From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cold "cooked" tomato sauce

In a previous post I demonstrated how easy it was to make tomato sauce if you remove most of the water before you simmer the tomatoes.

In my last post I lamented how stuffed my freezer was right now so I hunted for ways to unstuff it.  Friday morning I found 2 gallon bags of frozen tomato halves. I was going to put them in a pot to simmer like in the previous post, but the day got away from me so I just left the bags in a colander in the sink after cutting the corners off the bottom of the bags.

(I should mention that this year I did NOT scald/skin the tomatoes before I froze them.  I just cut them in half and bagged them up - much less work.)  Anyway, I left the bags in the sink for a couple of hours while I got busy with something else.  By that afternoon the tomatoes had started to thaw and leaking pretty good.  But I still didn't have time to cook, so I dumped the contents into a stockpot and shoved the whole sheebang into the 'fridge.  Every now and then I would tip out the clear liquid that had thawed.  In the end I left the pot there until Sunday morning.

By then there was no more clear liquid to thaw and tomato volume had reduced to about a third.  And I finally had time to cook them up.  First I took 10 minutes to slip off the loose skins before turning on the heat.

All that went into the pot was thick tomato meat and seeds.

I used my potato masher to break up and crush all the halves.  Then I brought the works to a boil and let them simmer for 30 minutes.

I didn't want to overcook.

While the sauce was still warm, I forced it through a sieve to remove all the seeds.

And voila!  Hands down the quickest and thickest tomato sauce I've ever made.  And easiest for sure - by letting the FREEZER do most of the "cooking" instead of the stove.  It softened all the fruit and shriveled the skins for easy removal and the thawing released all the "whey" so I didn't have to simmer the sauce for hours to thicken up.

In the end those 2 gallon bags yielded a shy quart of heavily textured rustic sauce.

I didn't add any seasonings at this point, but will freeze it in 1C containers.  From there I can make tomato soup, or add to chili, pasta or pizza sauce, etc. and add the appropriate seasonings then.

Not only did this turn out to be the best sauce to date, but, boy!, did I free up some freezer space! Win - Win!

I also appreciated working on a small batch - not as overwhelming (or time consuming).  But fear not.  This 1 quart isn't the extent of my bounty.

I've got 3 more gallon bags of tomatoes  stashed over in my Mother's freezer!  :-D

P.S.  Observation:  While just washing and halving the tomatoes and then bagging them up is the fastest/easiest to get the fruit into the freezer, this method takes up more freezer space.  Last year I scalded and skinned the halves and let them drain a bit before bagging them up.  Those frozen bags contained far less water than this year's bags.  That's why in the older post you saw how much sauce I ended up with from the same amount of bags.  Bottom line - this coming season I'll use which ever freezing method I have time (or space) for when harvest starts coming thick and fast as both processes have their appeal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stock options

Sunday, November 13th dawned warm, but with howling winds, presaging the coming (massive) frontal system.  So I hunkered down inside and decided to clean out my little chest freezer.  It's only 5 cu/ft and it was packed full.

In the bottom I found 3 whole chickens, 1 pkg of ham hocks, 1 large pork roast and a small rack of babyback pork ribs.  Good grief!!  The dates were almost a year old.  Time to do something with them.  Two of the chickens had been cut up, but one was whole so did that one up Sunday.  I don't bother to defrost stock stuff.  I just put it in the pot, cover with hot water, add savory vegs like onion, celery, garlic and black peppercorns and turn up the heat.  In less than an hour the chicken was tender enough to break apart with a spoon.  I took out the chicken, shredded off the meat (yep, 180F), then returned the bones, etc. to the stock and let it simmer for a couple more hours.  When sieved I put the stock into the 'fridge for overnight cooling and let the fat rise to the top for skimming.

The next morning was another windy - howling even - day with pouring down rain.  A good day to stay right in the kitchen! I skimmed the fat off the stock, but saw that the broth was very thin, no gelatin at all.  Hmmm.  When measured I found I had 5 quarts of stock.  Oh good heavens! I don't get 5 quarts of stock even when I cook a whole turkey carcass!  What to do?  Cook it down for hours?  Think. Think.  Aha!

Since I planned on simmering up the other 2 chickens, what's to keep me from simmering them up in STOCK instead of water?  So the 2nd frozen chicken went into the pot and when it was fully cooked and tender, I pulled it out, shredded the meat and returned the bones, etc. to the stock.

You probably know what I did next.

Yep, the 3rd chicken went right into the pot.  (I have to tell you, by now the house smelled wonderful!)

The shredded chicken meat was so tender, almost creamy that it melted in my mouth.  Yum!
Meanwhile, on another burner, I'd decided to go for broke and simmered up the 2 small ham hocks with bay leaves and peppercorns (can you tell I use them a lot?).
It took a lot longer than the chickens for the ham hocks to start falling apart.  I've noticed with both, though, that when the meat starts to rise to the surface, it's usually done.

Now these particular hocks were almost all meat with just some slices of bones (none of them marrow bones).  Still, the stock tasted good.

So late that afternoon all the stock went into the fridge for overnight cooling.  My - just look at all that chicken fat rising to the top!
I must admit the chicken stock did not gel that night either, but it was thickened - like syrup.  Still, it was truly tasty with lots of flavor.  So was the ham stock.

I ended up with 2 3C bags of ham stock and 5.5 quart bags of chicken stock.  The shredded meat was also portioned out - 2 bags of ham and 6 bags of chicken.  Now, when I want to make chicken and dumplings, chicken soup, chicken pots pies, etc.  I can just grab one of meat and stock and have at it.  Same with the ham (ham, kale & limas; ham & bean soup, etc.).  Talk about easy peasy.

Aaaaaaaand.  After 2+ days in the kitchen I freed up some space in the freezer, but, truthfully, not all that much.

With the continued successes in the veg garden and my growing penchant for batch cooking, I'm going to have to bite the bullet and buy another small chest freezer.  I'd like to have one for gardens vegs and baked goods (like when I buy (don't wince, Glenda) bread and rolls on sale) and the other one for meats and prepared foods (like stock, soups, portioned casseroles, etc.)  Ah well, you gotta spend some dough to save some, right? *heh*

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tangy rhubarb sauce

A late harvest of 4# of rhubarb stalks. What a treat this time of year!

Washed and diced into the skillet.  It doesn't get much simpler.
Add sugar and spice and everything nice: sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and (for kick) 1/2t of citric acid.

Simmer until soft.  I don't take it all the way down as I enjoy some texture in my treat.

Ah.  Warm, chunky goodness in a cup.  Between the tangy sauce and the sweet shortbread cookies, it's heaven in a cup.

And oh so good for you. Yum.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bean soup

Saturday the wind near ripped the grass right off the lawn.  Sustained winds off 20-25 with gusts over 40 (closer to 50 really).  I felt bad for the nabes that had only just had the leaves cleaned away.  You'd never know it to look outside now.

Since I was tucked well inside, I amused myself by making a vat of ham and bean soup.  The twist was I was determined to use up about a pound and a half of dried pinto beans.  I've tried cooking pintos before, but I just could NOT get them soft.  So this time I figured I'd let them simmer and get soft if it took all the way to Thanksgiving!

Well, it didn't take that long, but it did take at least 5 hours before they softened up.  Then I stashed them in the 'fridge overnight and finished the soup today.  I added my own grown red potatoes, onions and peppers as well as a pound of store-bought carrots.  And while I simmered the whole shebang for another 2 hours, I'm still not completely happy with the firmness of the pintos.  Just how the heck long do these things have to cook??

Anyway, the soup is delish, taste-wise (although it's several shades darker than when I use the usual pound of 15-bean mix). Maybe the beans will soften up when I freeze them for later meals.

Meanwhile, to work up an appetite, I spent a little time in the veg bed today.  Click the pepper pic for an update.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Roasted tomato paste

Thanks to a good crop of tomatoes this year, the freezer is filled with quart bags of vegetable stock (actually soup, it's so concentrated) and gallon bags of cut-up tomatoes waiting for a cold winter day to be cooked down for tomato soup.

So, when the romas got ripe, I decided to do something a little different.  I halved them, sprayed them very lightly with EVOO, and roasted them, skin side down (425 for 40 minutes with oven cracked to allow steam to vent).

Then I took the roasted halves, scooped out the thickened pulp from the skins, mixed it with a little roasted garlic granules and Italian seasoning, spread it back on the cookie sheet and roasted it again for 10-12 minutes.

I ended up with about 1.5C of a luscious thick and intensely flavored paste.  I used some immediately on a fresh veg medley over pasta and it was delicious!

I have more romas ripening now.  You can bet they are going to end up just like this.  Yum!

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Quick refrigerator pickles

First off, let me make this perfectly clear.

I've never made a pickle in my life.  That said... the internet is bursting with all kinds of pickle recipes (some approved by the government, most just family recipes).  Since I'm having a bounty of cukes this year (slicers and picklers) I decided to make something - something simple.

REAL simple.

I read tons of recipes and they were similar and yet different.  About the only thing consistent was acid (vinegar), sugar (a little or a lot), and spices.   So I headed for Wal-Mart for supplies.  I found exactly what I wanted - including Pickle Crisp.  This product sounded way simpler than soaking cukes in lime to make them crunchy.  But it's hard to find it sometimes, so I brought home 2 jars, just in case this whole pickle experience turns out well.

Back in the kitchen...

Do I want to process (BWB)?  Nope.

Do I want to cook the cukes? Nope.

Sounds like refrigerator pickles then.

I decided to get creative with a small batch for a first effort:  

4 large Sweet Success cukes, 
1 large green bell pepper, 
1 large Vadalia onion.  

I sliced them into a bowl, sprinkled on 1T of Mrs. Wages pickling salt, tossed in a couple cups of ice cubes and let it all sit in the 'fridge for 3 hours.

Meanwhile I tinkered with a brine:  
3C white vinegar, 
3C cane sugar, 
1T Ball's pickling blend, 
1/4t tumeric, 
1/4t garlic granules, 
1/2t red pepper flakes. 

I brought the brine to a boil for 3 minutes, then set it aside.
 I was shooting for something like a zesty (hot-ish) bread'n'butter flavor.

Three hours later I pulled out the cukes/veg mix and rinsed off the salt.  Then I stuffed 4 (washed but not sterilized) pint jars with the mix, added 1/8t (rounded) Ball's Pickle Crisp (calcium chloride), poured in the lukewarm brine, screwed on the plastic lids and put them in the 'fridge.  I also ended up with almost a pint of extra brine (so I guess I'll be making more pickles soon).

Then I waited.

I didn't wait long.  (I'm not the most patient person.) The next day a friend joined me for supper and we had sliced chicken sandwiches.  I just HAD to see if the pickles tasted anything like B'n'B pickles and if Pickle Crisp really worked.

Allowing for the fact that the pickles hadn't brined for even 24 hours, the taste was very nice - not as sweet as a 'normal' B'n'B, but a lighter flavor.  But, wow.  Definitely zippy!  And they were nice and crunchy.  So were the onions and the bell pepper chunks -- a nice pickle crunch, not the crunch of raw veg.

Two days went by, the pickles disappeared.  My friend took a jar home.  My mom tried them and there went another jar.  So 3 days later (and another basket of cukes harvested) I'm making more pickles.  This time I'm using quart jars. :-D

Initially I wondered how long this kind of pickle (uncooked cukes, unprocessed jars) would keep fresh in the 'fridge.

The way they are walking out of here, I may never really know....

You experienced picklers out there, if you see I'm playing with fire here and likely to make someone ill, please let me know! In fact, ANY suggestions would be appreciated. Bottom line, at this point, I don't want to process my pickles. Just make something quick and simple - and safe. Thanks!


Follow up:  I made another batch this afternoon.  I didn't use any bell pepper this time.  I used 2 large Vidalia onions and almost filled my salad spinner bowl with sliced cukes.  

I was shooting for 4 quarts of pickles, but was shy.  Next time I'll fill the salad bowl to the top - that should give me 4 quarts.  While I sluiced off the cuke liquid, I didn't rinse off the salt this time.  (Like I say, I'm tinkering with taste here.)  I used up the leftover brine and added 1C vinegar, 1.5C sugar (I think it needed a little more sweetening), 1/8t garlic.  But I forgot to add more tumeric, so this brine is a little less golden than the last.  And I didn't wait for the brine to cool.  After it boiled for 3 minutes, I let it sit for just a couple minutes and then poured it over the sliced cukes/onions & the Pickle Crisp.

Now we wait again....

I'll be helping a neighbor with her garden on Thursday since she's had wrist surgery. I think I'll take her a jar of pickles to help her recover.... :-D

8/14/2011  - More pickles

On 8/8 I made a 3rd batch of pickles.  Folks really seem to like them and since I'm having the BEST CUKE HARVEST EVER this year, I'm making pickles willy-nilly.

This batch I rinsed the soak salt off the vegs --  I didn't notice any taste difference between batch #1 & #2, so the salt didn't bring anything to the party.

Like before I oval-cut the cukes (better sandwich coverage), sliced up Vidalia onions and, for fun, I added 4 large red hot Hungarian wax peppers to the mix.  This time I filled up the bowl.

I used the same brine - equal portions of white vinegar to sugar, pickling spices (Ball's mix, then extra tumeric, garlic granules, allspice and celery seed.  I thought I might be tempting fate to include red pepper flakes because of the wax peppers.) Oh, and I'm really happy with the Pickle Crisp!  I highly recommend it.

But I was wrong.  While this batch is as tasty/crunchy as the previous batches, they don't have the zip putting red pepper flakes in the brine gave the last batches.  So next time - I'm flaking!

I'm still getting cukes and I'll probably make another batch of pickles.  One thing I've noticed, when piling the pickles onto burgers, sandwiches or chopping them into chicken salad, I'm always looking for more of the pickled Vidalia onions.  So I'm going to also make up a batch of JUST onion slices.  Heck, I may even do them the 'real' way - sealed jars and BWB, the whole 9 yards. Those things are just ridiculously good! 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Boasting about Roasting

The 'Spring' weather has been nasty for the past couple of days - barely in the 40s, raining, windy.  Just really depressing.  It seemed like the perfect day to play in the kitchen.  I decided I had time AND inclination to prepare something I love, but seldom get around to.

Roast vegetables.

I kept 4 butternut squash in my closet for the past 7 months.  High time to use them up.  (Harvest info on the VEG PAGE.

The 2 half-trays on the left are the bottoms of the 3 largest squash as well as the 2nd smallest neck.  These have been seeded and chopped, but unpeeled and liberally tossed with EVOO.  The roaster on the right holds the chopped & peeled necks from the 2 largest fruit.

First in the oven - the 2 on the left.  I got the oven up to 425 and put them both on the top rack.  About 20 minutes into it I tossed them with a turner and let them go another 10 minutes.  They came out all brown and carmelly and smelled like sugar.  I transferred them to a Pyrex casserole to cool. I had to hold myself back from over-sampling, they were so creamy under the crisp.

While the first 2 trays roasted, I added other vegs to the remaining roaster: red potatoes, radishes, green onions, and thick ribs from napa cabbage (it's like making soup - anything in the 'fridge is fair game here!).  Then I sprinkled on roasted garlic granules, celery seed, and coated everything with EVOO.  

Now here's a tip.  Do NOT try to roast vegs when piled this deep in a pan.  They will not roast, only STEAM.  I re-apportioned these into single layers by putting 1/3 each onto the now-empty half-trays.  Then all 3 pans went into the oven, 2 on the top shelf, 1 on the bottom.  Since the heating element roasted the bottom pan quickly, those vegs came out within 20 minutes.  That let more heat reach the 2 top trays and within 10 minutes they were savory and sweet and roasted to perfection.  Then they all went back into the roaster.

When COMPLETELY COOL (else they will steam in the bag), I'll freeze these in nice sized portions for later use.  There so many ways to use roasted vegs: cold over rice or quinoa makes a great summer salad, grilled (on a Foreman) makes for a great side dish, or (one of my winter favorites) is a roasted stew.  Mmmm.  Stew.....? 

Wonder if I have any meat in the freezer.

Stay tuned.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

My need for no-knead Ciabatta

I was cruising the web looking for a really really simple way to make some kind of rustic bread, like a Ciabatta.  I found some that had too many steps (like making a 'sponge' a day ahead and many spells of stretching the dough the next day), or not enough steps that ended up with not what I was looking for.

Then I found the Goldilocks site: Food Wishes Video Recipes / No Knead Ciabatta .  Hot cha!  The short video showed the whole process.  Even *I* could do this!

Not only could, but DID - 3 times to date. :-D

Off the bat I liked this recipe - I had all the ingredients right on hand: flour, active yeast, salt & water.  You mix all the ingredients the night before, cover it and let it rise for 18 hours (at least).  Then stir the sticky dough down with a spatula, fold it a couple of times, shape/stretch out a loaf onto a corn-mealed pan, let it rise 2 hours (covered), bake 35-45 minutes at 425 and VOILA!

It's got crust.  It's got airholes. It's got the look of an artisan rustic bread.

The utter simplicity of it all.  While the elapsed time from grabbing ingredients to slathering that first slice with butter will be 21 (+/-) hours, but interactive time?  Practically nada!  A few minutes to mix and cover to rise.  A few minutes to scrape/shape & cover the loaf to rise.  Pop into pre-heated oven, set the timer and *PING* - TADA!


A few days later *munch munch* I decided to make another loaf.  The first loaf was a little dry to my taste so thought I'd experiment.  And like most of my experiments, things got a little - unexpected.  For a better 'mouth' feel, I added 2T of EVOO.  But I didn't think to reduce the 2C of water by 2T, which made for a very loose dough.  The 2nd thing I did was not wear my glasses.  *sigh*  Instead of 1/4t of yeast, I sprinkled in 1/2t.  Oh good grief.  So, before I added the water I added 1t of sugar to give all that extra yeast something to eat.  LOL  Anywho...  As you can see by the resulting loaf above, that loosy-goosey dough spread out, not up.  This one didn't look so much like football, but a flounder! 

Logic might tell you that 2ce as much yeast would result in even more air pockets.  And it even might have done that, had not the dough been so loose from the olive oil.  Or maybe it was the sugar.  Whatever.  I ended up with a dense, flat loaf with a softer crust.  Appearance suffered.

But oh my the flavor.  This bread was the bomb! The olive oil lingered on the tongue.  No need to butter this bread!  And I'm sure that bit of sugar contributed to the rich flavor.

An unexpected benefit of this denser loaf was that it sliced like magic.  I was cutting slices as thin as 1/4" - and sturdy slices at that.  It made excellent toast.  Toasted lightly the crust was crispy and the center chewy.  Toasted a little more and it held up to humus, chicken pate, and cream cheese.  Take toasting one step further and you'd never have to buy boxed melba toasts/crackers again.  This happy accident turns out to be a real keeper!

But the train moved on down the tracks and it was time to make more bread.  Should I use batch #2 recipe again?  Or try another experiment?  Wooohaha.

Bread batch #3.  The original recipe called for 3.5C of white flour and .5C of whole wheat.  But why?  Why indeed?  This time my .5C was RYE flour.  I used the right amount of yeast, and added only 1T of EVOO (reducing the 2C of water by 1T to compensate).  No sugar this time.  But did add 1T of caraway seed (it just goes with rye, no?).  The last difference this time was that I let the dough rise an extra hour, 19 instead of 18.  I noticed when I turned out the dough to make a loaf that the dough was sticker and denser.  Was it the extra rise time?  Was it the rye flour?  Who knows...

What happened then was fun to watch.  Through my oven door I saw that loaf grow like something from a sci-fi movie.  Honestly it got huge.  Hey, somebody call Goodyear and see if they're missing a blimp!  

The science of making bread still eludes me.  I know that rise time and yeast and type of flour etc all play into the final loaf.  But right now, I'm just going with the FUN, the messing around to see what happens.

I'll be making more soon.  Most likely I'll take yet another tack.  Why not?  It's the fun of not knowing what will come out of the oven that brings me back; the excitement, the thrill of discovery as much as the crusty, chewy results.  *munch*

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Easy tomato sauce

Last Fall I was up to my elbows in fresh tomatoes.  Usually I would have cooked them all up into soup or sauce and freeze them for winter use, but the weather was just sooo hot, well into October/November.

So I compromised -  did only half the work.  I washed and scalded off the skins and cut the fruit into chunks.  Then I froze them in bags.

I meant to get to them sooner than this, but better late than never.  I had 6 gallon bags in the freezer and since it's still(!) winter, I figured it was high time to get them out of the freezer.

I was able to fit 3 bags of mash at a time into my 12-quart stock pot.  Then I turned the burner way low and let them thaw slowly.  I didn't want the tomatoes to cook at this time.

I knew when I bagged them up last Fall, that the freezing process would be the key, the trick to reducing the final cooking time.

As the blocks thawed, they released the clear water that I think tastes bitter.  (Kinda reminds me of yogurt whey.) 

As the water was released, I used a turkey baster to siphon it out of the pot.  In the end, I removed 6 quarts of clear liquid from the 6 bags of thawed mash.

Not only does it remove the bitterness, but those 6 quarts of liquid did not need to be cooked off.  I know folks who cook tomato sauce for hours, even overnight to thicken up their sauce.  I use very little electricity this way and don't have to heat up the kitchen.

Another thing - no real babysitting of the pot.  At low heat no danger of scorching.  In fact I didn't stir those thawing chunks at all because I didn't want to incorporate that clear liquid into the mix.  Every now and then I would wander into the kitchen, siphon off whatever liquid had accumulated, then go do other stuff.

Just 6 easy (everything seems to be in 6's for this project - go figure) hours later I have (wait for it...) 6 quarts of what I would call crushed tomatoes in sauce.

Yay! I WANTED crushed tomatoes.  I like cooking with canned crushed tomatoes - I like the texture.  This was pretty close.  Unfortunately I never removed the seeds last fall and I really really dislike seeds in my sauce, plus I have friends who shouldn't eat seeds of any kind.  So I decided to make a smooth sauce instead.

I rigged up a sieve over a pot and using my trusty soup ladle, I forced the sauce through the screen.  Honestly, this is WAY easier than using my Foley food mill.  This is faster and tons easier to clean!

It took maybe 25 - 30 minutes to (I wasn't working hard) and I ended up with a very dry softball sized lump of seeds, membranes and the occasional slip of skin.

Sure looks like a bowl of fresh ground chuck, doesn't it? LOL

I poured all the sauce back into a smaller stock pot, brought it up to a boil, then simmered it for 20-30 minutes, just to smooth out the flavor.

And there we go - almost 4 (4? not 6? LOL) quarts of very thick sauce (actually more of a silky puree).

I'll portion it out in 2C bags and put them in the freezer - for now.  'Cause I'll guarantee you -- this stuff won't sit in there for long.  I'm already dreaming chile, spaghetti, marinara sauce, salsa.... :-D


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let's start with yogurt

Hi and welcome to my new blog page. Over this past winter several of my garden posts on the main page showed some of the comfort food (soups, stews, etc.) that helped me get through this long long (really long) winter this year.  And, sometimes, there's no garden news to blog when the snow is up to here and the wind is howling.  So I thought why not add a page to bring all that cooking, canning and preserving together.  Why not indeed.  So here it is.  LOL  

Yesterday I decided to make yogurt.  Earlier in the week I got a good deal on a gallon of organic milk.  So I picked up some plain Dannon yogurt as a starter.  (Dang! They don't sell the plain in 1C cartons anymore so I had to shell out for a whole quart! *grumble*)  Ah well, that should be the last time I'll need that!)

To the gallon of milk I added 1 packet (about 3/4C) of dried non-fat milk to fortify and add body to the finished yogurt.

I was all excited to use my new thermometer, but turns out it was defective.  There were 2 bubbles in the temp gauge so I wasn't sure if it was reading right.  Instead of trying to figure out if I'd brought the milk up to 185F (to sterilize off existing cultures/bacteria) I used my old-fashioned method.  I brought to milk just below boiling and kept it there for 3 minutes.  

Then I needed to cool the milk to 110F (or old-fashioned again, until you can dip your little finger (a very clean finger!) and hold it in the milk for 10 seconds).  I could have let the milk cool on its own, but to speed things up I filled the sink 1/3 deep with cold water, then set the kettle in, stirring the milk and occasionally swishing the kettle in the water.  It only took 3-4 minutes for the temp to come right down.

I took 4 heaping soupspoons of the Dannon, mixed in less than a cup of the milk, creamed it up well and added it to the milk.  I stirred it all in then poured the inoculated milk into clean 1-quart yogurt cartons.  With the addition of the milk solids and the Dannon yogurt I got 4 quarts and 1 cup.  (I always save the cup container for making my next batch.)

I set the containers on a moisture-proof heating pad set to low, and snugged them under a couple of kitchen towels then left them for about 6.5 hours.  (After 2 hours I could see the little container was already starting to gel.)

After they'd fermented for nearly 7 hours, I popped them all into the 'fridge overnight to totally set up.

Today, to make my yogurt sweet and creamy, I removed some of the bitter whey.  I dipped out the yogurt into coffee filter in strainers and let the whey drip out for 2 hours in the 'fridge.

I find that 2 hours drips out 1C per quart of new yogurt.

Now I have  3 quarts of yogurt, perfectly thick and creamy, sweet and delicious.  Bring on the fruit!

Oh wait -- here it is now. :-D

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