Milk and How to Use it… Yogurt, Cheese, and Labels: Oh, My!

I have a few “rules” this week as I try to eat no commercially preserved, packaged, or processed foods, the foremost of which is DO NOT BECOME A HANGRY JERK, BETH.

Greg and I learned through the joy of travel early in our relationship that there is no jackass jackassier than a hangry, exhausted jackass, and that, unless we wanted to go ahead and file for immediate divorce and save ourselves a world of hassle, we ought to travel with snacks. Snacks = Marital Harmony. Snacks = Marital Bliss. Snacks = the difference between being kind, flexible and accommodating of each other’s tiny flaws and foibles and I AM GOING TO RIP YOUR EFFING FACE OFF. We were precious, I tell you. Darling.

The problem with creating food from scratch, of course, is it takes TIME. And you know what Americans don’t have anymore? You know what we’ve destroyed along with the ozone layer, the climate, and the hope of the next generations for a better future? Yep; TIME. It’s gone. POOF. Nada. No more. It’s not even our fault necessarily. I mean, yes, we all make choices, but our choices these days look more like WORK MORE or don’t eat, you know? Until two years ago, Greg and I each held two jobs, and often one of us would take on a third. Four or five jobs total between us was our norm for a long, LONG time, so I get it. There are seasons of life when we gotta hustle or not pay the medical bills. None of that makes for extra time to peacefully make pasta. 

So this week, I knew success would depend on setting myself up with easily available, non-processed foods. As much as I’m trying to slow down and create space for this project, things happen in families, and my attention is captured by the tyranny of the urgent.  I needed to make foods I could eat — and enjoy — on the fly.

Granola is a good start as an easy breakfast and snack food, but woman does not live by granola alone. 

Enter milk.

I’ve wanted to make yogurt in my instant pot since I was gifted it for Christmas, but it felt daunting.

Like there were too many ways to screw it up, you know? 

But I love yogurt — thick, fatty Greek yogurt especially — so I thought I’d give it a shot using these detailed directions from Kristen of A Mind Full Mom.

Friends — the first time through the process takes a LOT OF TIME AND ATTENTION. Not gonna lie. I felt like I was parenting milk. There are thermometers involved. And checking to be sure I haven’t killed anything. And wondering if I’ve ruined it forever. And questioning why I thought I could do this. 

But after that first time? It’s a breeze. Easiest thing ever. Takes almost zero hands-on time and very little attention. UNlike parenting. And the yogurt tastes AMAZING. More creamy, less tangy. 

 

I put mine in 8 oz. jars, filled halfway so I can pull one out of the fridge whenever I’m hungry and add granola and honey …

…or my mom’s homemade raspberry jam.

 

I cannot even tell you how decadent it tastes and how smug and satisfied I feel when I eat it. It’s like love in a jar. Not that I have food issues or anything. #BlessMyHeart

And while I was playing with milk, I decided to make ricotta, too. I mean, why not? I had the milk out, I had the strainer and cheesecloth. I’d asked the Google for the very easiest recipe, and the Google delivered as the Google does. 

After making it (15 minutes max) and tasting it (as often as possible), I honestly wondered why I don’t do this more often.

Not only do you end up with mild, salty, spreadable cheese (and whey to add to things later… stay tuned), you get to hang what looks like a giant ball sac on your kitchen cupboards and giggle whenever your middle schoolers walk in. 

It’s a culinary and adolescent win, friends. And I’m pleased.

More soon.

With love,

 

 

 

RECIPES:
Instant Pot Yogurt by Kristen at A Mind Full Mom
Fresh Homemade Ricotta by Richard Ferretti at Epicurious

TIPS: 
1. Labels! Oh my gosh, I just learned this trick from Food52, and it could not be more easy to label things now. You just use regular paper, dab it with milk, put it on your jars, lids, etc. AND IT STICKS LIKE MAGIC. Stays on while you need it, comes off under water. No more sticky goo or writing on my lids with Sharpie. I love this trick. 

2. Cheesecloth! WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE?? I suspect it’s for the same reason women’s razors and women’s shaving cream is more than men’s. Because we keep paying for it. NO MORE, I say. LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN. Dollar Shave Club for razors. This shave bar from Simple Alchemy that replaces those rusty cans, lasts longer, and is pure olive oil. And these cloth diapers for cheesecloth — washable, reuseable, and I don’t have to a) remember to add it to my shopping list, or b) gawk at the ridiculous price. 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
10 comments
  1. ahhhhh!!! I feel you so much about hangry jerks (especially when I am one). I did a “reset diet” for what was going to be 2 weeks, going on 2 months now. It turns out I have a chemical intolerance to a few things including polysorbate which is in everything from pickles to ice cream….
    Good for you. Making your own (whatever) is such a big step the first time, but then you see more and more how the taste and the quality is above and beyond.
    I just made a dehydrated banana seed bark (sort of) with 4 blended banana, 1/3 cocoa, 1/4 cup honey, and enough sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds and coconut to make a good texture.

  2. I really, REALLY wish I liked yogurt! I can’t stand it. Like I won’t kiss Ben if he’s just had some. It’s weird. But I RESPECT yogurt and I BELIEVE IN yogurt’s goodness and I totally wish I liked it because this looks awesome and I know it’s such a good, easy protein source.

  3. No cheesecloth here. I use coffee filters (four 8-10 cup size because I’m too cheap to buy 1,000 of the big ones), line a colander (not a strainer), and it works perfectly. I live in Salem, so if you want to drop by sometime, I can show you how it works! In your spare time, of course…

  4. My mom had four kids, worked full time as an RN, never ever bought bread (because she made it) or took us to fast food, and went through a stage where she was making cheese and pasta from scratch too.

    Oh, and she cleaned house THOROUGHLY every damn Friday. I used to dread 3 day weekends that involved a Friday off, because I’d have to spend the time cleaning.

    I have no idea what happened. Three of us are not like that at all, and the fourth one is like that intermittently, with crash periods in between. You have my full appreciation and awe for learning these new things.

  5. I’ve never strained yogurt. Must be what makes it Greek! Homemade hummus is awesome and cheap, too.

  6. I love this! I made yogurt and ricotta for the first time recently, too (from goat milk!). Our boys are probably comparing notes about why their crazy mothers are forcing them to eat stuff like that all if a sudden, between video games. Wish we could hang out and compare notes, but I love reading your blog.

  7. This has nothing to do with granola, but I thought of you this morning. Somewhere in my truck in between the ophthalmologist and occupational therapy, I heard this lyric: “It’s hard to move mountains when you’re paralyzed…but you gotta try.” As a special needs mom who has clinical depression, it hit me, and I almost cried. Almost, but not quite, because really who has time to FEEL today, and besides, I had to hurry off to the cardiologist with another kid. Which was a successful appointment, and I (yet again) got asked if I was in the medical field too? I said yes. I figure all of us with medically complex kids are in the medical field. And when I got home, I laid on the ground in the living room, too drained to feed my kids or start the next load of smelly laundry or even pick up the baby who was four feet from me and getting tired of her jungle gym and wanting to nurse. My mother fed the kids and picked up the baby and handed her to me. Then she fed me, too. Thank God for my mother.

    Waving in the dark,
    What’s my name again? Oh yeah…Mama

  8. Greek yogurt + peanut butter + honey + mini chocolate chips = cookie dough yogurt. So delicious.

    Also Greek yogurt + a scosh of vanilla extract + sweetener of choice + frozen berries (blackberries are my favorite). In fridge until berries melt. Stir and top with homemade granola (or, if you’re not doing sugar, chopped nuts or seeds).

    Also, I use a flour sack towel for straining my yogurt. I’ve used regular terry kitchen towels, too.

    Also also, I love that you’re making food for yourself. You’ve inspired me. Today it was cinnamon rolls for the boys. Tomorrow I will make (and can) salsa, and roast almonds for almond butter and cocoa almonds–I’ve been meaning to roast the almonds for months now, but hadn’t gotten around to it because it seemed so self-indulgent. Now, I’m doing it *because* it’s so self-indulgent 🙂

  9. Instead of cheesecloth for straining yogurt, I line my strainer with a coffee filter…much cheaper and works well

  10. Thermometers? I’m not sure I’ve ever used thermometers for crockpot or instant pot yogurt. But I heartily approve of homemade yogurt and granola.

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