We’re home. W is on the mend (H1N1? Not sure – the symptoms were consistent though) – still snotty and coughing and chlorine-eyed and very particular that everything be done EXACTLY according to his bidding. Yesterday Mike and I felt like we were being dragged down with him but bounced back after a particularly gratifying sleep in Salmon Arm. The bottle of shiraz, drunk out of plastic Travelodge cups (yes, I am the lass in class) might have helped.
We came home to snow, slush and icicles hanging from every window, but I don’t even care because I’m back in my own kitchen. I have overdosed on car snacks and restaurant food, despite my best efforts to arm myself with healthy stuff. Since Vegas (and Toronto, and now Vancouver) I’ve loaded my luggage down with granola. The real stuff – like the nutty bag filled with chewy dried cherries made by Joy Road Catering that I picked up at the Penticton farmers’ market – is a good balance of complex carbs, healthy fats and protein (if you cram it with nuts, seeds and flax, like I do), doesn’t spoil or go soggy or get crushed. It takes up next to no space, and fills the void even when you should be eating a real meal. And when you need something a bit more substantial, it’s usually pretty easy to find yourself a cup of yogurt. If I manage to get a room with a mini fridge, I’ll go buy a big tub of yogurt – I’ve been known to spoon it directly into the zip-lock baggies that hold my granola – sort of like a grown-up version of those little boxes of cereal you opened from the side and poured your milk right into. The yogurt-granola combo doesn’t leak as much.
Which reminds me – I haven’t told you how easy it is to make your own yogurt yet, have I? Sorry about that, I’ve been meaning to. I’ll just go ahead and scratch that one off my to-do list.
It really, truly is simple to make yogurt using nothing more than a pot, spoon and jar. There is no need for one of those 70’s incubator-like yogurt machines that came with cords and dials and teeny glass jars – ours made a great spaceship for our Smurfs for about a decade before we said goodbye to it at a garage sale. (I wonder how many times that same machine has been bought and resold at garage sales since then.)
To make your own, all you have to do is boil the milk, cool it, stir in some real yogurt (which acts as a starter), keep it warm for a few hours and voila – fresh, satiny yogurt. Swirl in some fresh berries mashed with honey and the store bought kind will never do it for you again.
Making your own yogurt is much like making your own sourdough… once you have the starter going, you can make your next batch using a bit of the last, and so on. But to begin, you’ll need a small container of the best plain yogurt you can find, making sure it contains active cultures. I use Vital Green Farms or Bles-Wold, both great locally-produced yogurts that contain only milk and bacterial cultures (no additives, stabilizers etc).
Start with 2 ½ cups of milk. I haven’t experimented with soy milk, but regular milk (whole, 2% or 1%, not skimmed) and goat’s milk work very well. Bring it to a full boil in a saucepan, then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the scalded milk into a bowl, through a strainer or cheesecloth if you have acquired any brown bits around the edge, and cool until you can hold your finger in the milk and count to 10.
The ratio of milk to yogurt is 2 ½ cups to 1 tablespoon. Place the yogurt in a small dish and add some of the milk to it to warm it up, then whisk it back into the milk. Pour into a glass jar (glass holds heat well), wrap in a towel or sweater and put in a warm place for about 6 hours or overnight. In the morning put the jar in the fridge to chill and you should end up with a lovely jar of fresh yogurt.