Milk mastery

Let me just say right here, for the record, that I do not like milk. At all. In pretty much any shape or form.  I don’t even like to watch people drink milk. Ugh.

I don’t even like cheese, though this is such a social handicap that I have taught myself to like the cheese on a pizza (as long as it’s melted–this is partly a texture thing), and not to flip out when I find little shavings of Parmesan in my salad. “Cheese,” as someone once said, “is the corpse of milk,” and, seriously, milk already puts me off enough on its own.

I don’t mind ice cream but it doesn’t appeal to me terribly much. I might eat ice cream six times a year (mostly when First Child, who is currently working in a chichi ice cream store, brings home a carton of a good flavor that got dented at work).  Ice cream sits in my freezer so long it goes bad before it gets eaten.

[Potato chips, on the other hand, don’t even make it home from the store without being opened and sampled, but that’s another story.]

This may be because I’m lactose intolerant, a fact my dad always attributed to the many (fairly recent) Cherokee ancesters on his side of the family. My sister got the beautiful cheekbones–I got the lactose intolerance. Sigh.

What I do like, though, and can tolerate quite well, is yogurt.  Even plain, unflavored yogurt suits me just fine and is probably all that stands between me and osteoporosis.

A few weeks ago yogurt was spotlighted in the New York Times. This weekend, with the help of the somewhat impressionistic directions in this article by Harold McGee,  I finally got around to making my own.

It’s absurdly easy. Basically you heat milk (the NYT article will tell you how), cool the milk a bit, stir in a couple of tablespoons of stuff that’s already yogurt (I used plain, unflavored Dannon after getting McGee’s assurance that it doesn’t have to be high end, hotsy-totsy health food store yogurt), and then you keep it warm for about 4 hours. I poured my hot, yogurt-spiked milk into a (very clean) quart canning jar, put the (very clean) lid on, wrapped the jar in a thick bath towel, then inserted the towel wrapped jar into an insulated plastic bag. You know, the kind you get at Trader Joe’s so your frozen fire-roasted corn and your frozen potstickers won’t thaw on your way home.  When it’s cool, unwrap the jar and put it in your fridge to chill completely.

I was also inspired to do this because a few days beforehand I’d finally made my own granola. This is ridiculously easy and I won’t even offer a recipe because it’s so intuitive. Go online or go to your cookbook shelf, read 10 recipes, then wing it. I have to give most of the credit for mine to recipes from Moosewood’s New  Classics cookbook and from Alton Brown’s Food Network site, but it really does boil down to using grains and nuts you like, and adding dried fruits once you’ve carefully baked the grains and seeds and nuts.

Mine is heavy on walnuts, our own honey, and dried cranberries.  And unbelievably tasty with a big dollop of homemade yogurt.

Try it this afternoon. Then, tomorrow morning, you can have this for breakfast:

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