Cooking, Eat Good Food, Field Notes

Make Your Own Yogurt

Yogurt is downright magical. It’s packed with protein and with gut-friendly bacteria that aid in digestion. It goes from sweet to savory, from breakfast to dinner, like nobody’s business, and it stays fresh far longer than a carton of milk. Making your own batch of yogurt feels pretty magical too, and is simple to boot—all it takes is a quart of milk and a spoonful of yogurt.

Yes, you read that right—you need yogurt to make yogurt. Yogurt is the product of live bacterial cultures fermenting milk, and for your first batch you’ll need to borrow some of those cultures from a good storebought yogurt. Once you’ve had your first yogurt-making session you can save some of your homemade yogurt to inoculate the next batch, much like maintaining a sourdough starter or a kombucha mother.

Homemade yogurt without stabilizers or thickeners has a thinner texture than you might be used to—it will dribble, rather than dollop. If you prefer a thicker yogurt, strain your yogurt through a cheesecloth-lined colander for a few hours.

 

Ingredients

1/2 gallon fresh whole milk

1/4 cup plain, unsweetened full-fat yogurt with live active cultures

 

Instructions

Put milk in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Heat, stirring frequently until milk reaches a bare simmer. Milk should be between 180 and 200 degrees. Remove pot from heat and let cool to between 110 and 120 degrees.

Place yogurt in a small bowl and whisk in a bit of milk until smooth and liquidy. Stir the yogurt mixture into the pot of warm milk and cover with a lid. Wrap pot in a large towel and place in a warm place, such as in the oven with the light turned on or on top of the refrigerator. Let yogurt sit for 6-12 hours until thickened. The longer it sits, the tangier it will be.

At the end of fermentation, whisk the yogurt vigorously until smooth. Keep finished yogurt in the refrigerator, and be sure to save some for the next batch.

Cooking, Eat Good Food

Plum Salad Recipe

Perfectly in-season stone fruit is an unexpected-yet-perfect match for pungent kimchi, cooling yogurt, and bright citrus. With a shower of cilantro blossoms on top, this salad by our executive chef Perry Hoffman is a beautiful celebration of late-summer flavor.

Serves 6-8

Beet Kimchi:

4 large yellow beets (should yield about 1lb)
1 qt. kombu stock
1/2 cup grated ginger
1/4 cup grated garlic
5 tbsp ground Korean red chili (gochugaru)
1 cup scallions, sliced
1 cup radish, shaved thin
1/4 cup kosher salt

Toss all ingredients together. Place in a fermentation crock for 14 days then refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Plum Salad:

8 red-fleshed plums, such as a Santa Rosa Plum or Elephant Heart, sliced into wedges
1 cup beet kimchi
1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 2 tbl white soy sauce mixed in
4 tbsp miso, with lemon kosho blended in to taste (recipe follows)
2 cups of purslane tops
2 Serrano chilis, sliced into thin coins
20 basil leaves
1 bunch of flowering cilantro
1 lime for zest and juice

On the desired plate place a small pool of the soy yogurt. Add a dollop of the miso. With the tip and a small spoon swirl together to create a marble effect.

Place the sliced plums off to one side of the yogurt miso mixture. Add some of the beet kimchi. Scatter the purslane, basil, Serrano chili, and cilantro over the top.

Using a microplane zest the lime over each plate.  After you have added zest to each plate, cut the lime in half and squeeze the lime over each salad.

Lemon Kosho

1/4 cup lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Korean chili paste (tobanjan)
2 tbsp kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together and let sit a room temp for 48 hours, then refrigerate for 1 week. It’s then ready to use. The kosho will hold for 6 months in the refrigerator.

Farming, Field Notes, Grow Your Own, HomeFarm

How to Make a Flower Crown

There’s no better accessory for late summer weddings, garden parties, or weeknights (why not?) than a flower crown. Whether it’s a simple band of greenery or a riotous floral bouquet, donning the season’s bounty always puts us in a festive mood. We asked our floral specialist Alison Fields to teach us how to make the flower crown of our dreams, and it turns out it’s surprisingly simple. You’re just a trip to the craft store and a walk through the garden away from getting your midsummer night’s dream on.


YOU WILL NEED:
Bark covered wire
Floral tape
Wire cutters
Scissors
Fabric ribbon
An assortment of cut flowers, greenery, branches, berries, etc.,


Step 1:
Cut a section of bark covered wire equal to the circumference of your head. Create a loop at each end of the wire and twist to secure. Trim sharp edges of wire, if necessary.

 


Step 2:
Trim the first few flowers or pieces of greenery you would like to attach to the crown, leaving a 1-2” stem. Cut a length of floral tape that will be easy to work with, approximately 2 feet long.

 


Step 3:
Stretch and warm up the floral tape in your fingers slightly to prepare it to adhere. Starting at one of the loop ends, hold the greenery to the bark wire with the stem end facing away from the loop. Wrap the floral tape around the stem several times. Wrap as snugly as possible—the tape will stick to itself to hold the greenery in place.

 


Step 4:
Attach more flowers and greenery to the crown, overlapping leaves over the wrapped stems to hide them. Continue building the crown in the same way, working from one end of the crown to the other. When you run out of floral tape, wrap it around itself to adhere and start a new length of tape in the same way.

 


Step 5:
When you reach the end of the crown, attach a few flowers or leaves facing the other direction to hide the wrapped stem. Trim any protruding stems or wire pieces and adjust flowers as needed.

 


Step 6:
Cut a piece of ribbon to desired length. Thread ribbon through both loop ends of the crown and place gently on your head. Tighten until crown fits comfortably, then tie ribbon in a bow.

 


Step 7:
Wear your flower crown with pride!

TIPS:

  • For the best effect, vary shapes and sizes. We love incorporating flower buds, berries, and airy accents like fennel flowers and moss.
  • Try adding a larger statement flower off-center.
  • Fresh flower crowns will wilt after a day or so. Crowns will keep for approximately two days if stored in the refrigerator.
  • For a longer-lasting crown, use dried flowers or hardy varietals like strawflower, celosia, gomphrena, or statice.

Field Notes

Michael Pollan’s Psychedelic New Book Could Change Our Minds

Berkeley-based food author Michael Pollan’s even-keeled and sober nutrition advice (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”) has all but cemented his status as a wellness luminary over the past decade. That’s why it came as a bit of a surprise when he decided to write 480 largely positive pages about illegal drugs.

But How to Change Your Mind, out this May from Penguin, didn’t come entirely out of left field. Pollan wrote about humans’ surprising, seemingly instinctive yen for intoxication in his 2001 book The Botany of Desire, and sharp-eyed readers may have noticed him speaking publicly about psychedelics way back in 2016. His interest in the cultural history of altered consciousness has long been percolating beneath the surface. (Turns out we all have a lot going on in those dusty corners of our minds.)

The rigorous reportage that characterized Pollan’s James Beard Award-winner The Omnivore’s Dilemma is here in full force. So too is the accessible tone that’s garnered sold-out speaking engagements and Netflix deals in more recent years. How to Change Your Mind explores the psychedelic culture that has sprouted like so many mind-altering mushrooms in the soil of late-60s prohibition. It turns out that these drugs may be far more than just a diversion—they hold enormous promise for treating mental health disorders. Our journey through this underground world takes us from the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca to Timothy Leary’s experiments in Marsh Chapel to the psilocybe-rich forests of Washington State—and right into the depths of Pollan’s own mind. It’s his most personally revealing book by far.

Pollan is a journalist through and through; he’s not in the memoir business. But he becomes a reluctant character in his own story when his curiosity about the psychedelic experience becomes too overwhelming to ignore. The typically guarded writer owns his discomfort writing about his deeply personal trips on LSD, psilocybin, 5-MeO-DMT, and ayahuasca, but the book is all the better for it—these emotional firsthand accounts are where How to Change Your Mind hits hardest. Seeing a writer as gifted as Pollan struggle to describe what he’s experienced is a powerful testament to psychedelics’ ineffability.

This book comes at a time when we seem to be more emotionally unwell than ever: anxiety, depression, and suicide rates are all on the rise. Mental health research, however, has not kept up with demand—especially in the promising field of psychedelics. If Pollan is, at his own admission, “less a child of the psychedelic 1960s than of the moral panic that psychedelics provoked,” then today’s stressed-out twenty- and thirtysomethings are the children of those children—they tend to see the psychedelic era as a risible throwback at best. But Pollan’s exhaustive research outlining psychedelics’ tremendous potential not only to treat mental illness but for the profound “betterment of well people” may leave them wondering if their own minds could use some changing. 

It’d be hard to walk away from How to Change Your Mind with zero interest in turning on, tuning in, and/or dropping out. But Pollan himself would caution against taking his book as an unmitigated endorsement of psychedelics (and the edition notice features plenty of legalese about how readers are not encouraged to break the law). What he is in favor of is regulated psychedelic therapy—ideally with the assistance of a trained “sitter” to guide the user’s journey and keep them safe from harm. This is the kind of psychedelic use that can lead to remarkable outcomes for people struggling with addiction, depression, or end-of-life anxiety, many of whom share their stories in the book’s powerful sixth chapter. But, as one psilocybin advocate points out to a dismissive Pollan, we shouldn’t scorn recreational use—the very roots of the word “recreation,” after all, imply something profoundly unfrivolous is taking place. Barring a genetic risk of schizophrenia or psychosis, these drugs are surprisingly safe for patients and aspiring psychonauts alike.

Pollan’s new foray may surprise, but perhaps it shouldn’t. For over 10 years he’s shepherded the good food movement’s path into the mainstream; thanks in no small part to him, our meals have become more meaningful. But our bodies, Pollan argues, aren’t alone in their hungers and desires—once stomachs are full and dinner tables are cleared, perhaps our minds still long to be fed.

Cooking, Field Notes

Summer Reading: French Cooking Edition

Take a page from the French and savor the summer with good books and good eats. We have collected a few of our favorite cookbooks that celebrate French cooking, eating, and reading. Bon appétit!

Simple French Food by Richard Olney
Originally published in 1974, Simple French Food has become a classic French cookbook. Richard Olney was an influential American food writer who brought the joys Provençal cooking to the American table. His promotion of local, seasonal ingredients influenced the food movement in California and inspired prominent chefs like Alice Waters, who keeps a copy of this book at Chez Panisse. Simple French Food is as much a work of literature as it as a cookbook. It deserves to become well-worn and cherished, in a kitchen cabinet or tucked away in the living room.

Simple French Food is a training manual for the dedicated home cook. Olney’s words flourish across the pages in deliberate and robust explanations. Appreciating his language is as important as the content of each dish. Within are recipes for braised fennel, squash gratin, crêpe batter, and marinated roast leg of lamb. Some recipes appear simpler than others, though they all maintain the integrity of the Provençal kitchen. An essential addition to any cookbook collection, this is a timeless classic of ingredient-driven cooking.

Tasting Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier
Tasting Paris is a snapshot of the contemporary Parisian foodscape. This modern cookbook offers 100 recipes to eat like a Parisian. Paris native Clotilde Dusoulier writes as if she is sharing a secret with the reader—each page offers advice for finding authenticity in a city notorious for tourist traps. Well-suited for the coffee table, this sizable book transports the reader to Paris through elegant photographs and stories. Tasting Paris is a gentle approach to French gastronomy that encourages you to cook like the locals do.

Dusoulier includes some classic French dishes such as brioche with café au lait for breakfast and duck magret for dinner. Less traditional (but no less delicious) is the potato chip and chive omelet, made famous by Michelin-starred chef Éric Frechon at the Saint-Lazare train station bistro. Even more impressive are the dishes from immigrant communities in the city. Among these are baghrir, Moroccan crumpets served with melted butter and honey, and Turkish lamb served over roasted eggplant and cheese sauce. Together, these recipes create a memorable and flavorful taste of Paris.


Le Picnic by Suzy Ashford
Le Picnic is a playful recipe book that elevates the average picnic to a sophisticated affair. It offers a spread of chic food for on-the-go excursions and afternoons in the sun. Suzy Ashford, an Australian writer and avid Francophile, brings whimsy to the packed lunch with impressive yet straightforward recipes. Le Picnic is both a practical guide for meal prepping and also an excuse to daydream of summer fun and frivolity.

Ashford categorizes her recipes into Le Snack, Food for Sharing, La Salade, Sweet Delights, and La Drink. Some standouts include baked savory figs with goat cheese and walnuts, comté and asparagus tart, salade Lyonnaise, and rosé granita. These recipes are perfect for summer entertaining, whether along the banks of the Seine, in your local park, or on your back patio. Crafting stylish picnic food is a delightful way to spend a summer day with friends.

Find these books and others in our French collection. Happy reading!

Cooking, Eat Good Food

Provençal Vegetable Tian Recipe

A Provençal favorite, the tian is typically a vegetable gratin baked in a ceramic dish. This recipe highlights the best of the summer season with alternating rows of yellow squash, eggplant, and tomato. These simple ingredients are seasoned with thyme, garlic, chili flakes, and olive oil; when cooked, the melded flavors taste somewhat like ratatouille. We baked ours in a Digoin stoneware dish, perfect for serving à table (best at room temperature).

Here’s how to make your own.

Provençal Vegetable Tian
Makes a 9 x 13-inch ceramic dish

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large white or yellow onions
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound medium yellow squash
1 1⁄2 pounds small, firm eggplant
1 1⁄2 pounds ripe tomatoes
Basil leaves, to garnish

Cook thinly sliced onions with olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add thyme, chili flakes, and garlic and cook for two minutes.


Cut the squash, eggplant, and tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices.


Spread onion mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch ceramic dish. Arrange the sliced squash, eggplant, and tomato in tightly packed rows. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Add sprigs of thyme.


Bake at 400°, uncovered for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for 45 minutes to an hour.


Serve at room temperature and garnish with basil leaves.

Recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine.