16 April 2009

The problem with vacation

Do you know what the problem with vacation is? I'll tell you what the problem with vacation is. The problem with vacation is the fact that your brain turns to mush and you find yourself sleeping to, oh, let's say about 10:00 every day and then you're not very hungry but it would be such a shame to let all those fantastic eat-at-home opportunities go to waste, so you do your best to clean out the fridge by eating the fantastic leftovers that your family didn't finish the weekend they were here.

Another problem with vacation is that since your afternoons are quiet and light-filled, and that your apartment is very lovely to read in during said afternoons, that you have taken to reading about cowgirl romance and then your afternoons are gone and you're not very sure what the heck happened to them. This can be especially frustrating when you realize that you turned on NPR, so that at least you have some idea of what's going on in the world that is not on vacation, but don't actually hear anything due to the absorbing nature of your reading material, because, really--let's be honest here--NPR can't beat out romance. Sorry, NPR.

But getting back to the food. The biggest problem with vacation, really, is that since you are finally relaxed enough to not think about work and not think about the horrible economy every. single. waking. moment., you don't really think about anything at all, except how nice it is not to do anything. Along with sleeping in, going out to lunch with your boyfriend suddenly becomes high on the list. This is problematic because you often realize that you also wish that you were going to order takeout from your favorite Thai place, too, but you can't because you already ate out once today. It's really quite unfortunate.

The good thing, though, is that since you're spending so much time at home reading internet love sagas, you have a lot of down time for foods that need to sit, like this lovely yogurt that Harold McGee wrote about in yesterday's Times. (See? I do have some sense of routine.) I was even motivated enough to head to Zabar's and pick up a large glass jar, only to realize when I got home that it's too big. Unfortunately for me, though, my yogurt turned into slightly yogurty milk? Where did I go wrong? Thoughts? Thoughts??

Plain Yogurt, deciphered from a very loose recipe in the New York Times

1 quart whole milk
2 tablespoons yogurt, preferably plain

you will need a thermometer for liquids

1. Heat your milk in a large pot until it reaches about 175 degrees F (or a little warmer--just so that your milk is steamy and is bubbling a little bit).
2. Let your milk cool to about 115 degrees F, and stir in yogurt.
3. Pour into a large-ish container (probably a little bit bigger than a quart would be ideal), and let sit about 4 hours, or until set.
4. Once your yogurt sets, refrigerate it to firm its structure and slow the continuing acid production.

If you want to make your yogurt thicker, spoon it into a fine-mesh strainer or into a colander lined with cheesecloth, and let the whey and its lactic acid drain into a bowl for several hours.

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