Kaspar likes his yogurt with a "hon-eeey" heart.
Sorry for my little leave of absence, readers. This week has been a beast (but I’m still rockin’ it! Have no fear). Our move was successful and is almost complete—a few things remain in our apartment that still need to be brought over—and I’ve lovingly dubbed our new house “Le Swankgasm.” That pretty much sums it up; post-apartment living is all it’s chalked up to be. We’re still in semi-camping mode, but once we’re unpacked and fully furnished, I’ll give you the grand photo tour.  

Meanwhile, which is to say just in time for the move, Kaspar caught some nondescript germs that sent him into a full seven days of 101-and-change fevers (which we kept in check with Tylenol) and copious amounts of snot, followed by coughing. Which meant no school for him, and more juggling for us. Very little sleep for all involved. We were told his ‘cold’ was viral, but when it didn’t improve by one week and counting, we went back to the pediatrician and came home with an antibiotics scrip. Sinus infection. Good times.

We  generally try to skip antibiotics; they take good bacteria out with the bad, and a kid with a food allergy pedigree like Kaspar’s needs the most balanced belly he can get. They’re also rumored to contribute to a major long-term Superbug problem, which is worth noting, but not my focus for today. In the case of Kaspar’s snot and coughing, the drugs performed a minor miracle; Kaspar went back to school yesterday, and slept through the night last night… which should perhaps be attributed to his running around at school above taking the meds, but either way, I was grateful. I’ve been in massage classes every day, plus swinging by my office to take care of things there, and jamming out that freelance project I mentioned a week ago (there’s still time to throw in on that, for those of you I haven’t yet heard from. And many thanks to those of you I have!). I’m loving doing massage, appreciative that my job is so flexible, and enjoying the extra project (maybe not so much at 1 AM, but I’ll enjoy the new couch it will buy, and the editor is a total joy). Sleep plays a significant role in my keeping all of this together, though. Without it, I show up in the wrong place at the wrong time and am extra impatient in traffic. So, thank you, antibiotics, primarily for making Mister Kaspar comfortable again, but also for hooking me up with some shut-eye. I was missing it so.

Now that everyone’s feeling human again (what? You just heard Aaron cough in the next room? Yeah, me too…), I’m being proactive and pumping Kaspar full of probiotics to help his intestines along. I give him probiotic supplements as a matter of course, and, this week, he’s eating yogurt like it’ll soon be internationally banned. He loves the stuff, and while he can’t tolerate straight milk (it gives him hives on his chest), yogurt is A-okay. I think that’s because it’s partially digested by the beneficial yogurt-hosted bacteria or something—the same bacteria that help offset the potentially harmful digestive effects of antibiotic drugs. Doesn’t that work out nicely?

As it happens, I like to make yogurt. It’s easy. In fact, it makes itself while I sleep ("sleep"). And, I told you last week that I’d share my method with you. This is me delivering. Better late than never!

Click Read More below for details on covert raw milk procurement, and my super-slacker yogurt-making method!

I make yogurt from raw cow’s milk, bought from a local farmer here in Austin. Everything in-store is ultra-pasteurized; it’s apparently illegal, in Texas, to sell raw milk (or even just plain normal-level-pasteurized milk) in stores. I asked a cheese vendor at the farmer’s market, however, where he’s been getting the good stuff for his raw-milk cheddar. He slipped me a phone number and said I didn’t get it from him. It belonged to the milk farmer, who hooked me up with a woman who handles milk-drop day in my area; she let me know where to be, and when, so that I could pick up my bi-weekly order. This kind of raw milk exchange is legal, as well as amusingly covert. If you’re curious about why I chased raw milk down in this way, a quick Google search will lead you here. If you can’t find any for your own purposes, pasteurized milk also works for making yogurt—maybe even more effectively, as sometimes my raw milk results are a little runny. Ultra-pasteurized may work, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. Go for plain old pasteurized, or raw.

Hey Hey Yogurt! The Super-Slacker Method

What You’ll Need

½ gallon milk (whole is best, and actually quite good for you… but 2%, and even 1%, will do)

½ cup store-bought plain yogurt (make sure that it contains live active cultures. The more, the merrier)

What You’ll Do

Pour milk into a heavy pot (like a Dutch Oven) and heat until bubbles just begin to break on the surface, stirring constantly.

Turn heat off, and let milk cool until warm to the touch (go ahead and dip a finger in… but wash your hands first… We’re going for helpful bacteria here, not E.Coli).

Whisk yogurt into the milk, cover, and wrap with your biggest bath towel.

Place in oven (turned off) for the night—or the day, if you start this in the morning.

Remove towel, and place the pot in the fridge until the yogurt has cooled. You can strain any liquid off the top, and some people add gelatin or dry milk powder when adding the store-bought yogurt to the milk, for extra thickness. I find that my batches vary, so don’t be discouraged if your first is more runny than you prefer. Make smoothies, and try again with a different store-bought brand as your add-in, or even a greater quantity.

Store your yogurt in air-tight containers in the fridge. I have no idea how long it’ll be good for—we eat it too quickly—but it should be fine for at least a couple of weeks.

The Slow Cooker Method

I sent this link to just about everyone I know when I first discovered it. If you have a slow cooker, this is the easiest way to make yogurt. (The site is also a gold mine for simple and reliable slow cooking recipes—all gluten free. After you make yogurt, make Carnitas. Perfection by way of pork.)

Erin O
09/23/2011 05:54

When I saw the picture, I thought, see, we are secret soul sisters or something! (whoa, did not intend all those alliterative s's there!) But we make yogurt too, from raw milk, which can be purchased legally from stores in CA! Though it's still hard to find. Next time my husband complains the store has run out though, I will tell him what you have to go through to procure your supply. Raw milk's mere existence, much less the idea of feeding it to your family, gets such a negative reaction from some people -- I hope your blog audience is receptive. Hope everyone is feeling better and happy unpacking!

09/23/2011 08:25

I use the same method, without the raw milk. I tried pasteurized and ultra pasteurized with similar results. Whole makes definitely better yogurt than skim, though.
My allergic son had a similar issue with milk vs. yogurt. While milk caused serious allergic reactions, yogurt was tolerated just fine. The miracles of L. bifidus, Acidophilus, and the likes!

09/29/2011 18:52

Erin, that's so fantastic that you can buy raw milk in stores in California. You guys are like 20 years ahead of most other places in this country (hundreds of years ahead of others)! Since it IS legal there, maybe you could request it at the mainstream supermarkets, etc? Making it more readily available might more people will get into it. Go get 'em, trendsetter! And yes, we were clearly separated at birth. I also accidentally alliterate... all the time.

Renata, now I am really intrigued about this milk vs. yogurt allergy binary. Here's to miraculous bacteria!

Thanks for your comments! xoxo


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