Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I've tried making bread from scratch before, the type of bread that requires using yeast, kneading (or whatever method), fermenting...I'm talking about the whole meal deal here. Then my husband showed interest in bread making also, and he started creating a sourdough starter to make our own sourdough. The bread department thus moved over to him.

However, my interest in bread making never stops. We have several books at home on bread making, and I always keep an eye on new publications. Recently, I checked out a new book from the library: The River Cottage bread Handbook. It is probably the smallest bread book we've read, but it is packed with essential information and helpful photos. Great binding and nice printing. On the same day that I've checked out the book, I baked a bread. It was very satisfying. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the bread. No worry, I need practice. There will be more bread to come.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

homemade yogurt

Yogurt is good for you. It helps nurturing healthy bacteria that our body needs. Of course, besides the health factor, I do enjoy eating it. Unfortunately, buying yogurt regularly means creating many plastic waste. I do buy the 1.75 kg container instead of the individual one serving size and use the reusable container to pack my yogurt everyday, however, there is still another container to throw away. As a result, we've started making our own yogurt.

Surprisingly, it is very simple to make. If you don't believe me, try searching on the Internet "homemade yogurt" and you'll find lots of how-to info with pictures and videos and much much more.

What I'm going to journal here is our experiment on making yogurt.

First, we'll need a starter, and that I use some from my trusted yogurt that I always buy. When you buy a yogurt, read the label and make sure that the ingredient says it contains ACTIVE BACTERIAL CULTURE.

Second, get a litre of milk (buy those come in a bottle so you don't need to create another waste).

Third, an optional item according to our experience, is the powdered milk. Many recipes on the Internet says adding powdered milk will create a more solid texture. We've tried both with the powdered milk and without, and found the difference is minimal.

Choose organic ingredients if you can. When you think about the amount of hormones given to cows, buying organic milk/yogurt will become a natural choice.

Now is the process:
  • Preheat the convention oven to 200C. When it reaches 200C, turn the oven off.
  • Heat the milk on low heat (I use a glass pot) up to about 110C
  • OPTIONAL: if powdered milk is used, whisk in half a cup in the warm milk. Make sure that you mix it really well in the milk or you'll end up having milk solid in the end product
  • Turn off the heat, stir in half a cup of the starter (yogurt). Don't let the mixture temperature goes over 130C. Place the pot in the pre-heated oven. Let it stands for about 10 hours.
If you start making the yogurt after dinner time, you'll have freshly made yogurt for breakfast the next day. Of course, make sure that you keep the yogurt in the fridge after the 10 hours of curing.

Here are some of the ways we use our yogurt:
  • blend with fruit and juice and you'll have a creamy smoothies
  • add some blueberries (or any fruits) and you'll have a tasty fruit yogurt
  • mix a spoonful of yogurt in the homemade salad dressing
  • etc.
See "active bacterial culture" in the ingredient

This is how the homemade yogurt looks like in the pot

Time to enjoy the finished product!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Carrot Cake

I have been making carrot cake with our homegrown carrots for quite a few times already. They are delicious ;) Have you tried pulling the carrots off the ground just an hour before using them for baking?

To be honest, fresh carrots like this should be eaten raw, and yes we do eat them raw! Give a carrot a quick bath and get ready for a juicy crispy bite...hmm...trust me, you really have to try growing carrots.

So why I want to use them in baking?

The carrot seeds were sowed since last summer (same as the beet seeds). Their fate is similar to our beets (see my previous post) and we really need to finish eating them soon. So today, I pulled a whole bunch of them (sorry, forgot to take a picture), made a quick carrot salad and for the not so good looking part of the carrots, I used them to make a carrot cake.

You can find carrot cake recipes easily in cookbooks or on the Internet. I have compared quite a number of the carrot cake recipes and found that the ingredients are more or less the same. So I'm not going to repeat the cake recipe here. The only difference that I made in my recipe was that I used FRESH carrots ;) I also used eggs that were purchased from my husband's colleague who raises his own chickens in his farm somewhere in the Fraser Valley (I think) . If you have farmers market in your area, you may want to buy eggs directly from them instead of those from the supermarket. The quality is much better, though the size of the eggs will vary. When you finish the eggs, give the egg carton back to the farmer so that the carton can be re-used.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beet Chocolate Cake

Beets are root vegetables which are supposed to survive during winter in the ground. Unfortunately, we had a pretty harsh one last winter. Heavy snow storm hit the area with three feet of snow covered the ground. Many of the winter crops that we grow in our yard failed to withstand it. Beets are one of those.

They have to be harvested. Now what can I do with them? I made a batch of beet soup with homegrown carrots. The soup will go into the freezer and they will become our handy light meal. I still have a whole bunch of beets left after the soup. So after searching on the Internet, I found something unexpected:

Beet Chocolate Cake

Yes, you heard me.

But why not? I like chocolate cake, and I like beet. The reviews of the recipe are all very positive. So I decided to make one. And I made a couple adjustments:

  • used 2oz of semi-sweet chocolate
  • replaced 1/4 of flour with organic cocoa powder
  • roasted the beets in foil in the oven instead of boiling in water; added organic apple cider in the blender to help with the puree process

The recipe is right. I tasted the chocolate but not the beet. It is a fantastic recipe to use the extra beets. Next time, if I want to make it fancier, I may add a layer of choclate ganache or liquored icing.