Saturday, April 9, 2011

Embracing My Hippie Roots

What is it about making something with your own two hands that is so satisfying? Why is it so down-deep pleasing to look at something and say: I made that?

The high you get from making things fully from scratch would seem to fly in the face of talk about how Americans don't cook anymore and how the Food Network and its ilk turned food into a spectator sport .

I blogged a year or two back about the idea that cooking is one of the few "dirty" jobs we still do. And I still think that, although I've begun to suspect that cooking is just the tip of the iceberg--the gateway drug. See: recent spate of hipsters learning how to butcher things. And as much as I hate to admit it, I totally get it. I spent the last 6 months looking for posters that show all the butcher cuts. I found them, and now they're taunting me. Isn't the next logical step learning how to break down a cow?

I would not be the first, or only, amateur to take this path. But really, short of ponying up for a class I think my hands on experiments will have to stay on the tamer side for now. (Heads up for the buried lead.)

In that spirit, I made yogurt last week. From scratch, like actually from a gallon of milk! I'm hardly breaking new ground here, I have friends who have routinely done this for years, but I'm still basking in the glow of accomplishment. It was embarrassingly easy, but even that can't diminish my sense of pride. I was dancing-literally-around the kitchen when the texture finally came together. Winner!

The only hitch: there is now a full gallon of yogurt in my fridge. Any suggestions?? It's a lot of yogurt. The obvious short term solution was to embrace my hippie roots, so batch one of yogurt was quickly followed by a massive batch of granola. Yes, I admit my transformation back to the crunchy Vermont hippie roots is nearly complete. I fought it as long as I could, and finally caved. But I still draw the line at Birkenstocks.

But really, despite it's "crunchy" stigma, both the yogurt making and the granola were so. much. fun. Really, you should try it. I'm officially hooked. And ridiculously excited about breakfast every morning. I'm almost as giddy about this as I was about a successful pasta making experiment with LD last month. Another "I made that" moment of euphoria and self-congratulatory back slapping.

I'm feeling quite cocky now. Next stop: cured meat. Now if only I could find saltpeter (which is apparently also an ingredient in some truly frightening explosives-who knew?!?).