Monthly Archives: August 2014

Making Yoghurt

One of the unexpected aspects of sharing a flat with someone else who is as enthusiastic about cooking as I am is that we set each other off. (There are almost always home-baked goods of some description in the flat – brownies, muffins, cookies – our other flatmate is loving it…and has co-incidentally taken up running) My flatmate decided to try home brewing, which inspired me to buy a yoghurt maker. I was making yoghurt on Wednesday morning before work, and when I came home my flatmate told me he’d been inspired to buy a steamer. I don’t know what I’ll do when the steamer arrives but I suspect making jam might happen.

Anyway, I bought a yoghurt maker. It’s not actually my first encounter with a yoghurt-maker, my mum had one when I was little, and I have fond memories of helping her make yoghurt. This is very different from my memory of that. It’s considerably bigger for a start, and while her yoghurt maker involved four little tubs mine has one giant jar. I didn’t buy it because I thought it would save me money – it was all about the fun element – but given the sheer amount of yoghurt I get out of it, I think it might eventually break even.

Yoghurt MakerInner Jar

The other major difference is that with her version you kept a little yoghurt back to use as starter for next time but the ‘starter’ you get for this one is essentially powder.

Strawberry MixMixed Up

Anyway, it’s a ridiculously straight-forward process (I was expecting far more mess) where you half-fill the inner cylinder with cool water, add the starter mix, put the lid on and give it a good shake, top it up with more water and give it a further shake. Resulting, in this case, in something that looked convincingly like frothy strawberry milk.

BaffleSlotting in to set

Then you fill the big cylinder with water up to the top of the baffle (that’s the red thing) and slot the inner cylinder inside it, close the lid and leave to set for 8-12 hours, after which you take it out and keep it in the fridge like normal yoghurt.

I had my first try this morning with some blueberries – a tasty success!

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Tea Musings

I came to tea drinking later in life than most, despite coming from a family of tea drinkers – my gran in particular would feed you tea until you burst if you were too polite to tell her to stop.

Over the last few years I’ve developed a thing for loose leaf teas, culminating in my getting a tea pot – with filter – for my birthday a couple of years ago. Until I had a teapot of my own, I’d never really understood the whole tea-making-drinking as ritual thing, with steepings and timings and the rest. I had plenty of experience of the ‘tea as cure-all’ thing, though honestly even then there’s only one friend of mine who defaults to feeding me tea when I’m distressed and she makes the best tea in the world as far as I’m concerned – only from her will I always take a cuppa unquestioningly whenever offered. (Oddly enough she’s the only other person I know who owns a teapot – who owned one when we were students! – even if she makes it with tea bags and milk) But here I am as an adult, discovering the process of tea making as meditation. Of time spent in contemplation of the process, focused but unfocused, forgetting the rest of the world and its stresses and strains, to take a little time for oneself. Soothing and necessary. Time to rest and unwind, refocus on the things that matter.

I’m drinking Yunnan tea today, out of a little set of mini-tins of Chinese teas I got as a present. (Proper, curling dried leaves, that look like plant when they’ve been brewing for a while, none of this dust nonsense you get some places. Leaves you could read a fortune in if you were so inclined.) It’s rather pleasant.

One of the most useful craft projects I’ve ever undertaken was to make myself a tea cosy. Years ago, I came across a book of tea cosy patterns, a delightful blend of kitsch and charming, and fully expected it to spend its life much admired and un-used. With the arrival of my own teapot, the necessity of a tea cosy became apparent. It was fine if I made a pot of tea to share, but if I was making tea just for me, by the time I went for a second cup it was cold. Also, frankly, I didn’t particularly like any of the cosies in my mum’s collection and so it was make my own or be mildly irritated every time I made a pot of tea. My tea cosy is blue. Well, actually, its turquoise cable-work with a dark blue – with sparkles – trim at the top and bottom. Largely because the turquoise was left over from another project and I feared I might run out and the dark blue is an almost perfect match for the teapot. It looks cute and quaint wrapped in its cosy, and more importantly, the cosy keeps the tea at perfect drinking temperature for me. So I can spend an afternoon working away – on college work, crafting, writing articles or just curled up with a good book – and never need to move further than to reach over and pour another cup of tea.

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Rounding off the Challenge

So, despite the fact that I did in fact continue the challenge, completed said challenge and took photos along the way, I never did write up the posts. Or anything else for here for that matter. So much for starting a good habit.

And well, for a while there life got a bit frantic, and then it had been too long and then well it got frantic again. However, life is not frantic right now. Life is quite mellow at the moment, I’ve a new job, in a new town and cooking has gone back to being a fun process rather than stress relief disguised as nutrition. I am resolved, I’m getting back into this, no backing out, I’ve told my flatmates – mockery will be forthcoming if I continue taking photos of my food and doing nothing with them.

Therefore, in order to move forward, I need to finish off the loose ends from the previous challenge.

Friday, Day 4 (and 6!)- Ramen
Ramen Ingredients
Leeks, mushrooms, cooked chicken, packet of ramen noodles.
Veg and ChickenNoodles
Veggies softened and chicken heated/Noodles bubbling gleefully.
Finished portion of Ramen, this unexpectedly made tons of food so I actually had enough left over to reconstitute on Sunday when I came home late from the station and needed something quick and hot and filling to eat.

Saturday, Day 5 – Thai Green Tofu Curry
On the Saturday I made Thai Curry and forgot to photograph it, but I made it again later in the month and remembered to bring the camera that time.
Thai Green Curry Ingredients
noodles, tofu, green beans, broccoli, pak choi, coconut milk and curry paste
sizzling tofuSteaming Pak Choi
Tofu sizzling in the paste/pak choi steaming away while the rest of the veg simmers below
Finished Curry
Et voila, the finished curry.

Monday, Day 7 – Risotto
Alright, so on Monday I wasn’t actually in the house for dinner so didn’t actually make anything, but to round off the challenge, here’s another process I photographed.
Rissotto Ingredients
Mushrooms, red pepper, pancetta, arborio rice and stock cubes. Normally there would actually be a glass of red wine in the stock for this, but as I was doing it in the spirit of the challenge and we didn’t have any in the house, there’s no red wine in this risotto.

Just Keep Stirring!Crispy Pancetta
wine or no wine in the stock, the important thing is to just keep stirring! / that and crispy pancetta
Finished Risotto
I don’t remember what I actually ate on the Monday, but it’s a fairly safe bet I’d rather have eaten this.

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