Friday, July 17, 2009

The power went out

Not for very long. The power just sort of blinks off once in a while, mostly during storms. Yesterday it blinked off without a storm. No big deal.

Except that the clock goes off, and the answering machine goes off. Now, I think that you are supposed to put back-up batteries in the clock and the answering machine, only I keep forgetting to do that. So I have to reset the clock, and the answering machine never has a clue what the date and time actually is. So according to the answering machine my brother left me a message at 2am on Tuesday when it was actually about 6:30 pm on Friday. Stuff like that.

And the VCR goes off, which isn't too bad unless I was actually in the process of recording something, which at about lunch time yesterday I was not. I barely even had to fix the clock. And with these new converter boxes on the TV, I have to turn on four remotes instead of just two to get the TV back on. Sometimes the converter boxes have to have the channels reset, but this did not appear to be a problem at lunch time yesterday. Maybe that has to do with the length of time that the power is out, and it was only thirty seconds, so I don't think anything happened to the boxes, or at least if there are any channels missing I hadn't noticed them.

Another thing that happens when the power blinks off is that the crockpot (which is usually still plugged in even when it is turned off) then has a blinking light to tell you that it is now off and that if you were using it (which most of the time I am not) you need to turn it back on and such. So if the power goes off, the crockpot will have a little blinking red light, which might go unnoticed for days if I wasn't actually cooking something in it at the time the power went off.

Except that yesterday at about lunch time, I was actually using the crockpot. I was heating milk to make yogurt. Making yogurt is not brain surgery, except that you have to heat the milk to a certain temperature without scalding it, and then bring it back down to a certain temperature before adding yogurt to it, and then you have to keep it warm at a certain temperature for about twelve hours while the milk actually turns into yogurt. So while it isn't hard work, and you can do something else like watch TV or even sleep during different parts of the process, you do have to keep going over to check the temperature of the milk.

Anyway, you can make yogurt in a crockpot and have little worry about scalding the milk, though heating the milk in the crockpot does take time. And now that I have the crockpot with the digital readout that automatically switches from high heat or low heat to warm after a certain amount of time. So I was going to attempt to make yogurt with a much longer process, but it requires a lot less going to check it's temperature.

So that is what I was doing at about lunch time yesterday, when the power went off and turned off my crockpot. Now, I did remember that I was using the crockpot so that I went to turn it back on. Except that I wasn't sure how long the crockpot had been on, so I wasn't quite sure how much longer I should leave it on high temperature, so I guessed about an hour. So that seemed to be about right, and after checking the temperature a couple of times I turned it down to warm and went back to what I was doing and didn't check the temperature again until after seven.

So that should have been everything put right that wasn't right (except for the time and date on the answering machine, which is never right), and after about an hour or so from the time when the power blinked off I thought everything was okay. And I went back to alternating cleaning with watching stuff on Hulu. And it was rather warm, which is to be expected when it is about a hundred degrees outside, even if you are not actually outside yourself. But it seemed more so than usual, as I have a window unit air conditioner in this room, and another one in my bedroom, and those two cool this end of the house. I have a third unit which would cool most of the rest of the house except that it isn't working at the moment and I don't have the money to have it fixed. So it is usually noticeably cooler in this end of the house than in the front of the house, except that yesterday after lunch it was noticeably cooler in this room and not so much anywhere else.

At a bit before seven I went in the bedroom to set up the VCR for something, and that was when I noticed that the air conditioner was off. That particular air conditioner has a digital readout, while the other two have knobs, and so the air conditioner in this room came right back on after the power blinked off without me doing anything, and the air conditioner in the bedroom with the digital readout went off and stayed off until someone noticed to turn it back on. Only it had been like seven hours without me noticing to turn it back on.


So, there is the odd occurrence of the power blinking off just now and then, which is a bit more often in the summer, because it is Texas and everyone is using their air conditioners. But maybe it tends to be a bit more often here, maybe because my house and the neighborhood itself is about seventy years old, and maybe it wasn't built so good to begin with. But of course the time when the power really blinks off often is during thunderstorms, and we had one of those last night. Not that there was a great downpour of rain, just enough to make a bit of noise and get everything a bit wet. And then power blinked off a few times, just for thirty seconds or so, which is just enough time to turn off everything with a digital readout.

The first of these happened at about one in the morning, after I had been asleep for just a couple of hours. And I guess that the noise was enough to wake me up and notice the blinking clock and that the air conditioner had gone off. So I got out of bed and turned the air conditioner back on. I did not bother putting the correct time on the clock as I did not want to go to find out what the actual time was, and I would rather just get back to bed as soon as possible.

Remember that I was making yogurt?

Okay, during the part of the process that requires the milk mixture to be kept warm for about twelve hours, I am usually sleeping while the crockpot is set on warm. Except that when the power blinks off like that the crockpot is actually switched to off, not warm. So right after I get back into bed I remember this and walk to the front of the house to turn the crockpot back on and switch it to warm.

The power blinked off at least a couple of times after that, and twice it made enough noise for me to notice and get out of bed to turn on the air conditioner and walk to the front of the house to switch the crockpot back to warm.

So I did not get much sleep last night, but the last time I did get almost four hours, so I guess that was enough at one time so that I do not feel just awful this morning. But it was still rather annoying.


Ananda girl said...

I didn't know you could make yogurt in a crock pot! I'd like to do that. Any chance I could get the recipe?

Well it certainly sounds like a frustrating day. I hope the yogurt came out alright.

laughingattheslut said...

There's a lot on the web about making yogurt. It isn't brain surgery, I just find in annoying waiting for the milk to get to the right temperature.

Here is a specific recipe for making yogurt in a crockpot:

I did not use that exactly. I have a bigger crockpot and used most of a gallon. And this person doesn't take the temperature of the milk mixture, she just assumes that the time given to her by her friend is correct and will also work on her machine. It might not have.

You can use all kinds of things to make yogurt. Most instructions say to sterilize everything that is going to be used, but I have just done regular dishwashing and not boiling the dishes. That usually works out okay for me.

First, milk has to be heated to between 180-190 degrees to kill unwanted bacteria and maybe to help thicken the milk. Then, milk has to be cooled down to about 120-130. Any higher than that will kill the yogurt culture, and much cooler than that is not a good temperature for the yogurt to grow in. Now you blend in a cup of plain yogurt. Make sure it is an active yogurt. Once I used vanilla yogurt and it worked out okay, but basically you do not want added flavor and stuff that makes the yogurt gel in most store bought yogurt that isn't plain. Now you have to keep the mixture warm for maybe 8-12 hours. At this point, if you want the yogurt to look pretty, you get a yogurt maker and pour the milk mixture into the little jars and turn the machine on. This doesn't do anything magic, it just keeps the mixture at that warm temperature that yogurt likes to grow in. If you don't care what the yogurt looks like, cause you are going to strain off some whey and/or put the yogurt in a blender anyway, just leave the milk mixture in the crockpot for 8-12 hours. If everything stayed at the right temperature, and it wasn't contiminated with some other kind of bacteria, you should have yogurt.

Put aside a cup of the yogurt for making the next batch before doing whatever you are going to do with the rest of the yogurt.

So using a crockpot takes longer, but you are less likely to have burnt and boiled over milk, and you don't have to stand over the stove to take the milk's temperature every five to ten minutes.

Ananda girl said...

Thanks laughing! I'm into plain yogurt these days because of my diabetes and our store runs out of it a lot. I like to have it for lunch every day with a few fresh berries and no added sugar.

I really like the idea of making my own. I didn't realize it was simple enough for me to do it. This was a big help. I appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Amanda.... has some great dessert recipes not many people realize they can make..