The Weston A. Price Way

Monday, September 12, 2011

Crying Over Spilled Milk...Haste, Waste, Silver Linings, & Rest

Spilled milk. It happens. And when it does, it's never fun. In the ensuing scurry, it's difficult to even consider the fact that there may be a silver lining.

While the idea of 'spilled milk' actually refers to things that have already happened and cannot be undone, there are those times, when 'spilled milk' means actual spilled milk. It's the real thing. Whomever came up with the adage did well. The image of spilled milk...from it's unfortunate happening through all the steps of clean-up...the regret that it happened in the first place, the realization that there's not a thing we can to make that milk usable again...ALL we can do is clean it up and hope we do better next time around. This image and all it connotes, is a perfect analogy to life's blunders, our misgivings over them and the humbling realization that we have no power to change the past, only to hope and work towards a better future. This is exactly the reason why the writer of the adage tells us there's no use crying over it. It CANNOT be undone. So, what's a person to do?

We start with the most obvious. Clean up the mess.

Then what? Plan a better approach and move on.

And that is exactly what I did when my milk spilled. After I cried over it, I mean.

I was making yogurt according to my instructions to you HERE. I was in a hurry. I hate hurry. There is rarely a time that I don't get in trouble when I hurry, but I was hurrying, scurrying, trying my hardest to get house and home ready for company. The situation was such that I didn't know how many or how few, or if I would know all the visitors or none of them. And so, I did the thing I try hard not to do, but so often do anyway...I worked overtime in overdrive 'getting ready'.

Making yogurt is such an easy thing to do. I love my yogurt and am completely out. I had saved one jar from last week's pick-up; its cream had thickened somewhat and I was excited about using it-small things like this can get me excited-but from the get-go, I started off all wrong.

I heated my water and jars of water to be used for the 'sauna'. Busy with my husband in another room, I had totally forgotten that I needed to start the jar of milk in the pot right along with the other jars. Later, I saw that the water had come to a boil, realized I hadn't put the milk in with the other jars, spun around to the fridge, grabbed the milk jar, shook it to mix the cream, removed the cap, threw the thermometer in it and clunked the jar down into the pot. Yep. A cold jar submerged directly into boiling water. (Go ahead and say it..."WHAT was she THINKING?") The truth is, I was in jet-speed auto-pilot and I was not thinking at all.

 Turning to run back to the other room to complete whatever it was I was doing, which I have no recollection of at this time, the lightening bolt of realization struck...but the ominous tiny thunder, the pop of splitting glass, sounded...Too late, I realized there was no avoiding the storm I was in. I bucked up, took it on the chin, realized there would be other jars of milk and other yogurts to make, and moved on.

But I lie. I did none of the latter. Instead, I started a clumsy sort of clean-up and cried. Sobbed, actually. I won't go into the many reasons why a woman cries at the small things...It would be a completely separate article...or book. But cry, I did, and maybe there is a little use to crying over spilled milk because I really was able to think more clearly afterwards.

Crying behind me, now I did move on. Cleaned up the pot, put the sauna jars back in with a fresh jar of this week's milk. We would miss out on the cultured taste of the yogurt from using older milk, but we would have our yogurt, nonetheless. I turned the burner on high to get things going at a faster pace, since now I was behind-er than behind...and moments later, thought I heard a little 'pop'. Holding my breath, I went over to peer into the pot and nothing was amiss...Phew. Safe. Imagination can be a terrible thing.

Back on even keel, I went about my business, grateful that at this time of year I have enough milk to be able to just grab another jar and start over. Periodically, I checked the thermometer...All was well in the yogurt business. At the proper temperature, I turned the water down, put a pot-holder on the counter, and removed the jar from the water to the counter. Not wanting to take any chances, this time, unlike any other, I decided to give the milk time to cool a bit before using the water bath cooling method spoken of in "Sauna-tizing Your Milk..." I set the timer for 15 minutes and went about my business.

When the timer reminded me, I picked the jar up and carried it to the empty sink, about seven feet away, and set the jar in it. As I have done every time, I started the water on a trickle, even making the trickle warm this time, and over the course of the next 20 minutes or so, filled the sink to the shoulder of the jar, gradually changing the water to cooler temps...only because I was still in a state of shock over the last jar's breaking.

I noticed that the milk had already thickened in the jar so I used the same rubber spatula I always use to stir it to an even consistency. Because it has never thickened prior to its 'sauna', I was puzzled. I tasted it, and it was fine. I supposed I was just 'somehow lucky enough' to have the culturing process start a little ahead of time. I equated it to exact temperatures or something like time to really consider it...and as long as it smelled and tasted well, I was okay with that. I quickly reasoned that if there were any problems, they would be sure to show themselves in the final product.

When the milk cooled to the proper temperature, I added the starter culture*. I had half a gallon, so I added 4 tablespoons, stirring it evenly in. My 'sauna booth' was ready. Lined with towels and  filled with the other two hot jars of water, it waited to receive the milk jar and work the magic of forming milk into yogurt.

I picked the jar up and...SLOSH! In an instant, the bottom of the jar and all its contents fell off into the sink, turning the water into a creamy white waste.

This time, I didn't cry. In a gutteral voice barely my own, I screamed for the entire world to hear, "AAUUGH! I DON'T BE-LIEVE IT!! NO WAY!!  THIS DID NOT JUST HAPPEN!!" I don't know why I didn't curse, I'm not beyond that in situations such as this. Perhaps it was because I knew I was alone in the house and I sort of felt like I was yelling out to God. Maybe even yelling at God. I know, sounds nutty, but I think that's where I was at the moment.

Coming out of the moment, I remembered how close my house is to the neighbors and that my old windows don't keep us from hearing their noise, so most likely, they don't keep them from hearing ours, and if they were outside, which they often are, they probably heard me and started feeling really sorry for my husband, who was in the back yard, but how would they know that? So, I managed to contain any further outbursts.

And then, I started to cry. But this time, I hardly could. I felt this inner elbow nudging me, "Get over it, already. Obviously, you weren't supposed to be making yogurt today. You need to slow down. Why do you always overload yourself with things that don't have to be done?" (...and I'm thinking just before the question mark I could insert, "Martha".)

Why, indeed?

And why, indeed, did that second jar break? Having received the reprimand, I pulled it back together and was able to think past emotion and hurry. Then I remembered. In my harried hustling, I had forgotten to place the dish towel at the bottom of the pot. So, on both occasions, the breakage was my fault. Totally. A gallon of milk wasted because of my haste.

And my haste? What was it's cause? My desire to please others? Or, more truthfully, a desire to please myself? A desire to look good to others so they would think well of me? Aha, vanity. Father, forgive me.

But Wait, there's MORE! Did anyone see the silver lining? Did anyone notice the miracle?

I heard the second jar pop shortly after immersion, remember? Although there didn't outwardly appear to be a problem at the time, there was. (Oh, I see a life's lesson in that statement, as well.) Somehow, hot water actually seeped in through a crack, which I now understand is the reason why the yogurt had thickened so much. But the jar didn't break when I took it out of the pot. If it had, I could have been badly scalded. And again, the jar didn't break between counter and sink. If it had, I could have been badly scalded and cut. 

So, in the midst of being allowed an opportunity to learn a repeated lesson, I was protected. God cared about that. He didn't care that I was hurried and didn't think I had time to consider what HE might want...He cared that I enter the rest He humbly offers every day. He knew I needed the understanding and needed it now, so He allowed me to fumble and forget and finally get to His truth. I didn't come to this renewed understanding of my need for resting in Him the hard way because that's the way He wanted it, I came the hard way because that was the path I chose by not resting in Him in the first place. 

HE IS my acceptance, my approval, my applause. Do I really need more?

The moral of the story?

"Less haste= less waste= less crying over spilled milk."
 Or: "Slow Down, You Move Too Fast-You Wanna Make the Milk Jars Last!" (to the tune of "Feelin' Groovy")
Or: Just read or re-read Ecclesiastes. And then, the Book of John...For reminders and gentle reprimands regarding the search of things outside of God and the untarnished love He offers us.

Secondary Lessons:
If you don't want it broken or bent, never put cold into hot or hot into cold.
Always put a dish towel in the bottom of your milk-heating pot-I'm thinking these days, the thicker, the better.
Check canning jars for hairline cracks often.

 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Next Post: We'll talk about grass-fed meats. Yummy and delicious and oh, so very delicious!
*I have started using, Stonyfield's 'Yobaby' organic whole milk yogurt as my yogurt starter. It imparts a whopping 6 live active cultures!

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