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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Health Trivia.

The other day Rebekah and I were out for a walk when she mentioned seeing A.J. Jacobs newest book Drop Dead Healthy for sale at Wal-Mart and wondering if it was at the library.  “Ok” I said “I’ll go check.”

It was there, I got it and now she has been reading it for the past three days almost non stop.  She’ll be done before noon.

For those past three days about every hour or so I’ve been subjected to a piece of Health Trivia.  I now know that, according to Jacobs; people should chew each bite 15-20 times, we should all eat less, we sit too much and reading in dim light won’t permanently damage your eyes.

Last night will be remembered with particular clarity.  While we were getting ready for bed, I was sitting on the edge of the tub brushing my teeth, Bek casually remarked, “You should get your testosterone levels checked.”


Apparently, low testosterone levels in men can be linked to and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Who knew?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Project Cheese: Mozzarella!

We have been making Yogurt for some time now (at first I was doing it but now Rebekah has taken over the responsibility…yes!) so figure this qualifies us to try out some more difficult cheeses.  Today we decided to make mozzarella.  We are making AMERICAN mozzarella using the recipe found in a packet of Junket rennet tablets.
Apparently, making American mozza is easier than other kinds (of mozza), hmm. 

So anyway;

The first step was to mix the milk, just like with yogurt we used powdered milk (cow-pow) mixed 2 to 1 (that is 4 cups water, use de-chlorinated water for this, and 2 cups milk powder).  This is slightly stronger than recommended on the bag but it gives us a nice thick milk.

Dissolve ¾ of a teaspoon citric acid powder in ¼ of a cup water, add this to the milk (which should be around 30°C) and stir well.
 Dissolve ½ a Junket Rennet tablet (or about a ½ tsp of any powdered rennet) in another ¼ cup water and add this to the milk mixture.
Stir thoroughly (some sources recommend a minute) then set the whole thing aside for about 2 hours, or until a clean break forms.  While you’re waiting you could; do the dishes, have a nap, or even read the rest of our blog!

Eventually, you will get a clean break.  When this happens cut the curd into ½ inch cubes.  

A clean break.
Cutting the Curd.

Let the curds “rest” for about 15 minutes.  Then warm them over low heat to 42°C and hold them there for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Collect the curds by pouring them and the whey through a clean cloth.  Let drain for another 15 minutes.  
We save the whey in the fridge and use it for baking.

Put the curd into a microwave safe container and microwave for about 45 seconds.  Drain of the excess whey and kneed the curd to distribute heat evenly.
 Roll the finished mozza into a ball and drop into a jar of cool brine to set, place in the fridge overnight.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche,  literally translated, it means "candy of milk" or "candy [made] of milk”. 

There’s no explanation as to why I made this other than I wanted to. Fortunately I, in my limited abilities, have the ability to stir a pot and I happened to have the ingredients on hand. 

The Cast of Characters: Milk (from powdered skim), Sugar, Vanilla and not pictured Baking Soda.
This recipe is from Alton Brown and can be found at The Food NetworkAs long as you have the necessary indigents and some time on your hands this recipe is dead simple.

Start by combining 4 cups of Milk with 1½ cups of Sugar and ½ teaspoon of Vanilla in a fairly large pot. I chose to use my large 8 Qt dutch oven and I’m so glad I did!

Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the sugar is fully dissolved. At this point add your ½ teaspoon of baking soda and be prepared to stir quickly. 

The mixture starts to foam instantly and it’s very important that that the baking soda is fully incorporated. Once you have incorporated the baking soda skim off the foam and reduce the heat to low keeping the mixture at a bare simmer.  At this point you leave the mixture alone, for the most part, for about 2 ½ hours or until it reaches a dark golden brown colour.

I found it helpful to have a book and a nice counter to sit on. 

You will however have to skim the mixture occasionally during the cooking time and you should stir it once in a while being careful not the stir the foam into the mixture.

After 2 ½ hours your should have Dulce de Leche! I poured mine into a mason jar and it is now in the fridge awaiting the completion of our latest batch of yogurt.