Homemade Yogurt

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I have been forced to make my own yogurt. The brand I loved, Brown Cow, was bought by a larger company, and now it’s runnier and has a smaller cream top on it. :(  Given that the price has gone up lately, I decided it’s no longer worth what they charge for it, and I needed to find something else.

As usual, the Internet comes to the rescue. I read several make-yogurt-in-your-crock-pot recipes, and they were pretty similar; this one was done best, I think. I started in the afternoon with a half-gallon of organic milk and a little store-bought yogurt, and by bedtime, I had a beach-towel-wrapped crock pot on my counter. And the next morning, I had yogurt!

I added a bit of vanilla to a bowl of this perfectly white yogurt, topped it with homemade granola, and proceeded to eat the best bowl of yogurt ever. I’m sold on making my own yogurt now. Given that my crock pot is nearly 40 years old (one of the longest-lived of our wedding gifts, I think), I’m thrilled that I’ve found a new use for it.

Make Your Own Applesauce

One of the best things about fall where I live is that apples are in season. The grocery store’s produce department has apples everywhere, and local orchards are offering the best apples you can find. But my favorite apples are clearance apples:

IMG_20151020_164106That’s right, I like ‘em cheap and aging, because that means I get to make applesauce. (Save your perfect apples for eating out of hand.) Let’s start by putting a few cups of water, a splash of lemon juice, a dash of salt and a cinnamon stick in a good-sized pot on the stove:

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Turn the heat on low, and while it warms up, you can get started with the apples.

Back in the day, I put my kids to work helping me peel, slice and chop apples. This was the price they had to pay for enjoying fresh applesauce, not to mention homemade apple pie if I was feeling really energetic.

Now that my kids are grown, I’ve found a new, quieter helper:

IMG_20151020_164645This is an apple peeler/corer. I love this thing: it works so fast! I’m sure my kids wish I’d had one when they were younger, but all that apple-peeling was character-building, right? Anyways, if you don’t have one of these, start peeling and slicing until you wind up with some of these:

IMG_20151020_164724Start throwing them in the pot and stirring them in so the lemon juice can keep your slices from turning brown. Add water as needed to keep an inch or so of liquid in the bottom of the pan.

IMG_20151020_170348Check with a fork to see if your apples are soft yet. Once they are, you can easily mash them with a potato masher and then give them a good stir. (Be sure to take out the cinnamon stick first.)

IMG_20151020_174250You might want to add a little sugar. I only buy organic cane sugar now because today’s “regular” sugar comes from sugar beets, not sugar cane.

IMG_20151020_174531Homemade applesauce is great when it’s warm; if you have any left over, be sure to put it in the fridge.

 

Chicken is Easy

A mother of teens once told me that she had never bought a package of chicken. She didn’t even know what to do with one. I guess she always bought processed chicken products or something. I feel sorry for her family.

Assuming there are others like her out there, I decided to photograph the process of making chicken for dinner for my little family of three. I took the photos in my “gourmet kitchen” here in Flyover Land.

IMG_20151020_170906Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Get a big enough pan and grease it with some vegetable oil, then sprinkle salt and pepper on it. Open a package of chicken (I used chicken 1/4s, which are legs and thighs still attached together, plus a couple of additional bone-in thighs) and lay them down in your pan. (Please note: Amish or organic chicken is much tastier than your basic grocery store meat department chicken.)

IMG_20151020_171312Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, cover with foil, and bake for about 35 minutes (longer if your chicken was at all frozen). Then take out the pan, flip the pieces of chicken over, and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so without the foil cover.

If you want barbecued chicken, put some barbecue sauce on top of the pieces before you put the pan back in the oven. Most barbecue sauces are made with high-fructose corn syrup, but Trader Joe’s has a barbecue sauce with all-natural ingredients that’s quite tasty.

Put some extra barbecue sauce on the chicken before serving.

IMG_20151020_182134Now wasn’t that easy? And so much yummier than processed chicken products from the grocery store. I usually make enough so that we have leftovers for the lunch the next day.