A Word or Two About Cleaning Up

September 7th, 2014

Soy stuff can be sticky.

First there’s the soyapower machine.  It came with a package of magic cleaning powder that instructs one to mix a container of the stuff to reuse–who has room on a counter?  The idea is appealing in that it sounds like a way to ease cleanup unless one is opposed to leaving soaking parts laying about the kitchen.  So, instead, we have stuck with vigilant immediate cleanup and as we do it the process seems to become less of a chore.

After milk making the milk is immediately poured into a big (heated) glass jar (or pot on the stove if tofu is being made), the soy-milk maker pitcher is rinsed and washed (this avoids anything getting sticky in the soy-milk maker pitcher) and the pitcher is refilled with fresh water if more batches are being made.  The okara is then dumped into a press (or bowl if unpressed okara is going to be used) and the sieve basket is put into hot soapy water.  This is important, again, because soy can be sticky and as soon as okara and milk dry on the basket, cleanup becomes more difficult.  While the basket soaks, the machine itself is sprayed off and gently sponged, then sprayed again–it’s actually pretty easy once you get a method going.  And then the basket is washed and refilled and the process is begun again (or…we dry the parts and put the machine away clean, no soaking bits on the counter.)

This may seem like silly stuff to talk about but it was on my mind.  It is what I find to be the biggest detractor to making these soy things; the machine has to be cleaned.  But there’s more about cleaning that I thought important to share.  Years ago I read in The Farm Cookbook by Louis Hagler and Dorothy Bates that the whey from making tofu was useful for cleaning soy tools.  This has been valuable information because (did I mention that soy could be sticky?) sometimes it is needed.  When drying okara in the oven there is a risk of pans stuck with stuff that seems nearly impossible to remove, the whey from making tofu loosens it almost instantly and cleanup goes from frustrating scrubbing to easy wiping away.  It’s really *that good*!  Because of this we will most likely keep the okara drying to days when tofu is being made.  We’ll have large amounts of okara to work with and the whey to easily clean the pans after baking.

A Rich Okara Peanut Butter Brownies

September 7th, 2014

This bit of experimentation was such a success I’ve come to post the recipe immediately!

Alice’s Rich Okara Peanut Butter Brownie

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Stir in and whisk until smooth:

  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

In another small bowl mix:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Add to the chocolate mixture the flour mixture as well as:

  • 1 cup dried crumbled okara

Stir until just mixed and bake in a greased 9 X 13 pan for about 30 minutes.  The brownie will be light in the center and just pulling away from the sides with a touch of browning at the edges.  Let the pan cool on a rack as long as you can stand it.  Brownies cut from a hot pan (while way too tasty) tend to fall apart but  hold together as squares once cooled.

These are awesome, way too tasty…oh and conveniently vegan.

The Ever Expanding Okara

September 7th, 2014

I mentioned before the fact that okara is, the truth of making soy-milk, the ever-present reality…the more soymilk you make the more okara you have; the okara becomes a task requiring prompt attention.  Granola has been a repeating theme, I will reiterate, it’s the single-most, easiest, most enthusiastically received use that I’ve come up with so far.  You don’t even have to press the okara, just use it straight out of the soy-milk machine.

I figured that bean pie was loved by many and maybe okara would work so baked something along those lines.  It is something in development for now.  One of my kids thought it was fabulous, she said, “it was like custard only without the custard texture.”  She dislikes custard because of the texture and ate the okara pie with gusto.  It definitely tasted good but for me it was a little too grainy to fully enjoy.

The okara from yesterday’s tofu making went into the oven on baking sheets.  After drying it partway the mass was broken up and blended then dried a bit more.  Four recipes of soy-milk netted approximately 2 cups of dried okara; this will be used in baked goods and should make them light in texture.

Okara Veggie Patties

September 7th, 2014

One okara use that gets mentioned alot is the patty or “burger” and so last night we gave it a try.  Grated parsnips, carrots, chopped onion, chopped leek and a little garlic were sauteed and mixed with okara and a little flour.  This was made into patties and breaded, then fried but only a few were cooked before I decided to add an egg to the mixture.  The mixture plus egg held together well, these could be served without falling apart in transfer to plate.

What can I say?  The flavor was great.  The texture?  Really not bad but not what I wanted in a patty.  More vegetables and some cooked brown rice would have fleshed them out nicely, maybe a little nut meal… :)

I have long thought that a common problem people have with tofu is that they try to use it as something it is not.  Tofu is best served as tofu!  Substitutions can lead to tragedy (ye famed pink spaghetti sauce?) while other applications boast a delicious food that is simply tofu.  I’m reminded of a visit from a friend; she asked what the music playing was.  I replied, “Grateful Dead” and she exclaimed in astonishment, “but this is so nice!…”

And so it is, I find, with okara.  It is unlike other foods.  If one makes soy milk on any kind of a regular basis, one will have okara and it is good, nutritious food that should be used and can be difficult to use up at the same time.  I feel like I’m still working on figuring okara out.

Easy Okara (with granola and oats)

September 7th, 2014

Finally able to come back and offer a recipe, this is simple, easily modified and doesn’t seem to last long enough at our house to have for breakfast the next day.

Preheat oven to 325.

Combine:

  • 1 cup okara
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • pinch of salt

Mix in:

  • 3 cups oats

Spread this on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 50 minutes, turning after 15 minutes and then every 10 until the granola is evenly toasted.  Use a spatula to slide unter and flip the granola rather than stirring to leave chunks intact.  Shake the pan a little to even out the thickness after each turning.  Small stray bits on the edge of the pan tend to brown rapidly so it’s good to work them over to the edge of the bulk before placing it back in the oven.  Watch it carefully at the end because it can go from done to burned very quickly.

Taste testing should be done after it has a chance to cool as the granola will not be crunchy until after it has cooled a little bit.  Chopped nuts can be added before baking or after, it works well to add them to the okara and honey mixture.  If you want dried fruit in the granola mix it in when still hot from the oven but do not add it before baking.  If this isn’t chunky enough for you, try adding extra oil or some nut butter.

While experimenting with this I tried a recipe for a granola that was made with okara and no oats.  I thought it might make some interesting clusters to throw in with the other granola, and it would work for that but for the most part it was a disappointment (kind of sawdusty but vanilla-sweet at the same time) so I’m not sharing that recipe but am working on modifying that recipe to make it into those interesting clusters I had hoped to achieve.  My son is working on a cracker recipe and I’ve been playing around with making soy nuts as well, so more recipes will be posted soon.

Success with Granola (and okara crackers too)

September 7th, 2014

The next batch of soy milk was made with some rice added to alter the flavor of the milk. After making two batches the okara was pressed. We have a little plastic tofu press, and use it for pressing the okara too. I split the block of okara with my son and we each set out to make something. He made crackers from whole wheat, okara, a little white flour, olive oil, and water. They were baked on a buttered pan and were sprinkled with sea salt. They were pretty tasty, close to a wheat thin (touch more salt, touch of sugar and they would probably be a very close match). I’ll get some real recipes with measurements in here, eventually, but the dishes talked about here were created sans accurate measurement and so will be discussed without specific measurement.

granola

I made granola. Honey, peanut butter, okara and oil were mixed and then oats stirred in. This was spread on a pan and baked at 325, turned every 10 minutes for about 50 minutes until it was browned nicely. It crunches up as it cools so you can’t taste for crunch while it’s hot, one must go by color and the end baking time is a bit critical because it will burn rapidly if it cooks too long. The granola was very crunchy, but light at the same time.

granolabowl2

I made some granola with grated apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, oats and okara next, delicious! And then another batch with peanut butter. This granola calls to the tastebuds, each subsequent batch has gone like the wind. I made one last night that was gone after breakfast, everyone just gobbled it up.

I’m going to make some with almonds very soon and will measure everything. Recipe to come soon.

Okara Brownies

September 7th, 2014

No recipes yet, eventually there really will be some though.  Right now I’m still catching up the log with what we did before getting this blog set up.  But we did make some brownies using the okara from one run of the maker.  We used it straight up from production in place of flour and it worked well.  The brownies were a little sticky, the recipe needed a slight bit of work.  I also decided that I needed to press the okara before proceeding to get out a little more milk and have a dryer product to work with.

The Traditional Approach (a meal gone wrong)

September 7th, 2014

It was a good idea, honestly! What better way to use okara than to lean on the popular uses I’d read about? The problem came in when I tried to apply what I’d read in an ill-conceived fashion. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t horrible it just ranked among those meals people refer to as weird hippie food if ya know what I mean. And the thing is, the meal wasn’t nutritionally a powerhouse, we had multiple fried dishes and it was really supposed to appeal to the junk food lover. Ah well.

The menu as planned consisted of the following: junk food tofu, croquettes, a stir fry with okara, shrimp egg foo yung (for familiarity and to appease those who might ask, “where’s the meat?”) and rice.

Things really started to come apart when my son anounced, just as I was going to get it from the cupboard that the nutritional yeast had been used up on popcorn that day. It might not seem important but it’s key to the tofu being the way I wanted it to be and I use it in egg foo yung gravy. Bah! The tofu ended up fried with soy sizzled on it, not bad but not as welcomed by the family as what we lovingly refer to as “junk food tofu”.

I followed a recipe for croquettes, the recipe didn’t mention chilling and that’s probably what did us in. We didn’t have time for chilling when it came down to it and the thought only occured to me after the damage had been done. Instead we thickened with flour so the end result wasn’t a creamy croquette but a lightly moist fried ball. I see potential in the okara croquette though and will try them again only remembering to chill the batter. I should add that even imperfect they were well received by most of the family, only the husband disliked them in any kind of extreme way.

The stir fry…should probably be an embarrassment and yet it was again, not bad! Just strange. I would have (should have) made a soup but since the husband doesn’t like soups I avoided it. I had read that it could be used to “lighten” vegetables (who knows what that really means eh?) Going totally off the cuff I tossed the okara in the wok, added water and some seasonings. One of the issues I see mentioned on occasion is the need to cook the okara before eating it, the processing in the making of milk doesn’t cook it enough to make it nicely digestible. I wanted to keep that in mind. So I figured adding water and cooking it in the wok would serve that purpose and it did! But but the seasonings should have been added later (oyster sauce in particular) because there was an issue with burning near the end. Things to keep in mind when experimenting in the future. I removed the cooked seasoned stuff and cooked veggies, onions, spinach, fresh ginger, water chestnuts and then re-added the okara and mixed it well. There was too much okara. It was really tasty, the okara was tasty but it was not something familiar to people. It’s hard to describe really because, again, it was kind of good, just somehow, not right.

The okara was used up and I learned a few things with this meal.

So I got this groovy new toy

September 7th, 2014

I purchased a SoyaPower soymilk maker and set about making some soy milk which the family pretty much guzzled. Two recipes and two more then we had a jug in the fridge and a heap of okara in the fridge too. The next day I made 4 more batches of milk to make into tofu so you can imagine, the okara was beginning to pile up.

Now I have to talk a sec about my family, I have one milk avoider (excited about the machine and its potential), one who tasted the soymilk and decided it was great, another who drank some didn’t hate it or love it, one who looked at it with concern and tried it determined to dislike it and…the husband who has, to date, disliked all things soy except maybe the rare tofu fried up and sizzled with soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Oh and me, I like soy foods and think adding a little soy to our diet is a good way to improve it not to mention the cost effectiveness of the addition.

As I was saying though, here I had a heap of okara and all my past dabblings, the reading that I’d done in the distant past, in the recent past, in the here and now had left me with a decided gap in my knowledge about using this food but I didn’t want to throw it away.

I had read, in The Book of Tofu by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi about traditional uses for okara. They talk about the apprentices being given the okara for exploratory uses and how the dishes produced would be sold door to door. I thought my first attempts should be along the lines of traditional uses mentioned and developed a menu.