The other day I warmed some milk for coffee in an electric Nespresso milk frother where you press a button and it perfectly swirls and warms your milk in a vertical silo with no mess. Well, almost…. About twenty-four hours after my lovely cup of French press coffee with steamed milk, my boyfriend texts me a picture of the frother half -filled with thick congealed milk and a note, “Look at the yogurt you made, by not cleaning out the machine!” It made me laugh – out loud – and I continued to chuckle throughout the day imagining the look of disgust on his face when he found it. I know the photograph was kind of meant to shame me – albeit in a humorous way. My boyfriend is a freak about kitchen cleanliness! Okay, this time he had a point. But most of the time, it’s hard for me to take seriously because in other areas of the house; he’s the one making a mess. His method of folding clothes is balling them up and throwing them in random drawers, ironing is soaking a shirt and letting it drip dry in the bathroom and filing is arranging papers and bills into various stacks and stashes until they topple over or burst out of drawers! I find this all quite sweet and wouldn’t want him to organize things any other way. It’s totally him and besides he looks great in artfully disheveled clothes, people pay good money for that look.
I do all kinds of things in the kitchen that drive my boyfriend crazy, like leaving good, fresh Mozzarella out on the counter – it changes consistency and turns into just any other cheese if you put it in the refrigerator. I also leave out tomatoes and corn and most fruits. I basically leave anything I can out of the fridge if it will be eaten fast enough. Then there’s the way I cook. I try to clean as I go, but I’m usually a bit too ambitious, preparing multiple dishes and a little behind schedule. I think making somewhat of a mess is part of the fun in a home kitchen. It’s a beautiful palette – with non-porous surfaces – on which to play and experiment. My boyfriend is often cleaning up behind me and making a comment about the trail I am leaving behind… affording us more time to spend together. I love the company and the banter; it has become part of our relationship shtick and never ceases to make me smile because I know he’s not really upset. He attributes his obsession with kitchen cleanliness to his Chinese mother who wouldn’t even let the kids near the kitchen for fear they would leave things in disarray. My California kitchen was a free-for-all, my busy parents all too happy to relinquish control over the space as long as we were cooking and eating fairly healthy.
The ease with which the leftover milk turned to “yogurt” in the Nespresso machine piqued my interest, so I just had to try making the real thing this week. I found a simple recipe on how to make yogurt at home without any machines and simplified it even further. The results were quite good for a first try, although next time I would definitely take some steps to make it even tangier and thicker like letting the yogurt incubate for a longer period of time and straining it.
I don’t think my boyfriend will start starching his shirts, or I will stop painting a mess in the kitchen any time soon, so more happy accidents and tableaux to come!
Makes 4 cups
1 quart of organic milk
3 tablespoons of plain yogurt (commercial)
a couple of mason jars or other glass containers for the yogurt
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the glass containers for a minute, pull out with tongs and let cool.
Pre-heat oven to about 115 degrees.
Heat milk in a saucepan or Dutch oven, stirringly gently until it just begins to simmer. Let the milk cool until it is just hot to touch. Whisk about a cup of the hot milk with the commercial yogurt, when it is smooth gently stir this mixture back into the milk. Pour the milk into the glass containers and incubate them in a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot. Wrap the pot in a few layers of towels and put in the oven. TURN THE OVEN OFF and keep the door closed for 6 hours or more. The trick during the incubation period is to keep the environment warm and not jostle the milk too much. Check the yogurt at 6 hours or leave longer, up to 10 hours, if you want thicker, yogurt. Cool the yogurt in the glass containers leaving them in the refrigerator for at least three hours. For even thicker, Greek-style yogurt, after incubation, strain yogurt through a cheesecloth lined colander for at least 1 hour or overnight. Discard the whey that drains out.
Will keep for about a week.