A couple of years ago, during the bovine growth hormone scare, we switched from drinking ‘conventional milk’ to organic milk. It was conveniently available in half gallon cartons at the local supermarket. Then we found out about Strauss’ organic milk that’s produced locally in Marin County, and comes in retro-cool reusable glass bottles. (Even the chore of rinsing them, and bringing them back for the deposit is kinda neat.) Their 2% milk tastes like other brand’s whole milk. Yum. Unfortunately they’re carried at even fewer outlets.

After we came back from Central Asia/India, we also started to eat more yogurt. For breakfast, we mix in some jam or fruit compote or granola: it’s replaced cereal and milk as the cold/instant breakfast standard. We bought Strauss organic yogurt. But after a couple of years, we’ve started to accumulate way too many plastic yogurt tubs. My mom had given us a recipe for making yogurt at home with milk and a couple of teaspoons of plain yogurt for starter. So we’ve been doing that. At $3.50 for a quart of yogurt, but $2.19 for a quart of milk: it’s also a little cheaper. “But you need to factor in ten cents for the cost of keeping the oven light on for 24 hours to keep the yogurt warm while it’s growing,” Joe pointed out.

Straus even has a recipe for making yogurt on their website. But my mom’s recipe is much simpler. Heat some milk in a saucepan until your finger dipped in can almost no longer stand the heat. Then pour milk into a crock or glass bowl, lightly stir in a couple tablespoons of yogurt. Place it in a warm, draft-free area, like your oven, overnight or longer, until the yogurt ‘sets’, then refrigerate. One of Joe’s Indian coworkers said that to reduce the wateriness of the yogurt, Indians put a chili on top, but we haven’t tried it. The wateriness doesn’t really bother us; I guess it’s just part of the process. In commercially-produced yogurts like Yoplait, they add stuff to make it creamier and sweeter, which tastes sort of funny to me now that I’ve been eating plain yogurt with jam.

It’s interesting that the chilled yogurt tastes much less sour than it does at room temperature. It reinforces the notion that flavors are muted in chilled foods (like ice cream mix needs to taste really intense, so that it tastes flavorful after it’s frozen.)

Joe makes his own giant batches of granola (because he likes lots of nuts in them.) I make fruit compote, because I always get huge batches of dried fruit from my Joe’s parents, from their backyard bounty. I didn’t know what to do with them, until I hit on the idea of making fruit compote to eat with the yogurt. (Soak fruit in water overnight to rehydrate, and then boil with some sugar and Chinese apricot/almond kernels. Lasts in the fridge for a couple of weeks.)

We probably sound like we’ve really become hippie-granola, but we’re not. We love South Park and the Dave Chappelle Show!


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