I will admit, when I supply our pantry with a powdered milk product, it has always been plain and simple, dry milk powder. I have stored both powdered cow milk and powdered goat milk and love both. I have never stored “milk alternatives" for the simple fact that I prefer items that are as close as possible to the original product or its original ingredient base. In other words, I prefer the real thing.
Not long ago, though, we had picked up a food storage package deal, and inside was this product called Morning Moo. After reading the ingredients on the label, it was NOT something I wanted to consume on a regular basis, so I tucked it away on a shelf. Why was I hesitant? Several of the ingredients make it a product I would not buy myself.
Ingredients from the label: Sweet whey, creamer (coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate [a milk derivative], dipotassium phosphate, sugar, mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 80, sodium silicoaluminate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, soy lecithin), nonfat milk, sugar, guar gum, vitamin A, vitamin D.
Although this list is not as offensive to me as some other products might be, it does contain things we do not normally tolerate on our ingredients lists. Not a fan of corn syrup-anything, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, mono or diglycerides, polysorbate 80, sodium silicoaluminate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, or guar gum. That leaves only sweet whey, coconut oil, nonfat milk, sugar and the vitamins that might pass my food approval rating! Not much hope, is it?
Well, recently I decided to give it an experimental try, and include a personal real-time product review for those who have bought it in the past, might buy it in the future, or got it in a package deal. To do this I set out to use it in some of the storage recipes I normally do with both powdered milk, raw milk, AND a gallon from the store.
Here is what I tried and the summary of final results.
~~~Farm Cheese - At first glance, I thought Morning Moo was an epic fail on making farm cheese. I followed my normal directions using the Moo, but when I added the vinegar, it did not seem to separate into whey liquid and cheese product. When this happens with powdered milk or regular milk, I often just add a little more vinegar to trigger a reaction. I did this, and still nothing seemed to happen.
I decided to let it sit until cool (about an hour), and then I would strain it for a final result. I expected there to be no cheese product when I did this an hour or so later. What I discovered surprised me. It actually DID produce almost the same amount of cheese product as I normally get from regular milk. SURPRISE! I had read several sites online that said this would not happen with a milk alternative product.
After tasting it, I do know you cannot add as much vinegar as I finally added. This truly makes the cheese taste very tart. Except for this, the results are actually similar to those of my normal farm cheese recipe. Taking away the sour taste from the vinegar, the cheese would actually taste pretty much the same, maybe a touch sweeter, than my farm cheese recipe. There are subtle differences I will mention: It is softer than normal; it is not as “gathered” as normal. Meaning that normal farm cheese seems to form in little clusters or larger “balls” the size of a dry split pea, and on occasion as large as a pinto bean. The finer cheese has always made for a great mimic of ricotta cheese tossed in a salad, as filling for ravioli and in layers of lasagna, while the larger grains we have enjoyed sprinkled on galette or pizza.
This Morning Moo farm cheese forms, though, as more of a cream cheese consistancy, but grainy. The “grains” are about the size of sand, maybe a touch larger. As with the original recipe, Morning Moo farm cheese also works well in ravioli or as stuffing for tortellini. When adding to other recipes, it just seems to mix with the oil and vinegar on a salad and runs together with the sauce in lasagna. Not as great for these, but is tolerable in a pinch.
As far as using Morning Moo for other recipes and purposes, I experimented with the following:
~~~Pre-cooking dip mix for French toast - When I make French toast, I mix a couple eggs with a splash of whole milk, whip, dip, and fry. This morning we had sourdough cinnamon swirl bread French toast using the Morning Moo mixed with two eggs.
I noticed after whipping the mixture, it seemed VERY creamy in comparison to whole milk and eggs. The eggs actually left none of the strange thick white that is often left when I whip the mixture using real milk. It also did not seem to soak as deeply into the bread, which I did like a bit more. Sometimes it seems as if the egg mix soaks in so deeply that the French toast doesn’t cook all the way through to the middle. Because it was more of a surface dip, it actually made the toast crispier as I cooked it. As far as taste, I didn’t notice any significant difference in breakfast. So for French Toast, Morning Moo gets a thumbs up as a decent alternative to regular milk and powdered milk.
~~~In my Morning cuppa - I prefer cream or whole milk in my coffee. I love the rich and creamy depth it adds to hot coffee. I do not like skim milk or mixed powdered milk because both make the coffee taste watery to me - which is difficult to do at our house, because we make our coffee kind of strong!
Surprisingly, Morning Moo Milk Alternative did NOT make my coffee watery, and I tried it two ways. I added it as a liquid mixture to my cuppa, and I added it as a powdered “creamer.” It ALMOST mimics the same rich and creamy flavor of real cream or whole milk, but it does have a strange feeling on my tongue after I swallow. This strange feeling seems to be "thin," not heavy, and it dissipates after a moment or two. It seems to be a sort of almost oily film. The flavor of Morning Moo, to me, is not as “real” as chilled cream or whole milk, and it does have a slightly "different" flavor, not quite artificial, but definitely not REAL flavor.
All in all, in a pinch, it WOULD be a tolerable alternative to real milk products in my coffee.
~~~As my evening Chai Tea base - I think I would have to say it is about the same as my coffee. I was hoping that maybe it would enhance the flavors of the cardamom and cinnamon, but not terribly impressed. I actually like the spices better in plain water. Sad, but true.
My final summary? Morning Moo is NOT my powdered milk product of choice. In fact, if I listed my preferences in order, I would say 1) powdered goat milk; 2) powdered milk (whichever your family finds the most palatable!); then, if there is no other alternative, 3) Morning Moo or other milk alternatives. However, if you have Morning Moo or somehow end up with it, it IS workable into your food storage and emerency food “prepper-toire”.
NEXT PROJECT: Will I be able to make the soft cheese into a slightly sweet and creamy spread for bagels? Will it mix with jellies to make a flavored “Creamy cheese fruit spread?" Will update with results that as soon as we find out!
Years ago I had one of those accounts that earned points for everything I did through that account. I had forgotten about the plan and never cashed in a single point. When the program was ending, I received a letter which stated that I had accumulated hundreds of thousand points which I needed to use or lose. I went online to look at what they had available for all the points I had accumulated and saw that they had a Keurig Coffee maker available.
Since they were ALL the rage at the time, but still so out of the price range for me, I cashed in all my points and “bought” myself one of those “Fancy New Coffee Makers!” I was so excited when it arrived. Now every single cup would be hot and fresh. Over time I realized it was a lot more expensive per cup and produced a lot more garbage than just making a pot of coffee. When it broke, we decided not to replace it. But what to do, what to do for that hot cup of brew. . .
We finally decided a simple stove-top coffee pot would serve us well. After reading many reviews on glass or metal options, we opted for a simple, stainless steel, percolator-style, stove-top model by Copco.
We have had this pot now for about 4 years and it definitely looks like it is well used! No longer does it have that shiny silver outside, the inside definitely looks well loved, but it is still going strong. We have used this coffee pot on a gas range, an standard electric range (not a glass top!), and even at the side of the bar-b-que to reheat a cuppa. I have learned that on our gas range it took 12 minutes from start to finish for a good cup of coffee, and on the standard electric it is 15 in summer and 16 minutes in winter.
One thing is certain, we will not be going back to an electric coffee maker any time soon. With this little work horse around making perfect pots every morning, why chance it!
~ Makes a great cup of coffee!
~ The basket for ground coffee is large enough to make any strength coffee you might enjoy
~ Makes up to 8 standard, smaller sized mugs of coffee (about 3-4 of our large mugs)
~ Can make as few as 4 cups (this is actually about one and a half to two of our large mugs)
~ Heats quickly and evenly
~ Cleans up easily
~ Very little waste - in fact, the used coffee grounds are feeding my garden as we speak.
~ We needed to replace the clear percolator knob in the center of the lid after about 2 years. It cracked, then broke. Our original knob was clear plastic, and we replaced it with one that is made of clear glass.
~ Not good at making one single cup of coffee.
~ Not recommended for fire places, fire pits, campfires, and such.
~ Of course, it is NOT programmable, so you are going to have to start it yourself.
~ The Wire spring did pop off the solder or weld on the stem or chimney part inside, but with a little wiggle and turning the spring around on the stem, it stays perfectly placed during brewing.
~ Does take a little trial and error to discover your perfect brew.
Notes: For outdoor cooking, I would definitely not recommend this model as I am unsure of the handle’s ability to withstand being over flames or close to flames. There are better models available for outdoor cooking that would be well worth the investment if that is your need or desire.
When we bought our model several years ago, it stated that it was made from stainless steel inside and out. I do notice that several reviews online now claim that some interior parts are made of aluminum. This may be an important detail to anyone interested in a stove-top percolator. If we do need to buy again, I will be checking this detail very carefully as we much prefer the all stainless parts. There are several models online now that do still profess to contain all stainless and we hope to be trying out a few of those over time as well. Many of these are more well suited for campfire cooking as well.
In a pinch or for small grinding tasks, my favorite go-to grinder is the
Proctor Silex E167CYR Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder
Inexpensive, small, and yet a work-horse. I use this model for grinding herbs, herb mixes, flax seeds, chia seeds, as well as small amounts of oat flour from rolled oats. It is a treasure. I loved it so much, when I got back into drinking coffee again, I bought whole beans and ordered a second grinder to just use for coffee! There is nothing less appealing to me than rosemary, oregano, or thyme flavored cuppa first thing in the morning!
My first Proctor Silex grinder is well over 10 years old now, and yet is still going strong. I had picked it up on sale at a local pharmacy after the holiday season one year, and have had it ever since. I love that it has a good sturdy motor, still grinds all my herbs and spices, grinds seeds easily and finely, AND that it is compact on my counter. I also like that the cord rolls up inside for travel, too. We have been known to toss it into a suitcase for fresh ground coffee on the road.
My only complaint is that it IS noisy when it grinds. Some might find it noisy enough to use ear protection when grinding. I have to say, though, that I have yet to hear a quiet grinder of any kind. Let's face it - it is grinding seeds and things, and therefore, by default, is noisy. It is not the motor so much that makes it loud, but the sound of everything whirling around in the little plastic top.
This is a nice addition to any kitchen, and maybe even buy two or three to designate for different purposes. It would be nice to have it around for just the seeds, while using the old one for herbal mixtures like Cajun spice, Mexican Spice, or Italian Seasoning mixes that I make myself to our tastes. We don't always want our oat flour or seeds to taste like these savory and spicy flavors.
A quick note about some ads I see for it online. When it says that it has a large 10-cup capacity, that is NOT the size of the “hopper” for grinding. It seems that is actually the amount of coffee it is capable of grinding - just enough for about 10 cups.
Hand Operated Grain Mill by VICTORIO VKP1014
My very first hand crank grain mill was an old cast iron, antique grinder that I picked up second hand. It was $10 at some local yard sale and had seen better days. Honestly, it looked like maybe my great-great-grandmother used it in her kitchen! But, I was on a tight budget, and wanted something for learning to cook homemade, whole wheat breads. At the time, many of the handcrank grain mills I could find were well over $75.00, many were hundreds of dollars - both out of my price range 30-some years ago. I kept thinking that if I had that kind of money to spend I would buy an electric grain mill to use.
The old farmhouse grinder was perfect for a beginner and it did well for quite a while, but it was not something I enjoyed using in the middle of humid summers in New Jersey! Even with the air conditioner on, it was a real workout just to get 12 cups of flour for a good batch of bread for the family. I recall grinding one winter day with the windows open, wind blowing in, 10 degrees outside and sweating up a storm!
After about 2 years of cranking that old bear and turning out really coarse flour that was the texture of corn meal, I decided to upgrade to a more modern version. After questioning several people I knew, I learned about a nice, smaller model that many seemed to truly like for hand milling grains. I ended up ordering what was called, at that time, a Back-to-Basics hand mill for around $49.99. The product is now manufactured by Victorio, and is sold several places online, including Amazon.com (approx. $50.00).
We have used this mill for grinding cornmeal, whole oat groats, wheat, spelt, farro, white or brown rice, and even various beans. Personally, I find it grinds all hard grains very well, but it does not do well with beans. They do not slide down the hopper and into the grinding burrs very well. If you are willing to feed in a few beans at a time, it does grind a fine flour that can be used in cooking or making your own gluten-free flour. I have also tried quinoa, amaranth, and chia seeds through the mill because when it was originally sold to me, I was told it would do small grains. Quinoa comes through, not as flour, as more like cracked grains. Amaranth and chia get spit out through the burrs without any effect whatsoever on the grains. They are just too tiny. Oily seeds, such as flax, should NOT be run through this mill. My little electric coffee grinder does better with these tiny grains as well as flax (see my review here).
“Grind many small to medium sized dry grains such as barley, kamut, spelt, millet, wheat, quinoa, lentils, rice, oats, buckwheat and more.” For further Specs and complete details, please see Victorio.com
~ Price - it has barely increased after over 12 years of ownership (possibly almost 20 years!). A nice,
economical basic grinder.
~ Works well on medium grains that are hard and dry (non-oily). Wheat, farro, Spelt, rice (white & brown), etc.
~ Grinds nicely and is fairly smooth to operate.
~ Grinds some various grains- not all
~ Easy to assemble, disassemble
~ Easy to clean
~ Removable - can easily be removed from the table or counter top and be stored in a cupboard or deep drawer.
~ Sleek and slim design
~ Hopper falls off mid grind! Easily bumped off, not tight-fitting. Spills grain when this happens.
~ Takes a LONG time! 4 Cups of grain berries takes approx. 1 hour to grind by hand. (Good time to play some music! It doesn't seem as long when you are enjoying yourself. Or a movie you have been meaning to watch! LOL)
~ Not for smaller grains. It does not grind them into flour.
~ No success grinding spices. For this I use the Proctor Silex E167CYR Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder.
~ Clamp that holds it to the counter or table sometimes loosens while grinding. We need to re-tighten several times during the 4 cups grind.
~ Unable to be permanently mounted to a counter. Wish there was a way to permanently mount it and possibly prevent the constant need to loosen. Might need 2 bolts for stability. Victorio!!! Could you make this happen?
~ The nylon washer in the crank portion needs to be replaced regularly - we go through one a month for two people. We also grind about 4 cups of grain (approx. 6 Cups of flour) on average, every other day. We use the hand ground grains for everything from tortillas to breads, cakes to cookies. Even homemade pastas.
~ When nylon washer wears down, the grind gets more and more coarse which produces less flour. In this case, the results are 4 Cups of wheat produce about 4.5-5 Cups of course flour. Suggest buying extra washers when you order your grinder! They are not expensive and you won’t find yourself needing one in a pinch.
~ 6 Cups of Hard White Wheat nets approx. 9 Cups of fine grain flour
~ Takes approx. 1 hour to grind 4 Cups of Hard White Wheat berries into fine flour
~ Nylon Washer lasts well for about 1 month of daily grinding of 4 Cups of wheat
~ See the photos below to view the finest grind flour compared to sifted flour and wheat germ, which can be toasted or used plain in various recipes.
We have been using this grinder now as our only go-to grain grinder because during our move, our electric broke beyond repair and was well out of warranty. We have gotten more experience with hand grinding than either of us cares to admit, but we have certainly learned what we like and don’t like about the Victorio grain grinder.
For basic grain grinding, this is a great first grinder or emergency grinder. For a little bit more money you could easily upgrade to the Deluxe model (VKP1024 - approx. $73.00) which offers more flexibility for grinding AND can easily be fitted with the available motor for faster grinding. We have not upgraded as yet, but would love to try the Deluxe AND the motor (approx. $57.00) and do a full comparison on the two products.
Do you have questions for me about using this mill? Feel free to leave a comment or send us a contact form. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
MANUFACTURER SPECS: http://victorio.info/grain-mill.html
SPARE PARTS: http://www.victorioproducts.com/parts/grain-mill-vkp1014
DETAILS, SPECS, and more : https://www.amazon.com/Hand-Operated-Grain-VICTORIO-VKP1012/dp/B0018P54TS/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1507657478&sr=1-3&keywords=victorio+grinder
Prices listed in this article were accurate at date of publication, October 2017.
Prices are subject to change without notice.
Judith has over 20 years experience in food storage, herbs, essential oils, and prepping. She was a captain in the USAF-AUX, FEMA trained, Community Emergency Response Team member and NRA marksmanship award recipient. She shares her experiences with her readers offering tips and recipes.