Yogurt was always something that I would eat if it was there. Not something I would go out of my way for. Not something that I would avoid.
Since starting first the BTD, then the GTD and finally on SWAMI, yogurt has never been a choice. Not an option in the classical sense of a bacteria-infested clump of semi-solid dairy milk.
Times have changed and it wasn’t SWAMI that did the changing. Over the past few years I had considered making a non-dairy yogurt. For one thing, it looked interesting. The frugal part of me considered it a less costly supply of probiotic supplement. The inner chef wanted an option for replacing sour cream from time to time. So be it. After doing some reading on the site and elsewhere around the internet an inexpensive yogurt maker was acquired and the festivities commenced, resulting in repeated batches of tasty, bacteria laden stuff.
After having made a fresh batch every week for a couple months I am pretty confident about a few things. First, having a bit of cultured goodness on a regular basis has had a more noticeable positive effect than the amount of probiotic supplement I had been using. Second, the stuff is neither difficult nor time consuming to prepare. Third, one can forget about having something thick enough to spread over culinary delicacies unless one is willing to add lots of stuff that I am not willing to add.
My current recipe uses a bit of ghee and larch arabinogalactin. Both were added for thickness, the larch to provide extra food for the bacteria as well. There is a lot I still don’t know about yogurt and yogurt making. Experiments with the recipe over the coming months might be educational. The most important thing is that I’m enjoying yogurt as a snack about five times a week and it seems to be helping.
Baked Crispy Chicken and Eggplant Romano
Cod, Asparagus and Sweet Potato
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get stuck in a bit of a rut and make the same dishes over and over for a while. A little change or variety can be a positive aspect in one’s outlook. The other day, dealing with a friend’s recent blindness, it seemed like a great time to change things up a little bit.
SWAMI rates red wine a neutral for me. No other alcohol is rated even that high. I rarely take any wine as a libation but it is useful for flavor in a variety of prepared foods.
While there are a wide variety of cheeses that are beneficial or neutral on my SWAMI list the suggested quantity and frequency is, for lack of a better description, on the verge of non-existent. Okay – a better description would be minimal. It’s all a state of mind. To get the maximum value from the qualities of the cheese, I choose to use it almost exclusively for cooking.
The idea this time was to create some kind of sauce that differed from the usual red sauce which I sometimes use wine in, and a basic Alfredo type of white sauce that takes advantage of my available cheese. The whole thing just came together as an experiment that worked out. Sometimes experiments are edible; sometimes they are much better than that. This time around the meal would be a salad, shrimp and some kind of sauce with rice noodles.
A large onion and a few cloves of garlic were started sautéing, and the thought of a cheese sauce that included wine magically appeared from the murky depths of what passed for thought while still concerned for my friend. Some wine was added along with what seemed to be a reasonable mix of herbs and seasonings, covered, and left to simmer. While getting the rest of the meal going some rice milk was added in about twice the amount of wine used. Eventually an egg or two was tempered in and some shredded mozzarella was melted in.
The shrimp might have gone in the salad but wound up in the mix with the sauce and noodles. Maybe it was just because it was different or maybe it was the day but the result was pretty darned good. I’ve committed the process to memory for future use and noted that chicken chunks would also work really well.
My friend dealt with the blindness well for a couple weeks, but was also deaf and dealing with other issues of age. She was a good cat.
Carob Cookies with Walnuts and Chocolate Chips
Since starting the BTD about 6 years ago, I have developed an approach towards cooking that makes the most sense for me. I’m going to use this space to cover all the background and ‘basics’. It will also serve as a reference for my future blogs about cooking.
- Most days I don’t have the energy to use more than 30-40 minutes preparing a meal, many days I don’t have the time. But I’m not overly fond of leftovers! That means the vast majority of things I make are simple and/or don’t require a lot of preparation work. The meals I feature that take more effort should be viewed as the exception rather than the rule. Anything that takes more time than that is something that can be left on the stove or in the oven for extended periods without the need for stirring, turning or otherwise needing attention.
- My personalized diet plan, SWAMI, suggests only a single serving of grain daily. Another reason not to spend a lot of time or energy on baked goods, when whole grains used in meals suit my tastes better. From time to time I will make a batch of cookies or a no crust pie. Other baked goods are very infrequent. I do use rice noodles on occasion.
- Ideally all food is grass-fed, wild, free range, organic and fresh. My world is not ideal, so I use canned or frozen food sometimes and buy some produce that is not organic. When a recipe is given, assume that all foods start out fresh and have been made ready for use by washing, trimming, peeling or other normal preparations.
- Most of the things I make don’t require precise measurements. I treat recipes as guidelines that are open to interpretation. Recipes are there to provide ideas first, and methodology if trying ‘something different.’ The ingredient list may be modified and quantities are only a ballpark suggestion.
- In the spirit of the previous bullet, when I say ‘butter’ or ‘olive oil’ that might be what I use, but someone else might use ghee, some other oil or fat, or even eschew added fats for some recipes. It’s all about ideas.
- I have a few ‘tricks’ that come up frequently. One is using a little extra water. For digestive purposes I like my grains softer and more water is how you get there. Another reason is for leaving foods cooking on the stovetop with less need for checking or stirring. Sometimes that makes a dish ‘wetter’ than one might normally want and that gives rise to another trick – tempering in an egg or two near the end of the cooking period. It’s a way to thicken and makes things a bit ‘richer’ at the same time. Like many people I can use an egg or so per day.
- Presentation is a nice touch. For example, when using peppers choose different colors to make a dish more visually appetizing with a minimum of effort. I don’t always manage to do those type things but they are something to keep in mind.
- I tend to use a curry mix at least once a day when cooking. It’s something that I prepare enough of at one time to last a week or two. You’ll have to figure out your own mix. This is what serves as my base, with occasional additions:
2 parts each of coriander, turmeric, fenugreek and ginger
1 part each of cayenne, cinnamon and clove
That’s about it for the time being. This will get amended later as needed.