Mmmmm. Fresh yogurt. Crunchy granola. Boo Berries.

BUT, before I go into all of that crazy goodness, I’d like to express my GINORMOUS thanks to all that voted for this blog in the Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards. Voting is closed and the winners will be announced on May 3rd. If you voted, it was very generous and kind of you, if you didn’t, I get that too; signing up to vote in a contest is not everyone’s cup-o-tea. I’m just delighted that you take the time to read my funny little country-living/food-loving diary. It’s a labour of love.

I really must say that I am especially grateful to Bord Bia {the Irish food board}, Marie-Claire Digby of the Irish Times, The Irish Farmer’s Journal and Irish Country Mag, along with the amazing food and blogging community in Ireland who shared an overwhelming show of support in getting the word out about this nomination. If there is one thing I have noticed that Ireland does with great pride and enthusiasm, it is supporting the people, places or things they believe in. To receive this gesture of support as an American living in Ireland is something to relish; it is heartwarming and very special to say the least. Plus, it goes a long way in making an oft homesick expat feel right at home, and that is enough of a win for me! Thank you.

I apologise for not having a post up sooner. As luck would have it, we’ve had sketchy internet. I am not going to flannel on about it, because we are lucky that we even have a fast internet connection most of the time. This was not always the case. When I moved here just a few years ago, there was dial-up. The kind where you hear the dial tone and worse-than-nails-on-a-blackboard screeching sounds. Now, we have wi-fi, but the router is located in the cowshed at the upper farmyard because it picks up a better signal from there. Which is brilliant, until rains too much {cough} we don’t get a signal. Yes, it rains fairly often. (see Fair Weather Friend)

So. Homemade yogurt. Something I probably would have never dreamed of attempting, but when you have an Irish dairy on your doorstep and the nearest supermarket is 3/4′s of an hour away, it makes no sense whatsoever NOT to milk it. This post is not groundbreaking. There are already bags of other food blogs + websites featuring DIY yogurt. It’s like a bubbling pot of live bacteria out there. So, I am not going to claim that my version is the best, but I do know that our 6 year old prefers it over fromage frais which is nothing short of monumental. I personally think the trick is vanilla bean. Takes down that tang.

And, besides the cracking taste; other mightly fine reasons for making your own yoghurt are:

  1. It’s healthier as it contains no extra preservatives, sugars or additives {i.e. gobbledy-gook}
  2. It’s less expensive {even if you’re not farming}
  3. It’s friendlier to the environment {no trees will be harmed}

As far as the granola, it’s as simple as A. my go-to gorgeous Kilbeggan Oats roasted with B. my beekeeping father-in-law’s happy honey, and C. a few other nutty & seedy bits and bobs thrown in for good measure. Of course, you can use any brand of oats and honey from the shop or market. Easy peasy.

Sharing these recipes can only mean I’ve formally become “crunchy” right?  Okay, maybe halfsies; I did go out to a fancy city dinner wearing makeup and Michael Kors last week, so perhaps I’m just a partial granola girl.

Either way, I’m down with it.

Are you?

Farmhouse Yoghurt

2 Liters or 1/2 gallon of milk

(I use full fat from our dairy for a delightfully creamy result,

but you can buy organic milk of any fat content from the

market as well)

125 ml/ ½ cup of plain yogurt

(to be used a starter, store-bought & must have “live bacteria

cultures” on label)

1 teaspoon vanilla pod seeds

Stainless steel saucepan

Candy Thermometer

Over low heat, slowly bring the milk up to 77°C/170°F in saucepan with a candy thermometer. Do not allow the milk to boil at any time. Once your milk reaches 77°C/170°F, turn off the heat and bring the temperature back down to 43°C/110°F. Once your milk has reached 43°C/110°F, stir a little bit of the warm milk into the 125 ml/½ cup of plain yogurt.

Pour the milk and yogurt mixture into to the saucepan and gently stir them together. Stir in vanilla seeds.

Now it is time to incubate the yogurt. You will need to keep it at a temperature of about 110°F for the next 4-10 hours. The length of time will depend on how thick and tangy you want your yogurt. The longer it sits at this warm temperature, the firmer and tangier it will get. Check the yogurt at the 4 hour mark for a taste and texture test, if you are pleased you can move onto chilling.

I recommend putting the lid onto the saucepan of yogurt, wrapping it up in towels and placing into an oven which was preheated to 50°C/120°F and then turned off. (You can try to maintain the heat in the oven by leaving the light on, which can generate enough heat to keep the yogurt active, but I find keeping the pan cosy in towels should do the trick). All ovens are not the same so play it by ear. I have also read about using a crock-pot, heating pad or, of course, a yogurt maker as well.

When the desired time is up, place the yogurt in the fridge to chill. After the yogurt is completely chilled, stir. There may be a film over the top, which you can eat or simply remove. Pour yogurt into airtight containers and store. (remember to save some to use as your next starter.) Then poon into a dish, cover in granola & fresh berries and DEVOUR.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen x

Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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Yes, yogurt is usually spelled yog-hurt on this side of the pond. Not just in Ireland, but often throughout Europe. I discovered that the word yogurt is derived from the Turkish: yoğurt, and is related to the obsolete verb yoğmak which means to be curdled or coagulated; to thicken. Why the H is added, we will never know, I’m just glad it’s not called yoğmak anymore.

It was imminent….had to be done….I could not bear to go on without my frozen yogurt for one day longer. Long gone are my days of Pinkberry or TCBY. I’m in Ireland, baby. For a brief period, I could find plain frozen yogurt in the supermarket freezer section, but one day not toooo long ago, it suddenly it disappeared without even saying a proper frozen yogurt banana split goodbye. You see, frozen yogurt was one of those lovely, healthy standby treats that I could get the little farmer to eat. He couldn’t tell the difference between frozen yogurt and ice cream especially when it was covered in fresh berry coulis or a dab of marshmallow fluff and pecans…and neither could I. *tissue please*

Once again, I plunged into farmette mode and wondered if I could make my own frozen yogurt using dairy from the farm. I pondered + pondered until this past weekend when I stumbled upon a recipe for gooseberry & elderflower frozen yoghurt which looked positively delicious! As it happened, gooseberry picking was also on the books for the weekend so we kept 500 grams aside for my little frozen yogurt experiment. I had a batch of Elderflower cordial on hand for the occasion, another seasonal + local treat that I had planned on blogging about this week until the greatness of gooseberry frozen yoghurt presented itself. {Stop by these sites for a little Elderflower love: Edible Ireland and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall }

The recipe is very simple and you don’t need an ice cream maker, although it would be far easier as I had to remember and stir the mixture a few times to get just the right consistency. For the maiden voyage, I opted to use Glenisk natural greek style yoghurt which is a staple in our house. I also added the puree of two pears simply because they needed to be used up and while I believe it enhanced the flavour somewhat, they are not necessary. The flavour and texture are both incredible…I had no expectations and I have to say this frozen treat is a real taste sensation!

This certainly won’t be my last attempt at making frozen yogurt; next time I will try my hand at making some farm fresh yogurt and experiment with other flavours.

Pinkberry Shminkberry.

Give it a go!

Green Gooseberry + Elderflower Frozen Yogurt

500 g green gooseberries

2 ripened  and peeled pears

150 caster sugar

4 tbsp undiluted elderflower cordial

500 g full natural greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the gooseberries and pears into a small saucepan with the sugar and 3 tbsp water. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then cook gently for a few minutes until all the berries have popped and softened. Whizz to a puree with a blender, then push through a sieve with a ladle to get rid of the pips. Stir in the elderflower cordial and vanilla and allow to cool. When it’s cool, fold in the fruit puree. Either churn in ice cream maker or put into shallow metal container in the freezer for a few hours, until mixture is solid, then break up and blitz in food processor until totally smooth. Return to freeezer for an hour or so. Eat while soft-ish. Scoop up and serve!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell…assisted by Master Geoffrey McDonnell


 

 

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