Thursday, April 7, 2011

yogurt is a cure all

i have watched too much t.v.
i know this because the ads seem to really test my speed and patience.
the speed is to get to the mute button on the remote control.
the patience is for dealing with the repetitiveness of ads and my tolerance for them.
right now, i am pretty tired of an ad for a specific brand of yogurt.
it promises to restore one's good tummy bacteria to a
healthier level.
it seems innocent and jamie lee curtis is a nice enough actress to watch.
the ad is on a lot.
i am irked by the sense that all the folks in any one of the ads are getting ripped off.
somehow the price of those itty bitty
yogurt cups for the price charged is completely out of sync.
(is it almost the price of silver now?)

right now,
i am trying to go back to what was a less complicated time in my life.
it involves a little faith in:
a little biology.
a little fun.
and maybe
a little a celebration of what is both
easy to do and
healthy for me.

I saw a gadget on one of my foodier websites...
you know the kind that i am likelier to find in my email inbox.
i really thought i wanted it.
it was a yogurt maker.
all kinds of cool.
little neat cups in a round electric warming pan.
cups that could provide my household with scrummy good,
fresh and easily made yogurt.

as a matter of fact, i really could use this.
my husband eats a lot of yogurt.
honestly, i can tell what time of day it is
by whether the creamy cultured goodness has made its daily appearance.
as many folks have experienced,
the multiple brands on the market are all made in plastic containers
from small to larger.
with or without fruit.
some with vanilla.
some with coffee.
some are straight sided or are sloped sided.
some plain as can be without any additional flavoring.
(so you can add cucumbers with mint).
oh how many ways could i really enjoy this fountain of cultures.
best not wax on too far with that.

one thing is that i knew for certain,
i never would be able to store that yogurt making gizmo.
my house is already glutted with stuff everywhere.
so i decided to work around a few different problems at one time.
i bought a case of 8 oz. canning jars.
the lids and jars can be re-used as many times as i feel like.
if they get dented or something, i can replace the lids alone for even less of the price.

who knows,
ultimately they might be available to serve me following one of my summer passion.
i love canning fruit.
bet you saw that one coming.
everyone here enjoys jam on their toast, except me ironically enough.
i may enjoy some in my jelly jars with freshly made yogurt though.
the color contrast on top or below the creamy matrix just keeps increasing the joy of the experiment.
a spoonful of home grown raspberries,
jelled up into a clear beauteous ruby jewel in a jar or
other tasty candied fruit juices
in a large spectrum of flavors mixed in with home made uber tangy yogurt?
(digressed again.)
so buying jelly jars is about half the price of the yogurt maker.
this is a good thing martha!

My hubby makes nasty,squeaking, scraping sound while eating his snack.
it gives him pleasure that he can drive me nuts with this sound.
he pretends he is all kinds of virtuous eating his evening
calcium dairy additive
and that his bones are all the stronger for it.
i know we are at war over the minutia of living together.
it is not all that secret, how much he loves giving me the jitters over this sound.
evil genius.
i like the superiority of glass for the elimination of his noisy arsenal.

on a more kindly note, he looks so damn unhappy
when he nears the bottom of the ever shrinking portion sized container.
when i was a kid, this was surely 8 oz.
now it is either 6 or 4 oz. depending on the brand.

i always think he is looking into a bottomless chasm for a rare and special ore.
or into space to divine a new undiscovered star.
he just seems sad.

a third benefit for greener living is that there is no little cuppy thing to wash, store and recycle.
the 14 year old is in charge of the recycling here.
it is a deeply flawed system
sometimes it can be an easy one.
i need to make life less combative.
therefore, not having irregular, un-stackable cups to recycle
won't yield the same kind of issues.
so i have started to save the earth. the wallet. the messy kitchen.
and lets not forget my sense of sanity
or hubbie's slightly fuller belly.
it is all good.
heck, i may eat it daily too.
totally good for me and tart+ sweet to eat.


here is how i make yogurt.
you probably know how to do this already.
if you don' is remarkably easy.
you really can do it in no time, without much effort
after all, the cultures do it almost all by themselves.
they are very clever this way!

1}milk. in whatever fat percentage you like.
2} obviously, you need some containers; cleaned for food use.
3} one cup of plain or vanilla yogurt from the grocery store.
(does not matter what brand ... just needs to have live cultures in it)
4} a warm place to leave undisturbed for a few hours(up to 24 hrs).
5} a heat source... i have done this in previous years using a pan and stovetop
to heat the milk.
tonight, i used a microwave.
6} sugar to taste. not essential, but i have a sweettooth.

A} warm milk in microwave to nearly boiling. steamy is good too.
you want to "kill"any bacteria that may be in your milk
that could compete with yogurt culturing bacteria.
elimination of these will
optimize the chances to make the milk transform into yogurt.
B} let this cool to the temperature that you might use to feed a bottle to a baby.
test it on your wrist for a familiar warm, not scalding nor cold temp.
C} i used a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup. this has a nice pouring spout and can let you
parse out the milk into your cups neatly and by a good amount.
(i was able to divide into thirds easily!)

D} i put all of my cups/jelly jars i a large saucepan
with about an inch of water in it and left it over the stove pilot flame.
this gave me a very nice warm place to start it all with.
an empty stove with the door cracked open or
an empty dishwasher also serve well to let the cultures do their thing.
E} pour some milk into the jars with a little bit of optional sugar.
to this add a spoon full of the live cultured store-bought starter and stir to mix well.
F} let sit in warm spot for a few hours.
G}.i do a lot of things at night. so i am likely to leave this out overnight.
in the morning or later that same day, put the jar caps on and refrigerate.
you ought to see some yogurty clumpiness forming in an hour or so.
just don't get the milk too hot again.
you don't want to kill off the good bacteria.

now you must have seen i have not used precise measurements.
you can let a smidge of yogurt culture go for a long time.
or a huge spoonful over a shorter amount of time.
up to you!

there is a lot of sugar for the cultures to grow on from the lactose in the milk.
the sugar is totally optional but nice since the end product is very tart.
also you can use a little of this batch to make your next batch of yogurt.
the texture of this is a smidge less silky,
just cause you are not adding any pectin.
it is ultimately a cleaner product and great for your tummy.
no lingering Jamie Lee Curtis
after effects...
unless of course you want some.

i am enjoying my first batch tonight.
it is delightfully tart,
and time will tell if it refurbishes my deleted good belly cultures.

eating well....


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