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Fab or Flop Friday – Making Vegan Yogurt, Part 3

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Part 1  Part 2

It turns out that the package of yogurt starter had a troubleshooting guide in it that I missed the first time around. Apparently overheating the culture does cause the whey-like separation I got when trying to make the hemp milk yogurt. Well. Now I know. Operator error. Got it.

So, armed with this knowledge, I made another attempt at vegan yogurt. I used rice milk this time, kept the batch small, and used my typical incubation method. I carefully went through the process of heating the rice milk, adding the starter culture, and incubating the mixture. Oh, who am I trying to kid? I put the rice milk on the stove and measured its temperature carefully for about 5 minutes before my boys had so-called “needs” and distracted me. *Sigh* At least it didn’t boil over this time.

After 24 hours of incubation, the result was another mediocre batch of yogurt. The tart yogurt-y taste was more fully developed this time, probably because I didn’t kill the culture so quick. However, there was still that funny sweetish taste, too. (Sweet-ish, not to be confused with Swedish.) The consistency of the finished product was pretty much the same as rice milk, perhaps slightly thicker.

Here’s my theory. It’s pure speculation, but it sounds real good. I think that the bacteria ate all the sugars they could, but I’m not sure that all the sugars in the rice milk are digestible to these bacteria, so that leaves the strange sweet taste – the undigested sugars. Also, I don’t think there’s enough protein and fat in rice milk to cause the mixture to thicken up any. You’d need to add gelatin or agar agar or something to thicken things up to something resembling commercial yogurt.Pear, carrot, and spinach juice with rice milk yogurt

There is some good news, though. I now have a cultured (fermented) rice beverage, kind of like kefir. I’m not a fan of drinking it straight, but I mixed it with some freshly pressed juice, and it was a super-refreshing beverage. The combo was actually quite a bit better than either beverage alone. Not quite “Calgon, take me away!” good, but probably the best beverage I’ve had in the last several years. Seriously yum-tastic.

I’m getting a regular supply of goat’s milk again, so I think my adventures in making vegan yogurt are over for now. I’m going to give Jaye the rest of the starter culture, as her family uses almond milk, and I’m curious to see if it makes a difference. Stay tuned for the continuing saga!

Best of the Web – Chicken Patties

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Frozen Chicken PattiesI know this is labeled as kid food, but the grown-ups at our house love these chicken patties, too. I love that the recipe is allergen-free. There are no eggs, gluten, corn, soy, or any of the other top 8 allergens in the recipe. Not only is it safe for many people’s allergies, it’s really easy – just throw the stuff in the food processor and let it go!

However, this recipe deserves Best-of-the-Web status, but only after some minor tweaking. We substitute pureed veggies (or baby food, since we’ve got a ton of that lying around) for the applesauce, add some more seasonings (oregano is a good place to start), and bake them instead of frying them (easier to mass-produce that way). Some of us like the patties dipped in applesauce, others prefer to use mustard. Of course, you can change all that up according to your family’s taste. This is really a super-versatile recipe.

These do really well in the freezer. Just flash freeze the cooked patties, pop them in a labeled baggie, and you’re good to go. I recommend cooking the patties about ¾ of the way, then freezing them, as that helps preserve the moisture during the reheating process. If you do this, just spread them out on a cookie sheet and reheat at 350 F. Make sure the internal temp reaches 165 F, of course.

Chicken Patties (gluten-free, egg-free)

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half (about 7 ounces), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 scallions, coarsely chopped  (or onions, or dried minced onion – whatever’s handy)
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons applesauce, plus more for dipping
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, or canola oil
  1. Pulse chicken and scallions in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in quinoa, applesauce, and salt, if desired. Form into 2-inch patties that are 1/2 inch thick. Patties can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month until ready to cook.
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add patties to skillet; cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Serve warm with applesauce.

http://www.marthastewart.com/356147/chicken-and-apple-patties

Tuesday Tips – Homemade Sausage Patties

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We have started making our own homemade chicken sausage patties, since the ones in the store are so stinkin’ expensive, and likely to be contaminated with one of our many allergens. It turns out that it’s really easy to make allergen-free sausage – just mix ground meat with seasonings, and voila! Bulk sausage.

There are a bunch of homemade sausage recipes on the web. We don’t really have a favorite to recommend. Sometimes we make Italian sausage for pizza, sometimes spicy sausage (for Hubby), or sometimes a sweet breakfast-y maple sausage for, well, breakfast.

Maybe someday I’ll get ambitious and figure out how to stuff casings and all that. In the meantime, I figured out an easy way to make easy sausage patties. After mixing the raw meat and seasonings together, I just form it into a log, roll it up in freezer paper, and freeze it solid. Then, I unwrap it and simply slice off little patties – much like those slice-and-bake cookies I used to make as a teenager. You’ll need a really super sharp chef’s knife for this. I found that a serrated knife left little sausage sawdust bits everywhere, so I use a flat blade instead.

I pop the frozen patties straight into the frying pan to cook. They hold their shape that way while they cook. Extra patties go back into the freezer, safely sealed in a labeled baggie for another meal. Simple as that!

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