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Moving overseas - help me learn how to make these things from scratch

We're moving to a very rural area of a developing country next year. I want to learn how to make a few things before I leave that I know will not be available in our area. I was just wondering if people had additional suggestions, and also if there are books/websites you would recommend to learn how to make these things. So far I want to learn how to make:

- Cheese
- Yogurt
- Pasta
- Pizza dough

Any tips?

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  1. I've been thinking about trying to make cheese as well. I've heard good things about Ricki the Cheese Queen at www.cheesemaking.com
    If you're near Western Mass. she has workshops in her home. She sells a bood and dvd online as well as all kinds of cheese (and yogurt) making supplies. I think I want to try to make mozzarella. Good luck!

    1. What kind of cheese are you interested in making? Some soft cheeses are very do-able while other varieties are next to impossible, think Roquefort or Parmesan.
      Yogurt can be made at home if you have access to milk.
      Fresh egg pasta needs only egg yolk, a bit of salt and flour for the ingredients and something cylindrical for rolling the dough.
      Pizza dough is likewise pretty straightforward with a short list of ingredients - flour, salt, water and something to help it rise which can be some dough left from the previous batch or a bit of yeast.

      Are you looking for actual recipes? Can you also provide a little more info on the "...very rural area of a developing country"? What might be available there?

      I spent some time in the rural Phillipines many years ago and got very hungry for cheese which was not available to buy. I was able to locate fresh milk and made a kind of soft summer cheese that I relished. Happy to share the method, if that's what you'd like.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sherri

        After taking advantage of the wealth of information available to you from those expats already living in Nepal, Google LEHMANS for additional assistance. It is a catalogue dedicated to self-sufficient living, off the grid, and targets Amish farmers. There is an enormous amount of help, especially in the dairy category. Appliances are either hand-cranked or run on generators.

        You write that you will have access to "regular flour" and by that I assume you mean wheat flour. "Flatbreads of the World" contains multitudes of recipes using different flours, as well as wheat flour. If you think about it, pizza is really a specific type of flatbread. Chapatties are daily fare in Nepal and will be a great place to start.

      2. There were a couple recent threads about making yogurt at home: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/292076 http://www.chowhound.com/topics/536263

        You can make many fresh cheeses at home--which in particular are of interest? Aged ones, of course, would be, well, probably impossible, depending on your circumstances. Pasta and pizza dough should be simple enough, assuming you'll have a flat surface, rolling pin, fresh eggs, access to semolina and other good high protein flours, and a hot oven for the pizza. I'd recommend watching Mario Batali, if you can catch him demonstrating the techniques, or reading Nancy Silverton's or Peter Reinhardt's books for the pizza. Deborah Madison's recipes are reliable and well described, too, in Greens or Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Do you have a great local pizzeria or pasta company or maybe a cooking school where you currently live, so you could get some hands on time before leaving? Mostly, you just have to get in there and try it, with some guidance, whether it's with a person or a book.

        1. You did not say where you were going and that leaves a world of questions. To start:
          o Will you have access to a large quantity of "safe" milk? (DIY pasturizing is tricky)
          o Will you be able to refrigerate anything? Most cheeses require relatively cool temperatures to cure. Not the thing for, say, the Central African Republic.
          o Will you have access to high gluten wheat flour or grain? Most pasta is made from hard winter wheat that is rich in gluten.

          Yogurt you can make anywhere you have access to a clean milk supply though it may take you a while to get the right mixture of microbes if you start from wild colonies rather than a "starter" of some kind.

          More information would help readers to respond more appropriately.

          1. Joy of Cooking, 1975 edition. This is an updated version of a cookbook/food encyclopedia first published in the 30's.

            1. When I moved back to the Philippines eons ago after grad school in California, I found this book invaluable. Global trade has made many things much easier to come by, but you can make a lot of good food, e.g., caramels and marshmallows, "Better Than Store Bought." I think a lot of what you are looking for will be in the book.


              1. If you google pasta dough, you can watch a you tube demo, very helpful. With practice, you can get better and better. I've also used both Lidia and Marcella Hazan's recipes. I love the fresh fettucine with fresh pesto sauce.

                1. Thanks for the replies so far. To clarify:

                  - I am moving to rural Nepal. I will have access to fresh milk, as well as refrigeration. I have no idea if the milk is "safe" or not - will have to ask the other expats who live there.
                  - I don't know what types of flour I will have access to. I know that when I was there a couple years ago, there were small shops in the bazaar that had all sorts of grains and flours, but I don't know specific types. I know I'll have access to regular flour.
                  - I would like to learn how to make mozzarella and if there are other soft cheeses that are easy, I would be happy to learn how to make those too. When I was in Nepal before, I was aching for cheese... most of what we had access to was vegetables, lentils, and rice, so cheese was nice to have for vegetarian dinners. So, I would like to learn how to make cheese that I could add to soups, and use with vegetables to make a decent dinner.
                  - I am looking for specific books, websites, and recipes that people could point me to to learn how to make these things. The nearest cooking school is over an hour away and is not doable for me right now.

                  Thank you for all the advice so far. I have never made any of these things, so I am really starting at the beginning and looking for any kind of advice right now.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: seconds

                    I see pizza dough on your list and am guessing that you may soon find yourself wanting to bake bread, coffee cake, and hamburger buns after you get there, so you will need to know what the yeast situation is there. Sixty years ago in Argentina I bought my yeast from the local baker, 100 grams at a time. Until you have time to find a source in Nepal, you might 1) plan to take a quantity of dry yeast with you and 2) look for a method of making your own yeast a la pioneer person. Also, you will want to clarify the oven situation. And, I second the recommendation of an OLD edition of The Joy of Cooking, like 1954---check alibris.com. And, can you take some equipment? Like a small hand-turned pasta machine? If your refrigerator is electric (?) there's electricity so you could take a little yogurt-maker (with necessary current converters of course). And this thought occurs to me: if you were obsessing about cheese and yogurt, could you possibly have had a slight calcium deficiency out there, due to the diet? Would some pills help?

                    1. re: Querencia

                      I know the one expat family who lived in the town we'll be in made bread pretty regularly - either they were able to get yeast locally, or they would bring it back from Kathmandu every few months when they traveled to the city. I will have an oven.

                      I can bring equipment, but I am trying to decide what is really necessary to bring because it is all so heavy and we'll be paying for all that shipping. I already want to bring our stand mixer, handheld blender, and ice cream maker (ok, not "necessary", but I craved ice cream too when we were there!). I'll have to look into yogurt makers - is it a lot easier to use a yogurt maker or can I just find a warm place to let it sit?

                      1. re: seconds

                        You can culture yogurt by just letting it sit in a warm place. If your oven is gas, let it sit in there overnight with just the pilot light, if it's electric, put it in there with the oven light on. If it doesn't have an oven light, heat it to about 100 F, turn it off, wait about 20 minutes and then put the mix in overnight.

                        You can get good dried yogurt cultures to take over and not have to rely on corraling the wild beasties. King Arthur springs to mind as having dried cultures. Same goes for sourdough cultures. If yeast is an issue, you can get a dried sourdough culture here, take it with you and wake it up there. Then you don't have to worry about obtaining yeast. You can use it for everything from waffles and pizza to breads.

                        1. re: morwen

                          I had great success using a cooler with warm water. The cooler kept the water at a consistent temp over time. I used mason jars, and put warm water ( 110 degrees ) to the level of the yougurt mix.

                    2. re: seconds

                      If you have access to a grinder of some sort (coffee grinder, for example) you can make your own flour. There are some easy nut cheeses if you have access to nuts.

                      1. re: seconds

                        I have lived in Rural Nepal, and can tell you that where I was cheese, yoghourt, bread, even pizza was readily available.
                        There are some wonderful local cheeses there, and if you are at the higher altitudes try the Yak cheeses - they are to die for.

                        As far as making pasta and pizza dough; these are really rudimentary kitchen skills that require 4 or fewer ingredients that you will find easily.

                        I've even eaten a pretty good bagel in a town that you can only get to after a 5 day walk, 12,000 feet above sea level...


                      2. http://www.cheesemaking.com/
                        This was in Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal Vegetable Miracle". They might be able to at least point you in the right direction.

                        1. Don't they have yogurt in Nepal? They do all over India.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: walker

                            I would think so. Various websites say that it is, such as this one--


                            It is possible to get dehydrated yogurt culture, though, and bring your own if you were ever to end up somewhere where yogurt is unavailable, and then you can just make your own culture from batch to batch, occasionally starting again with new dehydrated culture when it gets too sour or doesn't thicken properly.

                            You don't need a yogurt maker to make yogurt, just a way of keeping it warm while it cultures.

                            1. re: walker

                              There isn't fresh yogurt where we will be, but I'm sure they have it in Kathmandu. I will have to look into bringind the dehydrated yogurt - thanks!

                            2. All the items you mention seems to be easy with the right equipment. I remember having a yogurt maker and I know yogurt can be made in a warm place. Pasta can be made with flour, egg and water and left to dry. Pizza dough can be made if you are familiar with making bread. I never made any cheese but there must be some information on google that will help.

                              1. There are cheeses made in Nepal--especially "curds" in the Terai. You can age and cure the local cheeses to get a harder product.

                                You can get yogurt for a starter in Kathmandu; and can also make cheese from the yogurt. You don't need a yogurt maker.

                                Take a pasta machine to make pasta. Flour is available almost everywhere.

                                You can make an unleavened pizza dough; or buy a stock of yeast in Kathmandu.

                                1. Here's some very basic soft cheese recipes I make on a regular basis. They don't take any special equipment. You can vary them and make them different by stirring in herbs, spices and flavorings after they're made. I've pressed some of them to get a firmer cheese by putting the cheese in it's bag in a colander, sitting a plate on top and weighting it down with foil wrapped bricks and allowing it to drain for a few days. Or you can put it between a couple of plates and weight it. Catch and save the whey because you can use it as liquid in other things (like bread). If you press a cheese really firm and dry you can punch holes in it (I use a brand new very clean screw driver that I got for that purpose), make a slurry with your favorite blue cheese and some water, pour it over the cheese you made, wipe off the exterior, wrap in in cheese cloth and store somewhere cool (50 F) for about a week. Keep an eye on it because you don't want it getting weepy. If the wrapping becomes wet, change it out for a dry wrap. Check it. The holes will show a white sort of stuff around and in them. That's a good thing. Cut into it and look, and it may be ready. You'll see blue veins running through it. If it's not, wrap it again and store another week and check. The holes are important for aeration and growth of the innoculation. It's good if you can lay the wrapped cheese on a rack so air can circulate all around it. Once you have your own blue cheese, save some of that to culture your next batch.

                                  Yogurt cheese can be made the same way. Bag the yogurt, put it in a colander, weight it and allow it to drain to a consistency you like.

                                  Cheese Recipes

                                  Queso Blanco (Panir) Measurements
                                  U.S. Metric Ingredients
                                  1 gal 3.8 L Cow’s milk
                                  ¼ cup 59 ml Vinegar

                                  Preparation Steps:
                                  1. Bring the cow’s milk to 180˚F (82.2˚C) over a direct heat source and hold it there for 4 minutes.
                                  2. Stir in the vinegar until the whey and curds separate.
                                  3. Pour the whole mixture into a cheesecloth-lined colander, and tie the four ends of the cheesecloth together.
                                  4. Allow sitting for at least 3 hours until no whey flows from the bag. If a harder cheese is desired, the curds may be placed in a cheese press to expel more whey while allowing the curds to knit.
                                  5. Unwrap and store in plastic wrap; it will last up to a week.
                                  Note: This cheese can then be cut and cooked by frying or even by deep-frying without melting or loosing its shape. It can even be used in a stir-fry.

                                  Ricotta Cheese
                                  U.S. Metric Ingredients
                                  1 quart 946 ml Cow’s milk
                                  2 quarts 1.9 L Fresh whey, no more than 2 hours old
                                  ¼ cup 59 ml Apple-cider vinegar
                                  2 fl oz 59 ml Heavy cream

                                  Preparation Steps:
                                  1. Bring the whey and the milk to 200˚F (93.5˚C).
                                  2. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the vinegar.
                                  3. Pour into a very fine muslin-cloth-lined colander and allow draining until no more liquid is leaving the bag.
                                  4. Remove the cheese and add salt and herbs to taste adding a small amount of heavy cream for a richer consistency. It will keep for one week.

                                  U.S. Metric Ingredients
                                  1 quart 946 ml Light cream or single cream
                                  ¼ tsp 1 ml Tartaric acid

                                  Preparation Steps:
                                  1. Using indirect heat in a double boiler, heat the light cream to 180˚F (82.2˚C). Stir in the tartaric acid for several minutes.
                                  2. The cream should thicken to what looks like a custard with curd floating in it; if it does not, add a few drops more tartaric acid, but be very careful not to add too much, as this will make the cheese very grainy.
                                  3. Drain the cheese over a cheesecloth-lined colander for about an hour.
                                  4. Now place the cheesecloth into a bowl and chill overnight.
                                  5. The cheese can be put into a container and stored until needed. It will last for 2 weeks.

                                  Scottish Crowdie
                                  U.S. Metric Ingredients
                                  1 quart 946 ml Buttermilk
                                  1 ea 1 ea Juiced lemon
                                  2 oz 57 g Heavy cream
                                  ¼ tsp 1 ml Salt

                                  Preparation Steps:
                                  1. Bring the buttermilk to 170˚F (76.7˚C) and add the lemon juice.
                                  2. Pour into cheesecloth-lined colander and tie, allowing the cheese to hang until the bag has stopped draining.
                                  3. Refrigerate overnight and remove the cheese; add the cream and salt.

                                  1. EDIT: Sorry! I didn't see your second post explaining that you'll be moving to Nepal. Sorry. But I think most of what I say below is pretty universal. Have a great time!

                                    "Rural area of a developing country" doesn't really tell me a lot. Looking over your list, the first thing that comes to mind for me is how reliable your milk supply will be, and whether you will have access to pasturized milk in sterile containers. If you're talking about an area where your only milk will be raw locally produced, I don't think I would consider drinking it, let alone making cheese with it. So the bottom line here for me is that you haven't given enough information. But assuming you will be able to get pasturized milk in sterile containers...

                                    Cheese and yogurt... As others have pointed out, don't expect to make much more than basic unaged cheeses. In some parts of the world, all you have to do to make yogurt is heat up some milk, pour it in a bowl, and let it set out while the natural bacteria in the air does it's thing. If you can do that, then to make a simple "cream cheese," all you have to do is line a colander with paper towels (or cloth), put the yogurt in, cover, set the colander over a bowl to catch the whey and set it in the refrigerator until it's as thick as you want it to be. And it can get pretty thick!

                                    Pasta. I personally don't like fresh pasta. Can't get it "al dente" enough for my taste. Consequently my $300.00 pasta machine has been sitting in a cardboard box in the garage for well over a decade. But if you do like fresh pasta, or if you feel fresh pasta is better than no pasta, then consider buying a pasta machine before you go. You may be able to find one that will work on both 220V and 110V electricity. If not, you will be able to buy a transformer that will make it possible to use it. There are also the hand cranked type, but my experience is that machines produce a much greater variety of shapes and sizes in far less time. My machine makes rigatoni, elbow macaronni, spaghetti, linguini, fettuccini, lasagna noodles, and all sorts of spritz cookies. And it goes without saying that if you wont have electricity, then a hand cranked pasta machine is the obvious choice. And there are people who make pasta from scratch by hand. Lots of recipes on the web.

                                    Pizza dough. I would go to WalMart and buy several cartons of their twenty-cents-an-envelope pizza dough, and take a ton of it along with me, then store them in the freezer when you get there. I keep them on hand for short notice situations. They rise in five minutes, make pretty passable focaccia in addition to pizza. But a bread machine -- or better yet, a Kitchen Aid mixer and some pizza pans! -- may be the best choice. But flour may still be a problem. It's really shot up in price in many parts of the world, and may be scarce or rationed as well.

                                    Which brings up a point. Will you have a freezer? Will you have an oven? Will you have a cook top? Tons of things you need to find out before you worry about pasta and pizza dough. I've lived in both Turkey and Greece, and spent a month or so in several other countries. In many countries, from "first" to "third" world, when you rent an "unfurnished" place to live, they DO mean unfurnished! You have to bring along your own kitchen cabinets, appliances, screens for the windows, lighting, even hot water heaters in some cases. If this is a military or diplomatic corps move, you may have a a lot of these things taken care of for you. Many corporations are generous as well. If it's Peace Corps, you may want to line up friends and family who are willing to send you regular CARE packages!

                                    Oh! And if you're going to a remote area, you may well be able to continue participating on Chow. Rats! I just looked through my files and can't find the URL or the name of the computer, but maybe someone here knows and will share. There is a hand cranked fairly basic computer now available for purchase. It runs a couple of hundred bucks or so, but when you buy one you are really buying two, with the second one going to a child in a third world country. As I said, they're hand cranked for power, and my understanding is that they all reach the internet without an ISP, Hope someone will know.

                                    Good luck on your move ! Sounds like a wonderful adventure!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      A hand cranked pasta machine (or an electric one that uses rollers) can give you firmer noodles with the right flour than an extrusion machine, I've found. The extrusion machines--or at least the ones that are made for home kitchens--usually need a softer dough to work, but with a cranked machine, you can fold and stretch a stiff dough until it has the ideal consistency, and then you have more choice in setting the thickness of the noodles.

                                      Another thing to think about is whether having lots of electric appliances will seem ostentatious in a poor rural village, and whether that is consistent with your goals there, whatever they may be.

                                      1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                        I second the rec of a hand cranked machine, that's what I use and really see no need for an electric one. (Maybe if I had really BIG family gatherings I might look into electric but for big crowds I think boxed pasta makes more sense.)

                                        1. re: walker

                                          Walker and David, I wasn't any happier with my hand cranked machine than I was with the pasta machine. In fact, the hand cranked is why I bought the machine. And I always bought the best imported semolina. I just like the texture I get with Colavita and most other commercial pastas, they're easy to store and provide always reliable results.

                                          However, if I were moving overseas again, I would absolutely go with either the hand crank or the machine,depending on how much variety in shape I was looking for. And it is absolutely possible to remove the dough from the machine and knead it as long as you like, or let the machine do the kneading for you. You ARE in control regarding how long the dough is worked before extruding. Oh, and all commercial pasta is extruded, possibly with a few "exceptions that prove the rule."

                                          But for living in a rural area of anyplace that can be as "primitive" as I would expect some parts of Nepal can be, I would do a lot of investigating on whether electricity is available and, of greater importance, the frequency (and average duration) of power failures. Nothing quite as frustratig as a pasta machine full of unextruded pasta dough, a power blackout, and company due to arrive in an hour! Rice with maranara sauce anyone?

                                          cimui, for me the easiest way to make spaetzle is to simply mix the dough/batter, then put it on the back of a cake pan, hold it over the kettle of soup or boiling water and "chop" small spaetzle size pieces into the soup/water. I wouldn't swear to it, but I think this is a really old (centuries old) European method. At least that's what the German girlfriend who taught me how to do it said. I've tried the colander method, as well as pushing the dough/batter through a potato ricer, but find the back of a cake pan much faster with easier clean-up and no danger of the spaetzle clumping when cutting it off the extruder. In other words, you can work with a wetter dough, resulting in tender spaetzle, which is my strong preference. Tender spaetzle, toothsome pasta!

                                    2. gnocchi and spaetzle are easy pastas to make without either an extrusion or hand-cranked machine.

                                      basic gnocchi recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                      (mine came out a bit tough, but i think that was a result of my technique, not the recipe


                                      you can make spaetzle with a colander.

                                      re: yogurt, it's much easier to start with a small amount of purchased yogurt. your neighbors may even be able to give you some. there are a lot of recipes that use powdered milk, which could be good if your milk source is questionable. if not, i've used this recipe a few times:


                                      1. You could just cultivate a sourdough starter and bake from that as people were apt to do ages ago. Works for pizza dough too.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: kimeats

                                          How long are you going for?
                                          Can you take any freeze dried foods with you?
                                          I know I would miss fruits like berries and probably want some freeze dried strawberries or blueberries for baking even.
                                          A lot of places sell them online.

                                          Also I will take the "lazy" way out of making cheese.
                                          Can you bring any of that cheese that does not need to be refrigerated until open, like the kinds they sell at Hickory Farm?

                                          Also I just learned that Vache qui rit cheese cubes do not need to be refrigerated,
                                          the company that makes them told me that after i emailed asking if it was safe to buy at stores that kept them on a shelf (bulk barn here used to do that at one store) or maybe it was a smaller deli i forget...

                                          Sounds like an interesting adventure!

                                        2. The Wycliffe International Cookbook is designed for people who don't have access to a full pantry. I remember using it in the Bolivian jungle 30 years ago! It has scratch recipes for many things we usually buy ready-made and recommended substitutions for hard to get ingredients. I borrowed one last year and hand-copied a few recipes for myself. I see that a new edition is now available. You can order it from Amazon.com, but it would be much cheaper to order it directly it from Wycliffe.com.