While I was growing up, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. That meant that while my dad went to work and my brother and I went to school, my mother baked cakes, did mountains of laundry and sewed our Halloween costumes (because I was an insufferable child who just had to be a bumblebee princess). I don't think I've ever fully appreciated that or thanked her for it until now when I realize I may never get to play that role. Don't get me wrong. I like working. But it breaks my heart just a little to know that my (future) kids won't get to tell me about how they played handball or show me their arts n' crafts masterpieces as they sit at the kitchen table eating their after school snack. Because let's admit it. After school snacks were the best. There was something magical about eating cookies n' milk and pompously enlightening my younger brother about the worldly nature of the third grade while the sun streamed through the window. But the best afternoon snack, by far, was homemade yogurt with honey and crushed graham crackers. Yup, on top of it all, my mom made her own yogurt. It was like she foresaw the whole Pinkberry/Red Mango craze. I'm tellin' you, the woman is awesome!
I am not nearly as awesome. I am of the school of pseudo-cooks that will never grow their own vegetables or make their own bread. Naturally, making my own yogurt clearly fell into that same category. I recognize that there has been influx of home cooks that raise their own chickens, ferment their own wine and make their own cheese. I respect that. I really do. But come Friday night, when I'm dragging my pathetic-looking self home, carrying my heels because they've given me no less than thirteen blisters on my aching feet and counting the seconds until I'm in my car and can unbutton the top button of my skirt because it's cutting off my circulation, making my own yogurt is the last thing on my mind.
Until two Fridays ago when I came home lugging a giant jug of milk, only to find the hubster grinning proudly, holding a fresh jug. "I remembered to get the milk," he gleefully exclaimed. Awesome, I thought as I started at the two jugs. Would it be creepy to offer our neighbors a jug of milk? Probably, since their dog almost ate my ankles for lunch and their kid laughed maniacally the last time we met in the elevator. No milk for them!
Call it immigrant child guilt or whatever but I hate wasting food. So, I did what any girl would do. Called my mom and got vague directions on how to make my own yogurt. I did a quick Google search to find some confirmation of her "heat this, mix that" directions but no luck. All the recipes used cheesecloth and last I checked, I didn't have any cloth made outta cheese. So I winged it. I nuked one and a half cups of milk in a two cup measuing cup in the microwave. I then started cleaning because our apartment was beginning to look like a frat house. Next thing I knew, I had a microwave full of boiling milk.
Round two, I hovered around the microwave, absorbing the radiation and making sure the boiling milk didn't overflow. I then let it cool until it was warmish. Scooped off the milk skin. Mixed in two tablespoons of room temperature, readymade yogurt. Poured the entire concoction in a lidded Corningware bowl. Wrapped the bowl in a towel 'cause that's what some person on a yogurt forum online did and well, she sounded like she knew what she was doing. She didn't. A couple of hours later, when I was supposed to be staring at delicious, firm, homemade yogurt, I was instead staring at a milk soup with suspicious lumps. I tried again. I mean, it was only midnight by this time. This time, I heated the oven at the lowest temperature, turned off the oven and stuck the lidded bowl inside. Around 5 a.m., success! I pulled the bowl out and found myself staring at firm yogurt that was perfectly creamy and tart. To celebrate my success, I rewarded myself with fourth meal. Yogurt with honey and crushed graham crackers. I only wish my brother was around so I could regale him with tales of the third grade.
The next morning, I treated myself to a breakfast of fresh yogurt, granola and mangos. A treat indeed, since my normal breakfast consists of coffee, a bag of Skittles and some mind-boggling work emails.
And then, that same afternoon, I read about David Lebowitz's fruit n' yogurt pops. Equal parts fruit and yogurt, some sugar, some lemon juice and voila, a healthy'ish popsicle So, I hurried home and whipped up some popsicles. The hubster and I hovered around the freezer, waiting for them to freeze. As an aside, I would guess theses popsicles would also taste great in semi-frozen, slushy state. But that's just a guess.
And that's how the hubster and I went through two jugs of milk in a week. And that's why we'll be buying two jugs of milk next week. Because watch out vegetable-growing, bread-making foodies. I'm making my own yogurt.
PS: I'm still twittering. No, wait. I'm still tweeting. You should follow along @LawyerLovesLnch because I have a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth... often :)
2-3 tbs. active cultured yogurt
1 1/2 - 2 cups whole milk
Heat milk in microwave-safe vessel until boiling. Cool milk until it's warm to the touch. Remove the layer of milk skin that has developed. This is normal and should not freak you out. Mix approximately 1/2 cup of milk with the yogurt. Beat like you're scrambling eggs. Add the remaining milk to the milk-yogurt mixture and pour into an oven-safe bowl with lid.
Heat oven to the lowest temperature (on mine, it's 170 degrees). Turn oven off and stick your milk-yogurt mixture inside. Wait impatiently for a few hours. The time will vary depending on how well your oven retains heat. Do not be concerned if you are waiting 6-7 hours. Check your yogurt. It should be firm with a layer of buttermilk'y water on top. Again, do not be concerned. You can either pour off the liquid or use it with your yogurt.
Make sure to save 2-3 tablespoons of your homemade yogurt for your next batch. And your next batch. And the batch after that. Ad delicious nauseam.
Yield: Makes 6 small pops
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup fresh strawberries (or blueberries or blackberries or raspberries, if that's your thing)
sugar to taste
lemon juice to taste
Blend all ingredients, adding sugar and lemon juice to get the sweet-tart mix of your preference. I generally start with 1 tablespoon of sugar and add more as necessary, depending on the sweetness of the berries I'm using. I also start with a few generous squirts of lemon juice but that's because I LOVE that strawberry lemonade taste. You should start out with one or two squirts of lemon juice if you're weird and don't like strawberry lemonade. Pour into popsicle molds, or small plastic cups as I did. Place in freezer and wait impatiently. Since I used cups, I poked in candy sticks after freezing for about an hour.
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz