The Making of a Guacamole Snob

49759018_10157329399733352_5595100230606389248_oIt is a gift and a curse.  Giving you this recipe for the most delicious guacamole will both enable you to make it on demand, endlessly, but too, it will render you incapable of lazily enjoying some at most restaurants, for you shall know what guacamole can truly be, rather than the sad, under-salted mash set before you.  I have been known to request a slice of lemon at table so that I could “fix” the guacamole.

  1. Get a shallow dish, like a pie pan, and mash 2-3 avocados with a fork.
  2. Cut a plump lemon in half, juice it in your palm, straining out the seeds with your fingers, directly onto the avocado mash.
  3. Wash a bunch of cilantro; on average I’d say pinch off 1/4 of the bunch and mince it fine; you’ll have perhaps 1/4 c.  Add in.
  4. Finely chop a nice red tomato or two and add in.
  5. Take 2-3 jalapeños or Hungarian wax peppers, de-seed and mince finely.  Add in.
  6. IMPORTANT STEP:  Take one yellow onion, mince finely and place in a separate bowl.  Take a spoon of sugar or salt and add to the onion and squeeze it in your hand to fully incorporate it.  Let it sit a minute.  Pour hot water over it and let it sit a few minutes more.  Pour the contents into a strainer and rinse with cold water.  (This step removes the strong sulfuric taste of the fresh onion, allowing it to contribute to the other flavors without overshadowing them).  Add to the rest.
  7. Stir all that goodness together.  Generously season with salt.  Taste with a chip so you can factor in the final saltiness of them together.  If the flavor is dull, add salt and lemon juice until it sings in your mouth.

Don’t like cilantro?  You can leave it out, but you should question your life choices.  The guacamole, however, will still be worth eating.

Happy feasting!

 

Homemade Yogurt, Dependably Good, Lower Environmental Impact, and Incredibly Frugal

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On average a gallon of organic whole milk costs six dollars.  One plain cup of unflavored yogurt costs around one dollar.  This is all you need to make yogurt.  For seven dollars you can easily make a gallon of organic, rich, pure yogurt; that works out to about $1.75 per quart.  I have access to a local farmer’s milk, which I get directly into my own glass gallon jugs, which makes it even cheaper!  For starter yogurt I love to buy Fiddle Creek Dairy yogurt which comes in glass jars.  They treat their Jersey cows right; they are 100% grass-fed and, I know from visiting their verdant farm, are very happy and loved.

Being such an economical source of protein and calcium, I use it for breakfast, for smoothies, in sauces, in place of sour cream, and served plain alongside spicy curries.  It is easy to make, even without special equipment.

In yogurt-making, there is one thing to be finicky about:  cleanliness.  Thoroughly wash, in hot soapy water, everything that you will use; pot, spoon, ladle, jars, etc.  Some recipes call for sterilizing everything with boiling water, but I’ve never found that necessary as long as everything has just been washed well.

What you don’t have to be finicky about:  measuring.  I pour whatever amount of milk I have into a pot, and for the starter yogurt I scoop out about a cup’s worth, no matter the quantity of milk.

So, without further ado….

  1.  Heat whole milk over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 degrees.  Remove from heat and let it cool to 115 (you can ice bath it if you want to hurry up the cooling).
  2. Dump in your starter yogurt.  Do not whisk it, do not harass it at all!  You want to keep the integrity to the yogurt.  (This was the best advice I’ve received in all my years of making yogurt; it truly makes a difference in the final texture).  If you are going to be pouring the yogurt into several containers, just make sure each one gets some of the yogurt blob.
  3. Pour into large glass jar(s).  Situate them, without lids, in a cooler or bucket of hot water, making sure it comes up as far on the jars as it can without floating them.  Cover with heavy towels or blankets and let them incubate for at least six hours, even overnight is fine as long as the heat is maintained.
  4. Refrigerate and enjoy!!!

Some folks use their homemade yogurt as their starter for the next batch, but I don’t.  I find more success with starting with a fresh culture, and I love the quality of Fiddle Creek Dairy’s yogurt.  Their glass jars are also handy around the house or are readily recyclable!

So there you have it…less packaging waste, saved money, and a tasty, easy, healthy food!