Thursday, February 23, 2017
Instant (pot) Gratification
Arright folks, strap in for a wild ride. I don't know if it's the weather change or the new coffee, but...
Or alternatively, I'm feeling perhaps a bit Billish...
Ya'll know I live close to Colorado, right? Yup, 13.3 miles. And Colorado is the Rocky Mountain High state, right? Ever since they legalized the evil weed it's been my suspicion that folks from surrounding states were flocking to the buzz bodegas and bringing home the adult recreational non-beverages. My thoughts on the subject are more than just a wild guess. BITD, when 18 was the legal age for 3.2 beer in Colorado, enterprising utes from this neck of the woods would visit Peetz or Sterling and return with a six pack or a trunk load of the half-strength holy water. How do I know this? How do you suppose? At any rate, human nature hasn't changed.
And now I have proof. Never you mind how it came into my possession. I've removed the incriminating label and bar code. As always, you can click on the image to enlarge.
I'll have more on this topic later.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, pot!
Instant Pot that is.
If you haven't yet caught the craze, the Instant Pot is a super-duper pressure cooker. It's engineered to be safe and simple and has manual as well as pre-set controls. Cooking under pressure speeds the process dramatically, so that you can make foods that take from hours to all day in a fraction of the time. It also functions as a rice steamer and a yoghurt maker.
That's right, a yoghurt maker. Which I find pretty cool.
Yoghurt (from the Greek more or less: γιαούρτι or giaoúrti, "thick" or "curd") is an ancient foodstuff, basically milk thickened by heating and then fermented with bacteria. It's similar to, but different than cheese, which is also fermented by bacteria. Cheese is thickened enzymatically, usually with rennet but occasionally with acid such as lemon juice.
Heating milk to 180 degrees for 30 minutes denatures the proteins, causing the milk to thicken completely, whey and all (the whey will separate, given time). Adding rennet to milk causes proteins to clump and separate from the whey. Other than that, yoghurt and cheese are fundamentally different expressions of the same thing.
Now for my breakfast I like to have a fruit smoothie. Usually banana-berry-apple, almond or coconut milk, yoghurt, and a dash of MCT (medium chain triglyceride oil derived from coconut), all whirled up in the blender. Tasty, filling, healthful, and loaded with energy. Good stuff.
However, genuine live-culture yoghurt is expensive as hell out here at the supply tail. So I was excited to give the Instant Pot yoghurt maker a try. And it works!
Basically, you pour a gallon of milk into the pot and press yoghurt. This brings the milk up to the required temp for the required time. It's a little bit tricky, because up here at 5,000 feet you have to monitor the temp and make sure you get it right. Then you cool the milk to 110 degrees, add your bacterial starter culture, press the yoghurt button and set the fermentation time (10 hours in my case), and let it go over night.
You can use a few tablespoons of commercial yoghurt as your starter, so long as it contains live bacteria. Or you can purchase live cultures from the interwebs or from most natural food stores. I buy from the interwebs, for we have no natural food stores locally.
In the morning I set the yoghurt to drain in the refrigerator. You don't have to do this, but I do because I like thick Greek-style yoghurt.
So for the price of a gallon of milk and a bit of time and electricity I can make twice as much yoghurt for far less than half the cost of a pint of the commercial stuff.
And I don't just toss the whey, I chill it and drink it. Bland, but nutritious, and no wastage of the do-re-me.
Now after my post yesterday, you might be curious about the winter storm. As of 1300 local, it's snowing pretty heavily but there's not a lot of wind, so it's not much of a storm. The weather guessers are still hoping for a blizzard, and it might come true.
So far the cows are doing just fine.
As are the bulls.
And I've got chicken stock working in the instant Pot. It'll be chicken corn chowder by supper time.
Life is good.