Guest Post by Fortinbras! Peanut Butter Salvation Cookies

Note from Renae: I’ve been promising you Fortinbras’ Christmas post forever, and he decided Easter was as good a time as any to get around to it. (He exists! He exists! I didn’t make him up!) So with no further ado…

heeeeeere’s Fort!

…and just in time for Easter, I Eat Food Presents:
Peanut Butter Salvation Cookies (a delicious story of addiction, decadence, and ultimately redemption)

6 bottles of champagne
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of light brown sugar
2 sticks of margarine (slightly cool and softened)
The equivalent of 2 eggs using egg substitute (we used egg replacer)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of unsweetened, salted all natural crunchy peanut butter (Crunchy is what the recipe calls for, but smooth can be used instead, really the decision is left to the discretion of the baker. Remember: Life is short, as Jesus has taught us, so you use the type of peanut butter that you desire because, who knows? Tomorrow somebody may want to crucify you and you don’t want to be hanging there wishing you had used the kind of peanut butter that you prefer. Amen)

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of soy milk chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 and get ready to make the most delicious cookies you have ever eaten in your entire life. Seriously, they are life altering good.

Go on ahead and pop open that first bottle of champagne.

Pamper yourself and pour a nice healthy glass and take a big ol’ swig from the bottle, as if you could be, if given the proper circumstances, a rock star or a naughty politician.

Now that we all feel better about life let’s begin to mix together the essential wet ingredients. Mix the sugars, the egg substitute, the vanilla, the margarine and lastly the peanut butter together in a large bowl.

When incorporating the margarine it is very important that it be soft and slightly cool. If the margarine is melted or room temperature your cookies are still going to taste good, but they will be more thin and crisp after baking. Also, the cookies tend to come out better if the peanut butter is added last, I have no idea why this is but I do know it has something to do with physics and viscosity, parallel dimensions and the letter W. VERY SCIENTIFIC COOKIE STUFF, Y’ALL.

By now you should have finished, at the very least, one of your bottles of champagne. So lets open another, shant we? Why yes, yes we shall.

Now, children of the New Testament Era, it is time to sift the flour and the salt and the baking soda together in a bowl of your choosing. So take a few sips, refill that glass and hop to it.

After sifting the dry thangs together, you should be tired, so reward yourself for all of your hard work by taking a long smooth drink of your cool bubbling champagne. Feel free to laugh as the bubbles tickle the back of your tongue and throat, knowing in your heart of hearts that you deserve this moment. Lucky, lucky you.

NOW FOR THE DEAL, THE OPUS, THE SHOW! Grab your wet ingredients and your dry ingredients and get thee to a mixing station! If you are using a hand mixer I am gonna tell you now, there comes a point with this dough, that you will have to get in there with your hands and mix it using the raw power of all ten digits. Don’t be afraid, it will be okay, take a sip of your fourth bottle of champagne and get in there and make that magic happen! Humph! For those of you who own a professional mixer you may want to forgo allowing those ingredients to fornicate together in the relative privacy of the mixing bowl and just pretend that you own a hand mixer and get in there as well. Let’s keep it clean, but let’s not forget to keep it sexy as well. Everyone begin to add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they form a firm dough.

And for the love of God do not forget to take that fifth bottle of champagne out of the freezer!

Now, at this point you should have a good buzz and a stiff cookie dough going. Form the dough into a ball

And, if you were raised in the circus as I was, feel free to toss it about as if it were a bowling pin or a baby.

But remember, accidents can happen.

So if you are not circusy you should probably just take that ball of dough and put it in a bowl and chill it in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. Use this time to prep your cookie sheets with parchment paper or tin foil, again, remember the cross, and do what you prefer. LET THERE BE NO REGRETS DURING YOUR CRUCIFIXION!

15 minutes and one bottle of champagne later:


By now you should have lost the pretense of the glass and you should be drinking long and deep directly from the bottle, you should also be removing the ball of dough from the fridge and getting out a tablespoon sized scooping apparatus from your drawer of apparati. Now get your cookie sheet in front of you and get that scoop in your hand and I want you to take a very healthy tablespoon sized scoop from your ball of dough using your scooping apparatus of choice and then I want you to roll that scoop of dough between your palms until it is in the shape of a ball.

I suggest that you start with eight scoops on your first tray, spacing them evenly until you gage how much your dough will spread during baking.

Now that you have your dough balls spaced evenly on your baking sheet I want you to smoosh them down slightly, giving each potential cookie a little smack down.

Next place 1 to 3 soy milk chocolate chips in the center of each of the smooshed down dough balls.

Now it is time to raise your bottle and your adorned cookie sheet in celebration of the fact that you have come this far. You are very intelligent and gifted, by this point in the recipe you should already be aware of this.

NOW, very carefully, (because by now if you have been following this recipe to a tee, you are drunk) place the baking sheet with your unbaked smooshed down cookie dough upon it onto the middle rack of your oven and remember to close the door .

You are going to want to bake these cookies for 13 to 16 minutes depending upon your oven, if you have a slow oven you may need to bake them even longer. After you get a feel for how the dough bakes you can increase or decrease the temperature of your oven if you feel that it is necessary. Baking times are so inconsistent between ovens that I refuse to draw a hard line where time and temperature are concerned. Just know this: These cookies aren’t going to be golden brown; at the golden brown stage after they have cooled they tend to be a little over done, still more delicious than any other cookie on the planet, but a little over done. Instead, I recommend that all bakers everywhere should shoot for finding that point where they are simply cooked thoroughly. I find that tasting the first tray of cookies, even if it means that you have to eat them all, can reveal the subtleties of the cooking process that will give you the information necessary to bake these Peanut Butter Salvation Cookies to perfection, just the way Jesus would.


Fort out – it’s Renae again. I CAN’T BELIEVE OF ALL THE PICTURES OF ME FROM THAT DAY I SUPPLIED HIM WITH, HE CHOSE THE ONE CALLED “VERY UGLY RENAE.JPG”. Why is he my best friend again? Oh yeah, because he’s hilarious. And also he thinks it’s okay for us to drink six bottles of champagne while doing all of his holiday baking. And also “very ugly Renae.jpg” was probably one of the least horrible looking photos of me in the batch. (I’ll never let very ugly Renae-2.jpg get out to the public, boy.) Yes, I love Fortinbras. But since he didn’t include any of the nice pictures of the ole Tiggster from that day, I shall:

Tigger used to always hang out with us during parties, no matter how raucous we got. Brachtune, on the other hand, doesn’t know what to make of us when we get rowdy and tends to hole up in a safe place:

And with that, I wish you all a happy Easter as well!

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I don’t really have an intro for this one. I wanted to use up the rest of the cheddar Teese and dreamt up a sort of Smark-Os made with ramen. (I didn’t actually look at the Smark-Os recipe until after I’d made this dish and was surprised how similar they are.) When Mark asked what it was I said, “it’s Smark-Os made with ramen, so I guess it’s smark-ramen…smar-ramen….Sma-ramen!” (rhymes with shamen!)


2 large shallots or 1/2 large onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1/8 tsp fennel seeds
2 cups vegan “beef” broth
1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
2 frozen basil cubes, or 1/4 tsp dried basil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 package vegan ramen noodles (chuka soba)
1/3-1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese – use a nice melty sort
vegan Parmesan or Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix, for topping (optional)

Mince the shallot or onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Shred the “cheese”.

Heat some olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry for two minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add the carrots and celery, as well as the red pepper flakes and the fennel seeds. Fry for 7 minutes or until veggies are soft.

Add the “beef” broth and bring to a boil.

Add the tomato sauce and basil; bring to a boil again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the ramen, breaking into pieces if so desired. Cook for two minutes.

Add the shredded “cheese” and stir. Cook for three more minutes.

Swirl the ramen around a chopstick to help it break up and cook evenly.

Ramen should take about 5 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Serve, sprinkling with vegan Parmesan or the “uncheese” mix if desired.

This was darn tasty and very fast. Vegan “hot dogs” would not be unwelcome in this dish.

The Toonse continues to wear her cone. One thing that makes me feel especially bad for her is she can’t properly groom herself and I know that’s got to be driving her mad. That and having had a fractured wrist when I was 13, I know how frustrating it is to experience the itch you just can’t scratch. And at least I could stick a pencil down my cast! So I think it’s important for me to give her at least a couple of hours a day without it, even if I have to stand over her and monitor her constantly the entire time to make sure she doesn’t dig at her ears. Which she does, almost immediately after I remove the cone. But I cleaned her up real good tonight and afterwards she wasn’t quite as itchy. And she had the chance to eat a meal without having to awkwardly maneuver her mouth out of the cone, and then clean herself up to her satisfaction afterwards.

I know she really appreciated the break.

When she has the cone on, I can tell her mouth feels really itchy because she wants to clean it so badly.

I don’t think I really gave much thought before to how a cat would feel if deprived of the opportunity to groom herself.

I think they’d feel much the same as I would feel if I weren’t allowed to shower.

So I feel it’s important to give her this chance each day.

Until it results in this:


Happy Birthday, handsome. I miss you, buddy.

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Grilled Romaine, Broiled BBQ Tofu, and Sweet Shallot Mustard Dressing

Craving salad, I sort of went overboard with the romaine lettuce the other night. I bought both hearts of romaine and baby romaine, and although Mark and I have been having big salads for dinner every night for three nights, I still have more romaine than you can shake a fork at. Short of eating tossed salad three meals a day, I was wondering what to do with it all, when I remembered one night last summer when our friends Luke and Lanet invited us over for a grilling extravaganza. Lanet loves to cook as much as I do and visiting their house for dinner is always a treat because although she’s not vegan, she likes to experiment and is always trying new vegan dishes out on me. On this night in particular, she was grilling just about every vegetable imaginable, including romaine hearts. Mark and I thought that grilling lettuce was very avant-garde, but it was really good. We don’t have a real grill here, but I do have a George Foreman, so I thought I’d try grilling up some romaine on that. It worked pretty well, though Lanet’s was better.

Grilled Romaine Hearts

1 -3 romaine hearts, depending how many servings you’d like (a serving is 1/2 a heart)
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 piece of ginger, size of a child’s pinkie finger
3-4 drops sriracha

Mix together all ingredients except lettuce in a small bowl.

Chop the romaine hearts in half lengthwise.

Rub your (clean!) hands in the marinade, then rub the lettuce all over with it.

Place two halves at a time on an indoor electric grill (only one half is pictured here because Mark is working late so I saved his half for later):

Close the grill and cook for about 3 minutes or until lettuce is wilted and beginning to brown.

I hardly ever buy tofu. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did, other than the other week when I was I recovering from my trip to Australia and didn’t think I’d have time to make it, so I picked some up at Super H while I was there. I haven’t needed it and it was about to expire, so I decided I’d use it up tonight. I thought I’d broil it in a barbecue sauce similar to the ole pork chop sauce. It’d have been better with homemade, but it was decent.

Broiled Barbecue Tofu

1 lb extra-firm tofu
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup brown sugar (loosely packed unless you like your sauces pretty sweet)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
sriracha to taste

Preheat the broiler on high.

You can press the tofu if you’d like. My homemade tofu doesn’t need pressing, and this Asian brand was very firm, so I didn’t bother. Slice it into thick slabs like this:

In a broiler-proof pan, preferably cast iron, pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, then place the tofu slabs in the pan in a single layer, turning them over to coat both sides in the oil.

Place under the broiler and broil for 10-15 minutes or until golden on top. Flip each piece over and return pan to broiler.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients except the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes, and unless you are using already-crushed tomatoes, whir an immersion blender through them a few times. It doesn’t need to be too smooth.

When the tofu is beginning to blacken, remove from the broiler.

Pour the sauce onto the tofu and make sure it’s evenly coated. This photo isn’t out of focus so much as the pan was just very hot and steamy:

Place pan back in oven and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken:

Okay, so I grilled some romaine and got one of the hearts out of the way, but I still had a bunch of baby romaine left over, so I made a side salad as well. SO MUCH LETTUCE. I thought a good mustardy dressing would go well with the barbecue flavors of the other dishes, so I made:

Sweet Shallot Mustard Dressing

1 small shallot
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 scant Tbsp agave nectar
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in small food processor or chopper.

Process until smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, just mince the shallot finely and combine all ingredients.)

Enjoy on a tossed salad.

And here’s the whole meal:

It was pretty quick and easy to throw together, although the whole tofu broiling business was a little more involved than I’d have liked. Namely, it took a lot longer than I was anticipating and also the house got pretty smoky. I think I’ll probably just stick to baking or pan frying.

Another issue with broiling the tofu was my cast iron skillet needed special cleaning. Now, I am very attached to my cast iron skillet. It’s an antique and it’s seasoned to perfection. I’m probably somewhere on the midpoint of anal retentiveness when it comes to cleaning it, though. On one hand, I would consider murdering anyone who dared put soap on it or soaked it or tried to scrub it. On the other hand, although you are supposed to clean cast iron while it is still warm from preparing the meal – that means before you sit down to eat – I refuse to eat cold meals. (This fact also explains why my pictures of my plated meals are usually so crappy; I hate spending precious time trying to make them look artistic or good.) Clean-up after my meals is pretty easy because I wash all my prep stuff while I’m cooking, but the final pots and pans always sit on the stove while the meal is consumed, then any leftovers are removed and put away and the pans are cleaned. By then they’ve cooled. My skillet is so well seasoned this hardly ever matters: not much sticks to it. But when I’ve baked something onto it, like broiled barbecue sauce, I need to do something to loosen the baked-on food without scrubbing my seasoning off. It’s really no big deal, though. All you have to do is pour some water into the pan, set it over medium-high heat, let it come to a boil, and boil for a minute or two:

Next – and this is very important – remove any cats that are lurking at your feet between the stove and the sink (mine are ALWAYS there and I don’t want to spill boiling water on them), don a heavy oven mitt, and carry the pan to the sink, pouring out the water.

See that little bit of sauce? It’s all that didn’t get removed when I dumped the water out, and it slid right off when I rinsed the pan briefly – absolutely no scrubbing. Then I dried with a towel (ALWAYS dry cast iron immediately) and spritzed lightly with olive oil.

Honestly, some people think cast iron is high maintenance, but I find it a lot easier to clean than most other things!

And now for a bit of cat news:

Poor Brachtune is a conehead. She somehow got an ear infection and then managed to scratch herself when it got too itchy, so the doctor said she has to wear a cone while it heals up. Sigh. I feel incredibly bad for her about the cone. It’s breaking my heart! Especially since last night I let her take it off while we were hanging out for a few hours and she didn’t try to scratch once. But then when I got home tonight, I took it off and she promptly starting scratching herself. After three chances, the cone went back on.

She looks like Little Kitty on the Prairie here.

After seeing someone ask how to pronounce Brachtune in the comments last time (it’s Brock-toon), my mom suggested that I explain how she got her name. But this post has been really long, so I’ll save it for next time. So you have that to look forward to!

Finally, tomorrow – April 1 – would have been Tigger’s 16th birthday. My sweet April Fool. I miss him more than you can imagine.

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Mark and I visited the Parental Homestead yesterday, and my mom gave me some “chili bowls” to match one of the sets of Chinese teacups I have:

So of course today I made my grandmother’s chili! And to accompany it, I made Peter Reinhart’s cornbread, which I present for you today in vegan adaptation.

Cornbread, a la Peter Reinhart

6 oz (1 cup) cornmeal
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 cups minus 2 Tbsp soy milk (the vinegar + soy milk should weigh 16 ounces)
8 slices vegan bacon strips
8 oz (1 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
.75 oz (1 1/2 Tbsp) baking powder
.05 oz (1/4 tsp) baking soda
.25 (1 tsp) salt
2 oz (1/4 cup) brown sugar
2 oz (1/4 cup) white sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp En-R-G egg replacer + 6 Tbsp water
1.5 oz (2 Tbsp) agave nectar
1 oz (2 Tbsp) vegan margarine
16 oz (2 1/2 cups) corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
1 1/2 Tbsp corn or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place 2 Tbsp vinegar in a liquid measuring cup …

… then add soy milk to make a total of 16 ounces (2 cups), whisking together.

Mix with the cornmeal, cover, and set aside. The original recipes says to allow to sit out overnight, but I just let it sit for a few hours this afternoon.

Arrange the vegan bacon on a baking sheet sprayed with oil. (I had two different kinds.)

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Crumble and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350.

Here’s my tip for softening or melting margarine: just measure it into a small glass bowl and sit on the stovetop while the oven is on.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the En-R-G and the water.

Whisk the agave nectar into the melted margarine, then whisk in the En-R-G mixture:

Whisk the margarine/En-R-G mixture into the cornmeal mixture:

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and whisk or stir until thoroughly blended.

Stir in the corn kernels (I did not manage to get a non-blurry shot of this step.)

Pour the oil into a large cast iron skillet (or a 10″ round cake pan, or a 9×13″ rectangular cake pan, both of which are suggested by Peter Reinhart), then stick the skillet or pan into the oven and allow to heat up for 5 minutes. Using heavy oven mitts, remove and tilt to coat entire skillet. Pour in the batter.

Sprinkle with “bacon” pieces, gently pushing them into the batter. My “bacon” was already pretty crispy, so I also sprayed the “bacon” with water so they wouldn’t burn.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Reinhart says this will take 30 minutes but I had to leave mine in for 45.)

Allow to cool in the skillet or pan for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges (or squares, depending in the shape of your pan).

The cornbread got a thumbs-up from Mark!

Here’s the chili in my new bowl:

Brachtune didn’t help me make dinner today, although in general she’s still been acting like my shadow.

She doesn’t appear to miss Tigger, although I sure as hell do. Yesterday at the Parental Homestead, Mark and I looked at the many pictures my mom had saved of Tigger on her PC and we found ourselves laughing at nearly every one of them. He was a very silly cat. Last week I would have just cried. So I guess I’m doing better, but it still really sucks. Brachtune is trying her hardest to get me through it, though.

From my mom’s photos, I realized just how much weight Brachtune – who probably has cancer – has lost. Here is she looking much heavier a few years ago:

And here she is today:

Why do cats have to be mortal? Mark and I will eventually adopt new cats, that I am sure I will love, but the thing is, Tigger and Brachtune were and are THE cats for me. They are nothing alike, but between the two of them, they had/have the two kitty personalities that I think go with my personality. As far as I am concerned, Tigger and Brachtune could have just lived with me until the day I died and I’d have been perfectly happy.

Anyway, if you can imagine how crazy I am about my cats and multiply it by 100, you have a rough idea of how crazy my parents (and my aunt) are about their dogs. They brush Shannon’s teeth every day. He has tartar.

Sophie got her teeth brushed too, but I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to capture it. Here she is waiting for Aunt Lynn to meticulously prepare her “dessert buffet” of doggie cookies and snacks.

Sophie is a bit wary of Mark, so she spent a portion of the day under the sofa.

She’s hyperactive, however, so the sofa-hiding only ever lasted a minute or two at a time.

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Bacony, Beany Spelt Pasta with Australian Zing

I want to thank everyone for their kind words about Tigger. Tigger was a bit of a momma’s – and in the second half of his life a daddy’s – boy, and I used to have to do a lot of defending of him to people he’d slashed. A lot of people who knew him in real life were scared of him. Scared of that sweet, adorable, lovable little guy – can you believe it?! It really makes me happy to know he had such a following on my blog and that the internet saw him for who he really was: a beautiful, funny, and wonderful cat with a huge personality. I still cry when I think about him, and this first post will be a little depressing without his presence, but I did manage to get a couple of Brachtune pictures to help fill the void.

I’m still adjusting a bit to being back in America. I was jet lagged a bit for a couple of days – couldn’t sleep – and then Mark’s mom and aunt were here for a couple of days, and what with missing Tigger, things haven’t yet seemed quite “normal”. I worked late tonight but I’d promised Mark Brussels sprouts for dinner, so I tried to think of a quick yet interesting accompaniment. (How many girls have husbands they have to try to please by finding meals to go with Brussels sprouts?! Honestly, though, Mark would have been perfectly happy to eat the sprouts and nothing else.) I sort of just pulled this together based on ingredients that seemed like they’d go with with my Brussels sprouts. It turned out quite well.

Bacony Beany Spelt Pasta

4 oz. spelt pasta ribbons
2 tsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 sliced tempeh “bacon”
7 oz. diced tomatoes (about half a can)
4 leaves Swiss chard
2/3 can Great Northern beans
1/4 tsp Australian habanero sauce (or other hot sauce to taste, or red chili pepper flakes to taste)
1/2 cup vegan stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare the pasta as directed on the package. I found that it took significantly less time to cook than stated on the package, so if you aren’t used to spelt pasta, make sure you check it frequently.

Mince the garlic.

Chiffonade the the chard. (That’s sort of fun to say.)

Rinse the beans.

Crumble the tempeh bacon.

In a large skillet or wok, warm the olive oil, then add the garlic.

Saute for 20 seconds, then add the tempeh bacon and fry until beginning to crisp.

Add the tomatoes and their juices; cook for two minutes.

Add the chard and cook for another two minutes.

Add the beans and stir.

Stir in the stock and hot sauce or chili flakes. The hot sauce I used was purchased for Mark at The Rocks Markets in Sydney. Mark’s a hot pepper and hot sauce aficionado and I tend to buy him the hottest sauce I can find when I travel as a souvenir. I warned the seller of this sauce that Mark didn’t like “sissy” sauces and his “extra hot habanero” had better really be “extra hot”, and it is quite good! It’s pretty hot, but in small doses it has a really nice flavor and it worked well in this dish. Use whatever type of heat you like if you can’t make it to Sydney!

Add the drained pasta and toss, then warm through before serving.

Goes well with roasted Brussels sprouts and Australian red wine!

Brachtune has taken to following me around the house, much like Tigger used to. In fact, I think Tigger was oppressing the poor thing because she’s been more active lately than she has been in a while. So although I miss my constant orange companion in the kitchen, The Toonse was at my feet the whole time I prepared tonight’s meal.

Would it be wrong of me to tell Brachtune that it’s much easier for me to get a good angle for her photos if she jumps up on the island like Tigger used to do?

I know it’s not that hygienic to let my cats walk on the counters, but it can’t be that hygienic for me to be rolling around on the floor to take their picture either!

The Toonse is just too well-behaved!

I have a few more pictures to share from Australia, but it’s getting late so I’m going to postpone them for now. Koalas and kangaroos, oh my!

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How to Make Soy Milk (again!) and Soy Yogurt

I’ve recently gotten back into making yogurt. See, a year or so ago I mentioned I wanted to start making yogurt and my aunt gave me her old yogurt maker. And for a while there I was making a batch every week. But I kind of got out of it because it was sort of annoying to make. I’d used Bryanna’s method and Susan from Fat-Free Vegan’s method, and while both of them made consistently successful batches of yogurt, the adding of thickeners bothered me for some reason. It seemed like the whole process was a lot harder than it needed to be. Not that either method was difficult (they are very similar), and not that I’m one to shy away from difficult tasks in the kitchen, but when making staples on a weekly basis, I like the process to be as quick and easy as possible.

It was Wild Fermentation that changed everything. Sandor Katz claimed making soy yogurt was no different than making dairy yogurt (which I’ve never done but which looks very easy and never calls for thickeners), and he shared what I have found is the secret: adding less pre-made yogurt to the warm milk. And nothing else! He himself had read in another source that yogurt cultures don’t like to be “crowded” and that less is therefore more. All of the other recipes I’ve found for making soy yogurt call for 1/4 to an entire cup of existing yogurt to be mixed into a quart of soy milk. Sandor Katz called for just one tablespoon. And it works! No need for thickeners or fuss. It’s so easy I’m back to making it all the time.

Soy Yogurt

1 quart soymilk, preferably freshly homemade
1 Tbsp soy yogurt, with live cultures (can be from your previous homemade batch)

I’ve already explained how to make soy milk, but I figured I’d document it again for this tutorial. But if you already know how to make your own soy milk or if you want to use commercial soy milk, just skip down to the “*******” below.

To make about a quart of soy milk, soak 4 ounces of dried soy beans over night (I use 4 handfuls, which is actually a bit more than 4 ounces). It’s not necessary, but I put the dry soybeans in the blender and pulse a few time to break them up. Then I add water to the blender and swirl it around, causing the hulls from the beans to float up to the top, which I then pour off. I repeat this a few times, then I top it off with water and soak the beans right in the blender.

The next morning (or 8 hours later), set a scant 4 cups of water over medium heat in a medium large pot.

Meanwhile, drain the soaked soybeans, then put in the blender (if they aren’t already there) with fresh water to cover by 1/2 to 1 inch or so. Blend very thoroughly.

Pour the blended soybeans into the water and stir. Heat over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the soymilk as it has a tendency to rise up and boil over very quickly.

If the soymilk gets very foamy on top, you can skim the foam off.

Meanwhile, set up your strainer. I use a 4-cup measuring cup (although I should really use a larger one, and I’ll show you why in a moment), a strainer, and a piece of cheesecloth. Set the strainer in the measuring cup and line with the cheesecloth.

When the soymilk is ready, pour it into the cheesecloth-lined strainer.

Now, usually I’m doing this with two hands and as the soy milk filters down into the measuring cup, I lift the strainer out of it to make room for the milk. I didn’t take into account that this time I’d be taking photographs and not have two hands, so I didn’t lift the strainer and the soy milk overflowed. Oops! If I were any smarter than I am, I’d be using a bigger receptacle in the first place, but I like using something that has a spout and that’s what I have.

I sort of close the cheesecloth up into a sack and bounce it up and down on the strainer, settling the bean pulp – or okara – and pushing most of the soy milk out. I don’t worry too much about squeezing all of the liquid out because I’m trying to keep this process as fast as possible, but you can get really into it and mash it with a potato masher if you’d like.

Here’s the okara. You can save it for another purpose, although if you’ve been a reader for a while you’ll know that I have issues cooking with okara so I’m not going to think any less of you if you throw it away or compost it.

The worst part about making soy milk, by the way, is cleaning up the pot. It requires a lot of scrubbing.

You now have soy milk. If that’s all you’re here for, you’re dismissed. You can add a sweetener if you’d like. Frankly, I don’t bother any more. I used to add agave nectar or maple syrup or even a bit of sugar, but the only things I use soy milk for are the occasional loaf of bread (I use water more often, however) and putting on breakfast cereal and most cereals are already too sweet as it is.

Back to the yogurt.

******* If you are using pre-made soy milk instead of making it now, gently warm it – in a saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave – until just before boiling: about 180 to 190 degrees. Then follow the instructions below.

If you have one, stick a thermometer in the soy milk. If you don’t, don’t worry about it. You want the soy milk to cool to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This took about 45 minutes for me (though you can speed it up by putting it in the refrigerator or in a cold water bath). If you don’t have a thermometer, just stick your finger in it. If you can leave your finger in without burning it, it’s cooled sufficiently.

While the soy milk is cooling, sanitize and prepare the container(s) in which you’ll be making the yogurt. You can do this by running them through the dishwasher, or you can either submerge them in boiling water for a few minutes, or do as I did and rinse them out with boiling water.

If you are using a yogurt maker, plug it in and set the sanitized container(s) inside. The warmth will help any water clinging to them evaporate and it’s helpful for the containers to come up to temperature before adding the yogurt.

If you don’t have a yogurt maker, there are many incubation ideas floating around the internet. What I’d probably try first is the oven, using either the pilot light of a gas oven or the light bulb of an electric oven. I’ve never used this technique so I’m not going to discuss it, but you’ll find plenty of ideas if you google it.

When the soy milk is cool enough, whisk in 1 tablespoon of pre-made soy yogurt. If using store-bought, make sure it contains live cultures; it will say so on the container (Whole Soy does). You can also use a tablespoon of your previous batch of homemade yogurt. I’ve read that after six rounds of using your own yogurt, you should make your 7th batch using store-bought again to refreshen the culture, but I haven’t really tested this out because I haven’t managed to make yogurt for 7 consecutive weeks and have had to buy new yogurt before that anyway. When you buy the commercial yogurt, you should make sure it’s plain flavored, although since you’re using so little, I imagine you can get away with a flavored variety if that’s all you can find. I’d probably use vanilla if I couldn’t find plain.

If the soy milk gets foamy or bubbly when you whisk it, you can skim the bubbles off to prevent your yogurt from containing bubbles.

Pour the soy milk/yogurt mixture into your prepared containers.

Incubate. I’ve seen it said both that soy yogurt takes less time and more time to set than dairy yogurt. Having never made dairy yogurt, I can’t tell you which is correct. But I did notice that since using this thickener-less method, my yogurt’s actually been setting in less time than it did before: in as little as 4 hours. This picture was taken after 6 hours. It may have been ready in 4 hours, but Brachtune and I sort of ended up taking a little nap and I didn’t check it.

I happened to be flipping through The New Farm cookbook yesterday for an unrelated reason and came across their yogurt making section. Their method is similar to this except they call for more pre-made yogurt. But they did include a little trick for telling if your yogurt is done. If, when tilted to the side, the yogurt comes cleanly from the side of the container, it’s ready. It’s probably hard to see here, but that’s exactly what my yogurt is doing.

Refrigerate for about 3-4 hours, during which time the yogurt will further firm up, before eating.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy yogurt is mixed with granola, sliced bananas and other fruit, and drizzled with agave nectar.

I know this has been very long, but if you’ve made it this far, I shall reward you with pictures of Brachtune being beautiful.

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Happy New Year!

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Another cat in the box

Tigger has barely budged from the wok box. Even when I need to make room on the kitchen island and move the box to the dining room table, he just remains in the box as I carry it. He also purrs loudly while in the box and seems particularly happy and peaceful.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but Tigger hates Brachtune. After 14 years of living together, you’d think he’d have learned to tolerate her, but he still hates her. I don’t know how anyone can possibly hate Brachtune because she’s the sweetest, most good-natured cat on the planet, but Tigger’s a bit of an egomaniac and only likes himself. Brachtune, on the other hand, looks up to Tigger and often mimics his behavior. So when Tigger took a short break from the box this afternoon, I was only half-surprised to see this:

When Tigger then hopped up on the table and caught her, I was pretty sure he was going to smack her around.

Fortunately, Tigger got distracted by something else and Brachtune then decided that sitting in a box was overrated and got out of her own accord.


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