Flavoured stevia + plain yogurt = beyond yum!

As a follow-up to my post about making yogurt, I’d like to mention that there’s a natural sweetener you probably know nothing about. It’s called “Stevia” and it’s from the leaves of a plant.

Stevia contains absolutely no sugar but is 200 – 400 times sweeter than sugar. It’s not a chemical concoction that burns holes in your brain like aspartame. Stevia’s been used for years… centuries probably by the locals.

So… why haven’t you heard about it? The gov’t is holding it back from the general public as a sweetener. Why is up for debate – they say they don’t know for sure that it’s safe. On the other hand it hasn’t been massively tested because it’s not highly profitable. As a plant extract it’s unpatentable. Unpatentable means no monopoly on it’s production.

But you can get your hands on it if you look in the “herbal suppliments” section of stores. Where I live there are even flavoured varieties – vanilla creme, raspberry, orange, etc. Most people put it in their coffee, but as it’s heat stable you can cook with it too!

You can’t say that about aspartame.

And don’t get me started on Splenda – it gives me gas that’s more painful than labour.


Frugal cooking – neverending yeast / yogurt

One of the things that annoys me about our culture is that it assumes that everything is a one-off use – especially in cooking.

Mainly I’m talking about yeast. Yeast isn’t like a whole bunch of seeds that grow until you’re ready to use them and that’s it… yeast is a micro-organism! This means that you don’t have to buy a lot of yeast if you’re going to be doing a lot of baking in a short amount of time.

Just double up the starter solution (usually water, sugar and salt… occasionally flour) and add the yeast – wait a bit longer and there you go! Keep feeding it sugar-water and you could have one batch of yeast last, well, forever.

Make sure to stir it, though – there are molds that feed on yeast if left still for too long.

Oh! And you can do the same thing with yogurt! Grab some plain (or flavoured, I don’t think it really matters) yogurt and add a dab to just-boiled-and-cooled milk. Leave it in a relatively warm place and you’ll have unflavoured yogurt in days for just the price of milk!

If you’re wondering why I recommend boiling the milk it’s to kill off anything that would compete with the yogurt-making micro-organisms (I think they’re a bacteria)