Mellow Spice Cookies

Need a quick snack that you can share with friends?  Have a deepseated yearning but don’t want to pay high prices or eat a million preservatives?  This recipe will heal that void.  It’s is a variation on a basic recipe but I find it quite delicious.  These cookies are very quick and easy to make.  Depending on how you make them, they are slightly chewy, rather like a soft snickerdoodle.

You will need:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)

2 sticks (one cup) butter or margarine, softened but not melted

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

2 Tb spices (pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, or whatever you like)

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the brown sugar, spices, and baking powder.  Cut the butter into it.  Add the egg.  Mix well.  Add the flour till it turns into a crumbly dough.

Roll dough into balls about an inch and a half across, place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, top will be soft when it first comes out.  Let cool.  Makes about 2 dozen.

These cookies are also great if you substitute vanilla extract and Craisins.  I find that they are a little chewy but crispy on the bottom.  You could experiment with different spices.  I want to try some with Chinese Five Spice, or maybe just ginger and cinnamon!  Though they are far from a health food, it’s well known that having more culinary spices in your diet can help heal certain conditions.  So it’s worth a try if you were going to have cookies anyway!

Troubleshooting

If they spread too much, either the butter is too warm or you used too much sugar.

If you can’t mix the dough, either butter is too cold or you’re using too much flour.

If you are using margarine, use stick margarine like Blue Bonnet or it will be too soft.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/heal/

Automatic Yogurt

 

Tired of paying high prices for yogurt?  Interested in being more involved with your own food supply?  Sick of tiny containers and lots of artificial ingredients?  Don’t have the time for a complicated cooking project?

Try automatic yogurt!

It’s really easy.

All you need is milk of some kind, a spoonful of unsweetened yogurt to use as a culture, and a Thermos style insulated bottle.

That’s it!

How?

The process is simple and even a little fun.  Just heat up the milk to just above body temperature, then stir in a spoonful of your favorite plain yogurt.  Finally a use for those tiny containers that go on sale at the grocer’s.  If you use a microwave to heat the milk, add the culture after you already have it warm.

You can use nonfat dry milk to make yogurt, then you can just use warm tap water to make your milk.  Mix it double strength for a really awesome texture.

Then, cap the Thermos tightly and set it in a warm place overnight.  I usually use the top of my hot water heater.  In the morning, you should have a nice amount of smooth, thick yogurt.

Uses:

You can add fruit or honey to your new yogurt, mix it into recipes, use it as a substitute for sour cream, or make it into sauces like tzatziki.  It can be made into a type of cheese, too, if you drain it for several hours in cheesecloth.  Make sure to save the whey for adding to soups or bread.

Tips:

If you’re looking for a wide mouthed Thermos bottle, it’s best to choose one that’s made of stainless steel.  You can use other kinds but plastic holds odors and bacteria a little too well, while steel is easy to sanitize.  Here’s a good example for you.

Some people also use a Crock Pot style slow cooker, which is great for when you need large batches, like if you’re making yogurt cheese.  Here’s a nice, high quality, low cost example.

Common problems:

If you have an issue with mold, make sure your container is well sanitized with a weak bleach solution. Clean every nook.

If your yogurt won’t set, either your culture (the spoonful of yogurt) is weak, or you killed it with excessive heat or cold. The best temperature is about body tempoerature, maybe a little above.

If your yogurt tastes funny, clean your container.

Almost all problems with yogurt can be corrected by cleanliness, waiting a little longer, or getting the right temperature. The key is to remember that the bacteria that make yogurt are living organisms, and make an ideal environment for them to grow.

 

(Disclaimer:  If you follow the links to Amazon and decide to buy something, I get a small amount from the purchase.  There’s no additional cost to you.  I looked for the best value for the money and shared that, rather than picking the most expensive thing.)

via Daily Prompt: Automatic

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/automatic/

Cooking in a small space

It’s possible to make some really amazing meals in a small room even if it doesn’t have a kitchen. All you need is a power outlet and a nearby water source such as a sink. While I love my kitchen with its counters and full sink and gas range with oven, I have fond memories of cooking in my dorm.

Provided you can safely get away with having one, an electric wok is a great choice for cooking in a small space. It’s deep enough you can use it as a steamer, just put a round rack in the bottom with a shallow layer of water, put the food on the rack and close it tightly. That way you can steam vegetables, dumplings, fish, bread, and any number of things. You can make stews in the electric wok because of its depth, you can fry, and you can of course use it for normal wok things like stir frying. This one item, plus a small cutting board, a good knife, and a cube fridge will allow you to do some amazing things. Having a couple of metal bowls also improves your abilities tremendously.

Some writers have also talked about crock pot cooking, making omelettes in a waffle iron, and making grilled cheese sandwiches or fried bacon with a clothes iron and aluminum foil. However, for sheer versatility I think the electric wok is still the best!

I once steamed a cake in my wok. I used a metal mixing bowl for the pan.

My best meal was probably steamed salmon, cooked on a bed of baby bok choy, served over rice. The salmon cooked on the bok choy in the wok.

Once I turned the wok into a double boiler and melted chocolate in it- using the venerable metal bowl.

I cooked eggs in it, fried bacon, made pancakes, as well as countless soups, stews and stir fries. This saved me money because I didn’t have to eat at the cafeteria every time I wanted something, and gave me hours of fun. I also had some pretty spectacular failures due to some overly adventurous taste buds.

There are two secrets to using an electric wok for cooking: planning ahead so everything can be cooked in the right order, and always using utensils of wood, metal, and other heat resistant materials. That way bowls can double as pans, and you have more versatility.

Discovering new foods

At this point, I haven’t had much chance to travel.  But I’m still a person who’s curious about the rest of the world, so much so that I love roaming around on Wikimapia, and using Google Street view to see places I’ve never been!  How to feed this desire to experience new things?

I travel to different international stores!

Not only do they have really interesting packaging in other languages, but I get a taste of different cultures, I see different ways of doing things.  The sounds, sights and smells are different.  I love that!

I’ll travel to Asia, by going to the international supermarket in the rich part of town – their prices are amazing, the staff is friendly, their meat and fish are well prepared, and I love exploring all the odd snack foods.  What exactly does that fruit taste like?  Let’s try!  Why does dried squid make a good snack?  What exactly is that cut of meat used for?  Is refrigerated udon better than the dry stuff?  How do you open a bottle of ramune, anyway?  And what in the world is that huge purple flower bud that’s a foot long, and how do you cook it?  So many questions, so many delicious answers.

Then there’s the utensils!  Why are there five or six different types of mortar and pestle?  What is that knife used for, specifically?  How about that pot?  The wonders don’t stop.

Other times I’ll head south, to the Carniceria, and get my favorite marinated meats, either to have them grilled (right there outside the store) or to take them home to bake.   I’ll get some taijin powder to put on my apples, maybe a chunk of candied sweet potato, or maybe I’ll get some pumpkin empenadas.  I’ll certainly pick up some thin, lovely, handmade tortillas and some real Coke with real sugar in a glass bottle.

By the time I get home, I feel like I’ve traveled!

via Daily Prompt: Discover

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/discover/

A most delightfully Pungent kitchen

There are things I can’t cook at home – certain Vietnamese soups, old fashioned oatmeal, and overcooked cabbage.  They leave the kitchen in a most pungent state.

This weekend my kitchen has been pungent in a good way.  It normally whiffs of sesame oil and garlic, but now it also smelled of turkey breast, roasted potatoes, and more than the legal limit of pumpkin spice.  Last night I made another batch of pumpkin bread.  I used my own spice mix and I must tell you it was heady indeed.  When I took it out of the oven, I stood for a moment, deeply inhaling.

That smell was a great one, almost rivaling rain when it hasn’t started falling yet, or a good Monsoon downpour when it fills the whole house with that damp, clean, almost resinous smell.

My nose and I are good friends and I love good aromas.  Some of them always tell me I’m home.

Bonus: pumpkin spice mix recipe

For any interested, here’s my spice mix:  nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger – all ground and mixed together in roughly equal amounts with maybe a bit more cinnamon.  I buy them in packets at the grocery store, you know those lovely dollar packets?  So I get my pumpkin spice at a discount price.  It’s great for adding to oatmeal or coffee.

 

via Daily Prompt: Pungent

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pungent/

A Tale of two yogurts: part 2

Soy Milk and Soy Yogurt
I recently found that I could do exactly the same thing with soy milk. I don’t like soy yogurt as well as I like cow or goat yogurt but I’m choosing at this time to stay away from dairy products so here is how I make soy milk.
Ingredients needed:
4 ounces (around a half cup) of raw soy beans.
Look for them at an health food store, co-op or ask a local feed store if they can provide them.
Blender
Sauce pan
Nylon stocking, knee length
You can get them at your grocer’s in boxes of five pairs or something and they’re useful for lots of things. You can even wear them if you want!
Place a half cup of beans into a large bowl or pan and fill with cold tap water. Let stand for at least 8 hours. After this time, drain water off of beans and let that go down the drain or into the flower bed. I use a colander.
Place soaked, drained beans into your blender, fill to near the lip with cold water, put on the lid and process until you have something smooth and relatively thick. Sometimes it takes a while and you may want to use a spatula from time to time (with blender turned off) to move unprocessed chunks toward the bottom of the blender jar.
When you judge it’s done, move your bean slurry off the blender stand, take your magic knee sock and stretch it over the open mouth of the jar. Holding with one hand, tip the jar over your sauce pan. With the other, shake the jar a bit, try to coax all of the slurry down into the stocking.

Remove the sock from the jar and hold the stocking shut, twisting it is good. From here on it’s a process of kneading, gently squeezing the mash within the stocking to get the bean juice out of the pulp. This takes a little while but is sort of transcendental and even a little bit sexy so it can stand in for yoga or meditation or something.
When you have the pulp inside the stocking at a consistency about like homemade salt clay, put the sauce pan on about medium heat and cover. Turn the stocking inside out and dump the bean leavings into a bowl. Now run, go feed that to your chickens. (I did tell you to buy chickens did I not?)
Bring the virgin soy milk to a gentle boil and continue cooking for ten minutes. This will kill off some unwanted organisms and lessen the amount of gas you might experience on drinking the stuff. When done you can pour the now “experienced” soy milk into a jar or pitcher and refrigerate. It’s funny how foamy it is at first.

Should you want to make soy yogurt, cool it to body temperature and follow the yogurt recipe above including the starter. Soy yogurt is good in veggie stroganoff, or mixed with dry onion soup mix as a dip for baked corn chips.
A caveat:

Soy is controversial. It does contain phyto or plant estrogens, chemicals which mimmic the female hormone that some of us manufacture independently. Like regular estrogen, the plant type has been accused of causing certain kinds of cancer and it may contribute to infertility in males. I tell women to use soy or flax seed meal in their bread because it will cause their husbands to talk with them more freely but I’m joking—-mostly. As with everything else, it’s probably best to use soy in moderation. A serving or two per day perhaps.

A Tale of Two Yogurts: Part 1

Making your own soy milk, and both standard and soy yogurts

I want to talk about three things in this little article. These are all things that have been known about by lots of people, but not by most people, and generally not all found in the same place. I’ll start by telling you how milk yogurt is made by me at least; and I’m lazy and like to do as little work as possible. In part 2 I’ll tell you how to make soy yogurt, and the milk it’s made from.

Moo Yogurt (Or Baa)

Ingredients needed
Thermos bottle
(vacuum flask) as wide a mouth as you can find

Milk, cow or goat, preferably not that low-fat stuff.

Powdered milk if you wish a thicker yogurt.

A yogurt starter
(just plain unflavored, not vanilla yogurt from the store. I usually use Greek culture because I admire Socrates.)

Procedure:

pour a pint or more of milk into a sauce pan, place over low heat. Stirr frequently till it heats to about body temperature. If you have a thermometer, 95 F or 35 C is good, but you can use your sense of touch to test that it’s not really not nor cold. Think tepid bathtub, or baby bottle.

When desired temperature has been achieved, fill your thermos with hot water from the tap to preheat.

Stir a couple of table spoons of your starter yogurt into your warm milk. This is harder to do than one expects. A bit of spoon work is wanted.

Now pour the water out of the thermos and the milk and yogurt mixture in. Screw the lid on tightly. I like to wrap the thermos in a bath towel for further insulation. Put it on a counter or in some other warm place and leave it alone! Overnight or even 24 hours if you wish. If you live in a cold climate, you can set it on top of the water heater or on top of your fridge. Let it sit overnight.

(Note If you want thicker yogurt, a few tablespoons of powdered milk can be stirred into the whole milk prior to heating.)

That should be all. By morning, the yogurt should be a smooth, fairly solid mass.
You need no special thermostatic yogurt maker or mail order starters. Slice in a peach or throw in some raspberries and you’ll have something just as good and a lot cheaper than those syrupy 5-ounce tubs they sell in the store.

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This was a guest post by Glynda Shaw. over at Creative Fancy.  She’s an author and alternative energy expert who also does a lot of homebrewing, creative cooking, building, and homesteading related projects.