Tiny House Yogurt

We don’t live in our Skoolie yet, but I do have the Skoolie oven already… the Breville Smart Oven Air.  I’m exploring what it will do and my favorite thing so far has been using the dehydrate function to make yogurt.

real yogurt

 Yogurt that you can make and enjoy in your tiny house!

Yogurt is great for gut health, however… grocery store brands load yogurt up with sugar, fruit, and preservatives.  Some kinds of gut problems result from a yeast that feeds on sugar (fruit is a natural sugar), and preservatives are a culprit for other gut health issues – Yikes!  So grocery store yogurt can actually feed the problem instead of helping you heal!  Sucks, right?  Take it from someone who has had a real challenge with gut health – real yogurt – the homemade stuff – is part of the solution, not the problem!  And making your own is rewarding, delicious, good for the environment, and good for the gut health of you and your family!  Did I mention it is delicious?  Good!

When we had our restaurant, we used an Excalibur dehydrator to make yogurt for the fresh yogurt smoothies we had on our menu.  (You know how the VitaMix is the best blender?  Well, Excalibur is the best dehydrator!) We also had green smoothies and fresh juices in the restaurant.  I missed having a dehydrator around for yogurt, kale chips, and beautiful pineapple flowers.  It was one of the sacrifices we made in going tiny, no dehydrator.  No room.

The Breville Smart Oven Air

But when I found the Breville oven with the dehydrate function – SQUEE – I was delighted!  I can have an oven that will bake a pie AND a dehydrator – in one smart package!  We tiny house foodies do enjoy our multi-purpose kitchen tools!!  Plus, this one is $399 which seems like a lot for a toaster oven (it’s not a toaster oven) but when you consider how much less that is than a range it was a no-brainer for us.  (Not for everyone – no worries.)  Since our Skoolie is 128 square feet, we didn’t have room for a full size range, or even a fun-sized one.  I’ve already written about this oven, so check that out if you’re deciding which oven/range/cooktop is best for your tiny haven-home – plus there is a money saving tip at that link as well.

 

Would you like the yogurt recipe I use?

1 gallon whole fat milk.  (I use whole milk because it makes better yogurt and because I’ve read that whole fat is better for you than low fat or non-fat and I’m a purist anyway.  I like things that haven’t been tinkered with too much.)

When I’m ready to make yogurt, I buy some unsweetened whole milk yogurt at the grocery and use that as starter.  Then as long as I don’t eat ALL the yogurt and save some for a starter for the next batch – then there is no need to buy more.  Look on the label for active cultures.

Yep – that’s it.  Milk and yogurt cultures.  Pretty simple, huh?  (And yummy)

I put the milk in my 4.5 quart dutch oven (it just fits) and heat it to 180 degrees.  Since the dutch oven is cast iron, it may continue to rise in temperature a bit once the burner is off but that’s fine.  This step is to kill any bacteria that could be in the milk so that you can add the yogurt bacteria. Getting the milk anywhere between 180 and 195 degrees will do nicely.  Take care to warm the milk gently so that you don’t scald it.  If you think you may walk away and forget about it, set a timer to remind you.  I’ve boiled the milk all over my range before – BIG MESS – that’s why I mention it.  Once the milk hits the right temperature, turn off the heat and let it rest.

Test the temperature periodically until it has cooled to 100-120 degrees.  In my experience this will take about a half hour.  Whisk in the yogurt and transfer the mixture into glass jars.  I like to use the Pint jar with a wide mouth lid, because that way the rings and lids are the same as my food storage quart jars and that way I don’t have to keep two sets of rings and lids around.  Use the 8 ounce size if you want a single serve portion that is perfect to grab and go for a packed lunch.  This is a great way to kick plastic out of your life!  And if you can find milk locally in glass – this is a great zero-waste alternative to all those plastic yogurt containers.  Win!

 

Oh, are you wondering “how much yogurt?” to add to the warm milk?  Yeah, gotcha.  It will work with as little as three tablespoons of yogurt.  I make sure to save one of my jars of yogurt to use as culture – and so I just dump it all in.  Careful not to overflow!

IMG_4116Fill each jar and then carefully clean the jars with a cloth if there is any milk on the outside of the glass, then carefully set them into the Breville oven.  Space them evenly for air flow.  Use the “Select” knob to turn to the dehydrate function, then turn the temperature to 115 degrees.  I set the timer to 15 hours.  You’ll get thin yogurt at 8 hours (overnight works quite well for us) and the longer you go – the more tart and thick the yogurt will become.  Don’t mess with it while it’s in the oven – you won’t be able to tell the consistency while it’s warm anyway.  Just leave it alone in there overnight.  When you get up in the morning, carefully take the jars out to cool on the counter, then transfer them to the fridge.  I’ll put it in there after dinner and let it run all night and I suppose it’s usually in there about 10 hours – give or take.  It turns out delicious!!I suspect this is a project for an overnight where you are plugged in to shore power because it will take some power.  I would not do this while the bus/home is moving.  That could be a rather epic mess.

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My version of “Horse Chow” – our favorite breakfast

I’d love to know it if you make yogurt in your tiny home and what you think of it!

Be well,

29c45-1a2bcarmen

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

I recently read Cooking for Ghosts by bestselling author Patricia V. Davis, and fell in love with the food mentioned in the book.  In particular… the cupcakes.  I’ve had a weakness for cupcakes (aka cuppy cakes) for years, and that hasn’t changed.  So when I’m reading along and Angela mentions “Jack-O’-Lantern Spice” cupcakes, and the “Hazelnut Ganache-filled” cupcakes, along with a lot of other yummy pastries and treats… well, I knew I will be craving those flavors until I get in the kitchen, make a little mess, and put the last icing swirl on a batch of cupcakes.  Ms. Davis also mentions a Devil’s Chocolate Decadence which I also imagined as a cupcake, and she mentions the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Tart… which inspired me to add a fresh berry cupcake to this little collection as well.  So here’s how I made four cupcakes inspired by the book, Cooking for Ghosts.  And if you haven’t read it yet, here is a LINK so you can get your copy on the way.  I’ll wait.

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Cupcakes:
3 fresh large eggs
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of strong black coffee (cool)

Go ahead and mix all that until the eggs are fully incorporated… then add one Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix.  Shhhh… that’s our little secret.  (Pay no attention to the directions on the packet!)  Nobody has to know how ridiculously quick and easy this cake comes together.  Take a moment to imagine Angela slaving away in the kitchen of the Secret Spice Cafe to make her cakes, sifting every last granule of flour and whipping the eggs to white fluffy peaks…. sounds delicious, right?  (We’ll be done before she is!)  Hehe!  Watch the batter closely and stop the machine when the batter looks like this… still kind of lumpy.  And start filling those cupcake liners.

If you use an ice cream scoop, it goes quickly and it is not difficult to keep the size consistent.  Fill them between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way full, as you see here. (And if you store your liners properly, they won’t wrinkle up like these did – oops!)

Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 20 minutes to start with, then keep a close eye on them.  At the point that you can touch them lightly and they spring back, they’re done.  My handsome husband prefers the clean toothpick test, and that’s also fine.  The important thing is to get them out of the oven before they start drying out.  The applesauce and oil make this recipe moist, but even that won’t be enough if they are over baked, or left out to dry on the counter.  Not to worry, these cupcakes are going to be pampered every moment of their SHORT lives!

While that cake is in the oven, it is possible to start the Ridiculously Easy Buttercream! So here goes… pull one pound of fresh sweet cream butter (salted) straight out of the fridge and cut it into chunks.

Pile that straight into the Kitchen Aid and get it going on a low speed as the chunks will want to fly out.  As soon as the butter has quit flying, turn up the speed.  And don’t worry… it really doesn’t take it long to go from this:

…to this light and fluffy cloud of butter.  Gently add one pound of powdered sugar a bit at a time, and wait for it to return to this lovely fluffy texture.  Add a teaspoon of good quality vanilla.

It really is that simple.  This buttercream it lovely, light, and airy, and not too sweet.  If you accidentally add a bit too much powdered sugar, no worries, just add a teaspoon of water at a time until it’s the consistency you like.

Now here is where it gets fun.

I have a real weakness for Nutella!  And so when I saw “Hazelnut Ganache-filled Cupcakes” in Cooking for Ghosts… I reached for the Nutella.  It’s delicious and all the work is already done for you!  Mmmm.

Here’s the secret: begin by cutting a little cone shape out of the top of each cupcake.

 Then fill the divot with Nutella.  I used a pastry bag to pipe it in place, it is fast and easy.

 Just like that, and done!

Then put the little cones of cake back on the tops of the cupcakes.  This makes them look like they have little pointed heads.

Here’s how I made the icing for these Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes.  Curious?  Take out your Nutella container, spoon a big healthy dollop of Nutella right into the buttercream.  That was easy, right?  Now stir with your spatula.  Just a few stirs, you want to leave lots of yummy stripes in the buttercream so *just barely* stir together the Nutella and the buttercream.  What could be easier?

How much Nutella specifically?  (I knew you would ask.) I used half of the buttercream recipe I listed above, and stirred in about 2/3 of a cup of Nutella into that very loosely.  (Hang on to the rest of that buttercream, I’ve got other plans for that!)

Here’s the easy way to fill the pastry bag.  Find a glass that is the right size, fold the tip up at the bottom, and put it in the glass, wrapping the ends of the bag down over the side of the glass.  If you don’t have a pastry bag on hand, just use the end of a sturdy plastic bag that you do have.

Fill the bag with icing.  Then once you have the icing bowl out of your hands, pull the bag out of the glass, close the top to avoid adding air bubbles, then give it a twist to close the bag completely.  Tie it closed with a twist tie if you want to.  Trim off the tip of the bag with a scissors and you’re good to go.

Keep your thumb tight against your hand to keep icing from coming out the back of the bag.

Then carefully pipe the icing around the sides of the cone and finish with a little swirl at the top.  If the cupcakes will be sitting out for very long, then be sure to cover as much of the cake as possible to keep them from drying out.

Here they are, my Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes inspired by the book Cooking For Ghosts by the delicious Patricia V. Davis.  Tada!

 Now… isn’t it about time for our book club meeting?
I’m ready.
Book club was never so delicious!