Local Meal: What’s On the Menu

The Pork Chops and Scalloped Potato Bake recipe from Cooks.com looks like a tasty one and doesn’t use any exotic ingredients. I was looking first for meals that would capitalize on making use of the food we grow on our small farm. Secondly, it was important that any main ingredients we don’t produce would be grown/produced in Michigan. The recipe calls for pork chops and chicken broth. These are easy for us because we raise pigs and chickens.We already have Michigan potatoes and onions on hand. The milk is from our local Cream Cup Dairy. I don’t have any of our parsley left so I will skip that ingredient. I’m going to cheat and use Spartan butter for which no origin is noted on the packaging. The recipe also calls for oil, flour, salt and pepper that aren’t available locally. There will almost always be some necessary ingredients that aren’t produced here. We have a jar of pickled beets from a friend’s garden and frozen broccoli from our own. Maybe some baked Michigan apples for dessert…yum.

How to Make Yogurt

It is not difficult to make good-tasting yogurt with very few ingredients and supplies. I do this to offset the expense of the wholesome, non-homogenized milk I buy from a local dairy. It makes superior yogurt and is cheaper than the brand I usually buy at the grocery store.

Crockpot (doesn’t have to work)
Heating pad
Thick towel
Stainless pan or double boiler
1 qt. milk
2 Tbs plain yogurt
Containers for yogurt (canning jars, custard cups with lids etc)

Some directions recommend sterilizing the equipment. I never do but just practice normal cleanliness. I use a digital thermometer with a probe; it is my favorite kitchen item.

Set up your yogurt incubator by putting the heating pad in the crockpot and turning it on. Be sure the yogurt containers you have chosen will fit inside with the lid on. Put the lid on and cover with a towel to keep the heat in. 

Warm the milk to 185 degrees and hold at that temp for 10 minutes. For thicker yogurt, hold for 30 minutes. Milk must be monitored closely and stirred often so that it doesn’t burn. Milk doesn’t burn as easily if it is being warmed in the top of a double boiler.

The milk must now be cooled to 110 degrees. Put some ice water in the bottom of the kitchen sink and set the pan in it. Keep a close eye on the thermometer while stirring the milk.

When it reaches 110 degrees, add 2 Tbs of plain yogurt and stir.

Pour yogurt into containers and nestle them in the crockpot. Replace the lid and towel.

Mild yogurt only needs to incubate for four hours. The longer the yogurt remains in the crockpot after the four hour incubation period, the tangier it will become. Ideally the temperature in the crock should be between 108 – 112. This is where having a thermometer with a probe comes in handy. The temperature can be monitored from outside and the heating pad control adjusted up or down.

Holding the milk at about 185 for 30 minutes did improve the consistency. This is quite a bit thicker than the yogurt I’ve been making.

It is very tasty plain, or with some honey for sweetening. Yogurt is an important ingredient in the quick and easy breakfast I eat almost every morning.

Don’t forget to reserve enough yogurt from this batch to start another.

Linking up to: Make Your Own! Monday , Learning the Frugal Life

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Eating Local Food Gets Easier

Taste the Local Difference has issued a challenge to spend $10/week on local food. That’s not so hard, and by signing up you get a great bumper sticker stating your conviction. I’m considering anything grown or produced in Michigan to be “local”. This definition fits in well when shopping at Save-A-Lot. So much of the produce they sell is grown in our state. I thank the manager for supporting our state every time I shop. The manager probably thinks I’m a dingbat who doesn’t remember the other times I’ve thanked him. Oh, I remember. I just want him to know it is appreciated.

There was another “gee whiz” moment when I found I can shop at the local farmer’s market online. Kinda like Amazon meets the Farmer’s Market. Farmers place their inventory on the site and customers place their orders and pay online. Orders are picked up on Saturday at the Frankfort Farmer’s Market. The site is called Local Orbit and it serves the Benzie County and Ann Arbor areas of Michigan and Brooklyn, NY with plans to expand to other areas. It is up to you to request the service for your area if you’d like this convenience.