Getting cultured

For my first trick, I decided to do something that anyone can do, and that almost everyone loves. Pretty cool, huh? I say almost everyone because there are a select few who choose to be difficult and refuse to admit that they, in fact, could love this one particular thing. You know who you are. Either that, or they’re lactose intolerant. But that’s hardly an excuse.

I’m talkin’ YOGURT y’all! -insert fake Southern accent for effect-

That’s right. Yogurt. -or yoghurt OR yoghourt for those looking to broaden their dairy spelling repertoire…you’re welcome- Calcium, protein AND tiny live creatures all in one concoction?! Yes please.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, and have zero good excuse for not trying it before. Now, most people who are trying out something for the first time may play it safe and make a small batch to see if they know what they’re doing. Those people, they’re smart. Boring, even. I like to think I’m adventurous. So, upon deciding how much yogurt to make for my very first batch I threw caution to the wind and opted for a reasonable half gallon. Because, WHO DOESN’T NEED A HALF GALLON OF YOGURT IN THEIR HOUSE AT ALL TIMES?! That’s what I thought. No one. See my next post for the best way to give yogurt as gifts. Just kidding. Kinda.

The magical elves behind Google threw this little number at me when I searched for yogurt recipes, so I went with it. Step-by-step directions with minimal supplies. They know me so well.

Join me on my yogurt-making adventure:

The first step with making anything cooking related is to have a kitchen. Duh. The reason I bring this up, though, is because of the size of my kitchen — It’s about equivalent to a nice walk-in pantry.

My Kitchen

My Kitchen

Stove. Sink. That’s it. Literally. Zero counter space. No dishwasher, garbage disposal, and barely room for a coffee pot -which is most certainly a necessity: what else would I drink with my granola and homemade yogurt?!- But I do have one. So on to Step 2.

This is essentially what I did: Boil water in a pot. Easy enough. -dad, stop laughing.- Pour a half gallon of milk into a smaller pot (however much milk you start with should be how much yogurt you will make). Put milk pot into water pot creating a double boiler. Raise milk to 185°F and keep at that temp for 30 mins stirring constantly. After 30 mins, put milk pot in an ice bath to cool it down to 110°F, stirring occasionally. Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of plain yougurt in cooled milk, stir, and you’re done! Almost.

Materials

Materials

Heated Milk

Heated Milk

Cooling Milk

Cooling Milk

Adding Yogurt

Adding Yogurt

It needs be covered and sit for 7 hours on a heating pad at medium temp. Well, I don’t have a heating pad, so I got those creative juices flowing and…Voilà! Cookie sheet + bath towel + stove = heating pad. Right?

Heating Pad

Heating Pad

WRONG.

Heating Pad Aftermath

Heating Pad Aftermath

Not only did it ruin the towel, which just happened to be my roommates, it also ruined my cookie sheet and kept the milk mixture too hot. -at least in retrospect I think that’s what happened-

Yogurt?

Yogurt?

After 7 hours, the milk mixture is supposed to be thicker and smell, well, like yogurt. Mine was not. But, I figured maybe it would thicken in the refrigerator over night. Oh, wishful thinking, you silly bastard.

 

I practically skipped to my refrigerator this morning, looking forward to a delicious breakfast with my homemade yogurt. With a watering mouth and a hopeful heart, I opened my container to examine the delicousness.

Deliciousness fail. Despite all my finger crossing, the yogurt did not thicken up over night. It stayed the consistency of milk with a faint yogurt smell. That’s right, ladies and gents, I successfully made 7-hour sour milk. Please try to contain your shock and awe, applause, rolling of the eyes, laughter or any Ginger references. Just kidding. I welcome all of these.

Yogurt Fail

Yogurt Fail

After putting back together my shattered ego, I’m going to try a different recipe sometime this week. I will be a yogurt-making virtuoso. You just wait. Update to follow.

Until then, these are some key lessons to take away from this experience:

  1. Do try to make yogurt
  2. Don’t make your own ‘heating pad’
  3. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t
  4. Just to reiterate, DO NOT put towels on the stove insert common sense jokes here
  5. If you get confused about what not to do, re-read this post

If anyone has any tips, tricks or good recipes, please leave a comment. For now, I’m going to enjoy a nice bowl of cereal with milk….oh wait.

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Unintentional intentions

I read this quote by Neil Gaiman and found it lovely and inspirational. It seemed appropriate considering the circumstances, and can also serve as a reminder when I’m on the edge of completely falling apart over a botched t-shirt tie dye job, or turning into the 5’1″ rendition of Godzilla and destroying everything in my path in the hopes of making myself feel better -beware everything in reach without a step stool-.

Mistakes are part of being human. I know that I will make an insane amount of them, not only with the projects I attempt to conquer and share on here, but on a daily basis -cuz I already do-. And that’s ok. Our mistakes are what shape us; some may build us up, others can be crushing, but it’s how we handle the moments after that are telling of our character. Don’t make excuses about them – that’s not going to change anything. Accept them. Learn from them. Embrace them.

That being said, always check your fly….

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. 

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

– Neil Gaiman

Begin at the beginning

That’s how most things start, right? Step 1 to Step umpteenth. And most people are able to follow these steps, i.e. instructions/directions/recipes, with maybe one hiccup here and there.

And then there’s me.

I’ve never strived to be Suzy homemaker and have tenaciously turned my nose up at cooking, needlework, arts & crafts, and basic home remedies. Which, up til now, is probably a good thing. I am a certifiable klutz -if such certification existed- and have a knack for breaking, burning and/or somehow ingeniously and unthinkably destroying things, despite trying to follow instructions. Growing up, my parents would always tell me that I could probably burn water if I tried. I believe it.

At 25 years old, though, I think it’s time to turn over a new leaf and give these previously shunned skills a go. I am surrounded by talented people in many of these areas, and would like to join this club of sorts. Perhaps by knitting an impressive pair of socks, or pleasing taste buds with and ever-so-decadent strudel, they will welcome me with open arms and we can share tips and tricks of mod podge and homemade dog clothes while sipping a refreshing sangria –which I made myself-.

I enjoy trying new things –win, lose, or crash and burn– and can hopefully hone in on some of these skills…or try and fail miserably at the deserved entertainment of everyone else. In addition to the wonderfully talented individuals I have just so happened to surround myself with, Pinterest is a continued evil reminder of the innate skills that the Talent Fairy forgot to bless me with, and instead gave me an extra dose of ungainliness. Well played, Talent Fairy.

Commence rebuttal process.

This is going to be the documentation of my attempts to branch out and awaken my inner Martha Stewart, and then some. I’m guessing there will be a lot of wine involved…for reward purposes…or condoling purposes…or just for fun. Critiques, advice, suggestions, short cuts, tips, and jests are all welcomed, and encouraged.

Fingers crossed there will be minimal damage to my house. And myself.

Enjoy!

“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”  -Lewis Carroll