Monthly Archives: March 2010

Yogurt: Glass vs Plastic and New Brown Cow as Starter

I have a yogurt maker I picked up on the cheap off of craigslist. It’s the simple kind where the inner container sits inside of a heated bath of water. It’s perfect for times when I’m not sure the temperature of the house is warm enough for the oven method, and it’s less work than the water cooler method.

I have noticed some problems with my yogurt lately that seemed to point to either overheating or cleanliness. The inner container is probably two quarts, and it is made of plastic that is very hard to clean. I’ve been wanting to try a glass container for a while, and last night I bit the bullet and made yogurt in a wide-mouth quart mason jar.

Admittedly, I tend to scrape together ingredients for my yogurt, and I’m pretty casual about heating in the microwave (with frequent mixing to avoid hot spots) so there could be other problems, but I figured if it came out with the same problems, it would be a heat issue, and if it didn’t–well, let’s just say the plastic container would get the old heave-ho and I’d go from there.

I had half a container of the new Brown Cow Greek yogurt in my fridge, so I figured I’d try it out. I know, I know, empirically all my conclusions would be bust for being too muddled.

…Except the tasty ones!

I ended up with hands down the best tasting yogurt I’ve ever made. The consistency is somewhere between a custard and a chocolate mousse, the mouth feel is incredibly silky, and the flavor is so mild that it tastes almost like fresh milk. This is the closest to my beloved french yogurts that I’ve ever gotten, and I broke out the really special Hawaiian honey in celebration.

I’ve always had a problem with making really tangy yogurt, even when I cut the time down to six hours or less. This went for seven hours and was so mild that I will let it go for eight next time. I am looking forward to repeating this recipe to see if the results are repeatable and where the best methods lie.

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Door-to-door meat sales?

Patrick called me out of the office today because there was a guy at the front door saying he was doing meat sales. I was curious to see what he had to offer, hoping it was local and that I could get less than a 1/4 of a cow. I asked for a brochure, but he said he’d rather show me and ducked outside.

He brought in these two boxes, perhaps 3’x2’x2′ each, and pulled out these tiny trays of vacuum sealed meat. The beef box contained all sorts of specialty, high end cuts, all from Montana. Perhaps 25lbs of meat total. The chicken box contained individually packed breasts in different marinades and was from Illinois. I could see from the labels that they were about 15 percent sodium solution and contained high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup solids.

I told him straight up that we tried to stay away from sodium treated meats. He looked around furtively, pulled open a brochure and pointed to the price for the beef. He couldn’t even say it. $575. For a teeny box of beef. I tried to be nice about it, but I sent him packing pretty quickly.

I can get local beef processed any way I like for about $3/lb if I wanted to buy a whole side. If I want smaller amounts, it’s about $300 for a 50lb package of assorted meats.

I don’t buy very much of the premium cuts. I like stew meat. And ground beef. Cheaper roasts. Ribs. Tongue. Liver. Tail. Knuckle bones. And the occasional tenderloin. If I want a super premium steak, I go out.

As for chicken? I have a freezer full of .88/lb sodium-free whole roasters. What the heck would I do with naked, boned chicken breasts? What about broth? I just don’t cook like that.

After the guy had left, Patrick said he seemed legit, but kinda nervous. I said I’d be nervous too if I was asking people to pay $25/lb for meat.

Just think about how he would have felt if he knew I had spent about 4 hours that day planning for my rabbit operation.

We are definitely not his target audience.