Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dirty Hippie

Homemade yogurt and chunky granola with almonds, apples and craisins

When I told my friend Randi that I had started making headbands and selling them at craft shows, she said, “Denise, you move to Portland and become a dirty hippie.” The years since then, I’ve done plenty more to add to my dirty hippie status. Like growing vegetables, eating seasonally, canning, and sewing my own clothes and home accessories. I do admit to showering regularly though.

But the other day I think I reached the zenith of dirty hippidom – I made my own granola and fermented my own yogurt. For Christmas, Trevor’s parents gave us a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated magazine. What it lacks in modern, glossy layouts it more than makes up for in genius kitchen tips and recipes that work because of on-staff science editors and repeated testing. We’ve made several recipes from the issues we’ve received so far and each one is just perfect. One day I decided to make the super chunky granola from the March/April issue. I’d also been eyeing the yogurt recipe in Canning for a New Generation. And our friend Paul had recently given us a copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, which also had a yogurt recipe. Yogurt and granola seemed like a perfect combination.

The granola was simple enough. Oil, vanilla, maple syrup and brown sugar mixed to coat rolled oats and almonds, then pressed into a lined baking sheet and baked at a low 325˚ for about 40 minutes. After it’s cool, you break it apart and add the dried fruit. We used apples and craisins. (Making this granola, I found getting rolled oats, dried fruit and nuts from the bulk bins at the grocery store is much cheaper than buying packaged versions!) I like granola, but it’s never been all that exciting to me. But this granola was so tasty and crunchy, I really liked it. Now Trevor is hooked and would rather eat it for breakfast than his usual Kashi goLean Crisp. He’s even said he’d be willingly to be the one to make it on a weekly basis.

The yogurt was surprisingly easy to make. You use a bit of plain yogurt with live active cultures as a starter. You heat up some milk to the right temperature, let it cool a little then add the starter and let it sit in a cooler warmed up with bottles of hot water. My first attempt at yogurt was a little thin. The couple times I’ve made it since then, it’s been thicker. Nevertheless, I really like the richness and tanginess of it. It’s a perfect foil to the sweet granola. When I have the two for breakfast, I feel like I’ve eaten something really good for me. Then I take a shower and put on some makeup, because I’m not a total dirty hippie.