We use whole milk to make our yogurt better, and organic milk to keep hormones given to cows away from my cancer:
The first step is the easiest, just letting it cook on low in the crockpot for two and a half hours.
Do you see the mark on Kirk’s face? That’s from them all sliding down the slide together in one big heap all afternoon yesterday. The video is on our YouTube page. Goofy kids.
Anyway, we don’t always have to make vanilla yogurt, but it is a favorite with the kids:
We use agave and honey instead of sugar, which is how our bowl full of sugar turned into one giant hardened block, which the kids thought meant they could eat the rest. This is false.
Once we add vanilla and honey, we unplug the crockpot and let it sit for three more hours.
That means we don’t keep taking the lid off to taste it, “just in case”.
If you haven’t made yogurt before, you need some starter to get it going. We use an organic brand, again to keep hormones out of my cancer, but once you have some you can use the last of your own yogurt to start the next batch and keep it going that way, just like bread starter. You just have to be sure it has live cultures in it if you want it to work!
I mix a 2:1 ratio of the crockpot mixture and the starter yogurt in a bowl separately first, then whisk that back into the crockpot. I wrap a beach towel around the crockpot (which is off and unplugged), and cover it with another towel. I leave it overnight to work its magic, and it’s perfect by breakfast. Leave it at least eight hours, but as many as twelve, depending on how tangy you like your yogurt (the longer the tangy-er).
If you only like thick yogurt, you will need to strain it in morning. Put a colander in a bowl, and cover it with some cheese cloth. Pour the yogurt in, and let it sit in the refrigerator for three or four hours.
Jar it up after that, or before if you don’t mind a thinner mix, and it’s ready to eat!
We use honey and raw maple syrup in our granola instead of brown sugar, and mix it with oats, sesame seeds, pecans, slivered almonds, chia, flax, and unsweetened coconut.
Spread it out on a pan with parchment paper and bake it at 250 for an hour and fifteen minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes. You can make it looser or chunkier, depending on proportions of oil and syrup to seeds and nuts and grains.
If I start the yogurt between four and five, then it’s ready for the last mixing before bed between ten and eleven. Then it sits overnight, and is ready for straining by six in the morning. We need to keep the whey, so we don’t strain, but I jar it up and get it in the fridge by six. That gives me time to bake the granola before the kids are awake, so that breakfast is ready when they are.
They do like to help with all of it, though, and it is so super easy:
We eat oatmeal most everyday all winter, so they are excited to be “practicing” for our Spring and Summer breakfast! They also are old enough and big enough to learn so much so quickly, and they love cooking with me in the kitchen. They were very proud of their yogurt and granola!
Those are dates on top, which I always put on top of their breakfast, just because it’s so good for them. I tell them stories of Israel, and how the Arabs brought the dates when they worked on excavation sites, and how now palm trees grow all around the exposed ruins from the men spitting out their seeds. I tell them how all the nutrients they need in a day are in a date, and it’s better for them than taking vitamins. They just think they are getting sweet candy for breakfast, and for some reason think they come from Nathan’s parents’ fig tree – a conversation we clarify Every. Single. Morning.
It feeds them well and healthy-ish for a start to our day, and is cheaper than buying any of it. Milk can freeze, so I use half a gallon in each batch and freeze the rest for the next batch. Yogurt can be frozen, too, if you are going to use it in smoothies or something that will cover up the grainy thawed texture. I freeze mine in ice cube trays, and then use that as my ice cubes for smoothies so that I don’t have to worry about having enough yogurt for my smoothies.