Channelling The Good Life

These days, I have a little more time on my hands. So last night I channelled my inner Barbara and made a few key items from scratch. I haven’t gone the full Good Life and it’s not likely that I ever will. But, it’s still really fun and rewarding to make some basic things from scratch. It’s important for me to know what is in the food I’m eating. But the sustainability aspect is also pleasing.

Home made yoghurt

First up, I made yoghurt. Now I know it’s not vegetarian, but I like it (in moderation) and it’s ridiculously easy to make, just a little fiddly. I have an Easi-Yo yoghut maker, which is basically a 1L container and an insulated “maker” which controls the temperature.

The irony of making yoghurt is that you need some to start. It’s kind of like having a starter for sourdough. Yoghurt is made when a specific bacteria converts the lactose (or sugars) in the milk to lactic acid. This thickens the milk and gives it that tangy taste. Commercial yoghurt contains flavourings and sweeteners, typically, which is one of the reasons I’m happy to make it at home.

All you need is a few spoonfuls of yoghurt, a litre of milk and a cooking thermometer. Put the yoghurt into a pan on the stove and heat it to above 90 degrees Celsius. Once it hits that temperature, remove from the heat and cool rapidly to between 35 and 40 deg Celsius. Once cool, stir in a few spoonfuls of the starter yoghurt. Pour the cooled milk mix into the canister and seal it tightly. Meanwhile, fill the yoghurt maker with boiling water and insert the filled canister. Put the lid on the maker and leave in a warm place overnight.

In the morning, you’ll have a canister filled with fresh, home-made yoghurt. It takes a bit of experimenting to work out the right type of milk and the right yoghurt base to use. Sometimes the end product will have a lot of whey (the translucent liquid). You can stir that into the curds, or pour it out.

Vegan feta cheese

This one was less fiddly but more tricky. I followed a recipe from Smith and Daughters, one of Melbourne’s finest vegan restaurants.

Take a 500g block of firm tofu and compress it between sheets of paper towl to remove the excess moisture. You may need to weigh it down with a plate on top. I added extra weight with a gin bottle. While that’s happening, mix the marinade ingredients.

Take 1 cup each of extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil, add half a cup of red wine vinegar in a large jar or sealable container. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt . I find restaurant recipes very heavy in salt, sugar and fat, so for this one I just used a pinch. Also add a teaspoon of dried oregano, half a teaspoon of chilli flakes, a minced garlic clove and a quarter of a red onion, thinly sliced.  Crumble the feta into the mixture and leave to sit at room temperature for a few hours. Refrigerate overnight.


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