Gave Back All the Things We Have

Our housemate is packing his dishes and making a racket. The pussycats are having a kitty kerfuffle. PBS is showing Julia Child episodes during a pledge so I’ve watched Julia pantomime making bouillabaisse and trussing a rotisserie chicken in a most provocative manner. These are famous recipes I’ve seen before. When she whacked the heads off giant fishes I made the THWOK! THWOK! sound effects because how could I not? You have to. It’s practically a rule.

Daria’s neighbor’s kid came home from school the other day, looking dejected. The kid said to his mom, “You’re gonna get a call from school.” Mom called the school, then called Daria. I heard this the next day:

Daria: The teacher was all upset. Get this: on the playground the kid called his friend crazy, like, “Hey crazy!” If my kid’s teacher called me because my kid called his friend crazy, I’d say, “What are you, crazy?” I’ve got real problems!
Tata: That’s ridiculous.
Daria: I tell my kids that when someone calls them a name and they’re not that, walk away. “Are you crazy? No? Walk away.”
Tata: Ooh, teach them the Charles DeMar method! Remember in Better Off Dead when the lunkhead calls Charles a name and for the rest of the movie Charles can only point at the lunkhead and laugh?
Daria: A permanent state of Point & Laugh. I like it!
Tata: And you only look crazy.

My niece Lois graduated from high school yesterday. Our housemate just stuck his head out in the living room. “I’ve got a marble cheese plate and knife. Wedding present. Never used. You want it?” I said, “We’ll give it to my niece and maybe she can avoid getting a practice husband.” This morning, I went to the massage therapist because intense pain teaches you patience with boredom, and while I usually laugh when things hurt, time flies when I stress test new comic material. I explained that Pete and I drive to the health food store in Princeton for really good milk, which was funny enough, but then I had to explain why.

Tata: Milk used to in highly dangerous glass bottles, like if you didn’t smash the bottle you deserved the dairy goodness.
Dude: Yeah, they used to deliver it, right?
Tata: Exactly, and this milk is organic, from grass-fed cows and this is going to sound weird but the fat floats to the top and plugs the bottle shut. This is an awesome thing.
Dude: That’s like straight from the cow!
Tata: I see you’ve gone to a county fair or two. Good for you! This stuff makes really good yogurt. I make yogurt every week, and the fat content makes it delectable.
Dude: You make yogurt? How do you do that?
Tata; It’s breathtakingly easy, and once you make your own, that crap you get in the grocery store is like 8 ounces of chemically treated bovine betrayal.
Dude: Can you email that recipe?
Tata: Sure do.

When we were commune kids, we had a book I’ve been unable to find online, possibly because the name of it escapes me. It was about being a commune kid, and it made a lot of sense to me. Everyone played a part. Everyone’s effort made life better together. The moral of the story: “Work makes the food taste good.” In 2010, this is the story of nourishing, healthy food: your own effort make it taste better.

To make yogurt, you will need:

    Cow or Goat Milk. A half-gallon per week per 2 people.
    Light Cream or Half & Half. 1 pint per half gallon of milk.
    Dry Milk Solids. Half a large envelope per half gallon of milk.
    Plain Yogurt with live and active cultures. The grocery store serving cup should say that or you should not bother eating it. Don’t make me mock you!
    One bigass soup pot
    One kitchen thermometer
    One wooden spoon
    One plastic whisk
    One kitchen towel
    One ladle
    One spoon
    Whaddya wanna eat out of? I like squat 8 oz. Ball Jars. For a half gallon of milk, you will need about 12 8-oz. serving containers and one approximate pint container for the yogurt you need for dollops here and there, and to start your next batch in a week. Thing is: you may already have containers with tight-fitting lids from Chinese takeout or you may want one big container. Do what you like or I’ll have to mock you.
    Don’t panic! You do not need a yogurt maker or a crazy expensive gadget. You’re going to need to keep your developing yogurt – which, like a debutante, is deeply insecure only when someone’s watching – warm for 10 hours. After 10 hours, nothing terrible will happen if you’re busy or forgetful, but the yogurt will taste a little more sour with additional warming time. Anyhoo, if your kitchen is warm, you’re fine; if you have an oven with a pilot light, heat it to 100 degrees, turn it off and shut the door. If you have a warm spot near the TV, you’re golden. A heating pad on the lowest setting will be awesome. You get the picture: consistent warm temp for 10 hours. People have been making yogurt on purpose and by accident for thousands of years. You can freaking do it.
    Combine milk and light cream/half & half in large pot, stirring occasionally. If your thermometer can be placed in the pot, do so. When the milk is warm, add the milk solids, which should dissolve easily. Stir constantly as milk exceeds 150 degrees.
    When the milk reaches 180 degrees, remove from heat. I like to transfer it to a large plastic bowl so the temperature drops quickly but you don’t have to do that. Stir constantly until the temperature drops to between 115-118 degrees. Add contents of your yogurt cup. Whisk until smooth.
    Ladle milk/yogurt mixture into your containers. Keep warm and leave undisturbed for 10 hours, then refrigerate.
    Save 8 oz. of yogurt to make your next batch.
  • I think Lois will be pleased with the three-section grill pan, but not especially surprised.

  • One response to “Gave Back All the Things We Have

    1. The nephew Danny graduated high school this month too- he has run off and joined the Army, so he can be an Airborne Ranger. He has also announced his intention to wed his sweetheart, Sarah. I told him how much he’ll change and that it may not be fair to her or them, but he can’t believe me.

      I’ll be knitting him a helmet liner and sending care packages.

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