Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mmmmmm mmm muesli

We have to talk about how much I like muesli. Seriously. You call me. We'll talk.

Muesli and granola are closely related: sisters, I'd say. Granola is the sweet sister who likes to suntan, muesli is the understated sister who likes to keep things natural. I like this later sister, particularly since she complements all the yogurt and skyr and buttermilk and what-have-you that I insist on making.

I like its earthiness--it has a sort of hobbit-food quality that I always like. Evidently the Swiss eat something called "bichermuesli complet" for dinner in much the same way that we Americans eat pizza (that is, after a dispiriting day that's left you in no mood to get up to culinary hijinks). This bichermuesli complet is muesli and buttered toast. For dinner. When I learned this I felt at peace: I was not alone in this world, I was just somehow separated at birth from my people. My people, the muesli-eaters.

Muesli's quite open to interpretation: start with rolled oats and add whatever you want. Then make a little self-possessed European gesture and consider it done.

What follows is meusli the way I like it: dark and crunchy. (I'm let down to discover that this won't work with the suffix "just like I like my men." Crunchy is a terrible adjective for innuendo.)

Muesli Recipe:
1/2 c. dried dark cherries
1/2 c. dried chopped figs
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/4 c. dried chopped nectarines
1/2. c. walnuts
1/4 c. salted pistachios
3/4 oz chopped dark chocolate
4 c. rolled oats
3 c. fiber cereal (such as Fiber 1) (optional, but crunchy)

Chop and shell whatever needs to be chopped or shelled. Mix. That's it!

Prep time: 5 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homemade Buttermilk

What I'm about to say is going to sound like propaganda from the buttermilk embassy, but it's the truth: making your own buttermilk will make you feel better about yourself and the world you live in. It will make you feel like you live in The Sound of Music, and the rest of your day is going to be filled with frolicking in meadows in some clean and pretty place. Making dairy products at home has this affect on me, anyway. "Home creamery." Repeat those words to yourself in times of distress and feel the world begin to calm down.

Now, if you're a non-Southern American, you've already got your hands on your hips and you're saying "I don't even like buttermilk. Don't bring that stuff around here anymore." It distresses me that you feel this way.

Buttermilk is, aside from being totally delicious, the hub from which many foods set out: from here you can get to cottage cheese, to buttermilk biscuits, to quirky cakes, or to pancakes that are actually worth eating. Or you can be like me, and pour it on your meusli or mix it with orange juice. It will grow on you. If it doesn't, we can't be friends I'm not sure how to help you.

Homemade Buttermilk
For this recipe, you'll need a little bit of storebought buttermilk. I know it's a drag, but you need the bacteria in there (L. Lactis) and only divine providence and some laboratories can make that. So buy it and don't take it personally. From here on out, you'll be captain of your own destiny. As to the milk, only animal milk will do--buttermilk won't take kindly to almond or soy milks. Choose whatever fat content you like best. One last note: don't touch your buttermilk with reactive metals--you will kill your cultures, and you don't wanna be like that. Use only stainless steel, glass, wood, and enamelware when handling cultured foods.
  • 1 tablespoon storebought buttermilk
  • 1 cup milk
In a glass jar, combine milk and buttermilk. Stir or swirl to combine. Cover loosely with a dishtowel or lid, lest you risk attracting insects. Keep at room temperature, around 70-75F, until set, roughly 12 hours. It will seem quite solid and pull away from the sides in one mass if you tilt the jar. When stirred, it will thin out to a satisfyingly thick buttermilk.

Whenever you're about to run out, just pour more milk into your jar and leave it out to sit. My buttermilk lives in an attractive vessel, and I top it off roughly once a week to keep it fresh.

Prep time: 1 minute. "Cook time": 12+hours.