It’s September 1. Good grief. Where did the summer go?

Two weeks ago, the humidex reading was hotter in Toronto than Dubai. Now, sitting out on the deck for meals has become hit-or-miss. In the mornings, there is so much dew that wiping off the furniture feels like taking a bath, there’s so much water. In the evenings, we’re swarmed by yellow jackets. Thank goodness for the bug zapper. Even piles of fuzzy bodies don’t deter them, though.

But no rain, so the lawn looks like cheap beige carpet. It won’t matter in another month, because it will be cool enough to re-seed before…winter. Time to start planning indoor activities.

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When I was in Calgary attending the When Words Collide conference (it was fantastic, by the way), my cousin, who is severely lactose intolerant, served me the most luscious yogurt I’ve ever tasted – made from organic coconut milk and a not-milk based starter. Talk about an aha moment!

I made yogurt all the time when my kids were small, because back in the 70s and 80s, I was Earth Mother. No way were my babies going to eat chemicals and foods of questionable origin. All you could get in the stores was the sour, gloppy European stuff or the over-sweetened tasteless North American brands.

But what an ordeal it was – sterilizing everything, finding whole milk, a culture that wasn’t dead on arrival, sitting the glass cups in the little machine and timing everything like a nuclear launch and hoping the final product would be edible.

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This being the twenty-first century, there are apps for that as well as high tech machines. Did I need another gadget? Of course not. But having survived gifts of choppers, fancy vegetable peelers, chia pets and other TV advertisement offerings,  I went online to the Amazon everything store and selected a Cuisinart yogurt maker that does everything but milk the cow.

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Plus, it has this other-worldly blue light display that makes the darkened kitchen glow like the deck of a spaceship.

First batch. I misread the directions about having to boil the whole homogenized milk first. I also ignored the admonition not to mix starter culture with already made yogurt. Found out that whoever wrote the half-assed instructions was right. The two cultures, like a dysfunctional couple, did clash.

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The end result was sort of yogurty, but not solid, as I expected. However, when I strained it through a couple layers of Melita coffee filters (see, there is a use for old stuff), the end result was a creamy, sweet Greek style yogurt that just shone under a layer of blueberries and Saskatoon berry compote. I ended up with four cups of whey, which I’ve frozen to use in baking later. I’m not up to making my own feta cheese or ricotta, thank you very much.

Second batch. Boil the milk, cool, add 1 cup natural yogurt. Whisk. Culture. The whey separated very quickly and after 12 hours, the yogurt was runny and grainy. I strained it a bit and got a thickish substance that tasted okay, but I didn’t want to eat it. Toss or keep? The experiments were getting expensive. Keep. Re-purpose. It does mix well with garlic and spices to make a fabulous marinade for poultry. Not a complete loss.

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Third batch. Yowza. Followed the directions exactly. Boil milk. Cool. Add 1/2 cup powdered milk. Stir. Culture.

When I checked the next morning, the container was filled with a firm, creamy substance that tasted good. Milk in, yogurt out. Start with the good stuff, follow the recipe, end up with a good final product. Sort of a metaphor for life.

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Lesson learned.