May 25, 2012

It has brought to my attention that I haven't posted recently. This could be true.
Apparently the act of being barefoot in the kitchen takes enough time that I don't have so much extra left to blog about it. Perhaps I should try wearing shoes and see if that makes me more efficient?
It's too bad my brain doesn't have a link to my blogspot (when I want it to...), because I really have crafted some epic posts in my head; alas and alack, they are lost in the Netherlands forever. I'm not really sure why they went there, that's just what I felt like saying. Maybe it's a good thing I don't write as often as I mentally compose.
A lot has happened in the month since my last post. There's no way to concisely convey all the notable experiences, nor is there any need nor likely any desire for such overarticulation. I'm still trying to figure out my slant for my blog, as in, what's the point? Initially I intended to somewhat replicate the idea of some blogs that had recently caught my attention, by focusing on the ways I try to live simply in the kitchen/our home. Yet I also wanted to have this be a place to ponder thoughts and discuss reasons why I have this desire for simple living--something I haven't done very well yet. But if I start thoughts on those issues, and share stories from my domestic endeavors (and trust me, I have those...stay tuned), do I want to stop there? That's not all my life is. Although when I get too ambitious it does feel like it somedays. :) BUT I obviously can't blog about everything--apparently I struggle even when staying somewhat within the realm of the kitchen. Also, I ramble about everything once I start typing...I need schoolwork and writing assignments. Just kidding. Really.
So. Taking advantage of this natural segue, let's talk about yogurt.
(There was no segue. There still is none.)
I've been making yogurt consistently since the first week we moved here. You can't blame me; not only is it fun, free with fresh farm milk, healthy, delicious, and versatile, it's delicious. That's right, it gets two delicious-es.
I've grown up (hypothetically) on homemade yogurt--what a cool mom I have, right? Always an ample consumer, my consumption levels have only increased upon entering my own household. It is an extremely rare day that I go without some form of yogurt entering my nutritional intake--for breakfast with fruit or granola or even half-and-half in my milk with regular cereal, my packed lunch for work always has some glorified yogurty dessert, in smoothies, and although we don't often have it for supper dessert like my family did (we tend towards ice cream...someday there will be a blog about that), it still finds its way in often through homemade dressings, sauces, or sour cream. Basically, it is an essential component of my kitchen.
Granted, I have this frighteningly strong love of bought yogurt. I can't compete with even the Kroger brand pina colada or acai berry. Ask Brian or my parents; if we are getting a splurge purchase, pretty much I want yogurt every time.
That said, it seems kind of silly to buy yogurt when I make it all the time anyway. So I don't. And I really don't even feel like I'm deprived. (Except that I still haven't seen pretty much any Disney classic movies.)
It's been cool; once people here learn that I make yogurt, they all want to know how, too. Okay, not all, but I've given out my recipe to numerous people either from church or even quite a few random people from work. And now, I get to give it to you! I just like to spread the joy; it makes me happy. :)
First off, though, there are so many little differences to how to make yogurt, and I'm gonna go ahead and admit this isn't the only nor the best. It's just what I do. And I keep learning new things from other yogurt people!

All you need is a pot, thermometer, glass jars, starter, and of course, milk.
To make 4 quarts of yogurt, pour just a tince less than one gallon milk into a sturdy pot. You can use whole, skim, or anywhere in between.  
 Heat to 170 degrees or so (I have a hard time being exact about these things), stirring every now and then to prevent sticking to the pot. Not fun to clean. Once to the right temperature, remove from heat and place pot in the sink in ice water, or even just let it sit out on the counter, until it cools to 110 degrees. This is when you whisk in somewhere between 1/4 cup to 1 cup of starter yogurt...told you I'm not exact. :) The starter is simply bought plain yogurt the first time, and then from your previous batch of yogurt after that. I've been told you will need to restart from bought every once in a while, so I froze some manager's-special plain yogurt into ice cubes so I can just grab what I need when the time comes. (It hasn't yet, and I don't know what it will look like when it does...)

 So yes, after you whisk in the starter, as well as a splash of vanilla and/or 1/2 c sugar if you feel like it, pour into your glass jars and set in an insulated cooler. Nestle one jar of hot water in there as well, and stuff in old sheets or something to fill the empty space. Let incubate for between 4-12 hours--longer equals sourer. Then stick in the fridge, and you're done! Unless, of course, you're like me and have a compulsion to always snatch off the cream top before you put it away.
Amanda gets excited about yogurt.

Today, oh today, I tried a new method. Look how nifty it is--instead of heating the milk in the pot, heat water in the pot and milk in the jars and jars in the water! I love the idea of saving the mess that always happens when I get milk crud stuck on the pot and spill milk-ish trying to pour into the jars.
Saving the mess is not what happened. I was on the road to success, pulling the filled and ready-to-go jars out of the ice water to put in the cooler. *suspenseful musics* The bottom of the jar straight up fell out. Milk. Went. Everywhere. I had no idea a quart of milk was such a voluminous quantity. Into the counter cupboard, dripping onto and even into the drawers below, splashing through a slightly-open corner cupboard, sloshing onto the floor. I just washed my rug yesterday, right? First time. Today got to be the second. Eventually I got things cleaned up, after tracking milk-footprints over my also freshly-cleaned floor while scurrying around to first finish the other yogurts so as not to lose them as well and to get the granola out of the oven since it got done at exactly the same time. But we all survived (sans that one quart); besides, I knew I needed to clean under those canisters.
So it all worked out, plus I get an epic story to tell you! I thought getting avocado milkshake on the ceiling and dropping a bottle of Lysol were bad, but no, this one trumped.
Sheeshers. See, this is why I never have time to blog. :) When I do blog I can't make myself stop at an appropriate time, plus I'm too busy cleaning up after my fiascoes anyway.