurt cheese as a less caloric version of sour cream, but of course Foodgoat rarely chooses the less caloric version of anything, and would probably look at me like I was crazy if I suggested NOT using his beloved, delicious sour cream.