And Yet Again, Another ‘Duh’ Moment

Gram's Banana Cake with Vanilla Yogurt Pudding

I have a thing for yogurt.  I’m convinced it’s one of those basic foods that’s responsible for good health.  Those stories about finding Bulgarian peasants living in the mountains whose ages were verified to be in excess of 120 years – and whose diet was confirmed to consist of primarily yogurt didn’t hurt.  And then I had heart valve surgery in 2007, and on the way out of the hospital, my surgeon said, ‘We’ve killed every single bacteria in your system, so you’ll need to take one of those active pro-biotics from the heath food store, and …, oh yeah, eat a lot of yogurt.’

In the last several years, I’ve developed an interest in fermenting my own foods, especially those from my garden.  Lots of people are surprised to learn that at one time all pickles were fermented, and today sadly very few are, unless you search them out – it helps to have access to some ethnic grocery stores in large urban areas.  I’ve also started to make my own Kim Chee (or Kimchi), since you can make it as hot or as mild as you wish when you do it yourself.  And I make my own sauerkraut too, which, BTW, is very closely related to fermented Kim Chee, just without all those spices.

All of the above are basic fermented foods, and they are all naturally fermented – which is an amazing thing, both in its simplicity, and in its production.  All one needs is a vegetable and a little salt – and the only thing the salt does is to keep the bad bacteria out of the picture while nature is allowing all those good bacteria to get established and do their magic.  And once you experience the magic of fermentation, you realize that we -as Americans- have for years been throwing out food that we assumed was spoiled, when it was simply on its way to being naturally fermented.

But it’s yogurt I’m talking about today, and frankly, I don’t make my own yogurt because I buy my yogurt at Grocery Outlet, which surprisingly is an outlet store for groceries – it is always priced at less than I can make my own, and frankly, the stuff I’ve made myself wasn’t as good as what I can get at Grocery Outlet.  My only regret is that for some reason, the American public is fixated on the idea that yogurt must be fat-free in order to be eaten, when actually, yogurt is one of those milk products that simply is much better in its whole milk form than in its low-fat version.  Canadians know this, but Americans don’t get it!  (Should you ever be so lucky, try the Quebec made, Liberte yogurt  – their basic yogurt is made with whole milk and cream too – you’ll thank me.)

I remember not always liking yogurt, and once I made up my mind to learn to like it, I recall it wasn’t a short learning curve.  And for many years, I could only tolerate the heavily fruit-sweetened varieties.  But eventually, my taste adjusted, and today I wonder why I ever disliked the taste.  Today, it is a regular item in our fridge, and I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate more yogurt into our meals -and snacks.

The subject of my post today is something I fear everyone knows about -except me!  I’m sure you too have had those ‘Duh’ moments, but I think I have more than my share.  I have, regrettably, reached that point in my life when I don’t know if something I’ve just discovered is actually new to me, or if I’ve simply forgotten that I once knew it – this is a sad suspicion, because one can never verify it – it just remains a haunting recognition of getting old.

OK, sorry for that, but in my search for new ways to use yogurt, I discovered a yogurt pudding that is so simple as to practically put itself together, and is so good as to be shocking.  I speak of the creation of yogurt pudding from yogurt and instant pudding mix – and I’m serious, it is good!

I am a pudding lover.  Always have been, and will go to the grave as a pudding lover.  When I was a kid, my mother would often make those cooked puddings from a box, and as far as I was concerned, they were fine – even more than fine.  But when the instant kind hit the markets, I did not like the texture, and I wrote it off and never have bothered with it since.  Nowadays, I’m more likely to play around making one of the cooked corn starch puddings, or to bite the bullet and make a mouse – but let’s admit it, that’s a project.

So I put ‘yogurt pudding’ into my search engine, and spent the next hour or so looking at the world’s ideas on how to make puddings using yogurt.  For the first page or two, what I found were mostly complex, fancy-dancy recipes, and I wanted to find something very simple, so it could be judged on basics first.  And then I saw one that cut to the chase – yogurt, instant pudding, and fruit.  My first thought was, ‘How good can this be if I’ve never heard of it before, or it isn’t higher in this search?’  OK, these are both weak questions, but they were still in my head.  My second -better- thought was, ‘Let’s just make it and see how good it is.’

A quick check of our fridge showed I had a quart size container of plain yogurt, and a check of the pantry revealed a pack of Lemon Sugar Free Instant Pudding Mix (As a diabetic, I always try to use sugar-free) – I was in business.  I threw them together into a big bowl, and with a big whisk, mixed them well.  Immediately, the mixture took on a very ‘puddingish’ texture, which would only get better after being refrigerated – I spooned the pudding into some small serving containers and found a place for them in the fridge.  I almost bent to the temptation to immediately have one, but instead, I just stuck my finger in the bowl, and licked it off - Oh wow!  Not only were these two flavors complementary, but the texture was so much better than an instant pudding made with milk.  I’d be looking forward to my nightly snack while watching my Netflix streaming documentaries after dinner.

Here's All You Need

Wrapped and Ready for the Fridge

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by posting a recipe for this pudding, anymore than I’d give you a recipe for buttered toast – just mix these two things together and enjoy.  I did make one adjustment due to me using a thicker Greek style yogurt – I added 1/2 cup of milk while mixing, and it smoothed out to a silky softness, not the thick, paste-like texture it was at first.  Regular yogurt will need no extras.  And if you really want to use a no fat yogurt, it’ll still be delicious (I used a no fat yogurt to make this pudding today – but I will admit that it’d be better with a whole milk type.).  BTW, last week, when I used the lemon flavored instant pudding mix, I mixed the single box with 32 ounces of yogurt, and the taste was great.  This week, all I had was 16 ounces of the Greek yogurt (with the extra 4 ounces of milk), which I mixed with a single box of vanilla instant pudding mix, and again the taste was great.  I need to think about that before commenting further.

And Fresh Fruit Makes It Even Better

Yes, this makes a wonderful partner to all fruits, or as a topping for plain cake.  In my intro shot, I have topped a piece of Gram’s Banana Cake with the vanilla yogurt pudding and a dollop of apricot jam – who needs icing?  If you do make this pudding for eating at a later time, slip some plastic wrap over the top to keep other fridge odors out while your pudding waits for you.

And if you’d like to do me a favor, please let me know below if you’ve ever heard of this pudding before – Yeah, regardless of your answer – I can handle it.

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About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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18 Responses to And Yet Again, Another ‘Duh’ Moment

  1. Frances Quinn says:

    WOW! Looks like something I will try. How simple can a good desert get! Thanks, Doc..

    BTW the calla lillies, well the yellow ones, anyway, seem to have taken. The yellow ones keep coming out with new whatever-they-are bells. The pink is still very green and looks like it is trying to put a pink one up. Thanks for the shove, Doc. I will mulch them for over the winter and keep my fingers crossed.

    • drfugawe says:

      Good news with the callas – yeah, if they get a good start now, they’ll be ready for winter – talk to them, they respond well to that.

      Can I assume that you also have never heard of this pudding? Yes, by all means, try this one.

      • Frances Quinn says:

        You are right, I have never heard of doing this. I bought boxes of pudding mix today so that I can make it.

        I will also talk to the Calla Lillies, in a very nice voice, of course, to help them feel at home.

      • Frances Quinn says:

        Hi, Dr. I’m back, like a bad penny. I just finished making the lemon pudding. WOW! My only problem (if you could call it that) is that the yogurt I used was so thick (I used Fage, pronounced Fa-yeh!) that I had to use more than 1/2 cup of milk. I think this diluted the lemon taste so I added some lemon juice and zest. Fantastic pudding!!!!!! The next time, I will use less milk and more lemon. I am hooked. Thanks for this delicious pudding.

  2. Misk Cooks says:

    Never heard of it. I still have a few packets of sugar-free pud in the cupboard that I keep for a rainy day treat. Can’t buy American-type pudding here. They think that I’m describing mousse, which of course it soooo isn’t. I’ve often tried to find a recipe that comes close to the sugar-free pud that you can buy in the US but I’ve never found an acceptable one.

    As for kimchi, love it. My two boys are Korean-born, and we always had kimchi in the fridge — the redder the better. My youngest discovered that we can buy it in Brighton, so he occasionally brings me a large vacuum-sealed bag of it. Do you bury your cabbage and radishes for kimchi in jars in the ground?

    • drfugawe says:

      No, no burying of food – yet! I have a very adventurous spirit, but eating bugs and various buried foods are not yet there. Kimchi was the star of last summer’s fermenting fun, and I’m about to do a few reg cabbages up in an Americanized kimchi any day now.

  3. Joanna says:

    As Misk says we have no pudding mix here. We have Angel Delight that isn’t it is it? Please tell me it isn’t Angel Delight….

    • Misk Cooks says:

      It’s not Angel Delight. No where near. It’s thick and creamy and rich and (sigh……)

      • drfugawe says:

        Oh dear, have I stumbled ignorantly into a cultural no-no? I googled Angel Delight, and although it does have similarities to Jello Instant Pudding, the latter is not made in neon colors or too over-endowed with chemicals (although it has its share!). I find it hard to believe that the U.K. does not have this stuff – it’s nothing more than an old fashioned corn starch pudding, which can be made in 15 minutes by anyone. The Jello pudding is VERY popular here!

        I think I did go on record as saying that I’m not that enamored with the instant stuff – I prefer the cooked kind – but you can’t use the cooked stuff to make yogurt pudding, so ….

        While googling, I did come across an alternative for yogurt pudding that does not use a pack of instant pudding mix – instead it uses a cup of heavy whipping cream (whipped) with 2 Tbs of sugar and flavoring added – this strikes me as an acceptable substitute – maybe even preferred!

        • Misk Cooks says:

          I found my old recipe for American-style pudding but I’m not sure that the end result will be acceptable – substituting 2/3 C sugar with a sweetener. I suspect, as we’ve previously discussed, that the sugar does more than sweeten; it bulks it up also. I’ll post the recipe within the next few days, and maybe between us we can create a work-around for the high sugar content. There’s just no way that I can serve P. that much sugar plus the fat from the cream. Thank goodness for fresh summer fruit for afters is all I can say.

  4. Joanna says:

    But I’m wrong there’s a store in Greater Manchester that imports pudding mix and will send it out by mail. Google American Soda co uk. Ha!

  5. This whole American pudding thing still intrigues me. I can’t think of what it would be here besides a custard type thing? As I don’t think you guys have custard? Which from a packet is a corn starch based sweet thing here (or cornflour as we say.) Once again the little subtlies between the food cultures Doc!

    • Misk Cooks says:

      Pardon my jumping in here. Baked custard is too firm. Pouring custard is too fluid. Mousse is too full of air. American-style pudding is voluptuous and floppy and dense, and it’s smooth so as to slide off your tongue … but it won’t slide off a spoon (where as baked custard will). I can only suggest that you try to make some. :D If fat and sugar aren’t an issue for your family, then I’d suggest going for the first recipe I listed on my blog rather than the sugar-free/low-fat version. Here’s the link again.

      http://miskcooks.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/american-style-chocolate-pudding/

    • drfugawe says:

      In America, a pudding can be anything that is soft and sweet, and requires a spoon to eat it – cornstarch based puddings are the most common, custard based come next, and then there are things like rice pudding, that are milk based, but thicken naturally due to the starch in the rice. Generally, gelatinized things like Jello and even panna cotta, are not called puddings.

      Americans find it strange that in other parts of the world, puddings can be savory – here, a pudding must be sweet to be a pudding. Yeah, weird but wonderful semantic differences – it’s part of what makes the world fun.

  6. Anne says:

    Hi! I’ve been a fan of your page for a long time. I think your posts on sourdough bread got me started. It’s finally time for me to jump in.

    Being Canadian, I have ready access to Liberte yogurt – it’s definitely a go-to choice for plain yogurt.

    But we have even better stuff: Saugeen Country Yogurt, made with unpasturized whole milk. This is what yogurt was meant to be! It’s a bit lumpy looking when you open it, but it’s smooth on the tongue. The taste is fresh and natural and kind of farmy, the way some good cheeses are. Keep it in mind if you’re ever travelling here.

    • drfugawe says:

      Hi Anne,
      I’m not surprised that Canada does not have even better yogurts than Liberte – but Liberte is the only one that shows in our stores now and then – I love it because it comes in a whole milk version, which sadly our U.S. yogurt makers seem not able to do. And I won’t even get into the raw milk thing – our govt won’t allow our dairies to sell or make anything from raw milk, and they certainly won’t allow any imports of raw milk products – thus we will never see Saugeen County Yogurt, I fear – but if it’s sold in B.C., we may sample some on an upcoming trip – and if it’s as good as you say, I may even hide some as I come over the border.

      Thanks for the tip, Anne.

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