Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jaime Lee Curtis is not doing commercials for this yogurt.

Yesterday, it was time to make the yogurt. I found an extremely random and sketchy website that told me I could make yogurt in a couple of simple ways without having a yogurt maker. All I needed was milk and yogurt (recall, you need yogurt to make yogurt, defeating the no-packaging quest--but, now that I have some yogurt, I can use it to make more...forever! and its only one glass jar as opposed to a week's worth of plastic cuplettes).

So the first thing I did was heat up four cups of milk (2%) until it was hot but still not too hot to touch. The website said "warm" milk. Then I added three tablespoons of the White Mountain yogurt, stirred and poured it into this glass bowl with a lid I have. This was exactly the kind of vessel called for, and I have this because a few years ago for my birthday Scott baked me a ladybug cake and it needed this shape of thing to bake in! It was so cute, the spots were made of Oreos, and the red was accomplished through Christmas cookie sprinkles...legs were licorice...really great. Anyway.

So to make yogurt, you need to keep your milk/yog mix at a low heat for a few hours, and then chill it. You can use a yogurt making machine, which is essentially a low heat source, or, according to my source, a crock pot, your oven, the back of a wood stove, or...the sun.

Sun is something we have way, way too much of here in Texas, especially this year. I am not ashamed to admit that I regularly use an umbrella as a parasol, yet I am still tanner than I have ever been in my life. This summer has been the worst drought in like over 100 years or something, and its just unrelenting. I am considering vampirism (but who isn't these days).

Might as well harness it for something useful, right? So I carried this bowl of dairy products out into the near 100-degree heat and put it right in a big beam of sun and left it there for five hours.

Was I an idiot brewing up a big pot of e-coli? only time would tell.

After its little sunbath it went in the fridge for several more hours. When cold, I brought it out and stirred it. It looked kind of yogurty...pretty liquidy but in the right family. I stirred it until it was uniformly smooth and tasted it. It tasted...PRETTY much like yogurt. Something was different. I asked Scott to taste it but he refused because it was so liquidy. So I did the old straining trick: line a strainer with a coffee filter (unbleached biodegradable but still waste...I guess you could use cheesecloth if you had some) put it over a cup or bowl, and pour in yogurt. Let it sit a few hours or overnight. You can do this with any plain yogurt to make it thicker and tastier--the longer you leave it, the more whey will drain out. Its like Greek yogurt.

Well, a ton of liquid drained out in the next few hours (I had it in the fridge, btw). Before bed, I checked it. It was pretty normal consistency, and tasted ok. Enough like yogurt to be passable. Scott was upstairs in bed so he would have to wait to try it.

So for his lunch I mixed it up with a chopped peach and a little maple syrup. He too reported that it was..."ok." There's something strange about it, but its definitely yogurt. And we're both still living!

I actually just had my first full serving of it for lunch (for breakfast btw, I had the granola as cereal again). I strained a small portion for me just for like half an hour, and blended it up with two bananas, and some powdered matcha green tea that I got to sample for work. It's "cooking grade" and meant to be used in smoothies and stuff--I also have some for making regular tea. Check it out: http://www.matchasource.com/

Anyway, you might have thought I was pretty clever, making pasta and whatnot, but seriously, I do the dumbest stuff sometimes. I just daydream and mess up the little things. So, as I was blending the smoothie, I took off that round clear plasticy part in the center of the lid to pour in the green tea powder. Somehow, I dropped the thing INTO the blend, and heard it crunch a little before I got the machine off. I thought this was why manhole covers are round--because round lids can't fall into the round holes that they cover!?

Well, I fished it out. It had a few chips in it. But I really wanted my smoothie. So I drank it, slowly, through my recycled iced coffee straw, and chewed every mouthful. I extracted two biggish and six tiny chunks of plastic...and hopefully ingested none. But between that and the redneck yogurt I might be a goner.

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