Food

A Word About Homemade Yogurt and My New Favorite Granola: A Recipe

I’ve been feeling a little absent the past few days.  Must be all of the running around the house unpacking boxes, applying for a real job, and trying out some new recipes for homemade yogurt, homemade granola, and fennel ice cream.

Yup,  I’ve been holding out on you.  I made stuff, including fennel ice cream.

To be honest, I was so skeptical of all of my creations that I didn’t even take pictures.  It’s true, sometimes I don’t photograph my food.

The only thing I have pictures of is the granola-and that’s just because it’s so easy and photogenic.  I mean it just sits there, out on the counter at room temperature just begging me to take a better-late-than-never sort of picture for this blog.

You should  know though that The Fennel Ice Cream did turn out and it’ll make it up onto this site soon.  It’s cream, sophisticated-feeling and a good recipe to keep in your back pocket for a classy summer-time dinner party.

But the real reason we are here today though is much less gourmet.  We are here today to talk about one of my favorite snacks: plain yogurt sprinkled with some granola and dried fruit. (are you sensing a granola trend in my snacking preferences?  You are?  Me too.)

A small bowl filled with plain yogurt and granola is healthy, balanced, tasty…and totally not available here in China.

Well, that’s not totally true, it’s here, but it comes either with a side of melanin or a $6 dollars for a 1/4 cup price tag.  With those kinds of fantastic options, I decided to try making my own.

And so it was that, armed with bricks of French imported UHTC milk, a cooler, and recipes from the good, if not a little bit eccentric, dairy gurus on the internet, I delved into the world of homemade yogurt.

An Aside: I’m pretty sure the bricks of milk that I used have a shelf-life of about 30 years.  I’m also pretty sure that making yogurt out of them is something out of a Slow-Food Movement or Dupont Farmer’s Market Dairy Vendor’s worst nightmare.

Before I started this process, I didn’t even know it was possible to create yogurt from a product that doesn’t require refrigeration, or even a real, live cow for that matter.

Because I’m pretty sure these boxes of milk are a loooong way off from the stuff that comes out of a cow.

But whether or not the ancestry of these milk bricks includes real cows or not, and despite the fact that I feel like a traitor to my people back in Wisconsin, I’m here to tell you that it is indeed possible to make yogurt out of crappy, tasteless, processed, industrialized milk–sort of.

In my first attempt, I’ll award myself an A for effort and a C for execution.  Something about using boxed skimmed milk and not giving it quite enough time in a warm insulated space resulted in a substance that you might describe as “milky yogurt soup.”

It does’t exactly taste like yogurt, but it doesn’t really taste like anything else either.  It’s definitely not solid or thick, but it’s not exactly liquid, it’s just kind of…soupy.

I’ve been eating it for a few days now without any ill side effects and so I consider that a positive outcome; but I wouldn’t really even call it edible if it weren’t for the accidentally fantastic granola that I made for the occasion.

My yogurt might be pathetic, but I’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, and snacks as long as I have that granola to eat it with.

This recipe came about out of desperation and laziness in that I needed somesthing to eat up all of my bad yogurt with but I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store to buy anymore imported ingredients.  (We can talk some other time about how my carbon footprint blew up when we moved to China)

I like this stuff because it’s chewy, sweet and has just a hint of savory from those sesame seeds.  There are also no nuts involved which makes my grocery list, and the baking process, a heck of a lot shorter.  This stuff is so tasty that I even have Chris munching on it and we all know that one of the few things that separates Chris and I is my love and his apathy towards granola products.

This recipe is pretty much my own creation which means, unfortunately, that I didn’t measure anything.  There were more scoops and dashes and pinches flying around than some sort of pre-Julia Child cooking show.

I’ve done my best below to estimate everything below but I’m sure that as long as you are scooping and dashing and pinching to your personal preference that everything will turn out delicious.

Dani’s Granola

Ingredients

2.5 Cups Rolled or Quick-Cooking Oats (not instant)

1.5 Cups Flaked Coconut (sweetened or unsweetened-I use sweetened but feel feel free to use the latter)

1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 pinch Ground Cloves (really, just a pinch is good)

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt or to taste

1-2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil

1/3 cup Golden Syrup (or some corn syrup and molasses would work just as well here too)

Optional: Dried cranberries or raisins (add after cooking)

1/4 cup Honey

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a pan with foil, parchment paper, or a silicon baking mat

2. Spread rolled oats onto covered baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned, stir occasionally to prevent uneven cooking.

3. In a medium bowl, combine coconut, sesame seeds and other dry ingredients

4. In a small sauce pan, heat vegetable oil/butter, golden syrup and honey over low heat.  Stir just until the mixture loses some viscosity and becomes a little more runny and easy to pour (about 3-5 minutes)

5. Take your lightly toasted oats out of the oven and add them to the bowl of dry ingredients.

6.  Turn the temperature up to 350.  Prepare the baking pan by spraying or rubbing liner with a little bit of vegetable oil to prevent the wet granola from sticking (I just reused the same piece of aluminum foil but you can get a new one if you need to)

7. Using a spatula, stir heated wet ingredients into toasted oats and other dry ingredients.  Stir until well combined and evenly wet and sticky looking.

8.  Pour granola out onto prepared baking pan and spread evenly.

9.  Cook at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until things look medium brown.  Turn down the oven temperature or shorten cooking time as necessary.

10. After the granola has cooled, break up into bite-sized chunks, add any additional raisins or dried fruit you like, and store at room temperature in an air-tight container.  This should last at least a week or maybe more.

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