A great way to begin any day — the calm and meditative strengthening of yoga.  I try to get at least two sessions in a week.  I think of it as covert exercise. You are so focussed on the moves and the breathing and the “moment”, it is easy to forget that you are doing wonderful things for your body.

Afterwards, I have what has become my regular breakfast — yogurt with a sprinkle of nuts. 

It amazes me how well just a small portion of sliced almonds or crumbled walnuts works on top of this breakfast treat.  I use 1/8 ounce of nuts – a mere 1/2  Weight Watchers Points®.  And, if the season is right: some kind of deep-colored berry: blue, rasp, or straw.

My Homemade Yogurt

My Homemade Yogurt

I make my own yogurt from a recipe I found in the New York Times, from Harold McGee.  He is the author of the quintessential food encyclopedia: On Food and Cooking.

He makes this for himself and eats every morning as well.  He is right when he says it is nothing like what you buy at the supermarket.  It is creamy and a unique kind of tangy.  Here’s his recipe.

To make yogurt, first choose your starter yogurt. If no one offers you an heirloom, he recommends one of the ubiquitous global brands, sweeteners and stabilizers included. They tend to have very active bacterial cultures, including EPS producers, and the additives end up diluted to insignificant levels. Delicious specialty yogurts make less predictable starters.

Then choose your milk. McGee prefers the flavor and consistency of yogurt made from whole milk. Many types of reduced-fat milk replace the fat with milk solids, including acid-producing lactose, and make a harsher tasting yogurt. Soy milk sets into a custardy curd that becomes very thin when stirred.

Heat the fresh milk at 180 to 190 degrees, or to the point that it’s steaming and beginning to form bubbles. The heat alters the milk’s whey proteins and helps create a finer, denser consistency.

Let the milk cool to around 115 to 120 degrees, somewhere between very warm and hot. For each quart of milk, stir in two tablespoons of yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch, thinning it first with a little of the milk.

Then put the milk in a warm jar or container or an insulated bottle, cover it, and keep the milk still and warm until it sets, usually in about four hours. He simply swaddles his quart jar in several kitchen towels. You can also put the container in an oven with the light bulb on.

Once the yogurt sets, refrigerate it to firm its structure and slow the continuing acid production. To make a thick Greek-style yogurt, spoon it into a fine-mesh strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, and let the whey and its lactic acid drain into a bowl for several hours.

I use this basic recipe.  I prefer reduced fat milk — its richer than skim, but, obviously, not as high-fat as regular milk.  I followed his “wrap it in 4 towels” method.  I put it into the oven of my gas stove and *I* keep mine there for at least six or seven hours.  It is incredibly good, fun to create,  and makes me feel downright righteous.