Family Project: Yogurt Cream Cheese

In If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff, you learn that if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want some milk.  And when he gets the milk, he’s going to ask for a straw.  And when he’s done, he’ll need a napkin. I’m sure you see where this is going.  And if you have children, you’ve lived it! One thing leads to another until you’re right back  to cookies.

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Well, in my case it started with a realization that we were spending quite a bit of money on organic yogurt.  Sam was going through record amounts and I was *cough* indulging a bit as well.  So I met the challenge head on and made it myself!

Once I made the yogurt though, I discovered that I could make cream cheese out of it.  Imagine that.

Using The Encyclopedia of Country Living as my guide, I followed a few very simple steps:

Step 1:  Pour one quart of freshly made yogurt into the center of a length of cheesecloth spread over a bowl.  (Optional: Mix in 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt to yogurt beforehand.)

001Step 2:  Pull the ends together to create a “ball” of yogurt.  I used rubber bands, of which we have plenty, to close off the cloth.  I used the remaining ends to create a loop (again with rubber bands) which I could hang from a yardstick.  Use whatever materials you have on hand to hang the yogurt.

As you can see, the liquid will drain into the bowl.  I had to dump mine periodically so the yogurt wasn’t sitting in it, but you could hang yours differently so that it isn’t quite so low.

006Step 3:  Hang for 6 to 48 hours in a cool airy place (sooner is safer). This ball of yogurt cream cheese was hanging for at least 17 hours in my cold, unheated kitchen—from the afternoon of the previous day and through the night.  Peel off cheesecloth.

It’s ready to eat!  And honestly, it’s tastes better than store bought cream cheese made from cream and just slightly (and deliciously) tangier.  No complaints from the head taster, my 13 year old son.

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And, naturally, if you make some yogurt cream cheese, you’ll have to make some bagels to go with it. 🙂  It’s as simple as that.

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Friday Feature: Is It Spaghetti Or Is It Squash?

I bought a spaghetti squash at the market.  It sat on the counter for a couple of weeks, more as a fall decoration than a potential food item.  But then Thanksgiving came and went, and it was still there.  I figured it was do or die.  If I didn’t deal with the darn thing, I might end up throwing it over the bank in the backyard like I did with the one last year.

Using Carla Emery’s The Encyclopedia of Country Living as my guide, I found out just how ridiculously easy it is to create a delicious low-calorie replacement for angel hair pasta.

Step 1:  Throw the whole thing into a roasting pan and put into a hot 350 degree oven.  Prick the skin with a fork.  Bake for about 1 and a half hours or until a knife easily pierces the skin.

Hot out of the oven.

Hot out of the oven.

Step 2:  After it cools a bit (don’t want to burn your fingers), slice lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and the pulp.

ready to be seededStep 3:  Now the fun begins!  I used a large salad fork to literally rake out the “spaghetti” onto a plate.

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Now you’re ready to dress it up for dinner…

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  • Top with pasta sauce and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Stir in a little butter, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour on a little cream and stir in some  grated cheese.

Other suggestions include serving it with chili or in a casserole or stir-fry.  I like the idea of using it in place of lasagna noodles.

We had leftover squash which ended up in Jim’s vegetable soup the next day.  You can also cook and then freeze the “spaghetti” for use at a later date.

Lots of possibilities here!

I’ll be back the Monday after Christmas.  Have a Happy Holiday everyone!!!