My husband planted some weird new stuff in our garden this year. The most practical turned out to be the Prescott Fond Blanc melons. They’re ugly, misshapen and almost rotten looking when ripe, but you cut into this beautiful smooth, incredibly fragrant flesh. They’re not sugar sweet like cantaloupe, but smooth and cool – kind of a cross between a melon and a cucumber.
I’ve been getting one every couple of days, we have plenty to snack on, and I had a section to my frozen banana smoothie. Every now and then I get a nice strawberry off my pots, but it’s so hot and dry, they are just trying to stay alive these days.
Something new I added to my morning smoothie ritual is goat milk yogurt. That’s a long story – started with a trip to the county fair, where I saw and became very enamored of the pygmy goats. I wanted one so bad, I felt guilty. I already have a very loving little dog. But I kept telling myself, “Biscuit is a sheep dog, she would love to have a couple of little goats to nip around the yard.” I’ve had friends with goats, they’re a riot. When I was little, my sister and I walked daily with our neighbor boys who had to take their 4-H goats out for exercise. We pulled them along by ropes around their neck. It was a small town, nothing unusual – and the neighbor ladies would all come out and stand in their front yard with a broom and tell us to keep moving, stay away from my roses/verbena/hollyhocks/thankyouverymuch.
The goat tenders said you could get a quart of goat milk a day. That’s where my husband pulled me up short – had I ever drank goat milk? It’s pretty gamey. I’d been around goats, but my neighbors were Mexican, they butchered or sold their goats for meat. That’s why we weren’t allowed to give them names. I’d eaten bbq-d goat, and in Tiajuana, we ate goat tacos off a cart. But I’d never drank goat milk.
Come to find out, goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk. I’ve had dairy intolerance issues since I was about 19 or 20 years old. I’ve gone to soy, oat, rice milk – all kind of expensive, and they seem to go bad faster than cow’s milk. So, I had just cut back on cow’s milk and tried to avoid cheese, and got used to the sour stomach and nausea that came along every morning. Of course, I was eating yogurt every day, and even though it was cow’s milk yogurt, it seemed to help.
I have to laugh now – I really wanted a couple of goats, bad. I’m kind of an idiot when it comes to animals. Trying to nudge me to my senses, my husband suggested I buy some goat milk at the store. There’s only one brand, Meyenberg.
Meyenberg started about 100 years ago, apparently the founder had a child who was dairy intolerant. They started putting condensed milk in cans, but now they offer a variety of products. I bought my first carton of milk at Safeway, for what seemed like an outrageous price – almost $6 a quart. I told my husband, I hope I don’t like it – this is way too expensive.
Unfortunately, I not only liked the weird taste, but after a week I started to notice, my eczema rash was going away. I’ve had eczema breakouts since I was a kid, and this one had been bad, all over my arms, shoulders and neck. I fought it all last winter with salve, and it had abated a little. I’d gotten used to looking like a dried up alligator. And then, all the sudden, my skin started to feel smooth and soft again. I read up on it – yes, some studies have related eczema to dairy intolerance.
So, I started making my yogurt with half goat milk, half cow, because the goat milk was expensive. Then, I found out, WalMart carries it for about $4 a quart. Oh oh, my dreams of pygmy goats started to dry up. My husband kept reminding me how much trouble I go to taking care of the dogs and everything else, what in the hell would I do with a couple of goats. Although, the weed eating argument was starting to gain some ground.
Goat milk yogurt is not as firm as cow milk yogurt. At first I got something more like kefir. I even bought some packaged starter – which is just dried, powdered yogurt in a little pre-measured pack. That was not any better than starting it with the last couple tablespoons of yogurt left from the last batch. So, I just kept working at it, like I’d worked at making cow milk yogurt. What I finally found is, you have to boil the heck out of the milk to start. You not only want to heat it up to 180F/90C, but you want to really boil it good for at least two minutes. You call that a “rolling boil” – the milk moves, like there’s something swimming in it. Let it go like that, two minutes, and it seems to firm up better.
This latest batch turned out pretty good.
Sure, it has a goaty aftertaste. In fact, I’ll tell you something gross – the other day I was out working with a dust mask on, and I burped – eeeeuuuu! Goat Breath! My husband can smell it every now and then too, and it kind of grosses him out. You know what we all put up with for love, wah da teh.
But, I’m over the pygmy goats. I just held out until the notion passed. In another life maybe.