Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dairy Products

Sorry about missing yesterday - three day weekends make me lose Monday. I'm not complaining - I love having two Sundays. It gave me a chance to experiment with lemon cheese again.
I got to thinking about dairy products lately. After all the holiday baking and cooking our cupboards are looking rather bare. I spent an extra $45 stocking the house with produce (two bountiful baskets and 1 box of tangerines). But I still had only $90 to do the bulk of the shopping. That meant restocking and planning back on budget. We'll be looking for a little extra cash here and there to stock some other essentials but I still was limited.
Dairy products are big in our house. My son is drinking a gallon of milk a week and begging for cheese. Milk is about $2.50 a gallon and our powdered milk supply is dwindling (not that he really drank it straight but it still was going). Cheese, on a good day, runs about $5 for a two pound brick. We, also, buy yogurt at $1.85 for a large container of plain whole yogurt.
I got to thinking - could I use a gallon of milk and have the products cost less? The answer is yes. I made a batch of crock pot yogurt - super easy. I filled my crock pot with milk (supposed to be 1/2 gallon), heated on low for 3 hours then turned it off for two. I added about 1/2 cup of plain active culture yogurt (I keep this stocked so not an additional expense), wrapped the whole thing in a thick towel and let it sit overnight (it was overlooked so sat for an extra 8 hours). The end result was the equivilant to 3 large yogurt containers. The texture was different but the taste was the same. The great thing is I have yogurt and a substitute for sour cream.
I put together a batch of lemon cheese. A gallon of milk gave me a 32 oz container of cheese plus about 10 cups of whey. The lemon cheese is a great substitute for ricotta or cottage cheese. We will be experimenting to see how it does as a cheddar sub in recipes. It's a great snack cheese. The whey I used to oatmeal and can be subbed in baked goods so there's no loss of use there. For those 10 cups it's like I still have milk. I will say the oatmeal was a little bland but I think it's because I didn't use as much molasses this time. It was still tasty.
Tonight I am making au gratin potatoes using the lemon cheese. I can't imagine it won't turn out wonderful and I'll post the recipe tomorrow.
Personally, buying 4 gallons of milk vs buying 2 gallons, yogurt and cheese saves money. Granted I have less variety of cheese except I have all the control. I can make it savory or sweet. The homemade yogurt can be any flavor I decide. I've been eating it with just cinnamon, today - it's canned plums. I plan on trying to recreate some "dessert" flavors. I have apple pie filling in my fridge (fully canned) that might make a great addition to the yogurt. It's perfect to add to the oatmeal.
I promise tomorrow - I'll be back to recipes and save all the talking for another time. I'm really enjoying 2012 and have already lost 2 pounds. Maybe next week, I'll share my diet plan.

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