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.
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.
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.