Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mi cama, su cama

Two years ago, the mornings began with a bed of 4 people.  Two of them were attached to me -- one nursing, the other one pulling my hair, and of course I always had to pee.  The fourth one was falling off the bed but I did not feel sorry for him, due to the aforementioned attachments.  This picture has evolved – Now, there are feet in my face and an incessant whisperer who actually doesn’t know how to whisper, “Mommy can I play with your phone?”.

Minus the ultra-disciplined ones who enforce the adult-only-bed-rule (something at which I willingly suck),  any parent knows what it is to wake up contorted, tangled, and smothered by beings whose child-size instantly morphs into giant-octopus upon entering the bed.  Yes, even the limbs seem to multiply.  They like to position horizontally across the adults, as if to begin a log cabin.  They’re in heaven, the adults are miserable, but sleep is more important than 3am discipline.  If I lived in the burbs, I’d dedicate a room to mattresses.  Just mattresses.  However, I suspect despite this abundance, the octupii would still congregate to one spot, finding sleep only once at least a tentacle is draped on your face. 

The last few months, I’ve been traveling a lot for work.  My suitcase broke up with the closet and sleeps next to the bed like a third child.  This time away has turned me into a sap that desperately misses tiny feet in my face.  I come home and lay in the kids’ bed (they’ll only sleep together…wait till I tell their dates).  I put my face right up in theirs and stick my hand in their shirts to squeeze their bellies.  I smash my nose in their necks and take big, deep breaths.  One puts his hand in my sleeve and the other snuggles my hair.  This is probably how she gave me lice.  The three of us in a twin bed makes me happy.  One day they'll realize I snore, kick, and take up a lot of space.  They'll realize they're sleeping with their mommy and that's gross. It's not close, but one day, I'll get kicked out.   And this is why I won’t kick them out of mine.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

I survived Disney, and you can too

Once upon an afternoon at Magic Kingdom, in need of a boost, I (the Queen in this story) left my King at the merry-go-round with the little prince and princess and went to the little shop with magic energy beans, in search of some help*.  They listened to my woes, carefully crafted a milky, icy potion of these magic beans, and assured me it would be alright.  Poof!  My eyes lit up, I got a pep in my step, and I went back on my merry way.   On my return journey, in front of Cinderella's castle, I spotted a defeated man.  He wearily pushed a double carriage with two little princesses, laden with baggage, whose Lady followed behind with the third flailing princess strapped to her chest.  He sweat miserably as his princesses’ three enormous Mickey head balloons** took turns smacking him in the face.  I sipped my magic bean potion, sighed, and said a quiet thank you that I could enjoy it in peace.  We adults will endure much for our children’s happiness, including chauffeuring them around kingdoms of magic and whatnot with balloons in the face and succumbing to a giant mouse in general.  In that spirit, inspired by Balloon Smacked Dad's commitment, I pursued something for my princess that I swore to shun in days past -- a royal castle dinner at Cinderella's Table.   I took a chance and inquired of any dinner regrets, and Bippety Boppety Boo!  A few coins later, my princess and I squeezed in to dine with royalty. She overcame her shyness and talked with the other princesses, beaming over it being “the most awesome thing ever”.  The King was jealous I got to hug Jasmine, but he still had a jolly evening at Gaston’s with a pork shank and beer.  Most of all, this Queen overcame her attitude and admitted that she, too, wanted to dine with the princesses.  What else can make one feel more youthful, shapely, and tall?  Afterward, we all visited Belle’s enchanted house, where the little prince fell in love.  It was magical evening for all.

*Starbucks.  Yes, please.
** blown up inside a second large balloon, because you can never have enough balloon to hit you in the face and static up your hair. 

WELCOME to my longer than needed write-up on Disney.  I wrote it for you, my few friends who have asked for advice because, A) you are just doing your diligent research, B) you consider me a taste-maker and want to copy everything I do, or C) you're testing to see if I am now a pin-wearing Mousketeer, so you can point and laugh (hold it -- I JUST realized that's a play on muskateer).  Reason A means you have too much time on your hands.  C would never happen. It must be B.

Disclosure -- I'll never be an annual Disney tripper.  We had a great time, but I would never have gone for my honeymoon.  No offense if you did.  I just prefer to make my own magic (ba-dum-chhh).  This trip was for the kids, and guess what? It was fun.  And now I have something to hold over their heads for the 3-4 years till we go again.  Read the Mousetrap chapter in Dad Is Fat.  LOL.

Advice and research
Some people plan these trips in detail over six months in advance.  They will freak you out.  There are dinner reservations to book, themed hotel rooms to reserve, matching t-shirts to procure, apps to download, and mucho dinero to be saved for princess makeovers, ice cream, and face-smacking balloons.  We planned about a month out and didn't feel like losers.  My strategy was three-fold:
  1. Let the husband plan it all, since he enjoys internet research and wanted to be a family-vacation-providing hero, like Clark Griswold.  I decided to give him that gift.  He still hasn’t thanked me.
  2. Ask Facebook friends for advice, because the rest of the internet requires too much reading.
  3. Insist to husband we follow tips from Facebook friends that counter what he has just planned. 
See all that hard work?  Here’s what Facebook friends said that I liked.
  1. Buy some Disney paraphernalia before you go so the kids feel like they already have something.  For us, this was a character t-shirt to wear and some pins for trading to encourage friendly talking.  Let them pick 1-2 things from the parks, which will also come in handy for bribes and threats.  Trust they'll choose something garish.    
  2. Let your child bring a Disney-ish costume, if they have one.  Dilan wore her fake Snow White dress and only tripped over it 48 times.  But she tripped happily.
  3. Use strollers, even if you’re afraid your five-year-old will look like an over-babied lazy bones.  They all do.  Bring your own, and save enough money to buy a meal for the family every day.
  4. Order groceries for some food in the room. 
  5. Go to Touring Plans, check the crowd calendar, and pick which parks to go to on the least crowded days.  
  6. Use Fast Passes, a Magic Band, and the My Disney Experience app.
  7. Get to the parks early, go home for a nap/swim, and come back for the late afternoon and evening.  Relax,  it's a vacation.  Just kidding, it's a trip with kids.  But pretend and take a nap.
  8. LOW SEASON.  I cannot imagine what this is like when you actually have to stand in line more than 15 minutes for anything.  We'd have to bring a TV.
People say to get the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the Lines app the authors made.  Do that.  The app is clunky but handy, and while the book is written for people who have never left their neighborhood (an entire page on sunscreen tips in case you were raised in a subway tunnel), it has good advice and helpful reviews of stuff to do so you can spend the time you’re not waiting for a bus wisely.  It also implores you to do the following, which I highly encourage so you fit in.  And so you can take pictures for me to laugh at.  Please?  I'll buy you ice-cream.
  1. Wear hip-packs instead of backpacks or other bags.  This must be the ‘hip’ way to say fanny packs.  Regular bags are for tourists.  Hip-packs are the only way to look like a Disney native.   Plus, how else can you access your flask and eat your ice cream at the same time?
  2. Invest in a family uniform of matching shorts and t-shirts, preferably ones printed with a family slogan and your names.  Pretty please.  Extra points if you all wear ears and tuck your shirts in.
  3. Give your children short haircuts.  (I picture a Flowbee and short, short bangs).
This also seems a fun way to embarrass your children if they’re older (Note to future self:  Do 1-3 when kids are 12 and 15.  Skip Disney and just walk around Brooklyn like that.).  Clans of identically dressed, fanny-pack-lovers make people watching an engaging sport.  You can also play, “Count the Electric Scooters”, “Why Is That Kid Crying?”, “What’s in All Those Bags?”, and my personal favorite, “Guess the Character Fetish!”.

Where to stay
No real opinion – whatever you choose will be great.  We prefer to avoid cars and the car-sickness that comes with them, so we stayed on property at Animal Kingdom Lodge where the kids could entertain themselves with animal watching while we prepared our fanny packs for the day. 

What to eat
We did groceries for breakfast and some lunches and ate dinner out, sometimes at quickie places and sometimes sit-down.  I was expecting burger, pizza, and iceberg lettuce hell and was pleasantly surprised with healthy, unique, and well-priced options.

Have a fridge in your room to save leftovers to eat later.

Brett loved the pork shank at Gaston's (Magic Kingdom).  I liked doing the chicken dance at Biergarten (Epcot).

Your kids
The book implies your kids will be overstimulated and go nuts.  This may be true if you’ve never taken them anywhere or you put them on a Coke drip.  Kids are kids - they’ll have their moments.  Ours mostly acted the way they normally do, but there was no daycare or school to break up the doses.  Therefore, I had my own moments.  See the next section.   Don't worry -- someone else's kid will always be acting worse than yours.

We took this trip for the five-year old and incidentally have a two-year old.  This was the perfect excuse for Brett to act his age (two, or seventy-two?) and return to the hotel for a four-hour daily mid-day break for napping and pool, mostly napping.

What to drink
Contrary to what I heard, the non-Epcot parks are not dry.  Thank you, Mickey.  The first thing I had was a well-deserved mojito in Animal Kingdom.  There are also lattes.   Thank you, again. 

Take your own water bottle and refill it.  

I dreaded Disney for its sickening excess.  I cannot imagine the resources spent on two sets of elaborate fireworks every night.  Nor the amount of food that gets thrown out, like when you order your toddler a milk and they bring you a 20 ounce Styrofoam cup full of it, which you are not going to carry around to finish in 80 degrees lest you want curds.  There are trinkets, toys, and glow-in-the-dark landfillers at every step.  You see people buy bags upon bags.    I wish they’d provide some excess adults for some free babysitting at the park while I sneak out to see the World of Harry Potter.  

Top 20, according to Brett, edited by his Queen

Although it seems we have a monarchy, this is a democracy and everyone got to do things they liked.

1. Mission: Space - Orange Level (Epcot) -- A girl was puking on the way out.  You've been warned.
2. Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom)
3. Naps

4. Belle's Enchanted Tales (Magic Kingdom)
5. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom)
6. Space Mountain (Duh)
7. Philarmusic (Magic Kingdom)
8. Safari and animal walks (Animal Kingdom)

9. Ariel Under the Sea (Magic Kingdom)
10. Tomorrowland Speedway (Magic Kingdom)
11. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom)
12. Toy Story Mania (Hollywood Studios)
13. Disney Junior Live (Hollywood Studios)
14. It's a Small World (Duh)
15. Teacups (Double duh)
16. An evening in Downtown Disney with friends –  Raglan Pub with Irish dancing and playtime at the Lego store, where her car won the race

17. Dumbo (Magic Kingdom)
18. Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom)
19. Nemo the Musical (Animal Kingdom)
20. Any bus or train whatsoever

The best part

I went to Disney when I was in junior high, old enough to feel bad for the tiny human sweating his peanuts off as Mickey and to wonder why people liked parades.  Even though I knew none of my dreams would come true by wishing to Tinkerbell, I still had fun, enjoyed Epcot, and ended up in several embarrassing pictures.  A five-year old, though, believes it’s all real, and for few years that lasts, it’s wondrous.  She asked the princesses where they lived and guessed their favorite colors.  She thought magic was happening at Belle’s house, and her little brother crushed on Belle, calling her “tho cute and tho thweet” (he is still talking about her).   They both squealed for Mickey.  She sang It’s a Small World on repeat throughout the park.  He said “gawrsh” to Goofy.   She braved a roller coaster and floated around the park in her Snow White dress.  They both asked to do every single thing, again.  We will, in three or so years.  See ya Mickey!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Knock knock

A woman in one of my meetings today referred to someone as a dingbat.  I laughed so hard my half chewed holiday walnut praline about flew out and hit her in the face.  Dingbat.  My dad used that word all the time --head shaking, lips smirking, with a tone one part annoyance, one part pity and two parts amusement  -- I haven't heard it since.  Dingbat.  I love that word.  I had fun thinking about him saying it, and it kind of made my day.

My Ravi sits on the couch with one foot across his ankle and his hand in his shirt.  Few things are cuter than a two year old boy's belly.

And among other tricks, he has made up a knock-knock joke.  Made IT UP.  I asked daycare if they taught it to him, and they denied it like I accused them of serving Doritos.  Boy's a comedian.

Who's there?
Baby in the bath.
Baby in the bath, who?
In the shower.

I have heard it no less than 200 times and he's introduced an alternate version where he replaces the baby with whatever else is on his mind -- trucks, mac and cheese, dinosaurs, what have you.  Not bad for a tot.

Both these things are pure dad -- he'd be one proud grandparent.

I've been gone all week and miss hearing the knock knocks.  And dingbat.  What a word.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Another use for Trader Joe's stickers

Since our trip to California, Dilan has taken quite a liking to my Baa, showing her affection through imitation.  She moves around like her with a fake walker.  I caught her speaking a colorful jibberish to a picture of my dad.  She told me she was speaking to him in "Indian*".  I went ahead and decided to just teach her some Gujarati (her accent's impressively close), but she stumped me when asking how to say "juice".  I told her it was just  "juice" with an accent but she doesn't believe me.  By the way, that's how you can speak my version of Gujarati really fast.  Just say things in English with an accent.  Immediately you'll know a quarter of the words I do.  
Like others her age, my Baa sports a dime-sized red felt bindi.  Dilan wants us to wear them too, and put her TJ's stickers to use. 

*She's four, so it's OK. But for you grown-ups out there, there is no such language as Indian. You sound ignorant when you ask if I speak it. But there is Indian food. I know; we people are so confusing.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

What one little smack can unleash

I came home yesterday, and as our schedule typically is, Brett had been with the kids while I went to the gym after work (or more likely just stayed at work with an extra coffee to chip away at the email pile, as had been the case this time).  He told me about D's latest issues, for which he'd already punished her.  He's telling me this, while she's already sitting back in time-out for sass mouthing.  A mini-me she is, and my mother is loving this.

Then he tells me that she hit Ravi, although he had hit her first.  He's 1.  I flew off the handle.  Her sassing time-out was quickly taken up a notch by my laying into her till she was bawling.  "Good - CRY about it!" and I stormed off.

I totally overreacted, but I was LIVID.  Why?  This crap happens every day.  They're kids.  But still, I was just so angry and wanted her to KNOW it.   And then I was angry at my own temper.  And angry that Brett was telling me to calm down.  Angry because he was right.  Angry that she hit.  Angry at my own expectations that she not do things that kids just do.  As if this little sibling smackdown (which is not a big deal but emotions were in the way) somehow would not have occurred had I been there to parent more.  This is not even logical.

And then he said it.

"You know, I took care of this before you got home.  You don't have to overcompensate just because you weren't here."


You know you're with the right person when they floor you with a spot-on observation about yourself and render you speechless.  The guilt monster strikes again.

When I travel for work, I feel like Brett's doing me a favor for letting me.  This isn't helped when people ask "Aw, who takes care of your kids when you're gone?"   No one asks a man that.  "Letting" me.  Is my head in 1950?

When I go for a run or an evening out, it's like I'm taking advantage of him.  I have been skipping proper post-run stretches just so I can hurry in and relieve him.  And my calves are paying.  "Relieve" him?  WHO AM I?

To be clear, he doesn't see it this way.  And when the roles are reversed, I'm not doing any favors.  Zero guilt.  Men just don't do this.  You can blame him if you find this sexist.

This is all me.  It's woman behavior.  We apologize too much.  We don't ask for help for fear of looking incompetent.  We stay up till 2am to prove that we can work through the fresh produce from this week's CSA.  Because if you throw away that lettuce for lack of time to wash and dry, what kind of mother are you?

Go read this Newsweek article.  She pretty much says women don't rely on others enough and she's right.  This is in my own hands.

Starting now:  I pledge to be more conscious of how much guilt and pride drives my behavior.  If we have this in common, you should too.

I will leave the kids with Brett guilt-free.
I will not overcompensate.
I will take help from friends.

My current test.

Brett's out of town for the next four days.  A friend had offered to take Dilan for a play date if I needed some help.  My thought at the time:  "That's nice so of her.  I could go for a run with Ravi.  But no, that's so frivolous.  I can't ask her to do that.  What will she think?  I can only ask help if there's an emergency.  No help.  I am woman!  I can handle myself."

Is that the definition of woman strength?  If my mom lived here, I wouldn't think twice about asking for weekend help.  Asking a mom friend makes me feel indulgent.  This is DUMB.

I swallowed my pride and emailed her 5 minutes ago.  I already feel bad for asking.  But I asked and will now commence to hit refresh in my gmail 14 times.

The request for help is out there in the internet.  I did it.  I will go running.  And maybe stretch.  Hear me roar.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Flying solo with two -- check.

Two alone-with-the-kids milestones in one month? Pass the antacid*. 

We flew to California to surprise my mom for her birthday and see my aunt and grandparents. I'm happy to report both children are alive. I didn't throw either of them out of the plane. 

No worries - the baggage belt is off by kajal77
No worries - the baggage belt is off, a photo by kajal77 on Flickr.
This guy enjoyed mopping the airport floor with his knees and occasionally walked around to climb things. The other one took her brother's seat in the unoccupied stroller to relive her younger days.

And relive her younger days she did, when a surprise tantrum (full-on, death-scream, had-to-drag-her-body-down-the-aisle-with-1-year-old-strapped-to-me, DEATH-SCREAM) landed us hiding in the airplane bathroom. Anyone sitting outside that missed the body-drag would assume someone was getting murdered with a club in there. Or there was some raucous S&M mile-high-club action. Neither.

It was a 4-year-old screaming, trying to pound her way out. Me trying to wrestle with her. Me giving up. Me yelling at her to calm down (we all know this never works, yet the volcano still erupts and covers you in guilt magma). Me crying because I'm afraid it will never end. The 1-year old crying due to commotion. Me crying because the bathroom lighting likens me to a corpse. Me in disbelief. My final solution was to just hand her to the flight attendant, thereby proving that death screams are reserved for mama only.

Upon descent into sniffle mode, she just said she was tired and wanted to get off the plane. She slept for the next three hours, and I realized my mistake in never telling her this was a super long bedtime flight. Crap. This was my fault. I had not set expectations. I do this for a living but can't seem to apply useful work skills in my personal life.

As we boarded the flight back I could see the man in row 23 watching us approach.  I can see us exaggerated in his mind -- A wild-haired, devilish, flapping child attached to a lady, blinding her ability to walk straight, and a slow-poke booger smearing second child five feet behind on auto-whine, messily approaching in slow motion, swinging giant bags and knocking people in the head, shooting cheerios into their eyes.  Against the soundtrack of some loud and high-pitched Elmo song.  I can see his desperate wish that we're headed for a row before him,.after him -- any row but his, till we shatter his dream with, "Hi, so you're the lucky one." "All of you right here?", he asked meekly, as lines of worry deepened in his forehead.  But it was fine.  Lesson learned, I set expectations, I reinforced with a sleeping mask and magic sleeping lotion**, and we slept.

Friends have asked me, "Why would you do this to yourself? Why not just take one kid? Why not wait till Brett can go?" Part of it was so my family could see the kids, but lets be honest. I had too much pride to say that it's too hard to bring two kids by myself. I needed to prove I could do it. To myself, to them, whoever. It's just a solo flight. Thank God it's not my whole life. I appreciate that.

We had a wonderful visit. Dilan was obsessed with my Baa, who busted out one of my favorite laughs every time she got around the kids. My mom was surprised and excited. My cousin became D's BFF. My aunt squealed. My Dada made fresh carrot juice every morning and sternly reminded that I should be doing yoga. It was worth it.

*Speaking of antacid, they were selling care package baskets at the airport to support our troops.  The contents were 14 types of candy and junk food, a bottle of Pepto, and some baby wipes.  Nothing says "I love you service-man" than giving him diarrhea.  Really?

*My invention: Take any small bottle of lotion.  Tell your child it is a magic sleeping lotion.  Make a big deal about only using it in small quantities because it is so potent.  Carefully dab and rub in seemingly strategic locations.  Look child deep in the eyes and say, "Oh my goodness, I can see it in your eyes already.  You're getting tired.  Sooooo tired."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How I get my 4-year old to eat through our CSA veggies

double duty from our csa newsletter...

No, I don't have time to cut stuff into shapes and model into funny-faced animals.  Those magazine writers have some helpers.  I suspect you do not.  While I'm fortunate that my daughter's a decent eater, she's still four.  Worse, she used to be three.  With that, comes a base level of picky and a bipolar palate.  Here's what has worked:

1.  It's not a veggie, it's a (kale) chip!  She calls them salad chips and begs for more.

2.  Engage in salad spinning.  It's fun, and leaves get eaten along the way.

3.  Pass the salt and pepper to shake onto tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, what have you.  Yeah, yeah, salt in moderation.  It'll be OK.  Sprinkling on flavor is fun.

4.  I'm lucky she loves beets.  That said, a 4-year-old's whim can turn them into the untouchable.   When that happens, toss in some honey and balsamic vinegar.  And remind them how cool it'll be to see pink pee pee in the toilet (never underestimate the value of something interesting in the bathroom).

5.  They must try a tiny bit of each and every thing.  Just a smidgen.  Only once.  You never know what you'll learn here.  For us, it was the discovery that cilantro is apparently the best food on the planet.  She jumps up and down for it.  She eats it like salad and picks it off her sandwich to eat first, because, "well it is my favorite, so I had to eat it first."  How else would you know this?

6.  Hide it in muffins and popsicles.

7.  There's always fruit.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cuts like a cheap razor

When we try to invent ways to work for ourselves, good ideas are slim to none.  The bright idea that will one day unshackle us lurks somewhere in the folds between vacation daydreams and plans for my next meal (um, meals).  And we continue slaving for the man.

The one thing Brett has raised time and again is cheap basic razors for men.  I've never been supportive.  I said, "if that was viable, someone would have done it already."  And therein lies why I am not destined to be the woman behind a billionaire.  OUR IDEA WAS STOLEN.  (Note it's now "our" idea, and not his.  That's what marriage is all about.  Sharing.  Although ultimately it's his fault for not ignoring me.)

This dude surely heard us at a bar and owes us all his fortunes.  To add insult to injury, his commercial is damn witty.   I kind of love it.  I've watched it five times and like dancing with the bear at the end.

Clever, yes?  It's like when D told Brett that Mr. Bobby, her friend's dad, is funnier than him.  It hurts.  Now imagine that Mr. Bobby took all our money.  It really hurts.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I did it

My first full week (well, 5 days) alone with two children.  Check.  I even earned a badge, two of them -- they're nestled under my eyes and look like dingy gray sharpei puppy necks.

Brett had a work-trip and was gone all week.  I'd been dreading it since Ravi was born.  There is no question of how hard it must be to be a single parent.  I know my piddly 5 days doesn't even compare, especially given the promise of the husband's return as the light at the end of the whine-filled, crumb-littered tunnel.   It doesn't compare, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a challenge.

I yelled at D for the first three days at least once.  Her fault of course.  But I still felt terrible and apologized.

I slept 4-5 hours a night.

Ravi to add a 3am playtime to his schedule.

He also fell off the bed, sending D into sympathetic wails lasting longer than his.

But it was also a personal triumph.   I cut their fingernails.  This is Brett's job.  I bathed them three times due to excessive picnicking.  Three baths in five days.  Do you know how much bathing that is for us?  I only ordered in once.  We went places together on the subway. I didn't even cry.  Much.

Most importantly, I learned something interesting about my mother self.

When the husband's around, I expect his help so I can multi-task.  And he does it well, so I constantly wait for him or ask for him.  If he just deals with the kids, I can fix dinner, get that last email out, or whatever it is.

If he's gone all week, there is no choice.  Somehow with that lack of choice, strangely came freedom.  It had to be 100% kids and nothing else.  No multi-step meal cooking.  No real cleaning.  No emails or phone calls.  This forced-focus on the kids, and forced-delay of everything else, made things surprisingly low-stress.  Supremely exhausting, but lower stress.  Trying to do too much when he is here, and therefore always waiting for and needing him, created a constant hum of irritation and impatience.  I had put up with the kids instead of just taking care or playing.

After they went to bed, I did my stuff.  Fifteen minutes of speed-cleaning can get an amazing amount done.  But you probably already know this.  I didn't.

So, I learned a big thing.  I really should do it this way all the time, whether alone or not.  It would probably make everyone happier.

When Brett got back, I slept many many hours.  And I locked us all out of the apartment with salmon in the oven.  I guess my subconscious made me demonstrate I'm not the kind of girl he should leave alone with kids.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do you like yogurt? Me too. Try making your own.

To get out of volunteering at my CSA (sorry), I write for the newsletter.  Might as well share twice.  So, say hello to the first of several hippie-dippie posts.  Like this one about recycling your curds.  Hey, I know my audience.  The CSA one, that is.

Do you like yogurt?  Me too.  Try making your own. 

It's so easy*, reduces hard-to-recycle yogurt container waste (and the related guilt/evil that comes with each bite), and you can make it as sweet (or in my case, unsweet) as you like.   Also, my kids love it.

Growing up in an Indian house, there was ALWAYS yogurt.  Plain yogurt with some white rice was a tried and true comfort.  Walk into any Indian house**, and you will absolutely find a stainless steel container in the fridge, housing milky goodness with cultures from who know's how long ago -- cultures so precious, I keep a spare dollop in the freezer.  It's labeled "emergency yogurt" and gets called on and replaced frequently.  Because although making your own yogurt is easy peasy, it does require you to always have it, which isn't always possible when accidentally eat all of it.*** 

What you need:
- a pot
- container (preferably non plastic) with lid.
- towel
- several cups of milk (preferably 2% or fattier; if you ever have leftover half and half and don't know what to do, throw it in here.  Ooohhh goody goody.)
- a few spoons of yogurt (Preferably from someone else that has made their own, as I hear it works better.  If not, try store bought, although I'm not sure how it will turn out.  I'm lucky enough to have Indians that give me their starters.)

1.  Put the milk on low to mid heat and let it heat up slowly, till it rises bubbly.****
2.  Turn of heat and let milk cool till it's not super hot, but still very warm.
3.  Mix in the yogurt. 
4.  Transfer to the container of your choice, cover tightly and make it cozy in a towel and warm place (e.g. microwave, oven, unairconditioned kitchen)
5.  Let sit for 4-6 hours. 
6.  Refrigerate.

Enjoy plain or with some jam/honey/syrup mixed in for sweetness.  Remember to save a few spoons to make your next batch and freeze a few spoons for your homemade yogurt emergencies!

*Really easy.  Not "easy" like my friend Brianna says, "Hey, you should make your own ravioli -- it's so easy.  You just buy wonton wrappers and then ... pwah pwah pwah" -- she lost me at requiring any kind of wrapping.
**Must contain someone female over 50.  Oh God.  I just compared myself to a 50-year old. 
***Or forget to eat it because you've been eating ice cream instead.
****This becomes a huge pain in the ass when you forget about your milk and let it boil over.  Of course, I never do that.  Ever.