Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cow sexing with laughing aunt

           Sometimes life resembles a cartoon.
            Recently, while watching the animated movie Barnyard, my Aunt Roberta showed up to haunt me.  Not that Aunt Roberta looked anything like a cow.  On the contrary, she was a small pretty woman with dancing brown eyes and a sense of humor that caught you off guard because she would say off-the-wall things in a serious voice that made you think there might be truth in her comment.  Then, she would look at you with a piercing glint pouring from her laughing eyes and you knew immediately that she fooled you.
            On the occasion the movie brought to mind, Aunt Roberta handed me a newspaper story about a 4-H youth who won a championship ribbon in the bovine division at the Kansas State Fair.  “The reporter doing this interview really knows her cow stuff,” she said with not a hint of humor in her voice.
            “What makes you say that?”
            “Well, just read that last question she asked.”
            I read the article to the end where I discovered the reporter’s gaffe.  “Was your championship cow a boy cow or a girl cow?”  She had asked the ribbon winner.
            It took me a minute.  By that time, my Aunt Roberta was laughing like a loon.  “Boy cow or girl cow.  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!”  I thought she might never stop hee-hawing, but she finally did, then turned serious.  “What are we teaching our young people these days?  Wouldn’t you think a reporter would have better sense?”
            I thought something similar as I watched Barnyard.
            The main character, Otis, is the adopted irresponsible, fun-loving son of Ben, who watches over the other animals on the farm, which includes, among others, a pig, a mule, Everitt the dog and a mamma hen with chicks.  These lively animal characters walk upright, talk, sing, dance and play instruments at the nightly barn dance, while a gang of gofers operate the underground black market.  The animals live quite well with little to fear, except the coyotes, since the farmer who owns them is a “vegan.”
            Otis runs with a rowdy bunch of “guys” called the “Jersey Cows” and he falls in love with a pregnant cow named Daisy.  The movie contains the usual elements of a good action flick: a car chase, love, rap music, death, destruction and birth.
            If there was any doubt that Ben and Otis are male, the writer erases that doubt with Ben’s final words of wisdom to Otis, “A strong man stands up for himself, a stronger man stands up for others,” and the marker on Ben’s grave, which reads: “Ben, a Good Cow.”  The problem is that the illustrator drew all of the bovine characters, male and female alike, with udder bags and teats, and calls them all cows.  There is no bull on this farm.
            Okay, it’s just a cartoon, so why worry about small inaccuracies.  Why not just let cows be cows and forget it?  Because my Aunt Roberta is up in heaven laughing her head off, that’s why, and I bet God is laughing with her.
            Enough on udders and teats, let’s move on to yogurt.
            Some years back when I was trying to take off some added pounds, I purchased the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.
            One of the things that Guiliano talks about in the book is the benefit of yogurt and she offers a couple recipes for making homemade yogurt.  I tried one and was amazed at how much better I liked it compared to what you buy in the store.  The homemade yogurt turns out smooth and yummy with no additions needed, but I sometimes add a small amount of honey or some sweet fruit.  Very nice.
            I substitute yogurt for half the mayo when making creamy salad dressing and find I like the taste better than straight mayo.
            To make your own yogurt, you need a two-quart saucepan, a quart of milk (you can use whole, low-fat or non-fat, but I prefer whole), two tablespoons of plain yogurt (either from the store or from your last batch of homemade) and a glass or ceramic container large enough to hold your mixture.
            Heat the quart of milk in the saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edges, or until the temperature reaches 180°F on a candy thermometer.  Then remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the temperature to cool to 110°F.
            Whisk a small amount of the cooled milk and the plain yogurt together in small dish until combined.  Pour the yogurt mixture into your glass or ceramic container then add the milk, one-third at a time, whisking to blend between additions.  Cover the container with a heavy cloth, place in a warm spot over night, and then refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.
            If you prefer Greek Yogurt, place some cheesecloth inside a strainer and set the strainer in a deep dish.  Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth lined strainer, cover with plastic wrap and allow to drain in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours or overnight, depending on the thickness you prefer.  Greek yogurt makes an excellent substitute for cream cheese or sour cream.

Creamy Macaroni Salad
Ingredients for salad:
¾ Cup dry elbow macaroni
1 Hard-boiled egg, peeled and cubed
2 Scallions, thinly sliced
¼ Cup diced celery
¼ Cup diced red, orange or yellow bell pepper
2-3 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish (undrained)
Parsley to garnish (optional)

Ingredients for dressing:
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
½ Teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1.     Cook pasta until al dente, 10-12 minutes in plenty of salted boiling water.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside to cool while chopping egg and vegetables.
2.     Place pasta, egg, relish and chopped vegetables in a bowl.
3.     Place dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until well combined.  Pour over salad mixture.  Stir well and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.  Makes about 4 servings.