Monday, June 11, 2012

Yogurt Making at Troy Shares / Skills

The last time I attended a Skill Share was 2007. It happened in the Albany Free School neighborhood and was followed by a vegan lunch at The Free School. My mom has ever since been trying to recreate that vegan veggie dish, and it was at Leah Penniman's Urban Gardening workshop that I first was inspired to have my own backyard hens. (My mom and I also attended Betsy Mercogliano's Bread Baking Demystified. Other workshops included Rocket Stoves, Solar Electricity, Rain Barrels, Build a Bike Trailer, Influencing City Politics, Wild Edibles, Dialogue on Oppression, Raw Foods, Wilderness Skills, and Natural Paints and Stains). There were a bunch of workshops I wanted to attend, but couldn't because they were happening simultaneously to the ones I did attend. I couldn't wait to go to Albany Skill Share 2008 or beyond. If another one happened, they did a really good job of hiding it from me.

Not too terribly long ago, Emily Rossier started a time banking system in Troy. This is similar to Ithaca Hours in Ithaca, NY. It really deserves its own post, but in short, it's an alternative system of currency in which participants earn "hours" for their services, and spend "hours" for the same. Services exchanged may include rides, physical labor, instruction, guidance, repair, cooking, and many other things. I love it because it increases the amount of people who will learn or utilize handmade methods instead of spending money on shoddily made consumables that exploit workers in other nations and due to planned obsolescence will soon be contaminating the earth in landfills.

Troy Shares recently began hosting Skill Shares on a monthly / bimonthly basis. I was sad to miss the first one, but I actually got to teach a workshop for the one that happened this past Sunday.

As it had been a while since I'd done so, I made a test batch a few nights prior. It was even easier than I'd remembered. I'm not sure it was a terribly interesting demonstration, as most of yogurt making is waiting. You wait for the milk to heat up, you wait for the milk to cool down, and then you wait for the yogurt-milk mixture to become entirely yogurt. 

Whoever brought a glass jar got to go home with their own container of yogurt-to-be. A few people had made yogurt before, and shared what they did different. The biggest difference was in the incubation period. The recipe I use calls for leaving the yogurt in a turned-off oven, or in a draft free part of your kitchen covered by a towel. Other people had used a low crock pot or a styrofoam cooler filled with bottles of warm water (if my memory serves me). 

Everyone went home with a half sheet of paper with my You Too Can Make Yogurt! on it. 

I've been eating a lot of yogurt lately, in the style of overnight oats. I mix in jam and oats and chia seeds  and let it sit in the fridge during the night. On my drive or during my first hour of work, this breakfast has given me a boost that makes me wish I was home so I could squeeze as much productivity out of it as possible. Making yogurt is much cheaper than buying it (as with everything), and considering this new breakfast habit, I should really get back on that yogurt-making train. Perhaps I'll also take a swing at making jam when the raspberries in my community garden ripen. 

Yogurt making lead to discussions about milk, and home delivery. I recounted my struggles in getting a local company to answer or return my calls, going to such lengths as chasing down a delivery truck. A woman who lives only a few miles from me offered to look into helping me realize this long abandoned dream. 

Now, I wonder if they accept food stamps. 

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