Saturday, February 6, 2010

Into the Kitchen!

Recipe: Coconut yogurt

I love to eat out. The idea of being seated at a clean table, having water poured for me, asked what I would like, asked if everything is okay with the meal... it’s the closest I’ll ever be to queendom. (I can dream, can’t I?)

I used to eat out 3 or 4 times a week. I cooked for a living, and the last thing I felt like doing when I got home was to go into the kitchen. I was single, I was carefree, I was homeless by choice for quite a while, no responsibilities except my personal growth and my job. Which, believe me, were as much as I could handle for an embarrassingly long time. I sometimes long for those days. Not very much, anymore.

Times are different now. We have food sensitivities to deal with that make eating out a bit of an ordeal. And we’ve learned what really good, real food tastes and feels like in our bodies.

Not to mention the cost! We won’t go into that. Too depressing.

Okay, we have to go into that. Not just the cost of eating out, but the cost of eating well. You can eat out inexpensively, as we all know, but the cost to our health is exorbitant. Go here

And eating really well when eating out isn’t always easy, when you start to understand what real food is. And isn’t. Good food preparation that really maximizes it’s value to your health has been forgotten for the most part. And when you have eaten well for some time, it becomes evident. I’ll never forget my husband coming home after a lunch date with a colleague and reporting that I’d ‘ruined him for restaurant food. I looked at my plate and it was all DEAD!’ And the call I received the last time he was gone for a week at a retreat center. ‘I miss your bone broth,’ he moaned.

I still love to go out, don’t get me wrong. And I find we do better at ethnic restaurants that serve traditional foods - often easier to avoid wheat and dairy, and they sometimes use traditional cooking methods. Fermented grains. Long cooked broths. Fermented veggies. Even raw meats.

Truly upscale restaurants can work, too - I can’t wait to try one of the few I’ve heard about that specialize in offal! And the escargot buried in butter and duck confit I had at Carafe Bistro... mmmmmm.

But that’s not what I want to write about. Because we can’t eat out like we used to, although I obviously still dream about it.

We also can’t afford to buy good food, REAL food, at the grocery store that much. Especially prepared foods. Pastured ghee for $10 a pint. Live sauerkraut for $7 per 8 ounce jar. We’re talking cabbage and salt, folks. Kim chi - $10 for 8 ounces. Raw nut butters for $15 a pint. Gluten free bread anywhere from $5 - $8 a loaf. And it’s not even that tasty.

I’m on a mission. It’s utterly obnoxious to some, but apparently inspiring to others. Thank God!

It was inspiring to ME after my last class to hear from the participants - Diana had 3 gallons of fermented veggies set on the counter to bubble. Had a chicken in the crock pot for the better part of a day, and froze the stock. (I had some of the Ethiopian chicken she made out of the meat, oh my god, I didn’t have to die to get to heaven right there....) Is now experimenting with adding an ancient wheat grain to her sourdough to see if she can tolerate it after it’s fermented.

After some tinkering Lois made the best textured gluten free bread she says she’s ever had. She wants to tinker with the flavor a bit, but she’s excited and encouraged. Her family is new to gluten free life, and she had thrown her hands up and laughed at her first attempt to make bread - she described it as a ‘dense cracker loaf that must have weighed 10 pounds’!

Allison and her mom Jody passed the sourdough back and forth between their houses to get yeasts from both their homes in their new pet ‘Stinky’.

I hear these stories and I honestly find myself weeping. I was sharing with a group of women last night, who share my passion for nutrition and health, that I find myself breaking down in grief occasionally when I get a positive response from people about my offerings. I have felt like I was CRAZY for years now, being so out of sync in a culture that doesn’t value nourishment to it’s full depth and breadth. Swimming upstream is really hard to do alone.

I’m only one voice. But I’m not alone. I’ve learned from some amazing people online, on lists, on blogs, in books. And to be able to turn around and pass it along is such a gift.

Oh, I forgot my original point - If you make it yourself, you can really save a bundle. Cut out the middle man - fermented veggies are just veggies, salt and time. Sourdough starter is just flour and water... and time. Coconut yogurt is just coconut milk, and starter... and time. Bone broth - bones, water, heat and.... you guessed it.... time.

Coconut Yogurt
Gluten free, dairy free, salicylate free, low carb friendly

The probiotic cultures can be ordered online, just google the names. Personally I did not like the flavor of the yogurt made from the store bought coconut yogurt, but others have found it tasty. What to say.

I recommend the Native Forest brand coconut milk, as it is the only one I know of that has no BPA in the lining of the cans.

1 can coconut milk of choice - Native Forest brand recommended
yogurt culture of choice - Custom Probiotics, HMF superpowder, or another coconut yogurt with live cultures.

Pour a little coconut milk into a pint sized mason jar. Mix in culture of choice - a smidgeon of the Custom Probiotic, a quarter tsp of the HMF powder, or a couple of Tbsp of the commercial coconut yogurt. Add the rest of the coconut milk. Cap tightly. Shake well.

Keep warm in a yogurt warmer, in an oven with the light or pilot on, in a dehydrator set at about 95 - 100 degrees, or wrapped in a warm heating pad. Shake occasionally. Yogurt will be mild after one day, a little more tart after two.

Alternate method - mix in culture of choice as described above and shake well. Leave at room temperature for 4 days, shaking occasionally. This will get VERY thick - too thick for my liking!

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, by Cheeseslave, and Fight Back Friday by Food Renegade!


Chandelle said...

Do you find that the yogurt gets thicker by leaving it at room temperature versus at a low heat? Every coconut yogurt I've made in a yogurt maker has been very thin, not good for eating with a spoon. If it will thicken at room temperature, that's something I need to try!

Durga Fuller said...

It's wild - it does get REALLY thick. Almost like a solid Cool Whip (remember that nasty stuff?). Someone I was exploring the question with wondered if it was because different bacteria proliferate faster at lower temperatures. I like to put it in smoothies, and it's too thick at room temp!

Let us know how it goes if you experiment with it!

Chandelle said...

Thanks! I'm really excited to try it! I'm still using soy yogurt mostly because I can't get coconut yogurt to thicken properly. I'd much rather be eating coconut than soy.

kendra said...

beautiful post, durga! i totally identify with you on the emotional aspect of 'going against the grain', so to speak.

we've been doing a 'coconut yogurt' with our water kefir grains. just a couple muslin bags (6 tbsp?) in a big jar with a few cans of coconut milk, it's ready in 2-4 days, and delicious. has to be stirred or blended for consistent texture.

keep up the great work!

Durga Fuller said...

Thanks Kendra!

I've heard about coconut kefir, but have found that the kefir culture is too strong for my system. Probably the yeasties....

How often do you find you have to refresh them in cow milk? Maybe I'll be healed enough down the line to give them a try!

Durga Fuller said...

Oh, WATER kefir, you said! How is that? Do you have to refresh them with the sugar mixture? Or do they seem happy in the coconut milk?

Chandelle said...

We've done the same thing, kendra, making kefir out of coconut milk using water kefir grains! We just stick them right into the milk, though, and then strain out the grains when it's done. Durga, it seems to work just fine with the coconut milk + sugar.

kendra said...

oh, sorry i didn't see your replies til now!

we usually have some sugar water kefir going - (we add seashells for minerals, and of course they prefer rapadura or sucanat)so we just use extra grains in our coconut milk with no sugar whatsoever. if i forget to stir it there are clumps of extra creamy extra sour yummy coconut cream. : )

they get slimy after a few weeks and seem to lose their kick, so we just exchange fresh surplus grains in a new batch. we usually rinse the grains too in between batches, but some don't and have success! hope that gives you some fun ideas!

Durga Fuller said...

Thanks for the reply, Kendra -

We deal with yeasties in our family, so I probably won't go the water kefir route. We'd never use the result, too much sugar.

It's a great tip to be able to pass on, though! Thank you!

Magpie Ima said...

Hey there--just wanted to say "hi". Just discovered your blog through your sig file on a buying club message. I'm enjoying reading. And coconut yogurt? Who knew? Definitely going to give that a go soon!

Magpie Ima said...

A question: could I use plain old cow's milk yogurt as a starter? I am interested in coconut milk yogurt for the flavor and nutrients but I don't need to to be dairy free.

Also--is there a tradition of coconut milk yogurt anywhere or is this a new thing?


Durga Fuller said...

Indeed you can use cow yogurt for a starter! Just make sure it's a live one.

I suspect coconut yogurt is a modern invention. It's possible that somewhere in southeast Asia there's a traditional fermented coconut product that's used, but it's not where I got the idea.

Let us know if you run across something like this - I'd love to know!

Magpie Ima said...

Thanks for getting back to me. I'm getting a case of coconut milk from Azure tomorrow--can't wait to give this a try!

Magpie Ima said...

Another question: my yogurt didn't set up at all. Can I take it from the warm cooler to the countertop and hope that it sets up in a few days?

Durga Fuller said...

If you cultured it warm, it won't set up. I've never tried letting it culture longer at room temp after the warmer culture time, but it might work.... Give it a try! I would think it would become quite tart with the extra time.

At room temperature it thickens, rather than sets up, if I'm understanding what you mean. It's not quite the same as a dairy yogurt, a very different consistency.

Let me know if it thickens in the second culture time!