Vegan Monday: Soy Yogurt and The Silver Lining

It's not often that I truly dislike something food or beverage related. I like to (proudly) think my palate is sophisticated and varied, but every once in a while I run across something and I think to myself "I really never, EVER, want to try this again". The first time (well, the only time) I had cuttlefish at a pretty nice sushi establishment, I looked across the table at my Husband who had already devoured his slice, and he knew that I was in trouble. This was a cloth napkin type place, not a place in sight for an uncultured Midwestern girl to politely spit a wad of partially chewed fish.

Of course there are foods I prefer not to eat due to processing, but when I run across something I know to be reasonably good for me but I find just in no way palatable, I feel kind of sad. Enter Soy Yogurt: I have never eaten soy yogurt before, but last week mentioned that I would try making it. So I did.

It looks like creamy, tasty yogurt...

I decided to buy and not make the soy milk from scratch. There are plenty of easy instructions out there, and frankly I've just been too busy lately. I enjoy soy milk, but not as much as almond or rice milks, so I pick my battles according to what I love.

I also bought a cultured soy yogurt to use as a starter. The proportions and procedure for making soy yogurt are exactly the same as that for regular dairy yogurt. Milk is heated to 180 degrees, and cooled to 100-110 and inoculated with a culture, 1 tablespoon of culture for a quart of milk. This left the better part of a little soy yogurt for me to taste during the 7 or 8 hour time the soy yogurt was incubating.

Granted, this first sample of soy yogurt was plain, unsweetened and unadulterated by fruit which may have been able to sway me in my harsh opinions. My first bite was awful; It was flabby, waxy and tasted of intensified soy - like an essence of soy. I could not get past the fact that it tasted exactly like a crayon, or at least like the way a crayon smells to me. I thought that maybe it just needed some doctoring, so I added some sweetener. Then granola. I then audibly whispered "this stuff is just vile". And it was! I looked over the ingredient list on the label again, and it did have such things as guar gum and tapioca starch, natural stabilizers that I knew my homemade version would not have so I held out hope that my finished product would knock the socks off it's prepackaged brother.

The soy yogurt took longer to culture than dairy yogurt, about 10 hours. I patiently (actually, I was in no great hurry to try it...) let it sit under refrigeration overnight, to try it for breakfast the next day. It seemed to separate, presumably due to the lack of thickeners, and did taste slightly better than my first experience. The texture was good, and I did manage to eat a small amount of it mixed with fruit into a unattractive smoothie - the soy somehow turned vibrantly colored blueberries into a muddy blue brown color.

While I hate wasting food, this experiment may not get eaten. My Mom has taught me to "let things go back to the earth" and not to feel bad about it if I don't like something, or it gets forgotten about in the fridge. I somehow feel better if I have it laying around for a couple of weeks, it begins to decompose and looks like a shadow of it's original splendor, and then tossing it doesn't make me feel so wasteful. I do have a thorough refrigerator cleaning on the list of things to do today, so maybe I'll be inspired to let it go sooner.

As disappointed as I was with soy yogurt, E told me about a salad that she's been kind of addicted to lately. It is based on marinated beets, and couldn't be simpler. Roasted beets are tossed with equal amounts of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and seasoned with salt and pepper. E has been eating her version with avocados, tomatoes, goat cheese and pine nuts, but I made a nice vegan version in all the colors of the rainbow:

The orange tomatoes were from my CSA, and while the outer appearance wasn't quite blemish free, it was probably the most delicious tomato I have ever eaten! I have reminded myself to never just judge on first appearances...

Full disclosure urges me to let you know that for supper last night (after my vegan photo shoot), I added feta cheese since I had some I needed to use up. I remembered about the avocado, and added some more of the marinade, and really was surprised at how filling and satisfying a rainbow of veg is for dinner!

I'm not sure I would try soy yogurt again. As I'm not staunchly vegan, I guess I don't have reason to. My dairy yogurt is so satisfying and great, and I've taken to straining it and performing more experiments with the whey.

I soaked some yellow mustard seed last night, and made a yellow mustard that even has a couple of tablespoons of whey in it. Apparently, the whey adds to the shelf life, and also most likely makes a common condiment like mustard more of a whole food. I can't wait for the Tongue Splitter Ale to be finished, and I'd substitute the water in the recipe for home brewed beer - then I'd be truly excited! Meanwhile, I need to now find a use for 12 oz. of yellow mustard - any ideas, send them my way...

The ways of experimenting always lead to places I don't expect. I have a new appreciation for my Husband, who just does not like beets. I always think how it is impossible not to love a beet, but after tasting this yogurt, I can not imagine liking it. After all, he goes on eating cuttlefish and last time we ate at Polonez, he ordered (and loved) the tripe soup - for someone I tend to think is picky, these are brave accomplishments. I made this Rainbow Salad for myself, and another green salad and a piece of fish for him, and we were both happy and eating together at the same time, and isn't this what I should be thankful for?

It's easier with a small family to become a short order cook, which is essentially what I have become. Even though not much could make me happier than mimicking the fast pace of a restaurant in my little galley kitchen, I'm trying not to do this so much, since the Boy-O is picky and I need to make him stop being picky. Little by little, it is coming along. For the past week, he devours peas that I planted late in the back yard, ripping open the little "zippers" and popping them in his mouth as fast as he can. Generally, if I can get him to take just one bite of something, he concedes into enjoyment of a new food.

An adventurous-eater-friend of mine (*wink, wink*) told me that while she doesn't always love everything she tries, she would never tell her husband who tends to be a little more reserved in his eating habits. I doubt I could have held back and insisted my family try the yogurt, but I see her point. I often think that if I can just be a good example, that I will seep into the pores of my family - and I daily hope that this is the case. Sometimes I feel daunted in the tasks at hand, but usually persevere, always offering a taste of something new even though I'm most often met with a "no thanks". One day, I know things will change, and then I'll look back on these days of sometime frustration and smile.