Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A tofu story: Soy milk continued

  1. Boil your mash. So, you've now got a bunch of soy mash boiling on the stove, with a total of 454 grams, or 1 pound, of soybeans and about 22 cups of water. Cook this for about 20 minutes on medium. Stir frequently, as the soy will stick to the bottom of the pan. You want to avoid this from burning. If your soy mash threatens to boil over, stir or add a little cold water. Your soy milk is ready for the next step when the solids have separated from the milk. It should look like the picture on the right.

  2. Strain your milk. Line a colander with muslin, or use a fine meshed strainer (like I did!). Carefully pour the mixture through the strainer to separate the soy fibre from the soy milk. It's best to use muslin so that you can squeeze all the soy milk out of the mixture and to avoid any graininess in your soy milk. 

  3. Enjoy your milk! If your aim was to make soy milk, then you are done. Soy milk in this manner won't keep as long as that which you buy at the grocery store as it has no preservatives. I have never tasted a better cup of soymilk than my fresh soymilk with a touch of maple syrup and a splash of vanilla!
 I'll add the instructions to make tofu soon.

You will have a bunch of soy fibre left over, and shown on the left. This is called okara. Don't throw it out! It contains a lot of fibre, and a good amount of protein. Okara can be stored in the fridge, or frozen or dried for future use.

I'll do a post in the future about okara uses, but as a quick idea, you can use it to bulk up your morning oatmeal, cutting calories and increasing fibre and protein. I made oatmeal with 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1/2 cup okara cooked with about 1 1/2 cups of water (or more, depending on how long you cook it for and how moist you like it). This oatmeal is rich, creamy and very delicious!

These instructions are my variation of those found in The Tofu Cookbook by Bauer and Andersen and by Makiko Itoh at http://www.justhungry.com/2006/03/milking_the_soy.html 

Monday, March 12, 2012

A tofu story: Starting with soy milk

This weekend I undertook making my own tofu. I had found a fabulous book at the used book store on Tofu, from the early seventies (before I was born)! It didn't look too difficult, and since I've already made cheese, and the process is fairly similar, I was game. The first step is to make a batch of soy milk.

First step: Find your ingredients. Dried soybeans and some sort of coagulant. I found gypsum at T and T in the spice section. You can also use epsom salts or nigari.

Second step: Soak your beans (I did 454 grams or 1 pound) in lots of water overnight. Drain the water, and rise the beans one more time in hot water to warm them up.

Third step: Prepare your pot and gather your blender and kettle. NOTE! I used the Cornell University process to grind my beans which requires boiling water. This reduces the "grassy" or "beany" flavour of the resulting soymilk (which is an intermediate step in the tofu making process). If you choose to use boiling water to grind your beans be VERY careful. You can also just use cold water, it will just result in a stronger tasting soy milk.

Put about an inch of water in your very large pot. Heat this up until almost boiling. Wrap your blender in a towel if you are using boiling water to blend the beans. IF you are using boiling water, please make sure you are using a high quality blender that can handle the heat and will not crack or break. If you are not using boiling water, there is nothing to worry about!

Fourth step: Grind your beans. Take your blender, and put a cup of soaked beans in it. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the soy beans (about 1.5 cups), and blend on a middle range speed.If the mixture is too thick, add some more water. Stop blending when you have a creamy (although grainy) mixture.

Fifth step: Add your beans to the pot.  Pour the bean mixture into the pot that has water almost boiling in it. Add enough water so that you have added a total of 22 cups of water for your 1 pound of soaked beans.

To be continued!

These instructions are my variation of those found in The Tofu Cookbook by Bauer and Andersen and by Makiko Itoh at http://www.justhungry.com/2006/03/milking_the_soy.html

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Healthy, tasty grain-free breakfast cookies

These cookies are super yummy, full of energy, and have no added sugars. Dates and fruit are used to sweeten. Almonds, coconut and eggs provide healthy fats and protein.
  • 1 chopped apple with skin
  • 1 banana (without skin)
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
  • 2 Madjool dates
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 375 C.
Chop the red apples coarsely, and add them to your food processor. Pulse until they are uniformly chopped into small pieces. Put into a mixing bowl.

Pulse almonds, coconut and dates until they are a uniformly chopped into small pieces. Put into mixing bowl.

Mix dry ingredients well. Mix vanilla, melted coconut oil and eggs. Beat together. Add to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Drop cookies by large spoonful onto baking stone or baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for five minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lazy Saturday bread

Continuing the theme of waste not, want not, I had some leftover oatmeal in the fridge that needed to be used up this morning. I wasn't sure...should I make muffins? pancakes? And then I remembered that I ate the last of my homemade bread yesterday, and thus, needed a new loaf.

I found a recipe online for bread machine bread made with cooked oatmeal. While my oats were not steel cut (these take too long in the morning, so I opt for large flake oats on weekdays), the recipe looks like it should yield a nice loaf. I used a cup and a half of spelt flour in place of part of the regular flour, and brown sugar instead of honey or maple syrup, and added some butter.

My "new" recipe now looks like this:

Cozy weekend oatmeal bread

1.5 cups of cooked large flake oats
1 cup of water or whey (from my cheesemaking activities, this is a great way to use up your leftover whey)
1.5 cups of spelt flour
2 cup of white or whole wheat flour
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1.5 tsp of real salt (I use salt from Utah that is full of trace minerals)
2.5 tsp of bread machine yeast
1 tbsp of butter (I like to add a little bit of butter or oil to my breads, as it adds to a lovely crust)

Assemble ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine. Choose grain setting if you have it. If the dough is not pulling cleanly from the sides during the kneading cycle, add a little more flour. Flour quantities vary depending on its moisture level.

Enjoy, warm, with butter and honey, or homemade apple butter. Yumm!

It's in the machine now, and will be ready this afternoon, just in time for a late lunch. I will post a picture later.

What a cozy way to start the weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In the Left Coast

The great thing about Vancouver -- Cafe Artigiano. I'm in town to give a workshop on a super geeky topic...but off hours I hope to geek out on food.

I still remember the coffee from my last business trip over two years ago. I wish I could find coffee this good back in Ottawa!

Maybe on Friday night I'll be able to get to the Granville Market. Tonight, dinner was from the grocery store. Hippy food - balkan yogurt, bananas, blueberries and meusli...and Mighty Leaf tea to top it off. Heaven. And now, I'm off to bed. It may only be 8 pm in Vancouver, but it is past my bedtime back home.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's Friday! Veggie box time...

I love Fridays. On Friday, I get a few days of family time. I also receive my organic veggie box and that makes me happy! Having a box of healthy fruits and veg delivered to my door every week means that as long as  I have staples on hand (cooked beans or meat in the freezer, tofu in the fridge, rice, noodles or bread), I can always whip up a healthy meal.

That my box costs me less than a meal out doesn't hurt, either. This week: bok choy, carrots, cauliflower, sweet potatoes (or yams?), tomatoes (two ways!), celery, parsnips, sugar snap peas, bean sprouts, oranges, apples, a lemon, blueberries, apples. I get my box from Ottawa Organics, and have for almost two years now. I've become really adept at not letting food go to waste, which takes some time to get used to, but is better on the budget and the environment and your health in the long run.
I've begun to realize that when I let food go to waste, I'm also tossing a long chain of effort and resources into the compost heap. There's nothing like a little reflection to figure out what is really important.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An awesome bean soup to warm your tum this winter

So the year of paying attention to the environment is going really well.

One of my big changes is cooking ahead of time. When you're trying not to buy beans in cans (extra packaging, chemicals in the liners, transport costs) and you're trying to use more beans, you need to plan ahead! Each week, I choose a different bean to use as the base of the soups I make for our daily lunches. On Saturday night I soak the bag of beans. On Sunday, I boil them up. I usually boil them until they are almost but not quite done. This way I can finish them when they will be cooked in their final form, usually a soup or stew.

I take a few cups of the beans for whatever I am cooking for lunches, and the rest get frozen into 2 cup baggies in the freezer. This way, I'm never out of beans that will be ready in a half hour or less and I have a wide variety in the freezer to choose from. My staples are chickpeas, black turtle beans, romano beans and great white northern beans (my favourite), but I am trying to find sources of funky heirloom beans and will likely grow some of my own this summer.

Winter romano bean and pasta soup

2 large carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 yellow or red bell pepper
1 onion
2 tbps canola oil
2 cloves garlic
2 pork bones* with meat
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp of oregano
2 l chicken or veggie stock
2 cups of almost cooked romano beans
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup orzo or other small pasta
2 tsp salt

Heat oil on medium-high in a large pan. Chop carrots, celery, onion and pepper into 1 cm pieces. Saute until veggies begin to caramelize around the edges. Mince garlic, add to pan. Make some space in the middle of the pan and brown the pork bones until all sides have a pleasant brown colour.

Add 1I of stock, romano beans, bay leaves and oregano. Simmer on medium, adding stock as necessary to maintain coverage of all components at all times. When the beans are tender and the soup smells enticing, add tomatoes. Take out the bones, and remove any meat. Chop, and put back into the soup. Once the soup beings to simmer again, add orzo and salt. Simmer until orzo is cooked to desired firmness.

If you are on the Weight Watchers program, the Points Plus (tm) value of 1/8 of this batch is  3 points. Not bad for a tasty, high protein, satisfying soup!

Note: You will notice that I added the tomatoes and the salt AFTER the beans were tender. If you add these before they are fully cooked, they will take longer or may not become tender at all. Always add acids and salt after cooking beans.

Serve with homemade bread and a nice glass of red wine. Delicious, healthy and easy on the environment by using beans and pork bones.

(*You could use any type of bones with meat, as a way to develop the flavor of the broth and to make use of all cuts. I get all of my meat from my friends at the Manotick Village Butcher. I am committed to buying local, ethical, healthy meat.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

iPad ate my post...Grr!

Made stock using veggies scraps stored in the freezer.
Buying bulk legumes and cooking instead of cans.
Beans in meals several times a week.
Made blueberry jam out of blueberries past their snacking prime.
Made cheese instead of throwing out milk that was left out.
Going to try to make my own tofu!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And more ecofriendly, to keep track

1. Bought a microwave popcorn popper...no more bags.
2. Reduced drink boxes - only for outings and special occasions, not every day.
3. Switched to locally roasted beans (less travel, less waste, local).
4. Got sand instead of salt for icey steps and walkways.
5. Buying in bulk where possible (e.g. large bag o' flour).
6. Switching to lower bleach toilet paper.

Monday, January 2, 2012

List of things I've already done/planned

This is mostly as a placeholder, so that I can keep track. I'll blog about some of them later. Stay tuned...

1. Starting a Mason Bee colony.
2. Fixing the drafts around the front door and my son's bedroom window.
3. Making my own laundry detergent.
4. Cancelling any catalogues that come to my house (bye bye LL Bean).
5. Fake Christmas tree.
6. Planning a small veggie garden, and saving eggshells as starter pots.
7. Replacing household cleaners with environmentally safe ones.

One of the things I'm noticing is that most of my environmentally friendly actions are also money savers, which is not a bad thing at all.

And she's back!

Happy 2012 everyone! I hope you had a fabulous New Year, and holiday season.

Last year was awesome for my eating healthily goals...we managed to make our way through our organic fruit and veggie box every week, stuck with our no meat unless it was local and ethical (and from my friend's butcher shop, the Manotick Village Butcher), and we ate out far less. We incorporated more beans and legumes (are they the same thing?) into our diet, and stopped buying soda (for the most part).

This year I am tackling something slightly different. I have made a decision to be more environmentally conscientious this year. I've cleaned up my own toxic environment within my body...now it's time to focus on that outside of me.

Since I find chronicling my experiences really motivating, I'll blog about it here. Perhaps you'll find something interesting that is helpful to you and the environment.

Here's to a greener 2012...(and with the green theme in mind, here is a picture of a weed from my garden last year that took serious work to remove without herbicides! Beware the very, very noxious Colt's Foot weed)