I open the refrigerator door. Inside, a returnable glass milk bottle peers back at me, inching toward sourness. The clock above the stove reads 12:05. I've got 25 minutes, I think, before I pick my son up from school.
I yank out the milk bottle and locate the double boiler. Its scorched interior reminds me to fill the base with water this time. Dumping in the milk, I gingerly rest the candy thermometer on the side of the pan and turn on the stove. I add a 1/4 cup of dried milk, organic and locally processed. Stirring the dried milk in, I hop on the computer and wait for the milk to reach the right temperature. When it does, I remove the top pan of the double boiler and dunk it in a mixing bowl full of ice water. The thermometer again signals the correct temperature and I stir in yogurt from last week. The clock announces 12:27. I've got three minutes to spare, I think, as I pour the yogurt and milk mixture into a behemoth of plastic and Styrofoam - my Yogotherm - and tuck into a corner of the kitchen. Five hours later, I'll return to silky yogurt. I may stir in some strawberries or honey or maybe some overripe raspberries cooked down with a bit of sugar. Without a doubt, the yogurt will be gone in a few days. It will taste far better than any store bought yogurt and will be made with all organic locally produced ingredients. It will be wonderful.
You're still thinking about the Yogotherm, though, aren't you? You're thinking that you, or someone you know, or all of those bloggers whip up yogurt daily with a towel, a rubber band and a piece of bubble gum. What's Green Bean's deal? It's so easy and here she has to go out and buy some hunk of plastic and Styrofoam.
Yup. That's right. I did. New, too, I might add, because you can't find these suckers used. After weeks of making yogurt that never set, that was part whey and part . . . other stuff but all yukky, I caved. I decided it was either (a) give up yogurt, (b) buy local organic yogurt in plastic recyclable containers weekly, (c) buy five hundred of the petite St. Benoit's yogurts packaged in a reusable container, or (d) Yogotherm it. In truth, I'd never really do (a) or (c) so the only real option was (b). I justified it to myself that the environmental impact of producing the Yogotherm would be far less, over time, than a lifetime's supply of #5 yogurt cartons. So far, I haven't had a batch of yogurt not come out with the Yogotherm. Maybe it was worth it.
As much as I love my Yogotherm, though, the truth is that I didn't want all of you to know about it. To realize that I couldn't do it. That I had to resort to plastic and purchased convenience instead of MacGyvering it like everyone else. As much as I enjoyed my homemade yogurt week in and week out, I hoped no one would ever know that I was not self sufficient enough to do it the "right" way.
Last week, I wrote about letting go of our standards as they apply to, say, clothes with holes or stains, a showerless day, a garden that hosts aphids as well as ladybugs. It's time to relax those standards as they apply to myself. I need to let go of the expectation for perfection, for total "greendom," whatever that is. Yes, occasionally, it may be too hot and I'll take the car instead of bike. I may be too overwhelmed with the crap accumulating in my garage and I'll recycle wine bottles just this week. If we're leaving on vacation tomorrow morning and I have two loads of laundry, I guess one of them - or both - will just have to go in the dryer. And, yes, I'll make my yogurt in that gigantic plastic, Styrofoam thingie and just enjoy it that it works every single time.
As much as I live a lighter life to lessen my environmental impact, I also do it because I enjoy it. Farmers' markets provide friends and fresher food. Biking - in the right weather - is peaceful yet exhilarating. Line drying clothes gives me time to myself, with just birds and butterflies for company. If I expect perfection of myself, where is the pleasure. If there is no pleasure, then there is no gain.