Never give up, never surrender!

Something really exciting happened to me this weekend.

I successfully made Greek yogurt for the first time.  From scratch.

Let me back up and tell the story from the beginning.  I’m kind of a wannabe hippie.  No, I don’t eat organic and while I would love to be a vegetarian, I’m too much of a Texan to give up meat.  But I do yoga.  I have made my own clothes in the past and worn them out in public, I knit and crochet, and I try my hardest to cook crazy food from scratch.  All while trying to wrap my head around poetic theory.

About a week ago, I got it into my head that I would make Greek yogurt.  My mom had given me some cheesecloth from a cheese-making kit (and where she got that, I don’t remember) and I had a recipe clipped from a magazine.  I headed over to Central Market (a fancy-pants grocery store that’s practically in my backyard—I’m addicted.  You have no idea how much you get used to being within walking distance of food.  This is a big deal in Houston where nothing is next to anything).

 I bought 1 quart of milk and some starter yogurt (Fage, yum!).  Price of Fage: $6.50 .  Price of milk: $1.88.    You can easily see the economic benefits of being a hippie.

I followed the directions: boil milk, wait for it to cool, then put 2 T of the starter (with live active cultures) mixed with a bit of the milk in the main pot of milk and stick the whole thing in the oven, unheated with the light on, overnight.  Cultures will multiply.  Then you dump the whole thing into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and stick it in the fridge.  The whey will separate and you will be left with yummy Greek-style yogurt.

Yeah, didn’t work out.

It was such a disaster.  No whey, just this runny mess that was not quite milk, not quite anything else.  I had to dump the whole thing in the sink.  I was so sad, I ate the rest of my starter yogurt to console myself.

Then a couple of days later, I decided to try it again.  I did more research this time, and I found out temperature is key: the boiling milk has to be heated to 180 degrees, and then cooled to 115-120 degrees.  Something something proteins, something something changes something.  I don’t know, but the food chemistry of making yogurt is an important part of the process.

So I started over with these directions in mind.  And what do you know?  The whey separated out, the consistency of the final product tastes like yogurt (except not as bitter—a welcome change).  And now I can share with you some life lessons you can apply to your writing!

1.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! or, Perseverance.
Don’t let weird, runny milk-yogurt stand in the way of achieving your goals!  You can do it!  Pick yourself up and do it again!  and again if it doesn’t work out!  Keep going!  And if you do, you will be happily rewarded with a tasty treat.

2.  Do your research.
Trust me.  If you research things before you start, you will be rewarded with a tasty treat and not weird, runny milk-yogurt.  And it will save you the heart-ache of dumping milk down the drain.

Keep writing, my friends.


4 thoughts on “Never give up, never surrender!

  1. Laura Campbell says:

    I love yoga! Unfortunately, I've been out of practice for a month or so. I definitely need to get back. My cravings for meat prevent me from going vegetarian as well, but I eat a crap load of veggies every day. Perseverance: I find this to be a necessary characteristic of a writer. You can't give up, ever. BUT knowing when to take a break is also helpful. I've been stuck on the rewrite of a short story. The lack of forward motion got really depressing. Then, this past Sunday I met up with my writers group and one of the members suggested I put it away for a bit and work on something else. No, I'm not abandoning it, just getting some space to think the story through without the added pressure of getting results. I feel better already.

  2. Neurotic Workaholic says:

    I admire you for making your own clothes and trying out new recipes. I can't even sew on a button or make macaroni and cheese right. By the way, there's an award for you on my blog. 🙂

  3. anvil says:

    I made Irish Soda Bread for the first time last week. My mother in law scoffed (gently, nicely) that it's very hard to make, she'd been trying to make it right (from her Irish grandmother's recipe) for years and never could. I just stuck 4 cups of flour with 2 cups of buttermilk, a little salt, a little baking soda and bunged it in the oven. She said it was the best she'd ever had. I'm a writer who, for years, did more listening to others talk about writing than actual writing. I was looking for the perfect 'recipe' the trick that would get me to write like a real writer. Only when I gave up trying to be anything other than someone who puts words on a page did the writing thing click for me. I've written 1 3/4 works, started a writer's group and am hoping to query this summer The point is sometimes it's about perseverance and sometimes it's about going in there without the rule book. Or is that just dumb luck? I don't know.

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