Home Made Yoghurt or Kitchen Elves

Have you noticed the growing trend to make your own yoghurt? Gourmet writing circles are awash with this craze. Personally, I think it’s an obsession with cheating the system; a belief that something can be had for nothing.

You think: Why am I buying this slop at the supermarket in these tiny tubs with the not so tiny price? Isn’t it just a whole lot of bacteria and milk? Aren’t bacteria everywhere? Doesn’t milk just come out of the fridge?

There must be a way to make yoghurt out of nothing.  Do you see the drift here?

Not to mention, that commercial yoghurt comes in plastic tubs that need recycling, and we don’t need to encourage the making of any more plastic tubs on our planet, even if we are recycling them. What is all that recycled petroleum product being used for anyway?

Do you see how the moral justifications for cheating evolve into a philosophy?

So you do your research, and you find out, that the best way to make yoghurt is to use a yoghurt machine. So you buy this yoghurt making appliance, which seems to be just a very big thermos, and costs the same as six month’s supply of yoghurt.  But never mind, you will save money in the long run, well in seven months.

Except that each time you make the yoghurt, you have to buy the packet of powdered yoghurt culture from the supermarket, specifically made and sold for the appliance you have just bought. Never mind, this is a small investment for a life time of healthy living, helping the planet and independence from the commercial machine.

And so you follow the instructions, and miraculously you make a very nice 1kg container of yoghurt. It works! But that leads to some questioning. What after all have you achieved? You’ve replaced one commercial product with another. You haven’t actually by-passed the system at all. You’re not exactly living in a state of total self sufficiency.

So you decide to by-pass the yoghurt maker.

You follow a recipe from the internet.

Mix a few spoonfuls of yoghurt with 500ml of boiled milk, add 1 tablespoon powdered milk. Pop the mixture into a large glass jar, swaddling the whole thing in a lot of tea towels, and keep in a warm oven overnight.

You follow the recipe exactly, except that you don’t use any powdered milk. You were unwilling to pay the six dollars for the kilo of powdered milk available at the supermarket. And you were unable to forage any from your mother’s pantry. So you swaddle your mixture in a mountain of tea towels and place it in the oven. Then you go to bed.

It’s surprising that you can get to sleep with the miracle that’s occurring in your kitchen, but somehow you do. In the morning, you check the yoghurt in the oven. Except that it’s not yoghurt. It is a jar of thin, bilish, yellow liquid, with white lumps at the bottom.

Perhaps you’ve learnt your lesson and will return to the ease of shop bought yoghurt.

But then you hear about the offspring of yoghurt, yoghurt cheese or Labneh. It too is quite trendy at the moment. Apparently you just dump a whole lot of yoghurt into a sieve, which is lined with cheese cloth, and let it drain overnight.

There are two mysteries here. The first is cheesecloth. Need I say more?

And the second mystery is the overnight concept.

The yoghurt failure has made you quite suspicious of the overnight concept. These people must have kitchen elves. The elves that came with your kitchen are lazy elves. Who knows what they’re up to, when they should be magically transforming nothing into food.

So you borrow a video camera from a friend and set it up in the kitchen overnight.

Why not just pop into the kitchen yourself in the middle of the night, and catch them in person? Because everyone knows that elves don’t show themselves to humans.

And because the last time you wandered into the kitchen, in the early hours of the morning, for a glass of milk, and some of the delicious home made biscuits that you did forage from your mother’s pantry, you found a large furry friend, foraging.

Ahh, the joys of self sufficiency in the city.

About sagesomethymes

Daniela is a writer, theatre producer and civic educator. She has had short stories and poetry published in: 'Prayers of a Secular World', Inkerman & Blunt; 'Blue Crow Magazine', Blue Crow Press; 'Knitting and other stories', Margaret River Press and Radio National’s '360 documentaries'. Her debut play, 'Talc', was produced in 2010. Her short play, 'Sicilian Biscotti', was produced for the launch of “Women Power and Culture” at New Theatre in 2011 and shortlisted for the Lane Cove Literary Award in 2015. Her second full length play, 'Friday', was produced by SITCO at the Old Fitzroy Theatre in 2013. 'The Poor Kitchen' was produced in 2016 as part of the Old 505 Theatre’s Fresh Works Season and was published by the Australian Script Centre in 2017 (https://australianplays.org/script/ASC-1836). It was re-staged by Patina Productions at Limelight on Oxford in 2019. She co-wrote 'Shut Up And Drive' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at KXT in 2016. 'Seed Bomb' was produced at Old 505 Theatre as part of the FreshWorks Season in 2019 and has been published by the Australian Script Centre (https://australianplays.org/script/ASC-2166). She co-wrote 'Softly Surely' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at Flight Path Theatre in 2022. She is the co-founder of indie theatre company subtlenuance (www.subtlenuance.com) Her published short stories can be read via the Short Stories tab on this blog.
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