Bloggy news: First off, Miss Cheesemonger’s 5th birthday is next month! I can’t believe it. I’ve decided to spruce up the blog a lot in preparation for that, including setting up an Amazon Affiliates account. This means that not only can I share with you my favorite books, jams, kitchen tools, or table dressings, I can show you where to get them! Additionally, if you want to support Miss Cheesemonger in a new way, you can do so by making purchases through those links. If you take a look to your right, there’s already a pretty rotating carousel of some of my favorite food reading material in the sidebar (If you have Ad Block, though, you might not see it.). Ooooh, fancy! I am already so amazed at how much support this little blog has received over the years. It has been running on love and rumbling stomachs until now, and I hope I can keep providing you with stories and insight into the world of cheese, food, farms, and the people behind it all.
Lately, both M. Cheesemonger and I have been feeling rather domestic, thanks to our current reading material. He’s been reading a Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, and I’ve been reading Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. After visiting our bread-making and pickling friends in Vancouver this summer, we decided to dive further into the realm of fermented foods in the kitchen. I’ve already been making kombucha for about a year and a half now, and where M. Cheesemonger wasn’t so keen on the idea when I began, he now helps me with bottling, and will break out a bottle at meals.
When we discovered that we had an extra quart of milk and that our recently-acquired sourdough starter was mature, we knew it was kitchen time.
I kept things relatively simple, making yogurt. I followed Katz’s recipe for the most part, but changed things up a little bit at the end. You’ll see below! For a cheesemonger, I’m weirdly apprehensive about making fermented dairy products. With yogurt, at least I’ve got a pretty simple recipe, and a stepping-stone to more complex projects!
M. Cheesemonger, on the other hand, took on the much more involved task of bread baking, following Tartine Bread’s Basic Country Bread recipe (which, while basic, is pretty long.). We didn’t really understand the rhythm of the process, so we were up late on Saturday night waiting for the dough to rise, and then kneading it. However, the result was a gorgeous, moist, airy loaf of bread that I’d gladly take over most of the breads I’ve eaten in in recent memory. It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn respectable, with a dark, crunchy crust, beautiful scoring, and moist, flavorful crumb. Look how photogenic it is! It really looked as good as it tasted. I’m really proud of him for doing such a great job. The bread shone with the copious amounts of cultured butter and Redwood Hill Farms fresh chèvre I slathered on top. Next time, I want to do the turning! Also, I’m so glad to have added this book to our library. I can see this will come in handy for years to come.
If you want to see what I did to make the yogurt, here’s my recipe:
1 quart whole milk
1 glass jar (1 L)
1 candy or cooking thermometer
1 large mixing bowl
1 ice pack or ice cubes
1 tablespoon of yogurt
First, I sanitized my jar by submerging it in boiling water for ten minutes, then removed it from the heat. Then, I preheated my oven to “warm.” Next, I heated the milk gently over the stove, stirring regularly to prevent formation of a skin, until it reached 180° F (That’s where the thermometer comes in handy). Apparently this step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it helps make a creamier textured yogurt. When the milk reached 180° F, I shut the heat off on the stove and the oven, and let the milk cool to 110° F. I could have let the milk cool naturally, but I took Katz’s suggestion to let the pan sit in a large bowl of cold water and ice cubes. I filled my mixing bowl with cold water, put a cold pack in it in place of ice cubes, and set my pan gently inside. Once the temperature of my milk reached 110° F, it was time to take the pot out of the cool water and add my spoonful of yogurt. I mixed everything in, taking care not to take too long. I didn’t want the milk to cool too much, as the cultures thrive best when it’s warm.
From here on, I followed the advice of my longtime friend Anjori, who has been making yogurt and paneer since she was a little girl. She likes to preheat her oven to warm while the milk is heating up, then turn it off when the milk is done heating on the stove. She wraps her jar of baby yogurt in a dishtowel, then leaves it in the (off) oven overnight to ferment (Don’t disturb it!). I poured my baby yogurt into the jar, wrapped it up, placed it in the (off) oven, and the next morning, I had yogurt! It was thick and creamy with a silky texture and subtle tang. I also noticed it was a tiny bit too watery for my liking. I must have put a little too much yogurt in there to start it. Maybe I didn’t need such a heaping tablespoon (that’s exactly what Katz warned me about!). It’s not a big deal, though. I can still drain off the whey if I want, or just keep eating it, as I’ve been doing! I like to add a spoonful to my morning oatmeal, which is also usually topped with fruit, sliced almonds, and flaxseed. M. Cheesemonger has been enjoying it with sugar as dessert.
Let’s see what else Mr. Sandor Katz’s book will inspire me to do next. The homemade miso looks great, with a fermentation time of 1 year!
Next week, I’m off to Orange County, California. If you’re interested in a Miss Cheesemonger meet up, let me know! We can organize something!