Happy Meatless Monday! During the month of April Jessica Perlaza, Chicago native and author of the book HIBERNATE, will share with you easy vegetarian recipes inspired by her journeys in Korea. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
By Jessica Perlaza
What you’ve heard is true. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have struggled for most of my life to become a morning person. I love the stillness of early morning and I set an intention each night to rise with the sun and savor the morning calm. But every morning, staying in bed just a little longer always wins. I was notoriously late for school because I would sleep until the last possible minute and stagger out of bed leaving only enough time to throw on my uniform and grab a banana as i went running out the door. I’m still always late. But now it’s because I cook a small feast for breakfast and linger over my sacred first meal of the day until I am once again scrambling to get ready and out of the house on time for work. When will I learn?
Eating a good breakfast is vital for starting the day off right. On the occasion that I have to get up extra early, I lose my rhythm and resort to tossing an energy bar in my purse and grabbing a cappuccino at the corner coffee shop. On these days I feel generally sluggish and lackluster and, most importantly, I feel robbed of the morning ritual I have come to love and appreciate so much.
Breakfast was definitely the most difficult meal to figure out after moving to Korea. There is no sprouted granola or oatmeal on the supermarket shelves. The yogurt is all artificially flavored and filled with sugar. So I had to get creative and learn some new kitchen skills (and have since started making my own granola, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles and cheese!). Making your own saves money and unnecessary packaging and is much more fun than buying anything from the store. And you will be filled with such pride and accomplishment in knowing that you just made something… and it was so easy.
Homemade yogurt with apricot ginger compote:
for the yogurt…
a quart of milk (I use organic whole milk)
a few spoonfuls of your favorite plain yogurt (make sure it has live cultures listed in the ingredients)
The measurements need not be exact and, as long as you combine milk with a little bit of yogurt and let it sit in a warm place for eight hours, you will get yogurt. I have experimented a bit and find this method works best:
Warm the milk over very low heat, making sure it doesn’t scorch. When it is just below the boiling point, remove from heat and let stand until it cools a bit. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yogurt culture so do a little test to make sure it’s okay. If you can comfortably dip a finger in the milk, it’s at a safe temperature for you and for your yogurt. Add the yogurt to the milk, stirring well to combine, and pour into clean jars (I save every jam, pickle, and olive jar i buy for this purpose).
Find a warm place to incubate your yogurt for about eight hours. The longer it sits, the tangier it will be so experiment and see what you like best. You can try putting it on a warm sunny windowsill, wrapping it in a heating blanket, or setting it in the oven with nothing but the pilot light on. There are even yogurt makers made specifically for this purpose that take out the guesswork and keep the yogurt at a consistent temperature yielding perfect yogurt every time.
After eight hours, put your yogurt in the refrigerator for about an hour to set it and enjoy with apricot ginger compote, sprouted granola (jealous), or Indian curry. If you prefer a thicker, Greek-style yogurt, strain it through a couple layers of cheesecloth to remove some of the whey. And make sure to save a few spoonfuls of your homemade yogurt to use as your starter when making the next batch. You can do this for three or four cycles before you’ll have to buy a new yogurt with stronger cultures.
for the compote…
3 cups of fresh ripe apricots, washed, unpeeled and roughly chopped
2 cups of water
juice of half a lemon
a teaspoon of grated lemon zest (optional)
a half a cup of sugar
an inch of ginger root, finely chopped
a handful of pumpkin seeds, pecans or pistachios, toasted
Making a fruit compote is so simple and so much tastier than fresh fruit. Cooked fruit is also easier to digest, making it a great choice for your first meal of the day.
In a medium saucepan combine water, lemon, zest, sugar and ginger over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add the apricots and bring down to a simmer, cooking until the fruit is tender and the liquid becomes syrupy (about ten minutes). Spoon over homemade yogurt and top with a generous sprinkle of your favorite nuts and seeds (quickly toasted in a dry pan). Reserve any extra compote in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Introducing Jessica: “I’m a teacher, home cook and advocate for the simple things in life. More than three years ago, my husband and I bid farewell to the big city of Chicago and the urban sprawl of Orlando to live in a small village in the Korean countryside. I was raised on mac n’ cheese and fried fish sticks but, through much trial and error, I eventually learned to treat myself and my body better. My kitchen is now full of fresh, whole foods that nourish me – body, mind and spirit.
My recent project as the co-author of The Kitchens of Pinch and Dash – a self-published quarterly cookzine – has brought me great joy in allowing me to spread the word of good food with a greater reach. Nestled in its pages you will find recipes (all vegan and gluten-free), photos and stories inspired by the seasons that influence the way I eat and live.” Read more…