Monday, August 31, 2009

Alternate Cooking Method Homemade Cottage Cheese

This is the official follow up on the original posting for Homemade cottage cheese . Brace yourselves people. I, Stephanie Petersen, am now letting everyone know that there may be an easier way to make cottage cheese from powdered milk. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this. It's just hurting my cute little ego. Sigh...alas, I think it's very healthy to admit when something this cool happens to me. It was quite by accident that I came across this method. There. It's out there. I'm not as sharp as I pretend to be. Is anyone? Really? Except for Ace. He is as cool as he pretends to be (think on that one...). On this occasion, I literally just forgot to add all the water to my powdered milk. I was using powdered because we where out of fresh milk. The irony? I was shocked at how quickly it set and how much easier it was. I think I actually find more success. Scary isn't it? First, I followed the instructions for Homemade cottage cheese except I used:

1/4 Junket Rennet Tablet (
1/2 cup water
1 quart water, 70 degrees
4 cups powdered milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cream

Dissolve Rennet Tablet in 1/2 cup water by crushing. Set aside. In a large (8 cup capacity) sterile microwave safe dish with a fitting lid, heat water to 70º F. Add the milk powder and dissolve. 70 degrees is important. It will not feel warm to the touch. (Use a thermometer folks!) Stir in buttermilk and Rennet Tablet solution, mixing well. Cover with towel and let stand at room temperature 12 to 18 hours until firm curd forms. To test for firm curd, remove a milk sample at a point near the edge of the pan or bowl with a spoon. The curd is ready when the coagulated milk sample holds its shape and the edges are sharply defined.
Now here's the difference in cooking method. I took the curd and placed it in the microwave for 1 minute on high heat, then stirred it. Allowing it to sit for 5 minutes.
If you are against the microwave cooking, by all means, do the double boiler spoken of in the original post.
Make sure you are Checking that the curd doesn't get above 115 degrees. 110 degrees is optimal. Mine did get slightly warmer and I stirred it. Even a few degrees hotter and it will turn to more of a soft fresh mozzarella. This batch actually ended up okay because I caught it in time. I have found this method to be easier at allowing it to stay at this temperature for about 20 minutes.
Stir ever few minutes and heat 20-30 seconds if it gets below 100 degrees. After 20 minutes, drain the whey. It takes a lot less space to do this one and yields about one pound of cottage cheese with excellent flavor. Not a hint of dry milk taste. Transfer to a clean bowl and mix in the salt and cream. Enjoy as you would cottage cheese.

See, and now you can sleep at night knowing that even I can admit when I find a better way. I'm not opposed to seeking out bold better and brighter futures. I think we can all agree on that.
There you go...
Hey, does anyone else wonder why I end all my posts "There you go"?
It's my way of saying, "Now you go do it." I want to hear all your joys and despairs on this journey. I'm here learning everyday right along with you.
So...There you go.

Homemade Soymilk

If I drink regular milk plain, I wake up in the morning looking all puffy like I stuffed my eyelids with marshmallows. Oh, that's attractive. It doesn't happen with yogurt or any of my homemade cheeses, just on plain milk. If I was more of a rocket scientist, I would have a logical reason for it. As it is, I just steer clear of chuggin' milk from the jug.Unlike my 10 year old. I have to remind him on a regular basis to "get a cup". Really. I feel like the lab assistant at my Dr.'s office...but she's asking for a cup for a totally different reason. There it is. Now you know. I, like Superman, have a weakness. (No...not the cup at the doctor's office. I'm not a total freak. Total.) Milk. My weakness tastes better than kryptonite...and it's really hard to avoid. I try to make my soy milk as much as possible. It tastes just as good as the store kind, except for the fact that it does separate a little and I have to stir it up before I pour it on my cereal. My hats go off to the people at Hodgson Mill. They make this awesome soy flour that I like a lot. Now, I do know you can make the soy milk from the actual soy beans. I just use the flour because it is much faster. Yea, I know. I do have corners to cut sometimes. Bet you thought I just made everything from scratch that took 12 hours at a time right?
You will need:
6 cups water
1 cup soy flour
Combine in a cool pot whisking well and then bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes stirring every few minutes so it doesn't burn.
It's that simple. You may strain it if you think yours has lumps. Add a little honey or sugar and a little vanilla or chocolate sauce for flavored soy milk. That's the full rocket science of the project. Remember to keep it in the fridge and stir if needed. Keeps good up to a week.
Enjoy saving money on soy milk.
There you go.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bread of Life Section...Avoidance.

Sunday is my real day. It's the day I bare my soul. So, here we go. Ever notice how much I love chocolate? Just curious. Is it possible that I use it sometimes to avoid what would really make me most happy? Have I settled? Have you? In the middle of "looking busy" doing good is is possible to really miss what it feels like to be good? I read once that it is very important to "be careful that in avoiding the appearance of evil, we have settled for the appearance of peace". I'm all for working and doing good works. I'm a big believer in "when you have done it unto the least of have done it unto me." Doing good is just part of how I try to live. That's not in question. We ought to do good things. Always. The thing in question is this...What form of comfort and power do I choose? When is it okay to choose something other than the Lord?...Ever? I'm mortal. I live in a world of mortals. Yet, is it possible to feel the power and strength of an immortal and perfect Being with infinite power and ability to create universes and worlds? God who is perfectly loving, comforting and forgiving is aware of my weaknesses. In choosing other comfort do I settle for less than the most premium comfort. Am I choosing mortal chocolate instead of chocolate for my soul? In the confines of your heart, you and only you know if your heart is sure. Does anyone else? Yea. He...only One.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Random Thoughts...honey...

Want to know a random fact? If you do too many triceps weight lifting reps without will walk around like a goofy T-rex for 5 days. I bet you thought this post was about honey. Okay it is. Did you know that honey will keep almost indefinitely in a sealed container at room temperature. If crystals form, don't chuck it. Please! In the name of all that's good and honey can bring it back to life. It may seem as blind and useless as Han Solo after Jabba froze him, but it's nothing a little warmth can't fix. You can place the jar in warm water for a few minutes, then...I will remove my helmet and dramatically announce "I'm here!"...oh wait. That was something else. You can stir it up and it will be as smooth as it ever was. Ahhh. Kiss me you fool. I prefer a nice dark honey. Buckwheat is what I keep on hand. At any rate...
We're getting close to the bottom of the honey barrel. Face helped me make cinnamon rolls today and glaze them before heading over to a big screen TV segment watching of at a friend's. Just as I was about to drizzle the warm honey over the luscious warm whole wheat cinnamon and lemon rolls, Face announces,
"Hey Mom! Stop! This stuff in the honey bucket looks like crap!"...He still has no idea why I'm laughing. We still ate the rolls. Evil grin. That's all I have to say about that.

4 Basic Pasta Salads and One dressing

Did you catch this morning's segment on Fox 10 Phoenix Arizona Morning? It was such an honor to be on the show, and as always they were nice enough to post the video on their website: Please feel free to post this link to your friends and family. It's a great way to save money!

This represents my typical $15 trip to the veggie market.

If I didn't live in a condo, I'd grow more. Off that veggie trip, we make a lot of salad.
"salad dressing" covers it all under "headings".

I face a dilemma. I want to teach gourmet...but I also feel an extreme need to get back to basics. I've had a lot of comments requesting more down to earth family friendly yet budget friendly recipes. People losing their homes who can't make ends meet. Hard working people, who just don't have work. They just want their kids to have shoes. Real people with real problems. So here I am. I won't be doing a lot of the fancy stuff today. Just some great ideas for that lunch box or dinner that will help in a real way. I want to help you listen to the culinary artist in yourself as well. That means, I will give a basic recipe and then some wonderful ideas of flavors that would go with it. The flavors my friends, will be for you to play with. Meaning? You will get to try to play with herbs and create in a new way. In life and love...this is how the most magic starts. Listen to your heart. I will be listing some basic spices and herbs that work together. The lists are not complete (as this would take pages and pages...remember that this is the beginning...basics).

This is a recipe I have used in cooking classes for several years. It works. I use it all the time in my home as well. It's vastly inexpensive and will save you real money.

Basic Pasta Salad
1 lb pasta of your choice, cooked al dente and seasoned well with salt and pepper. (Lower carb? use of thin sliced cabbage will really improve that carb count.)
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin or chopped fine

Basic Vinaigrette (for pennies a jar...) (FAT free coming up in a few lines)
3/4 cup olive or vegetable oil (flavored oils are great)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tsp fresh pressed garlic
Herbs and spices

Herbs are the aromatic leaves, flowers and stems of plants. Fresh or dry work. Make sure you smell the jar. If it smells like the spice or herb then the stuff inside is still full of flavor. Spices are seeds and bark. They will need to be ground or grated. If you don't have a spice mill (not many do...then just buy the pre-ground and be sure it's fresh).

How many just read "herb and spices" and panic hit? I hear you saying, "I don't cook like that"...I need a recipe. Am I right? This is where I want you to try to let go of your cooking inhibitions and try to think with your heart. My 10 year old does it. You most definitely can do it! I believe in you.

For one batch of salad, you will need one batch of salad dressing.
Want fat free salad dressing? Did you know it's almost free to make if you have cornstarch and juice already in your cupboard? Use 3/4 cup vegetable broth or juice and 1/4 cup vinegar. In a cold sauce pan combine the vegetable broth with 1 T cornstarch. Add the liquid slowly and then when combined, cook on medium heat, boiling until thick, about 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then add the vinegar and remaining herbs and spices. Use immediately. Keep refrigerated. If dressing gets thick simply add a little more vegetable broth to thin.
Dressing Variations (flavors that work together...again, not a complete list!):

Herbs: Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, flat leaf parsley, marjoram,
Spices: Fennel, caraway, crushed red pepper, celery seed.
Flavor Agents: hard cheeses like Parmesan, asiago. Olives, roasted peppers, citrus zest, capers.

Herbs: Dill, Oregano, Rosemary, Mint, parsley,
Spices: Fennel, anise, black pepper, dill seed
Flavor agents: Feta cheese, olives, pickled peppers.

Herbs: cilantro, mint, lemon grass, sesame oil (use 2 tsp in place of some of the oil)
Spices: Cumin, Chile paste, curry paste, fennel, ginger,
Flavor agents: lime zest, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, citrus zest, peanuts or cashews
Herbs: Cilantro, Oregano, thyme
spice: Cumin, coriander, Chile pods, black pepper, allspice
Flavor agents: lime zest, Roasted corn, green onions, radish, black olives.

Toss the herbs and spices in the dressing. The flavor agents can be added directly to the basic pasta salad recipe. Mix and match fresh veggies as they are in season. Add fruit if you like. For hearty dinners, add some roasted chicken or beef. Marinate meat in the vinaigrette and save a lot of money on those fancy bottles of pre-made stuff. You can do it. Start to feel yourself free up in the kitchen. It is very liberating. Enjoy.

Now for you folks who just want a grab and go dressing fix, you can just use the pre-made spice blends. You know...fajita seasoning, Italian seasoning, Greek Seasoning... Don't hurt yourself if you don't feel able to do the artsy stuff yet. I'm patient... and it's a process. Feel the Love babe.

There you go.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nacho Cups and Pizza Bites

I was walking through a local grocery store yesterday with my 10 year old and a clean cut police officer (stunningly good looking "John Baker" kind of officer) was escorting a homeless lady out of the store. Little Man turns to me and says "seems like a nice couple." Gosh I love that kid. I like him too. We cook stuff together to go in his lunchboxes. It's a nice way to pass the time. Afternoon snack included these little lovelies. Nacho cups. They are simple to make and can go in your lunch box or just park in the freezer (no comments on my parking). They can also easily be made into little pizza cups or bites. Y'all know what those little pizza bagels cost right? Daggumit. I feel so smart. Oh...and thank you Lisa for the idea!
So, it another simple use of the basic bread recipes...this will make 48 little lovelies. Not bad right? Take half of the dough per 24 mini muffin pan pieces of dough. For 24 nacho cups you will need:
One batch of any of the basic bread recipes (2/5 of the 5 day dough or the whole recipe on the others.) I've also seen this done with...those tubes of biscuits. I have nothing else to say on that, except I'm not eating them...your kids are. Do what you want.
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa (mild for kiddos)
1 cup cheese
chili powder
I also happened to use some pickled red onion and queso fresco...but my kids will eat almost anything. It's taken years to get them to this point so don't feel badly. I'm just saying...these are also good for adults. You can add cooked meat, chopped pizza veggies...whatever. Be creative! Geesh! If I give you some basic guidelines...go crazy! I do.
Generously oil a mini muffin pan. Mine has 24 spaces. Take half the bread dough and roll it out into a rectangle, 18 by 24 inches approximate. Cut into 24 pieces. 6 by 4 works pretty well.
Take the dough squares. Okay wait. Why is it they call him Sponge Bob Square pant? Wouldn't brown pants be just as fun? Okay...back to nacho cups.

Poke a hole in the dough in those fancy spaces provided in the muffin tin. Nice muffin tin people make it so easy for us don't they? in your space provided...add a dot of salsa (or pizza sauce if you are making pizzas).
Top with your cheese and stuff. or your kids will want to eat these...right?! (Evil grin...) Sprinkle with chili powder.
Bake 350 degrees 20-25 minutes. Cool. Freeze in individual freezer bags for a quick grab to go in lunches or a nice little snack after school. Also good for that time... You never know when it will strike, but there comes a crucial moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day. You know, I might have to have some nacho cups right... now.
Oh wait...I better get ready for the TV segment tomorrow. Wouldn't want to muff that one up.
There you go.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pinch me please...

It's hard to take a picture in the dark at a movie theater and center had to be done. I really need to work on my picture centering skills. I can't fold fitted sheets either. How in the snicker doodle are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?! Random thought. Sorry.

This is me with Evil TARA. My dear friend who I met in culinary school. Last November when Tara told me I should write a blog I answered, "a blog? What's a blog?". Just recently we went to see Julie and Julia together. I couldn't figure out why I related so much to both of them and it kind of bothered me. Am I insane? Schizophrenic? Don't answer that. Please. I finally figured it out. I am a chef who loves everyone no matter where they are in their learning. I love teaching people how to cook. I'm not Julia...she had years of experience more than me. Time will help that, but I can see so much of myself in her. I may never be as famous, but I will always love people. I, for obvious reasons, related to Julie in that I have a food blog. I can't relate to the constant use of the "F" word on my blog though. This is a family friendly place. Eeeek. Like Julie, I also may have one of the saddest little kitchens in my tiny condo. So there it is. I'm through smacking my forehead. I can rest. Or can I? Pretty sure my work has just started in food...

Oh my heart! This Thursday (yes...the day after tomorrow), I will be on Fox 10 here in Phoenix at 9:45 doing a segment on homemade salad dressing. After our amazing salad week, I think that it's fitting. Okay. Now I can go to 3 days. In the meantime, tell all your friends. I'll tell mine. It will be a great tutorial on how to really maximize your food dollar! We all need that!

Stuffed Pretzels

Even under ideal conditions people have trouble allocating their car keys in a purse, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my cute left toe that everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.2 seconds, eyes closed, first time. every time. Pretty sure Ace can. As we rushed out the door and grabbed a whole grain stuffed pretzel to give to my kiddos on the way to school I marveled at my accuracy in locating them as well.

A few weeks ago I went to my local grocery super center looking for some ideas of things to put in lunch boxes and one that totally stuck in my head was stuffed pretzels. They are twisted and nice. Like me. However, I have to say that the ones in the freezer case where loaded to the hilt with chemicals and junk and my head started spinning when I registered the price for them. Really. I am really going to pay to put that crap in my kids mouths? Or mine for that matter. So today I thought we would do the unthinkable...and make our own. Wait. I guess it's not unthinkable because we do it all the time. I have in fact featured pretzels before. So, mind you if you just click on the word "pretzels" there is a full tutorial on how to make soft whole grain vegan pretzels from scratch. Just another part of my plot to get you sucked into my blog. You might like it and stay. OH please....please stay. Do you all remember the Stuffed Breadsticks from yesterday? Perhaps this will refresh your memory? You can use the basic bread recipes for the dough. A full batch will yield about 24 nice fluffy pretzels. Or use a half batch for these and half for stuffed bread sticks or a loaf of bread too. Really whatever you want.
Imagine cream cheese in there with some dabs of jam. Imagine cream cheese in there with some chopped jalapeno or dabs of D Dog BBQ rubs and sauce (I will be getting a bottle of the new cranberry chipotle sauce and making these with that inside...Thank you Evil D.) Today for the kiddos, we made them stuffed with peanut butter and the anti-Tara raisins of love and happiness. She can use chocolate chips. So can you (if you don't like raisins...I shudder at the thought).
So, here's what the filling looked like. I just left a little space at the end so it would seal nicely and did the 6 strips like we did with the Stuffed Breadsticks . Each strip will make 2 pretzels. Once the dough is sealed around the filling, you will need to cut the strip in half. Then roll it out like a snake (pretzels ...come on...give in to your feelings. Check out the post.)
Follow the instructions for raising and baking. Though for the sweet ones I misted them with water and added some sugar in the raw and some tiny niblets of chocolate. Lightly and elegantly dusted with powdered sugar and wa-laaa. Feel free to make a million of them. They're freaky "de-lucious".

There you go. Breakfast or lunch on the go in a gorgeous self contained package of joy. Life is cool.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stuffed Breadsticks

Ever found a cool note from a neighbor on your windshield first thing in the morning? My husband Ace is a professional precision driver. He has driven in Winston cup cars...and been in drifting competitions. He can do things with a car that amaze the universe at large. I however, get notes on my car. Ace brought this one in that he found on his way out to work early Thursday morning. He was laughing so hard he couldn't even form words. It came out something like, "you have issues Steph." But, what I think he meant was...

"Stick to cooking and work on that parking. Hot-diggidy I'm glad you're my wife." I came to find out later that the neighbor ran into a pole trying to fit in her spot next to mine...Yea. I feel horrible about it. I went over and gave her a hug and told her, in no uncertain terms, that I will be better. She's a saint for not using any curse words on that note. Go back and read it again with that information in mind.

So, this week I think I will stick with cooking. I have to say that it's back to school around here and I've been given the amazing assignment to come up with some great tasting, kid friendly, healthy, snazzy, crazy, zany foods to put in the lunch. Be it for kids or adults alike, I know I used to get tired of the same sandwich every day. I have a hubby who takes lunch to work. I bet there are a few of folks out there who could use a boost.
Stuffed bread sticks are about a buck a piece at the store in the frozen food section...and loaded with chemicals and junk. I start with a basic bread recipe. This is just half a batch of the overnight started bread, 1/5 of the 5 day bread dough or for the ones who don't want to mess with that, you can just use a bread machine mix set to dough setting and when it's ready, continue from there. I'm not judging anyone.
So, despite my perfect inability to park a car between any far...I can put cheese on dough lines. I can do that. First we need to flour the counter top heavy and the top of the dough a little heavy too. Maybe 1/2 cup top and bottom.
Roll this dough out into a rectangle, 18 inches by 24 inches approximately. If you measure, I might freak out.
Now, cut the dough into six long strips. See? Cheese between the lines.
Now here's a pole I can't get my car wrapped around. But y'all be sure to pinch the dough tightly around the cheese. You can use string cheese, or just regular cheese cut into rods and chunks. This is Queso Fresco.
Once the dough is pinched really tight, cut the long stick into 3 pieces...

And repeat after me..."I can do this"...(but I can't park).
Pinch the ends of each bread stick so the cheese doesn't ooze out in a pool on the pan. That would be a great human tragedy. Especially dramatic after finally getting it parked just right in that dough space. I use a stoneware pan. Raise 30 minutes.
Mist lightly with water and then sprinkle generously with a BBQ rub of your choice. My personal favorite is D Dog BBQ rubs and sauce . He's a local guy, but you can order it. I think everyone should have some. Really. D-Dog didn't even pay me to say so. It's tangy and sweet and got just enough salt and spice to kick it up without making it totally inedible to kiddos. I dare say it tastes better than ketchup.
Shameless plug...but it has to be done.
Okay, that being said, feel free to use any flavor rub you want. I know Pampered Chef has some really good ones too. Citrus basil, Greek, Jamaican, Moroccan...I could go on. At any rate, once seasoned with a rub...bake it 350 degrees 20-25 minutes.

Yield 18 stuffed bread sticks. Not bad for 20 minutes of work. I should get a raise.
Oh, and as just a random side note (as if this entire post isn't just a full posting of side notes)...the kids love helping make these and it's a great way to get them involved in getting ready to go back to school. During the school year we make them in the evenings together too (instead of watching TV). It's a great way to create memories while saving your budget. Think about it.

There you go.

Julia...and Tara.

I have to admit I love Tara. I do. We went to culinary school together 14 years ago. In all my life there isn't one other person who really gets me and food the way she does. We're so similar and different. Sick down to earth foodies who love gourmet, and yet took this bag of crap into the movie. Oh my gosh...don't tell them we snuck it in...please. Especially since we saw Julie and Julia. It just seems wrong on so many disturbing levels that we took...dots. But we did. All the non-healthy sugar loaded junk that I say not to eat. There it is in my snazzy polk-a-dot hand bag ready to watch a cooking icon who basically brought French cooking to American homes and made it accessible. Even the American grade Lindt really doesn't count as gourmet, right? Sorry... On so many sick and wrong levels.

We didn't eat it all. In fact, 3 boxes made it home. know. Don't think I just fell off the culinary planet forever or lost sight of my Weight Watchers goals. Oh dear...I Just lost all the food snobs, didn't I? All the ones who think that, "if you really are a would never condone this crap." I can't say much. I have to be honest. It was this or the can of spaghettios I ate cold from the can with a spoon for lunch. There. Thank the good Lord for friends like Tara who despite culinary school with me, still can eat a Jr. Mint and think (like Kramer)..."they're soooo refreshing". I won't ever claim perfection. Only perfect imperfection...and be glad for friends who appreciate that.

I will also still be infinitely thankful for Julia. She did change the world of food as she set out to do. I'm so glad she did. On that note, I did bawl the whole way home after the movie wondering why I do what I do. Relating to her on so many good levels and seeing her struggles. At one point, as she sees defeat and just wonders what all her work was for (was it just to have something to do)...I felt 100% like I was there. Will my work matter? Oh I hope so. I hope it reaches many, many, many people who need it. Maybe, just will reach some who need a non-food snob to be the chef. I'm sure that would be okay.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homemade Yogurt...and Yogurt Cheese (Labneh)

How many years can a mother say, "Eat this. I promise you'll like it"? Little man took a picture of me saying it over a tray of broiled sub sandwiches slathered heavily with herbed yogurt cheese. My favorite is still fresh blackberries with Homemade fruit and nut granola and mesquite honey. I've spoiled myself. Ruined forever. I will never look at yogurt the same. After I'm through gasping and dramatically wiping my sophisticated brow we can get on to business.
Okay. I'm ready now.
Yesterday we talked a little about the ever amazing work of Dr David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D. Professor of Biology and Chemistry. His blog has been a great source of information. I dare say, one of the best I've seen as far as easing any concerns anyone may have about the safety and use of yogurt made at home. His Introduction to Yogurt is superb. I highly suggest reading it, as well as his detailed (highly the point of perfection!) directions on how to go through the proper Procedure (Illustrated). I'll talk here briefly on it. I do however make no claim about being an expert on this subject. I've been practicing all his techniques and am now totally bird-dogging. I bow in respect. (I also now do the ceremonial head cock and "thumbs up" gesture with a cheesy Chef Tess grin.) Well done. Anyone else picture Drew Barrymore in "Never Been Kissed" just then? Totally what I look like when I do the thumbs-up. Right before I trip on my shoes and fall to the ground in a pool of cute-ness.
Speaking of pools of cuteness. Let's begin.
1 gallon fresh milk (either store bought, or your own home grown milk)
(whole milk makes richer flavored yogurt, skim milk makes it non-fat)
starter: 1 cup Dannon Plain yogurt, very fresh
The good Dr. prefers Dannon Plain, made purely with milk and culture. (Get the freshest: check the expiration date.)Dannon Plain WORKS for me. See label
Heavy bottomed stainless steal pot that can cook 1+ gallon
four quart jars with lids, sterilized in boiling water
one 8 oz jar with lid, sterilized in boiling water.
candy or meat thermometer, reading range = -10 to 110oC (0 to 225 oF)
2 cup liquid measuring cup
1 medium sized "cooler" (such as a "Playmate" or Styrofoam with close fitting lid) (A gas oven with pilot may work if monitored closely).
Directions according to Dr. David B. Fankhauser. Sanitation is key here folks. Please don't skip any of these details.
1: Sterilize jars and lids which will be used to make the yogurt. Place in a 5 gallon pot with an inch of water in the bottom.
2: Cover and bring to boil. Boil for ten minutes. Turn off heat, do not remove lid.
3: Use a pot with a thick bottom to scald the milk. Note the thick pad on the bottom of this pot. Alternatively, a double boiler may be used. It is not necessary to boil the milk. This gives the milk a "cooked" flavor, and increases the probability that it will burn on the bottom or boil over.
4: Scald until the temperature of the milk is 85-90 C (185-195 F). It is not necessary to boil, and do not let boil over...what a mess! (Many claim success leaving out this step. But... results may work, but intermittently...)
5: Cool milk to 122-130 degrees. Rocket science as it sounds, it's important to watch the temperature so you don't kill the good stuff in the culture that would be bad. It won't make yogurt without that stuff.Place one cup of the scalded and cooled milk in a two cup measure. Add enough fresh, uncontaminated yogurt to bring the level up to two cups. Uncontaminated meaning yogurt from a new clean container that has never been dipped into. (Especially by your kiddos. I know what grows under those fingernails. Bleck!) Stir to blend the yogurt starter into the scalded and cooled milk until homogeneous.INOCULATE: Add the yogurt-milk slurry slowly to the 50 C scalded and cooled milk with stirring. (No hotter--you will kill the bacteria in the starter.) Stir very well to thoroughly distribute the yogurt starter. Once thoroughly mixed, distribute the inoculated milk to the sterilized jars, filling to the neck. Cover immediately with sterile tops. Tighten well.

INCUBATE:Warm a gallon of fresh clean water to 55 C, pour into a clean cooler. Place in a warm location. I use my oven, turned off or in the summer, my Arizona front porch is perfect. Sad isn't it? At any rate, carefully set the jars of inoculated milk in the water so the bottom of the lids are above the water.
let sit undisturbed for three hours. If the starter was active and the temperature correct, the yogurt will have gelled. I let mine sit for about 8 hours and it is perfect. Either for a nice delicate snack or to take at this point and make into yogurt cheese. See: how to make labneh for more detailed instruction.
Place salted yogurt in a sterile colander lined with a sterile handkerchief.

Bunch with a clip or tie.
Suspend over the bowl. It usually takes about 24 hours.

This is what it looks like.

I mix it with herbs and garlic. 1 tsp Italian herbs and 1 tsp fresh pressed garlic to 1 cup of cheese. Look how awesome it is!
Sometimes I fold a little into cooked hot pasta and it makes a quick wonderful dinner. Fat free and so creamy!

By and far, my favorite use for it on Solar oven roasted potatoes with herbs and carrots. Swooning yet?
There you go.