Yogurt Bread

“I don’t feel so bad throwing something away after it has spoiled,” explained Grandma Krehbiel as she was putting small amounts of leftovers into the refrigerator. Not enough for even one child’s serving, perhaps a single tablespoon of gravy or three or four green beans, but she didn’t like wasting things.

After a day or two those little leftovers got pushed to the back of the shelves, only to be discovered when Grandma was tracking down a suspicious odor. Then, with a clear conscience, she consigned them to the garbage pile behind the henhouse.

Refrigerators sometimes seem like black holes which pull leftovers into oblivion, only to spew them forth weeks or even months later. One of Jerri’s fellow piano teachers shared the quick-witted reply she made to her husband who was snooping in the fridge and sniffing a plastic container.

“What’s this?”he growled, thinking that he had caught his wife red-handed with a spoiled leftover.

“Don’t touch that! It’s one of the kid’s science experiments,” she said confidently.

Rather than admit that he was not sure what science experiments they were involved in, he retreated to the family room. When he was safely in front of the TV, she bagged the container and took it directly to the trash bin outside. A potential domestic crisis was thus smoothly averted by a brilliant woman.

Several weeks, or possibly months, ago I bought a container of plain unflavored yogurt. I used some for making dowjic and put the container in plain sight on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so I wouldn’t forget about it. Somehow it ended up at the back of the shelf behind some pickles and relish where I found it recently. Jerri was out running errands, so I was careful but not really nervous about opening the container.

Much to my delight, the yogurt was still perfectly good. We needed bread, so I dragged out my recipe for yogurt bread. It is an interesting white bread with a lovely smooth texture and a taste of yogurt that reminds me of sourdough bread. Even if you don’t like yogurt, this is a recipe worth trying. It’s wonderful warm out of the oven and makes excellent toast.

INGREDIENTS:

5 tsp. or 2 packages of dry yeast
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
5 cups unbleached white bread flour plus more for kneading
1 T salt
3 T melted butter
1 cup warm milk
1 1/2 cups unflavored yogurt

PROCEDURE:

As usual when making bread, start by scrubbing your hands thoroughly. Dissolve the sugar in the water, stir in the yeast and allow it to proof.

Warm the milk and yogurt, add the butter and salt and stir everything together in a large bowl. Stir in about two cups of flour until you have a smooth batter. Then add the yeast mixture and stir vigorously to bring back the smooth batter.

Next, add the remaining flour one cup at a time and mix it in completely before adding the next cup. You may find that the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl before all the flour is added; if so, use the remainder to flour your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. On the other hand, if the dough seems a little too soft with only five cups, you may add a little extra flour or simply work the flour in as you knead the dough.

It is a sticky dough, so use a spatula to turn the dough on a well-floured surface until you can press it down without its sticking to your hands too much. Knead the dough until it has a soft satiny feel. This will take eight to ten minutes.

Grease the bowl with shortening. Form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl to cover the surface with shortening. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set it in a warm place to rise until the dough has doubled in bulk.

Grease two five by nine inch loaf pans.

When the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it in half, knead each half briefly and form it into a loaf. Place the loaves into the pans. Cover the pans with the damp cloth and let the loaves rise until they are near the top edges of the pans.

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Put the pans on the center shelf in the oven and bake for thirty-five to forty minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown. Test for doneness by tapping the top of each loaf. The loaves should sound hollow. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool them on a rack.

NOTES: If you want a shiny crust, brush the tops of the loaves with an egg wash made by beating a teaspoon of water with the white of an egg before you put them in the oven. If you want a harder crust, return the loaves to the oven for four or five minutes after removing them from the pans.

Fish Pepperard

Fish Pepperard

Christians are now in the liturgical season of Lent, a time of reflection, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial.   

As a child I learned that during Lent we should give up something that we really liked.  At one time or another I tried giving up school, shoveling the paths to the woodshed and chicken coop, and taking cod liver oil.   Instead my parents suggested that I give up reading comic books, eating candy bars or listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio.  With choices like these, Lent was a very long season.

Most of my Catholic friends did not eat meat on Fridays, so school lunches those days tended to be things like macaroni and cheese or tuna hot dish.  During Lent school lunches included a meat-free choice every day. As a Lutheran I could eat meat every day, but sometimes I enjoyed with my Catholic friends a steaming bowl of chowder or a plate of baked fish and vegetables.

We ate a lot of fish when I was a kid, and I still like it.  So does Jerri, whose father loved catching catfish from the pond in their pasture.  When Jerri and I were first married, we lived in Virginia.  There was a fish market just a few blocks from our apartment where we could buy ocean perch for just pennies a pound.  

Jerri found this recipe in a magazine at her doctor’s office during those early years when our son was getting ready to explore this world.  I was already showing the results of her excellent cooking, and she thought a low calorie main dish was in order.  And since we were on a very limited graduate student budget, the obvious economy of the recipe also appealed to her.  

Though I feel that many low calorie dishes should better be reserved for medical diets, this combination of fish, green pepper, tomato and yogurt is excellent.  Serve it during Lent or any time you want a delicious and inexpensive seafood dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

12 oz. fish fillets (ocean perch or pollock work fine)

1 or 2 T lemon juice

1 or 2 T butter

1 small onion (2” diameter or so) chopped medium

1/2 to 3/4 green pepper chopped medium

1 medium or 2 small tomatoes, cut in eighths

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. salt

Dash or two of fresh ground black pepper

1/2 to 2/3 cup plain yogurt

PROCEDURE:

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Rinse the fillets and place them in a shallow oven proof pan that has been lightly greased or sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice and bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes.  Use a fork to test for doneness after the fish has baked twenty minutes.  If it flakes, the fish is done.  If not, bake it another few minutes.

While the fish is baking, melt the butter in a small frying pan and sauté the onion until it is translucent.  Add the green pepper and tomato and sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper.  Simmer for about five to seven minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a minute.  Add the yogurt all at once and stir well.  Spoon the sauce over the fish.

Serve with white rice and a garden salad.  Makes two generous servings

NOTE:  You can double or triple this recipe without any trouble.